31. But by the time he had said that, Matty was rapt, gazing at the glass on the three other walls. It was all mirror, even the backs of the doors, and it was not just plain mirrors, it distorted so that Matty saw himself half a dozen times, pulled out sideways and squashed down from above; and Mr. Hanrahan was the shape of a sofa.
"Ha," said Mr. Hanrahan. "You're admiring my bits of glass I see. Isn't that a good idea for a daily mortification of sinful pride? Mrs. Hanrahan! Where are you?"
Mrs. Hanrahan appeared as if materialized, for what with the window and the mirrors a door opening here or there was little more than a watery conflux of light. She was thinner than Matty, shorter than Mr. Hanrahan and had an air of having been used up. "What is it, Mr. Hanrahan?" "Here he is, I've found him!" "Oh the poor man with his mended face!"
"I'll teach them, the awesome frivolity of it, wanting a man about the place! Girls! Come here, the lot of you!"
Then there was a watery conflux in various parts of the wall, some darkness and here and there a dazzle of light.
"My seven girls," cried Mr. Hanrahan, counting them busily. "You wanted a man about the place, did you? Too many females were there? Not a young man for a mile! I'll teach you! Here's the new man about the place! Take a good look at him!"
The girls had formed into a semicircle. There were the twins Francesca and Teresa, hardly out of the cradle, but pretty. Matty instinctively held his hand so that they should not be frightened by his left side which they could see. There was Bridget, rather taller and pretty and peering short-sightedly, and there was Bernadette who was taller and prettier and wholly nubile, and there was Cecilia who was shorter and just as pretty and nubiler if anything, and there was Gabriel Jane, turner-of-heads-in-the-street, and there was the firstborn, dressed for a barbecue, Mary Michael: and whoever looked on Mary Michael was lost. (W.G1.)
32. Never had there been so full an assembly, for mysteriously united in spite of all their differences, they had taken arms against a common peril. Like cattle when a dog comes into the field, they stood head to head and shoulder to shoulder, prepared to ran upon and trample the invader to death. They had come, too, no doubt, to get some notion of what sort of presents they would ultimately be expected to give; for though the question of wedding gifts was usually graduated in this way - "What are you givin'? Nicholas is givin' spoons!" - so very much depended on the bridegroom. If he were sleek, well-brushed, prosperous-looking, it was more necessary to give him nice things; he would expect them. In the end each gave exactly what was right and proper, by a species of family adjustement arrived at as prices are arrived at on the Stock
Exchange - the exact niceties being regulated at Timothy's commodious, red-brick residence in Bayswater, overlooking the Park, where dwelt Aunts Ann, Juley and Hester.
The uneasiness of the Forsyte family has been justified by the simple mention of the hat. How impossible and wrong would it have been for any family, with the regard for appearances which should ever characterize the great upper-middle class to feel otherwise than uneasy!
The author of the uneasiness stood talking to June by the further door; his curly hair had a rumpled appearance as though he found what was going on around him unusual. He had an air, too, of having a joke all to himself.
George, speaking aside to his brother Eustace, said: "looks as if he might make a bolt of it - the dashing Buccaneer!" This "very singular-looking man", as Mrs. Small afterwards called him, was of medium height and strong build with a pale, brown face, a dust coloured moustache, very prominent cheekbones, and hollow cheeks. His forehead sloped back towards the crown of his head, and bulged out in bumps over the eyes, like forehead seen in the lion-house at the Zoo. He had cherry-coloured eyes, disconcertingly inattentive at times. Old Jolyon's coachman, after driving June and Bosinney to the theatre, had remarked to the bulter:
"I dunno what to make of 'im. Looks to me for all the world like an - 'alf-tame leopard."
And every now and then a Forsyte would come up, sidle round, and take a look at him. June stood in front, fending off this idle curiosity - a little bit of a thing, as somebody once said, "all hair and spirit", with fearless blue eyes, a firm jaw, and a bright colour, whose face and body seemed too slender for her crown of red-gold hair.
A tall woman, with a beautiful figure, which some member of the family had once compared to a heathen goddess, stood looking at these with a shadowy smile. Her hands, gloved in French grey, were crossed one over the other, her grave, charming face held to one side, and the eyes of all men near were fastened on it. Her figure swayed, so balanced that the very air seemed to set it moving. There was warmth, but little colour, in her cheeks; her large, dark eyes were soft. But it was at her lips - asking a question, giving an answer, with that shadowy smile - that men looked; they were sensitive lips, sensuous and sweet, and through them seemed to come warmth and perfume of a flower.
The engaged couple thus scrutinized were unconscious of this passive goddess. (G.)
33. Tom told them of another famous escaped slavewoman. "She named Harriet Tubman. Ain't no tellin' how many times she come back South an' led out different whole bunches o' folks like us to freedom up Nawth on sump'n dey's callin' de "Unnergroun' Rairoad". Fac', she done it so much dey claims by now white folks got out forty thousand dollars' worth o' rewards to' her, alive or dead."
"Lawd have mercy, wouldn't o' thought white folks pay dat much to catch no nigger in de worl'! " said Sister Sarah.
He told them that in a far-distant state called California, two white men were said to have been building a sawmill when they discovered an unbelievable wealth of gold in the ground, and thousands of people were said to be rushing in in wagons, on mules, even afoot to reach the place where it was claimed that gold could be dug up by the shovelful.
He said finally that in the North great debates on the subject of slavery were being held between two white men named Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln.
"Which one 'em for de niggers?" asked Gran' mammy Kizzy. "Well, soun' like de Massa Lincoln, leas'ways de bes' I can tell," said Tom.
"Well, praise de Lawd an' give 'im stren'th" said Kizzy.
Sucking his teeth, Chicken George got up patting his ample belly and turned to Tom. "Looka here, boy, why'n't you'n me stretch our legs, walk off some dat meal?"
"Yassuh, Pappy," Tom almost stammered, scarcely able to conceal his amazement and trying to act casual.
The women, who were no less startled, exchanged quizzical, significant glances when Chicken George and Tom set off together down the road. Sister Sarah exclaimed softly, "Lawd, y'all realize dat boy done growed nigh as his daddy!" James and Lewis stared after their father and older brother nearly sick with envy, but they knew better than to invite themselves along. But the two younger girls, L'il Kizzy and Mary, couldn't resist leaping up and happily starting to hop-skip along eight or ten steps behind them.
Without even looking back at them, Chicken George ordered, "Git on back younder an' he'p y'all's mammy wid dem dishes."
"Aw, Pappy," they whined in unison.
"Git, done to!' you."
Half turning around, his eyes loving his little sisters, Tom chided them gently, "Ain't y'all hear Pappy? We see you later on."
With the girls' complaining sounds behind them, they walked on in silence for a little way and Chicken George spoke almost gruffly. "Looka here, reckon you know I ain't meant no harm jes'teasin' you a l'il at dinner."
"Aw, nawsuh," Tom said, privately astounded at what amounted to an apology from his father. "I knowed you was jes' teasin'."
Grunting, Chicken George said, "What say we head on down an' look in on dem chickens? See what keepin' dat nocount L'il George down dere so long. All I knows, he mighta cooked an' et up some dem chickens fo' his Thankagivin' by now."
Tom laughed. "L'il George mean well. Pappy. He jes' a l'il slow. Hе done tol' me he jes' don' love dem birds like you does." Tom paused, then decided to venture his accompanying thought. "I 'speck nobody in de worl' loves dem birds like you does."