Procrastination – well, it’s alive and well here in Wellington New Zealand.
Every day since I wrote the blog on Continuing the story on 23 March I have planned to live up to the promise. Good intentions but so much gets in the way. So two weeks later I am continuing the story.
You will recall that we left our ladies in confusion following the visit of Thomas Anthony William Fotheringham known as Billy AKA the Swarthy Gent in the Panama Hat. The fellow had arrived at Maisie’s door unannounced a couple of days ago and then had returned at an agreed time, to present Maisie with the claim that he was related to her husband.
So to continue…
As the three friends were quietly contemplating what he had said., the door to the room burst open and there stood Maisie’s daughter Julia. Knowing her and how she acted, Juliet and Imogen decided to leave and decided they would catch up by telephone later in the day.
“Whatever have you been up to now, Mother?” demanded Julia in that voice so like Reggie’s. “Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to hear that one’s mother had been away from home for two nights and nobody knew where?” Oh, how truly tedious her daughter was, thought Maisie.
“What have you heard that has upset you so much?” enquired Maisie, making no attempt to answer her daughter’s questions.
“Oh Mother,” said Julia. “I do wish you would act responsibly and see rather less of that Juliet Drummond who is such a bad influence on you.”
Julia had never really liked her mother’s close friend Lady Juliet Drummond, after whom she had been named. Julia being quite a different person and having a totally different personality to her mother, found nothing attractive about her mother’s closest friend.
She discoursed at length about how unseemly it was for these two women to have been missing over two nights. Gossip as to what they had been up to was rife and Julia felt strongly that any hint of scandal, should it fall upon her mother, should not be allowed to fall upon her. To Julia, being in the right ethically and morally was paramount. Any hint of impropriety was abhorrent to her.
Oh, she liked her mother well enough but she considered her weak and easily led. It was to her father that she was most drawn. She shared his puritanical outlook on life. She looked up to him as a paragon of virtue and hoped that her betrothed, The Hon Toby Grimshaw, would turn out to be as upright as he.
She strongly disapproved of the new trend of women smoking and drinking cocktails in public. She thought that once a lady was married she should be content to remain at home, running her household so that her husband and children would be totally comfortable in their environment.
Julia was aware that her mother smoked both in public and at home and also drank cocktails every day and was quite convinced that her mother would do neither without the unsavoury influence of Lady Juliet. She also knew of course, that Juliet had been her mother’s friend and confidant for many years, ever since they had met at school and that nothing would break this friendship.
“You haven’t answered my question” she railed at her mother. Whatever could you have been doing that you can’t even tell me? And have you told Father yet?”
Her daughter was unaware that Reggie had moved out to the house in town, so of course, Maisie hadn’t had the opportunity to tell him of her adventures, She knew that he would be strongly disapproving of her having been to the cinema without a proper escort. And the only proper escort in his considered opinion would have been himself or one of his brothers. And she knew how he would react to the rest of those adventures, with supreme disapproval.
So “No I haven’t had the chance to discuss it with your father yet.” She told her irate daughter. “He has been in town for a few days, but I shall, of course, do so at the first opportunity.”
When Julia looked as if she would then burst into questions about opportunities, Maisie thought it time to change the subject. She and Reggie hadn’t discussed the issue of telling their offspring about the separation.
In Maisie’s estimation, Julia had always been a difficult child and as she grew up her proselytizing became more marked and to Maisie, very infuriating. Just how she would react to the news was something Maisie dreaded to even think about.
“Now let’s talk about your engagement and the plans for the wedding, shall we?” asked Maisie. There followed a pleasant 30 minutes when mother and daughter discussed these plans. And no thank you, Julia declined the offer of a cocktail when her mother asked Jackson to bring her a Gin and tonic.
And Maisie had more important things to worry about than wedding plans. She knew her overbearing daughter would arrange everything with little or no input from or discussion with her mother. But how and when would she tell Reggie about Billy Fotheringham and his claims of relationship?