Free Women 3
This last was on such a note of aggrieved righteousness that Anna laughed again, genuinely. ‘Richard, you are funny. Well you really are. All right, let’s not argue. You suffered a deep trauma when your family took your flirtation with communism seriously; as a result of which you can never enjoy money. And you’ve always been ever so unlucky with your women. Molly and Marion are both rather stupid, and their characters are disastrous.’
Richard now faced Anna with his characteristic stubbornness: ‘That’s how I see it, yes.’
‘Good. And now?’
But now Richard let his eyes move away from hers; and sat frowning at a stream of delicate green leaves mirrored in dark glass. It occurred to Anna that he wanted to see her — not for the usual reason, to attack Molly through her, but to announce a new plan.
‘What do you have in mind, Richard? Are you going to pension off Marion? Is that it? Are you planning that Marion and Molly should live out their old age together somewhere while you …’ Anna saw that this flight of fancy was in fact stumbling on the truth. ‘Oh Richard,’ she said. ‘You can’t abandon Marion now. Particularly when she’s just begun to cope with her drinking.’
Richard said hotly: ‘She doesn’t care for me. She has no time for me. I might just as well not be there at all.’ Wounded vanity rang in his voice. And Anna was amazed. For he was genuinely wounded. Marion’s escape from her position as prisoner, or fellow-victim, had left him alone and hurt.
‘For God’s sake, Richard! You’ve ignored her for years. You’ve simply used her as …’
Again his lips were hotly trembling and his full dark eyes swelling with tears.
‘Good Lord!’ said Anna, simply. She was thinking: Molly and I are very stupid, after all. It amounts to this, that’s his way of loving someone, and he doesn’t understand anything else. And it’s probably what Marion understands too.
She said: ‘What’s your plan then? I got the impression you’re involved with that girl out there? Is that it?’
‘Yes, that is it. She loves me, at least.’
‘Richard,’ said Anna helplessly.
‘Well it’s true. I might as well not exist as far as Marion is concerned.’
‘But if you divorce Marion now it might crack her up altogether.’