Free Women 3
Here Marion took a sip of her whisky, made a small moue of pretty distaste, and put down the glass, chattering on: ‘Thanks to Tommy I’ve just realized how awfully ignorant I am. It began with my reading the newspapers to him. I never read anything before. And of course he’s so well-informed, and he explained things to me, and I really do feel quite a different person, and so ashamed that I never cared for anything but myself before.’
‘Richard mentioned that you had become interested in politics.’
‘Oh yes, and he’s so cross. And of course mother and my sisters are furious.’ A naughty girl, she sat smiling, with naughty little compressions of the lips; and flickering guilty little glances from the corners of her eyes.
‘I can imagine.’ Marion’s mother being the widow of a general, and her sisters all ladies or honourables, Anna could see what a pleasure it must be to annoy them.
‘But of course they have no idea, none at all, any more than I had until Tommy took me in hand. I feel as if my life began from that moment. I feel a new person.’
‘You look a new person.’
‘I know I do. Anna, have you seen Richard today?’
‘Yes, in his office.’
‘Did he say anything about a divorce? I’m asking because if he said something to you, then I suppose I must take it seriously. He’s always been threatening and bullying — he’s a terrible bully. So I didn’t take it seriously. But if he’s really talking about it, then I suppose Tommy and I must take it seriously.’
‘I think he wants to marry his secretary. Or so he said.’
‘Have you seen her?’ Marion positively giggled and looked roguish.
‘Did you notice anything?’
‘That she looks like you did at her age?’
‘Yes.’ Marion giggled again. ‘Isn’t it funny?’
‘If you think so.’
‘Yes, I do.’ Marion suddenly sighed and her face changed. Before Anna’s eyes she changed from a little girl into a sombre woman. She sat staring: serious, ironical. ‘Don’t you see, I’ve got to think it’s funny?’ ‘Yes, I do.’ ‘It happened all at once, at breakfast one morning. Richard’s always been horrid at breakfast. He’s always bad-tempered and he nags at me. But the funny thing is, why did I let him? And he was going on and on, nagging away about me seeing Tommy so much. And suddenly, it was like a sort of revelation. It really was, Anna. He was sort of bouncing up and down the breakfast room. And his face was red. And he was so bad-tempered. And I was listening to his voice. He’s got an ugly voice, hasn’t he? It’s a bully’s voice, isn’t it?’
‘Yes, it is.’