|If, said Madge with sudden gravity, the worst happens
where Roland Carey is concerned, at least Doris will have Mary-Lou to
comfort her, as well as his girl, Verity. |
What do you mean?
The old wound has flared up again and Doris and the girls are taking him to Glasgow for MacKenzie to see him again. You know what he said last time. If it should come to amputation, well, Roland is much frailer than he was last time. Jem says he doubts if he can come through.
Oh, Madge! Poor Doris!and poor Mary-Lou, too, for if Doris is left alone, itll probably mean that Mary-Lou must give up her wish for archaeology as a career and shes stuck to it that thats what she wants to do for years, now.
I hadnt thought of the effect on Mary-Lou; but youre right, Im afraid. She wont leave her mother alonethats certain. And though Verity is a dear girl, shes a broken reed when it comes to support. Shell need support herself. Oh lets hope it wont come to that, for everyones sake!
Theres one thing, Joey said, sitting up. Mary-Lou is fine enough not to let it spoil her life. If she cant have what she wants most, shell look about for the next best thing and go all out for it. But it is hard lines if that happens.
|Len saw further into the future than she did. "I'm sorry
for Verity and Auntie Doris," she returned in the same low tones, "but the
one I'm sorriest for is Mary-¬Lou. I'll explain later." |
There was no time for more. The second bell rang as she ended and silence fell. But the girls prayed very earnestly as they had been asked.
Later, when the younger ones had gone to bed and the Seniors were out in the garden, Len's own clan gathered round her and Con asked what she had meant.
"I know she'll be sorry, but after all, it isn't as if Uncle Roland had been her own father," she said. "I think it's worse for Verity."
Len stared at her. "Oh, don't you see?" she burst out. "This may mean the end of Mary-Lou's career!"
"But how?" Rosamund asked in puzzled tones.
"Of course it may very likely will. What was she going in for?"
"Archaeology after she was through with Oxford," Ruey Richardson said.
"Exactly! Well, that would almost certainly have meant that she had to go abroad. She's often said so. How can she do it now? Auntie Doris will want her. What's more, she'll need her. So, for that matter, will Verity. You know yourselves how Verity's always hung on to Mary-Lou. I'm awfully afraid this is going to mean that she must give it up altogether. She won't leave those two to struggle along as best they can while she's sporting about in the Middle East or Egypt or wherever else it would be."
"No; you're right there," Margot agreed. "Some folk might but not Mary-Lou. Oh, Len! I do hope you're wrong! She's wanted it for such ages!"
|"Oh, I know. Just at present, when there's so much to do and I'm so glad Mother's well and happy, I haven't much time to think about me. But I know that later on it'll come home much more sharply. But I'm not going to be a selfish ass and fret. I'm not utterly alone though I haven't any real relations left. You can't really count Verity and she'll be married in June, anyhow. But there's still Clem and Tony Barrass. They're almost as good as brother and sister to me. And there's Auntie Joey and Uncle Jack and all their crowd. Oh, I shall miss Mother horribly. I've had to look after her for so long now, for Dad was often too ill to do anything about it. And Verity, bless her, is a clinging vine, so I've just had to be an oak. It's going to be jolly lonesome sometimes. But I'm not going to be a selfish pig and make other folk miserable just because I'm not so awfully happy myself."|
| You'll have to go, Joey, he [Jack] said. We can't leave those poor girls alone at a time like this. Mary-Lou may be nearly twenty and out-of-the-way capable, but it's asking too much to ask her to cope with a situation like this unaided. As for Verity, she'll be no help - more like another liability.|
| At once - this morning, if possible! I left Jack hunting up planes for me. The sooner I get there, the better. Mary-Lou may be the last word in capability, but she is only nineteen. Verity will be no use - she's a leaner! I can't leave our one and only Mary-Lou to face such awful responsibilities alone. She knew that when she appealed to me like that. Joey's tone suddenly changed.|
| What about young Verity? Con asked. She's a clinger, you know. |
Len looked thoughtful. She is -- but somehow I don't think it's Mary-Lou she'll cling to - or not for long.
The other two turned startled eyes on her.
But, my dear! What do you mean? Con queried.
Just what I say. Verity's a clinging vine all right, but it won't be Mary-Lou who has to be her oak-tree.
Do you mean that Verity will marry early? Margot asked slowly. But, Len, she's not much more than a kid.
She'll be twenty in May. Mamma wasn't much more when she married. And I rather think there's someone already. In her Christmas letter to me Mary-Lou talked of a girl she'd met at the Royal College. This girl - Enid Trevor, I think is her name - has a brother with a job in London. Verity and Enid are in the same hostel and they got pally. The brother - his name's Alan - took her to concerts and theatres and so on sometimes, and they included Verity. During the vac, the Trevors came over often to Carn Beg - they live near Monmouth - and Mary-Lou said they were all very good pals. By the way, she also said she liked them both herself. She didn't make a definite statement, but I could see that ---
That it won't be too long before Verity becomes Mrs Alan Trevor? That it?
Len nodded. I'm almost positive. I only hope it works out. It would be the best thing all round for everyone. Verity would have someone decent to look and after her - Mary-Lou seems to think they're awfully nice people - and it would leave Mary-Lou herself free to do as she likes. And Auntie Doris would be glad, too, I should think, for both their sakes.
|I haven't any real relations left. You can't really count Verity and she'll be married in June, anyhow. But there's still Clem and Tony Barrass. They're almost as good as brother and sister to me.|
|Reading all of that is really relentless, isn't it? Especially as you have girls who are three years younger (triplets) saying the same. It was an exceptionally nasty piece of character assassination - after her initial outing in Three when she comes across as a very determined young person - setting herself against the entire School and Joey over the German thing.|
|"'One who never turned his back but marched breast
forward'," Grizel quoted. |
"That's Browning, isn't it? And there's that bit out of 'Invictus' you know: 'I am the master of my fate'."
|*sends bunny food to Australia*|
| Looks to me as if Auntie Doris wasn't going to make it
this time, Margot said bluntly. I'm most awfully sorry for Mary-Lou -
and Verity, too. |
I'm sorry, too, Con said meditatively. All the same, once the first shock is over, don't you think it'll be better for Mary-Lou?
Better to lose her mother! Margot cried. Con! What are you saying? How could it be better?
But Len nodded. I know what you mean. I saw it myself at once.
What are you talking about! I think you two are bats! Margot said despairingly. Mary-Lou'll have no one left and no home to go to. I think it's horrible for her!
"She knows that she'll always have a home here, Len replied instantly. But don't you see, Margot? If Auntie Doris dies she can go ahead with her career. And it's pounds better for Auntie than living on as an invalid - perhaps realising that she's spoiling Mary-Lou's life. That would be ghastly!
Margot nodded. Oh, I see now. I hadn't thought of that.
|I just can't relate at all to that mindset.|
Putting myself in Mary-Lou or Verity's position, I can't imagine any sort of career, no matter how much I would love to do it, that could make up in any way for the loss of my mother or father. I just can't relate at all to that mindset.
|It's interesting that it's seen as preferable for Mary-Lou to lose her mother, and thus be free to pursue her career, rather than for her to say 'I have my own life to lead' and leave her mother.|
|So, those of you that are the eldest (and I am as well - though only ever of three, though I have three siblings) have none of you ever done something wrong? Been in trouble due to mischief? Disappointed/ annoyed your school mistresses/teachers? I think, rather than the sense of responsibility, it's that that makes Len somewhat artificial - she never does any of the normal 'Middle' stuff. Joey did, Mary Lou did. But not Len.|
|I don't really dislike Len, I just find her pretty dull as a main character. I was going to write that I also found her improbable as Joey's daughter, but I've changed my mind, I think. Maybe with a mother still at times so childlike and excitable it would be a natural reaction to assume a more grown-up mantle.|
|Now please go away. I have too much to do to be worried by the need to soothe your conscience.|
|I always admired her in 'Three Go' for her determined
stand against Nazism implicit in her refusal to sing in German.
|When it comes to Mary-Lou saying that she hasn't any real
family left, I always assume that EBD just phrased that speech very badly.
I took it to mean that Mary-Lou hadn't got any blood relations left.
Verity, though she is a 'sister by marriage' doesn't come under that
heading. Verity is also marrying so she will necessarily be moving on with
her life etc. Then M-L remembers Clem and Tony who if they are also not
blood relations have been basically brought in the same family and aren't
marrying so will be able to offer more support. It's not a disregard of
Verity but an acknowledgement of the fact that M-L has no blood relations
left and that Verity is marrying so will have to be a bit out of the
That's how I read it - everyone comes off well that way.
|By the way, I don't think anyone answered the question about whether anyone had written anything about Verity's stay at Freudesheim during the Christmas between Mary-Lou and Genius. Does anyone know?|
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