Gerry too was up and about fairly early this morning. This was the day on which she had planned to set fire to her money. She normally came down much later than Tom but today, while he was still fussing about on the telephone upstairs, she went into the little room under the stairs and undid all the bundles of notes and strewed them around freely so that they would burn more quickly. Then she removed all the bottles of brandy, except one, a very large one of the best quality, which she needed to start the conflagration. Tom was down by this time, strutting about on the verandah, so she went to the telephone and rang up all the newspapers and the television networks, and told them that if they sent their reporters round in precisely forty five minutes they would get a story well worth having. Then she rang through to the gate with orders that the Press was to be let in immediately upon arrival.
As she was returning to the little room under the stairs she noticed out of the corner of her eye that Tom had sat down to breakfast with a rather seductive looking female who was leaning close up to him. Although never jealous, usually she took good care that the proprieties were observed, but today such things did not seem to matter. She knew that Dick would be arriving soon enough, and in any case her last glimpse of her money was more important. She took in a pot of coffee with her, carrying the tray in herself. Having locked the door behind her, she poured out a massive measure of brandy, to have a few last moments of peace and plenitude before everything went up in flames, in the room where she had spent so many happy hours. It was not only that she was saying goodbye to a large segment of her past. Though she was not quite sure what would happen, she felt on the threshold of a momentous new era in her life and, though she would never admit it even to herself, she regretted the past security her little room represented. Continue reading