Vacillations of Poppy Carew

Vacillations of Poppy Carew by Mary Wesley

Book: Vacillations of Poppy Carew by Mary Wesley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mary Wesley
feelings clear.
    ‘It’s Dad’s funeral, Mrs Edwardes.’
    Jane sniffed.
    The sun streaming yellow into the room was blacked out by a momentary cloud.
    ‘I must have a bath, wash my hair.’ Poppy slid out of bed and made for the bathroom.
    ‘Bacon and egg for breakfast?’ asked Jane Edwardes, accepting defeat.
    ‘Yes, please,’ answered Poppy warmly.
    The sun shone in again illuminating a buttock as she went into the bathroom.
    ‘Girls these days, I don’t know …’ The older woman folded the nightdress, put it on the bed. ‘Only wears it to walk about the house.’
    Poppy turned on the taps. ‘I’m going to keep that room as mine from now on,’ she called above the rush of water.
    ‘So that’s how it is.’ Jane commented as she went down to the kitchen. If asked she would not have been able to explain what she meant but inside she knew and quite liked the knowledge. There were two shades of lilac in that dress, she thought, taking the kitchen scissors to cut rind off bacon. Clever people with colour, the Italians. She’d noticed it last summer on the tour with her cousin when they’d seen Venice, Florence, Rome and that other place in six days. There might well be two shades of red and green in that dress. If she insists on wearing it I’ll check, thought Jane, reaching into the refrigerator for an egg. I wonder whether she would eat two? She should eat a good breakfast, it’s going to be a long day. Jane hesitated. One egg or two? That dress, though. Any other day but at your father’s funeral! She went to the hall and, standing at the foot of the stairs, shouted: ‘One egg or two?’
    ‘One, please,’ Poppy called from the bathroom.
    Milan, that was the other place they’d seen. The dress came from there. What had he been doing in Milan? No need to ask. Jane Edwardes standing by the refrigerator holding the egg, thought with tolerant affection of Poppy’s father Bob Carew, hearing his voice, ‘Like to flutter a fiver on the three-thirty at Kempton, Mrs Edwardes?’ He’d always called her Mrs Edwardes, never Jane. The egg was pale brown, the same colour as the girl’s skin. I was always good with colours, Jane reminded herself, comparing the egg with Poppy’s tan. Bathes topless, one can see that, but wears the bottom bit. Bit’s the word, thought Jane, recollecting the thin streak of white slanting across Poppy’s bottom when she walked into the bathroom. Barely enough. Jane picked up the kitchen biro and traced a double V on the egg. Barely enough to cover her fluff. I don’t know, I really don’t. Sighing, Jane Edwardes went back up the stairs to stand in the bathroom doorway.
    ‘You want a nice black dress on a day like this.’ It was her last appeal.
    ‘No, Mrs Edwardes, no, no, no.’ Poppy looked up at the older woman’s disapproval. ‘I don’t want,’ she said and burst out laughing as she lay in the bath.
    ‘No laughing matter.’ Jane Edwardes was delighted to hear Poppy laugh. The first time she’s laughed since he died. Laughs like him, she thought, remembering times when he would laugh. ‘That animal won the three-thirty. I told you it would. You should have risked your fiver.’ What a tease he had been.
    ‘Come and eat your breakfast,’ she told Poppy.
    ‘Coming.’ Poppy got out of the bath. ‘It will be all right, you’ll see, don’t fuss.’ She felt a surge of unseemly mirth, remembering Dad’s affectionate mimicry of Mrs Edwardes’s Berkshire vowels. ‘It’s what he would like.’ She reached for a bathtowel. ‘You know he would. And I like it. For once we are in agreement.’
    Silenced, Jane went down to cook breakfast. Picking up the egg she doodled a bit more. ‘Quite rude,’ she murmured, giving the drawing a finishing touch. ‘I should have taken up art.’ She cracked the egg into a cup and crushed the shell, dropping it into the pedal bin, slightly ashamed of her lewdity.
    Poppy came down in a white towelling robe, her wet hair screwed

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