-Evening, Mr. Godby. -Wotcher.
-Hello, Hello, Hello. -Quite a stranger, aren't you?
-l couldn't get in yesterday. -l wondered what had happened to you.
-l had a bit of a dust up. -What about?
A chap got out of first class... with a third class ticket.
He wouldn't pay excess; turned nasty. l had to send for Mr Saunders.
-Fat lot of good he'd be. -He ticked him off.
-Seeing's believing. -He ticked him off proper.
''Pay the balance at once'' he says ''or l'll get the police.''
You should've seen his face at the word ''police''.
Changed his tune. Paid up like lightening.
Exactly, he couldn't handle it himself.
He had to call the police.
He's not a bad lot, Saunders.
After all, he's only got one lung and a wife with diabetes. l thought something was wrong when you didn't come. l'd have come to explain, but l had a date and had to run. lndeed!
-A chap l know is getting married. -Very interesting, l'm sure.
-What's up with you? -l dont know what you mean.
-You're a bit unfriendly. -Beryl, hurry up.
-Put some more coal in the stove. -Yes, Mrs. Bagot. l can't stand here wasting my time in idle gossip, Mr. Godby.
What about another cup?
You can have another cup when you finish that one.
Beryl will give it to you. l've got my accounts to do.
-l'd rather you gave it to me. -Time and tide wait for no man.
-Laura! What a lovely surprise. -Oh. Dolly! l've been shopping till l'm dropping. My throat's parched. l'd have had tea in Spindle's but didn't want to miss the train.
-Dear! -This is Doctor Harvey.
How do you do.
Get me my cup of tea would you? l can't drag my bones to the counter.
What a nice looking man. Who is he? You're a dark horse. l'll phone Fred in the morning and make mischief.
This is a bit of luck. l haven't seen you for ages. l meant to pop in but Tony had measles...
Then l'd that fuss over Phyllis. You don't know.
-She left me. -Dreadful. l never really liked her, but Tony adored her. l'll tell you later in the train. Thank you.
There's certainly enough milk in it, but it'll be refreshing.
-Oh dear. No sugar. -lt's in the spoon.
Of course. What a fool l am.
Laura you're looking well. lf l knew you were coming... we could've had lunch and a gossip. l loathe shopping by myself.
-There's your train. -Yes, l know.
-Aren't you coming with us? -No, l go in the opposite direction.
-My practice is in Churley. -l see. l'm a general practitioner.
Dr. Harvey's going to Africa next week.
...the 5.40 for Churley, Leigh Green and Langdon.
-l must go. -Yes, you must.
He'll have to run or he'll miss it. lt's on the other platform.
Talking of missing trains reminds me of the bridge at Broadham junction.
You've got to traipse up one side, and down the other.
The other day l'd been to see Bob's solicitor... l got to the station with only half a minute to spare. l flew. l was with Tony and l'd bought a new lampshade... l could've got it here in Milford. lt was enormous. l couldn't see over it. l nearly knocked a woman down.
When l got home it was battered to bits. ls that our train? ls that the Ketchworth train?
-No, it's the express. -The boat train.
That doesn't stop, does it?
-l want some chocolate, please. -Milk or plain?
Plain, l think.
No, milk would be nicer. Anything with nuts in it?
Nestle's nut milk.
One plain and one nut milk.
-Large or small? -Large please.
Where is she? l never noticed her go. l couldn't think where you'd disappeared to. l wanted to see the express go through.
What's the matter? Are you feeling ill?
-l feel a little sick. -Come and sit down.
There's our train.
-Have you any brandy? -lt's out of hours.
-Surely if somebody's ill. -l'm all right.
Brandy will buck you up. Please.
-How much? -Tenpence please.
The train for Ketchworth is now arriving at platform 3.
We have to hurry.
This is a bit of luck.
This train is generally packed. l'm really worried about you. You look terribly peaky. l'm all right. l just felt faint. lt happens. l did it once at Bobbie's concert. He's never forgiven me.
He certainly was good looking.
-Who? -Your friend. Dr. Whats-his-name.
-Yes, he's a nice creature. -Have you known him long?
No, not very long.
-l hardly know him at all. -My dear! l've always loved doctors. l can well understand how it is that women get neurotic... l wish l could trust you. l wish you were a wise kind friend... instead of a gossip l've known for years and never really cared for. l wish... l wish...
Fancy him going to Africa. ls he married?
-Yes. -Any children?
Yes, 2 boys. He's very proud of them. ls he taking them with him? Wife and children?
Yes, he is. l suppose it's sensible... starting life anew in the wide open space but... wild horses wouldn't drag me away from England and home... and all the things l'm used to.
One has one's roots hasn't one?
Yes, one has one's roots. l knew a girl who went to Africa.
Her husband worked in engineering...
She had the most dreadful time.
She got some awful kind of germ and was ill for months... l wish you'd stop talking. l wish you'd stop prying and trying to find things out. l wish you were dead. No, not that. That was silly and unkind.
-But l wish you'd stop talking. -All her hair came out... and she said the social life was quite horrid...
Provincial and very nouveau riche.
-Oh Dolly. -Are you feeling ill again?
A bit dizzy.
-l'll close my eyes for a bit. -Poor darling...
Here am l chatting away. l won't say another word. lf you drop off l'll wake you up at the level crossing.
You can powder your nose before we get out.
This can't last.
This misery can't last. l must remember that and try to control myself.
Nothing lasts really... neither happiness nor despair.
Not even life lasts very long.
There'll come a time when l shan't mind about this anymore... when l can look back and say cheertully: ''How silly l was''.
l don't want that time to come ever. l want to remember every minute... always... always, to the end of my days.
-Ketchworth! -Wake up. Laura. We're here.
Ketchworth! l could take you home. lt isn't out of my way. l'll go down Elmore Lane and l'll be home in two minutes. lt's sweet of you but l'm perfectly all right now.
-You're quite sure? -Positive. Thank you.
Nonsense. l'll phone you to see if you've had a relapse. l shall disappoint you. Good night.
Goodnight. Give my love to Fred and the children.
ls that you Laura?
-Yes, dear. -Thank goodness you're back.
-The place has been in an uproar. -What's the matter?
Bobbie and Margaret, fighting again.
They won't go to sleep until you talk to them.
Mummy? ls that you Mummy?
-Yes, Margaret. -Come upstairs at once, Mummy. l want to talk to you.
You're both very naughty. You should be asleep.
-Now what is it? -Well Mummy... tomorrow's my birthday and l want to go to the Circus.
Tomorrow's not Margaret's birthday and she wants to go to the Pantomime.
My birthday's in June. There aren't any pantomimes in June. lt's too late to discuss it. Now go to sleep at once... or you won't go to either.
Why not take them to both? One in the afternoon and one in the evening?
That's impossible. We'd get to bed late, tired and fractious.
One on one day, the other on the other.
You accuse me of spoiling the children.
Their characters would be ruined if it was up to you.
All right, have it your own way.
-Circus or Pantomime? -Neither.
We'll thrash them, lock them in the attic and go the pictures.
-What on earth's the matter? -Nothing. lt's nothing.
Darling, what's wrong? Tell me, please.
Really, it's nothing... l'm run down that's all. l nearly fainted at the refreshment room at Milford. lsn't it idiotic?
Dolly Messiter was with me and she talked... until l wanted to strangle her. But she meant to be kind. lsn't it awful about people meaning to be kind.
-Would you like to go to bed? -No Fred, really.
Come and sit by the fire and relax.
You can help me with the crossword.
You have the most peculiar ideas of relaxation.
-There you are, darling. -Thank you.
But why a fainting spell? l can't understand it.
Don't be silly. l've often had fainting spells.
You remember Bobbie's school concert... and Eileen's wedding... and when you took me to the Symphony concert at the Town Hall?
That was a nose bleed. l suppose l must be that type of woman. lt's very humiliating.
There'd be no harm in you seeing Dr. Graves. lt would be a waste of time.
-Now listen... -Shut up. Don't make a fuss. l'd been shopping and was tired and it was hot and l felt sick.
Nothing more than that.
-All right. -Really nothing.
Get on with your puzzle and leave me in peace.
Have it your own way.
You're a poetry addict. See if you can help me out. lt's Keats. ''l behold upon the night starred face... huge cloudy symbols of a high...'' 7 letters.
''Romance'', l think. l'm almost sure.
''Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance''. lt'll be in the Oxford.
No, it's right. lt fits in.
-Would music put you off? -No, dear, l'd like it.
Fred... dear Fred.
There's so much l want to say.
You're the only one with the wisdom and gentleness to understand... if only it were somebody else's story and not mine.
You are the only one in the world that l can never tell.
Because even if l waited until we were old and told you then... you'd look back over the years and be hurt. l don't want you to be hurt.
You see... we're a happily married couple... and must never forget that.
This is my home.
You are my husband... and my children are upstairs in bed. l am a happily married woman... or l was until a few weeks ago.
This is my whole world... and it's enough... or it was until a few weeks ago.
l've been so foolish. l've fallen in love. l'm an ordinary woman. l didn't think such violent things happened to ordinary people.
lt all started on an ordinary day... in an ordinary place...
The Refreshment Room at Milford Junction. l was having a cup of tea and reading a book that l'd got from Boots.
My train wasn't due for ten minutes. l looked up and saw a man come in from the platform. ln an ordinary mac, and hat. l didn't even see his face.
He got his tea and turned... and then l did see his face. A nice face.
-Any sugar? -ln the spoon.
He passed by my table on the way to his.
The woman was going on as usual. l told you about her the other day... the one with the refined voice.
-Minnie hasn't touched her milk. -Did you put it down for her?
Yes, but she never came for it.
-Fond of animals? -ln their place.
My landlady's mad for animals.
She's got two cats, one manx, one ordinary... three rabbits in the kitchen. They belong to her little boy.
And one of those daft looking dogs with hair over its eyes.
-l don't know what breed you mean. -l don't think it knows itself.
Go and clean Number 3, Beryl. l can see the crumbs on it from here.
And my other cup? l have to go. The 5:40 will be here in a minute.
-Who's on the gate? -Young William.
A glass of water please. l've something in my eye.
-Would you like me to have a look? -Don't trouble. The water will do.
Bit of coal dust, l expect.
A man l knew lost an eye by getting a bit of grit in it.
-Nasty, very nasty. -Better?
-l'm afraid not. Oh! -Can l help you?
No. Just something in my eye.
Pull your eyelid down..
-And then blow your nose. -Please let me look.
-l happen to be a doctor. -lt's very kind of you.
Turn round to the light please.
Now look up... now look down...
Keep still. l see it.
-There! -What a relief. lt was agonising.
-lt looks like a bit of grit. -lt was when the express went through.
-Thank you very much indeed. -There we go. l must run.
-Lucky for me you were here. -Anybody could have done it.
-Never mind, you did, l'm grateful. -That's my train. l must go. Goodbye.
That's how it all began.
Just through me getting a bit of grit in my eye. l completely forgot about it. lt didn't mean anything to me at all.
At least l didn't think it did.
The next Thursday l went into Milford as usual.
l changed my book at Boots.
Miss Lewis had at last managed to get the new Kate O'brien for me.
She kept it hidden under the counter for two days.
On the way out l bought two new toothbrushes for the children. l like the smell of a chemist's. lt's such a nice mixture of nice things... herbs and scent and soap.
Mrs. Leptwich was there, in one of the silliest hats l've ever seen.
Fortunately she didn't look up. l got out without her buttonholing me.
Just as l stepped onto the pavement...
-Good morning. -Oh, good morning.
-How's the eye? -Perfectly all right.
-How kind it was of you. -lt was nothing at all.
-lt's clearing up l think. -Yes, it's going to be nice.
-Well l must get to the hospital. -And l must get to the grocer's.
-What exciting lives we lead. -Goodbye.
That evening l had to run to the station. l'd been to the Palladium. lt was a long film and l was late.
As l came to the platform, the Churley train was just puffing out. l looked up as the carriages went by... wondering if he was there. l remember it crossed my mind, but it was quite unimportant. l was thinking of other things.
The present for your birthday was worrying me rather. lt was terribly expensive but l knew you wanted it.
And l'd sort of half taken the plunge... and left a deposit on it at Spink & Robson's until next Thursday.
The next Thursday... l squared my conscience by thinking how pleased you'd be and bought it.
-Yes, l'll have it. -Thank you, Madam. lt was extravagant but l'd committed the crime... and l felt reckless and gay.
The sun was out.
Everyone looked more cheertul than usual.
There was a barrel organ at the corner and l love barrel organs. lt was playing ''Let the great big world keep turning''. l gave the man sixpence... and went to Kardomah for lunch. lt was very full but two people got up from a table just as l came in.
A bit of luck wasn't it? Or was it?
Just after l had given my order, l saw him come in.
He looked tired, and there was nowhere for him to sit.
So l smiled and said: Good morning.
Good morning. Are you all alone?
Yes, l am.
Could l share your table? lt's very full and there's nowhere else.
Of course not.
l'm afraid we haven't been introduced properly.
-My name's Alec Harvey. -How do you do.
-Mine's Laura Jesson. -Mrs. Or Miss?
Mrs. You're a doctor, aren't you? You said so in the Refreshment Room.
Yes. Not an interesting one, a G.P. My practice is in Churley.
-Yes, sir? -What did you plump for?
The soup and fried sole.
-Yes, l'll have the same. -Anything to drink?
No, thank you. Would you like anything to drink?
-No, just plain water, please. -Plain water, please.
Do look at the cellist.
lt really is dreadful, isn't it? But we oughtn't laugh. They might see.
There should be a society for the prevention... of cruelty to musical instruments. You don't play the piano, l hope.
-l was forced to as a child. -You haven't kept it up.
-No, my husband isn't musical at all. -Good for him.
For all you know, l might have a tremendous professional talent.
-Oh dear, no. -Why are you so sure?
You're too sane and uncomplicated. l suppose it's a good thing, but it does sound a little dull.
You could never be dull.
-Do you come here every Thursday? -Yes, l spend the day at the hospital.
Stephen Lynn, the chief physician graduated with me. l take over for him once a week. He goes up to London...
-and l study the hospital patients. -l see.
-Do l what? -Come here every Thursday?
Yes. l do the week's shopping.
Change my library book, have lunch and generally go to the pictures.
Not a very exciting routine but it makes a change.
Are you going to the pictures this afternoon?
How extraordinary. So am l. l thought you had to spend all day at the hospital.
Between us, l killed 2 patients this morning... and Matron's displeased. l simply daren't go back.
How can you be so silly? l got through most of my work this morning.
Would you mind if l came to the pictures with you?
-Well, l... -l'll sit downstairs and you upstairs.
Upstairs is too expensive.
The orchestra stopped as abruptly as it had started... and we laughed again. l had no premonitions... although l suppose l should've had. lt all seemed so natural and innocent.
We finished lunch and the idiot of a waitress had put the bill all on one.
-l really must insist. -l couldn't possibly.
Having forced my company on you, it's only fair that l pay for it.
Please don't insist. l would much rather we halved it. Please.
-l shall give in gracefully. -We halved it meticulously.
We even halved the tip.
We have two choices.
''The Loves of Cardinal Richelieu'' at the Palace, or...
-''Love in a Mist'' at the Palladium. -You're very knowledgeable.
There must be no argument about the tickets. We each pay for ourselves.
You must think me a poor doctor if l can't afford a couple of tickets!
-l insist. -l hoped you were going to treat me!
-Which is it to be: Palace or Palladium? -Palladium. l was once very sick on a steamer called ''Cardinal Richelieu''.
l feel awfully grand perched up here. lt was very extravagant of you.
-lt was a famous victory. -Do you feel guilty at all? l do.
You ought to more than me. You neglected your work this afternoon. l worked this morning. A little relaxation never harmed anyone.
Why should we feel guilty?
-l don't know. -How awfully nice you are.
lt can't be.
We walked to the station together.
Just as we reached the gate, he put his hand under my arm. l didn't notice it then but l remember it now.
-What's she like, your wife? -Madelaine?
Small, dark, rather delicate.
How funny. l thought she would've been fair.
And your husband, what's he like?
Medium height, brown hair... kindly, unemotional and not delicate at all.
-You said that proudly. -Did l?
-Good evening. -Evening.
We've just got time for a cup of tea before our trains go.
For the third time in a week he brought... a man and wife home without so much as a by your leave.
-Two teas, please. -Cake or pastry?
-Cake or pastry? -No thank you.
-Are those Bath buns fresh? -Certainly. Made this morning.
That'll be sevenpence.
-Take the tea to the table, Beryl. -l'll carry the buns.
-You must eat one of these. -Very fattening. l don't hold with such foolishness.
-They do look good, l must say. -One of my earliest passions in life.
-What happened then Mrs Bagot? -Well... lt's all very fine... expecting me to do this that and the other.
But you can't expect me to be a cook and housekeeper during the day... and a loving wife in the evening. Just because you feel like it.
There are as good fish in the sea... as ever came out of it. l packed my boxes and left him.
Didn't you never go back?
Never. l went to my sister's at Folkstone for a bit... then l opened a tea shop in Hathe.
And what happened to him?
-Dad as a doornail in three years. -Well, l never.
ls tea bad for one? Worse than coffee? lf this is a professional interview my fee is a guinee.
-Why did you become a doctor? -That's a long story...
-Perhaps because l'm an idealist. -All doctors should have ideals...
-or their work would be unbearable. -Don't encourage me to talk shop.
Why not? lt's what interests you.
Yes, it is. l'm terribly ambitious really.
Not for myself, for my special pigeon.
-What's your special pigeon? -Preventative medicine.
-l see. -l'm afraid you don't.
-l was trying to be intelligent. -Most good doctors... have private dreams. lt's the best part of them.
But sometimes they get strangulated. Am l boring you?
No. l don't quite understand but you're not boring me.
What l mean is this... All good doctors must primarily... be enthusiasts.
They must like writers and painters, have a sense of vocation.
A deep-rooted desire to do good.
Yes, l see that.
Obviously one way of preventing disease is worth 50 ways of curing.
That's where my ideal comes in.
Preventative medicine isn't anything to do with medicine... but with living conditions, hygiene and common sense.
My speciality is pneumoconiosis.
Don't be alarmed. lt's simpler than it sounds. lt's a slow process of fibrosis of the lung... due to inhalation of dust.
Here, there are splendid opportunities, because of the mines.
-You suddenly look much younger. -Do l?
-Almost like a little boy. -What made you say that? l don't know...
Yes, l do.
No, l couldn't really. You were saying about the coal mines...
Yes, the inhalation of coal dust.
That's one form of the diseases, called anthracosis.
What are the others?
Chalicosis... from metal dust.
Yes, of course, steel works.
That's stone dust. Gold mines. l see.
-There's your train. -Yes.
-You mustn't miss it. -No.
-What's the matter? -Nothing. Nothing at all really.
lt's been nice. l enjoyed the afternoon enormously.
So have l. Sorry for boring you with medical words. l feel stupid not to understand more.
Shall l see you again?
You have to run.
Mine's not due for a few minutes.
-Shall l see you again? -Yes, of course.
You could come to Ketchworth one Sunday. We should be delighted.
-Please... please. -What is it?
Next Thursday, the same time.
-No, l couldn't possibly. -Please. l ask you most humbly.
You'll miss your train.
-l'll be there. -Thank you.
l stood there and watched his train draw out of the station. l stared after it... until its tail light had vanished into the darkness.
l imagined him getting out at Churley... giving up his ticket, walking back through the streets... letting himself in his house with his latchkey.
His wife, Madeleine... would probably be in the hall to meet him.
Or perhaps upstairs, not feeling very well.
''Small, dark and rather delicate. '' l wondered if he'd say:
''l met such a nice woman at the Kardomah...
We had lunch and went to the pictures. ''
But suddenly l knew he wouldn't. l knew he wouldn't say a word.
Then the first awful feeling of danger swept over me.
l got in the first compartment l saw, l wanted to get home quickly. l looked around to see if anyone was looking at me.
As if they could read my thoughts.
No one was, except a clergyman. l felt myself blushing and opened my book and pretended to read.
When l got to Ketchworth, l'd decided l wouldn't see Alec anymore.
-Good evening Mrs. Jesson. -lt was silly, flirting with a stranger.
Good evening. l walked home briskly and cheertully. l'd been behaving like an idiot, but no harm had been done.
You met me in the hall.
You looked worried. My heart sank. Fred, what's the matter? lt's all right, keep calm and don't get upset.
-What's wrong? -Bobbie's been knocked down. lt's not serious. He was knocked against the curb... and he's got a slight concussion. The doctor's with him now.
lt's all right. Don't worry.
He'll be as right as rain in a few hours.
You're sure it's not serious?
Quite sure. lt was a lucky escape. l've given him a sedative.
Keep him at home a couple of days. lt must have been a shock... l felt dreadful, looking at him with that bandage on his head. l tried not to show it but l was quite hysterical.
As if it were my fault... a sort of punishment... an awful, sinister warning.
An hour or two later, everything was normal again.
He began to enjoy the whole thing... and revelled in being the centre of attraction.
Remember how we spent the evening planning his future?
He's much too young to decide.
Good life. He's a feeling for it.
How can we know?
He'll want to be an engine driver next week.
No, that was last week. lt's so final, entering a child for the Navy.
-lt's a healthy life. -l know it's a good, healthy life...
He'll see the world, have a wife in every port... and call everybody ''sir'', but what about us?
What do you mean?
-We'll hardly see him. -Nonsense. lt isn't nonsense. He'll be sent away a smooth-faced boy... and the next thing we know he'll walk in with a beard and a parrot.
You've rather a Victorian view of the Navy.
He's our only son and l'd like to be there while he's growing up.
We'll put him in an office and you can put him on the 8:50 each morning.
You are annoying. You know l'd hate that.
All right, have it your own way.
l had lunch with a man and we went to the movies.
Good for you.
He's awfully nice. He's a doctor.
A very noble profession.
Dear. lt was Richard the Third who said: ''My kingdom for a horse'', wasn't it?
Yes. l wish he hadn't. lt spoils everything.
We could ask him to dinner.
By all means.
Doctor Harvey. The one l was telling you about.
-Must it be dinner? -You're never at home for lunch.
Now what on earth's the matter?
Nothing. lt's only... Oh Fred... l really don't see what's so funny. l do... l'm not laughing at you, l'm laughing at me. l'm the funny one. l'm an absolute idiot.
Worrying about things that don't exist... and making mountains out of molehills. l told you it was nothing serious.
-Nothing to get in a state about. -l see that now. l really do.
On Thursday l went to meet Alec... more out of politeness than anything else. lt didn't seem important but l had promised. l managed to get the same table. l waited a bit but he didn't come.
The orchestra was playing as usual. l looked at the cellist. She seemed so funny last week.
Today she didn't seem funny.
She looked pathetic.
After lunch, l passed the hospital. l looked up at the windows and wondered if he were there... or if something awful had happened. l got to the station early. l hadn't enjoyed the pictures. lt was a noisy musical and l'm so sick of them. l'd come out before the end.
As l took my tea to the table... l suddenly wondered if l'd made a mistake... if he meant me to meet him there.
Albert Godby, how dare you!
-l couldn't resist. -Keep your hands to yourself.
You're blushing. You're wonderful when you're angry.
-An avenging angel. -l'll give you avenging angel.
Coming here, taking liberties. l thought after last Monday you wouldn't mind.
Never mind last Monday. l'm on duty now.
What if Mr Saunders was looking through the window. lf he's in the habit, it's about time he saw something worth looking at.
-You ought to be ashamed! -lt's high spirits. Don't be mad. lndeed. Take your tea and be quiet.
-lt's all your fault, really. -l don't know what you mean. l was thinking of tonight. lf you don't behave yourself there won't be tonight or any night.
-Give us a kiss. -l'll do no such thing.
-Come on, a quick one across the bar. -Albert, stop it!
-Come on. -Let go!
-Come on, love. -Albert.
Now look at my Banburys, all over the floor.
Just in time or born in the vestry.
You shut your mouth and help Mr Godby pick up them cakes.
Come on, what are you gaping at?
As l left the Refreshment Room l saw a train coming in.
His train. He wasn't on the platform.
And l suddenly felt panic at the thought of not seeing him again.
l'm so terribly sorry. l couldn't let you know.
-Your train, you'll miss it. -The house surgeon had to operate.
l was going to send a note but l thought it might embarrass you.
Don't say any more.
Quickly! Quickly! The whistle's gone.
l'm so glad l'd chance to explain. l didn't think l'd see you again.
How absurd. Quickly! Quickly!
-Next Thursday. -Yes. Next Thursday.
The train for Ketchworth is about to leave from Platform 3.
The stars can change courses... and the world crash around us... but there'll always be Donald Duck. l do love him, his energy, his blind frustrated rages. lt's the big picture now. Here we go. No more laughter, prepare for tears.
lt was a terribly bad picture.
We crept out before the end, rather furtively... as though we were committing a crime.
The usherette looked at us with stoney contempt. lt was a lovely afternoon and it was a relief to be in the fresh air.
We decided to go to the botanical gardens. l believe that we'd all behave differently... if we lived in a sunny climate.
Not so withdrawn and shy and difficult.
Fred, it was a lovely afternoon.
Some boys were sailing boats. One looked like Bobbie. lt should've given me a pang of conscience, but it didn't. l was enjoying myself... enjoying every single minute.
Alec said he was sick of staring at the water and he wanted to be on it.
All the boats were covered up but we persuaded the man.
He thought we were raving mad.
Perhaps he was right.
Alec rowed and l trailed my hand in the water. lt was cold but a lovely feeling.
You don't row very well, do you? l'll be perfectly honest with you. l don't row at all.
Unless you want to go round in circles... you'd better steer.
We had such fun. l felt gay and happy and released.
That's what's so shameful.
That's what would hurt you so much if you knew... that l could feel so intensely... away from you... with a stranger.
Look out. We can't get through.
Pull on your left.
l never could tell left from right. l'm most awfully sorry.
The British are always nice to mad people.
The boatman thinks we're dotty, but look how sweet he's been.
Tea, milk, even sugar.
You know what's happened, don't you?
Yes, l do. l've fallen in love with you.
Yes, l know.
Tell me honestly. Please, tell me honestly, if what l believe is true.
-What do you believe? -That it's the same for you.
That you've fallen in love, too.
-lt sounds so silly. -Why?
-l know you so little. -lt is true, though, isn't it?
-lt's true. -Laura...
No, please. We must be sensible.
We mustn't behave like this.
We must forget what we've said.
-Not yet. -But we must.
Listen. lt's too late to be sensible...
Too late to forget what we said.
Whether we said it or not doesn't matter.
We know. We've known for a long time.
How can you say that? l've only known you 4 weeks.
We only talked for the first time last Thursday week.
Last Thursday week. Has it been a long time since then?
Answer me truly.
How often did you decide you were never going to see me again?
-Several times a day. -So did l.
-Oh Alec. -l love you. l love your wide eyes... and the way you smile... and your shyness...
-the way you laugh at my jokes. -Please don't. l love you. l love you.
You love me too. We can't pretend it hasn't happened. lt has.
Yes, it has. l don't want to pretend to you or anyone.
But from now l have to.
That's what's wrong, you see. lt spoils everything.
That's why we must stop here and now talking like this.
Neither of us are free to love, there's too much in the way.
There's still time. lf we control ourselves and behave like sensible human beings... there's still time.
There's no time at all.
-There's your train. -Yes. l'll come to the platform with you.
No, Alec, not here. Someone will see. l love you so.
Could we turn that down a bit, darling?
-Yes, dear? -You were miles away.
Why not turn it down? lt really is deafening.
l shan't be long. Then we'll go to bed.
You look a bit tired.
Don't hurry. l'm perfectly happy.
How can l say that, ''Don't hurry. l'm pertectly happy''? lf only it were true!
Not that anyone is ever pertectly happy really... but to be contented, to be at peace. lt's a little while ago but it seems like ages since that train left.
Taking him away into the darkness. l was happy then.
As l went back through the subway, l was walking on air.
When l got into the train. l didn't even pretend to read. l didn't care if people were looking. l had to think. l should've been wretched and ashamed. But l wasn't. l felt suddenly wildly happy... like a romantic schoolgirl, like a romantic fool.
He said he loved me... and l said l loved him. And it was true. lt was true. l imagined being in his arms... being with him in glamourous circumstances. lt was an absurd schoolgirl fantasy, being wooed by one's dream man.
l stared out of the window into the dark... and watched the dim trees and telegraph posts slip by... and through them l saw Alec and me.
Alec and me.
Perhaps a little younger, but just as much in love.
And with nothing in the way.
l saw us in Paris, in a box at the opera.
The orchestra was tuning up.
Then we were in Venice, in a gondola, with sound of mandolins. l saw us travelling far away. All the places l've always longed to go.
l saw us on a ship looking at the sea and the stars...
standing on a tropical beach in the moonlight, with palm tress sighing.
Then the palm trees changed into those willows by the canal.
All the silly dreams disappeared. l got out at Ketchworth and gave up my ticket... and walked home as usual, soberly, and without any wings at all.
When l was getting ready for dinner, do you remember?
You won't but l do.
That was the first time l'd ever lied to you. lt started then, the shame of the whole thing, the guilt, the fear.
-Good evening Mrs. Jesson. -Hello, dear.
-Had a good day? -Yes, lovely.
What did you do? l shopped and had lunch and went to the pictures.
-All by yourself? -Yes...
-No, not exactly. -What do you mean, not exactly. l went to the pictures by myself but l had lunch with Mary Norton.
She couldn't come to the film. She had to see her in-laws just near Milford. l walked her to the bus and came home on my own. l haven't seen Mary Norton for ages. How's she looking?
Very well. A little fatter.
Hurry up with all this beautifying. l want my dinner.
You go down. l won't be five minutes.
Ketchworth 37, please.
Hello. ls Mrs. Norton there, please? Yes. l'll hold on.
-Hello. -Hello is that you. Mary?
Laura! Fancy hearing from you. l thought you were dead.
No, l haven't seen you for ages.
Will you be a saint and back me up in the most appalling domestic lie?
-As bad as all that? -My life depends on it.
Today l went to Milford to do my shopping... with the intention of buying an expensive present for Fred.
Robson's hadn't got what l wanted... one of those clocks with barometers and everything in one.
But they had one at the Broadham branch so l went to get it.
-Go on. -This is were the black lie comes in.
Fred asked me about my day and l said you and l had lunch together.. then you'd gone to your in-laws' and l'd gone to the pictures. lf you run into him, don't let me down, will you?
-But darling, of course not. -l'll do as much for you l promise.
-Well let's really lunch one day. -Yes, that'd be lovely.
-What about next Thursday? -No l can't. That's my Milford day.
-What about Friday? -Fine better make it here.
-All right, perfect. -You know what my cook's like?
-lt'll have to be early. -Yes, all right.
That week was misery.
l was in a sort of trance.
How odd you didn't notice you were living with a stranger in the house.
Thursday came at last. l'd arranged to meet Alec outside the hospital at 1 2:30.
-Hello. -Hello. l thought you wouldn't come. l've been thinking all week you wouldn't. l didn't mean to really, but here l am.
l hadn't been in the Royal since Violet's wedding reception. lt all seemed very grand.
He ordered a bottle of champagne and said we were only middle-aged once!
We were very gay during lunch and talked about quite ordinary things.
He was charming. You'd have liked him if things had been different.
As we were going out he said he had a surprise for me... and that if l'd wait in the lounge he'd show me what it was.
He ran down the steps like an excited schoolboy, not a respectable doctor.
Suddenly out of the dining room came Mary Norton and her rich cousin.
They must've seen Alec and me, the champagne and everything.
Laura! lt was you after all.
Hermione said it was... l'm so short-sighted. l peered but couldn't be sure. l never saw you at all. How awful. l expect it was the champagne. l'm not used to champagne for lunch or dinner...
-but Alec insisted. -Alec? Alec who, dear?
Alec Harvey, of course. You remember the Harveys. l've known them years.
-No l don't think... -He'll be back.
You'll recognise him when you peer closely.
-He looks charming, very attentive. -He's a dear.
One of the nicest people in the world and a wonderful doctor.
-Alec, do you remember Mrs. Norton? -l'm afraid l don't. lt's no use Laura. We've never seen each other before. l'm sure.
How absurd. l'm sure he and Madeleine were at that dinner before Christmas.
-Alec, this is Mrs. Rolandson. -How do you do?
-Horrid weather, isn't it? -Yes.
Of course, one can't expect spring at this time of the year.
We must be going. l'm taking Harmione to see the in-laws, as moral support.
-Goodbye, Doctor Harvey. -Goodbye.
Goodbye, my dear. l do envy you your champagne.
-That was awful. -Never mind.
They'd watched us all through lunch.
Forget it. Come out and look at the surprise.
At the foot of the steps was a litle two-seater car.
Alec had borrowed it from Stephen Lynn for the afternoon. l tried hard to look pleased but it wasn't any good. l kept thinking of those two laughing and talking...
Laughing and talking. l couldn't get them out of my mind.
When we were out in the country, a few miles beyond Brayfield... we stopped the car outside a village and got out.
There was a bridge and a stream.
The sun was making an effort to come out but not succeeding.
We leaned on the parapet and looked down into the water. l shivered and Alec put his asm around me.
-Cold? -No, not really.
No, not really. l know exactly what you're going to say.
That it isn't worth it... the lying outweighs the happiness we might have together. lsn't that it?
Something like that.
l want to ask you something, just to reassure myself.
What? lt is true for you isn't it?
This overwhelming feeling. ls a true for you as it is for me? lt's true.
We must have stayed on that bridge for a long time... because when we got back to Stephen Lynn's it was getting dark. l felt as if l was on the edge of a precipice. l think Alec felt that, too.
We both knew how desperately we loved each other.
Alec had to leave the keys in Stephen Lynn's flat... and suggested l came up with him. l refused rather too vehemently.
Alec reminded me that Stephen wasn't coming back till late, but l refused.
l'm going back. l'm going to miss my train.
-Back where? -To Stephen's flat.
l must go home, l really must go.
A cup of tea please.
-Good afternoon. -Afternoon lady.
-Couple of whiskies please. -Very sorry. lt's out of hours.
Sneak us a couple under them old sandwiches.
Them sandwiches are fresh and l'll do no such thing.
Come on, be a sport.
You can have as much as you want after 6 o'clock.
My throat's like a parrot cage. Listen.
My license doesn't permit me to serve alcohol out of hours. That's final!
You wouldn't want to get me into trouble, would you?
Just give us the chance. That's all we ask.
Ask Mr. Godby to come for a moment will you?
-Who's he when he's at home? -You'll soon see...
-Come in here, cheeking me... -Come of it, mother, be a pal.
You saucy upstart.
-Who are you calling an upstart? -You. Get out of here double quick... disturbing the customers and making a nuisance of yourselves.
-Where's the fire? Where's the fire? -What's going on in here?
Mr. Godby, these gentlemen are annoying me.
-We haven't done nothing, have we? -Just asked for a couple of drinks.
-They insulted me, Mr. Godby. -We never did anything of the kind.
-Just having a little joke. -Hop it. Both of you.
-We've got a right to stay here. -You heard what l said. Hop it. ls this a free country or a Sunday school? l checked your warrant. Your train's in 1 minute, platform 2. Hop it!
-Now, look here. -Come on Johnnie.
-Don't argue with the poor basket. -Hop it.
And if them sandwiches are fresh, you're Shirley Temple.
-Thank you, Albert. -What a nerve, talking like that.
Be quiet, Beryl. Poor me out a nip of three star. l'm quite upset.
-l'll get back to the gate. -l'll be seeing you later, Albert.
The train now arriving at Platform 3 is the 5:43 for Ketchworth.
-l really must go. -l'm going back to the flat. l must go home. l really must go home. l'm going back to the flat.
l'm going home.
Excuse me, l've forgotten something.
lt's raining. lt started just as l turned out of High street.
You had no umbrella and your coat's wet.
You mustn't catch cold. That would never do.
l look an absolute fright.
-Let me put that down. -Thank you.
l hope the fire will perk up.
-l expect the wood was damp. -Yes, l expect it was.
Do sit down, darling.
l got into the train and got out again. Wasn't it idiotic?
We're both very foolish.
-Alec, l can't stay. Really. -Just a little while, a little while.
Quickly. Quickly. l must go.
Here, through the kitchen. There's a tradesman's staircase.
-ls that you, Alec? -Yes.
-You're back early. -Yes, l felt a cold coming on... so l denied myself the pleasure... of dining with Roger Hinchly and decided to come back. lnflamed membranes are unsympathetic to a dialectic...
-What will you do about food? -l can ring down to the restaurant.
We live in a modern age and this is a service flat.
-Yes, of course. -lt caters for all tastes.
You've hidden depths l never suspected.
-Look here, Stephen, l... -No explanations or apologies. l should apologise for returning so inopportunely. lt's quite obvious you were interviewing a patient privately.
Woman are frequently rather neurotic creatures. Hospitals upset them.
From the undignified scuffling l heard... l gather she beat a hasty retreat down the backstairs. l'm surprised at the farcical streak in your nature, Alec.
Such carryings on are unnecessary. We've been friends for years... and l'm the most broad-minded of men. l'm really sorry. l'm sure that the situation must seem vulgar to you.
Actually it isn't in the least.
You're right. Explanations are unnecessary between old friends. l must go now. l'll collect my coat. Goodbye.
Could you give me my latchkey? l only have 2 and l'm afraid of losing them.
-You're very angry, aren't you? -No. Not angry. Just disappointed.
l ran until l couldn't any longer. l leant against a lamp post to get my breath in a side road... l knew it was stupid to run but l couldn't help myself. l felt humiliated and defeated and so dreadfully ashamed.
After a moment or two l pulled myself together... and walked towards the station. lt was still raining but not very much. l realised that l couldn't go home.
Not until l regained control and had time to think.
Then l thought of you waiting and dinner being spoilt.
So l went found a tobacconist and telephoned you.
Do you remember?
Hello Fred, is that you? Yes. lt's me, Laura.
Yes, everything's all right, but l shan't be home to dinner. l'm with Miss Lewis.
Miss Lewis, the librarian l've told you about at Boots. l can't explain because she's outside the box now. l met her a little while ago in a terrible state.
Her mother's ill and l've promised to stay until the doctor comes.
Yes, but she's always been kind to me and l feel so sorry for her.
No, l'll get a sandwich. Ask Ethel to leave me some soup... in a saucepan in the kitchen.
Yes, of course, as soon as l can.
All right. Goodbye. lt's awfully easy to lie, when you know you are trusted implicitly.
So very easy, and so very degrading. l started walking without purpose. l turned out of the High street almost immediately. l was terrified that l might run into Alec. l was sure he'd come after me. l walked for a long while. Finally, l found myself at the war memorial.
Right at the other side of town. lt had stopped raining and l felt stiflingly hot... so l sat down on one of the seats.
There was nobody about and l lit a cigarette. l know how you disapprove of women smoking in the street. l do too, but l thought it might help calm my nerves. l sat there for ages. l don't know how long.
Then l noticed a policeman.
He was looking at me rather suspiciously.
Presently he came up to me.
-Feeling all right, Miss? -Yes, thank you.
-Waiting for someone? -No, l'm not waiting for anybody.
Don't go and catch cold. lt's a damp night. l'm going now. l've got to catch a train.
You sure you feel quite all right?
-Quite, Thank you. Good night. -Good night, Miss. l walked away trying to look casual, knowing he was watching me. l felt like a criminal. l walked rather quickly back towards High street. l got to the station fifteen minutes before the last train to Ketchworth. l realised that l'd been wandering for over 3 hours.. but it didn't seem any time at all.
Sten, you are awful!
-See you in the yard. -All right.
-l'd like a glass of brandy, please. -We're just closing.
Yes, l can see, but you're not quite closed.
-Three Star? -That'll do.
Have you got a piece of paper and an envelope?
-You'll get that at the bookstall. -The bookstall's closed.
Please, it's important. l'd be much obliged.
All right. Just a minute.
-Thank you very much. -We close in a few minutes.
Yes, l know.
l've been looking for you everywhere.
-Please go away. -l've watched every train.
-l can't leave you like this. -You must. lt's better, really.
You're being dreadfully cruel. lt was an accident he came back.
He doesn't know you. l suppose he laughed and you... spoke of me as men of the world.
We didn't speak of you but of some nameless creature.
Why didn't you tell him? That we were cheap and low and...
Stop it. Pull yourself together. lt's nothing of the sort.
We know we love each other.
-That's all that matters. -lt isn't all that matters... self respect matters and decency. l can't go on any longer.
Could you really say goodbye and never see me again?
Yes, if you'd help me.
l love you Laura. l shall love you always until the end of my life.
l can't look at you now because l know something.
This is the beginning of the end.
Not the end of my loving you, but the end of our being together.
But please, not quite yet.
Very well, not quite yet. l know how you feel about this evening, about the sordidness of it. l know about the strain of our different lives, our lives apart.
The feeling of guilt is too strong.
Too great a price to pay for the happiness we'd have together.
l know all this because it's the same for me, too.
You can look at me now. l'm all right.
Let's be very careful. Let's prepare ourselves.
A sudden break now, however admirable, would be too cruel.
We can't do such violence to our hearts and minds.
-l'm going away. -l see.
-But not quite yet. -Please, not quite yet.
-That's the 1 0:1 0. lt's closing time. -ls it?
-l shall have to lock up. -All right.
-Promise me something. -What is it?
That however unhappy you are... however much you think, you'll meet me again next Thursday.
-Where? -Outside the hospital. 1 2:30.
-All right, l promise. -l've got to talk to you, to explain.
-About going away? -Yes.
Where will you go? You can't give up your practice. l've had a job offer. l wasn't going to tell you. l wasn't going to take it, but it's the only way out.
-Where? -A long way away. Johannesburg.
My brother's there. They're opening a new hospital. They want me. lt's a fine opportunity. l'll take Madeleine and the boys. lt's been torturing me, having to decide one way or another. l haven't told anybody, not even Madeleine. l couldn't bear the thought of leaving you... but now l see, it's got to happen soon anyway. lt's almost happening already.
When will you go?
Almost immediately. ln about two weeks time.
Quite near isn't it.
Do you want me to stay? Do you want me to turn down the offer?
Don't be foolish, Alec.
-l'll do whatever you say. -That's unkind of you.
The train for Ketchworth is now arriving at Platform 3.
You're not angry with me, are you?
No, l'm not angry. l don't think l'm anything. l just feel tired.
-Forgive me. -Forgive you for what?
For meeting you... for taking the grit out of your eye... for loving you... for bringing you so much misery.
l'll forgive you, if you'll forgive me.
All that was a week ago. lt's hardly credible it should be so short a time.
Today was our last day together.
Our very last together in all our lives. l met him outside the hospital at 1 2:30.
1 2:30 this morning.
That was only this morning.
We drove into the country again, but this time he hired a car. l lit cigarettes for him as we went along.
We didn't talk much. l felt numbed and hardly alive at all.
We had lunch in a village pub.
Afterwards we went to the same bridge over the stream... the bridge that we had been to before.
Those last few hours went by so quickly.
As we walked through the station l remember thinking...
''This is the last time with Alec. l'll see it all again but without Alec. '' l tried not to think it... not to let it spoil our last moments together.
-Are you all right, darling? -Yes, l'm all right. l wish l could think of something to say. lt doesn't matter, not saying anything.
-l'll miss my train and wait for yours. -l'd rather come to your platform.
Do you think we'll ever see each other again? l don't know. Not for years anyway.
The children will be grown up. l wonder if they'll ever meet and know each other.
Couldn't l write to you?
-No, Alec, please. We promised. -All right, dear. l do love you so much. l love you with all my heart and soul.
l want to die. lf only l could die. lf you died you'd forget me. l want to be remembered.
Yes l know. l do too.
-We've still got a few minutes. -Laura! What a lovely surprise. l've been shopping till l'm dropping. My throat's parched. l'd have had tea in Spindle's but didn't want to miss the train. Dear!
-This is Doctor Harvey. -How do you do.
Get me my cup of tea would you? l can't drag my bones to the counter.
No please... lt was cruel of fate to be against us right up to the last minute.
Dolly Messiter. Poor, well-meaning irritating Dolly Messiter.
Crashing into those last precious minutes we had together.
She chattered and fussed, but l didn't hear. l felt dazed.
-Oh dear. No sugar. -lt's in the spoon.
Alec behaved so beautifully... with such pertect politeness.
Noone could've guessed what he was really feeling.
-There's your train. -Yes, l know.
-Aren't you coming with us? -No, l go in the opposite direction.
-My practice is in Churley. -l see.
-l'm a general practitioner. -Dr. Harvey's going to Africa.
The train on Platform 4 is the 5.40 for Churley, and Langdon.
-l must go. -Yes.
l felt the touch of his hand for a moment... and then he walked away... away out of my life forever.
He's got to get to the other platform.
Talking of missing trains reminds me of the bridge at Broadham junction.
Dolly went on talking, but l wasn't listening. l was listening for the sound of his train.
Then it did.
l said to myself: ''He didn't go.
His courage failed and he couldn't go.
He'll come back into the room pretending he's forgotten something. '' l prayed for that.
Just so l could see him for an instant.
But the minutes went by. ls that the train? ls that the Ketchwork train?
-No, it's the express. -The boat train.
That doesn't stop, does it?
-l want some chocolate, please. -Milk or plain?
l meant to do it, Fred. l really meant to do it. l stood there trembling, right on the edge.
But l couldn't. l wasn't brave enough. l'd like to say it was you and the children prevented me, but it wasn't. l had no thoughts at all.
Only an overwhelming desire not to feel anything ever again... not to be unhappy anymore. l turned...
and went back in the Refreshment Room.
That's when l nearly fainted.
Whatever your dream was... it wasn't a very happy one, was it?
No. ls there anything l can do to help?
Yes, Fred. You always help.
You've been a long way away.
Thank you for coming back to me.
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