Under pressure

This afternoon’s lunch date with my dear old Aunt Mad Duck was pretty much as I expected. There was no sign of any papers to sign, so I was quite confident it wasn’t going to be a business meeting. I know there are some things she wants me to agree to regarding our mutual business interests, but I usually need a good stiff drink or two before I can cope with that kind of meeting.

No, today was all about her rekindled interest in my marital status. I know she means well, and she has my interests at heart, but she also has one eye on the family name and inheritance. The real problem is that her idea of a suitable young lady and mine are not always in the same ball park. For her, any female of good family capable of bearing children will do. Obviously I am a little more selective. Her own marriage to my uncle is one of convenience and although on the surface they seem to be happy. I know that they are actually living entirely separate lives. Whilst they are very fond of each other, there is no intimacy or affection between them.

On the other hand, those of my friends who have married for “love” have often found themselves embroiled in endless confrontations, disputes over money and in many cases, divorce. This relationship game is a veritable mine field. Whichever way you turn there are traps awaiting the unwary traveler. And whilst I am not expecting a whirlwind romance, if I am going to marry, I would like to to be to someone whose company I enjoy and I can have some regard for.

So, with all this at the back of my mind, I joined dear old Mad Duck at a little bistro she likes to frequent, just of the Brompton Road. As is her custom she was early and waiting for me when I arrived. Punctuality is one of her little foibles. Apparently, she has never been late for an appointment in her life.

Anyway, once we had ordered our food and started on a particularly fine Chateau Lagrange, the conversation took the expected turn as my dear old aunt introduced the subject of matrimony. It started innocently enough, with an update on the impending nuptials of my cousin Charles. It seems that what had started as a small family affair has blossomed into a full scale society wedding. I know Charles well enough to know that this escalation is not his idea, and will definitely not be to his liking. I have only met his bride to be once, and I must admit that she didn’t strike me as the ostentatious sort. This is just the sort of thing that can happen to chaps like us. All we really want is a quiet and simple life.

Inevitably, as we discussed Charles’ future, my own came slowly and inexorably into focus. Didn’t I think it was about time I too got married? Wasn’t it about time I started thinking about an heir? And then, as if on cue, who should “just happen” to pass by our table but my cousin Dorothy with one of her friends, a petite young lady called Angela. Of course, this may have just been coincidence, but knowing Mad Duck, a very much doubt it.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Mad Duck dropped so many hints about Angela’s eligibility and, rather embarrassingly, her family’s reputation for having lots and lots of children, that in the end I decided to bite the bullet, so to speak, and suggest that she and Dorothy join me for supper later in the week. By the time we had finished our lunch (and a third bottle of Claret), it had all been arranged, much to the delight of Aunt Murdock.

It came out during our conversations that Dorothy’s play is about to close. I can’t say I am surprised as it was particularly awful, not that I would ever say that to her you understand. She is a rather sensitive sort. Well, as she had expected a longer run, she has nothing else planned and has also had to give notice on her flat. Being the chivalrous chap that I am I have offered her a room at my house, just until she can secure another job. Needless to say she was delighted at my philanthropy and will be joining me in my Kensington abode this coming weekend.

Thinking about it now I am not sure how this is going to work out. I am used to having my own space and have never had a young lady living in like this. And what Aunt Murdock will make of the arrangement I can only guess.

Anyway, I must be off now. I have agreed to meet a couple of the chaps from the Club for a small party on the river. It was one of those impromptu sort of things that seemed like a jolly good idea after a few snifters of single malt. Let us just hope the weather is kind – I am not too good on the water when it gets a little choppy.

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