Love or money
The Clarkson family lived in the country near Cambridge, about half a mile from the nearest village and about a mile from the river.
They had a big, old house with a beautiful garden, a lot of flowers and many old trees.
One Thursday morning in July, Jackie came in from the garden.
She was a tall, fat woman, thirty years old.
It was the hottest day of the year, but she wore a warm brown skirt and yellow shirt.
She went into the kitchen to get a drink of water.
Just then the phone rang.
Cambridge 1379, ‘Jackie said.
Hello. This is Diane. I want to talk to mother.
Mother isn’t here, ‘Jackie said. ‘She’s at the doctor’s.
Why? What’s wrong?
Nothing’s wrong, ‘Jackie said.
Why are you telephoning? You are going to come this weekend?
Mother wants everyone to be here.
Yes, I want to come, ‘Diane said.
I’m phoning because I have no money for the train ticket.
No money! Mother is always giving you money.
This phone call is very expensive, ‘Diane said coldly.
Tell mother please. I need the money.
Jackie put the phone down.
She took a cigarette from her bag and began to smoke.
She felt angry because her sister always asked for money.
Diane was twenty years old, the youngest in the family.
She lived in London, in one room of a big house.
She wanted to be a singer.
She sang very well but she could never get work.
Jackie went back into the kitchen and began to make some sandwiches.
Just then the back door opened, and her mother came in.
It’s very hot! Molly said.
She took off her hat and put it down on the table.
She was a tall, dark woman with beautiful eyes.
Two big, black dogs came into the kitchen after her and ran across to her.
She sat down and put her hands on their heads.
Jackie put the sandwiches on the table.
Mother, ‘she said, ‘Diane phoned. She wants money for her train ticket.
Molly closed her eyes for a minute. Then she stood up.
This afternoon i want you to get the house ready for the weekend, she said.
Oh, and please go to the village later and get my tablets.
Yes, mother, ‘Jackie said.
Molly went to the door.
Mother, please wait a minute, ‘Jackie said.
Peter Hobbs came here this morning.
He’s very angry with you about that letter.
He lost his job, you know.
Why did you write to his office?
He wants to talk to you about it.
Well, I don’t want to talk to him, ‘Molly said.
She opened the door.
But mother, you don’t understand.
He’s seventeen, and it was his first job.
He’s very, very angry.
He says... he says he’s going to kill you!
Molly did not answer.
She went out of the room and closed the door.
It was seven o’clock on Saturday evening. Jackie stood at the window.
A car drove slowly up to the front door and stopped.
A tall man with white hair got out.
It was Albert, the husband of Molly’s sister.
Here’s Uncle Albert, ‘Jackie said.’ Always late.’
She went out of the room and opened the front door.
Albert came in and went at once to Molly.
Oh, dear. I’m very late. I am sorry, ‘Albert said.
Fifty years old today! What a wonderful dress!
Molly did not smile. Thank you, Albert. We’re all getting older.
Tonight she wore a long black dress, and the two black dogs sat at her feet.
Everyone is here now. Let’s go in to dinner, ‘She said.
Everyone stood up and went to the table.
The table looks nice, Jackie. What wonderful flowers! Diane said.
She was a beautiful girl, with long black hair and dark blue eyes.
She wore a long red dress.
Albert sat down next to Roger.
Roger was Molly’s son, her second child.
He lived in Cambridge, in an expensive house.
Someone called Peter stopped me down the road,’ Albert said.
Who is he? He’s very angry with you, Molly.
That’s Peter Hobbs, from the house across the road,’ Jackie said quickly.
She looked across the table at Molly.
He lost his job last week and he’s angry with everyone.
It’s Molly he doesn’t like, ‘Albert said.
Molly said nothing. Everyone began to eat.
How is Aunt Annie? ‘Jackie asked.
She’s much worse now, ‘Albert said.
She stays in bed all the time. She needs a nurse twenty-four hours a day.
I am sorry,’ Molly said.
Albert stopped eating and looked at Molly.
It’s very difficult and very expensive, you know.
Annie feels very unhappy because you don’t visit her, Molly.
She loves you very much.
You are her little sister, you know.
Molly closed her eyes for a minute.
I know that, Albert.
I am fifty years old, but I am always her ‘little sister.
Well, we can talk about it later.
Albert laughed. ‘Oh yes, we can talk later.
It’s always later with you, Molly. Always tomorrow. Never today.
Jackie watched her mother. Her mother was angry with Albert.
Molly never liked talking about her sister Annie and she did not like visiting her because she was very ill.
That’s a beautiful dress, Diane. Is it new? Jackie asked.
Thanks you, Jackie. Yes, it’s new, and very expensive.
I got it on Wednesday, ‘Diane said.
She smiled at Jackie.
All your things are expensive,’ Jackie said.
She remembered the phone call on Thursday about the train ticket.
I don’t like cheap things, ‘Diane said.
And I’m going to need more money soon. I want to go to America. Can you help me, Roger?
On no,’ Roger said.’ Nobody wants to help you, Diane.
You don’t like working, we all know that, but we all want you to get a job.
Diane Laughed. It doesn’t matter, Roger. I don’t need your help.
Mother always helps me. Mother loves me best.
She suddenly smiled, a quick, beautiful smile.
But her eyes were cold.
Jackie looked at her mother.
Molly’s face was white.
Jackie did not understand.
Was her mother afraid of Diane?
Jackie wanted her mother to be happy today.
Would you like some more meat, Uncle Albert? Jackie asked.
Roger, can you give everyone some more to drink?
Roger got up and began to give more wine to everyone.
This is good wine,’ he said.
Molly smiled for the first time.
Yes, your father loved this wine. He often drank it.
Yes, Albert said, and looked at Molly. Expensive, too.
Would you like to meet Mr Briggs this weekend, Roger? Jackie asked quickly.
He’s the new man at the farm. He wants to meet you.
Briggs? Briggs? ‘Molly said, suddenly angry.
Don’t talk to me about that man. I don’t like him.
He wants half my garden for his farm.
He needs more land, he says.
I don’t want him in my house.
He’s always dirty and he has bad teeth.
Jackie stood up and got her bag. Excuse me, I want a cigarette.
Cigarettes! Always a cigarette in your mouth,’ Molly said.
I don’t like it. Cigarettes aren’t good for you.
Jackie began to smoke.
She felt angry but she said nothing.
She wanted her mother to be happy this evening, but it was very difficult.
Roger drank some more wine.
Well, Mother, perhaps Mr Briggs is right.
The garden is very big, you know, ‘he said.
It’s a lot of work for you. The house is big, too.
You’re fifty now. You need to be more careful.
Roger! I don’t need a nurse, you know!
I work in the garden every day, I feel happy there.
Molly stood up. I know you all want my money.
You came here for a free dinner, you don’t want to see me.
You don’t love me. You want my house, and my money.
Well, you can all wait.
Nobody is getting more money from me, not before I die!
Don’t say that, Mother!’Jackie cried.
Molly walked across the room to the door.
I feel ill now. I’m going upstairs to bed.
Molly left the room. Nobody moved.
One day I’m going to kill that woman, ‘Diane said quietly.
Roger looked at Diane but said nothing.
Albert moved his head slowly up and down.
Ill! She’s angry, that’s all, ‘he said.
Molly always gets angry about money.
Why can’t she be good to her sister?
Annie’s going to die soon. Molly knows that.
Jackie finished her cigarette and stood up.
Would everyone like some coffee?
Come into the kitchen and let’s drink it there.