Imogene

Imogene

By Janet James

    No, I’m not amused and I want to go for a smoke. I’ve been sitting here for two hours listening to nattering and bitching about how Johnny was caught by the schoolmaster for kissing Becky What’s-Her-Name and the trouble Mrs. Standish has with her cook. I wish they’d choke on their tea.

    When George and I moved here from the city, he assured me that I’d never be bored and that social functions would fill my calendar. Well, the daytime social functions turned out to be tedious exercises in perseverance while watching equally as tedious women get bloated on tea or tipsy on sherry. Whilst the evening parties are sustained by demure smiles and delicate conversations, like how many debutantes are coming out this year. Not a wicked book or a naked painting to be seen. The boredom is endless.

    Oh god – it’s nearly three o’clock. The rally must have begun already, but hopefully with the strength and conviction of the women attending, it would go on for some time. Maybe I could catch at least the end.

    If George discovered my involvement with the suffragettes or even that I smoke, he’d lock me away or pack me off to the country with some imaginary illness. But then husbands can be like that, so arrogant about tedious virtues. And with the company of these priggish biddies, I feel even more compelled to support what I’ve always believed. The rights of women – they’ve been ignored long enough, but I would find no advocates in this room.

    Oh, Mrs. Riddley, a woman of whopping proportions, is offering yet another round of sweet cakes, and after listening to her go on about the gown she’s having made for her daughter’s coming-out ball, I can’t help but wonder how many bolts of cloth were used, one dozen or two?

    I don’t suppose another feigned headache could get me away from this monotony. I’ve used that excuse for the last three parties. But oh god – can I stand any more of this drivel?

    Servants, planning parties, dressing up, pouring tea – that’s the best these women can do for excitement. What this bunch needs is a good scandal. Not just some maid, who’s become a fallen woman, and oh, how I hate that expression – but something totally unsavoury, rancid even. For that matter, I could light up a cigarette right here and then excuse myself with a sweet smile and say I’m off to the suffragettes’ rally. That would get some attention. Oh, but dare I? What’s to be gained and what’s to be lost? Self-satisfaction – yes, I would most certainly get that and my open support for the suffragettes would lend them strength. But, unfortunately the losses would be mostly George’s. His peers would not treat this lightly and aside from that, he may be totally extricated from his club.

    Ah, perhaps that’s too harsh. Two social disgraces in one day for George would be a bit much. However… “Ahem, excuse me ladies, I’m sorry to have to leave this little gathering, but I must be on my way. I am off to attend the suffragettes’ rally, ta ta.” I’ll light up another time.