Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Forty-Six
31st December 1974
It was late, far later than Sir Malcolm normally stayed up for anyway, as the final minutes of 1974 ticked down. Margot was surrounded by her friends, enjoying the compliments about “Her accomplished and wonderful granddaughter” as if she weren’t often left seething by something that Marie had said or done. Malcolm knew that though she kept a smile on her face and was gracious, this was the twisting of the knife in a self-inflicted wound. Though in recent days, Margot had brightened to the possibility Marie Alexandra might be married off at some point in the future and thus, giving her a face-saving way out of the situation.
As he walked across the crowded ballroom, Malcolm saw that Marie was frequently checking her watch as she was having a young man too oblivious to notice the bored expression on her face talking at her. She had told Malcolm earlier that the dark side of having everyone know that she spoke several languages was that she couldn’t pretend to not speak the one that the person who was boring her spoke. Considering that was Marie’s reaction towards most of the young men she had been introduced to tonight, Margot’s idea wasn’t going to play out nearly as easily as she might like.
Over the last several months, Malcolm had observed his granddaughter and how she went about her days. Most of Marie’s classes were in the morning, so she left before the sun came up most of the time. He was aware that most afternoons, Marie was at the house belonging to Bert and Patricia Lane minding their young granddaughter so that Henriette Lane could better manage things. When Malcolm had spoken to Bert, he had said that Marie had been a godsend and had been thankful for how she was helping Hennie get her life back on course.
While Margot was seemingly unaware of this, the rest of her circle of friends were not. To them Patricia was a mutual friend and they had gone with Margot’s dictates mostly out of fear of crossing her. Marie had little to fear from Margot because as everyone knew, she could leave whenever she wanted and her standing in her grandmother’s social circle meant nothing to her. Marie had given Patricia a way back in and Margot had to be gracious over how everyone was talking about Marie. Sir Malcolm had spent most of his life with Margot and could tell that this situation was one that she was not equipped to deal with. A dark part of him whispered that it was about time, but that was something that he would never say aloud.
“If I may have this dance?” Malcolm asked Marie interrupting the conversation. She had a very grateful look on her face as she took his hand as they stepped out onto the dancefloor.
“Thank you Opa” Marie said in German.
Since she had arrived in Canada, Marie had seldom spoke in her own language. Malcolm recognized it as having the regional accent of Berlin and that her speaking it meant that he was catching her in an unguarded moment.
“I saw that you needed saving” Malcolm replied in the same language. “How bad was it?”
“He was trying to impress me with his athletic prowess” Marie replied, “Playing Golf, I didn’t know why anyone would think that would impress me.”
The disgust was evident in her voice. While Golf did exist in Europe, it didn’t have nearly the importance placed on it that it did in the United States and Canada. When it came to being a member of an exclusive club where one could tell lies to their heart’s content and brag about their supposed wealth, the Germans seemed to prefer other avenues to country clubs.
“What would impress you?” Malcolm asked as they danced to the rhythm of the slow Waltz. It was something that he wondered about. There were times when Marie seemed like a complete innocent, others when she was worldly and accomplished. It was an area where Marie was a complete mystery to everyone. Doug had once confided in Malcolm that he sometimes thought that Marie’s affections may be of the Sapphic variety, Kat apparently disagreed though. She just thought that Marie preferred to remain in a quasi-childhood where no such determination would need to be made. Malcolm wasn’t certain if either were true, if the former were true though, it would probably be the end of Margot. The impression that Malcolm got out of that, was that no one had actually asked Marie directly, possibly because they were afraid of the answer.
“Why can’t they be like you, or Poppa?” Marie asked after a long pause. “Out there in the world doing real things as opposed to stupid games.”
“Many would disagree on a couple different scores” Malcolm replied, “I am retired, and your father is in the Arts.”
“You lived an amazing life Opa, and Poppa is a Photojournalist” Marie said, “He was right in the middle of the action during the Soviet War and later in Korea. There have been a thousand other places too.”
Marie’s opinion of her father was somewhat unexpected. Not because of what she had said, but the vehemence with which she said it. That was an interesting wrinkle and Malcolm found that he was looking forward to seeing how that would play out in the months ahead. Malcolm glanced at the clock and saw that it was going to be midnight in a few minutes.
“I need to go find your grandmother before the clock strikes twelve” Malcolm said, “I’ll keep an eye out for your adventurer in the meantime, you never know.”
Marie just smiled at that.