Gwen Penhaligon knew not to disturb Bill when he sat in his favourite room of the house,it was a tacit agreement.She was looking forward to Mrs Trenbath arriving to carry out her house cleaning duties at Pengelly.Gwen loved her house,and its decor had been her project as it were,and although Bill could be insensitive to her wishes,on the interior of the house,he had given her cart Blanche to do what she wished,leaving her with a purpose after her inability to conceive a child.
In Gwen’s eyes,she was a failure,a woman who could provide her husband with an heir to the family ,to perpetuate the dynasty of the Penhaligon family.It had ,nonetheless,bothered her much more than Bill,who remained pragmatic about this,and felt that the destiny of the family lay in his hands.This was a better situation then Gwen could ever had imagined,so her gratitude was such that she was obsessive about providing Bill with everything that he wanted.This now included that Gwen provide his eyes and ears in the village community as it were.She was to use her feminine influence to extract from the local woman information as to the standing of the Penhaligon’s in the village.This Gwen didn’t really relish,but she knew that Bill wanted to be elected in the council elections as a springboard to becoming an MP in years to come.
Gwen had heard about the women in the village and their support of the national suffragette movement,and this had piqued her interest.So much so,that she had purposefully invited Marilyn Graham for afternoon to pick her brains.Initially ,she had been refused because her invitation for tea had been rigidly set for a Saturday and she was refused by Miss Graham.However,upon being told by Mrs Trenbath that Miss Graham always went to Truro on Saturdays she was determined to make an alternative arrangement which she duly did for this afternoon ,Tuesday,at 2 p,m.
Sometimes,I have observed in my life that it is never truly a wise thing to assume things about a person.Gwen portrayed herself as a woman who loved her house,her cloths and her station in the community,but there was far more to her humanity than that.Her great great grandmother had been disinherited by her brother who then saw her confined to domestic service simply because she was a woman wth no reason gets to hold property ,or demand the vote and thus achieve independence.
For years,Gwen desperately wanted women like her relative to be treated with dignity,to enjoy human rights,basic rights.She knew that Miss Grahman acted as a conduit for the views of the women’s movement in her community.
Gwen carried these things behind a mask of respectability and her facade had appeared to many to be her true self.We are,in oh so many ways,people with different selves,and Gwen was no exception in this.But how would she explain this to Bill,and what would be his reaction?