Till Death Do Us Part: Episode 5

Ruanna finally tracks down her husband, who is hiding in a corner of the country club's library. She doesn't usually confront her husband, but her dander is up.

Ruanna: Glavius, I want a word with you.

Ruanna stands glaring at her husband.

Rundle, who had spotted several of his creditors in the crowd and decided invisibility was his safest course, sets down the book he wasn't reading anyway.

Rundle: What's the matter, dear?

Rundle uses the same condescending tone he always employs with women.

Ruanna: You agreed when the girls were born that I would have full responsibility for their upbringing as well-bred young ladies.

Rundle: And you've done an excellent job, dear.

Rundle isn't certain of that, as he rarely sees the girls except at the dinner table. But it's the right thing to say.

Ruanna: I was. Until you saw fit to undermine my efforts. Now we'll be lucky if the girls can get a decent marriage at all. Even to a liberal.

Rundle: Undermine?

Rundle knows what this is about, now. But he also knows the fine art of denial.

Ruanna: I overheard Churri just now, talking with her friends. About all the things the "special tutor" you hired has been teaching them. About Simes.

Rundle raises a silent eyebrow. He'd rather find out how much Ruanna knows than dig himself deeper by by acting on assumptions.

Ruanna: Some of it was quite explicit. All about Sime-kissing and tentacles... And she was gossiping about it as if it were her needlework. What in the world were you thinking? Are you trying to ruin your daughters' futures?

Rundle, as always, defends by going on the offensive.

Rundle: If you'd raised her properly, she wouldn't be gossiping at all.

Ruanna: They're girls. There's never been a girl that age who didn't confide in her friends. You're a fool if you thought you could keep something like that a secret. The only thing that works is to make sure they have nothing to gossip about that is scandalous.

Rundle: They must learn discretion if they're to marry well.

Rundle glares at her.

Rundle: That was part of your job.

Ruanna: By the time they're old enough to marry, they will understand when to keep their mouths shut. As it is, I might have been able to do something to keep them from causing a scandal... if you had bothered to tell me what you were doing.

Rundle: I didn't want to fill your sweet head with worries, dear.

Rundle's tone is such that it doesn't take a channel to read the ~~ condescension ~~ that's dripping from his words.

Ruanna: Ah. So kind of you. Since I'm no longer required to raise my daughters, it seems, I'm going to go visit my sister until her child is born.

Ruanna mentions an event six months in the future.

Rundle has always thought a good wife is a lot like a good dog: loyal, obedient, but not too bright.

Rundle: You can visit her for the final month, when she might actually need you. Until then, you're staying right here.

Rundle will settle for obedience if he can't have loyalty.

Ruanna: No. I am not. I couldn't possibly show my face in public after my husband has ruined my daughter's chances of a good marriage, and so publicly.

Rundle: I have done nothing to my daughters' chances, and most certainly not in public.

Rundle is far more worried than he's going to admit.

Ruanna: Churri was giving her friends quite an earful. In the corner of the dining area. In a loud voice. Do you think it will occur to Prissa and Fruthy not to tell their other friends? Do you think the people nearby didn't hear? I did, and I was out in the hall.

Rundle: The girls are young yet. Their childish follies will be long forgotten by the time they come of age.

Ruanna: Don't count on it.

Rundle shrugs and takes a sip from the amber-filled glass at his elbow.

Rundle: Then they need you to take them in hand and mend their reputations.

Ruanna: I can't do that if you're going to undermine my efforts. What in the world were you thinking?

Rundle shrugs again and gives his wife the scowl that usually silences her.

Rundle: I have responsibilities. Obligations.

Ruanna: Since when do your duties as a Senator require you to give your daughters that sort of education?

Rundle: It's complex. You wouldn't understand, dear.

Ruanna: You'd better make the attempt to explain, or you can do without my support. When my sister no longer needs me, my parents would enjoy an extended visit.

Rundle knows he can't afford to add rumors of marital instability to his current problems.

Rundle: I suppose the short version is that my work for the party is costly. Sometimes very costly.

Rundle hopes she will let him leave it at that.

Ruanna: Since when does the party require you to teach your girls about Simes?

Rundle cradles his glass and stares into its golden depths for a long minute.

Ruanna: If they'd been discussing that sort of change, I'd have heard about it.

Rundle sets the glass aside.

Rundle: You never asked me about my aunt's estate.

Rundle, of course, has never encouraged such enquiries.

Ruanna: She's dead, isn't she? I was thinking that we could get the girls some new clothes. Although they'd be wasted, now.

Rundle shakes his head. The price of a few gowns, more or less, is nothing against the magnitude of debt he's been dealing with.

Rundle: Buy a new dress or two if you wish. But they won't be paid for out of the estate.

Ruanna: What's the point? The girls won't have any occasions to wear a new dress, when word spreads about their education.

Ruanna is making no effort to hide her ~~ bitterness ~~.

Rundle: Very well, then. Don't buy them. I suppose every penny helps.

Ruanna: That will be your decision, since you'll be handling you're daughters' day-to-day schedules while I'm gone.

Rundle: You can't leave, Ruanna. Not right now.

Ruanna: I can't stay in the same house as you, right now.

Rundle: You will. You must. I can't afford any appearance of weakness until all this is settled. When your sister's baby is coming, that will be different. That's acceptable.

Ruanna: At the moment, I couldn't care less about whether or not you can afford to have a wife who can't stand you. If it's any consolation, though, what you've been teaching the girls will cause a great deal more fuss.

Rundle rises to his feet.

Rundle: You will stay, Ruanna. Or I will make certain that you do.

Rundle had never, until this moment, thought that he might have to use some of his "business" tactics on his own wife.

Ruanna: Do you really think that what's left of your reputation will survive keeping your wife a prisoner?

Rundle: Better that than the alternative.

Rundle takes a deep breath.

Rundle: Ruanna, I promise you, if the worst happens and I can't hold it all together for long enough, I'll make sure that you and the girls get away safely.

Ruanna is ~~ not impressed ~~.

Ruanna: It's nice to know we won't have to walk home, but that's not going to change my mind.

Rundle shakes his head. For a while he'd hoped... but no, she really is as sweetly simple as he'd always thought she was. There's no point trying to explain.

Rundle: This isn't about getting home, this is about getting away from it. If ever I don't come home, go to Jared -- he's the bodyguard with the red hair -- and ask him to take you to the safe house.

Ruanna: The safe...

Ruanna's mind veers from its accustomed rut.

Ruanna: You're serious about that, aren't you?

Rundle gives a grim nod.

Ruanna: What in the world have you gotten yourself into? And me and the girls as well, apparently?

Rundle: Better yet, you should go right away. We can let it be said that you've gone to help your sister.

Ruanna: Not until you tell me what's going on. And what it has to do with Simes.

Ruanna has just had a rude awakening on the dangers of ignorance.

Rundle takes a deep breath. He's never told Ruanna about the kind of work he sometimes does for the party. Maybe it's time he did.

Rundle: How far back do you want me to start?

Ruanna: As far back as required for this to make sense.

Rundle takes a deep breath and begins.

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