I’ve been working on the sequel to Mrs. Hawking quite a bit lately, and while in that mindset, I wrote this little scene, a conversation between Mary and Nathaniel. I think the two of them would become good friends after the first adventure, in part because I think they both love having somebody with which to marvel at just how weird Mrs. Hawking is. I get the feelings they spend a lot of time sitting around psychoanalyzing her, the way you would any brilliant/infuriating friend or boss or both. :-) This notion amuses me greatly.
Also, there is the problem of the Colonel. Oh, how delighted I am at the questions posed by the Colonel, as it gives endless opportunity for speculation. I love how the audience wonders about him, and I love how the characters cant stop arguing over him. This is a particular bee in Nathaniel’s bonnet, because he idolized the man and had such a firm image of him in his head that he must now reconcile with Mrs. Hawking’s perceptions and experience. And I think it’s also interesting how Mary has to construct an idea of the person who she has never met but has had such a profound effect on two people who are so important to her.
MARY: I wonder… did she ever tell the Colonel?
NATHANIEL: Tell him what?
MARY: How unhappy she was.
NATHANIEL: I don’t know. But, if I were to guess… I should think she didn’t.
NATHANIEL: I really think not.
MARY: She was so angry, though. One says things in anger.
NATHANIEL: She would have had to trust him to tell him what she really thought. And that she could never do.
MARY: It would have been an incredible risk.
NATHANIEL: I know. And that was not something she would have undertaken for his sake. Still… I wonder if he knew anyhow.
MARY: Do you? If she went to great pains to keep things from him?
NATHANIEL: Oh, I don’t doubt that. Heaven knows she is capable of things I never would have fathomed possible… but he wasn’t a fool, Mary. And he loved her, blast it; if there’s one thing I shall never disbelieve of him, it’s that. He would have… had a care that she was so… miserable… with things as they were.
MARY: But if he knew, how could he have done nothing for it, then?
NATHANIEL: She would never have wanted him to.
MARY: Certainly not. But still… I should think he might have tried.
NATHANIEL: Not if he understood.
MARY: Do you think he did?
NATHANIEL: He may have hardly known her, Mary… but I think he knew her well enough to know that. And I believe he would have loved her enough to give it to her.
MARY: If that’s so… I wonder what else he might have given her. If he knew she needed it.