Julia Lambert 46

When she had no matinée Julia went to bed for a couple of hours in the afternoon and then had a light massage. She undressed now and slipped between the sheets.

“Damn, my hot water bottle’s nearly stone cold.”

She looked at the clock on the chimney-piece. It was no wonder.It must have been there an hour. She had no notion that she had stayed so long in Michael’s room, looking at those photographs and idly thinking of the past.

“Forty-six. Forty-six. Forty-six. I shall retire when I’m sixty. At fifty-eight South Africa and Australia. Michael says we can clean up there.Twenty thousand pounds. I can play all my old parts. Of course even at sixty I could play women of forty-five. But what about parts? Those bloody dramatists.”

Trying to remember any plays in which there was a first-rate part for a woman of five-and-forty she fell asleep. She slept soundly till Evie came to awake her because the masseuse was there. Evie brought her the evening paper, and Julia, stripped, while the masseuse rubbed her long slim legs and her belly, putting on her spectacles, read the same theatrical intelligence she had read that morning, the gossip column and the woman’s page. Presently Michael came in and sat on her bed. He often came at that hour to have a little chat with her.