Daniel and Daisy Douglas

There are two truths when it comes to family: the first, with only those rare exceptions, is that one doesn’t marry a spouse but his or her family; and the second, patterns, especially negative ones, once established are doomed to repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat.  The family of Daniel and Daisy Douglas, far from exclusion to either of these golden rules, could quite simply have been the paradigm upon which both truths were based.

Daisy Douglas was a particular sort of woman, the kind that always seemed to be taking a hand to her hair and gently patting it to make sure no strand was out of place.  Image was everything to Daisy and if she had had a motto it would certainly have been, “what would the neighbours think?”  Daniel, however, was the type of person who when he accidentally dropped some food, a pancake for example, would slowly pick it up from the floor returning it to his plate saying “a little dirt never hurt anyone.” Together, Daisy with her primness and Daniel with his coarseness made for an odd couple.

It was a wonder they had ever married. Neither, a half-century on, seemed particularly happy with the match, but both seemed determined to keep up the appearance of a stable marriage.  Even when their family had disintegrated into a vicious bunch of claimants to a farm on which the parents still lived and Daniel confined to a wheel chair became entirely dependent on an ever more resentful Daisy, the couple lived much as they ever had; the wife continued to criticise her husband who in turn reminisced about the days when she had turned his head in some sort of pitiful attempt to convince himself that once there had been love.

The likelihood that there had been mutual love between Daisy and Daniel, however, was about as probable as Hollywood is realistic. Of course, it is possible that Daniel was quite taken by the older more sophisticated Daisy, but chances are Daisy viewed things differently the night she asked a smitten Daniel to roll her a cigarette.

Daisy was well into her twenties and still unwed that fateful night.  She had always seemed determined to build a better life for herself. Not that the one her parents had provided was horrible, it was just insufficient. The Reillys, Daisy’s family, were a large, congenial lot with little in the way of wealth.  The patriarch, Roche Reilly, so named, as the family legend would have it for a castle he was said to have inherited in the old country, which lay in such ruin it was barely worth mentioning, was a quiet, sarcastic man.  One could never be certain whether Roche had meant what he said or was joking; this meant that what Roche was unable to give his family in terms of riches he dolled out endlessly in teasing, in a kind hearted way, of course. The consequence of this substitute, however, was that those of Roche’s children with a disposition closer to his own developed a healthy sense of humour and attracted friends and admirers. The others, of which Daisy was undoubtedly one, took after their mother, Pearl, who never quite forgave herself for marrying Roche, and focused all of their energies on improving their social positions.

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