Marion stretched her limbs when the portrait painter said she could move. It had been hard work keeping so very still for a full half hour at a time. Still, it would be worth it when it was done.

She had pins and needles in her calves and walked around the studio to work it off before coming to sit down on the sofa where Lily and Li Tuo were watching the proceedings. Outside the window was a delightful view of the Mersey from the riverside studio of the artist she had commissioned to paint her picture as a surprise for Kristoph.

“Ohh,” she rubbed her stomach. The baby had kicked strongly. She had been still and quiet while her mother was, but now she was active again. Marion smiled serenely. It really was a wonderful feeling.

“You know,” she said to her friends. “It’s actually an old tradition for women to be painted while they are pregnant. For sad reasons, though. In the days when lots of women died in childbirth the paintings were done for posterity, just in case…”

“Oh, my dear,” Lily told her. “Don’t think of that, not for a moment.”

“I’m not. But… I really wouldn’t dare have anyone tell my fortune right now. There was a strange woman in Lord Street earlier when I was shopping… one of those gypsy types… she tried to tell me I was going on a long journey…”

“Well, that would be nothing new, would it?” Li Tuo laughed. “But you’re right, my dear. There is no need to know the future, only so much as you will always be loved by Kristoph, no matter what happens. And you need no fortune teller for that.”

“No, I don’t,” she agreed. She smiled happily as she rested before going to sit again for another half hour session. She sat still and quiet and smiled slightly, enigmatically, in what Li had said was the image of the smile of the Mona Lisa. That had almost undone the artist’s work as it had been hard to keep a straight face at the thought. But she managed it, and it was worth it, knowing that Kristoph was going to like this surprise. He had been busy all week, and though he knew she had spent every day here in Liverpool with Lily and Li he had not asked what they were doing exactly. Perhaps he suspected she was planning something, but he would not spoil it by asking too many questions.

At last the session was over and she thanked the artist for his time and looked at the progress of the painting. Two more sessions, he said, then it would be finished. After that, a week for the paint to fully dry and a day for the varnishing and framing and she would be able to collect it, as well as the other order which would be no trouble at all.

She was very happy as she left the studio and they came down to the walkway by the Albert Dock. She contemplated an afternoon at the Tate Liverpool, looking at the modern art. First, though, she needed a pot of tea and something to eat. It was thirsty work sitting still all morning.

She was enjoying her tea with Lily and Li in the café next to the Tate gallery when she heard somebody call her name. For a moment she thought it must be some other Marion, for after all, who would be calling to her? Then she heard her full name and looked up at the woman who stood near the table. She vaguely recognised her.

“Paula,” the woman prompted. “Paula Willis. It is Marion, isn’t it? We were in foster care together – Mr and Mrs Polsons… the big, draughty house on Brook Street…”

“Oh… I… yes…” It seemed a lifetime away. It seemed somebody else’s lifetime away. Two foster families before she went away to university, when she was sixteen, she had lived in Brook Street with two other girls. Paula had been the eldest, at already seventeen, and a bit of a bully. Marion remembered that time as not quite her happiest. She had not been especially sorry when Paula left to move in with a boyfriend she had met.

“Yes, I do remember,” she said politely. “It’s good to see you. Won’t you join us… I’ll order more tea…”

“Yeah, why not,” Paula answered. She looked surprised when Li Tuo stood and pulled a chair up for her. She sat anyway and looked with critical eyes at Marion and her friends. Marion for her part summoned the waitress and ordered a fresh pot of tea.

“You’ve got dead posh,” Paula said as the tea was served. “Look at you in that swanky outfit and your hair done up and diamond earrings and necklaces and stuff. What did you do? Win the pools?”

“I married a very nice man,” she answered moving her hand so that her gold wedding band and the engagement diamond were clearly visible.

“Oh yeah, does he have a brother?”

“Yes, but he’s married, too. But what about you, Paula? Have you met anyone nice?”

“I’m seeing Billy Stett. Might dump him, though. He’s up before the magistrate next week. Taking and driving away. It’s his third offence, so he’s bound to go down, and I can’t be bothered with a bloke in the nick. And seeing as I’m on probation for shoplifting anyway…”

Lily seemed to be having trouble interpreting that part of the conversation. Li understood quite well and his hand reached carefully to move Marion’s handbag out of sight of their guest.

“So… what does your bloke do to pay for all those rocks you’ve got on you?” Paula added, apparently unaware of Li’s caution.

“He’s a magistrate,” Marion answered truthfully. She thought of telling a lie, in the light of the none too surprising revelations about Billy Stett. But why should she? Why should she be ashamed of Kristoph being a man who dispensed justice just because Paula’s boyfriend was a man who needed it dispensing to? She saw the expression on Paula’s face change, though. There was a flash of hatred before she controlled herself. Hatred of those who wear diamonds and are married to magistrates.

It wasn’t that Marion thought she was better than Paula.

No, that wasn’t true. She knew she was luckier than Paula. She had met Kristoph and her life had been so very different since then. But yes, she was better than her. Not because she was richer, but because, even when she was poor, she was never associated with anyone who stole cars and had never shoplifted. Even when she was sixteen and Paula had tried to bully her into doing it.

Her mother and grandparents had been poor. They lived in a terraced house that opened onto the pavement and had a tiny yard at the back. If they wanted to see flowers and grass they had to walk up the road to the park. But they didn’t steal or cheat.

Yes, she had always been better than Paula. And she was glad of it. She would never have met Kristoph if she hadn’t been. Or if she had, he would not have seen in her what he did see.

She felt sorry for Paula. Her life seemed so grim. But she knew she couldn’t say so now, not dressed as she was.

“So,” Lily filled in the silence. “You knew our Marion when she was a girl?” Lily had the smile she reserved for Lady Ravenswode and other people she entertained to tea without especially liking their company.

“Yeah,” Paula answered. “Funny to see her now, all dressed up. She didn’t even have a pair of socks without holes when she came to the Polsons. Talk about falling on her feet. So how did you hook a man like that, Marion?” Paula’s eye fell on Marion’s ‘bump’ then. She clearly hadn’t noticed before. “Oh, I get it!”

Marion didn’t at first. When she did, she blushed hotly and angrily and didn’t know what to say.

Lily did.

“Nothing of the sort,” she said. “Marion and his Lordship were properly married in the appropriate way. The suggestion of anything else is quite outrageous.”

“You’re a snotty old bag and Marion is a sell out, a snobby toffee nosed….” Paula’s last word was masked by the sound of her chair crashing back as she stood up and walked away. Marion said nothing for a long time.

“I’m not a snob,” she protested in a quiet voice. “I’m not. How can I be? Lady Ravenswode is a snob, Oriana… I’m not. I just don’t think stealing cars is a career I’d want my boyfriend to have. Is that snobbish?”

“I would not have thought so,” Lily answered. “Then again, I never thought it was possible to meet somebody with so little self respect as that young woman. I have been to this city often enough to realise there are huge gaps between the rich and poor here. Even greater than on Gallifrey in many ways. But the shame is in those who wallow in the gutter, not those who strive to rise above it. Marion, think nothing of it. You are not a snob. You are a lady. You always were, even before Kristoph met you. That is what he saw in you, what captivated him. The suggestion of anything else is outrageous.”

“Lily, my dear!” Li put his hand on hers as she fumed angrily at the way Marion’s honour had been impugned. “The woman is gone. There is no need for you to upset yourself.”

“You were precious little help Lee Koschei Oakdaene,” she replied, using his real name. “You did nothing to defend our honour at all.”

“If she were a man, I should have an old fashioned Chinese way of calling her to account,” Li answered. “But a woman, even an uncouth one, I have no weapons against. Marion, dear, the woman is jealous of your good marriage and covetous of your wealth. But think nothing of it. We are unlikely to meet her again. So let us finish our refreshments and then go and look at this modern art. No doubt Marion will appreciate it, being young and open to ideas. Lily and I, being old and fixed in our ways, will find it all bewildering.”

Marion laughed, and told Li that he could be open minded, too. And in truth, they all found some of it hard to take, and some less so, and they enjoyed the afternoon in the gallery before going to have a high tea in the Chinese restaurant below Marion’s Upper Duke Street flat.

The flat was furnished beautifully now, of course. After their tea, Marion happily laid down on the big, comfortable sofa in her drawing room while Li and Lily went to the bedroom. Their day had been as long as hers. It was possible a nap was on their minds as well as other things. Marion wished them well as she closed her eyes and slept for a while.

Later, when she and Lily stepped into the portal in the wardrobe to return to Gallifrey, and Li went downstairs to enjoy a quiet glass of rice wine with his friend the restaurant proprietor, they all agreed it had been a pleasant day and that the little unpleasantness had not spoilt it.

But Li was right about jealousy and covetousness. Paula had burned with both. She stung with the injustice of seeing little mousy Marion, who she had accounted a nobody, wearing diamonds and a fur coat as if she was a somebody. And she let it seethe and boil in her, until she had convinced herself that Marion Horsley and her toffee nosed friend needed to be taken down a peg.