It was the beginning of July and Jenny was due to fly the next day. She went to Effie’s house with her last collection of essays all written long hand in Russian and all about Scottish independence.
“You’ve learned more than one new subject, Jenny, you know that,” said Effie.
“What have I learned?”
“You’ve become an expert in economics, in constitutional law, in history and in logic.”
“You think these essays I’ve been giving you are good?”
“They’re as good as anything I’ve written. Sometimes you have a completely new slant that I’ve never thought of.”
“What about the Russian side of things?”
“It’s difficult writing from a dictionary. It’s hard to know sometimes if the word is appropriate. At times you sound unnatural. But the grammar is mainly correct. You write like a second year student at a good university studying Russian.”
“But I still speak very poorly.”
“That’s why two months in Russia is what you need right now.”
“I’m actually very glad to get away.”
“Are things not going so well with Paul?”
“We’ve been squabbling a bit. He’s out campaigning every day, and he’s with his ex-girlfriend going round estates persuading people to break up our country.”
“Don’t be jealous, Jenny. There’s no point. He believes he’s doing the right thing, but I agree it’s not a bad time for you to be away. It will be hard for loved ones who disagree about such a matter just now.”
“Lorna said she’d seen Paul and this Roisin together and they looked pretty close.”
“I’ve been playing Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen hoping the message will get through.”
“Who’s the vixen though, Jenny, Lorna or Roisin?”
“You can’t control people. You just have to let them do what they want to do.”
“But she can give him what he wants.”
“Can she, indeed? So can every woman in the world. Are you going to be jealous of everyone?”
“It’s just we’ve come so far. We’ve found something very special. I love him, Effie. I know we don’t agree about lots of things. But it doesn’t matter.”
“Do you think he loves you?”
“Yes, he does. We couldn’t have reached the point where we are if he hadn’t loved me. He does love me, I can feel it. Only we needed more time. We needed to listen to more music, watch more films.”
“You and your music, and your films. You just have to be patient. There may be bumps along the way.”
“Was that how you were with Petr?”
“We met when the Soviet Union was still going strong. He lived in a closed city where you’re going tomorrow. There were bumps along the way, Jenny. It wasn’t easy. We also needed to forgive each other more than once.”
“You never told me the whole story.”
“I intend to write it all down sometime, but from the opposite perspective. I’ve been working on it for a while.”
“I’d love to read it.”
“You will, when it’s ready. Now I’ve arranged everything for you in Kaliningrad. You’re going to be staying with one Petr’s sister who lives quite near the school, and there should always be people who’ll take you out and show you things and only talk Russian to you.”
“Thanks, Effie. You’ve been awfully kind.”
“No, my dear, you’ve helped me more. We’re a good team and we’ll continue to be one next term. I think you’re going to write something extraordinary once we’ve got rid of this independence nonsense.”
“It’s a subject not worth studying really, isn’t it?” said Jenny.
“It’s not worth studying at all. But we do what we must.”
“Have faith in Paul in the same way we must have faith in Scotland.”
“I don’t understand.”
“None of us know what the next two months or so will bring, but I hope when it’s over, you’ll find a way to be together. If you can’t, there’s not much hope for any of us.”
Meanwhile, a small group of Yes campaigners sat around a table. It was mid-July.
“I’ve received a message from the campaign,” said James Bisset who was the unofficial leader of their group.
“What is it, James?” asked Roisin.
“They’ve asked us if any of us know Effie Deans.”
“I’ve seen her twitter account and read a couple of her blogs,” said Iain Mackay. “She’s clever enough.”
“That’s part of the problem,” said James.
“But these Brit Nat blogs can’t compete with ours,” said Roisin.
“What do you think, Paul?” asked James.
“I’m not a big fan of social media. But I’ve heard of her.”
“Someone told me she’s your girlfriend’s lecturer,” said Roisin.
“I’ve never met her,” said Paul.
“But she is?” said James.
“Yes, as far as I’m aware. We haven’t talked about it much.”
“Are you sure? asked Iain.
“What do you, mean?” said Paul.
“Well, some of the articles seem to have a bit of inside information.”
He presented some print outs of some of the recent articles that had appeared on the Effie Deans site Lily of St. Leonards.
Paul read through the articles and began seeing phrases that he had mentioned, examples that he had cited. He saw the arguments he had been making for the past few months taken apart piece by piece. He saw the assumptions that he had made contradicted with care, and with reason. He heard Jenny’s voice as he read through the articles. He found his anger rising. She’d deceived him. She’d used their relationship to attack what he held most dear. Of course, it was all spurious. The arguments were clever, but it was all just word play. You could argue anything if you were trained to do so like Jenny was. She was like some sort of Jesuit, using her mind to deceive and persuade. How could he have been so stupid as to be taken in? It had probably all been set up right since February. He continued reading and felt guilt. He had helped the No cause, he’d helped the Brit Nats with his stupid loose tongue. Why did he have to always talk so much? And she just kept silent, listening, learning, writing. She’d betrayed him. That much was clear. He kept reading.
“How many articles are there?” he asked.
“There’s usually one a week,” said James.
“Do you recognise anything?” asked Roisin.
“Yes. I’m sorry. I didn’t know she was writing this stuff.”
“So she’s Effie Deans. Your girlfriend is Effie Deans,” said Iain.
“No. There is an Effie Deans.”
“Who? We’ve looked at the list of staff at Aberdeen University. There’s no Effie Deans.”
“But there must be.”
“But I know Jenny goes to visit her. She learns Russian from her.”
“But you recognise what you’ve been reading.”
“Yes, some of it. But I don’t see how Jenny could have produced all of this. She didn’t even seem that interested. She’s not even in Scotland just now.”
“Where is she?”
“She’s in Russia.”
“You’re going to have to break it off with her, you know,” said James.
“We can’t have someone in the group who’s unreliable,” said Iain. “We need to keep our discipline. We can’t allow such leaks.”
“But I just don’t understand,” said Paul. “It can’t have only been Jenny. She was far too busy. When did she have the time to write all this?”
“We don’t know. Maybe there are others involved,” said James. “But anyway it’s clear that she’s made a mug of you.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it was some sort of Honey trap,” said Roisin.
“I hardly think,” said Paul. “I think you’re all taking this too seriously.”
“These are very good arguments,” said James. “You know that, don’t you?”
“We’ve got people, some of our best people, trying to come up with counterarguments,” said Iain.
“And on Twitter,” said Roisin. “But it’s difficult. She’s very polite and very careful about what she says. She implies without saying and the implication is sometimes dangerous for us. She writes these little aphorisms, and they’re effective.”
“I don’t know how I can help,” said Paul “I can’t write any sort of response to this kind of stuff. I’m just not good enough.”
“None of us are,” said Roisin.
“I’m so sorry,” said Paul.
“That’s OK, my friend,” said James. “You made a mistake, but we don’t depend so much on argument. It helps, of course, to sway some people, but we depend more on emotion.”
They could all see that Paul was desperately downcast.
“Cheer up!” said Iain. “We’re getting great results from our surveys. People who were only 2 out of 10 in favour of independence a month ago, are now sometimes 3 or 4 out of 10 now. We just have to keep returning and get them another notch up and we’re there.”
“I just feel that I’ve let the side down,” said Paul. “I didn’t know. I’ve been working so hard and look at how I’ve damaged us!”
“Take it easy! You’re making a great contribution. You’ve really helped us today with what you’ve told us. Roisin, take Paul for a couple of drinks. You’ve both been working hard. Relax for a bit.”
A couple of hours later Paul was feeling a little drunk.
“You mustn’t feel guilty that Proddy bitch played you,” said Roisin.
“How do you know she’s a Prod?”
“Well, if she wasn’t she’d be with us.”
“But I wasn’t brought up a Catholic.”
“You’re not from Glasgow.”
“I don’t know what it has to do with religion, Roisin.”
“It doesn’t, but we’re going to get our own back on the Brits for what they’ve done to Ireland for centuries.”
“I feel like getting my own back as well. It’s been quite a day. It’s a bit tough to take,” said Paul.
“I really like working with you, you know that.”
“I do, too.”
“I’ve missed you. I’ve been jealous.”
“I think about you, too, sometimes.”
“About when we were together?”
“Yes. I always liked red hair.”
“I’ve thought about you, too. I was stupid. I didn’t realise what I had. I miss what we had, Paul. I want it again.”
“Are you saying?”
“Of course, I’m saying. I want you. We just have to get a taxi and we’ll be back at mine in twenty minutes.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, just so long as you write to that Jenny and tell her it’s over. You can do it from my flat. I’d rather like to see what you write.”
“It will be a pleasure,” said Paul.
This post was originally published by the author on her personal blog: https://www.effiedeans.com/2018/06/an-indyref-romance-harmony-and.html