The Reverend Aubrey goes into the ground: the wreaths and flowers and casket are all black against the snow. It's totally awesome. And as the preacher begins to pray, it gets awesomer: Miss Hartigan, lately of the Cyber Factory, strides toward the funeral in a red dress, holding a red parasol. And under it she will protect everything these men forgot to care for, when they were oiling the engine. "...Change our vile body that it may be like unto His glorious body, according to the mighty working..." the preacher says (pithy, but admirably and lovingly sacrilegious, glorious in the way RTD does best), stumbling on his words as she approaches, and when he protests, she wonders whatever for.
"A lady at the graveside is debatable enough, but... Your apparel...." She wonders, then, to the company of esteemed men, if it's simply too exciting. Old Mr. Cole calls her a disgrace and a harlot. "And you should know, Mr. Cole." He is astounded, asking how she knows her name. "You've walked past me so many times, all you good men of charity, never once asking my name," she laughs at them, in their hypocrisy, and an older one remembers her name. "It's Miss Hartigan, isn't it?" She grins. "I saw you looking, you cheeky boy!" She's grotesque, over the line, pushing the envelope for the sake of neither the envelope nor the act of pushing; playing the harlot because it's the only role they left her. And confronted with their works, the company of esteemed men begins to panic.
(As my father, who would love Miss Hartigan, is fond of saying in these circumstances: "Oh, fuck me? Fuck you!" Cheeky boy.)
Who she is, by day, is the matron of the St Joseph Workhouse. "Your... Humble servant," she says, more ironically than lasciviously and more truthfully than ironically. At least before today. What she means is, she is their contemporary. They are slavers, in company. She circles them, spiraling as they recoil toward the grave. "Oh, I've watched you all. Visiting, smiling. Bestowing your beneficence upon the poor while I scrubbed down their filthy beds." As she, long ago, was the lucky beneficiary in her turn, and some other woman, now dead, scrubbed down her filthy bed. And in the night, if she could sleep at all, she'd write letters to herself, in her incredible imagination.