Thomas Barrow, Jimmy Kent, Downton Abbey
Length: 9 chapters
This is a sequel to The Faces of Love
Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved. William Jennings Bryan
As Jimmy sat in the front room watching Gerry walk unsteadily, grasping onto one piece of furniture after the other, he pulled the letter from his pocket so he could re-read it.
I'm settling in nicely with the Neilsens. Completely different from Downton and that is going to take some getting used to. Mr. Nielsen insists that I be called Mr. Barrow by everyone, including the family. 'It's a matter of respect, Mr. Barrow. You deserve it as much as we do.' I'm not sure how I feel about that. Listen to me, I sound as much of a stick-in-the-mud as Carson. That can't be good, can it?
There's more, much more, but I'll save all that for later. I hope you're getting on well as under butler. You'll be fine. No, you'll be great. And in a few years it will be Mr. Kent, butler of Downton Abbey.
Thank you for my last evening. Your gift was unexpected and something I will never forget.
Remember that I am not that far away; York is not the antipodes. I do intend to visit, although it would be difficult for you to do so.
I want to get this in the afternoon post, so I'll finish for now. My love to Hannah and Gerry. Send me a photo when you get a chance.
He had included £5 with the letter, but said nothing about it. Jimmy knew it was for Gerry. Better not tell Hannah. She'll want it for something else.
"Who's that from?" Hannah asked as she set down a cup of tea beside him.
"Thomas. Here, see what he has to say."
Hannah settled onto the small sofa, reaching out a biscuit to Gerry who gurgled at her in thanks.
"You got him a gift? What?"
"Uh ... just some cufflinks."
"Could we afford that?" She didn't miss Jimmy's glare.
"Do I have to remind you that he's the only reason we can afford anything." His arm swept the room and arced to the ceiling. "All this, including the roof over our heads is down to him. I think a cheap set of cufflinks is hardly repayment." He was lying, of course. The cufflinks hadn't been cheap, nor were they the only gift, but like the £5, she didn't need to know that either. He reached down and picked up Gerry as he staggered by.
"I realise that, Jimmy, but I ... we should matter more."
"And you don't think you do? Tell me, what has Gerry done without? As a matter of fact, what have you done without?"
It had become an irritation between them. Hannah worrying that she and Gerry would suffer for some unknown reason and Jimmy knowing they never would. As under butler he was well enough paid, but that had to stretch to three people. He had given up any small pleasures he had just for them. Cigarettes, a night at the pub, a flutter on the horses – all gone. He even managed to sneak some of the Granthams' food on occasion just so they could have something different. He noticed that Hannah didn't object when that happened or care about the risk he was taking.
"I'm just saying, Jimmy ..."
"Well Hannah, when you have something worth saying, I'll listen." He hoisted Gerry onto his chest as he stood up. "I'm taking him outside for a while."
"But what about lunch?"
"Has he eaten?"
"Yes, of course."
"Then that's all that matters at the moment." As Jimmy grabbed a blanket from the side of the sofa and wrapped it around Gerry, he saw Hannah watching him. "I suppose you're going to tell me that he won't be warm enough."
"Not at all. You just do what you think is best." She got up and went into the kitchen where he could hear her start to bang at the pot that sat soaking in the sink. He shut his eyes and just shook his head.
"Okay, Gerry, come with Papa for a walk."
"Pa ak." Gerry's tiny fist grabbed Jimmy's earlobe.
"Close enough, my boy."
Shutting the door behind him, he ignored the pram as he passed it and started down the road toward the village.
"Truth be told, your Mama and I aren't getting along. Doesn't surprise me because it's nothing new. But you don't need to worry about any of that." Jimmy chuckled to himself. God I miss Thomas. Here I am talking to a baby about something Thomas should hear. To keep his mind off the unpleasantness that was sure to continue when he got home, he explained the things they were seeing to Gerry.
"That's an oak tree. And those little things on the ground are baby oak trees.. That's a ... some other type of tree. Those are nettles, we steer clear of those."
Gerry's head tilted back as he looked up into a tree.
"A bird." I have no idea what type. "Your Papa's not all that helpful, is he?"
"It's a bit early in life to start criticising me. You should leave that to Mama."
Jimmy began to hum a tune he had heard at the last musical show he had gone to a few years ago and within a few minutes Gerry was fast asleep. Since he hadn't planned on going anywhere, when he reached the village Jimmy simply turned around and retraced his steps.
"So I can see."
"I think he needs changed."
"You know where the diapers are. Can't you see that I'm having a cup of tea at the moment."
Christ, Hannah, don't try to turn him into a pawn because I'll choose him over you any day.
"I'm going to see my mother later. She hasn't been well. I don't want to take Gerald, so you can look after him, right?"
"You didn't mention this earlier."
"Will you be back for dinner?"
"I'll leave something."
"You know Gerald's eating solids. He'll be fine."
As he changed Gerry's diaper Jimmy began to wonder. How can she seem so worried about him one minute and not seem to give a damn the next? He realised it wasn't something new. It wasn't that she was a bad mother, just an indifferent one at times. And those times had become more frequent. It occurred to him that their earlier conversation, the one that started the argument, likely had more to do with what she might have to do without. Gerry just seemed to be included to make him feel guilty. Surely that can't be the reason. And yet the more he thought about it, the more it worried him.