Disclaimer: I do not own anything Peaky Blinder related, that belongs to the series creator Steven Knight.
Chapter Twenty-Nine: Family Meeting
"Right. I've called this family meeting because I've got some very important news," Arthur announced looking around the table at all of them, his eyes taking in each of his family that had been summoned here today. He had sent the message early that morning and was pleased to see that they had all turned up when he had sent for them; his eyes tracing each figure of his family before glancing behind him to the two men.
"Scudboat and Lovelock got back from Belfast last night. They were buying a stallion to cover their mares. They were in a pub on Shank hill Road yesterday and in that pub, there was a copper handing out these." Arthur began, he handed out the flyers that the two men had brought to and passed them around the table. Each member of the gathering took one and frowned seeing the contents knowing that this was not what they needed right now.
"If you're over five feet and can fight, come to Birmingham," John read, he glanced at his older brothers not sure what to make of it and who would want to come here to fight when there was nothing to draw them here.
"They're recruiting Protestant Irishman to come over here as specials," Arthur stated knowing that there was a very good chance that they were coming here to deal with them. It wasn't like their line of work was a secret, people knew about them and they had gained quite the bit of reputation since they had returned from war; they would need to tread carefully.
Rosemary tried to keep the emotion from her face as she read the flyer, her eyes shooting to Thomas knowing that their talk the other night might be just the reason that this was happening. He had not told her the details, wanting to offer her some protection if things went south but she knew enough to know if someone was coming here and recruiting then it was because of what he had done.
"To do what?" Ada asked not understanding how this was a problem for them, she leant forward staring down at the flyer not seeing why this was an issue that required them all to be here. If it was something to do with the business then she and Rosemary wouldn't be here, the children being cared for by Rosemary's mother while they attended this meeting.
"To clean up the city, Ada. He's the Chief Inspector. The last four years he's been clearing the IRA out of Belfast," Thomas informed them, he leant against the wall just to the right where Rosemary was seated beside Polly. His eyes focused on Arthur instead knowing that this meeting would not shed light of anything that he hadn't already looked into; his face revealed nothing when Arthur turned to him.
"How do you know so bloody much?" Arthur asked taking a swing from his flash, his eyes rooted on his younger brother who was far too secretive for his liking; he wondered sometimes if his brother forgot who was running things here. It had not escaped his notice that Thomas had been doing his own thing for some time, he didn't seem to answer to Arthur like the others did; he didn't respect Arthur's position as the eldest.
"Cause I asked the coppers on our payroll." Thomas replied with ease, the mask on his face revealing nothing more and he looked almost at ease to everyone else in the room. The look on Arthur's face was enough to tell everyone just how displeased he was with the answer and the fact that Thomas hadn't come to him sooner with the news about what was going on.
"And why didn't you tell me?" Arthur demanded wanting answers, taking another swing from his flask and glaring at Thomas; he rested his hands on the table once he was done with the flask. He didn't see the look that Rosemary offered to Thomas or the look that seemed to appear on Polly's face at Thomas's words; instead he remained focused on his brother.
"I'm telling you," Thomas replied simply, he was telling them now what he had heard and that was enough for him; he knew that the pressures of running things were getting to his brother. It was bad enough that John spent most of his time getting drunk and bringing home hookers, the man had lost his wife and had four children to raise alone now; Arthur's actions reflected on their business.
"Why send him to Birmingham?" Polly asked trying to get back to the matter at hand, she had a feeling that Thomas knew more than he was letting on about why the inspector was coming here and recruiting. The look on Rosemary's face when she had seen the flyer had been enough to confirm Polly's suspicions along with the glance that the younger woman had offered to Thomas; it might not been caught by the others but she had caught it.
"There's been all these bloody strikes at the BSA and the Austin works lately. Now the papers are talking about sedition. And revolution. I reckon its communists he's after." Thomas said, there were many reasons that he could see that they might send the inspector here even after his mess up. It didn't mean that his actions had brought the man and his men to Birmingham but he wasn't going to let anything slip; he had too much to lose if he messed this up.
Ada's eyes widened at that, she peered around the table to see others nod in agreement only to stop when her eyes met with Rosemary's; she looked away knowing that her secret couldn't come out. There was no way that her brothers would understand and she could only imagine what Thomas would do to the man that he had once considered his brother; things had not been the same between them since they'd both returned home from war.
"So, this copper is gonna leave us alone, right?" Arthur checked, they didn't need to end up behind bars and it wasn't like they were communists not when they had fought for King and country during the war. If the inspector wasn't going to bother them then they had nothing to worry about, things could continue even if they had to be careful while the man did his job.
"There are Irishman in Green Lanes who left Belfast to get away from him. Catholic men who crossed him used to disappear in the night," Thomas informed the gathering, he did not imagine such a man would be easy to just work around. It was unlikely that they'd have anything to offer him especially when it came to turning a blind eye to there work; most of the force was on their payroll in one way or another.
"Yeah but we ain't IRS, we bloody fought for the King anyway we're Peaky Blinders. We're not scared of coppers. If they come for us, we'll cut them a smile each," John stated proudly, they had done their job for their country and that had to count for something. There were murmurs of agreement around the table from the others but Rosemary couldn't find it in her to agree, her eyes remained focused on Thomas knowing that this could all end badly for them and there was much they could lose.
"This family does everything open," Polly stated looking around the table, they all had their secrets of course but there were none that could come back and hurt them that she knew of. Turning to focus on Thomas, she stared at her nephew knowing that he had something to hide; she would not allow his mistake to bring them down when he had so much to lose.
"You have nothing more to say to this meeting, Thomas?" Polly asked him, she raised an eyebrow at him just waiting for him to confess to the wrong that he had committed that his wife was aware of. He might think that he could handle it but with the inspector showing up was a warning, she hated to think just what he might have done for that to happen and what it could mean for his small family.
"No. Nothing that's women's business," Thomas told her, he didn't know where Polly was coming from but he could handle this mess; he just needed to plan this out carefully. He could see that she didn't like his response but he wasn't going to say anything, his mess was his own and right now he had a handle on it; the less people that knew what had happened the better.
"This whole bloody enterprise was women's business while you boys were away at war," Polly reminded him, there had been a time where they'd stepped up while the boys were away and even Rosemary had done her part. He might be happy to pretend that he had never gone away but things had changed and Rosemary was a lot more capable than Thomas gave her credit for.
"What's changed?" Polly questioned him, her lips pursing knowing that she wasn't going to let this go; if he wouldn't tell her now then she would find out another way. Glancing at his aunt, Thomas knew what she was getting back and shook his head; things had changed and it was for the best, should things go wrong then he wanted Rosemary to at least have deniability.
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