More Than Duty Chapter 50
Mary shook her head in disbelief at how quickly Matthew had been able to get ready and head downstairs. He had yanked the chord most urgently to summon Bates the moment he had his epiphany about scars, and having never been fastidious about his appearance, he was certainly not about to take an interest in that now. No, he had insisted that Bates dress him as quickly as possible, and it had taken only a few minutes before he deemed himself ready enough to be taken to the downstairs with Elizabeth and Robbie trailing him, having become excited simply because they could sense that Matthew was.
Mary, on the other hand, was certainly not about to descend the stair improperly attired, especially not with so many convalescing soldiers around. It was more than half an hour before Anna had readied Mary to a state that she was willing to appear in public.
When Mary had descended the stair and was about to seek out Matthew in the dinning room, she caught sight of Sybil slipping into the library and quickly closing the door behind her. When Mary entered the dinning room, Matthew's brow was furrowed as he hunched over a book and scrawled notes on piece of paper, as breakfast sitting next to him untouched. He was so focused on his task, that he didn't notice Mary's presence until she spoke.
"Didn't anyone ever tell you it is impolite to work at the dining table?" Mary asked, raising an eyebrow at him.
"Ah, there you are darling," Matthew said, looking up from his book and brushing aside her teasing. "Now, tell me, what scars did your cousin Patrick have?"
"Well, I must say, this is a most unique breakfast conversation," Mary said as sat down and allowed Carson to pour her a cup of tea.
"Don't play with me, Mary."
"He fell from a tree once, from frightfully high. He broke his arm, and Dr. Clarkson had to stitch him up before he set the arm. Patrick was very sore about the whole ordeal. It happened at the beginning of the summer, and he claimed the cast he had to wear ruined his entire stay - no swimming or horseback ridding. And of course, to hear him tell it, it was all my fault."
"I suggested we sneak away when our governess turned her back, so we did. Patrick, Edith, and I all ran toward the pond where Patrick was going on and on about how he could swim fast and further than I could. So I told him, I could climb quicker and higher than he could. He didn't believe me since I was just a girl, so I started climbing. It wasn't long before he was trying to catch up with me. I was higher than him and laughing when he lost his footing and fell, so naturally he blamed me and of course Papa was livid when he arrived after Edith had run screaming all the way back to the house."
"His left arm."
"What about other scars? Or did he have any birth marks?"
"None on his face or hands," Mary replied.
"What about anywhere else?"
"Goodness, just how much of cousin Patrick's body do you think I have seen?" Mary asked as she took a bite of her toast.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean…..Well, of course you haven't," Matthew replied.
"Perhaps Dr. Clarkson would know. When Elizabeth was born, he did a full examination and even made a note of that little birth mark on her back in his file," Mary said.
"Carson, is Clarkson here yet?" Matthew asked.
"No, my lord. He is usually at the hospital in the morning and doesn't arrive here for rounds until shortly before noon," Carson replied.
"Well, send then someone for him, and be sure they ask him to bring any files he might have on Patrick Crawley," Matthew instructed.
"Your lordship may have forgotten, but we presently lack a chauffeur since you relieved Branson of that duty in favor of having him assist you in managing the estate. And yesterday, you instructed me to send the only member of the staff who knows how to drive a car to London to fetch lady Lady Strallen and her husband so wouldn't be jostled about at the train station which could agitate Lord Strallen's arm. He is due back with Lord and Lady Strallen later this afternoon," Carson reminded him.
"It would seem we have cars but no one to drive them. Even with a war going on, Downton can't be run properly without a full staff. Carson, you simply must find a new chauffeur," Mary said.
"I assure you my Lady, we are trying our best, but with so many boys away at war, the task is not at easy one," Carson explained.
"If Sybil were here, she might suggest that one of the maids be taught to drive," Matthew remarked.
"We have already had to resort to maids in the dining room. I pray this war doesn't last so long that we must suffer maids in the driver's seat as well," Carson responded, causing Matthew to fight back a laugh at the seriousness in Carson's voice.
"Where is Tom?" Matthew inquired.
"I saw Branson enter the library. I presume he wanted to borrow a book. Shall I go and get him?" Carson asked. Mary's eyes widened, remembering that she had seen Sybil enter the very same room just a few minutes ago and close the door behind her.
"Yes, he won't mind driving down to the hospital," Matthew said.
"Very well me Lord," Carson said, turning to go fetch the former chauffeur.
"Actually, let me go. There was a book I wanted to grab anyway," Mary interjected.
"But you haven't finished your breakfast. Let Carson go. You can grab the book later," Matthew said.
"Really, I'm not hungry yet," Mary said, rising before anyone could attempt to stop her. When Mary reached the library, she gave a short knock and waited several seconds before entering. When she pushed the door open, her sister and Tom were innocently standing a few feet apart, but their heavy breathing, Tom's red face, and Sybil's untidy hair revealed that the scene would have been quite different if she had walked in unannounced.
"Branson, Lord Grantham wishes to see you in the breakfast room. I believe he needs your assistance on something," Mary said.
"Very well my Lady," Tom said with a nod. "Sybil are you…"
"You go. I'll be fine," Sybil said. Tom gave her an apologetic smile before leaving the room, closing the door behind.
"Well you took quite the risk. It could easily have been Carson who walked in instead of me," Mary said as she took a seat on the sofa.
"Don't lecture me Mary. I know full well you allowed Matthew some liberties during your engagement," Sybil replied as she took a seat next to her sister.
"Very small liberties. And I'm not lecturing you, I'm cautioning you. Your wedding is still many months away, and while small liberties can be pleasurable, they can easily lead you into allowing greater and greater liberties. Given how much longer you must wait, you must be careful."
"They are pleasurable aren't they," Sybil said, touching her swollen lips.
"That's what you took from that?" Mary said, avoiding the question.
"Oh Mary, I only let him kiss me, and that's all I will let him do until we are married," Sybil assured her.
"Good. I'm glad your rebellious streak doesn't go far," Mary said with a smile.
"But when we are married, will the rest be as pleasurable as kisses are?" Sybil asked.
"I'm not going to discuss that with you," Mary replied.
"Why not? Why is it such a secret? I either hear nothing or I hear it called a debt or a duty, but I can't imagine it is like that. If it was, why would you have disappeared with Matthew upstairs so quickly and so often when he was home on leave?"
"If I answer, will you promise leave this subject be until you are about to be married when I will try to answer whatever questions you might have?" Mary asked.
"Very well. I think it can be both a duty or pleasure depending on the situation. If there is little affection between a couple, perhaps there is little pleasure. But yes, with Matthew, it is - or at least it was - very much a pleasure."
"Oh Mary, I'm sorry," Sybil said, squeezing her sister's arm.
"Don't be. It certainly isn't your fault."
Matthew had spent the better part of the morning talking with with Dr. Clarkson and Mary, gathering all the information he could on Patrick Crawley. It had taken much convincing to get Mary to accept that he needed to confront Patrick without her, but eventually she backed down. This was something he needed to do on his own as he needed to prove to himself that he could still protect his family.
Matthew took a deep, calming breath outside the door before nodding to Carson to indicate that he was ready to go in.
When the door opened, the patient in the bed turned to see who had entered.
"Cousin Matthew I presume. I was wondering when we would have the opportunity to meet," the young man said. Matthew noticed Carson bristle at the young man's lack of formality.
"I apologize for the delay. I was seeing to my wife's health," Matthew responded.
"Quite understandable. I do apologize for startling her so, especially in her condition. I do hope that she and the baby are doing well"
"Yes, thankfully she is healthy and resilient."
"She has always been like that."
"Did you know her well when you two were children?" Matthew asked.
"Yes, I was visited Downton many times a year, and usually spent the summer here."
"She told me about one time when you all snuck away from the governess and climbed trees down by the pond," Matthew said.
"Indeed. A quite enjoyable afternoon," he replied.
"Well, enjoyable until the injury I imagine," Matthew said.
"Yes, that very unfortunate," Patrick replied smoothly.
"Remind me, who was it that was injured?" Matthew asked.
"It was so long ago, I can hardly remember," Patrick said, beginning to look nervous.
"Really? I would think a seeing a girl fall out of a tree and break her leg would be quite memorable," Matthew replied.
"Yes, it was quite traumatic. What I meant was that for a moment, I couldn't remember if it was Mary or Edith, but I remember now. I have never heard her scream like that," Patrick replied.
"You lying scoundrel," Carson said with anger clearly etched on his face.
"Excuse me?" Patrick asked.
"I believe what Mr. Carson means it that it wasn't Mary who fell from the tree and broke her leg, but in fact, it was you who fell from the tree and broke your arm. Moreover, the break was so bad the bone protruded from your skin, resulting in many stitches and a very large scar. So even if you mind has forgotten this, your scar will still bear witness to it. Simply showing us your right forearm will assure Mr. Carson that you aren't the lying scoundrel he now suspects you to be," Matthew said.
"Perhaps the scar has faded," the man replied.
"Perhaps, but unlikely. In any event, Patrick did have a rather distinctive birthmark too. Would you be able to show us your birthmark instead?" Matthew asked.
"Where is the birthmark?" he asked.
"I think I will let you tell me where you have one, and then I will tell you if that matches Dr. Clarkson's medical records for Patrick Crawley," Matthew replied.
"And if I don't have a birthmark?"
"Have you ever heard of the Tichborne claimant?" Matthew asked.
"The Tichbornes were a wealthy English family, but in 1854 the heir to the family title and fortune was presumed to have died in a shipwreck. Of course, his mother was heartbroken and didn't want to believe she had lost her son. So over a decade later, when someone showed up claiming to be her long lost son Roger, she was eager to believe him. Other family members were not quite so trusting, and he was soon exposed as an impostor. Not only did he not inherit the title and lands he coveted, he was brought to court and charged with perjury. He was found guilty, sentenced to seven years in prison, and died destitute. Terribly sad ending, don't you agree?" Matthew said.
"Terribly sad," the man agreed, the fear now visible on his face.
"Luckily for you, the ending of your story hasn't been written yet. You can continue down the path of the Tichborne claimant and likely share his fate, or recant your story, return to Canada, and resume your normal you continue on your current path, I will direct my lawyer to take legal action against you and to seek prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. Should you choose to recant now and return to your previous life, Mr. Branson will be happy to transfer you to another convalescent home in the morning and nothing more will be said on the matter. I will give you the evening to think about it. Mr. Carson, please take me to my room so our guest has privacy to consider his options," Matthew said.
"Yes my Lord," Carson said with a final scowl for the man who had claimed to be Patrick Crawley.
When they reached the bedroom room, Mary, who had been pacing nervously ever since Matthew had headed upstairs, was quick to ask how it went.
"I believe he will be gone in the morning, and we won't need to worry about him again," Matthew said.
"Really?" Mary asked, her relief and joy clearly evident on her face.
"Ask Carson if you don't believe me," Matthew said with a smile.
"Indeed my Lady. Thanks to his lordship's masterful performance, I would wager ever schilling I have that you won't hear from that scoundrel again."
"That's high praise coming from you," Mary said.
"And well deserved, I assure you. If there isn't anything else, I shall leave you two alone," Carson said.
Author's Note: I am very sorry for the lengthy delay in updating. I want to finish this story if people are still interested. I hope you enjoyed how the Patrick situation was dealt with. The Tichborne claimant was a real English case so when I came across it, I felt like I had to use it. Please let me know if you want this story to continue.