Summary: It's 1902. Crawley House,location: Manchester. How is it that Matthew decided to become a lawyer? How did his family react when they discovered that Matthew did not want to be a doctor but a lawyer? This is my attempt to fill in some of Matthew's past.
Disclaimer: ALL COPYRIGHTS RESERVED. Downton Abbey belongs to Julian Fellows and ITV.
This story is just a small gesture of my love for this amazing series. Matthew Crawley is one of my favourite characters.
The following story has been inspired by a discussion in the Downton Abbey forum (see my home page for the link) about why 'how is it that Matthew became a lawyer when the natural path would have being for him to become a doctor'. In the end, it was concluded that Matthew's choice may have being an act of rebellion.
Thank you to silverduck for her support and advice.
The Crawley's house was a medium sized house near the city centre of Manchester. The house was located in a good respectable area. The house's décor was similar to other houses, with the exemption that the Crawley's were keen enthusiasts of new technologies such as electricity. Me employers saw the benefits of having electricity installed in almost every room in the house, even in the kitchen! Me and Gladdys, the scullery maid, were the only live in servants.
As I walked down the corridor into the kitchen, I noticed that there was someone in there, already.
"Young master, isn't it too early for you to be up? School does not start until 7:30, you still got 2 hours left of sleep," I said as I entered me kitchen at 5:30 in the morning to start organizing the tools and start making the preparations for the breakfast. I was surprised to see me employers' only son, Matthew Crawley, seated at the servants' dining table "Good morning, Mrs. Bird," the 12 year boy greeted me politely as he saw me. "I hope I am not disturbing you," he added as he stood up from his chair, ready to leave.
"Of course not, Master," I reassured the boy who looked like he hadn't had enough sleep and who seemed worried about something. "So?" I tried to encourage him to speak and sat back down.
"I don't know, Mrs. Bird, I couldn't sleep because I have come to the realisation that I don't want to do what my family expects me to do." He paused momentarily and took a deep breath, "I don't want to study medicine, I don't want to be a doctor, I want to become a lawyer, Mrs. Bird." I could tell that he must have being thinking about that for some time because his voiced sounded confident and defiant.
"Do you remember my friend Leopold, the one who visited the house last month for a school project?"
"Yes, what about him?" I eagerly asked wondering what the other boy may have done.
"Well, his father is a lawyer. I have had a couple of opportunities to talk to Mr. Wilkinson about his profession whenever I go to their house. "
The expression on his face lit up and he stood up from his chair again and placed his hands on the edge of the dining table.
"Do you think that is a bad thing?" The boy inquired of me, looking a bit nervous.
"Hmm... well, Master Matthew, I'm not in a position to answer your question, sorry," I told the boy firmly and he suddenly looked downcast, "but have you told your parents?"
"No no no," the boy instantly replied shaking his head, "I don't know, Mrs. Bird, but I have not found the right opportunity to tell either of them, and when I'm about to tell them for some reason they interrupt me, and... my mind goes blank and... my words run out the window."
Funny little chap, he still had the tendency to say 'words run away' like when he was four and anxious for whatever reason. I think he really means that he is lost for words. Ha.
"Well, you'll need to make sure all windows are shut, won' you?" I told him in a slight teasing tone. "I think it is best to tell your parents sooner rather than later, the more you delay it the harder it can become to tell them later on. Would you like me to make you some warm coco?"
"Yes, please, Mrs. Bird," the boy instantly nodded. And I went to the cooking plates that Gladdys, our scavvy maid, had already warmed up. I went to fetch me small cooking pan and the milk and coco, and I mixed them together. After a couple of minutes the coco was ready and I poured it into a cup and turned around to see that the young chap was sitting up straight and with a big smile on his face and his hands ready and eager on the table to get the coco cup.
"Hopefully that will calm you down a bit," I told him as handed him the warm coco cup and took a seat opposite him. "And if you think you are worried how they would react, you should not worry; you won't be the first one to rebel nor will you be the last one. Besides, there are worst crimes than wanting to choose what paths to follow in life. You are being honest but now you need to be honest to your parents too. Hopefully, they will understand and support you," I said as I noticed that he was slowly sipping at his cup whilst at the same time listening very attentively to every of me words. "Now, young master enough of me talking, it is time you go back to bed and get some more rest, because you will be needing your wits when you tell them tonight, won't you?"
The boy looked as if I had just commanded him with a more treacherous task than he had ever been given in his short life. "Well?" I pressed on, "Would you not tell your parents now and get it over and done with?"
He looked down and then up at me, "I did not think I would need to tell them tonight." He took a deep breath, "But think you are right because I have been losing sleep over this for the last two months and I am struggling to stay awake during classes let alone during the day." And he yawned, but instantly put his hand to try to disguise it. He then started to get up from his chair, "Thank you, Mrs. Bird, wish me luck," he said as he walked towards the corridor. "Would you..." he stopped by the entrance.
"Do not worry, I will send Gladdys up if you are not up at 7," I reassured the boy and with that he smiled and left.
Now with the little chap gone, I stood up and took to the sink the empty coco cup he had left forgotten on the table.
I could not help smiling at the thought of having a little rebel in the house.
The day had been long but I arrived well on time before Matthew arrived home from school for lunch. Though I was not supposed to work now that I was married and had a son, I still enjoyed spending my mornings volunteering at the local hospital, helping out with the sick, and I would also organise charity events for the homeless and really poor people in Manchester.
"Good afternoon, mother," my 12 year old son had greeted me as he entered the dining room, arriving a bit early too.
"Good afternoon, Matthew," I stopped looking at the documents I held in my hands and gave a glance of acknowledgment to my son from the chair I was sitting on, "how has your day being so far?"
"My day has being good so far but..." he said looking a bit hesitant as he took his seat opposite me. "That may be about to change," he said in a slight worried and sad tone.
"Why is that?" I pressed on and put the documents on the chair next to me.
"Well... the thing is..." he dwelled, lost in his own thoughts. He then started to look out the window and onto the floor alternatively. I began to grow a bit impatient as I knew that luncheon would be soon served.
"I don't want to be a doctor but a lawyer!" He finally said looking straight into my eyes. "Mother, law interests me because it has more career opportunities open and I really like the possibilities of having good arguments with colleagues and clients alike" By the tone of his voice, I could tell how keen he had become in lawyer. "You remember Leopold Wilkinson? Well, his father is a lawyer and every time I've visited them I've had the chance to ask his father more about his job and about everything it entails - you know like the benefits and the challenges, and about the personality traits and qualifications you need." Hmmm, I never expected this. I never thought he was at all interested in politics or law. Hmmm, interesting turn of events, I mused inwardly.
"Well, you will be the one to tell your father," I finished as I saw Gladdys bringing in the luncheon. Then Gladdys silently nodded to ask my permission to start serving and she then stood by the door ready for when we needed her. Matthew and I started cutting out pieces of chicken and putting a few roasted vegetables on our plates.
"But wait mother, how did you know," he said holding up his fork midair.
"That you haven't yet told your father?" I finished the sentence for him. "You showed the exact same symptoms when you asked us for a bicycle for your birthday last year, didn't you?" I said before eating.
"Hmmm, yes I think so... but cannot remember it exactly," he looked to the side as if trying to retrieve from his mental archives last year's chapter about his wishes to have a bicycle and the debate that ensued with his father.
"In any case, that has to come from you because it is your choice."
"But you are not angry or disappointed mother, are you?"
"Silly boy, why would I be?" I smiled at him, "You have to explain to your father as truthfully as you can why you want to become a lawyer and not a doctor."
"Hmmm..." he began pondering and trying to catch up on his food, and he unconsciously placed his elbow on the table whilst eating and began slouching.
"Elbows!" I told him, "Would you like a pillow too?" He knew instantly what I meant and he instantly took them off and sat straight up properly like a gentleman. He knew I wanted to educate him properly and how important etiquette and table manners were. Over time, Matthew has learnt well and it now only takes one look from me and he would instantly understand the message and correct himself when his behaviour was out of order.
"Matthew, it is important that you tell your father otherwise he will assume I have been getting political ideas into your head."
"No, mother, that is not true!" He said looking up from his plate, "Why would father think that?"
"Never mind that, as long as it is your choice then he will get used to it with time," I said as I started finishing my plate.
"Mother, thank you for being understanding and supportive," he told me as he finished his plate.
"Your welcome, I'm your mother, I'm always here for you dear," I said as I placed my fork and knife on the plate correctly. "But you will need to make sure you have your suit of armour on tonight, because he could hit the roof," I added teasingly. He smiled as he felt more relieved and calmed down after he had spoken to me.
"Yes, I will, thank you mother," he said as he placed his napkin on the table and I followed suit. Gladdys then took the plates away.
"I will ask Mrs. Bird to prepare some of your father's favourite dishes and that could hopefully help to diffuse the mood tonight."
"That would be nice mother, thank you," he said as he stood up.
"Now it is time for you to get going otherwise you will be late for your afternoon lessons."
Matthew then came around the other side of the table and stood next to me. I pulled him into a gentle side hug and said, "As long as you are happy, I will be happy." I took a good look at my young son who would one day become a handsome and intelligent lawyer, "But you will still have to prove to your father that it is not because you find your science subjects difficult or boring, but because you are really interested in learning law. So do not become idle in any of your subjects, do you understand, Mr. Crawley?"
"Yes, Mrs. Crawley," he answered in an equally sincere and serious tone. Then, "You are the best mother I could ever ask for," and finally reciprocated my side hug.
"You are a good son and I'm proud of you."
"But mother, I'm not yet in university and I don't have the law degree yet," he interrupted me and looked a bit confused.
"I know, but you are my son and achievements are built up gradually over some period of time. We don't reach the peaks without climbing the rocky mountains first."
He then gave me a quick kiss on my cheek and left for his afternoon classes.
I then stood and walked towards the window to watch him leave on his bicycle. I let a laugh escape me and couldn't help but think of the rebel my son had become. Well, a rebel for going against tradition, but a modern liberal boy preparing himself for this new century. A boy whom I'm very proud to call my son.
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