A/N: A meme seems to be developing that Matthew is a sensitive new age guy, somewhat whipped by his mother and Mary. This storey is tendered as a counterpoint.
The storey is rated 'M' for coarse language, mental abuse, jealousy, anger and physical violence. There will be little smut and probably less fluff. I do not know what the age cut off for 'M' is but 30 seems about right.
Each chapter title is the title of a Bob Dylan song. At least one line in the song will be relevant to the plot of the chapter. I concede that this is anachronistic but there is no better writer of love songs. Singer of same not so much. You may want to shop around. Performances for most are available on YouTube. For the Chapter One title I prefer the version by Seal and Jeff Beck. Your mileage may differ.
The theme throughout is 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right' as performed by the Kronos Quartet.
Without further ado...
Like a Rolling Stone
Sunday, April 6, 1913
The word, the concept, the implications ricocheted around his mind. Mary was pregnant. He looked at her sitting on the sofa, head down, worrying a handkerchief to shreds in her hands. He looked at Robert and Cora and Violet, all giving him concerned looks. He could feel his whole body vibrating. He felt as he could faint. Had Mary told them he, he was the father? He stood up. "I ... I didn't ...I'm not..." he managed to stammer out.
Robert stood up as well and put his hand on Matthew's shoulder. "We know, we are not accusing you of anything. Please sit down." Matthew sat down again. Robert remained standing. He gave Matthew an unctuous smile. "The reason we asked you here..." Robert paused looking for the proper way to phrase his request " the thing is, Mary hide her situation from us for so long that it is too late to send her away; word is already out. So the only thing that can save the family's honour" he let that to sink in "is for Mary to marry, the sooner the better" He stopped and all of them, except Mary, stared at Matthew.
They want me to marry her? To marry her when she is pregnant with some other man's bastard? To save the honour of the family? Matthew felt trapped. "Can't she marry the father?" his voice still quavered. He had to get control of himself. Anger was starting to override the initial shock.
"No, that is not possible."
"Why, is he already married?" Matthew's tone was firm now; firm, but bitter.
"No, he is dead"
"Who is it?"
"It does not matter who he was"
"It does to me, if I'm to be father to his bastard. Who was it?"
"Kemal Pamuk" they all turned to look at Mary. With head still down she spoke in such a quiet voice that Matthew could hardly hear her. "He died in my bed while he was ..."
"Impregnating you!" Matthew was incredulous.
"Did you love him?"
"No" she shook her head. "It was just lust; a need for excitement"
Matthew stared at her.
"There will be a very generous settlement for you. I will top it up to seventy five thousand pounds." Robert put in.
Cora glared at Robert. She got up and sat beside Matthew. She put her hand on his back. "We know this is a terrible way to start your life together but given time and some understanding and forgiveness you can make it work. You know Robert and I did not marry for love"
Matthew stood and turned to Cora. "You married for money" he spit out "you weren't carrying someone else's bastard." He walked over to the window, he could feel tears coming.
"That will be enough of that sort of language, the ladies do not have to hear it" Robert remonstrated.
"What would you call it? A love child? No, a lust baby? How about a bundle of Turkish Delight? No? Let's call a spade a spade. It's a bastard."
Robert was red in the face. He took a step towards Matthew. Matthew put his fists up. "Do you want to fight old man? I feel a powerful need to hit someone right now."
"Stop it" they both looked at Violet. In the sudden silence only Mary could be heard, sobbing. "We have burdened Matthew with a great deal to think about; we should give him some time." She stood up. "Let us leave him be." She motioned towards towards the door of the library.
Mary did not get up. "I would like to speak to Matthew alone"
Matthew glared at her. "You are the last person I want to talk to." He looked at the rest. "I'm going home. I will let you know my decision at seven tonight." He walked to the door and threw it open so fast he startled Carson who was on the other side.
The slam of the main door reverberated through the house.
"Well that went about as well as could be expected" Violet concluded.
"But he.. "Cora started.
"Oh he will agree to marry Mary. We had him as soon as Robert made it a matter of honour. But don't be surprised if he drives a hard bargain, he is a lawyer after all." Violet gave Mary a sympathetic look. "I do not think he will be a bad husband. Notwithstanding his willingness to fight Robert I do not think he will beat you as long as you do not openly cuckold him"
"I am not like that!" Mary snapped.
"All evidence to the contrary. All I am saying dear is to be discrete with your need for excitement. You can lead separate lives as long as you do not embarrass him. He strikes me as the morose and silent type. He'll probably drink himself to death before he is fifty."
"You are not helping" Cora interjected.
"I am just being practical. Most aristocratic marriages are like this to one degree or another. Why do you think our type maintain separate bedrooms?"
"I am not going to marry him" Mary said.
Robert shook his finger at Mary. "We have already discussed this. Your choices are to marry Matthew and help salvage this family's honour which you have done so much to damage or you can be cast out without a penny. And do not expect that your mother or grandmother will help you although I imagine that you will end with some sort of protector; women like you always seem to." He glared at her. "Make up your mind"
"I want to talk to Matthew" Mary headed for the door.
"Let Carson tell Branson to bring the auto around" Cora said.
"No thank you, I will walk. I have a lot to think about."
By the time Mary got her coat on and was out the door Matthew was already out of sight.
Matthew charged into Crawley House. He threw his coat at the hall bench.
"Molesly!" he yelled.
When a flustered Molesly appeared Matthew thrust a one pound note at him. "Here. Get Mrs. Bird and Susan and go to the pub and have a drink. I don't want to see any of you back here for a least an hour."
"But..but" Molesly stammered.
"Get going!" Matthew roared.
Isobel came downstairs. "What on earth is the matter Matthew? I'm sure that they can hear you in Ripon."
Matthew motioned at her to wait until the servants cleared out.
They went into the parlour. Isobel sat down. "Well?"
"Mary is pregnant". Matthew was shocked at his mother's lack of reaction. "You know already?"
"Yes, it has been the main topic of gossip in the village for the past week. I imagine a sizable portion of the West Riding knows by now as well."
"So why didn't you tell me?"
"I was waiting for you to tell me"
"Tell you? You think I'm the father?"
"Well who else could it be?"
Matthew snorted. "You're going to love this"
Isobel gave him a quizzical look.
Matthew continued. "Do you remember that Turkish diplomat who died up there last December?" Isobel nodded. "Well he died in Mary's bed. While he blew his wad of seed into her he blew out his heart." Now he received the reaction from his mother he had originally expected.
"So why did they want to see you..." Matthew could see her working it out in her mind "No. They can't expect you to marry her..."
"Oh they certainly do"
"But you don't have to.."
Neither Matthew nor Isobel heard Mary slip through the main door and stand in the hall eavesdropping on them.
"I'm afraid I do, They have trapped me pure and simple. They have made it a matter of honour, If I don't marry her the family will be disgraced. So what am I to do? I will marry her."
Matthew waved his arms about. "And the ironic thing is that I wanted to marry her. I loved her. I was going to court her the old fashioned way with flowers and candy and poetry and such. I was going to make her love me. I was going to melt the heart of the cold and proper Lady Mary! Who knew all you had to do was push her on a bed and she'd open her legs for you?"
"Matthew! Don't talk like that even if it's true!" Isobel scolded.
Mary had been holding her breath and she let it out softly. We can make it work she thought. It will be hard at first but we can make it work. He loved me. I can soften his anger over time and make him love me again. We will make it work. She decided not to talk to him right then and slipped back out the door.
Matthew thought he heard the door. He stuck his head into the hall but saw no one there.
"I imagine they want to get the wedding over as soon as possible and then I suppose Mary will be moving in here" Isobel said. She looked around the room wondering how they were going to fit in the unwanted bride.
"There will be a quick marriage but you don't have to worry about her moving in, after the ceremony I'm leaving."
"Going away, farewell, adieu, so long. I'm not staying around to raise that Turk's bastard. I'm leaving "
"But you'll still inherit."
"If I inherit I'll be an absentee landlord."
"So are you going back to Manchester to practice ..."
"No. The only reason I went into law was to give my family a nice middle" he gave her a half smile and corrected himself "a nice upper middle life. I imagined I would have a loving and faithful wife and live in a cozy brick cottage with a large garden filled with a brood of cute little blued eyed blond children. There's no chance of that now so what's the point. They can take care of my sluttish spouse and her love child. I'll make the child legitimate but they aren't going to have my life."
"But what are you going to do?"
"I'll get you settled back in Manchester and then... I believe the French established the Foreign Legion to deal with situations such as this."
"You can't be serious"
"I'm afraid I am. A nasty and brutish existence is the only way I'm going to be able to purge myself of the stench of this place."
"You just can't throw your life away."
"I threw it away when I opened that damn letter from Robert inviting us here.
"I can't come with you"
"What do you mean? Of course you can come, what could possibly keep you here?"
"You forget I leased the house in Manchester for two years. I'm stuck here until September 1914."
"I can't stay that long, it would kill me"
She reached out and hugged him. "I know. I'll be OK. I have my work at the hospital, I'll be fine. Just don't anything too crazy"
Matthew trudged up to the Great House. He had apologized to Molesly for his outburst. Molesly had accepted the apology with good grace indicating he knew the pressure Matthew was under. Apparently everyone knew. He also let it slip that Lady Grantham had fired Anna, Lady Mary's maid, without a reference, because Anna had helped conceal the pregnancy. Matthew shook his head, they can't fire their daughter so they fire the maid instead. Typical aristocrats. He was well rid of them.
Carson greeted Matthew at the door. Matthew thought he detected a faint scowl on the butler's face. Heard that I violated your precious Lady Mary did you? You don't know the half of it.
Robert, Cora, Violet and Mary were waiting in the Library. They were all dressed in evening clothes.
Not bothering with any pleasantries Matthew got to the point. "I will marry Mary" He watched their reactions. Robert and Cora had relieved smiles, Mary gave a small nod and looked down at her hands, only Violet did not react. "On terms" he added. Now Violet gave a faint smile.
"Which are?" asked Robert.
"The wedding will be this coming Friday..."
"But that doesn't give us time to plan..."interrupted Cora. Robert scowled at her.
"There is nothing to plan" replied Matthew. "There will only be the bare ceremony church law requires. There will be no guests other than immediate family, no attendants, no fancy dress, no gifts, no music, no flowers, no wedding feast."
Ignoring Cora's 'buts' Matthew continued "His Lordship knows the Bishop of York?" Robert nodded. "Then I will leave it to you to see to having the reading of the banns dispensed with." Again Robert nodded. "I will get the licence tomorrow in Ripon. I imagine somewhere in the family treasure chest there is a spare wedding band Mary can have." Robert nodded a third time.
Matthew paused. There were no comments so he kept on. "As for the terms, firstly you will have Murray waiting in the back of the church with a bank draft, payable solely to me, for the full seventy five thousand pounds."
"Why have Murray there?" Robert asked.
"Because I trust a fellow solicitor to honour the deal. Oh, and you will have your bank advise my bank in Manchester that the money is legitimately mine. Secondly, you will allow my mother to have free use of Crawley House until she can move back to Manchester. Her house there is leased until September 1914."
"Why would she move away?" asked Cora.
"She does not wish to stay in Downton if I am not here"
"Not here? Where are you and Mary going?"
"I have no idea where Mary is going. Hell I suppose. I am leaving Downton for good as soon as the ceremony is over." Matthew could hear Mary gasp, he did not look at her.
"You can't leave! That's not part of the deal!" Robert was getting angry.
"You are paying to make her bastard legitimate." Matthew retorted. "That's all your money is buying, you're not getting my life." Matthew waited for four beats, to get his own temper under control "And I'm leaving whether you pay me or not. I have had enough of your hypocritical aristocratic ways. Your choice. Well?"
"Please don't go" They all looked at Mary. "We can make it work, please stay" she pleaded.
Matthew shook his head. "None of you have thought this through have you? That bastard boy she is carrying" he said, pointing at Mary and then putting up his hand to forestall any suggestion it might be a girl "It's too big a joke for God to pass up for it to be anything but a boy, becomes legitimate the moment we marry and thus is the heir. Meanwhile suppose we do manage to make it work" he snorted "and she squeezes out a beautiful blond blue eyed boy which is my natural child, presuming of course she hasn't been shagging all the blond blue eyed men in Yorkshire. So who is the true heir? But who gets the title and the estate? The little bastard. Of course you don't care, it's your grandson either way. But I would care, and would brood about it and end up hating him. And no child deserves that kind of hatred. So it's better I leave. And anyway I'm not going to hang around while she spreads her legs for every Dick, Peter and Johnson who waves his block and tackle in her face. If she's going to have open house at cock alley I want to be well away. You can put out the word that you banished me from Downton Abbey because of my discreditable conduct towards your daughter"
Matthew thought Robert was going to take a swing at him but Cora grabbed Robert's arm and hissed something in his ear. "Is that all?" Robert forced out through clenched teeth.
"Two more things. You will assume all responsibility for raising the child " Matthew thought he would pushing his luck to use the word 'bastard' again and "caring for her" he gestured at Mary "although you don't have to worry about a bed for her, I imagine she can sleep anywhere, standing up even.
Robert clenched his fist, and ground his teeth but just nodded
"And you will rehire Mary's maid and give her a month's wages as compensation for making her pay the price for Mary's misconduct."
"But she betrayed..." Cora protested.
"She followed orders. If she prefers not to renter your service you will give her a glowing letter of reference and six months salary in lieu of notice."
"But" Cora started but this time Robert put his hand on her arm and shook his head at her.
"So do we have a deal?" asked Matthew.
"Yes" replied Robert.
"Good. Shall we say ten a.m. for the ceremony? I would like to catch the noon train."
Robert and Cora both nodded. Mary was sobbing into her hands. Violet was giving Matthew a hard look of appraisal.
"In the circumstances I will dispense with the traditional shaking of hands. Good bye" Matthew gave them a slight bow and headed for the door.
As Matthew walked away from Downton Abbey he did not look back.
A/N: Posting will be intermittent. It is high summer after all.