This little piece of fluff was written for Yankee Countess's Matthew Lives Day on tumblr.
My thanks to Kavan30013 who prompted me to write a piece for this very important holiday!
Matthew flinched when he saw Tom walking the halls before the dressing gong. He knew that his brother-in-law was feeling snubbed recently and yet his pride made him quiet on the subject. Matthew had hoped that in the days following the second cricket match he had participated in, the ache in his back would have lessened. But alas, it had been quite the opposite. In order to secure their victory, which Robert wanted to make an annual tradition; Matthew had pushed himself beyond what his back seemed to think was reasonable exertion. It was a frustrating reminder of his former injury.
And so he had declined walking with Tom across the estate to meet some tenants, and he had declined playing pool with him the previous night. Now, however, they were about to meet, and it was unavoidable. He had hoped to make the journey from the library to his dressing room without interruption especially as the stairs trumpeted up fresh aches in his sore muscles. The only person that knew of his backache was Mary, and was determined to keep it that way. Matthew braced himself as Tom approached his gaze cautious at the frequent rejections towards his company lately.
"I'm going to the nursery," he said with obvious pride. "Care to join me?" Tom asked eagerly.
And Matthew had to marvel at the man before him. He could brush off the estate manager and even decline his brother-in-law, but this father before him, Matthew found he could not ignore. After all, he was going to be a father himself very soon. The thought produced goose pimpled flesh on his skin when he thought of this new arrival. And he wanted to be a father such as Tom was, always making time for his child. It reminded Matthew of how his own father had cared for him. His backache didn't bother him so much when he felt this nostalgia.
"I'd love to," Matthew found himself replying and was pleased that a broad smile spread across Tom's face. He clapped him on the back, and Matthew silently winced.
As the two men entered the nursery, they saw that both of their wives were present. A very large expectant Mary was standing with her sister Sybil as they stared at her sleeping daughter. The little girl was tucked in with a golden blanket, and she looked quite picturesque as she clutched her rag doll. Next to her crib were a basinet and another smaller crib. As well as a new pram that could accommodate two children. The sisters had been busy as they made preparations in the nursery.
Although the nanny was in the room, she remained quiet as she folded clothing. Matthew found his gaze distracted by her presence, another person he didn't want to guess his indisposition. He shifted on his feet uncomfortably. However, as his eyes connected with his wife he felt a surreal kind of calm. She looked at him sharply; some would have thought her gaze was critical, but he knew the truth, it was concern that shadowed her expression. And it touched him deeply. He moved closer towards Mary and observed her content expression and yet she looked tired.
"How's my angel?" Tom asked to break the silence in the nursery as he peeked into the crib. He only broke his gaze to smile at his wife. She was happy to be raising their child in her home. And he found he fulfilled his duty by being the estate manager as well as keeping his independence by still writing the occasional piece of writing. Edith's connections were helpful in this, and they served as good allies together in the family dynamic.
"After a tea party with all her dolls she was worn out," Sybil said with a smile. "She is very eager to meet the new baby."
"Here, here," Matthew said with a genuinely pleased grin.
"Hush," Mary said as her cheeks reddened and he hand went to her round belly.
"Excuse me sir," the nanny said suddenly as she had started to tidy the nursery, her folded clothing ready to be stowed in the bureau behind him. Matthew couldn't contain the grimace on his face as he was forced to move quickly out of her way, careful of the toys on the floor that were in his path. He felt the dull back spasms return and sighed with vexation.
"You should be sitting down," Mary said with a light scolding.
Matthew felt indigent at her revealing his secret. He watched as her hands went to her hips to brace her back.
"Well," he said with petulance, "Then so should you."
Sybil laughed at the exchange as she watched them bicker lovingly at each other. It took her back so many years to how they had spared from the very beginning. It was clear even now that neither of them wanted to concede defeat.
"Did I miss something?" Tom asked in confusion.
Sybil pointed with authority reminiscent of her nursing during the Great War at the two rocking chairs that had been placed by the cribs. Her gaze was so stern that reluctantly both Matthew and Mary gave in to her suggestion and sat down, each with a sigh of relief. Sybil turned her gaze back to her husband and ignored the stern looks of betrayal on her sister and brother-in-law's faces. They were quite the pair. However, Matthew and Mary were saved from any further discussion when the dressing gong was struck. It was music to their ears.
Thanks for reading!