Tom Branson from Downton Abbey responds to Mary’s letter…but if he’s not currently at Downton, where is he writing from, and why? And what DOES he make of his conversation with the King of England? The physical letter was mailed to Nancy Camann earlier this week!
Mr. Tom Branson
137-139 Brent St.
August 24, 1927
Lady Mary Talbot
I received your letter a fortnight ago, and I’ve got to apologise for the delay in responding—it’s been too long. You know as well as I do that time seems to slip away when you’re travelling, and the lengthier the trip, the further hours and days unravel. I’m itching to return home, to hold Sybbie again, to hear the latest with you and Henry…to be reunited with my family. But I can’t deny that Brampton House feels much more comfortable than I ever anticipated, and I’ve got you to thank for that; without your push, I probably wouldn’t have accepted Lucy’s invitation. She and the Dowager Baroness have been so welcoming. I’m still not convinced I’m ready—but what you said about Sybil wanting this for me? That she’d encourage whatever it is Lucy and I are building? With every passing day, it’s becoming more and more difficult to not recognise that you were right. Like I often remind you: you’re wiser than I look.
Concerning your “better angels”: don’t give me too much credit. Save that for yourself.
I must confess that I’m a little concerned by the “serious matter” you mentioned and the secrecy you’ve placed around it—subtlety and discretion aren’t among your strong suits. But you clearly have your reasons, and you know I trust you. We’ve weathered tough storms before, and I’m confident that we’ll handle this new challenge too.
As for That Dinner, as I’m beginning to think of it: we are in agreement! Blaming Barrow for any chaos at Downton is the obvious choice, but an entire Royal Staff incapacitated or misdirected? At his most charismatic and even in pursuit of a common goal, Barrow lacks the charm to unite the workers. If you ask me (which I suppose you did, technically), my money’s on Bates. I’ve suspected forever that he’s more cunning than he lets on. And I must admit that it does my old “revolutionary heart” a turn to hear you supporting the staff over stuffy protocol. Maybe all these years of listening to me have finally begun to seep in. Who knows? Perhaps by 1943, I’ll find you holding a banner and marching in the streets!
But I’m one to talk, aren’t I? An Irish Republican, thanked personally by the King of England! “More than one reason to be grateful to you,” he said. No one in my village would believe it. It’s a strange life, Mary: butlers and titles and rubbing elbows with royalty and accidentally befriending Princesses. I imagine I’ll never quite become adjusted to it, but maybe straddling two worlds was always my path. That thought would’ve dismayed me at one point, but then I met Sybil. And all of you. That meeting changed everything.
I expect to return early next week, and I trust we can catch up after I’ve taken a few hours to recuperate? By then, I’ll have so much more to tell you.
Want to see everything I’ve created in the same place? Because you can do that!