Summary: Jack and Jem have an idea, and try to see if they can manage it. Short piece due entirely to Vick sending copious food for these bunnies whenever I complain about my current work paperwork issues.
Categories: Ste Therese's House Characters: Jack Maynard, Jem Russell
School Period: St Briavel's
School Name: Chalet School
Genre: Family, Friendship
Chapters: 3 Completed: Yes
Word count: 3196 Read: 6353
Published: 09 Oct 2013 Updated: 12 Oct 2013
1. Chapter 1 by Beecharmer
2. Chapter 2 by Beecharmer
3. Chapter 3 by Beecharmer
Canada, late 1940s
It was a drunken evening that started it all.
Jack Maynard wasn't usually one to drink much. Not from lack of interest, but it simply wasn't possible when he was on call so often. Even on the days when he was supposedly free, being responsible for 6 children under 8 (and though he would never admit it, having a somewhat scatty wife...) meant that he needed a clear head. Hangovers were also exponentially more painful when woken the next day by a pile of children clamouring for attention.
But the recent news had made him very quiet, and Jem had felt it would do him good to relax a little, however briefly. So, with a warning to Madge and Jo not to expect them back until the next day, he had accepted no argument and swept Jack off for a weekend away, supposedly to introduce him to a colleague. Jack was so tired after the past few trips across the channel that it wasn't until they were off to the city in the car that he even asked who it was they were meeting. Jem's answer was that he could chose Jim Beam, Mr J Daniels or, in a nod to their current location, William Grant. Jack looked at him in somewhat bemused fashion before registering the names and shaking his head at such a poor joke. He quickly saw that his brother in law meant every word, for they were no sooner booked into their hotel than he was being steered to a good meal, then an armchair by the fire and a whisky placed firmly in his hand.
Jem wasn't one to drink a lot himself, but he had seen Jack getting more and more overwhelmed, and knew that the solid family man Jack was would not admit he needed a break. Nor would he discuss his worries without an awful lot of prompting. The latest news was clearly welcome, but he wouldn't blame Jack for feeling a little overwhelmed, to have yet another addition to the family on it's way, in a strange country, and with so many young terrors already to deal with. Joey was very run down as well, and Jack was doing all he could to make her rest, however much he ignored his own need to do so.
The transformation was gradual, but obvious to the older man, as Jack began to laugh a little more, accepted a further few glasses, until he was sitting back in his chair, almost lounging. A few probing questions, and everything spilled out.
"I'm a lucky man, a lucky, lucky man" Jack kept saying, "Always wanted a large family, always. Sort of thought I'd start a bit earlier... And maybe not quite so many so soon... But lucky, lucky man"
Jem just nodded. He understood Jack's mixed emotions. He'd been so pleased when he became a father himself, relatively late in life, but the influx of the cousins and various wards had overwhelmed him on occasion, wondering sometime quite what he had done to deserve disturbed sleep for a decade. He understood why so many people did have children in their 20s, for his energy in his 30s was far less than it had been. He'd been thankful for the seemingly endless ability to cope displayed by his young wife. Jack on the other hand had a different situation with Joey. Much as she was full of energy, it was often somewhat explosive; not always did she chose the most practical methods of doing things. Joey never meant to be an extra burden, and he knew that Jack fiercely loved her and their chaotic family. But it wasn't the same organised, calm household that Jem had lived in with Madge, despite a similar number of children.
"They don't really cost that much...only little they are, when they start" Jack said, squinting at his brother in law and holding two hands apart to show how small his new child would be. "Little. And they don' need much food cos she has it, you know in, her, you know... Tastes funny but they like it. Only little. Don't have to feed em for a while ..."
He realised that Jack had rambled off somewhere conversationally, though Jem suspected he was going to struggle to walk physically for some time. Working backwards from the mumbled words, he realised that Jack was worrying not just about the energy required, but mainly about the cost of the new child. He didn't like to pry into their finances, but he had the impression that death duties had eaten into Jack's inheritance quite a lot, and this confirmed it. He asked a couple of carefully worded questions, and did some mental arithmetic with the facts he knew, and realised that Jack was right to be worried, their outgoings must surely be larger than their income. He hadn't had to think about it, for his income had been high enough to cover his family costs, but the war had damaged Jack's savings hugely, having been off work so long while both serving and injured, and with the move from Guernsey so suddenly.
"She's lovely, lovely, Joey, my Joey" came a mutter and a heavy lidded Jack nodded forcefully. "yes. She can't help it, that the children come and she doesn't know really, she thinks it's all ok... Lots of them though. And school, they need school, hate to not be able to do it, they'd be so upset not to be with Rix or David...helps that the Madgey school, no the Chalet School gives a bit of hulp, help I mean. But there's still clothes an food, an they all eat and eat and eat and... "
Jem frowned, and looked around, for he knew that Jack wouldn't be keen for anyone but him to hear all of this, the man was naturally quiet and proud. He would see his family as his responsibility, however much Joey would want to contribute with her writing. Authors didn't really make much, when 6, soon to be at least 7 hungry mouths had to be considered. Thankfully they were now alone in the corner of the hotel bar, and none of the staff were in earshot.
"Hooo...hoope you have some idea where my room is..." Jack said, staggering to his feet, and swaying slightly. "because I have...no...clue."
Jem could see a suspicious gleam to his friend's eyes, and realised with a start that Maynard was struggling not to cry, and clearly had been hiding a lot of strain behind his cheerful persona for some time. Jem had no desire to add to the humiliation his friend might well feel in the morning, so quickly pointed Jack in the right direction and helped him to open the door to his room.
Thank you for reading. It's only a short drabble. Either one more update or maybe a couple more if the bunnies bite. :-)
Jem was tempted to go back later and check on the young man, but decided that sleep was the best medicine, and Jack had drunk a lot more in the past with no ill effects. Even that was a sign of how things had changed, for they had frequently spent evenings putting the world to rights over a few whiskies before, and Jack could usually hold his drink as well as anyone.
The next morning a fragile looking Jack appeared just in time for breakfast, and battled his way through the food that was put in front of him, knowing it would help him beat the queasiness in the long run. It wasn't until they were back in the car that Jem started to feel his way to the subject of Jack's finances.
If his own situation had been just a little more stable, and he didn't have two new arrivals himself to support, he would have suggested that he retire, and Jack take over the more financially rewarding role of head. That wasn't going to be possible, but overnight Jem had been thinking furiously, and he thought he had a solution. Now he just had to get Jack into the idea without it seeming like he was interfering.
"You seem to be enjoying it here" he started, with as casual a tone as he could manage.
"Mmm" was all that Jack could manage, which Jack took to be a yes.
"I've been impressed with how Margot has improved, too." He continued, trying to keep his tone casual. Jack kept his eyes closed and nodded, then obviously regretted it, from the frown that crossed his brow.
"It would be a good place for a San, I was thinking..." Jem said, then left the comment hanging. Jack mumbled something to pass as a reply, then realised that he wouldn't get away with that this time. He struggled to sit more upright, and out his mind to the question.
"Yes, it would." He said, frowning in concentration. "The surroundings and facilities nearby are ideal, in fact. Do you think it's at all possible?"
"Well we would need to get funding, and approval, but we've a good track record, we should be able to, after all we've set up a new San a couple of times now..." Jem replied, getting excited about the plan, almost forgetting the idea behind it all, to find a way for Jack to make more money. He was sorely tempted to take the lead role himself, justifying by the fact that then Jack could take his own role in the UK.
It wan't until they were back to the house that he calmed back down, noticing how well and happy Margot was now; how Joey was regaining her colour for the first time and starting to breath more easily than she ever did at home. This was a good place for Jack and Joey and their family to grow. The cost of living was also less, it really did make sense all round. He put the thrill of starting something new aside for himself and decided to do all he could to make this happen for his family.
Jack ran his hand through his hair in despair, searching with the other through the piles of papers in front of him.
"Ugh! Every time I feel like I make some sense of these numbers I lose a bit of paper and start mixing up the potential plans with the previous ones, and the ways we can fund this with the security we have, and ... arghhh!" He said, as Jem entered the room with yet another bundle of documents.
"It's at times like these that I really miss having Rosalie as a secretary" Jem said, as he grabbed a piece of paper from the floor and handed it to Jack.
"Aha ! Thank you, that's ... No... That's another missing bit... That I didn't know was missing...oh help. How did that happen?" Jack said, frantically searching through the papers in front of him, scanning the tiny columns of figures and notes to find a match. "This is a copy... So is it the original, or amended one..." He looked from page to page, clearly unable to choose.
The pair of them would be the first to admit that their skills lay with the patients, not with building business plans or raising funds. In the past they had enough security and reputation to simply get approval due to being doctors with a good idea. Now, in the completely different atmosphere of post war Canada, they were discovering that it wasn't so easy. They needed to get support, agree terms, show profitability and work out the costs involved in setting up a company. They couldn't risk too many people knowing about their plans, so had to do the majority of the work themselves. Joey had taken pity on them after many crumpled sheets of typing paper and smudged pages and was typing up any corrections as they went. Unfortunately they had forgotten to mark the originals that clearly, so kept mixing up the pages.
"Did we decide that we would include the treatment cost projections for three years or two?" he said, looking frazzled.
"Four" Jem said shortly, as he shuffled together a pile of pages with graphs and diagrams on. "Did you mean to label this case study like this? I know patient confidentiality can be annoying, but I think calling them Mr Grumpy and Mrs Won't Listen isn't quite what we planned when we talked about taking their real names off?"
Jack swore and grabbed the page. "Damn Joey, she told me she would put the initials in, that was her name for those two and she kept saying she'd never remember their real names. I said she could always put Mr G and Mrs WL, but she was obviously not concentrating. ANOTHER page to redo!"
Jem kept his thoughts to himself, but he wished Joey would be a bit more helpful. She understood the benefits of the plan, but was quite upset about the idea of being so far from everyone, and Jem was beginning to think that the errors might not be all as accidental as Jack tried to believe. He made a note to talk to Madge, for there was no point in them going through all of this if Joey wouldn't cooperate and stay when Jack was suggested as Head. They had deliberately kept the decision about who might head the San as vague as possible, in case Jem's stronger reputation was required to get started out here.
Now this was going to be the end, but the bunnies are debating whether it might be added to at some stage, so I'll just say it's the end for now :-)
It had been an awful process, digging into both of their lives and finances to try to prove themselves worthy of investment and support. They went through so many periods of feeling it must be fine, to despairing that they would ever get the loans and registration of interest organised. Jem was used to funding everything himself, or using property as security, but as one banker bluntly said, property in England only had so much value over here, it was just too hard to enforce a claim if they defaulted and left the country. Jack had found the questions especially hard, as the investors seemed determined to show that he could never cope with the demands of a large family at the same time as a new venture. He was tired of explaining that the dates of birth of his first three children were correct, and yes their first names were all Mary. He objected to being asked all this detail anyway, for he considered his children to be separate from his work life. But the processes seemed to be necessary for them to be able to check who he was, and build a profile of him. Jem had at least been in Canada for enough time that he was considered less of a risk, and his age and reputation helped. Jem felt awkward when he thought about how much of Jack's work had gone into the papers he had built his own reputation on, but the younger man having been out of academic and medical circles during the war and was acting against him now.
Something else that neither of them had considered was the fact that from the perspective of the Canadian bankers, Austria was a Nazi state, and it seemed that over and over they had to explain what was, to them, basic geography and politics, and to justify their having lived in Austria at all before the war.
Finally they submitted everything, did every interview, and there was nothing more they could do. The wait for the results was full of mixed feelings, for they were both starting to realise just how complicated it would be, running two Sans so far apart from each other. Madge and Joey were struggling with it all too, having enjoyed so much time together, and being worried about first Joey's twins arriving and then Mollie's illness. Jack was on edge all of the time, having seen hope in this possible solution to his money worries, but becoming more and more afraid that the personal cost would be too high, that his family would end up returning to the UK and he would be stuck in Canada. Jem was himself realising just how much work Kevin and Kester were starting to be, and unsure how Madge would feel about relocating permanently if Jack couldn't convince Joey to stay or cope alone.
At last it was time for the decision. And it was... Not a definite no - but a lukewarm response, at best. The bankers were trying to rebuild and encourage their own people after the war, and enthusiasm for helping a couple of English Doctors wasn't high. Jack and Jem were aware this might happen, and knew that they could push it, resubmit the proposal, but it just seemed that too many things were working against them in this plan. Reluctantly they decided to shelve the idea for the time being and return to the UK.
"It's probably for the best" Jem said sadly, as they looked at their proposals for one last time before filing them. "It would have been hard to keep properly in touch with each other's progress over such a distance."
Jack agreed. He was struggling to deal with the mixed disappointment and relief. Just for a moment he had seen himself as head of his own Sanatorium, building his own reputation. He cast around for something to look forward to now, but it was hard to get excited about returning to a job he could do in his sleep. It was a pity that Austria looked so unlikely to be possible, for if they couldn't do Canada, the Alps really would ideal for their type of Sanatorium.
Jem agreed. He would ideally have liked to go back to the Sonnalpe, but couldn't see how they could return for many years, the way that things were politically.
"Of course." He mused, as he tied the papers up to take with them just in case. They had done too much work to feel that they could just burn the papers. "There's other parts of the Alps we could consider. Switzerland maybe. It would be so expensive though."
Jack laughed. "More expensive than the amount of trans atlantic flights we would have ended up with with our wives and offspring needing to visit each other?" He said, with a grin. Jem smiled, and acknowledged the point. But a little flame of hope had started up again, in those few words.
For now they had enough to deal with, returning from their time away, and catching up on all of the news, but the tiniest germ of an idea at least had a chance to grow. Jack rolled the idea around in his head whenever he had a spare moment, day dreaming about his own little house, and a San in the mountains, a healthy environment for his family.
It wasn't that likely to happen really, setting up a new San in Switzerland when they had just failed to get the funding in Canada.
It wasn't a real, likely plan. It wasn't something that he could really do, really manage to fund even with more backing in the UK. It was a daydream, wasn't a real future.
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