Frank Wilson was a self-made man. Some people might have said nouveau riche; Frank Wilson would not have been one of them. Frank’s language was down to earth. He had grown up like the other kids in his neighbourhood, climbing trees and getting dirty; riding his bike through muddy fields and searching under rocks for lizards and slow worms. He had come a long way since then. Frank enjoyed the outdoor life and had the energy and constitution to make a decent living out of working outside, doing the kind of manly tasks that nature had intended men should do since time immemorial. Hundreds of years ago he would have been condemned to a life of serfdom toiling in the fields of the local lord; today he had become the closest thing to a local lord that his country village now had. His success had led to him taking on workers and supplying the local economy with opportunities. Ultimately he had stopped the manual labour and allowed it to be taken over by his workers. His work nowadays consisted more of making strategic decisions about the direction in which to push his business. Luckily he had found himself to be as adept at this new occupation as he had originally been at the physical work that had got him here.
Frank’s home was far larger and more luxurious than any of his ancestors could ever have imagined. Plush carpets covered the floors and where his parents had been forced to make do with having just enough space to bring up the family, Frank found that he had more bathrooms than he actually needed, let alone more bedrooms. Chandeliers hung in almost every room. Frank’s curtains were a rich dark velvet with golden trimming. Large fire places were the focal point in his living room, dining room, study, library and billiards room, not because he needed to burn wood to keep warm the way his parents had, but because a country seat somehow needed a fireplace over which to place the oil painting showing the master of the house at a pheasant shoot. Around which to place the marble surround and mantel piece that was home to a Meissen clock, several figurines of Royal Doulton, Crown Derby and Sitzendorfer.
Franklin Voight had joined the Wilson household soon after Frank Wilson had begun to achieve his success. Aside from the similarity in their first names Franklin could not be more different. He knew that he was anything other than a self-made man. Franklin knew that he owed everything he was to the woman who had brought him into the world. Where Frank was rough around the edges, Franklin was every inch, from his head down to his toes, the very model of a gentleman. The paleness and smoothness of his skin contrasted with the ruddiness and colour the years of outdoor work had lent to Frank’s. Where the gentry in the neighbourhood saw vulgarity in the way that Frank had plonked himself right in the middle of their society, there were none who could fail to see the obvious refinement in Franklin.
Franklin himself was of far greater age than Frank, and in his time had been fortunate to serve in many wealthy households throughout Europe. In this modern era Franklin was something of an anachronism but wherever there was conspicuous consumption there was a place for Franklin and those like him. Once upon a time his type would only be found in old households where the money had been handed down through generations. Nowadays there was no telling where one could end up. Prior to joining the Wilson household Franklin had provided his services to an old widow. Just like here he had been only one of many creating the impression of wealth and success around the widow. It was very rarely that Franklin would find himself serving a household by himself. He had been with the widow for many years and had watched her age until she gradually passed on. When that happened he had found himself taken on by the Wilson household.
Before the widow Franklin had moved through several households on the continent. That is where she had found him in a rare moment of redundancy; but then could it not be said that He had always been redundant to a degree. That was an impression that had been growing for some time now. When Franklin had first entered the households of the wealthy it was as though his presence had greater value. It was as though he was a status symbol even without providing any tangible benefits. Gradually over the years as more and more devices of entertainment had been invented, and more and more labour saving devices had been invented it had begun to seem as though there was little point in his presence in even the largest of homes. When even the poorest homes owned so many amazing machines and devices of convenience the impression that he was unnecessary grew ever stronger; it was probable that he and his kind had always been surplus to any real requirement but it took the modern world to starkly contrast against Franklin’s traditional demeanour and bearing for one to see that he was little more than another status symbol no matter what utility he may have had in a bygone age.
Franklin had always worn boots with buckles, a frock coat and all the other trappings of the past that made him seem ever more anachronistic. His appearance had always been anachronistic and dated throughout his existence but in an era of hoodies and jeans it seemed all the stranger. The world changed around Franklin while he stayed the same year in, year out. Sometimes it seemed as though he would still be there in the distant future, wearing his dated clothing, like a gentleman of a bygone era while people commuted to Mars and every house was powered by a cold fusion reactor. Hundreds of years in the future Franklin would still find himself occupying the same position in wealthy households, standing and observing the actions of the members of the household from his vantage point with the other ornaments on the mantel piece.