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Butler's Duty

Butler's Duty

A Story by Scott Free
"

This is dedicated to The Werkinatics--Jane, Caleb B., and Renae. There, now I've dedicated a piece to you all. Hope you're happy.

"

 

My good Werkins,
How’ve you been, old chap? I hope you’re getting along well. I know I am. The West Indies are the place for me, Werkins, they really are. It’s so beautiful here—one day I woke up and was admiring the beauty so much I forgot to put my clothes on. Prudence reminded me before anyone saw, thankfully. Well…before too many people saw.
I have become an insurance agent for Lloyd’s of Kingston and am having the time of my life! I still don’t get the whole insurance business, though. My manager tried to explain it to me, but all that I gathered was that people pay us because they’re scared of losing their money—which seems oxymoronical, if you ask me. However, I am glad I went to business school those two years, though I rather wish I had remembered some of what they said there.
But no matter! I must get to the big news. You’ll be delighted to hear this, Werkins! My sister, who I’d thought was killed by an Indian Tiger in Africa, is actually alive and doing very well! She was isolated from society for two years and forced to live with a tribe of African natives, who elected her their queen. However, it seems she has turned them to a democracy now.
To get to the point—she will be coming to England and would very much like to meet you, Werkins. I hardly know why. I told her you’ve moved to Bloking. Tell me how that new job is working out for you, eh? I’ll be looking forward to your answer.
Now, it seems, I have left my pants at home and must go retrieve them.
Yours,
Sir
 
P.S. I found my pants. They were under the writing desk.
 
I was shaking when I set the letter down. Sir’s sister? Wanting to meet me? I was already feeling wretched.
Sir had left me earlier that year—and though I don’t miss his rounds with insanity where he would fight Jabberwocks and see Martians, I did rather miss being his butler.
I picked up my bags and strode away from the train station, tucking the letter in my waistcoat pocket. It was two minutes before noon, and I could not be late for my appointment.
The address I had been given led me out a ways from the town of Bloking and to a small house. Well—no, it was not a small house, it only looked small compared to the two gigantic trees guarding it. The first had invaded the balcony completely, it’s roots criss-crossing the front yard like a chessboard. The second, more towards the back, had nearly engulfed the roof.
I strode up to the front door, mustering my courage. However, it opened before I could knock, revealing a flustered woman wearing so much fur she must have made half of America extinct. She looked me up and down and sighed, her agitated demeanor melting into a relieved smile.
“You are the new butler, aren’t you?”
“Yes, ma’am, I am. My name is Werkins. Were you just leaving, ma’am?”
“Yes, I was. He tried to blow me up.”
I blinked. “Who did, ma’am?”
“The Major.” She waved an ermine-skinned hand at the house. When I didn’t comprehend, she rolled her eyes and said; “Your new master. I’m his daughter. I heard you specialize with insane employers.”
Oh no! I thought. Not another one!
“He is…mad, then?”
“No. It’s worse—he’s senile. And I must go.” She stepped past me. “I hope you can talk some sense into him!”
I strode into a small drawing room. The room wasn’t tidy, really—but it wasn’t messy. It gave me the feeling that whoever owned the house never really had time to mess this room up.
I set my bags down just as the maid walked in. I blinked when I saw her; I really don’t think I have ever seen such a tall woman in my life. She was an Amazon in an apron.
“Oh! Sir, you are the Major’s new butler?” she asked, folding her hands together and smiling.
“Yes, I believe I am, madam. Eh—where is he, exactly?”
“Up in his room, sir.”
“Very good,” I nodded to her and strode up the stairs. They led me around a few times until I was at the top. The Major’s bedroom was open.
This was definitely the biggest room in the house. If the drawing room and the parlor had been small, this bedroom made up for it. The thing was, it was mostly floor.
My mouth dropped. There were toys everywhere! Little tin soldiers, hundreds of them! And cannons and fortresses, little towns and all manner of things spread out on blankets that covered the whole floor like terrain. I heard a husky voice from somewhere in the corner.
“Emperor Leopold moves into Madrid with his small army. The triumphant Louis XIV moves forward and demands surrender! Emperor Leo tells him to go boil his arse. Louis moves in with the cavalry, but Leo’s cavalry blows them to hell and back!”
I peeked around the door. The Major—or so I presumed—was sitting in the midst of a battle, shoes off, in a blue uniform complete with medals and epaulettes. His hair was long and white—he had no beard. He tugged on a row of cannon.
“Louis the Sun King mutters a string of livid curses and orders the grenadiers in,” the Major continued, “but he didn’t see Leopold’s cavalry coming from the forest. The Imperial cavalry hack the grenadiers to bits! Ha ha ha! Leopold taunts Louis, saying ‘Hey, Sun King, how’d you like to be moon’d?”
The Major fell back in a fit of laughter, knocking the French corps on their backs.
“Uh—excuse me?” I stepped into the room, evading a column of deserted artillery.
The Major sat up and frowned at me.
“Who—say, are you the new butler?”
“Um…yes, yes I am.”
“Oh good! You can be the French, I’ll be the Imperials.”
“Oh…thank you, sir. And where am I, right now?” I sat down next to him.
“You’ve lost your cavalry and most of your infantry. You’re supposed to capture Madrid but now you don’t have enough men.”
“Well…I’d say I had better set up my artillery and fire on Madrid,” I adjusted the line of cannons, “while my infantry guard against any attacks. This hill will be good, I think.” I pointed to a footlocker stealthily hidden by the blanket.
The Major scrutinized his position for a moment. “Then I shall return fire with my batteries. The Imperials are crack shots, and they take out your artillery in a jiffy!”
He swept his hand over my artillery.
“Thankfully,” I added calmly, “my infantry were advancing on your cavalry, and now surprise them by a charge, catching them in the rumps, sir.”
I knocked down his horsemen.
“Well, good thing I called for reinforcements!” He reached over and grabbed several new platoons.
“Good thing I bribed a man in Madrid to open the gates,” I grinned. “My men rush in and send your garrison packing.”
“Good thing I summoned the Hand of God to wipe out your armies!” He grabbed the blanket and threw it up in the air, sending soldiery flying.
He sat there, glaring at me. I looked at my pocket watch.
“I do believe it is time for dinner,” I stood.
He nodded. “I think you’ll do well. What’s your name?”
“Werkins, sir.”
 
The only two denizens of my new proprietor’s house was the Amazonian maid, whose name was Topsy, and of course, my proprietor. I moved into the servant’s quarters, into a fine large bedroom where the last butler had slept.
“Who was the last butler?” I asked Topsy the next day, when we were in the kitchen making lunch for the Major.
“Mr. Johnson-Pollyjock, Mr. Werkins.”
“Johnson-Pollyjock? Well, I can tell why he was sacked. No one wants to have to call ‘Johnson-Pollyjock! Get me my tea!’ or ‘Johnson-Pollyjock, answer the door!’” I turned off the sink.
“Oh, he wasn’t sacked, sir,” Topsy’s lip quivered.
“Not sacked? Well what happened to him then?” I strode over to her and wiped my hands on a towel. She looked down—far down—at me and said quietly,
“He was murdered.”
“Was he, then?”
“Yes, sir. Till he was dead.”
“That much?”
She nodded, eyes bulging. “I saw it myself, Mr. Werkins.”
“Did you? Saw the third party, then?”
Her face looked confused. “No, but I saw the murderer.”
“Hmm. And what did he look like?”
“Well—he had a mustache.”
“Oh really? How fascinating!”
She looked hurt. “I shouldn’t tell you this, you know I shouldn’t.”
“I’m sorry, go on.”
“This wasn’t any old mustache, Mr. Werkins. It was a—a milk mustache.
“A what?
“A milk mustache.”
“Like he had been drinking milk before he gutted the man?”
She nodded, her lip quivering. I sighed. Topsy added;
“He was the Milk Mustache Murderer, Mr. Werkins.”
I slumped against the counter. “Sometimes I wish I could travel to the centre of the Earth and escape all this nonsense, you know that?”
“Werkins, he’s real,” she insisted.
 
It was Wednesday evening when she came. What I had been expecting was simply a woman-version of Sir; perhaps a bit longer hair, less scruff around the chin, but largely the same.
I looked out the window and I knew it was her. Topsy told me that the Major had not regular visitors except for Alvin, the postmaster, who came to reenact the War of Jenkin’s Ear every second Thursday.
She was walking very fast. I couldn’t believe someone of her age could keep up such a speed in high-heels as she did. Her hair was dark, and it flew behind her like she was the North Wind. She was too skinny for what I usually preferred in women, too.
She didn’t slow down when she came to the front porch, so I opened the door quickly, afraid that she would walk right through it. She came ever so suddenly to an immediate stop, two feet from me.
I was expecting to see the schoolmarm face that, in my experiences, complimented a woman of such speed. But her face was round, with a smile that looked like she knew something about me I didn’t want her to know.
“You are Chrystomosus Werk, are you not?”
Her words hit me like the Reading Express train. I staggered, gulping, and nodded dumbly.
“Delightful to meet you, Werk. This is your place of employment?” Instead of looking in like I thought she would, she ran her gloved hand along the door frame.
Werkins! I blinked. Find your voice and talk to her for God’s sake!
“I, eh…hello. I…oh, did I say hello before?”
“No, I don’t believe you did say hello.”
What was wrong with me? I have met hundreds of women in my lifetime and none have had me as totally speechless as this woman. She wasn’t stunningly beautiful, even! So why in God’s name was I acting like this?
“Well, er, hello madam. You are…you are the Squire’s sister, madam?”
“I am. My name is Theodora.”
Theodora! What a dashing appropriate name! Why, she could have been a Byzantine empress with that nose and those brown, conniving eyes.
Which, in fact, were studying my face. “Will your master let you out for a while?”
“Er, yes, I suppose he would, madam, he has just started the Battle of Trafalgar and will not be done for a while yet, I’m afraid.”
“Good.”
And that is how I found myself, her arm in mine as was every gentleman’s prerogative, walking down the path. We kept right in step all the way to the diner down the road.
“If you do not mind,” she said as I opened the door for her, “I would like to go Dutch.”
I pulled up a chair for her at the nearest table.
“Madam, I hardly think it necessary—“
“You forgot to pick up your wallet when we left, Chrystomosus.”
The way she said that name—oh yes, it was mine—simply enthralled me. I sat down in my chair, dumb as a totem pole.
“So,” she crossed her legs, “how has my brother been?”
“Your…brother—oh, Sir, yes, of course! Ha ha, how could I have forgotten?”
Did I say ‘ha ha’? I’ve never said ‘ha ha’! Butlers don’t say ‘ha ha’!
“Yes. I’ve heard he’s changed.”
“Oh, yes, quite a bit.”
But after a while it wasn’t about Sir any longer. That had been the reason she came to talk to me—but then, in amazing presence of mind that I still cannot believe I had, I asked her about her travels and she smiled and related her episode in Africa to me.
I don’t remember a word of it. I was too busy watching her face.
I found that, talking with this woman, I was no longer the starch-shirted, refined butler I felt I had to be around others. Theodora made me feel like I could simply be myself. I realized I had really, in all my twenty-four years of butling, forgotten who I was. I had locked it up deep inside of me—and here, weaving her magic like Morgana le Fay, this woman was bringing it out.
When she told me to call her ‘Theo’ I cannot tell you how my heart jumped.
We ate dinner, but unfortunately I do not remember what we ate. Finally she stood up.
“Well, Werk, it has been delightful talking to you. Unfortunately, I have a train to catch in the morning and must get back to my lodgings.”
I was crestfallen that she had to leave. “Oh, Theo, do come by and see the Major. He would love to meet you, I’m sure.”
I had to convince her, but I had the strength of desperation and she agreed to come and meet my employer. I had not realized how late it was—when we stepped outside the restaurant the stars were out and my pocket-watch informed me that it was past eight.
                When we got home the only light on was the light in the kitchen. The Major must have been to bed. I stopped, crestfallen, on the doormat and faced her.
                “I’m sorry, Theo, it seems the Major is asleep. I’ll escort you home.”
                “Don’t be silly, Chrystomosus, I am fully capable of escorting myself home, thank you.”
                “But it’s night-time, and a woman like you shouldn’t be alone.”
                “It’s eight o’clock, Chrys.”
                “Oh…yes, so it is. Well, not that late—but I am afraid I’ll never…see…you again…”
                I did not realize how close our faces had been getting—quick as a bird she shot forward and kissed me full on the lips.
                Then a scream rent the air.
                “Did you hear something?” I leaned back, dazed.
                “Yes, I think I did. It sounded like a scream. Unless you have a very strange cat I suggest we look for the one who did it.”
                We scrambled inside and to the kitchen. Topsy collided with me as I opened the door.
                “Oh, Mr. Werkins!” she leapt behind me, and shook like a baby-rattle. “He came back for me! He said he would!”
                I turned about and grasped her by the shoulders. “Now, what’s all this, then? Stop crying, my dear, and explain the problem!”
                “The…” her lips shook, “…the Milk Mustache Murderer!”
                “Yes, what about him?”
                “He’s in the house! He came for me, tonight! I heard something in the Kitchen and I came in and he was…” she sobbed deeply.
                “Yes, what was he doing?”
                “He was drinking all our milk!”
                I shook her. “Yes, and then what?”
                “He turned around and—oh! It was awful!”
                “Yes, what?”
                “There was milk, all over his lips!
                I glanced at Theo. She was digging in her purse.
                I looked Topsy in the eyes—which meant I had to look a considerable way up, but still, I looked her in the eyes.
                “Then what, Topsy?”
                “He came to kill me, brandishing a butcher knife.”
                “Yes, and then?”
                “I screamed.”
                “Yes? After that?”
“Well, then I kicked him in the fruit and veg, sir.”
                I blinked, grimaced and looked at her long legs. “You did?”
                “Yes, sir, though I didn’t like the doing of it.” She was blinking away her tears.
                “So then what did he do?”
                “Then he screamed.”
                “Yes? And after that?”
                “He ran off. Well…he hobbled off.”
                “I see. And he’s still in the house?”
                “Yesh, I am.”
                It was a familiar voice that I placed easily. It was gummy, and it was coming from right behind me. I turned around and faced Sir’s old would-be assassin, Stirling Cholmondley.
                “Ah, hello there, Stirling. How are you?” I frowned at him. Then I saw that he had a revolver in his hand.
                “My Smith and Wesson!” I glared. “Where’d you get that?”
                Theo was holding her purse in a strange way.
                “After thish young lady—“ he grimaced, feeling himself, “—kicked me, I nipped over to the shervant’sh quartersh and got it. I knew you wouldn’t go unarmed.”
                “No, not after you left that note in your cell the night you broke,” I adjusted my collar.
                “He he,” Stirling grinned, showing an amazing set of missing teeth. “I told you I’d getcha back for knocking out me pearliesh. Now—“ he raised the gun, “—you’ll go firsht. The ladiesh’ll have to wait their turn.”
                I looked down the barrel. So this was how it was going to end? And just when I had found Theo, too! And why was she still holding her purse up like that?
                A crack disturbed the air. Stirling’s milky mouth exploded in a scream and he fell to the ground. Theo took the gun out of her purse.
                “Too bad,” she inspected the hole the bullet had created in the paisley, “I’ll have to get a new one.”
                “Oh my God, Theo! Thank you!” I embraced her, and this time I initiated the kiss. I would have liked to hold her forever, but she gently dislodged after exactly four seconds.
                “Just want to make sure I have a butler to come back to when I’ve visited the family,” she smiled at me. I saw Topsy dragging the body out of the corner of my eye.
                “Then—you will be coming back?”
                “Oh, yes, I think I will. But, Chrys…”
                “Yes?”
                “My restlessness won’t let me stay in one place, you understand? When I come back, it might be just for a goodbye. I’ve always wanted to travel and see the world—and you’ve got a nice, good-paying job and a fine employer here.”
                My face fell.
                “You’re such a good butler, after all,” she touched my collar with her hand.
                “Oh…” I took a deep breath, giving my lungs and voice courage to speak. “…you know, you can only be a butler for long. Just you wait, Miss Theodora, when you come back my bags will be packed.”
                She laughed. We were at the door.
                “And will you be ready to go anywhere, Chrys?”
                “Anywhere in the world, madam.”
                “Alright. Till then.”
                She waved and was gone into the night. I stood at the door, the cold North England breeze blowing in my face and bringing all the cold into the house, watching her go and feeling such great joy in my heart.
                It seemed like hours later when Topsy touched my shoulder.
                “Perhaps you should go to bed, Mr. Werkins?”
                I turned around. “Oh, yes…yes…but…we may just want to call the coppers.”
                “Already did that, sir.” She smiled happily at me.
                “Oh…oh good.”
I walked slowly to the servants’ quarters and dreamed the night away.
 
                Dear Sir,
                I am glad to hear that you are doing well. I am currently in Moscow, in fact just two blocks away from St. Peter’s Cathedral. Beautiful place, Russia. A bit cold.
                I am with Theodora, Sir. I just left a jewelry shop where I happened to pick up an engagement ring—you know, just in case. I do not know if I will give up butling, but I have thought that if I do I could perhaps become a priest like I was destined to. However, I am not at all sure this will be the case. Perhaps I will just continue to buttle for the rest of my days. Much of it will depend on what Theo says when I present her with this ring.
                I remain yours at all times,
 
                Werkins
               
               
 
 

© 2009 Scott Free


Author's Note

Scott Free
I know you'll be asking; Do I plan to write more? Well, perhaps I will if a great idea strikes me.
It all depends on what Theo says =)

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Featured Review

Great Job Scott. I really enjoyed reading this and, personally, I found it littered with humor. The only problem I had with it was why does Theo want to meet Werkins? Maybe you could just throw in there that she personally wanted to thank the man that saved her brother's life or something like that that. It would just provide more background as to why things are happening the way they are. I loved that you decided to use Stirling again, and Topsy reminds me of the very large woman from Deuce Bigalow. Altogether a pleasure to read, and I know you already have a plan for the next installment. ;)

Posted 12 Years Ago


3 of 3 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

This story made me smile all the way through. I love Werkins, he must be the coolest (and most well-written) butler I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I would love to have the pleasure of making his aquaintence again!

Posted 12 Years Ago


Another wonderful piece by a wonderful author. Werkin's story continues to keep me interested and it never fails to be packed with lots of nice humor.

Posted 12 Years Ago


"He was murdered."
"Was he, then?"
"Yes, sir. Till he was dead."
"That much?"
...........................
Loved it.
Very much like a British comedy. And I am particularly found of British comedies. *smile*
The -only- thing you might consider is breaking it up a bit.
I see that you do have paragraphs but they don't give the reader enough time to breath before they are plunged into the next part of the story.
Either way it was an truly enjoyable write. :)

Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I loved it. (Like Renae says...DUH.)

But then again, I also agree with my sis about Werkins and Theo...she needs AMAZE him. I mean, just amaze him. (You know how women can be, lol.)

Okay, you kept very good, thick humor throughout, just as you did the others. However, the climax of the story seemed a little "thrown together". You need to build up to it a little more.

Other than that, this is simply dandy! I hope you'll write another. P.S. THEO is an awesome name...never change it!

Jane

Posted 12 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Good way to set the stage using the letter to Werkins here. Chock full of humor too: loses his pants, the comment about insurance, and the Indian tiger in Africa (more subtle than the rest but still colorfull and very funny). The description of the house places it in your mind very vividly, little details like the trees add alot to it's archetectural character. I like the major escpecially, with all his toy soldiers, playing a far more embelished, yet puerile version of RISK. Also, about the denizens of the house, I think Topsy's name is rather appropriate considering her height, as if she's going to fall over like some sort of tree. "He was murdered.""Was he, then?""Yes, sir. Till he was dead.""That much?"-classic in it's basic idea but the dialogue makes it your's, well played. I like how Werkins seems to be the only sane and intelligent one in the house, yet he keeps his cool, stiff upper lip and all that. Nice alusion to War of Jenkins ear, most ridiculous war in all of history, well mabye tied with the pig war up in washington state. I have to admit your characters are all very lively, all seem to be real, that includes Theo escpecially. I have to agree with renae though that Theo is too similar to Werkins to be realistically good for him. Mabye you could have her be missing when he comes back home in Russia, left a note about how she can't stay put and the like. I think you did a good job actually incorporating the romantic aspect and still keeping it funny, though, that's truly a challenge. And of course you close with a letter back, as you should: completes the piece rather smoothly. I have to say I liked this one alot. As always, hope I was of service.

Posted 12 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

you better write more! ah, Scott, this has been the best one yet! I was laughing hysterically when Topsy said she kicked the guy in the "fruit and veg"! Now I know exactly how Jane feels! nice write, please please please keep on going! :D

Posted 12 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

I really enjoyed it! (duh).

But honestly, I thought the chemistry between Werkins and Theo is wrong. They seem too similar to be attracted. I think Theo is a great character, totally amazing, but not right for Werkins. He needs somebody bubbly and spontaneous. Someone who seriously annoys him and yet amazes him. I think it would make it even more humorous as well.

Theo would probably get along much better with the Major. Just something for you to think about . . . Excellent job, though. I can't wait to read more (hint, hint). :)

Posted 12 Years Ago


3 of 3 people found this review constructive.

Great Job Scott. I really enjoyed reading this and, personally, I found it littered with humor. The only problem I had with it was why does Theo want to meet Werkins? Maybe you could just throw in there that she personally wanted to thank the man that saved her brother's life or something like that that. It would just provide more background as to why things are happening the way they are. I loved that you decided to use Stirling again, and Topsy reminds me of the very large woman from Deuce Bigalow. Altogether a pleasure to read, and I know you already have a plan for the next installment. ;)

Posted 12 Years Ago


3 of 3 people found this review constructive.

Well first spelling: It's so beautiful her-one day I woke up and was admiring the beauty so much I forgot to put my clothes on. It should be: It's so beautiful here. Well other than that, Great job :) keep up the work dude :) I look forward to the next in the series if there is one and if not, well Your next story will suffice.

Posted 12 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


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Added on April 13, 2009
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Scott Free
Scott Free

Caught a wave--am currently sitting on top of the world, CA



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