The Ultimate Servant

The Ultimate Servant

A Story by Chiara
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Set during the Englightenment period, a comical tale about the antics of the aristocracy, as seen through the eyes of the wily Mr. Booth, "the ultimate servant".

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Come in now, from out of the cold. Mr. Booth will take care of you. Let me introduce you to Mr. Booth. I see the way he’s looking at your furs, probably comparing them to furs he’s seen on fine ladies in France. Mr. Booth has worked for the finest ladies in the grandest houses in all of France, did you know? He’s been servant to all the lords and ladies and of course, he’s been servant to royalty. Oh, Mr. Booth could tell you some stories.


See the way he stands there, so proud and yet respectful. Always ready to perform some task, all you have to do is say it and it will be done. I see him eying the jewels around your neck. He’ll tell you all about it, how, when he was a servant to Lord Tarantelli in Italy, all the fashionable Italian women wore garnets. Oh yes, he knew the latest fashions, did Mr. Booth.  All the ladies came to him for advice on what to wear, he was a highly sought after man in his time. Of course, his greatest duty was to his master and mistress. He was the ultimate servant.


After his service with Lord Tarantelli ended, Mr. Booth returned to England again and became the servant of Lady Tellam. That was quite something. Sit down, by the fire, whilst I tell you all about it. Comfortable? Now, I’ll try to remember what Mr. Booth told me. There is one story he always likes to tell. Her ladyship had taken a lover, and of course, she didn’t want her husband to know about it. Now, one afternoon, her ladyship was enjoying a liaison with her lover when the news arrived to the staff that her husband had returned. Mr. Booth of course, didn’t let this bother him. He simply knocked on her ladyship’s door as a warning and she bundled her lover into the wardrobe. Down the stairs goes Mr. Booth to greet his lordship. His lordship is suspicious, because he long has suspected something has been going on.


“Where is my wife?” he demanded.


Mr. Booth demurely bowed his head- oh; you should see Mr.Booth when he tells this story, such a comical expression he does put on! -  Mr. Booth told his lordship, “Her ladyship is in bed my Lord, a dreadful faint she was in earlier. It’s the heat, Sir”.


Well, Lord Tellam was in a rage and marched off to her ladyship’s rooms. But, Mr. Booth managed to waylay him by telling him that her ladyship was not herself and to understand she needed her rest. Plus, there are urgent documents to be looked over, if his lordship can spare a few moments? By the time this was finished, her ladyship has managed to get her lover out of the window and safely away.


Her ladyship was now ever so fond of Mr. Booth and he consolidated his place as her favourite servant, accompanying her wherever she went. Soon the king hears of this and wants to see Mr. Booth for himself. He summoned Lady Tellam to court and instructed her to bring Mr. Booth with her.


Mr. Booth was all of an excitement and flutter when he heard this news and so was her ladyship. He spent many hours instructing her ladyship on how to present herself at court. He packed her luggage and repacked it several times with only the latest fashions from Spain. At that time, Mr. Booth had all the right connections and even now could tell you what the latest fashions are.


Before you know it, Mr. Booth and Lady Tellam were off to London, to the court of the king himself.  The king offered her ladyship a great deal of money to purchase Mr. Booth as his servant. Despite protesting that she could never part with him, her ladyship could not say no to the king and soon his Majesty had won himself Mr. Booth as his servant and Lady Tellam as his mistress into the bargain.


So now Mr. Booth was servant to the king and a wonderful servant he was. He knew every little trick and could hide the king’s mistresses so well, which now included his own dear Lady Tellam. The queen had no idea. She herself adored Mr. Booth and had him performing a million little tasks, so you see; Mr. Booth does know what is fit for a queen. He’d tell you himself if you ask him. I see him casting his eyes over your clothes. He used to dress the queen you know. And her ladies. Only in the latest fashions from Spain.


Now, Mr. Booth had been at the palace only a short while when a mystery occurred. The king’s silverware, given to him upon his marriage, well that disappeared! And then silverware from around the palace began to vanish.


The king was very perturbed by this, and one evening confided his worries to Mr. Booth. You see, the king and Mr. Booth were great friends by this point and Mr. Booth was the king’s confidante. The king was worried and confided his belief that one of his household staff was a thief. Could it be one of his female friends even?


Mr. Booth listened sternly and told him that he will get to the bottom of this before long. He will think of a way to catch the culprit. His Majesty is pleased with this idea, but the thought of who it could be plagued him and he found he could not sleep.


One night, sleep was not forthcoming and so the king took a night time stroll. I do not know much of what happened here as I only know what Mr. Booth told me. The king was roaming down a corridor, when he heard a noise from one of the rooms. He was immediately suspicious (so the story goes according to the newspaper). His Majesty burst through the door of the room, hoping to catch the thief red handed. Who should he see there, but Mr. Booth, with an open bag, and in his hand, a solid gold candlestick?


“What is the meaning of this, Booth?” demanded the king. “Has it been you all along?” Mr. Booth denied this, however a thorough check of Mr. Booth’s private rooms showed up the missing items. It turned out Mr. Booth had been selling them to traders and making a nice earning for himself on the side.


He was lucky to escape from that with his life. Only the king’s previous fondness for him saved him. He was thrown out on the street, with nothing to his name. He came over to this side of the river and this is where we found him, poor soul, dressed in the remains of his fine clothes. He had taken to begging to feed himself. We brought him in, thought he’d make a good potboy. But then he’d told us these stories, of how he’d worked in the finest houses of all of Europe, of how he had previously been a servant of the king and queen of England. Of course, he assured us; he has thoroughly learnt his lesson and would never steal again.


We pay him a small wage and it’s somewhere for him to sleep at night. He welcomes the guests into our pub, takes their coats, seats them, does odd jobs around the place, and adds a touch of class. And he tells his stories, which always bring the punters in.


If you look at him now, you’d never realise such a soul was once servant to royalty, would you? But he assures us that he used to dress in only the finest garments and that the rags he wears now are not a patch on what he used to wear. Or so he says.


Going so soon? I suppose there’s more pick-pocketing to be done. You should tell me who the poor sap was from whom you stole those furs and jewels.  Sure we can't tempt you to stay? There'll be a song later, I'm sure. Remember to come back and listen to Mr. Booth’s stories sometime. For half a crown, he would be happy to tell you.

© 2011 Chiara


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Added on August 29, 2011
Last Updated on September 12, 2011
Tags: comedy, historical, servant

Author

Chiara
Chiara

England, United Kingdom



About
23 year old English graduate. more..

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