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The Remains of the Lunch
Published Jul 28, 2008


Written By

md198

Storyteller
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The Jeeves family had a proud tradition of serving the noblest gentry Britain. Gerald however had decided to find adventure elsewhere.

The Jeeves family had a proud tradition of serving the noblest gentry Britain. Gerald however had decided to find adventure elsewhere. That's Gerald, second from the right and just in front of him his new employers. It wasn't the same as a position with nobility but this posting was very prestigious nonetheless. The staff were disciplined and the household seemed to run quite smoothly. However something was not quite cricket...the cook did not reside with the other servants downstairs. She had a bungalow a good half an hour away from the grounds. Mr. Philip Rich, Gerald's employer, had to telephone her when the family wished to eat. Most unsuitable. "Ahem..." coughed Gerald.
"Can I help you with something Jeeves?" enquired Mr. Rich.
"Oh no sir, I would not presume to...It was just that I was wondering..."
"Spit it out Jeeves."
"Yes sir. Quite."
"Well?"
"I wondered why cook lived outside of the servants' quarters sir?"
"Ah, Mrs. Tanner, very good at her job Jeeves. Have you tasted her pumpkin pie?"
"Yes sir, very delicious, but..."
"You wish to speak with her...ask her about the living arrangements?"
"Yes sir. Something of that nature."
"I will tell you now that I have an agreement with Mrs. Tanner."
"Ah. Very good sir."
"But as the new head butler you have my permission to make enquiries."
"Thank you sir. It would certainly make the day run more smoothly if cook were available throughout the day."
"I doubt she will change her mind, or divulge her reasons. But I imagine she is expecting to be asked."
"I shall try my best sir."
"Good Jeeves. It would be nice for her to have a British friend."
"I was not planning to make friends with her, sir."
"When she was widowed...things have been very difficult for her since the war. At least be pleasant old man."
"Very good sir."
"Here, Maude, the new head butler wants a word with you." reported Magnus, the Gardener.
"Tell him I'm in the middle of lunch, Magnus"
"He's says it's upmost important."
"I'll take over for you, my work is finished for the afternoon."
"Thank you Miss Hamilton. I'll give him a piece of my mind mark you."
"Don't cause any trouble, we don't know what he's like yet."
"I cannot hold my tongue Bob, you know that."

She hurried along the passageway quietly seething.
"You wanted to see me Mr. Jeeves?" spat Maude.
"Yes. I wondered if we might talk about your living arrangements." smiled Gerald.
"Can it wait? I'm in the middle of cooking lunch."

Gerald was somewhat taken aback by this. He had never had a member of staff answer him back before.

"It shouldn't take long. It just seems a little unorthodox to be..."
"What exactly do you mean by that Mr. Jeeves?"
"W- well," stammered an enraged Gerald, "In all my years as butler and under butler, I have never known any cook worth her salt live off premises. And a good half hour off premises at that!"
"I have my reasons but I do NOT care to go into them when I have an IMPORTANT meal to attend to! As Mr. Rich WILL tell you, we have an arrangement. And you should know that I am most definately WORTH MY SALT!"
...and with that she stormed out of Gerald's room, leaving him flabbergasted. So things continued as they were, Mrs. Tanner coming along promptly after Mr. Rich's fencing lesson for two of the three scheduled meals of the day and anything outside of this, by special request. No explanation was proffered or asked and the tension between cook and head butler grew. "May I interrupt you Mr. Jeeves?" interrupted Elizabeth Rich
"Certainly madam." replied Gerald.
"I have heard the servants gossiping about the frostiness of relations between you and Mrs. Tanner."
"I am sorry that madam has been peturbed by this idle chatter. I shall put a stop to it. Rest assured that cook and I are going on about our business as required."
"Nevertheless, I would like you to apologise to Maude. She has been with us for a few years now and I hate to think of her being at all upset ."
"Very good Madam." conceded the bemused butler.
Gerald was quite surprised to see Mrs. Tanner already in his office, waiting for him patiently. "Please, make yourself comfortable." said Gerald, sitting at his desk, "It seems we have gotten off to a bad start Mrs. Tanner, and I wished to explain myself.
As head butler it is my responsibility to ensure the smooth running of the household. Your abscence for large parts of the day creates...difficulties. I was hoping to convince you to join us here at Rich house, though Mr. Rich himself warned me you may not warm to the idea..."
"You are an excellent cook. I have no qualms about your skill. If I implied otherwise then I must express my regret and hope that you accept my apology. I was merely trying to do my duty to the best of my ability."
"Very well Mr. Jeeves. Apology accepted..."

Gerald had not expected cook to recieve his apology so quickly.
"It was only to be expected that I would be asked about my bungalow by the new head butler. I would still tell you that I can't reveal the reasons behind this arrangement as they are deeply personal both to me and our employer. But I regret my attitude and tone towards you on our previous meeting. I am sorry.
Should the standard of my work suffer, or if I fail to be punctual, I shall expect to be spoken to again."
"I have every confidence that we need not speak on this matter further. You have spoken with candour and yet delivered your speech no less gracefully for it.
These past few weeks you have shown yourself to be a devoted employee, an excellent cook and your time keeping is beyond reproach.
You are free to go about your business, Mrs. Tanner, and I hope that our future exchanges shall be more pleasant."
"That is my wish also, Mr. Jeeves."
...And their next exchanges w e r e pleasant after all. Gerald would sometimes come down the kitchen to pass the time of day with Mrs. Tanner. Maude would sometimes come to Gerald's quarters to learn about the art of chess... ...and slowly... ...week by week... ...she improved. During a quiet weekend at the house, the butler and the cook found themselves alone in the servants quarters.

"So you deign to join us Mr. Jeeves?" smirked Maude.
"I have recently discovered this chair to be most comfortable, Mrs. Tanner." smiled Gerald.

A silence fell between them...
..."Mr. Jeeves, might I request a leave of abscence?"
"Oh...of course...may I enquire as to the reason?"
"I...I have to go to hospital."
"..."
..."I should need to go in three days time and wouldn't return until Tuesday. Is that possible?"
"...If you must go...I do hope it isn't anything serious Mrs. Tanner..."
"I wish I could tell you Mr. Jeeves, but the physician and Mr. Rich are the only people who know and I must keep it that way. I...I shall be fine. Miss Hamilton, the housekeeper, is an able chef and will adequately replace me until I return. Robert and Marilyn will cover her domestic duties." Three days came and went rather too quickly. Maude hovered by the door to the parlour. "I came to say goodbye Mr. Jeeves. I shall not see you until Tuesday..."
"As arranged, Mrs. Tanner." smiled Gerald, "I only ask that you come back in one piece."
"Goodbye Mr. Jeeves."
"Goodbye Mrs. Tanner."
But Maude didn't come back on Tuesday, or the following Tuesday or the Tuesday after that. Gerald would pass the time of day in the kitchen with Miss Hamilton, but it wasn't the same. "If I might be so bold sir..."
"What is it this time Jeeves?"
"It's just that Mrs. Tanner has had an extrordinary grace period. I gather we have had no word from her."
"No, she doesn't answer her phone at the moment. I thought you two were friends now..."
"We do get along, yes sir. I am, in fact, asking out of concern and not as head butler."
"Well...I would be grateful if you could pay her a visit and see that she is well. I have missed her pumpkin pie somewhat...Bear in mind that she is caught up in certain circumstances, beyond her control. And you w i l l recieve a surprise when you arrive."
"Very good sir."
"Mr. Jeeves! This is a pleasant surprise. I only returned from the hospital today. I'm sorry to have kept you all in the dark."
"I'm sure everyone will be pleased that you are well Mrs. Tanner."
"You have been a member of staff short for over three weeks, I can only apolog-"
"No apologies necessary, Maude."

Maude blushed a little at the use of her first name.

"I have been thinking about your situation out here, cut off from Rich house and indeed Simville. I don't have much to offer a poor widow, but perhaps together we could...I...Maude Tanner will you marry me?"
"Mr. Jeeves! I mean, Gerald...I wish...I cannot accept your kind offer."
"Perhaps the proposal was not poetic enough, I am not skilled in that way."
"It isn't that," she whispered, "there is another reason."
"It may have sounded blunt, a little cold perhaps...but I do care for you Maude. I have missed you terribly."

She let out a sigh at this.

"I am a l r e a d y a married woman. Please...come and meet Mr. Tanner."
"Iain..." she cooed softly, "this is my friend from Rich House, he's come to check that we are well."
""Pleased to meet you Mr. Tanner." said a pained Gerald.
Iain gave no reponse.
"We were just finishing our dinner, weren't we Iain?"
Again Iain gave no reply.
"Could it be that Mr. Tanner that was ill and not you?" surmised Gerald.
"That's right Mr. Jeeves. It's a long story...let's retire to the setee."
"Iain has been attending a sanatorium in the next state for problems caused during the war."
"Ah yes...I fought myself. What was it? Shrapnel?"
"No, it seems to be a problem with his mind. Dr. Thayer doesn't think he can cure it, Iain will eventually waste away if he can't."
"Are you ashamed of him? Is that why you keep him a secret?"
"No! But...he deserted his post and made his way back to me as a civilian. The army think he's dead, they even send me a war widow's pension. But if they found out he was alive, he would face the firing squad."
"I see."
"Perhaps that would have been kinder...I don't know anymore."
"I must take my leave...I don't know what to make of all this..."
"I wish I could have explained this to you before Mr. Jeeves. But I didn't want anyone else to be involved. It is dishonest and fraudulent. Thank goodness for Dr. Thayer at the sanitorium. He has been very discreet."
"When should I tell Mr. Rich you will be coming back to work?"
"I don't know Mr. Jeeves. I don't know if can..."

With that, Gerald pulled his bowler down and was gone.
He took to spending his days on the back porch, watching the sun go down. He wilfully neglected his duties, leaving an already understaffed house in complete chaos. Mr. Rich had been very kind about it, far too kind in Gerald's opinion. If he had been Mr. Rich he would have sacked himself.

He heard the porch door open...
"I was told I might find you here Mr. Jeeves."
"I was beginning to think you would never return to your duties."
"I haven't come to resume my duties."
"Then why have you come...Mrs. Tanner? Because Mr. Rich asked you to?"
"Please...don't. I would have married you...you are a wonderful man and I don't deserve your proposal."
"I feel decieved. You were a widow struggling to cope alone...and now...now I find you were married all along! All for a deserter!"
"Wait! Mr. Tanner was a brave soldier, he fought alongside Mr. Rich on two occasions and was commended seven times in three years...something happened to him in the fourth year of that dreadful war...I doubt anyone will discover the truth of it, but to have broken Iain, a man with the spirit of a lion...I dread to think, Mr. Jeeves."
"Perhaps I..."
"I have explained my situation as best as I can. I didn't want to tell anyone, but Mr. Rich has been very kind. I could not have coped without his help."
"And what is to become of our...friendship?"
"We can have no friendship. I must support my husband until...until the end. Mr. Rich has allowed us to keep the bungalow, and even offered to continue to pay my wages. But I shall have to manage on my war widow's pension, that is dishonesty enough."
"You are a good woman. That I ever doubted you were worth your salt..."
A faint melancholy smile passed across Maude's face at this.
"...I wonder if Mr. Tanner is capable of appreciating that?"
"He is not capable of anything much at the moment. His prognosis is poor, but he will last for years to come. His body and mind are weak but his spirit is still strong...I came to say goodbye...Gerald."
"Must we part this way?"
"No. Not this way. Iain is at the sanatorium for two days. I will collect him on Sunday at 3 o' clock."
"You mean to..."
"Please don't be disgusted with me Gerald. No one has touched me, no one has even looked at me the way you do...since 1913. I...I love you...and if we don't I shall plumb the depths of despair every day until I die."
"Then we will...Maude."
...so they spent the night together, seeking solace in eachother's warm embrace... ...but when Gerald woke the next morning, he was alone... ...he wondered, as he looked out the window, if the whole thing had been a beautiful dream. Snow lay fresh on the ground. It had been more than a year since he started at Rich House...he could not have dreamed of what was to happen. ...things went back to normal, as best they could, and Gerald threw himself into his duties. Not a day went by that he didn't think of Maude, and with each passing month the pain only grew. Then one evening Mr. Rich took Gerald into his office;

"Jeeves. I have come by some news, it is bad news and yet still offers hope."
"Is it about Mrs. Tanner, sir?"
"Yes Jeeves...Iain, her husband, died unexpectedly two days ago. She seems to be set on leaving the country."
"That is a double blow sir."
"I know you cared for eachother Gerald, I am not blind. I am hoping that if you offer to make an honest woman of her again, she won't do anything foolish. But you must hurry old man and my carriage is in need of repair."
"I will do my best sir."
"Wait! Wait...Maude...please. You don't have to leave. My offer still stands...I never stopped loving you."
"And I never stopped loving you...and in doing so I dishonoured my husband!"
"You musn't punish yourself. We are equally guilty."
"I came here with the express purpose of...that is to say...I had never truly loved until I met you. You have brought light and colour into my grey little world and I don't wish to lose you. I ask you again, Maude Tanner, will you marry me?" "I see you have improved your poetry." sniffed Maude, stifling a tear.
"Does that mean that you have changed your mind?"
"I still can't marry you Gerald, dearest Gerry...It was all my fault..."
"What!?"
"I...we...I was furious with him. He would leave the place in a mess, and all the little accidents...he couldn't help it I know, but it was so frustrating. And to pull that chair around all the time. And he was getting worse every day...I couldn't go to work anymore, I couldn't! But I longed to get away...And it was all because he would never take any leave, he would find a way around it so he could carry on fighting. Why wouldn't he come home to me Gerald? Why? And when he dropped his plate and it smashed and the food went everywhere, a g a i n , I couldn't take it and I said all this to him and then...then I...it just slipped out...I told him about us...
And I know he understood, I know it, and I know that's why he died..."
"You are punishing yourself again...he was a very ill man. You said the prognosis wasn't good. The doctor told you that."
"Oh Gerald...don't you see how spiteful I am? You are better off away from me..."
"That's not true, you musn't do anything foolish Maude. At least promise me that."
"I would never do anything to hurt myself when...I have someone else to think about."
"You mean..."
"Yes. Your child deserves a better life than the one I could give it. That's why I must get away from you, because I know you will try to find me."
"Of course I would Maude. Any child should have both parents."
"Not with me for a mother. I shall go away and you shan't find me. Then, when I am sure no one is looking for me anymore...I will find a way to bring the child to you."

Maude started to move toward her carriage.
"But when could possibly be a better time for us to marry? People would accept the child as legitimate and toast its health."
"I would deliver too soon. People would ask questions and I would be found out. All three of us would be outcasts. Better that it is just me."
"Maude, please, I beg you reconsider! I love you!"
"Dearest Gerry, I love you with all my heart but my path is set."
"I love you!"
"I love you..." END

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24 Comment(s) so far


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#15keyskeyboardJul 29, 2008

Aw...

#16fieldhckylova25Jul 29, 2008

love it, love it, love it!!\:rah\: You just have to make a sequel, you have to, I'll be waiting.\:D

#17SaozJul 29, 2008

Wow, that was depressing, but then so was the story that seems to have inspired this one. I liked it. It's a fitting tribute to Ishiguro's book.

#18EarcatJul 29, 2008

Wonderful story I hope there will be a sequel.

#19cpam.mhJul 30, 2008

Really nice!

#20mad4u19Jul 30, 2008

Is it ask jeeves? LOL That is ur left, he is the second left person. He was gone or she was gone? What a short time it took him to propose to her.Nice story\:rah\:

#21kazakhJul 31, 2008

This is a really sad story but I like it! Thanks for sharing \:rah\:

#22ceeluvsuJul 14, 2009

This was really good! \:\)

#23MangioAug 31, 2009

great sad start. \:wub\: off to read the next part

#24JillebethVIPAug 31, 2009

I hope you will continue this story, this was great.  You can't leave him alone like that, he is right a child deserves two parents, especially if the parents love each other.  Great pictures, i really enjoyed it.

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