Saturday, August 30, 2008

Actually, it might have been a cheetah

Lord Aberystwyth rang the bell and called for his butler, Hopkinson. "Ah, Hopkinson, there you are," he said, as soon as the butler came into the drawing room. "How was your day at school?"

"I believe you're confusing me with your son, who is also named Hopkinson," said Hopkinson.

"That's the last impertinence I'm going to take from you, Hopkinson," said Lord Aberystwyth, sternly. "If I ask you how your day at school was, then by Brahma you will tell me how your day at school was."

"Very good, sir," said Hopkinson, respectfully. "My day at school was most pleasant. We learnt about fractions and Shakespeare."

"Splendid," said Lord Aberystwyth. "Now, I remember why I called you here. There's some kind of big cat, possibly a jaguar or maybe a leopard, eating me. Would you do something about it, please?"

"Very good, sir," said Hopkinson, picking up a poker and jabbing at the wild beast tentatively. It turned around briefly and gave Hopkinson a reproachful look, before turning back and continuing to devour Lord Aberystwyth's left arm.

"No, no, no," tutted this worthy peer. "You'll never do any good like that, Hopkinson. Grab the thing by its tail and pull it away."

"Very good, sir," said Hopkinson, attempting to catch the presumed jaguar's tail, which was flicking from side to side in a manner more reminiscent of a domestic cat than a member of the panthera genus. "It seems a little elusive, sir... ah, there we are," he said, seizing it and pulling the animal away.

"I don't need a running commentary, Hopkinson," said Lord Aberystwyth. "Now, get rid of the thing and then fetch a bandage. Maybe two bandages, it seems to have eaten most of my internal organs."

"It appears to be eating me now, sir," Hopkinson protested apologetically. "I'm afraid I'm not in a position to fetch bandages."

"Well, for Buddha's sake, if that doesn't just take the biscuit," snapped Lord Aberystwyth. "Honestly, I expect better service from you, Hopkinson. I hired you on the basis of the most impeccable references, and my wife was in labour for thirty-two minutes giving birth to you. If you can't do it yourself, ring for the first footman and have him bring me my bandages."

"Very good, sir," said what was left of Hopkinson. Unable to ring the bell owing to a shortage of remaining arms, he shouted "Ding-a-ling-a-ling!" at the top of his lungs, at the right pitch to indicate that the first footman and several bandages were required.

The footman, whose name was also Lord Aberystwyth, arrived promptly and bandaged his lordship deftly. "You've suffered extensive blood loss, sir, and your lungs, kidneys and appendix are absent, although it's possible that the last-named organ had already been removed prior to the cat incident. In my medical opinion, although I haven't been a practising doctor for three days now, you will pass away in another twenty seconds or so."

"I think I had my appendix taken out as a child," mused Lord Aberystwyth. "Although it may have been my tonsils. Go and consult my childhood diaries, Lord Aberystwyth, and let me know."

"Very good, sir," said the first footman, taking his leave. Lord Aberystwyth did indeed pass away exactly twenty seconds after Lord Aberystwyth had finished pronouncing the word 'twenty', which would have proved the footman right in a wager he had recently undertaken with another doctor-turned-domestic in the household regarding his diagnostic abilities, if only anybody had been present to witness the exact moment of the master's demise. However, Hopkinson had by that time been entirely devoured by the still-not-positively-identified animal and was unable to be of any use in the matter.

Of course, if he had been alive and had been an accessory to an unlicensed gamble among the servants of a peer of the realm, he would have been a disgrace to the world of butlering, so it's probably best for everyone concerned that he wasn't.

5 comments:

Neil said...

Flipping heck!

Anonymous said...

Oh, goody!

Gaby said...

Oh Ben, I really tried hard... but did not understand this crazy story. Will you give me a hint in Bahrain?

Zoomy said...

It's not really the kind of story that people are supposed to understand. It's really just a bunch of words strung together.

I mean, it's also a postmodern allegorical commentary on late-nineteenth-century imperialism, but that was an accident.

Gaby said...

"... not really the kind of story that people are supposed to understand."

Thank you. I am definitely doing better now. :-)