Inspired by the Turkey City Lexicon, with apologies to Jeff Vandermeer. No apologies whatsoever to that other bastard.

jinglejinglejingle

clompclompclocmp creeeeek.....

"Yes"?

"Good day, sir, my name is Evarist Bateman. I've come about the position that was advertised."

"Third footman? Hmm..let's seee. Yes, you might very well do. Come in and have a tea, and we'll go over the particulars."

clomp clomp clomp clomp "Yes, yes, right down these stairs." clomp clomp squish squish "Watch the wet spot in the carpet, we had a bit of a flood down here."

"I see, sir. I suppose part of my duties would involve mopping that up."

"Not really; a footman doesn't usually do that sort of thing. But perhaps. You might be asked to pitch in after something major like that."

"I see, sir."

"Right into this parlor and have a seat."

"Yes, si - Oh NO."

"Yes?"

"That tank. On the mantelpiece. Is that a -"

"Squid?"

"Erm, yes."

"Yes, yes. The little tyke's been poorly, and Upstairs sent him down for Cook to nurse back to health. But never you mind that. Just move along now and have a seat."

"Very well, sir." scrape

tinkle tinkle

squeek slap "Yes, Herbert dear?"

"Mildred, would you be so kind as to bring our young visitor and myself some refreshment?"

"Of course, Herbert." squeek slap

"Here are my CV and references."

"CV for a footman; aren't we posh." rustle

"Excuse me, sir?"

"Nevermind, I see; those Batemans. Be extremely careful to whom you tell about that. No, it's all right; as the butler, I need to know these things; but the other servants do not take kindly to airs; and third footman is not particularly high in the order of things."

"I see, sir."

squeek slap clack clack clink clink patter "Would you like sugar in your tea, dear?"

"Yes, ma'am, thank you." plop plop

"I see that in your former situations, you were a gentleman's valet. Third footman is hardly a move up."

"I suppose, sir, but I have my reasons. Erm, if you don't mind my asking a delicate question?"

"Yes?"

"The Master, he doesn't happen to belong to one of those clubs, does he?"

"What do you -- See here, young man, if you're going to make a career in service, you'll have to learn not to pry into the affairs of your betters. But if it's any consolation, then no, the Master does not belong to one of "those clubs".

squeek slap

"Yes, sir, I apologise, sir, but some of my former employers did, if you catch my meaning, sir, and in light of that fellow on the mantel -- and this rather odd sugar bowl - "

"Oh yes, I see; it's here in your CV. Lord Quersnal's valet, you poor thing. I suppose that's one reference I shan't be checking."

"It should be all right, sir. Just ask his Lordship's butler Flegmet; he'll tell you I never had a complaint from His Lordship. Besides, it was Her Ladyship dismissed me."

"Oh, did she now?"

"Oh yes, sir; while he was away. Her Ladyship had a right old revenge on His Lordship. Served all his pets up to her guests as fried cala- mmmph!"

"Quick thinking, Mildred dear. Excellent. Now see here, Bateman, this just won't do. You will absolutely have to control that wayward mouth of yours. I can't begin tell you the trouble you'd have brought on yourself, uttering that word beginning with 'C' I presume you were going to utter. Right outside that window is the harbor, Bateman."

"Mmmmm mmmmph-Yes, sir, I apologise, sir and ma'am."

squeek slap

"Yes, well, we happen to particularly need a third footman at the moment, or you'd be out on your ear after a stunt like that. Just don't let it happen again. If you want the job, we can pay threeandsix a month."

"Oh. If you don't mind my asking sir, three what and six what?"

"Cheek!"

"It's just, sir, that I've been burnt before. Lord Parsimany's butler Stinge offered me 'four and two' once, and when payday rolled around, it turned out to be fourpence and two farthings."

squeek slap tap

"Hmph. If you have to be that way, three shillings sixpence. It's right here in the contract. If you would just sign --"

"Excuse me, sir, but on his deathbed, my father made me swear to always read contracts before signing them. You already admitted you know what happened to him." rustle

"Have to show off that fancy schooling of yours, eh? Well go right ahead. The duties of a third footman are to serve at high table, answer the tradesman's door, polish silverware, bring snacks to the Master's relations and houseguests, and run errands and anything else I or the First or Second Footman decide you have to do. You'll be working from dawn into the wee hours of the morning, and you'll be too tired to read when you finally do get to bed."

"I understand, sir. I promise I won't be any, er, more trouble." rustle scrape

"See that you don't."

"I suppose I also feed the, um, fellow on the mantel, and any of his friends about the house?"

squeek slap tap tap

"I already said that."

"But -"

"But nothing, Bateman. One more thing: Some of the Master's, er, houseguests may ask you to carry messages outside. You must politely refuse. And, well, um, given your looks, and your past, some of them may even want you to do a little more, let us say 'entertaining' than your duties, or even common decency, call for. For your own sake, steer clear of any such situation. You may even go so far as to refuse their demands. They know better than to complain. Is that clear?"

"Eminently clear, sir. But I don't understand why the Master's guests can't send messages out."

squirm "What did I say about prying? Oh well, look, you must know that the Master's money doesn't come from any straightforward business. The Master is paid to provide, well, 'protection' for harbor traffic. But you never know when someone might try something. And so, the Master hosts a member of each of the Great Families in this very house."

"So they're not so much guests as -"

"Hostages, yes. I believe your cousin resided in the East Wing until your family's fall from grace."

"I see sir. Still, sir, a situation's a situation."

"Excellent attitude, Bateman. Keep that up and we should get along fine. And see, that explains the, er, other admonition I gave you. The guests are mostly around your age and a certain, er, restlessness derives from being cooped up. Refuse kindly. But make certain you refuse."

"Yes, sir."

"Are you done reading that thing?"

tap tap rap scrape rap

"It's a rather long contract, sir. And that noise is very distracting."

"Eh?"

"That noise, sir."

"Never mind that noise, Bateman."

rap rap rattle scrape rattle

"Very well sir, it's just I thought it was your wife, moving around the kitchen. But I could have sworn it was coming from the window."

"What? Er, yes, yes, it is Mildred moving around the kitchen. Push it out of your mind, son. Now sign right he-"

rattle rattle BANG BANG

"No, it is coming from the window." scrape "It's a bit stuffy. Let me --"

"NO, BATEMAN, NOOO! FOR GOD'S SAKE, DONT OPEN THAT WIN-" CRASH

"AAAAAAAKK! KKRRKKK! GKKKK!"

"WAIT, YOUR LORDSHIP! WAIT!" WHACK WHACK WHACK "COME ON, BATEMAN, HELP ME OR HE'LL PULL YOU THROUGH!" WHACK WHACK WHACK "NO, MASTER, NO! WAIT, SIR, HE HASN'T SIGNED YET! THINK OF THE LITIGATION!"

popopopopopopopPOP! splash

"Whew! That was a close one, believe me, Bateman! The Master could barely control himself tonight. It's a good thing you didn't get a sucker on your face or you'd've been no good as a footman anymo-"

clompclompclompclompclompclomp SLAM clangaclang

"Shit, another one got away."

MORAL: Never worry about the squid on the mantelpiece. It's the squid at the window you need to watch out for.

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