Thursday Doors is overseen by the ever-elegant Norm Frampton. Ring the bell at his website, wipe your feet, and prepare to be served a delicious repast of photographs. If you click on the blue frog link at the bottom of Norm’s post, you’ll find a smorgasbord of other dooristas from which to choose.
This story doesn’t have a door actually in it, so I’ve included a photo of one that’s implied.
Shave and a Haircut
by Marian Allen
My employer, The Honorable Montgomery Penobscott, is old-fashioned, but he pays too well for me to object.
I’ve been with him now for twenty years, beginning as boot boy and working my way up to gentleman’s gentleman. Other staff come and go, some lost to the Great War (I, alas, have flat feet, so was spared and denied participation in that horror that surely ended all wars). Some were swept away by the winds of change that followed our 1918 victory over darkness, winds that Mr. Penobscott refused to allow in his household.
One of staff’s main objections was Mr. Penobscott’s refusal to allow any of his staff to marry. Before the war, one expected that a life in service was just that: a life in service. One’s life (except for a weekly half-day off and occasional holidays) would be utterly devoted to one’s post, and one was grateful for the security. After the war, though, with so many of the younger generations lost or damaged and, therefore, employable youth at a premium, the balance of power shifted a bit in favor of the worker.
During our morning grooming sessions, we went over plans for the day, longer-range scheduling, wardrobe choices, staff considerations, menus, household finances, and so on. Mr. Penobscott also enjoyed quizzing me on my personal life, a form of verbal slumming, I fancy.
“How’s your sweetheart?” was always his first personal question.
He always asked it in that jocular fashion that’s a blatant attempt to disguise an important question. It was somewhat gratifying that he feared he would be forced to dismiss me because I wanted to marry. Less gratifying since I did, indeed, want to marry, but did not want to lose a very good position.
As always, I replied, “Quite well, sir, and thank you for asking.” Today, I added, “I fancy I’ll need to break things off with her, sir. She tells me her lady is moving to the Continent, now that the unpleasantness there is over, and my lady friend prefers to stay in England.”
Mr. Penobscott harrumphed. “Quite right, too.”
I wielded scissors and razor in silence for a while, then Mr. Penobscott said, “She’s a cook, isn’t she, your lady friend?”
“Oh, quite a good one,” I said. “A certain Royal Personage attended a dinner given by her lady, and sent his compliments to the cook. My lady friend was quite overcome.”
“I should think so!”
“Yes, sir. And, if I may say so, not at all puffed up about it. One might have expected her to become prideful, but she attributed the compliment to the Royal Personage’s graceful condescension and was only humbly pleased.”
“Right again,” said Mr. Penobscott.
In truth, Rosie had been, as the young people say, over the moon, and jokingly called herself The Prince’s Pie-maker, putting all our chums at the public house in stitches.
I was nearly finished with his trim when Mr. Penobscott said, “Basham’s two weeks’ notice is nearly up, is it not?” Basham being our current cook.
“Yes, sir. We’ve narrowed the candidates for her replacement to two. Shall I have them each prepare a crab soufflé for you, and see which you prefer?”
He drummed the fingers of his right hand on the counter of his dressing table.
I dusted his face and neck with powder and removed it and any stray hair clippings with a soft brush.
He said, “Your lady friend wouldn’t care to apply?”
I feigned shock as I handed him a mirror so he could inspect the back of his head.
“Oh, no, sir! It would be most improper for her to live under the same roof as a gentleman she’s walking out with. Neither of us would ever think of it.”
“Of course. Of course. Naturally. Quite right. Does you both credit.”
I took back the mirror and whipped away the cloth with which I had shielded Mr. Penobscott’s dressing gown.
“Shall I draw your bath, sir? And have we decided on the blue tie with grey chevrons?”
“Yes,” he said. “Yes.”
When I had turned on the taps and had come back to assist Mr. Penobscott in disrobing, he said,
“Er, Hawkins. I hope you’ll forgive the very personal nature of this question, but … have you ever given any thought to marrying?”
MY PROMPTS TODAY: Barbasol Thick and Rich shaving cream