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Jeeves and the Incalculable Mistake
english, good
backfrommars
For those of us in service, there has (and I suspect there always will be) dissension on one topic of particular importance: the wisdom of encouraging or discouraging one's employer of growing attached to you. 

One camp maintains that the vast number of employers are more comfortable with a natural distance; the less your presence is felt, the less constrained and more at ease your employer feels, and therefore they are more likely to retain those servants who are easily ignored.  They also believe this method of behaviour saves them not only from the wilder caprices of the more emotional sort of master, but from many hours of tedious confidences as well.

The second camp, on the other hand, feels that an employer who can unburden himself fully is less likely to dismiss a faithful domestic because this particular freedom not only binds you to him - emotionally, and in some cases, in a conspiratorial spirit - making him dependent, but it also provides the alert and sympathetic servant with a deeper knowledge of his master, making that individual's actions easier to predict.  (And, if nothing else, it occasionally supplies the wise gentleman's gentleman in question some... leverage, should the need arise.)

I myself, however, have always been of the opinion that the correct answer depends very much on the individual employer in question.  For instance, with certain of my previous employers, the less I knew of their activities, the less subject I was to criminal investigation.

But, upon entering Mr. Wooster's service, I was delighted to find a man very much of the second sort.  I had not thought I possessed a preference until I found how rewarding it was to be seen by one's master - to not only be acknowledged as being in the room, but consulted and asked for one's advice, as if one's opinion was as worthy as any other's.  It was something I had never expected, yet once given, it was like water to a man in the desert.

Yet, unlike water to the aforementioned individual, I did not appreciate it, or indeed even realize that I had it.  If I had asked myself before these events began what I felt towards Mr. Wooster, I would have believed my feelings were nothing more than the same general appreciation any servant would feel for a master who provides him with a comfortable situation.  If pressed, I might have admitted to a certain level of vague fondness as well, but certainly nothing more.  And if my performance in the course of my duties belied this impression, that was the observer's mistake.  I believe in upholding standards, not slavishly serving out of devotion.  Standards determine a man; devotion implies subjugation, even dependence.

And this has been my mistake.

This account is in the nature of a confession.  I had first thought to put down this missive in the Junior Ganymede Club book, but after many failed attempts to begin, I realized that it simply would not do.  Sitting in front of the book itself, pen in hand, I had told myself my reasons were that my account might possibly give rise to certain implications, which, no matter how erroneous, could cause difficulties not only for myself, but also for my master.  But that reasoning was a sort of self-subtrefuge, and this account will serve no purpose if it is not honest.

No, it is the idea of exposing the shame I feel over my recent actions that keeps me from placing this in the Junior Ganymede book.  The simple fact of the matter is that, for the first time, my master has composed a memoir that is less than fully candid, or at least one that is not complete.  That he does so on my behalf, pains me to no little degree.  I can no longer stand for him to describe my actions in his usual glowing terms, not without admitting to the truth, if only in the privacy of my own journal.

My master, Mr. Bertram Wilberforce Wooster, has a sunny disposition and a kindly and forgiving nature.  He is an exceedingly generous employer, both in remunerative terms and in granting privileges.  He is easy to care for, yet life with him is never boring.  He is amenable to nearly any suggestion from myself and is surprisingly considerate of my time as a matter of course.  He is never harsh, never takes undue liberties, and is extremely unusual in both being not afraid to show genuine gratitude and in being constantly complimentary of my work.

In return, I have manipulated him often and without real thought, usually for my own comfort or amusement. I have risked his reputation and allowed - even abetted - his good name being denigrated in public.  I have slandered his intelligence on more than one occasion.  I have manoeuvred him into awkwards and sometimes dangerous positions, and to 'make it up to him', I have fought him over or denied him the smallest pleasures in matters of wardrobe, even to the extent of destroying his personal property.  I have done my utmost to make him dependent on me, and then used threats of leaving in order to have things as I wished.  I have endeavoured to keep him from the comforts of marriage and children and, most heinously perhaps, I have kept him from developing a deeper relationship with the only living member of his immediate family - his sister - as well as his nieces, who will likely be the people he will have to depend on to care for him in his old age.

Feudal spirit indeed.

I can offer no excuse for my behaviour, even to myself.   I try to console myself the thought that my actions were truly not premeditated to cause harm, but that is a weak and cowardly defence.  The only explanation I can offer is that a servant's life is a very insecure one, and the ability to control the circumstances of those around me is perhaps a subconscious reassurance.  However, this meagre justification is a hollow one, and I now realize - with a painful amount of chagrin - that for nearly the entirety of my service in Mr. Wooster's employ, I have acted in ways I always previously regarded as being against everything I stood for. 

Strangely though, as prideful as I discover I am, even this humbling fact disturbs me less than the idea of who is it that I have hurt.

For it is a sad fact of life that one only seems to realize the importance of a particular relationship just when the state of that relationship has been rendered the most precarious.  In this particular case, it was only brought home to me how much I respected and admired Mr. Wooster at that exact time when I had unthinkingly put my position with him at the greatest risk.

But more than that, it was only when it had nearly cost me everything I hold dear - my position, my reputation, my own good opinion of myself and, far, far more importantly, the life of my master - did I feel the sickening fear of what I might have lost.


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(Deleted comment)
Another bicycle ride story! Do update soon, please, as this is most engaging, and satisfying to read. Very Jeeves-like language, I find, and I doubt I've even seen him lay out all of his failings honestly like that. Will this be pre-slash? A very promising premise.

Very enjoyable first chapter! I'm really looking forward to more asap. I, too, like new explorations of the whole bicycle ride episode in their lives.

I love the start you have here! I hope you will be able to post more soon!

Well there better be more of this. *fists on hips* It's a very good Jeeves voice, and I'd like to see it in action, doing actiony things. :D

This is very refreshing. I like this honest and regretful Jeeves.

This is fantastically written--you've got Jeeves's voice down! I'm delighted with the concept of him feeling guilty over his actions...*skips on to read more*

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