The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Book: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kazuo Ishiguro
to expect. Furthermore, it became clear that a number of the parties would be arriving some time before the three days set aside for the conference, thus giving themselves time to prepare their ground and gauge the mood of fellow guests, though their exact arrival dates were, again, uncertain. It was clear then that the staff would not only have to work extremely hard, and be at their most alert, they would also have to be, unusually flexible. In fact, I was for some time of the opinion that this huge challenge ahead of us could not be surmounted without my bringing in additional staff from outside. However, this option, quite aside from the misgivings his lordship was bound to have as regards gossip travelling, entailed my having to rely on unknown quantities just when a mistake could prove most costly. I thus set about preparing for the days ahead as, I imagine, a general might prepare for a battle: I devised with utmost care a special staff plan anticipating all sorts of eventualities; I analysed where our weakest points lay and set about making contingency plans to fall back upon in the event of these points giving way; I even gave the staff a military-style ‘pep-talk’, impressing upon them that, for all their having to work at an exhausting rate, they could feel great pride in discharging their duties over the days that lay ahead. ‘History could well be made under this roof,’ I told them. And they, knowing me to be one not prone toexaggerated statements, well understood that something of an extraordinary nature was impending.
    You will understand then something of the climate prevailing around Darlington Hall by the time of my father’s fall in front of the summerhouse – this occurring as it did just two weeks before the first of the conference guests were likely to arrive – and what I mean when I say there was little room for any ‘beating about the bush’. My father did, in any case, rapidly discover a way to circumvent the limitations on his effectiveness implied by the stricture that he should carry no laden trays. The sight of his figure pushing a trolley loaded with cleaning utensils, mops, brushes arranged incongruously, though always tidily, around teapots, cups and saucers, so that it at times resembled a street-hawker’s barrow, became a familiar one around the house. Obviously he still could not avoid relinquishing his waiting duties in the dining room, but otherwise the trolley enabled him to accomplish a surprising amount. In fact, as the great challenge of the conference drew nearer, an astonishing change seemed to come over my father. It was almost as though some supernatural force possessed him, causing him to shed twenty years; his face lost much of the sunken look of recent times, and he went about his work with such youthful vigour that a stranger might have believed there were not one but several such figures pushing trolleys about the corridors of Darlington Hall.
    As for Miss Kenton, I seem to remember the mounting tension of those days having a noticeable effect upon her. I recall, for instance, the occasion around that time I happened to encounter her in the back corridor. The back corridor, which serves as a sort of backbone to the staff’s quarters of Darlington Hall, was always a rather cheerless affair due to the lack of daylight penetrating its considerable length. Even on a fine day, the corridor could be so dark that the effect was like walking through a tunnel. On thatparticular occasion, had I not recognized Miss Kenton’s footsteps on the boards as she came towards me, I would have been able to identify her only from her outline. I paused at one of the few spots where a bright streak of light fell across the boards and, as she approached, said: ‘Ah, Miss Kenton.’
    ‘Yes, Mr Stevens?’
    ‘Miss Kenton, I wonder if I may draw your attention to the fact that the bed linen for the upper floor will need to be ready by the day after tomorrow.’
    ‘The matter is

Similar Books

Rhodesia

Nick Carter

The Expediter

David Hagberg

Blind Acceptance

Missy Martine

The Number File

Franklin W. Dixon

A Lyon's Share

Janet Dailey

Old Wounds

Vicki Lane

The Best of Us

Sarah Pekkanen