Thursday’s 300: The Valet’s Amusement

Fitzwilliam Darcy awoke on his wedding day with a pounding head, a fuzzy tongue, and a sick stomach. Moaning, he searched his memory for the cause of his symptoms. He had vague recollections of his cousin and his friend and numerous toasts to his good fortune, made with fine Scottish whiskey. He moaned again before trying to roll out of bed. Unfortunately for him, the motion made his stomach tumble wildly. He shot straight out of bed as the contents of his stomach churned. Thankfully, he made it to the chamber pot before they emptied. A quarter hour later, his valet, Baxter, found him hunched over the porcelain bowl.

“Good morning, sir.”

Darcy opened one eye to glare at his long-time personal servant before grunting a greeting and closing his eye once more.

“I took the liberty of asking the cook for something to settle your stomach this morning. It should be arriving soon.” Try though he did, Baxter was unable to keep a slight trace of amusement out of his tone. It was rare, indeed, for Mr. Darcy to drink to excess, but when it happened, his employer was highly entertaining.

Darcy heard the hint of laughter in Baxter’s words but felt far too ill to address it at the moment. He simply nodded his head in agreement, then groaned when the movement made his stomach heave once more.

Baxter moved away, his shoulders shaking with silent laughter, to prepare his master’s bath. As he passed the door to the hall, he heard a knock, opening it to find a maid with the requested remedy on it. He took the tray, thanking the girl, and turned back to the room. “Mr. Darcy, your drink is here.”

“Please,” Darcy begged, “do not use the word ‘drink’ again. I am ill simply imagining it.”

Baxter’s lips twitched, secure in the knowledge that Darcy, with his eyes closed as they were, could not see him. “Very good, sir. Shall I bring your…beverage…to you?”

“Please do.” Darcy opened his eyes to see his man standing behind him with a tall glass in his hand. Taking it in his own hand, he gave Baxter a baleful look. “You are enjoying this far too much.”

“Yes, sir.” Baxter struggled to keep his face serene.

Darcy drank the concoction down without pausing for breath. Handing the glass back to his valet, he instructed the man to give him ten minutes before they began with the bath. Bowing, Baxter left his master sitting on the floor beside the chamber pot.

An hour later, Darcy was bathed, dressed, and ready to proceed to the church. While he retained a bit of a bad head, his tongue was no longer furry, and his stomach had ceased its attempts to turn inside out. He reached for the door handle, eager to be on his way to his bride. Suddenly, he turned, and addressed his servant. “I know it is not the usual way of things to say this to one’s valet, but thank you for your service to me.”

Surprised, Baxter replied with a simple, “You are welcome, sir.”

“I appreciate you more than you know, but I will have you know that I eagerly await the day when you are similarly indisposed. My enjoyment shall be great.” With a wink, he stepped into the hallway, leaving his stunned valet behind. He had taken no more than two steps when he heard a howl of laughter from the other side of the door. Darcy smiled.


Copyright 2016 Zoe Burton

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