Telling Tales 64
A Servant of Two Masters
I will tell you, though I be no more than a servant, that I would be honored to join your ranks. My master has recently died, and his master before that. It should shame me to put it that way, but it does not.
I served the estimable Marquis de Carabas and there are few if any men who would be better to follow, that much is true, n’est pas? But his sons, they are not so well, and I did not care to tarry in their employ. And besides, if I stayed overly long with the Marquis, it was only because I owe everything I am to his greatest servant, milord le Seigneur des Chats. None were more loyal than des Chats and none cleverer. None that I knew, at any rate.
An excellent hunter – no, monsieur, I would not dare compare him to you, if only out of loyalty to his memory, ignorance of your skill, and the fact that you use tools and my master des Chats never did so. Tooth and claw, monsieur, tooth and claw.
It was his gift, le Seigneur des Chats, to see that which was inherent in a situation and to take advantage of that. In his age, he also became gifted at seeing that which was inherent in people. In my case, he noted that I pay close attention. I knew what my master desired even as he named his desire, for we give ourselves away, do we not? A sigh. A lean. The eyes fall beyond the conversation and rest upon the bottle of wine. Is my master bored? Does he desire distraction from the conversation or does he merely wish refreshment? In either instance, the solution is the same, and I bring him the carafe and the glasses, and I pour.
So it was that my master worked with me and taught me to emphasize my skills. Name it. Name what you would like to know, and I will tell you to the best of my ability.
A soldier. Euh, can you be more specific?
A soldier who fought a giant in a land across the ocean? Ah, a Russian soldier, and in the wrong direction? That is better.
Let me see.
Wait, I hear an accent, definitely a Russian accent, though much coarser than your own.
Yes, I could tell you came from a good family, of course.
Likewise you, madame.
Mademoiselle, my apologies.
The man – if he is indeed your soldier – he sighed just now and said, “Oh.”
I am delighted to have served and delighted to have informed you of good news.
You see, I can hear anything and everything. My lord le Seigneur des Chats dubbed me Entendtout…
Mais oui. It is “Ohn-tohn-too.”
Yes, that is it, more or less. Well, my lord le Seigneur eventually passed, as must we all, and later the Marquis and as I said, his sons… I will show you. Upon my announcement that I would take my leave of their service, instead of a severance acknowledging my work with them, or a horse to ease the pressure upon my feet, or a bag of food from the kitchen to see me on my way, they laughed and gave me this.
I agree, mademoiselle, it does look like a puzzle box. They claim to have found it in the stables.
Certainly, monsieur, if you will take me on, I will be glad to be of service. You do seem a noble sort and your company as well. Entendtout, a votre service.