The Remains of the Day

Free The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

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Authors: Kazuo Ishiguro
stand in corridors all day.’
    ‘Mr Stevens, is that the correct Chinaman or is it not?’
    ‘Miss Kenton, I would ask you to keep your voice down.’
    ‘And I would ask you, Mr Stevens, to turn around and look at that Chinaman.’
    ‘Miss Kenton, please keep your voice down. What wouldemployees below think to hear us shouting at the top of our voices about what is and what is not the correct Chinaman?’
    ‘The fact is, Mr Stevens, all the Chinamen in this house have been dirty for some time! And now, they are in incorrect positions!’
    ‘Miss Kenton, you are being quite ridiculous. Now if you will be so good as to let me pass.’
    ‘Mr Stevens, will you kindly look at the Chinaman behind you?’
    ‘If it is so important to you, Miss Kenton, I will allow that the Chinaman behind me may well be incorrectly situated. But I must say I am at some loss as to why you should be so concerned with these most trivial of errors.’
    ‘These errors may be trivial in themselves, Mr Stevens, but you must yourself realize their larger significance.’
    ‘Miss Kenton, I do not understand you. Now if you would kindly allow me to pass.’
    ‘The fact is, Mr Stevens, your father is entrusted with far more than a man of his age can cope with.’
    ‘Miss Kenton, you clearly have little idea of what you are suggesting.’
    ‘Whatever your father was once, Mr Stevens, his powers are now greatly diminished. This is what these “trivial errors” as you call them really signify and if you do not heed them, it will not be long before your father commits an error of major proportions.’
    ‘Miss Kenton, you are merely making yourself look foolish.’
    ‘I am sorry, Mr Stevens, but I must go on. I believe there are many duties your father should now be relieved of. He should not, for one, be asked to go on carrying heavily laden trays. The way his hands tremble as he carries them into dinner is nothing short of alarming. It is surely only a matter of time before a tray falls from his hands on to a lady or gentleman’s lap. And furthermore, Mr Stevens, and I am very sorry to say this, I have noticed your father’s nose.’
    ‘Have you indeed, Miss Kenton?’
    ‘I regret to say I have, Mr Stevens. The evening before last I watched your father proceeding very slowly towards the dining room with his tray, and I am afraid I observed clearly a large drop on the end of his nose dangling over the soup bowls. I would not have thought such a style of waiting a great stimulant to appetite.’
    But now that I think further about it, I am not sure Miss Kenton spoke quite so boldly that day. We did, of course, over the years of working closely together come to have some very frank exchanges, but the afternoon I am recalling was still early in our relationship and I cannot see even Miss Kenton having been so forward. I am not sure she could actually have gone so far as to say things like: ‘these errors may be trivial in themselves, but you must yourself realize their larger significance’. In fact, now that I come to think of it, I have a feeling it may have been Lord Darlington himself who made that particular remark to me that time he called me into his study some two months after that exchange with Miss Kenton outside the billiard room. By that time, the situation as regards my father had changed significantly following his fall.
    The study doors are those that face one as one comes down the great staircase. There is outside the study today a glass cabinet displaying various of Mr Farraday’s ornaments, but throughout Lord Darlington’s days, there stood at that spot a bookshelf containing many volumes of encyclopedia, including a complete set of the
. It was a ploy of Lord Darlington’s to stand at this shelf studying the spines of the encyclopedias as I came down the staircase, and sometimes, to increase the effect of an accidental meeting, he would actually pull out a volume and pretend to be engrossed as I completed my

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