Francis Meyrick

The Master’s Return

Posted on March 1, 2008

(I find it very interesting how differently people relate to the next story, and how they interpret it. This is a story I wrote a long time ago.It goes back to dark days, during a long, long hopelessly corrupt court case, which lasted for years, and about which I was trying to write a book. The depth of perjury, which the other side elevated to almost an art form, and the cynical, hopelessly inefficient UK legal system, with the rules seemingly designed to thwart the righteous and reward the brazen liars, took a toll on me. The writing was hard going, because it was painful to re-live events…
Those days were hard going as well.
Full of doubt.)


Padair used to lie awake at night.
The same questions would haunt his mind. Over and over again. Tortuously. Agonizingly. He would toss and turn, and try and go to sleep.
Try and switch his brain off. But his mind would go on whirring wildly.
He would gaze around the room, and the shadows seemed to move at times. He would shut his eyes, and will himself to go to sleep.
But always, always, one question in particular would drift back and haunt him.

When would the Master return home?

Sometimes he worked himself into a frenzy over it.
Then he would lie there and wonder why he fretted so over it. Did the other servants lie awake at night too?
He thought the Cook might. She was always talking about the Master. The other servants were unkind to her, and scoffed at her reminiscences of the Master. They all thought her simple, and teased her. Behind her back they mocked her. But Padair used to love listening to her.
There was something so pure and simple about Cook’s faith in the Master, that Padair would gaze into her eyes, and see there something he did not fully understand, but that he was attracted to nonetheless. Something… inspiring?
Something… touching. Cook’s confidence in the Master’s judgment was absolute. The Master knew exactly what he was doing, even though his ways were mysterious at times.
And he was a Good man. The earnest way in which Cook would affirm that to Padair never failed to impress him.

If only the Master would return to his house!

Padair longed for that day with all his heart, although he feared it as well. For there would be trouble…
Some of the servants… Padair and they did not hit it off. In fact, a state of almost war existed. It was sad, but true.

Time and time again, Padair would lie awake, and listen out. He couldn’t help it. He would strain his ears for the sound of a coach and horses, that would herald the return of the Master.

If only he would return!

Padair feared the consequences, yet desperately sought…
what? The knowledge of Right and Wrong?
He wasn’t sure. He was a simple man. There were those who thought him clever, like Clara, the chambermaid. But Padair doubted it. He had not done very well for himself. He was only a relatively low ranking servant in the house. There were a great many servants far senior to him. They had far better rooms, and wore expensive costumes, and elaborate wigs.
Padair wasn’t sure that he cared that much. The costumes and the wigs left him cold. Occasionally he wished he had a nicer room. His was small, and cold.
It was right up at the top of the house, in the attic, and heated with one small open fire. It was damp, and Padair suffered frequently from respiratory illnesses.
But apart from the occasional envious longing for one of the big servants rooms on a lower floor, Padair couldn’t get that worked up about it. He loved the view from his room. When he was off duty, he would often sit at the window, staring into the distance, hoping against hope for a glimpse of the Master’s carriage.

If only the Master would return!

Padair felt sure things would get sorted out then.
Although… there would be trouble. That was for sure.
Big trouble. And Padair would lie awake, and mull over the extraordinary events in his mind. What would the Master say? He would be angry, Padair thought. The fighting and bitterness amongst the servants had reached epidemic proportions. It was high time the Master returned and sorted it out…

Padair worried about his own role. He felt he had not been a bad servant. He had made mistakes, certainly, and at times his volatile nature had got the better of him. He was the first to admit that. He would admit that much to the Master as well. He had decided a long time before to be quite truthful on that, when the time came.
But the rest of the accusations…
Padair was adamant that he was NOT a bad servant. He meant well, in his own way. The other servants were quite wrong to treat him the way they did…
Padair felt they treated him appallingly at times. Some of their actions just seemed downright cruel and vindictive. It destroyed the atmosphere in the house. It had become a place full of strife.
The bitterness was horrible, and it saddened Padair greatly.

If only the Master would return!

Padair, lying awake and fretting, felt sure the Master would listen to him, although he was only a low ranking servant. He was convinced the Master would agree he had not been a BAD servant. Not perfect, sure. He had made mistakes. But not out and out bad…
But some nights were long and ominous. Padair’s imagination would play tricks, and small transgressions would loom larger and larger. Until in the end, Padair would lie there, feeling guilty and fearful, worrying dreadfully that the Master would be furious with him.
Sometimes it took the chambermaid, or Cook, to reassure him, and tell him to snap out of it and not be so introspective.

Time wore on. Padair’s relationship with some of the servants was good, but with others it was far from good.
He tried not to be bitter. Something told him that was wrong. He had to leave certain things up to the Master. They were not down to him.

If only the Master would return!

Padair wondered at some of the servants. They thought the Master would never return. And they behaved accordingly. Padair was suspicious of the way they seemed remarkably fat and well dressed, and wondered amongst other things about the Master’s wine stocks.
Padair wondered what would happen when the Master returned…
Then again, the nights were often long and ominous, and there were frequently times Padair too wondered if the Master would ever return. Even though he too had serious doubts at times, he could not bring himself to disregard the rules of the house. The Master’s rules…
They were good, and… he had faith in the Master.
And he continued to agonize about the Right and Wrong of all his actions, suffering good old fashioned guilt whenever he considered with hindsight that he had fallen short of the Master’s expectations…

A stormy night came.
A fearful night, during which the thunder crackled, the lightning split the sky, and storm force winds lashed rain at Padair’s shutters.
He was getting old now, and although he was tired, he found sleep hard to come by. His longing for the Master’s return was ever stronger…

When he first heard the sound, he dismissed it as his imagination. But suddenly the unmistakable crunch of coach wheels on gravel had propelled him out of bed as if he had been bitten. Eyes wide, he had listened for a few seconds. A horse had whinnied, and Padair had nearly fainted. He had snatched his dressing gown off the hook on the back of the door, fumbled for his slippers, and found himself almost falling head first out the door and down the first stairs.

“The Master is coming! The Master is coming! “, he had screamed exultantly, nearly tripping over himself as he rounded the first landing at break neck speed. He had galloped down the second stairs, heart pounding, soul ablaze, still shouting:
“Wake up, wake up! The Master is coming! “
Rounding the second landing in record time, he had been vaguely surprised by the fact that elsewhere in the house, nothing stirred. The house was deathly quiet, waiting, listening breathlessly.
Down the third stairs he plunged, frustration creeping into his voice.
“Wake up everybody! Wake up! Wake up! “
He thought he heard stirring in Cook’s room, as he swept past, but elsewhere was uncannily silent.

When he got to the hall, he practically threw himself at the door, frantic fingers hauling back the seven large bolts as fast as he could. As he pulled the last bolt, he glanced around, and horrified, saw only Cook and two or three other servants appearing.

“Wake the others! The Master’s here… “
Then the great door had swung open, and in the light of the candles, He had stood…

Padair had just managed a breathless: “Master, welcome home! “, and then fallen silent. His thoughts had raced, crashing from an ecstasy of delight to fear back to hope again. His mouth open, he had stared at the Master…

The Master had said nothing. The soft wise eyes had studied Padair quietly for a second, and the look had been enough to reduce Padair to helplessness. Stammering, he had started to apologize for some of his errors, and then, aware that this was not the time, he had fallen silent. Behind him he had heard movement, and looking around he had realized that the other servants were turning up now, bedecked in finery and wigs, whilst Padair stood there holding the door in dressing gown and slippers.

Fearfully Padair had stared first at the head servants, and then back to the Master.Looking up into the Master’s face, he had desperately sought for signs of forgiveness.
The Master’s eyes met his, and, in an instant, seemed to pierce through to his very soul…

Then his Master had entered the hall, and quietly gazed around at all who were assembled there…

Francis Meyrick

Last edited by Francis Meyrick on August 10, 2009, 9:11 pm

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One response to “The Master’s Return”

  1. You know, I don’t know what to make of this one. In a way it’s brilliant, and in a way, it’s a complete con. You build me up, and then you cold-bloodedly (to borrow one of your phrases) leave me dangling.
    I’m not sure if I admire you for that, or need to smack you one.

    How about a sequel???

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