“But what about Mr. Worthington in the elevator shaft?” said Betty.
“Not to worry,” said Randolph. “he only plunged about two feet. I’ve told him on several occasions to allow me to have that elevator door serviced, but he refuses. He ‘likes his little mishaps’ he tells me. They give him reason to get out of bed in the morning. That and Miss Tanner.
“When the elevator door opens, sometimes there’s an elevator, and sometimes not. But the dear man always pushes forward, like a doughboy charging forth from his trench to shoot or get shot.
“This time he got shot.”
“Aren’t you gonna help him?” said Betty.
“In due time,” said Randolph. “At the moment he’s much too embarrassed to see anyone. But I’ve left him a cup of tea outside the elevator door. The next time it opens he’ll grab it and compose himself. It’s his way. Tart?”
“I beg ya pardon?” said Betty. “Who ya callin’ a --”
“Prune tart,” said Randolph.
“Oh,” said Betty, "No, thank you, Randolph honey. I’ll pass.”
“Sorry miss, the gentleman likes his prunes. They help him, you know.”
“Yeah,” said Betty. “I know all about the prune. My cab driver friend eats them by the bagful. Speakin’ of which, is this gonna take long? My cabbie fella is outside waitin’ for me. And he got issues sittin’ too long on his tuckus.”
“I’ll pull the old doughboy out in a minute, Miss,” said Randolph. “Meanwhile, I’ll go out and ask your friend if he’d like to come in for a cup of tea.”
“Oh, no,” said Betty. “Sidney’s a coffee man. Black. Three sugars. Stirred seven times for good luck. If ya don’t mind?”
“Not at all,” said Randolph. “Anything for Sidney. It is my sworn duty to serve, and serve I will.”
“Thank you, Randolph.”
“I’ll bet Sidney would like a tart.”
“I’m sure he would,” said Betty. “Thanks.”
When Randolph left the room, Betty sat back and stirred her tea seven times, plus one more for good luck.
“I’d love a cuppa coffee,” said Sidney.
“Then follow me, sir,” said Randolph. “And watch for the gopher holes. You could bury a dead man in one of them.”
“I’ll just follow in your footsteps, Randolph,” said Sidney. “Only don’t walk so fast. I got issues of the hemorrhoidal persuasion."
“I’ll take that into consideration, sir,” said Randolph. “Now follow me to the kitchen, please.”
In the kitchen, Sidney sat himself at the head of the table, as Randolph placed the coffee service in front of him.
“It’s freshly brewed,” said Randolph. “Enjoy.”
“Thank you,” said Sidney. “You’re a gentleman’s gentlemen.”
“Why, that’s exactly right,” said Randolph. “Most people just call me the butler. But you, sir, are a word-smith.”
“Well,” said Sidney. “Words just seem to fall out of my mouth without me having to do much thinkin’ about it. It’s a gift, I guess.”
“A gift indeed, sir," said Randolph. "And speaking of gifts, Sidney. Would you mind rising?”
“Ya ain’t gonna kiss me, are ya?” said Randolph.
“I don’t know how gentleman’s gentlemen do their thanking, but I’m good with a handshake.”
“No, sir,” said Randolph. “No kisses. Please, sir, indulge me and stand.”
From atop the ice-box Randolph retrieve an inflated rubber donut and placed it on Sidney’s chair.
“I’m a sufferer as well,” said Randolph. “With my compliments. Take it with you in good health. Now, sit and enjoy your coffee, sir. Mr. Worthington is ready for some assistance.”
“So, where are we goin’ now,” said Craven.
“To Bronxville,” said Miss Tanner. “To trap a couple of rats at Mr. Worthington’s house.”