“They don’t have a reservation!” The assistant manager was flapping his hands again. Bunter sighed–not too obviously–and glanced at Carson. Carson nodded and with suitable demeanor headed for the backup command center.
“They are old and valued guests,” Bunter said in his inimitable voice, silky with steel underneath. Out of the assistant manager’s sight, his hands were busy on the Override Control Panel. “They do not expect to need reservations, and indeed we can accommodate them.”
“But–we’d have to open Section Seven! At least! And find staff!”
“Then open Section Seven–and Eight while you’re at it. Staff will be obtained.” Would the assistant manager step up, as any assistant manager should, or…
“But how? We’re at a hundred eight percent already; there’s none to be had!” A tear rolled down the assistant manager’s cheek. Hysteria was not far away.
“Staff will be obtained,” Bunter said. “And you will take a rest day.” He touched the correct button without looking down.
“A rest day! No, not a rest day!” But already the Guides were close behind the assistant manager, and a touch of Soothing spray dulled the wild eyes. He murmured “A….rest…day…would…be…nice…” as the Guides took him by the arms and led him away. One of them tossed Bunter the man’s Key.
“I always thought it was a mistake to promote him,” Bunter muttered. He slid the Key into his module and activated Jeeves, unlocked–but did not yet open–Sections Seven and Eight, two Auxiliary Kitchens, and activated appropriate kitchen and waitstaff.
“Assistant manager?” Jeeves asked. “But I’m–”
“Emergency situation. All Senior Staff available for reassignment.” Bunter gave Jeeves a considering look. Those In Charge insisted Jeeves had equivalent experience to himself and Carson, but the source was, after all, humorous books. “You’re with Carson.” And it would be good for Jeeves. He needed taking down a little. Or a lot. Though he was still better than the previous assistant manager, nodding with appropriate gravitas and turning to go to his assignment. Bunter considered, watching the numbers mount up on the display. Was it time to call for help? Would he himself be needed in the front of the house? At the least he should inform Command Group. He nodded and touched the correct button. “Sir. There’s a situation in the House.”
Stella had been seated in one of the many alcoves with her favorite drink in front her when Helen finally showed up, guided by one of the hostesses. Helen looked worried, as she often did, and the reason was obvious. No twins. “I can’t see them anywhere!” Helen said. She perched on the edge of her chair. “No one’s seen them.”
“They slipped in with another family,” Stella said. “Don’t worry; they’re around somewhere.”
“That’s what I’m worried about. They were supposed to come straight here and have a fruity. And no one’s seen them.”
Stella had argued against bringing the twins, leaving them in the care of The Author. They would just be a problem, they would be bored and bored twins were never a safe proposition. But Helen had insisted. Biggest cast party ever, they’d remember it all their lives, and anyway The Author was one of those people and might wander off to another book and forget about them. And here they were, biggest cast party ever, and the twins loose somewhere. Stella was willing to forget about them and enjoy herself. That last book had not been all strawberries and cream.
(to be continued.)