nineveh_uk (nineveh_uk) wrote,

Random DLS ponderings

Leafing through some DLS for dialogue help in the course of drafting some fic, a couple of paragraphs struck me.

The first is from the short stories. I don't read them much - they're not particularly good short stories - but I ought to read them more, as they have some interesting little passages in them. Like this one from The Unprincipled Affair of the Practical Joker.

[Peter is staying in a grand hotel somewhere-or-other that liners dock from Africa (Southampton?), and Mrs Ruyslaender has spotted his name on the register and, desperate, come to his suite at 11 pm to try to get his help on a case. Bunter admits her to the sitting room.]

The man stepped noiselessly to the bedroom door and passed, shutting it behind him. The lock, however, failed to catch, and Mrs Ruyslaender caught the conversation.

"Pardon me, my lord, a lady has called. She mentioned no appointment, so I considered it better to acquaint your lordship."

"Excellent discretion," said a voice. It had a slow, sarcastic intonation, which brought a painful flush to Mrs Ruyslaender's cheek. "I never make appointments. Do I know the lady?"

"No, my lord. But - hem - I know her by sight, my lord. It is Mrs Ruyslaender."

"Oh, the diamond merchant's wife. Well, find out tactfully what it's all about, and, unless it's urgent, ask her to call tomorrow."

The valet's remark was inaudible, but the reply was:

"Don't be coarse, Bunter."


I assume that Peter is still being sarcastic here, and not actually ticking Bunter off in the final sentence - it would be a bit much if he were, given that he started it. There are other passages of what Peter and Bunter and Peter and Parker talking about women/sex within the books, but I think that this is the most obviously blokish one.


Second, Busman's Honeymoon.

[Chapter 4, Bunter and Peter the morning after, not quite a page after Bunter's "I trust your lordship found everything satisfactory?"]

"Then buzz off and get breakfast before I get like the Duke of Wellington, nearly reduced to a skellington.... I say, Bunter."

"My lord?"

"I'm damned sorry you're having all this trouble."

"Don't mention it, my lord. So long as your lordship is satisfied - "

"Yes. All right, Bunter. Thanks."

He dropped his hand lightly on the servant's shoulder in what might have been a gesture of affection or dismissal as you chose to take it, and stood looking thoughtfully into the fireplace till his wife rejoined him.


All things considered, perhaps it's a good thing that the body turned up in a cellar and gave them all something to talk about...

Just spell it out for a moment. There's Bunter coming in, asking in code if Peter had a good night's not-sleep, and Peter giving a "you cannot seriously think I'm going to answer that" response and changing the subject. Then they waffle on about business (a bit awkwardly? A little excessively normal?) before Peter appears to feel guilty, calls Bunter back, apologises, ostensibly for the trouble (this the man who in the past has booked a holiday cottage with no indoor plumbing at all without remorse), Bunter brings up - something - again, gets an answer, and the final ambiguous gesture of reassurance/don't need you anymore, and Peter stares at the fireplace Bunter has just relaid mulling over - something - the options being presumably (1) yes, that was a highly satisfactory night, or (2) Oh God, is this about to be a bit difficult?

All of which I've thought before, and tended to assume that Peter is intending to be sympathetic if abstracted. What I haven't thought about before is the implication of Bunter potentially taking it seriously as a dismissal. It certainly makes Peter's laughing about the morning's Humorous Soot/Sink Incident an awful lot harsher from Bunter's POV, and adds greater force to his being off-kilter over the next few days and the absolute triumph when he beats Harriet to be the one wanted once again. No wonder the Duchess wonders how things are going after talking to him.


And yet people still think that Bunter fantasises about racehorses. Well, I suppose they have big noses and are famously well-endowed. (Do you think I'd get away on the Yahoo list with "Bunter has a dirty night out in the Denver stables" on the grounds that it if you don't accept anything at all is going on re. Peter then something must be going on re. Equus caballus?)
Tags: dls, fandom, wimseyfic
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