The Strangest Thing: A Pendulous Fall?

"That sounds like a good plan," Robert replied. Getting to know the house would improve his assessment of what Penelope's priorities might be. Once his boss went off to go and get started with her painting, Robert cleaned up his dishes and headed out himself.

The best was to start at the top! The new butler went up two flights of stairs and was soon at the attic door. It was Robert's hope to get a view of the property below from the vantage point. When he turned the nob and tried to pull there was resistance. "Locked?"

Trying it a second time Robert noted it wasn't stuck, but indeed locked. "I really should have asked for the household keys." Robert knew he could get into the attic if he really wanted to, but it was likely better to get the keys from Penelope. There might be rooms that were out of limits. As he headed down the stairs he hoped he wouldn't be interrupting Penelope from her painting too much.
High, high above in the grand foyer, precariously hanging from suspiciously dangerous looking ropes and a wooden swing seat, Penelope was busy painting the ceiling. So few people ever bothered to look UP at the ceiling, thus she decided it was high time the ceiling actually had something interesting on it to look at. So far she painted a cow, a couple of dishes, and was trying to remember the other characters in the nursery rhyme while she did the finishing touches on the moon.

Bobbing her head back and forth to the cheerful tunes coming out of her earplugs, she didn't notice Robert trotting down the stairs until she saw the movement out of the corner of her eye. She waved, but he didn't see her. He looked so very serious, like a man on a mission. Penelope pulled the earphones out to set aside and swung her arm again.

"Is there a pro-WHOOP!" Her hand knocked against her paints tray and the thing went tumbling off her swing, somehow landing on poor Mister Robert spot on. She couldn't have hit him better if she had wanted to do it on purpose. "Oops...! I'm sorry! I'll come down there and clean that right up! I'll put your suit in the washing machine! You don't have a concussion, do you? Should we visit the hospital...?"

Robert looked up just in time to see something flying down and hit him square in the face. It took him a moment to realize that he was seeing color, and not stars. "No, no, I'm fine," befuddled but fine.

As he cleared the paint off his brow and looked around. His suit was a mess, the was paint all around him in the floor, and when he looked up there was his employer, with an anxious look on her face. If she didn't seem so worried he'd find her clinging to the rope, looking down from up high on the wooden swing, cute.

"I'll be fine," he said with more confidence this time. "I think I'd better go up stairs and clean off." He grinned up at Penelope then started to walk up, the paused. "I look forward to seeing what the cat with the fiddle looks like."
Fabulous. His very first day on the job, and she manages to give him a concussion. ...On the bright side, at least she didn't set him on fire. THAT one she was never going to forget.

Penelope eyed her painting. The cat and the fiddle! That's what was missing! She grinned wide. But... the frown was back as she chewed on her bottom lip. He said he was fine, but he could just as easily make it back to his room and pass out. Tugging on her ropes, Penelope lowered herself down to solid ground and hopped off the swing. A good employer takes care of her employees, and Penelope was never one to be neglectful when a man could be injured.

Following the footprints up the stairs, and giggling at the fun mysterious ideas they were giving her, she headed towards her new butler's room. A gentle knock on his bedroom door only gave silence. Concerned she let herself right on in.

No where to be seen! At least he wasn't passed out on the floor in here. Oh! But if he fell in the bathroom while getting cleaned up, that would be even worse!

Without knocking on the bathroom (she was too concerned to remember) she walked right on in. "Mister Robert, are you sure you're no- Oh."

Well! He was naked. She wasn't really surprised, he needed to wash all of that paint off. Penelope tilted her head to the side with a blink and a slight curve of a grin. Then, suddenly, she realized he was naked, naked. Her eyes squeezed shut and she held up a hand in apology.

"Right...! You look okay and not concussed. I'll be downstairs!"

There were worse ways to start a new job.

Those were Robert's thoughts as he headed to his room. There was a trail of paint as he went into his bathroom, something he was going to want to fix, but not until he got the paint off of himself. He was impressed, it seemed he got paint just about every article of clothing, and with the way the paint was running down his skin and of course on his hands, his briefs were not spared. He would have to deal with his clothing later too.

Turning to turn the water on for the shower, he saw his bathroom door finish opening, and there was Penelope!

Robert usually prided himself on being fast on his feet, but in this instance he was too surprised to say anything until after Penelope closed her eyes and commented about his conscious state, which honestly just confused him more. "Thank you," he managed to say, and without waiting for her to figure out how to get out of the bathroom with her eyes closed he stepped into the tub and drew the curtain shut before turning on the water.

The water was bitterly cold!
For at least a day, Penelope could not wipe that childish 'I saw you naked' grin from her face every time she saw Robert. She knew it was silly, but he was such a professional butler, that she was sure he was super embarrassed by the entire ordeal. Penelope would have tried comfort him about it, but she supposed he would probably be even -more- embarrassed if she did. Thus, she didn't say another word about it.

Over the course of the week, her home slowly turned from pure chaos to an almost routine. Penelope was never one to follow the same habits every day, yet she was really starting to like how everything actually worked out! There were clean clothes with no disasters, everything was mildly tidy, and she was able to enjoy real home cooked food. She might have accidentally let her boredom slip of having pasta three nights in a row, of which she was worried she offended her now favorite butler. Yet, the very next morning she was happy to hear they were interviewing people for the Chef position. Soon she would have two whole staff members! That was more staff members than she's had in weeks!

Penelope was dressed in a very business like little suit. A style she picked up from Bea when she wanted to look all official and serious. It was a little ruined by the very silly fish pendant she pinned to the jacket collar, but Penelope was confident that she looked like a reliable and stable boss for any potential employee. Sitting in the kitchen where a table was prepared to take interviews, she was very excitedly tapping her bare feet on the floor waiting for the first caller.

"I've got water and glitter pens! I think I'm ready!"

"So it might have been a bit embarrassing, but I think the only thing that annoys me is I would have sworn I had locked the door. That was neglectful on my part," Robert said in front of the mirror that night, his uniform hung up behind him, clean, dry and ironed. The butler thought there were worse things then a cute girl accidentally walking in on him, but that cute girl was also his boss and he should never had let that happen.

Every day was a little different, and Robert got a better ideas of the little quirks that made up his boss. Or rather he got an idea that she was very quirky. He was glad however she wasn't content with just having him cook and when she brought up the slight repetition of food he took that as his cue to find her a cook

"Good idea about the water," he told her with his mild butler smile, there was a slight twinkle in his eyes when he saw the glitter pens. "This first chef comes highly recommended. It says here he's from Switzerland."
Penelope picked up the purple pen first and nodded as she twirled a hand to signal in the first applicant. She had the application sitting in front of her already. A man named Agon Beet fresh from a culinary school in Switzerland. His name itself made her grin.

"Hello! Your name is Agon Beet. It's kind of funny since you're a chef and your last name is Beet?" she mentioned right off the bat with a grin. She loved ironic names!

The man didn't seem amused, even frowned. Penelope mimicked his expression without meaning to. Why on earth was he frowning? It was funny. "Er, yes... well. On your application it says you have a love of cheeses. How would you show your devout knowledge of cheese with your meals?"

Mr. Beet cleared his throat, he never did take a seat. Only paced back and forth in front of the table with his hands clasped behind his back. "Yuoo see-a, cheese-a is un ert furm nut eppreceeeted by must. Um de hur de hur de hur. I vuoold meke-a zee must megneefficent cheese-a tooer ooff deleeghts oon ifery neeght ooff zee veek. Cheese-a here-a cheese-a zeere-a cheese-a iferyvhere-a!"

Penelope looked completely baffled. Tilting her head to the side with an incredulous, and very confused twist of her mouth. "Um... say that again..."

"I em tryeeng tu ixpleeen thet cheese-a is my ulteemete-a ixpresseeun ooff selff ideneety. Bork bork bork! Veethuoot it my meend vuoold be-a a cesspuul ooff deprefeety und zeere-a vuoold be-a nutheeng lefft in thees vurld fur me-a."

Oh dear. She had no idea what the man was saying, and she really didn't want to offend him. "I um... Thank you for your application!"

Robert thought that perhaps the man was nervous at first and that was why he did not sit down. His accent and his odd joke, it was a joke sound right, made it a bit more reasonable to believe he just did not interview well. There was in fact only one true way to know if it was worth considering a chief. How their food tasted.

"Have you come prepared with an example of your cooking Mr Beet?"

That seemed to at least produce a positive response as he nodded his head and then went back out there was some loud clanging sounds and a lot of clucking. He couldn't have brought live chickens!

Sure enough the chief from Switzerland rolled in a care with several white feathered chickens clucking away and beefing their wings.
"What beautiful chickens!" Penelope exclaimed, clapping her hands. It was like getting a floor show. Naturally, she assumed the chickens were for fresh eggs to make a fabulous cheese omelet, or a quiche or something else really exciting she hadn't tried in a really long time. Or ever! This would be a fun surprise!

Mr. Beet plucked out one of the chickens and took it over to the counter where he placed it right on top of the butcher's block. "Yuoo see-a, I em gueeng tu teke-a thees here-a cheeckee, fresh es zeey elveys shuoold be-a, und chup und heed free-a." He pulled a sharpened chef's knife from his belt and held it up high. "Effter zee heed is remufed, I veell ploock it, cleun it, und zeen bootcher it up pruper. Hurty flurty schnipp schnipp! Cheeckee mekes un ixcellent beck drup fur uny cheese-a feetoored meeen cuoorse-a."

Penelope just nodded in confusion as he spoke. Then all of a sudden the realization dawned on her.

"NO!" she stood up quickly. Her chair screeching across the floor with the sudden movement. "No chup und heed free-a! No! You let that chicken go!"

Robert wasn't sure this was such a good chief after all, why were there live chickens in the kitchen? He had already borrowed one of Penelope's glittery pens and was putting a line in Mr. Beet's name when he saw the knife pulled out. Trying to understand the chief was next to impossible, but the intent was not. Robert looked over at Penelope to see her reaction. Confusion.

Looking back at the chief, Robert started to push his chair back when he heard the screech of the chair next to him.

"Boot thees cheeckee is deenner. Hurty flurty schnipp schnipp! Yuoo cun't hefe-a guud deenner veethuoot fresh cheeckee!" The chef protested.

Robert stood up and walked over to the chef. "The decision is her's and you heard what she said.". Really, who butchered chickens in front of women in their own kitchen!

"Me-a und my cheeckens veell gu ilsoohere-a. Zeey veell meke-a a guud deenner sumoohere-a ilse-a."
Those poor poor chickens. Penelope was no fool, she knew where her dinner came from. But she had just met these chickens! You can stare your dinner in the face and then... well... eat it! She was very grateful that Robert intervened and let the chef know he would not be needed. After this she didn't think she could eat one of his meals with a good conscience. Even if they were delicious.

Once he put the chicken back in to it's crate, she realized he was going to take the chickens too. For cooking!

Scooting around the table, she leaped across the kitchen and pushed Mr. Beet out of the way. He only stumbled a step or two, but that was plenty enough time for her to get her hands on the crate cart. She pushed and ran with the chickens! Right out of the back door (which did force her to stop a moment so she could -open- the back door) and then off to the gardens. There she opened up the crates and was shooing the chickens away to freedom!

She really hoped Robert could clear up the misunderstanding.

By this time the chef was shouting. Robert thought he heard the word thief, but in all honesty most of it was gibberish to him. Robert did put a hand on the man's shoulder to keep him from following Penelope.

"Sir, sir, Mr. Beet please!" Robert had to get the chef to face him and nearly holler himself to get the Swiss man's attention. "We will pay for the chickens." The chef looked ready to argue some more. "You will be compensated and I will refer you to an employeer more suited to your style, but only if you drop the matter right this instant!" Now the chef stopped waving his hands around. Good, now if only that theater company still needed a cook!
When Penelope deemed it safe, she returned to the kitchen. Peeking in through the door to make sure there weren't police officers waiting, or Mr. Beet standing there glaring and waving around a butcher knife. As she stepped inside, she smoothed out her skirt and brushed a chicken feather off her shoulder. Her feet were just a little bit dirty from chasing chickens and her fish pendant was now upside down.

"I am really sorry about that. But I just met those chickens. There was no way I could eat someone I just met! If chickens weren't so delicious, I don't think I could eat another one." Crossing the room, she returned back to her chair and sat down. With the purple glitterpen she scribbled on Mr. Beet's application. NO thank you!

The purple pen was set aside along with Mr. Beet's application. A blue glitter pen picked up as she straightened out the next one. Mr. Ramses Higlen, a chef from America. He owned several successful restaurants and even did a small mini tv series named Kitchen of Hell. That sounded like a very fun and exciting person to have in her employ.

"Okay, all ready for the next inteview!" Penelope took a sip of her water.
"Hello!" the bleach blonde chef said once he sat down. His shite apron was freshly ironed and his sleeves were rolled up, ready to start cooking. "Thank you for inviting me for an interview!" His manners were very sharp and it was as though he was commanding instead of talking.

Robert glanced over again at the man's resume, it was impressive and he could see they would have an extemely talented man in charge of their kitchen, however that wasn't the question. "Thank you for coming out here. It's nice to see a fellow countryman. What is it about New Zeland that made you want to come out here?"

"It's beautiful here, but there are not many good restaurants! I want to change that! First though I need to be able to get to know the are better! That's why I will be your chef!"

One thing was for sure, the man had ambition. Robert didn't have a problem with that. Though the assumption did cause him a slight frown.
This one look promising. Penelope liked that he had enthusiasm and looked like he knew exactly what he was doing. It would save her a lot of accidents in the kitchen! "I certainly hope you will be. It says that you have over 500 developed recipes from all over the world. That sounds really exciting! What sort of surprises could you make for me?"

"That is simple." he answered, pulling out a large folder and flipping it open as he set it across the table. "What I have here is a simple menu plan, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Each week will feature a different country, no deviations so that we can cover every recipe."

Penelope looked a little dubious. "No deviations? Your plan looks very organized and lovely, but it is flexible isn't it? Sometimes I like to have tacos on Tuesdays, or maybe Thai spring rolls for a snack."

"Absolutely not! The key to a well balanced diet and getting to try new things is to be well organized and stick to a schedule. That's why breakfast is promptly at 7am, Lunch at 12pm and dinner will be served at 6pm. If you choose to skip dinner, that will be fine, but there is no substitutions in my kitchen." As he learned forward he even pointed to the 'No Menu Substitutions' part scribbled down on his resume.

"Oh...?" She pursed her lips, tapping her pen on the table. She didn't like that at all! Everything planned in advanced was okay, but sometimes she just wanted to eat something she really liked! Nor was missing dinner any fun.
Robert's frown did not deepen, but that was only due to much training of his facial expressions. A good butler can frown, but scowling was not exceptable. "I suppose if there are no substitutions if I'm not partial to the menu item for the night I can always make something for myself afterwards." The butler expected a reaction to this. After all this was going to be about the chef's pride.

"ABSOLUTELY NOT!" Mr. Higlen shouted in response. Robert really hadn't expected that he would then stand up and slam his hNds on the table. "Amatures are not allowed in my kitchen. All assistance will be trained by me! It is the only way to maintain a well run kitchen!"

"Now just a minute, if I want to make a sandwich..."

Penelope jumped in her seat at the sudden movement and then cringed at the yelling. How awkward an uncomfortable. Would he always yell in her kitchen and ban people from making snacks? Would her staff not be allowed to eat if they didn't come to dinner? She raised a finger trying to meekly getting attention from either one of them but went unnoticed by the chef. Until she spoke!

"But it's my kitchen..?" she suggested.

Mr. Higlen shook his head. "As long as I am chef, it is MY kitchen and MY rules! I have not run several five stars restaurants letting people run in and out like chickens with their heads cut off."

Oh he shouldn't have said that. Now Penelope was reminded of the chickens all over again! "But if he wants a sandwich..."

"NO! End of discussion!"

Penelope huffed, giving a glance to Robert. She tried!
Robert cringed when the chef brought up chickens with their head cut off, that was a bit of a sore spot right now. It seemed Mr. Higlen was not the type to compromise. This might have been good in the chaos of a kitchen, but perhaps not for the spontaneity of a rich artistic type. The trouble was this man was assuming he already had the job, and Penelope didn't seem to know how to confront him.

That was okay, taking care of staffing issues was part of a butlers job.

"Chef Higlen, your resume is very impressive, and I can see why you've had so much success, however I do not think this is the kitchen for you."

"This isn't your decision!" the blond man yelled at Robert.

Robert grinned. "You've never worked as household staff. The employer does not need to make every staffing call. That's what the butler is for. Unless," he glanced to Penelope, "you wish to get involved in this staffing matter?"
Penelope shook her head quickly, not seeming to be able to hide that look of 'oh god no!' on her face! She certainly didn't want to be the one to ask the man to leave when he was shouting like that!

Mr. Higlen scoffed, snatching up his folder from the table. "I see. Good day." he muttered out, though he didn't sound like he meant Good Day at all. He stormed out of the kitchen and the front door's slamming could be heard through-out the entire house.

Penelope released the breath she hadn't realized she was holding. "Thank goodness. What sort of house would this be if we couldn't make a sandwich?" She spoke in a light tone, but her hand was a little shaky when she picked up her blue pen and wrote down 'Inflexible, No thank you!' on the chef's application. She might have worked with a planned dinner schedule, but the man would have made her afraid to step in her own kitchen. She didn't like that!

" I want a sandwich! I forgot how exhausting interviews could be!"