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While on his morning drive, Stevens once again discusses the quality of "greatness" in a butler. He says that a butler should be associated with a distinguished household, but that the "distinguished" butlers of his time, unlike the previous generation of butlers, search for employers who further the progress of humanity—employers who, in addition to being aristocratic, are morally noble.
Stevens suddenly realizes that an odd heated smell is coming from the engine of the car. He keeps driving, looks for a house where a chauffeur can assist him, and draws up in front of a large Victorian mansion. A man comes out of the house and fixes the Ford, which merely needs a refill of radiator water. Stevens asks the man how many people are employed at the house, because he can see through the windows that many of the rooms are dust-sheeted. The man tells Stevens that his employer is trying to sell the place off, because he "hasn't got much use for a house this size now." The man asks where Stevens is a butler, and when Stevens replies that he is from Darlington Hall, the man is very impressed, commenting, "You must be top-notch, working in a place like that. Can't be many like you left, eh?" The man then asks if Stevens used to work for Lord Darlington, but Stevens denies it. The man recommends that Stevens visit Mortimer's Pond.
While at the pond, Stevens explains to us that this is not the first time he has denied working for Lord Darlington—he also did so once before when an American couple, Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield, came to visit Mr. Farraday. When Mrs. Wakefield asked if Stevens had been at the house during Lord Darlington's residence, Stevens replied that he had not. Stevens explains that he is not in any way ashamed to have worked for Lord Darlington, but that so many foolish things are said about Lord Darlington that he denies working for him in order to avoid "unpleasantness." Stevens reiterates that Darlington was a man of great moral stature, and that he is proud to have worked in a truly distinguished household.
The previous night, Stevens slept in a small inn called "The Coach and Horses" outside the town of Taunton, Somerset. Upon arriving he went down to the bar, and the six or seven people there made a joke about how Stevens would not get much sleep that night due to the frequent loud arguments between the proprietor and his wife. The bar patrons all laughed at this remark, and Stevens felt that he should respond in kind. He says that the mistress' noise is "A local variation on the cock crow, no doubt." His remark is followed by silence, and Stevens is disappointed that his attempt at bantering failed once again, especially because he has lately been listening to a comedy show on the radio to help improve his skills.
After setting off, Stevens stops in the center of Taunton to take his midmorning tea. Out the window, he sees a directional sign for the village of Mursden. Mursden was where Giffen and Co., a silver polish company, used to be located. Stevens thinks that the founding of Giffen and Co. in the early 1920s is largely responsible for aristocratic households placing increased emphasis on having finely polished silver. Stevens claims that Mr. Marshall, a contemporary butler whom Stevens also deems "great," had such a high standard for the polishing of silver in Charleville House that visitors would often compliment the host on the brightness of the silver.
Stevens recalls that Lady Astor and George Bernard Shaw, during visits to Darlington Hall, complimented the silver. Stevens also tells of one night when Lord Halifax and Herr Ribbentrop came to dinner. After the dinner was over, Lord Darlington commented to Stevens that the finely polished silver had quite impressed Lord Halifax, and had put him into a better frame of mind.
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