Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day, 1989から出ています。大学入試でなかなかお目にかかれない、気品溢れる問題です。
There was a certain story my father was fond of repeating over the years. I recall listening to him tell it to visitors when I was a child, and then later, when I was starting out as a footman*1 under his supervision. I remember him relating it again the first time I returned to see him after gaining my first post as butler*2 ― to a Mr and Mrs Muggeridge in their relatively modest house in Allshot, Oxfordshire. Clearly the story meant much to him. My father’s generation was not one accustomed to discussing and analysing in the way ours is and I believe the telling and retelling of this story was as close as my father ever came to reflecting critically on the profession he practiced. As such, it gives a vital clue to his thinking.
The story was an apparently true one concerning a certain butler who had traveled with his employer to India and served there for many years maintaining amongst*3 the native staff the same high standards he had commanded in England. One afternoon, evidently, this butler had entered the dining room to make sure all was well for dinner, when he noticed a tiger languishing*4 beneath the dining table. The butler had left the dining room quietly, taking care to close the doors behind him, and proceeded calmly*5 to the drawing room where his employer was taking tea with a number of visitors. There he attracted his employer’s attention with a polite cough, then whispered in the latter’s ear: “I’m very sorry, sir, but there appears to be a tiger in the dining room. Perhaps you will permit the twelve-bores*6 to be used?”
And according to legend, a few minutes later, the employer and his guests heard three gun shots. When the butler reappeared in the drawing room some time afterwards to refresh the teapots, the employer had inquired if all was well.
“Perfectly fine, thank you, sir,” had come the reply. “Dinner will be served at the usual time and I am pleased to say there will be no discernible*7 traces left of the recent occurrence by that time.”
This last phrase ― “no discernible traces left of the recent occurrence by that time” ― my father would repeat with a laugh and shake his head admiringly*8. He neither claimed to know the butler’s name, nor anyone who had known him, but he would always insist the event occurred just as he told it. In any case, it is of little importance whether or not this story is true; the significant thing is, of course, what it reveals concerning my father’s ideals. For when I look back over his career, I can see with hindsight*9 that he must have striven throughout his years somehow to become that butler of his story. And in my view, at the peak of his career, my father achieved his ambition. For although I am sure he never had the chance to encounter a tiger beneath the dining table, when I think over all that I know or have heard concerning him, I can think of at least several instances of his displaying in abundance that very quality he so admired in the butler of his story. (Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day, 1989)
*1footman 見習い *2butler 執事(身分の高い人の家や寺社で，家政や事務を執行する人) *3amongst＝among *4languishing ぐったりとする *5calmly 穏やかに
*6twelve-bores 12口径の拳銃 *7discemible 識別できる*8admiringly 感心して