Snuff by Terry Pratchett, fan fiction.
(Willikins leaves Sam Vimes alone to read to Young Sam, page 65)
I shut the door gently behind me and left the Duke to his time with Young Sam. It was good that my Lord and I had returned so promptly. If he had allowed himself to become preoccupied so soon after the start of his vacation, Lady Sybil was sure to have had words. Lots of them, voiced in a quiet tone that brooked no argument.
Now I wiped all trace of amusement from my face. While my Lord and Lady were occupied I had some business to handle, below stairs as it were.
I headed to the smoking room where I had earlier been informed that Silver regularly spent time there polishing the silverware. Taking into consideration that the house servants polished every tine of metal in the early hours of each morning, it was more an inspection than anything else. And also taking into account the nature of the inspector, it was an exercise designed by a petty tyrant to assert his own authority.
As I entered the room, Silver sat in the far corner of the room lounging on one of the largest armchairs by the fireplace as he idly polished a silver platter. He looked up with a scowl on his face. I pasted a smile on mine as I breezed past the doorway and said, "My, what a surprise to see you here! I would have thought polishing the silver was something left to the menials. Then again, I admire a man who's not afraid to get his hands dirty. Mind if I help?" Then before he could refuse I snatched up a spare cloth and a tin of polish before setting to work on the cutlery.
You could see the rage rising into his face. Who was this interloper, scum of the street and no better that he should be, to intrude on my affairs and act as if we are equals? As I began polishing I saw him rein his emotions in. It wouldn't do to make a fuss when the mistress had returned, and besides I would be gone soon and good riddance. Before he could quite settle down I decided to needle him.
"You know", I began in a conversational tone, "I heard a certain rumour today. I won't say from whom, but what I heard was that you had coerced certain members of the household to engage in a little scheme of yours. Sir embarrassed you, didn't he? When he decided to greet a lowly gardener instead of the master of the household? And we can't allow that, no, otherwise everyone would begin to see what a tin-pot dictator you are. So you decided that you had to get your own back, and soon. While there isn't anything that a butler can directly do against the master of the house, there are a dozen small, petty ways in which a smart servant can get revenge. Meals turning up late to the table, bath water going suddenly frigid, and the only clothes a master can find are moth-eaten ones. All of which can lead to a miserable stay, and the master is only too glad to leave for the city and never return, leaving you undisputed once more." I allowed a moment for that to sink in before I continued, "I insist that you desist with your plan."
Silver's face was a study, for a moment it registered only shock that a lowly manservant could dare speak to him in such a manner. Then his piggish eyes narrowed in glee. The Duke might be street scum, but one that couldn't be booted out of the house due to the generosity and rather bad taste of Lady Sybil. This manservant on the other hand, who had crawled up from the same chamber pot, was well within range to vent some of his anger out on. He started to rise from the armchair. He was a large man and he was sure he could take on this weak city rat who was undoubtedly weak from being raised up in all those nasty fumes, outside the clean country air.
"Would you say it's fifteen paces from me to you, and from me to there?" I suddenly asked, gesturing at the dartboard in the other corner of the room with the knife I had been polishing. Then a flick of my wrist sent the knife spinning through the air to land point-first with a solid thunk right into the centre. It was a good silver steak knife, with a blade three inches long and sharp enough to cut a man's throat; all three inches were buried deeply into the dartboard and the wall beyond.
Now throwing a knife is normally ill-advised in a fight, as it often leads to a quick fight and a long beating where the unlucky man who has now lost his knife will severely get the shit pounded out of him. But the man who can send a knife flying through the air to strike a man dead (or unconscious if that is what he prefers), and then stands there with a dire smile on his face that says, 'Yes, he does have enough knives for each and every one of you.' Such a man will end fights quickly indeed.
An iconographer should have been there to take some pictures of Silver's face. It was a contrast of colours; the red hue of rage met the blue tint of fear and slowly melted together into an unattractive shade of purple.
I walked over to Silver and gently but firmly pushed him down into the armchair. I had a smile on my face that if a wizard would break it down into its small iota, he would find no speck of friendliness at all. "I know your type, a noble's servant. Nobles' servants who may still be servants and below their masters, but are several steps above the two-bit commoners. Because arrogance is like muck, it smears on everyone who brushes against it. Now a good noble, or person, has a certain shine that brushes off the muck. Lady Sybil has it, Mister Vimes has it, though he'd be the last to admit it, even Young Sam has it, but people like you don't. Nobles love silver as a rule, gold is soft and isn't much use, copper is far too common, but silver has that gleam that absolutely screams gentility. However silver has this unfortunate trait, if left alone for too long it tarnishes black. Every now and again it needs a rough polish."
I turned and took a step away from the armchair. Behind me I heard the sudden creak of a large man who had jumped up and had raised his arm to deliver a might blow. However he had stopped in mid-motion. I attributed this to the large set of spiked knuckles he now had poking into his jugular.
"Mister Silver. You're right about me. I'm a man who crawled up through the pig scunner from the gutters of the Street. You should also know that such a man would not turn his back on the bastard he has just provoked unless he was sure that he could take this bastard and break him into pieces. Do we have an understanding, Mister Silver?"
Silver gave the best approximation of a nod that he could make without actually moving his throat. I turned and left. This time, without interruption. As I left I heard above me the sound of smothered laughing and knew that soon enough everyone in the household would know of this. I allowed myself a small smile of satisfaction.
(Days later, at night on the road from Quirm to Ankh-Morepork, pg 278)
As I sat there catching my breath, I once again considered the virtues of silver while contemplating the now cleaned knife in my hands. A silver knife is the nobleman's tool, even when it is not consciously being wielded, and as long as it is put into good use such a knife will never tarnish. It was simpler for me than a man like Mister Vimes to keep away the darkness, if only because silver reflects the shine of its masters.