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“I found that the butcher had left a leg of veal, and nothing else; but recollecting that my uncle was very fond of stuffed veal, I told the cook to stuff and roast it. She asked if I had any sweet herbs. I told her that I believed the herbs in the kitchen were used, but that my mother had put me up several paper bags of sage, catnip, &c., which I supposed would do as well, and ordered her to put in a plenty, as my uncle liked his food high-seasoned.
“My husband invited two neighbouring gentlemen to take a family dinner. When the veal was carved and tasted, I leave it to your imagination to conceive of my distress and Henry's mortification, on finding that our only dish was ruined. A half-picked ham-bone was summoned from the store-room, on which our guests satisfied the cravings of appetite.
“The following day we made more elaborate preparations, and Mr. Lawrence asked me, in the most gentle manner, just to look into the kitchen and see that every thing was going on
right. Being sincerely desirous to please my dear husband and discharge my duty, I determined to spend the morning in the kitchen. But there I was in everybody's way, and only worried by trying to hurry my unskilful domestics; indeed, I was wholly incompetent even to advise them. “I began to feel some trepidation as the dinner-hour approached; and when I saw the heterogeneous mass on the table, in a style so different from our former elegant dinners, I had scarcely courage to take my seat. My uncle sat next to me, and offered to carve a pair of roasted chickens. When he cut off the wing, out dropped from the crop (as I have since heard it is called) corn, and beans, and grass, just as they had been eaten by the fowl. I perceived by his countenance that something was wrong, but he adroitly concealed the unsightly objects from our visiters, and refrained from making any remark. “When our guests departed, he took me aside, and said, “‘My dear child, you had materials enough
on your table for twenty persons, but your cookery is deplorably deficient. Your mother neglected a very important part of your education. You will spend your fortune to very little purpose if, amid the abundance with which you are surrounded, you cannot procure a wellcooked dinner.’ “I felt at that moment as if I would have given up all my French, German, and every accomplishment, in exchange for the knowledge which would make me a good housekeeper. Every young married woman who is ignorant of her duties will meet mortifications at every step; an elegant establishment, an ample fortune, and even a devoted husband, will not secure her happiness. “You may suppose that my nerves became considerably excited; indeed, I could not always control my feelings during my uncle's visit. The day before his departure Henry again had company, and had been at some pains to procure a brace of partridges for dinner. They looked very well, for I studied a cook
book that morning, but when my husband cut them, they were nearly raw; he gave a glance at me, I burst into tears, and was so much agitated that I was obliged to quit the table. He followed, and said every thing he could to console me, but utterly unable to command myself, I begged him to carry my apology to his guests, and I sobbed away the afternoon. “My uncle has promised to look out for an experienced housekeeper for me, and I have engaged to take lessons of her, so that when he comes again I can show him my own cookery. I told him I should be more proud of serving up a well-dressed turkey for him, with all the accompaniments in good order, than in performing the most difficult piece of music. Both he and Henry smiled encouragingly on me, and said that with such a disposition to do right I could not fail of succeeding. But how much better would it have been to have been taught these things under the eye of a mother! My husband is very social in his disposition, and frequently brings home guests unexpectedly, and I often see his brow clouded and his temper disturbed by the total ignorance of his wife. Not that he complains, for he knows how desirous I am to please him ever to say a word to wound my feelings, but I can perceive that he is anxious, and instead of feeling light-hearted with his guests, is dreading blunders which will make me ridiculous. “And now, my dear and respected friend, let me ask you to come, and counsel and teach me. I find that wealth cannot produce order and comfort, and I long for your example and advice in the absence of my mother. “Affectionately yours, “EMILY LAwRENCE.”