« AnteriorContinuar »
cess of terror. She could give no account of the origin of the fire, unless she had dropped a spark on the window-curtain. The moment a blaze appeared she endeavoured to extinguish it; “but,” said she, “the flames ran like wild-fire ; and when I found I could do nothing, I snatched Martha from the cradle, and ran into the entry to go out by the back door; after that I recollect nothing.”
With prodigious efforts the house was saved, though with a great loss of furniture. But what were pecuniary losses that night to us? We were sheltered by a hospitable neighbour; our little cherub was clasped in our arms, amid smiles and tears; and Growler, our good Growler, with a whimpering dream, lay sleeping at our feet.
FACTS AND REFLECTIONS.
Mistress of herself, though china fall.
But see, the well-plum'd hearse comes nodding on.
EveRx housekeeper has experienced what is called a “breaking season,” when the centre of gravitation seems shaken, as far as crockery is concerned. Such an era followed the departure of Hannah Sanders, who left me to reside with a minister's lady.
I will offer no excuse for this subject, since it forms the point of discussion for half my sex in their select circles, and constitutes, in some measure, the conversational boundary line between men and women. True to my character of housekeeper, let me proceed.
Compassion and interest induced me to offer the situation of cook to a Mrs. Sliter, whose husband had recently died in the neighbourhood. She was one of those persons who may look decently in new crape, but who generally, with a great display of pins on their waist and sleeves, put them nowhere else; or who apply them as if totally ignorant of the “fitness” of dress, as well as of things. I took her as a forlorn hope —one of those experiments that New-England ladies are so constantly obliged to make of the morals and dispositions of strangers. Edward was detained late at court the day on which she came, and I ordered some hashed lamb and roasted potatoes for his supper. Mrs. Sliter, with the hash in one hand and the hot potatoes in the other, issued from the kitchen, but unfortunately turned towards the cellar instead of the parlour passage. We were startled by a sudden noise, and hastened to the kitchen; but neither cook nor viands were there, and we heard a stifled voice from the cellar, crying, “Marcy me, marcy me!” Following the sound, and descending the stairs, we found Mrs. Sliter lying at the foot, who with her meat and potatoes had rolled down
into the ash-heap, and, in attempting to rise, pulled over a barrel of soft soap. It is difficult to describe her appearance as she arose from this alkaline immersion. The soap trickled from the deep frill of her widow's cap in streams over her cheeks, and commingling with the ashes, left scarcely a trace of the “human face divine;” and what added to the grotesqueness of the scene was her holding up the mutton dish unharmed. How this was accomplished in her necessary gyrations down a deep flight of stairs, we never could comprehend. Her complaints were eloquent enough, mingled with some irritability at our ill-restrained laughter. In arranging the bed-rooms the following morning she broke a toilet-glass, and was in still deeper consternation. “Oh, Miss Packard,” she cried, “there will sartainly be a death in the family. It was only two months ago, poor Mr. Sliter that's dead and gone broke his shaving-glass, and you see what's come on't. I’m left, as it were, a poor lone vider, without a partner; and it was but a year ago that my neighbour, Miss Stone, that keeps the wittle (victual) house, broke her parlourglass, and that same day, as she was chawing some fish, a bone choked her, and she was as good as dead for an hour.” To verify Mrs. Sliter's prediction, Polly, a month from the date of the broken toilet-glass, heard of the death of a great-uncle whom she had never seen, and Mrs. Sliter went about the house with a self-congratulatory cackle at the birth of the disaster. To me, however, the prediction of trouble, if not of death, seemed realized. Piece after piece of my dinner set (a rare and beautiful style at the time, white ground with a rose-coloured vine on the edge), came tinkling on my ears with a sound that a housewife can detect from afar. I early obliged myself not to stir on such occasions. If one can sit still a few moments, quietly lay down a book, or fold up one's work, or knit to the middle of one's needle, there is a favourable prospect of keeping the temper