« AnteriorContinuar »
should require, and it was decided that a female cook, and a little girl to “wait and tend,” would answer our purpose, and be sufficiently genteel. I was introduced, on that memorable evening, to Nancy, the cook. She was the picture of cleanliness. She had on, what is called in New-England, a “calico short loose gown,” and at the south, “a chintz wrapper,” with a check apron, a little starched, tied round her waist. Both cook and kitchen were in perfect keeping. “Well, Nancy,” said I, with a half modest, half patronising tone, “I am a young housekeeper, but I dare say we shall get along very well.” “Oh, ma'am,” replied Nancy, “I am not at all petikelar. I never has no differences with nobody.” How amiable thought I; and I gave her a calico bag, containing iron holders, kettle holders, wipers, and dishcloths, presented me by an old aunt, who had quilted them for the occa
eion, and who said, with a commiserating voice,
as she presented them, “Young housekeepers have no rags, poor things" The same kind friend gave me a rag-bag, and repeated to me an anecdote she was fond of relating, of a lady in Cambridge, who sold rags enough at four cents a pound to buy herself a silver porringer. “And mind, Clarissa,” continued she, “that you do not throw away the ends of your thread—they all help to fill up.” I heeded her directions; and who knows but some act of diplomacy, or some effusion of genius, may have been perpetuated on the paper made from my “shreds and patches " My husband was at home nearly all the first week, and my mother, nominally my guest, relieved me from every care; but on the Monday following, she returned to her own residence, Edward went to his office, and I was left alone. I soon felt weary of idleness. How willingly would I have darned a stocking, or clear-starched a muslin; but, alas, every thing was whole, and in order. I tried to find a withered leaf on my geraniums, but they all looked as fresh as
if they too were just married. Centre tables were not then in fashion, or I could have beguiled a little time in disarranging them for effect; but no every article of furniture was in its proper parallel, and every chair at right angles with its neighbour, while books and knick-knacks, as drawing-room luxuries, were unknown. To amuse the tedious hours of my husband's absence, I went into the kitchen, and offered to assist Nancy in making a pudding. My overtures were coldly received, but I thought that that might be “her way,” and I proceeded to break the eggs, giving little Polly the raisins to pick. “We don't put so much milk as that ere in puddins,” said Nancy, eying me keenly. My mother had taught me culinary arts with great care, and I felt on strong ground while I defended my quantity of milk. Nancy answered me again with some heat, and when she found me following my own recipe in silence, dashed the sieve full of flour on the table, and putting her arms akimbo, said, “Well, Miss Packard, if you will spile the puddin, you must bake it yourself.” I was thunderstruck! A bride, to whom for a week all had submitted as to a queen; from whom commands were favours, and requests privileges' I felt the blood rush to my face, my hands trembled, and fearing to expose my agitation, I quietly laid down the materials I was preparing, and said, with a great effort at
“Finish this pudding, and bake it for dinner.”
I just made out to reach the parlour, when I burst into tears, and sobbed like a child, comforting myself, however, with the idea that I should compose myself and bathe my eyes before Edward came home. But that was not to be. With a young husband's impatience, he had hurried through his business, and thinking to give me a pleasant surprise, stood by my side.
I cannot describe his concern at my situation, while I, mortified to the heart at having exposed myself in tears for such a trifle, could scarcely explain the cause of my distress. When I did make him understand the nature of the provocation I had received, he grew angry (I had never seen him angry before), and walking with long strides into the kitchen, he dismissed Nancy on the spot.
With a woman's glance I saw the consequences. Nancy laid aside a raw steak, that she was making tender by her passionate treatment, and walked up stairs in high dudgeon, not forgetting to take up the wages which Edward had thrown on the table. Five minutes after, we heard her departing tramp on the stairs.
It was no time for crying now. Little Polly and I had to go to cooking in good earnest. My husband turned off the affair, when his temper was cooled, with a very pleasant grace, and as I placed the before-mentioned steak on the gridiron, exclaimed,
“Haste hither, Eve, with speed; And what thy stores contain bring forth, and pour abundance.”