ページの画像
PDF
ePub

a few pounds when he does so.

He had some on this occasion.

“ Alice,” said I, as I entered the kitchen about four o'clock, “I want you to hurry and get tea ready as quickly as you can."

“ Yes, mum,” was the ready reply.

“And Alice," I added, “ we'll have some of these sausages with the tea. They are very fine ones—better than we usually get. Be sure to cook them

“Yes, mum," promptly answered the girl, looking quite intelligent.

A few more directions as to what we were to have were given, and then I went up to sit with my company.

It was not my intention to leave all to the doubtful skill of my new cook, but, either the time passed very rapidly, or she was more prompt and active than is usual among cooks, for the tea bell rung before I was in expectation of hear

very nice.”

ing it.

Ah," said I, “ there is our tea bell,” and I arose, adding, “will you walk into the diningroom, ladies?

The words were no sooner uttered than a doubt as to all being as I could wish crossed my inind; and I regretted that I had not first repaired to the dining-room alone. But, as it was too late now, or, rather, I did not happen to have sufficient presence of mind to recall my invitation to the ladies to walk in to tea, until I had preceded them a few minutes.

Well, we were presently seated at the tea table. My practised eye instantly saw that the cloth

[ocr errors]

The cups

was laid crookedly, and that the dishes were placed in a slovenly manner.

I couldn't help a passing apology, on the ground of a new domestic, and then proceeded to the business of pouring out the tea. were handed around, and I soon noticed that my guests were sipping from their spoons in a very unsatisfactory manner. I was in the act of filling my own cup from the tea urn, when I missed the plate of sausages, about which I had boasted to my lady friends as something a little better than were usually to be obtained. So I rung the table bell. Alice presently made her appearance.

“Alice,” said I, “ where are the sausages I told you to cook ? You surely hav'nt forgotten them ?"

“Och, no indade, mum. They're there."
“ Where? I don't see them."
And my eyes ran around the table.
“ They're wid the ta mum, sure !”
« With the tea?"

Sure, mum, they're wid the ta. Ye towld me yees wanted the sausages wid the ta; and sure they're there. I biled 'em well.”

A light now flashed over my mind. Throwing up the lid of the tea urn, I thrust in a fork, which immediately came in contact with a hard substance. I drew it forth, and exhibited a single link of a well “ biled” sausage.

“Let me draw a veil over what followed.

66

CHAPTER XIV.

NOT A RAG ON THEIR BACKS.

THERE are, among the many things which Mr. Snuith, like other men, will not understand, frequent difficulties about the children's clothing. He seems to think that frocks and trowsers grow spontaneously; or that the dry goods, once bought and brought into the house, will resolve into the shapes desired, and fit themselves to the children's backs, like Cindarella's suit in the nursery tale. Now, I never did claim to be a sprite; and I am not sure that the experience of all housekeepers will bear me out in the opinion that the longer a woman is married, the less she becomes like a fairy. Stitch! stitch! stitch! Hood's Song of the

! Shirt, which every body has heard and admired, is certainly most eloquent and pathetic upon the sufferings and difficulties of sewing girls. “ Much yet remains unsung,” particularly in regard to the ceaseless labors of women who are as rich as Cornelia in muslin-rending, habit-cloth-destroying, children's-plaid-rubbing-jewels! I am sure that the Roman matron never went shopping. I am sure that she did not undertake to keep her own children's clothing in repair; for if she had, she could not have been ready, at a moment's warning, to put forward her troublesome charge

66

as specimen jewels. Do all I can, my little comforts never are “ fit to be seen!”

Many is the weary evening that I have been occupied, past the noon of night, in repairing the wear and tear of habiliments—abridging the volume of the elder children's clothes into narrow dimensions for the next, or compiling a suit for one, out of the fringed raiment of two or three. Honest was the pride with which I have surveyed these industrious efforts, and sincere the thought that I had really accomplished something Depositing the various articles where the wearers elect would find them, I have retired to rest; almost angry with Mr. Smith, who was asleep hours before me—asleep as unconcernedly as if an indestructible substance fabric had been invented for children's clothing.

Well, after such a night's work, imagine me waking, with a complacent and happy sensation that, my work having been done on the day before, the morning is open for new employment. Down stairs I come, full of the thoughts of the confusion I shall heap on Mr. Smith's head. He, observe, told me, as he left me to retire, that I had much better go to bed, for all my work would amount to nothing but loss of necessary rest. I am ready to show him triumphant evidence to the contrary, in the clothes, as good as new, in which his children are habited. Before I can speak, I discern a lurking smile in his face. My boy Will stands in a sheepish posture, with his back as close to the jam, as if he were a polypus growing there, and his life depended upon the adhesion.

My eldest girl—another of the laboriously fitted out of the night before, has a marvellous affection for the little stool, and the skirt of her frock seems drawn about her feet in a most unbecoming manner.

But the third, an inveterate little romp, unconscious of shame, is curveting about in the most abandoned manner, utterly indifferent to the fact she has—not, indeed, “a rag to her back”—for she is all rags! One hour's play before my descent has utterly abolished all traces of my industry, so far as she is concerned.

I expostulate—at first more in sorrow than in anger—but as Mr. Smith's face expands into a broad laugh, it becomes more anger than sorrow. The child on the stool looks as - if she would laugh, if she dared. Lifting her up suddenly, I discover that the whole front breadth of her frock is burned—past redemption.

I say nothing—what can I say? I have not words equal to the emergency,

And the boy-boys are such copies of their fathers ! He actually forgets all embarrassment, and breaks out into a hearty laugh. I jerk him forward.

Horror on horrors! The unveiling of the Bavarian statue, of which I read an account in the newspapers the other day, is nothing to it. The jamb, it appears, has supported something besides the mantle shelf; for when I draw the young Smith forward, deprived of the friendly aid of the wall, his teguments drop to the floor, and he stands unveiled! One fell swoop at rude play has destroyed all my little innumerable

« 前へ次へ »