« 前へ次へ »
stipulation that she was to be a doer-of-all-workin-general, until a cook could be obtained, was readily agreed to, and then she was shown to her room in the attic, where she prepared herself for entering upon her duties.
“ Will you please, ma'am, show me what you want me to do ?” asked the new help, presenting herself before Mrs. Smith.
“ Go into the kitchen, Ellen, and see that the fire is made. I'll be down there presently."
To be compelled to see after a new and ignorant servant, and direct her in every thing, just at so trying a season of the year, and while her mind was “all out of sorts," was a severe task for poor Mrs. Smith. She found that Ellen, as she had too good reason for believing, was totally unacquainted with kitchen work. She did not even know how to kindle a coal fire ; nor could she manage the stove after Mrs. Smith had made the fire for her. All this did not in any way tend to make her less unhappy or more patient than before. On retiring for the night, she had a high fever, which continued unabated until morning, when her husband found her really ill; so much so as to make the attendance of a doctor necessary:
A change in the air had taken place during the night, and the temperature had fallen many degrees. This aided the efforts of the physician, and enabled him so to adapt his remedies as to speedily break the fever. But the ignorance and awkwardness of Ellen, apparent in her attempts to arrange her bed and chamber, so worried her mind, that she was near relapsing into her for
mer feverish and excited state. The attendance of an elder maiden sister was just in time. All care was taken from her thoughts, and she had a chance of recovering a more healthy tone of mind and body. During the next week, she knew little or nothing of how matters were progressing out of her own chamber. A new cook
A had been hired, of whom she was pleased to hear good accounts, although she had not seen her, and Ellen, under the mild and judicious instruction of her sister, had learned to make up a bed neatly, to sweep, and dust in true style, and to perform all the little etceteras of chamber-work greatly to her satisfaction. She was, likewis good tempered, willing, and to all appearances strictly trust-worthy.
One morning, about a week after she had become too ill to keep up, she found herself so far recovered as to be able to go down stairs to breakfast. Every thing upon the table she found arranged in the neatest style. The food was well cooked, especially some tender rice cakes, of which she was very fond. .
“ Really, these are delicious !” said she, as the finely flavored cakes almost melted in her mouth. “And this coffee is just the thing! How fortunate we have been to obtain so good a cook! I was afraid we should never be able to replace Rachel. But even she is equalled, if not surpassed."
“Still she does not surpass Rachel,” said Mr. Smith, a little gravely. “Rachel was a treasure. ” 66 Indeed she was.
And I have been sorry enough I ever let her go,” returned Mrs. Smith
At that moment a new cook entered with a plate of warm cakes. “ Rachel !” ejaculated Mrs. Smith, letting her
, knife and fork fall. “ How do you do? I am glad to see you! Welcome home again!”
As she spoke quickly and earnestly, she held out her hand, and grasped that of her old domestic warmly. Rachel could not speak, but as she left the room she put her apron to her eyes. Her's were not the only ones dim with rising moisture.
For at least a year to come, both Mrs. Smith and her excellent cook will have no cause to complain of each other. How they will get along during the last week of next August, we cannot say, but hope the lesson they have both received will teach them to bear and forbear.
“ THE foolish thing !” said my aunt Rachel, speaking warmly, “ to get hurt at a mere word. It's a little hard that people can't open their lips but somebody is offended.” “ Words are things!” said I, smiling.
Very light things ! A person must be tender, indeed, that is hurt by a word.”
“ The very lightest thing may hurt, if it falls on a tender place.”
“I don't like people who have these tender places,” said aunt Rachel. “I never get hurt at what is said to me. No-never! To be ever picking and mincing, and chopping off your words—to be afraid to say this or that—for fear somebody will be offended! I can't abide it !”
People who have these tender places can't help it, I suppose. This being so, ought we not to regard their weakness ?" said I. “Pain, either of body or mind, is hard to bear, and we should not inflict it causelessly.”
People who are so wonderfully sensitive," replied aunt Rachel, growing warmer, “ought to shut themselves up at home, and not come among sensible, good tempered persons. As far as I am concerned, I can tell them, one and all, that I am not going to pick out every hard word
from a sentence as carefully as I would seeds from a raisin. Let them crack them with their teeth, if they are afraid to swallow them whole."
Now, for all that aunt Rachel went on after this strain, she was a kind, good soul, in the main, and I could see, was sorry for having hurt the feelings of Mary Lane. But she didn't like to acknowledge that she was in the wrong; that would detract too much from the self-complacency with which she regarded herself. Knowing her character very well, I thought it best not to continue the little argument about the importance of words, and so changed the subject. But, every now and then, aunt Rachel would return to it, each time softening a little towards Mary. At last she said :
“I'm sure it was a little thing. A very little thing. She might have known that nothing unkind was intended on my part.
“There are some subjects, aunt,” I replied, “ to which we cannot bear the slightest allusion. And a sudden reference to them is very apt to throw us off of our guard. What you said to Mary, has, in all probability, touched some weakness of character, or probed some wound that time has not been able to heal. I have always thought her a sensible, good natured girl.”
“And so have I. But I really cannot think that she has shown her good sense or good nature in the present case. It is a very bad failing this, of being over sensitive; and exceedingly annoying to one's friends.”
“ It is, I know; but still, all of us have a weak