ページの画像
PDF
ePub

of a strange cat, which had come in through the open window. Bending over the still entranced cook, I read the title of her book. It was “THE WANDERING JEW."

“Kitty!" I don't much wonder, now, at the start she gave, for I presume there was not the zephyr's softness in my voice.

“Oh, ma'am!” She caught her breath as her eyes rested upon the cat and the turkey. “Indeed, ma'am!” And then she made a spring towards puss, who, nimbly eluding her, passed out by the way through which she had come in.

By this time I had jerked open the oven door, when there came rushing out a cloud of smoke, which instantly filled the room. My puddings were burned to a crisp !

As for the turkey, the cat had eaten off one side of the breast, and it was no longer fit for the table.

“ Well! this is fine work !" said I, in an angry, yet despairing voice.

“ Fine work, upon my word !"

“Oh, ma'am!" Kitty interrupted me by saying, “I'll run right off and buy another turkey, and have it cooked in time. Indeed I will, ma'am! And I'll pay for it. It's all my fault! oh dear! dear me! Now don't be

angry,

Mrs. Smith! I'll have dinner all ready in time, and no one will be any the wiser for this."

“In time !” and I raised my finger towards the kitchen clock, the hands of which marked the period of half past one.

Two o'clock was our regular dinner hour.

Mercy !” ejaculated the frightened cook, as

66

she sank back upon a chair; “I thought it was only a little past eleven. I am sure it was only eleven when I sat down just to read a page or two while the puddings were in the oven !"

The truth was, the “ Wandering Jew,” in the most exciting portion of which she happened to be, proved too much for her imagination. Her mind had taken no note of time, and two hours passed with the rapidity of a few minutes.

“I don't exactly comprehend this,” said my husband, as he sat down with his old friend, to dine off of broiled steak and potatoes, at halfpast two o'clock.

“ It's all the fault of the Wandering Jew !'” I I replied, making an effort to drive away, with a smile, the red signs of mortification that were in

my face.

[ocr errors]

“ The Wandering Jew!" returned my husband, looking mystified.

“Yes, the fault lies with that imaginary personage,” said I, “strange as it may seem.” And then I related the mishaps of the morning. For desert, we had some preserved fruit and cream, and a hearty laugh over the burnt puddings and disfigured turkey.

Poor Kitty couldn't survive the mortification. She never smiled again in my house; and, at the close of the week, removed to another home.

CHAPTER III.

LIGHT ON THE SUBJECT.

66

رو

“ The oil's out, mum,” said Hannah, the domestic who succeeded Kitty, pushing her head into the room where I sat sewing.

“ It can't be,” I replied.

“ Indade, mum, and it is. There isn't the full of a lamp left," was the positive answer.

“ Then, what have you done with it ?” said I, in a firm voice. “It isn't four days since a gallon was sent home from the store.

“Four days! It's more nor a week, mum !”

“Don't tell me that, Hannah," I replied, firmly; “for I know better. I was out on last Monday, and told Brown to send us home a gallon.'

Sure, and it's burned, mum, thin! What else could go with it ?"

“It never was burned in our lamps,” said I, in answer to this. “You've either wasted it, or given it away.”

At this Hannah, as in honor bound, became highly indignant, and indulged in certain impertinences which I did not feel inclined to notice.

But, as the oil was all gone, and no mistake; and, as the prospect of sitting in darkness was not, by any means, an agreeable one—the only remedy was to order another gallon.

[ocr errors]

66

Something was wrong; that was clear. The oil had never been burned.

That evening, myself and husband talked over the matter, and both of us came to the conclusion, that it would never do. The evil must be remedied. A gallon of oil must not again disappear in four days.

Why,' said my husband, “it ought to last us at least a week and a half.” “Not quite so long," I replied.

so long," I replied. “We burn a gallon a week.” “ Not fairly, I'm inclined to think. But four

. days is out of all conscience."

I readily assented to this, adding some trite remark about the unconscionable wastefulness of domestics.

On the next morning, as my husband arose from bed, he shivered in the chilly air, saying, as he did so :

“ That girl's let the fire go out again in the heater ! Isn't it too bad? This thing happens now every little while. I'm sure I've said enough to her about it. There's nothing wanted but a little attention."

“ It is too bad, indeed," I added.

“ There's that fishy smell again !” exclaimed Mr. Smith. 66 What can it be ?”

“ Fishy smell! So there is.”

“ Did you get any mackerel from the store yesterday ?” “None."

Perhaps Hannah ordered some ?" “ No. I had a ham sent home, and told her to have a slice of that broiled for breakfast."

[ocr errors]

"I don't know what to make of it. Every now and then that same smell comes up through the register-particularly in the morning. I'll bet a sixpence there's some old fish tub in the cellar of which she's made kindling."

“ That may be it,” said I.

And, for want of a better reason, we agreed, for the time being, upon that hypothesis.

At the end of another four days, word came up that our best sperm oil, for which we paid a dollar and forty cents a gallon, was out again.

“ Impossible !” I ejaculated.

“But it is mum," said Hannah. “There's not a scrimption left—not so much as the full of a thimble.”

“You must be mistaken. A gallon of oil has never been burned in this house in four days."

“ We burned the other gallon in four days,” said Hannah, with provoking coolness. evenings are very long, and we have a great many lights. There's the parlor light, and the passage light, and the_”

“It's no use for you to talk, Hannah,” I replied, interrupting her. “No use in the world. A gallon of oil in four days has never gone by fair means in this house. So don't try to make me believe it for I won't. Im too old a housekeeper for that.”

Finding that I was not to be convinced, Hannah became angry, and said something about her not being a “thafe.” I was unmoved by this, however; and told her, with as much sternness of manner as I could assume, that I should

66 The

« 前へ次へ »