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CHAPTER VII.

THE PICKED-UP DINNER.

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It was " washing day;" that day of all days in the week most dreaded by housekeepers. We had a poor breakfast, of course.

Cook had to help with the washing, and, as washing was the important thing for the day, every thing else was doomed to suffer. The wash kettle was to her of greater moment than the tea kettle or coffee pot; and the boiling of wash water first in consideration, compared with broiling the steak.

The breakfast bell rung nearly half an hour later than usual. As I entered the dining room, I saw that nearly every thing was in disorder, and that the table was little over half set. Scarcely had I taken my seat, ere the bell was in my hand.

“ There's no sugar on the table, Kitty.'

These were my words, as the girl entered, in obedience to my summons.

“Oh, I forgot !” she ejaculated, and hurriedly supplied the deficiency.

Ting-a-ling-a-ling, went my bell, ere she had reached the kitchen.

“There's no knife and fork for the steak,” said I, as Kitty re-appeared.

The knife and fork were furnished, but not with a very amiable grace.

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66 What's the matter with this coffee ?" asked Mr. Smith, after sipping a spoonful or two. “It's got a queer taste. ”

" I'm sure I don't know."

It was plain that I was going to have another trying day; and I began to feel a little worried. My reply was not, therefore, made in a very composed voice.

Mr. Smith continued to sip his coffee with a spoon, and to taste the liquid doubtingly. At length he pushed his cup from him, saying:

"It's no use; I can't drink that! I wish you would just taste it. I I do believe Kitty has dropped a piece of soap into the coffee pot.

By this time I had turned out a cup of the fluid for myself, and proceeded to try its quality. It certainly had a queer taste; but, as to the substance to which it was indebted for its peculiar flavor, I was in total ignorance. My husband insisted that it was soap. I thought differently; but we made no argument on the subject.

The steak was found, on trial, to be burned so badly that it was not fit to be eaten. husband had to make his meal of bread and butter and cold water. As for myself, this spoiling of our breakfast for no good reason, completely destroyed both my appetite and my temper.

“You'd better get your dinner at an eating house, Mr. Smith," said I, as he arose from the table. “It's washing day, and we shall have nothing comfortable.”

“ Things will be no more comfortable for you than for me,” was kindly replied by my husband.

And my

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66

“We shall only have a picked-up dinner," said I.

“I like a good picked-up dinner,” answered Mr. Smith. “There is something so out of the ordinary routine of ribs, loins, and sirloinssomething so comfortable and independent about it. No, you cannot eat your picked-up dinner alone."

“ Drop the word good from your description, and the picked-up dinner will be altogether another affair,” said I. No, don't come home today, if you please ; for every thing promises to be most uncomfortable. Get yourself a good dinner at an eating house, and leave me to go through the day as well as I can.”

“And you are really in earnest ?” said my husband, seriously.

“I certainly am,” was my reply. “Entirely in earnest. So, just oblige me by not coming home to dinner.”

Mr. Smith promised; and there was so much off of my mind. I could not let him come home without seeing that he had a good dinner. But, almost any thing would do for me and the children.

In some things, I am compelled to say that my husband is a little uncertain. His memory is not always to be depended on. Deeply absorbed in business, as he was at that time, he frequently let things of minor importance pass from his thoughts altogether.

So it happened on the present occasion. Ile forgot that it was washing day, and that he had promised to dine down town. Punctually at half

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