The Sunday Night Tea

This is the first article in October of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on October 3, 1909, and is an article on Sunday night dinner and families having to do without their maid-of-all-work.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

The Sunday Night Tea

THE Sunday night tea is a memorial feast.

I have said that in effect before, and I repeat it now with emphasis. It is a standing and visible token of the respect paid by the great middle class of America to the wishes and privileges of the hired girl. That is what we called her in the day when the Sunday night supper was instituted for her express benefit. She is a “maid” now, and there are three where there was then one. But the institution stand sure and fast.

Let me guard that phrase—“the great middle class.” It has not the invidious meaning on this side of the water attached to it as in England. It signifies the backbone, the thews and red blood of the nation. The men who are hewing out their own fortunes; the women who are building and keeping homes; the architects of the best future of our land—make up the ranks. To come to practical details, I include in the term families of moderate means, in which regard for education of children is a duty; in which the expediency of laying aside a “Rainy day fund” for those who have no inherited wealth is a judicious economy. These are the households where the maid-of-all-work (a species that is growing rarer and dearer with every passing year) represents hired labor, the rest of the work falling upon the mother and her daughters; or, where the family is larger and the income justifies, there may be two maids.

Her Own Way.

Be her nationality what it may, the maid must have her Sunday afternoon or evening “out” or “off.” I append that last monosyllable advisedly. I know of more than one household in which the “hired help” sometimes elects to remain within-doors on Sunday evening or afternoon, when the weather is bad—or she is not feeling “quite fit.” She takes her half day off, all the same. Sometimes she retires to her bedroom and sleeps or lazes away the rest hours. I have seen one, at least, who dressed in her Sunday best and sat with a book in the orderly kitchen while her reputed mistress got up the evening meal, the maid never lifting her eyes from the book or paper on the table before her. When the china and glass were out of the way—washed and wiped by the employer—the real sovereign of the small realm was ready to receive “company.” If the fragrance of tea and toast ascended to the drawing rom later, blended with the cackle of Milesian mirth, the (alleged) mistress was conveniently deaf. “Norah is a treasure—neat, industrious, a good cook, honest and willing. And it is not easy to get a really general housemaid nowadays.”

So much for the reasons that have bound the Sunday night tea upon us as irrevocably as custom and tradition have decreed the Fourth-of-July fireworks.

Some blessedly optimistic housemothers assure us that they “rather like it. It is a relief from the hot dinner or supper to which we must sit down six evenings in the week.” Now and then one adds that “John and the boys enjoy it. It is fun to have me cook for them. And they like the unceremoniousness of it all.”

Personally (and I suspect if others were as frank I should hear many an “Amen!”) I look forward to the cold or semi-cold supper of the first day of the week with decided disfavor. It is right and humane and Christian that it should hold a place among our national institutions, and I make the best of it. That “best” is contriving that some especial delicacy shall invariably grace the board, and that there shall as invariably be one hot dish. The English call it a “cover,” signifying that there is heat to be kept in.

For a term of years, thanks to my self-freezing process, ice cream was the children’s Sunday night treat. We still have it in hot weather when the grandchildren visit us. Salads are the regulation dish, and of these there is endless variety. If the piece de resistance be cold meat, it is made as unlike as possible to the pallid chips and chunks and slabs that usually pass under that name. Pressed or moulded or jellied into comeliness, and garnished tastefully, it graces the foot of the board appetizingly to eye as to palate. Baked cream toast is a frequent and welcome visitor; likewise baked Welsh rabbit. “The boys” like both.

The chafing dish in the hands of an expert does wonders to alleviate the chill and cheerlessness of our First-day night supper. Among the almost countless delicacies the elder daughter or the mother may prepare before the gloating eyes of those who are as hungry on Sunday evening as one weekdays, I name as popular and “comforting” to the inner man Spanish eggs, olla podrida omelet, creamed oysters, shrimps and eggs, panned oysters, broiled mushrooms, cream cheese, golden buck, corm omelet and creamed fish.

I could fill the page with the titles of other dishes suitable for the memorial feast. Recipes for a few of these I have named will be found below. Tea and coffee *hot) are made on the table; likewise cocoa, iced tea and coffee are kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve them.

A Sunday Night Frolic.

If there be but one maid in the household, and she be “off,” the waiting is done by members of the family. One wise mother has trained her boys, lads of 10 and 12, to wait quickly and dexterously on Sunday night.

They make a genuine frolic of it, and vie with one another in the display of their skill. The plates are changed noiselessly by the little mock footmen, each girded with a white napkin while on duty. They are as grave as the primmest of English butlers, and play the part to perfection. The smallest children may be taught.

Another mother has three young daughters, who take turns in serving and waiting, while even the smaller children help. The office may be made graceful. Perfect breeding preserves the most lowly service from any touch of vulgarity. No household duty is in itself menial.

Spanish Eggs.

Heat a great spoonful of butter in the blazer of the chafing dish or in the frying pan. Have at hand a cupful of tomatoes, peeled and cut up small, or a can of tomatoes, drained from the liquor; four green sweet peppers that have been seeded, parboiled, cooled and minced fine, and eight eggs. When the butter hisses put in the tomatoes and stir briskly together with the minced peppers. When they have cooked three or four minutes break in the eggs, stirring all the time. Season to taste, adding a teaspoonful of onion juice, and as soon as the eggs are done serve.

Olla Podrida Omelet, Another Spanish Dish.

Make a roux of a great spoonful of butter and the same of browned flour by stirring them together in a frying pan. When the mixture bubbles add a cupful of tomatoes, peeled and cut small; a half cupful of mushrooms cut fine, three tablespoonfuls of minced tongue or chicken or veal (cooked and cold) and a teaspoonful of finely chopped red onion. Sit to a smoking mass—about six minutes will do—and break in six eggs. Stir constantly, tossing up the “podrida” to incorporate the ingredients well, seasoning with kitchen bouquet, white pepper and salt to taste. When the eggs thicken serve upon rounds of toast.

Shrimps and Eggs.

Prepare a roux as in the last recipe. When it hisses and heaves all over the surface stir in three sweet green peppers, seeded, parboiled and minced fine, together with a teaspoonful of onion juice. Cook three minutes before stirring in a can of shrimps from which you have drained all the liquor. Wash the shrimps and cut each in half before cooking. Simmer four or five minutes and break into the pan six eggs. Sit until the eggs thicken to your liking and serve.

Cheese Golden Buck.

Rub a cream cheese to a soft paste with warmed butter; season with salt, a little French mustard and a dash of cayenne. Set over the fire in a double boiler and stir until hot all through. Beat three eggs without separating yolks and whites, and stir and toss into the cheese. Have at hand rounds of buttered toast and spread the “buck” upon them.

Green Corn Omelet.

Grate or shave the grains from six ears of cold boiled corn. Have in a saucepan a tablespoonful of butter, heated. Put the corn into this and set in boiling water, tossing it until very hot. Leave the saucepan in the water while you make an omelet of six eggs and three tablespoonfuls of cream. Dish; season the corn with salt and pepper, and when the omelet is dished lay the corn upon it and fold the omelet over the inclosed vegetable.

Marion Harland

Family Meals for a Week
The Housemothers’ Exchange

Etiquette of Our Maid’s Apron

This is the fourth article in July of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on July 25, 1909, and is an article on why aprons are important to housemother’s even if they don’t do the housework themselves.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

Etiquette of Our Maid’s Apron

WE ARE told in some devotional book that “Open confession is good for the soul.”

Then should my soul and conscience be measurably comfortable when I confess that, when asked to talk today upon the subject set down at the head of this page, I rebelled strongly. There seemed to be nothing more in it than would suffice to make up a paragraph, say, a printer’s “stick” in length.

Seeking illustrious precedent for my discontent, I reminded myself that Cowper had stared helplessly at Lady Austen’s command when he said he could think of nothing to write about—“Write upon my sofa!”

He slept upon the behest, and began next morning upon the monumental poem in blank verse that will outlast time.

I shall essay no monumental bit of prose. These Familiar Talks are, at their best, bot smooth pebbles from my brook of thought, designed to mark and inclose bits of beds of flowers and herbs of grace in Milady’s Garden.

If I were to undertake anything like a complete history of the Apron in accident and modern life I should turn out a boulder as big as the whole garden. If you doubt it, look up the word in your dictionary. Then group hastily the references in scared and secular story to the Apron from the first black day that fell upon our world, when Eve stitched the largest fig leaves she could find (probably with a thorn for the needle) into the first apron of which we have any record. As you run down the line, take in the Mason’s apron, dating back, say members of the ancient and honorable order, to the building of Solomon’s temple. Touch upon the bishop’s apron, still a part of the ecclesiastical garb of the Anglican clergy. Do not forget Wordsworth’s “Lucy, with her apron blue,” and the coquettish pocket-aprons of other English and American writers.

I wish I had time to dwell longer upon the bewitching catalogue. I could convince you in half an hour that a woman’s apron is the most expressive article in her wardrobe.

Said some one to me the other day. “The apron is essentially the badge of the housewife.”

“Now, perhaps,” I answered. “Fifty years agone, we wrote them with the afternoon house dress.”

Such pretty, dainty, fuffy affairs as they were! Earlier than that—when I was a child—dress aprons were of silk, colored or black, and embroidered. I wrought one under the eye of my governess, who had a taste for fancy work. It was black silk, a half moon of wild roses ran around the bottom and a bunch of roses adorned each pocket. I sported it with my best Sunday frock.

Down to the Prosale.

I read last year that fancy aprons trimmed with lace and furnished with the dear little jaunty pockets of story books, were scheduled for next season’s fashions. I would the tale were true!

Coming down to the present and the prosale, she is a sensible woman who reckons among the essentials of her wardrobe a generous supply of aprons. If you doubt how much soil they ward off from the gown beneath, examine the apron you discard for a clean one tomorrow morning. If you would guess how much wear and rub they intercept, note how long you may wear your working gown before it gets shiny in front and on the tips. One of the most elegant women I know, whose abundant means lift her above the need of supplementary housework, invariably wears an apron in the forenoon in her own home—a bona fide apron, of cross-barred or stripped muslin, two breadths in width.

Her husband avers that it “makes her look sensible and comfortable.” Her college sons call it “cuddly,” reminding them, as it does, that she was never afraid to lift them to her knee when they raced n to show the minnows they had caught and the wild flowers they had picked, or the chick they had rescued from a hawk. “Mother’s lap” was the family hospital. If the apron came to grief in the course of the “cuddling,” it was easily washed, and there were clean ones galore in her bottom drawer. Madam wears it while superintending garden and kitchen and closets. One pocket holds the scissors with which she lips and snips stems and leaves in arranging the house flowers she will trust to no other hands. A purse and a tiny needle book are in the other. She boasts that she “envies no man his pockets” in the forenoon.

Conventional Garb.

For the sewing room an apron of goodly dimensions and deep pockets is a necessity, not only because it defends the gown from fluff and friction, but to hold within easy reach spools, scissors, pins and other evasive implements of industry.

The voluminous kitchen apron goes without saying into the housewifely armor of proof. It should come well up to the chin and run well down to the hem of the skirt. If it have not sleeves, let her have a pair of gingham sleeves with drawstring top and bottom to protect her gown, or her arms, if she have short sleeves. Now that these are fashionable, especially in summer, it is a pity that the woman who does her own work should be obliged to wear hers down to the wrists to hide the range-reddened arms which John used to praise in their courting days. Personal comeliness is as truly an obligation in the wife as in the betrothed.

For the morning garb of the housemaid in the family where two or more maids are kept custom prescribes a neat washgown, with a wide white apron. She should not wait at table with bare arms. It is not appetizing to have a red or moist wrist and elbow thrust under one’s nose in carrying on the business of the meal. But she may roll up her sleeves when the family has left the dining room. For sweeping, window washing and bed making it is well to cover her gown as fully as is compatible with freedom of motion with a large pinafore, as our great-grandmothers called it, that buttons at the back. She will be surprised to learn how clean it will keep the frock beneath. It is easy to slip out of the coverall (if I may coin a word) to answer the bell or go into the drawing room on an errand, and to resume it in returning to her task.

For afternoon and evening the well-trained maid dons the small bib apron or, what is the most becoming and altogether suitable uniform she can wear, the black gown, bretelled apron tied behind with wide strings of the same material, and the collar and cuffs, which, with the dainty little cap, make up the costume of our neat-handed Phyllis and deft Abigail. It is at times misnamed “a badge of servitude.” The sticklers for equal rights and uniformity of attire do not, I observe, take exception to the far less picturesque and becoming attire of the trained nurse or the visiting sister. They do not bewail the tryranny that puts shoulder-straps upon the officer and ordains that the subaltern go without. They are proud of their college daughter’s cap and gown on commencement day, and radiant when the son sports his medals and badges.

Phyllis is as respectable in her station as I am in mine. I do her full honor so long as she deserves my respect, and this she does in a much larger majority of cases than the critics of our domestic service are wont or willing to believe. I am never more proud of Abigail than when she helps me dress for dinner or reception, herself more than personable in the trim black gown and pretty ruffled sewing room. She is good to look at, resting the eye and pleasing the taste infinitely better than if custom justified her in bedizening herself in a cheap imitation of her mistress’ wardrobe.

Pretension is always ridiculous and almost always a pitiable burlesque. Modest conformity to reputable and established rules and customs is sensible and safe.

Marion Harland

Meals for a Week
The Housemothers’ Exchange

Ways and Ways of Doing Things

This is the first article in March of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on March 7, 1909, and is an article on how much easier life gets for the maid if she employs a business-like mindset to her work.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

Ways and Ways of Doing Things

“SHE is quiet and methodical.”

This was but one clause in the eminently satisfactory certificate given to Serena by her former employer.

One delightful Milesian used to call it “a stiff ticket.” I have never been sure that she was far wrong.

The aforesaid employer was “declining housekeeping”—which I believe to be a purely American phrase—and going to a hotel to live. There were but herself and husband “in family,” and where was the sense of keeping up a regular household for two old people?

This, likewise, I remark, is a sentiment and expression of American coinage.

But as to Serena, who had applied for the vacant place of waitress and chambermaid in my house. She was warranted willing, honest, neat and obliging. She had lived for 14 months in these capacities with the writer of the “stiff ticket,” who would not give her up now save for the declination I have named. Yet my yes returned once and again to the five words I have quoted on this page.

“Quiet and methodical.” No other employer with whom I have ever had similar dealings had used the phrase. It impressed me the more favorably that memory instantly conjured up the vision of the last incumbent of the office for which Serena had offered herself. Martha had not been noisy, it is true, but—methodical? At the idea I smiled broadly, and raising my eyes from the certificate, I saw the flicker of a responsive, yet a respectful gleam cross the face of my companion. She could not have divined the source of my amusement, but she saw that I smiled in a friendly fashion and reflected the light. I have bethought myself sometimes that that brief sympathetic flicker was a key to Serena’s innermost self. Nothing escapes the eyes that never stare inquisitively, and action follows perception.

A Willing Soul.

I engaged her on the spot. She has been an inmate of my house now for five years, and in all that time I have not had occasion to reprove her once for negligence or for any fault of manner of speech.

When, one morning last week, she forgot to put the salt on the breakfast table, a chuckle of delight ran around the board.

“The first time we ever caught her napping!” ejaculated a grinning lad.

And another, as the maid hastened to repair the omission: “Why, Martha, in all the two years she was with us, never set the table once without forgetting something. Don’t you recollect the morning we counted 10 articles she had to put in place after we sat down to breakfast?”

The tale was literally true, and she had believed, like a willing and honest soul (for she was that!) that the table was properly laid. From the time she left her bed with the sun and sought it long after the god of day had withdrawn his face from our side of the world, the girl was in a hurry. She swept with quick swirls of the broom that would have left a stream of mare’s tails in her wake had she been the old woman that brushed cobwebs from the sky; she scrubbed hard, irregularly and painfully, overlooking a corner here and there in her anxiety “to get through with the job.” That was a frequent sating with her. Every task was a “job,” and her eyes were always fixed upon another just ahead of her. Details were as nothing in her sight. “Consequentimentally”—as Mrs. Plornish says in “Little Dorritt”—Martha had what the boys called “the best forgettery” upon record in our domestic archives. It was absolutely phenomenal. And strange to say—for the girl, as I have said, meant to do right abashed her. She rectified them without a blush or murmur of apology. They were all in the day’s work.

Why did I keep her for two years? Partly because she was neat in person, quick of apprehension, willing, industrious and honest; partly because, as I shall show presently, her “ways” were so much like those of an immense number of other women. “Method, system and businesslike” are words which have no place in their working vocabulary. When at last Martha became the wife of a mechanic and departed to another city to miskeep a house of her own, we were sorry to part with her personality.

And, up to the last, her desire to preform her duties properly was so apparent that we were lenient in judgement.

Serena talks little in our hearing at any time. When about her work she never speaks except to answer questions. She does not “take life hard.” On the contrary, she is uniformly cheerful, and the children love to be with her. The secret of her success as a housemaid may be condense into one sentence: She knows what she means to do, and she thinks of nothing else while she has the task in hand. For the time she is a well-regulated machine, warranted to keep in order and to turn out certain results. Each hour has its appointed duty, and she drives steadily on until the next hour brings the next duty. The observant eyes have a cool brain behind them.

To sum up the case, she runs her housework as a man runs his business. I should not dare assert it were this a fancy sketch.

The world is likely to be turned upside down by the frenzied efforts of “pioneers” in the mission of raising women citizens to the level of men. Without trenching upon the field of controversy, may I say a few direct, plain words to my fellow housemothers with regard to what we have actually in hand and not what may or may not be?

Business Methods in the Home.

To begin with an unpalatable truth: As housekeepers we are, as a rule, unbusinesslike. When men say this we retort that a house cannot be run like a store or shop or office. Sometimes the husbands believe us. Oftener they are silenced, not convinced. The boldest and most compassionate of them dare not attempt to point out the flaws in his souse’s system of daily toil. I would better say “her lack of system.” When I have hinted at the possibility of performing the multifarious tasks incumbent upon wife, mother and caterer, according to rule and measure, I am assured that it is impracticable. I would not attempt to say how many thousand times that hateful adage.
“Man’s work is from sun to sun,
But woman’s work is never done,”
has been flung at me in the course of arguments upon the vexed subject.

There is no stranger feature in the whole question than that factory girls and clerk after they are married never think of applying to domestic labors the habits of punctuality and precision they learned in their former spheres. Yet the woman who brings energy, will and ingenuity to bear in the resolve to regulate her household by fixed laws, assigning to each hour its task and finishing each before the next is brought forward, finds to her amazement that she secure for herself what the rhyme I quote intimates can never be hers, to wit, leisure.

To illustrate, by a return to the true story of my maids, Martha never had “a moment to herself,” as she put it. Serena secures an hour in each afternoon for a bath and dressing for the evening, and has five evening per week on an average in her quiet room for her own sewing and reading.

I know—no one better!—how many and vexatious and inevitable are the interruptions which are hindrances in the “just one day” of the housemother’s life. Our husbands, sons and brothers have the same in number, if not exactly in kind. These are “circumstances” which we are to expect and to conquer. In planning what is to be done today allow for these. As your husband would say, “leave a margin,” or perhaps he will phrase it, “Set it down to profit and loss.” But hold fast to your schedule—when you have made it.

Did you ever talk to the manager of a successful hotel? Or ask to be conducted through the kitchen of the same establishment? You will learn much that will set you thinking, if you will do these things. I did. There is no reason why your house may not be “run” with the like regard for order and punctuality on a miniature scale. I have the pleasure of visiting homes where the experiment has been made, and successfully. Would it not be wise for each “progressive woman” to introduce “business methods” into her own home before essaying to lend a hand in making national, State and township laws? It may be capital practice for what lies before the sex in the future of the country. It should be easier to manage Bridget, Dinah and Thekla than to manipulate their masculine counterparts in primary meetings and at the polls. Lift the reproach of “unbusinesslike ways” from women. Put it out of the power of satirists to ask:

“If thou hast run with footmen and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? And if in the land of peace wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then what wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?”

Marion Harland

Family Meals for a Week
The Housemothers’ Exchange

The Maid of All Work

From time to time I will post interesting articles from early issues of the Dauphin Herald to examine what pioneers of Canada’s western province, Manitoba, read and found interesting themselves. Specifically I will look at articles that target women of the age. The first article I will post is from a quaint series entitled, “School for Housewives” by Marion Hartland who published a number of books for women as well as a number of syndicated articles such as this one published across Canada and the USA. The Maid of All Work was published in the Dauphin Herald on 22 Oct 1908.

I stumbled across this series of articles last year as I browsed copies of the Dauphin Herald for weekly information from the town of Fork River. I became interested in what Marion Harland (Mary Virginia Terhune) had to say on how housewives should run their home in the early 1900s. I wonder how many women of Dauphin and beyond followed Marion’s advise and I am curious on how many house servants were employed in Dauphin.

School for Housewives – The Maid of All Work

Some one has aptly called the general housework servant a “Pooh-Bah in petticoats.” All branches of household toll are included in her province.

This does not mean, however, that she discharges them all. When she is engaged she doubtless agrees to do cooking, chamberwork, waiting on table and very likely washing and ironing as well. Sometimes she does all these things, but it is usually when she is very competent and the family is very small. Gone are the old days when one maid was considered sufficient for a good-sized family. This is a period of specialization, and we must have a maid for nearly every variety of work. The higher wages these specialists command make it an object with the general housework servant to seek promotion from her solitary state as soon as possible.

Whether it be the result of this same specialization or an outcome of more elaborate methods of living, there is no doubt that a good maid-of-all-work is hard to find and to keep it goes without saying that her wages have gone up, like everything else. The fact that she does not pay rent or food or fuel bills does not militate against her demanding more pay for the same work that as done ten years ago at a smaller wage.

None the less, since a competent maid is a rarity, it behooves the possessor of one to consider her so far as she can. The average mistress accepts it as a matter of course that she should lend a hand in the cookery on Monday and Tuesday, besides washing the dishes and making the beds. On other days she probably does the dusting and assumes small duties about the house. Yet, while she is ready to take a share of the work she should have it clearly understood with the maid that certain duties fall upon the servant’s shoulders and that when the mistress performs them she does it not of merit on the maid’s part, but of free grace on that of the employer.

Because the woman who have remained general housework servants until middle age are generally either not competent for higher work or are so “set in their ways” as to be difficult to manage, it is sometimes well for the mistress who has the time and the strength to take a young and comparatively inexperience girl and train her to her hand. I know there is a strong probability that so soon as she is of a real value in the household she will seek another home where she will get higher wages; but she would be likely to do that anyhow. And there is always a chance that she may have either the common sense or the loyalty to stand by her first employer.

The maid engaged with the understanding, always to be borne in mind in such conditions, that she is “to turn her hand to anything,” the mistress should set about training her in the way she means to have her follow steadily. When the new servant has become accustomed to her work and to the ways of the house, she may introduce variation, but for the time it is better that she should adhere to a fixed schedule.

A regular hour of rising should be one of the first rules laid down by the mistress, and it should be early. In a house where breakfast is at 7:30 or 8, 6 is none too early an hour for the maid to rise. This gives her time to take half an hour for dressing and brings her downstairs by 6:30. In a house where a coal or wood range is used, her first duty will be to start the fire, fill the kettle, put it on to boil and place the cereal over the fire. These two duties may be done if gas is used as fuel, and gives the maid more time for her other work. In winter she may have to go down to the furnace, open the draughts and put on fresh coal.

The next step is to go into the living rooms and open them to air; after that the front hall may be brushed off and a touch given to the front steps and the sidewalk, unless there is an outside man engaged to do this. The dining room and drawing room may also be brushed up, if they need it, and the furniture straightened – dusting done, too, if this is one of the maid’s duties. In any case, the dining room should be put in spotless order for the morning meal.

When the maid is brisk about her duties, all this can be done before it is time for her to put the kettle over. Should the cereal be one needing long cooking, it should have been se over a low flame when the maid first came downstairs.

The amount of work a maid can do before breakfast depends, as a matter of course, upon the kind of breakfast to be prepared. In households where thee is a simple meal of fruit, cereal, bacon and eggs, toast and coffee, her work is comparatively light, but in a home where hot bread must be made, potatoes and meat cooked, she can hardly be expected to get through with much before the morning meal.

In households where only one maid is employed she is not expected to do any waiting at breakfast beyond removing the plates as they are used. By the time the family reach the last stage of the breakfast she should either eat her own breakfast or go to the upstairs work. If the beds have been stripped to air by their occupants on rising, the task of getting the rooms in order is taken in hand. Beds may be made, the furniture put in order, the floor gone over with a carpet sweeper, soiled water emptied, the utensils cleaned. This too, is the time to put the bathroom in order.

In a good-sized family this care of the bedrooms generally devolves upon the women of the household. In this case the maid can set to work putting her kitchen to rights, washing the dishes used in preparing the breakfast, looking over the pantry to see what supplies are needed and the like. By the time the family has finished eating the maid is ready to come in and clear the table, take the dishes to the kitchen, arrange and darken the dining room and after this to wash the dishes. When this is done, if she has not had time to finish her upstairs work properly, she should go back to it. Before she leaves the kitchen she should rinse out her dish towels and put them over to boil.

By this time, or earlier, the mistress should have come in to see what there is in the larder and to decide about the meals for the day. This is the time when she sees that the refrigerator is clean and if there are left-overs which should be used at once.

The general work of the house should be divided up on the different days, so that there will not be a hard pull one day and a lazy time another. Monday and Tuesday are taken for granted for washing and ironing, if the ironing hangs over into Wednesday, it may be necessary to crowd most of the sweeping and cleaning into the last of the week; but when the laundry work is out of the way by Tuesday night, part of the sweeping may be done on Wednesday – the dining room or parlor, rather than the upstairs rooms, since there is usually some baking to be done on Wednesday, and it is well for the maid to have work which will not take her too far from her kitchen.

Thursday’s work may be silver cleaning, brass polishing and window washing. The maid’s weekly or fortnightly “afternoon out” usually falls on Thursday unless special arrangements are made otherwise. Friday is the day to do the upstairs sweeping and cleaning, and Saturday brings in baking, odds and ends and general preparation for Sunday.

The week’s work having been outlined, let us look again at the daily vocations. The midday luncheon, at which the table is spread as at breakfast, is one which requires little waiting. The mistress should endeavor so to plan the work that there will be no heavy or dirty work to be done in the afternoon. If the maid and mistress agree in judicious discharge of the daily duties, there is no reason why the afternoon should not be comparatively free, or filled only with light tasks, until the time comes to make the dinner ready.

At dinner time the maid is expected to do more waiting than at either of the preceding meals. She is not to stay in the room after the dishes are passed, but she should be ready to come at sound of the bell. Her work after dinner is practically the same as that after the other meals. If she is forehanded about her work and washes the dishes of one course while the subsequent course is eaten she can get through her work early, and after she has turned down the beds, the evening will be her own. I wish I could say she would be likely to do this, but having managed to induce but one maid to follow this course in all my housekeeping career, I cannot speak encouragingly on the matter.

There are as many different kinds of maids as there are mistresses, and one can never tell how either will turn out until after trial has been made. When a maid-of-all-work is competent and willing, I really believe that it is easier living than with two maids or more. But as I have said, a maid of that sort is far off and hard to find. When she is once secured, it is worth her employer’s while to pay a good price and make some concessions to keep her.

Marion Harland