Part 2 out of 4
was not long, she was well recommended, and the immediate pressure in
that kitchen where the harvest was so ripe and the laborers so
few--"Well--you may try the week," she said. "I'll show you your room.
And what is your name?"
WHAT DIANTHA DID
When the fig growns on the thistle,
And the silk purse on the sow;
When one swallow brings the summer,
And blue moons on her brow--
Then we may look for strength and skill,
Experience, good health, good will,
Art and science well combined,
Honest soul and able mind,
Servants built upon this plan,
One to wait on every man,
Patiently from youth to age,--
For less than a street cleaner's wage!
When the parson's gay on Mondays,
When we meet a month of Sundays,
We may look for them and find them--
But Not Now!
When young Mrs. Weatherstone swept her trailing crepe from the
automobile to her friend's door, it was opened by a quick, soft-footed
maid with a pleasant face, who showed her into a parlor, not only cool
and flower-lit, but having that fresh smell that tells of new-washed
Mrs. Porne came flying down to meet her, with such a look of rest and
comfort as roused instant notice.
"Why, Belle! I haven't seen you look so bright in ever so long. It
must be the new maid!"
"That's it--she's 'Bell' too--'Miss Bell' if you please!"
The visitor looked puzzled. "Is she a--a friend?" she ventured, not
sure of her ground.
"I should say she was! A friend in need! Sit here by the window,
Viva--and I'll tell you all about it--as far as it goes."
She gaily recounted her climax of confusion and weariness, and the
sudden appearance of this ministering angel. "She arrived at about
quarter of ten. I engaged her inside of five minutes. She was into a
gingham gown and at work by ten o'clock!"
"What promptness! And I suppose there was plenty to do!"
Mrs. Porne laughed unblushingly. "There was enough for ten women it
seemed to me! Let's see--it's about five now--seven hours. We have
nine rooms, besides the halls and stairs, and my shop. She hasn't
touched that yet. But the house is clean--_clean_! Smell it!"
She took her guest out into the hall, through the library and
dining-room, upstairs where the pleasant bedrooms stretched open and
"She said that if I didn't mind she'd give it a superficial general
cleaning today and be more thorough later!"
Mrs. Weatherstone looked about her with a rather languid interest. "I'm
very glad for you, Belle, dear--but--what an endless nuisance it all
is--don't you think so?"
"Nuisance! It's slow death! to me at least," Mrs. Porne answered. "But
I don't see why you should mind. I thought Madam Weatherstone ran
that--palace, of yours, and you didn't have any trouble at all."
"Oh yes, she runs it. I couldn't get along with her at all if she
didn't. That's her life. It was my mother's too. Always fussing and
fussing. Their houses on their backs--like snails!"
"Don't see why, with ten (or is it fifteen?) servants."
"Its twenty, I think. But my dear Belle, if you imagine that when you
have twenty servants you have neither work nor care--come and try it
awhile, that's all!"
"Not for a millionaire baby's ransom!" answered Isabel promptly.
"Give me my drawing tools and plans and I'm happy--but this
business"--she swept a white hand wearily about--"it's not my work,
"But you _enjoy_ it, don't you--I mean having nice things?" asked her
"Of course I enjoy it, but so does Edgar. Can't a woman enjoy her home,
just as a man does, without running the shop? I enjoy ocean travel, but
I don't want to be either a captain or a common sailor!"
Mrs. Weatherstone smiled, a little sadly. "You're lucky, you have other
interests," she said. "How about our bungalow? have you got any
Mrs. Porne flushed. "I'm sorry, Viva. You ought to have given it to
someone else. I haven't gone into that workroom for eight solid days.
No help, and the baby, you know. And I was always dog-tired."
"That's all right, dear, there's no very great rush. You can get at it
now, can't you--with this other Belle to the fore?"
"She's not Belle, bless you--she's 'Miss Bell.' It's her last name."
Mrs. Weatherstone smiled her faint smile. "Well--why not? Like a
seamstress, I suppose."
"Exactly. That's what she said. "If this labor was as important as
that of seamstress or governess why not the same courtesy--Oh she's a
most superior _and_ opinionated young person, I can see that."
"I like her looks," admitted Mrs. Weatherstone, "but can't we look over
those plans again; there's something I wanted to suggest." And they
went up to the big room on the third floor.
In her shop and at her work Isabel Porne was a different woman. She was
eager and yet calm; full of ideas and ideals, yet with a practical
knowledge of details that made her houses dear to the souls of women.
She pointed out in the new drawings the practical advantages of kitchen
and pantry; the simple but thorough ventilation, the deep closets, till
her friend fairly laughed at her. "And you say you're not domestic!"
"I'm a domestic architect, if you like," said Isabel; "but not a
domestic servant.--I'll remember what you say about those windows--it's
a good idea," and she made a careful note of Mrs. Weatherstone's
That lady pushed the plans away from her, and went to the many cushioned
lounge in the wide west window, where she sat so long silent that Isabel
followed at last and took her hand.
"Did you love him so much?" she asked softly.
"Who?" was the surprising answer.
"Why--Mr. Weatherstone," said Mrs. Porne.
"No--not very much. But he was something."
Isabel was puzzled. "I knew you so well in school," she said, "and that
gay year in Paris. You were always a dear, submissive quiet little
thing--but not like this. What's happened Viva?"
"Nothing that anybody can help," said her friend. "Nothing that
matters. What does matter, anyway? Fuss and fuss and fuss. Dress and
entertain. Travel till you're tired, and rest till you're crazy!
Then--when a real thing happens--there's all this!" and she lifted her
black draperies disdainfully. "And mourning notepaper and cards and
servant's livery--and all the things you mustn't do!"
Isabel put an arm around her. "Don't mind, dear--you'll get over
this--you are young enough yet--the world is full of things to do!"
But Mrs. Weatherstone only smiled her faint smile again. "I loved
another man, first," she said. "A real one. He died. He never cared
for me at all. I cared for nothing else--nothing in life. That's why I
married Martin Weatherstone--not for his old millions--but he really
cared--and I was sorry for him. Now he's dead. And I'm wearing
this--and still mourning for the other one."
Isabel held her hand, stroked it softly, laid it against her cheek.
"Oh, I'll feel differently in time, perhaps!" said her visitor.
"Maybe if you took hold of the house--if you ran things
yourself,"--ventured Mrs. Porne.
Mrs. Weatherstone laughed. "And turn out the old lady? You don't know
her. Why she managed her son till he ran away from her--and after he
got so rich and imported her from Philadelphia to rule over Orchardina
in general and his household in particular, she managed that poor little
first wife of his into her grave, and that wretched boy--he's the only
person that manages her! She's utterly spoiled him--that was his
father's constant grief. No, no--let her run the house--she thinks she
"She's fond of you, isn't she?" asked Mrs. Porne.
"O I guess so--if I let her have her own way. And she certainly saves
me a great deal of trouble. Speaking of trouble, there they are--she
said she'd stop for me."
At the gate puffed the big car, a person in livery rang the bell, and
Mrs. Weatherstone kissed her friend warmly, and passed like a heavy
shadow along the rose-bordered path. In the tonneau sat a massive old
lady in sober silks, with a set impassive countenance, severely correct
in every feature, and young Mat Weatherstone, sulky because he had to
ride with his grandmother now and then. He was not a nice young man.
Diantha found it hard to write her home letters, especially to Ross.
She could not tell them of all she meant to do; and she must tell them
of this part of it, at once, before they heard of it through others.
To leave home--to leave school-teaching, to leave love--and "go out to
service" did not seem a step up, that was certain. But she set her red
lips tighter and wrote the letters; wrote them and mailed them that
evening, tired though she was.
Three letters came back quickly.
Her mother's answer was affectionate, patient, and trustful, though not
Her sister's was as unpleasant as she had expected.
"The _idea!_" wrote Mrs. Susie. "A girl with a good home to live in and
another to look forward to--and able to earn money _respectably!_ to go
out and work like a common Irish girl! Why Gerald is so mortified he
can't face his friends--and I'm as ashamed as I can be! My own sister!
You must be _crazy_--simply _crazy!_"
It was hard on them. Diantha had faced her own difficulties bravely
enough; and sympathized keenly with her mother, and with Ross; but she
had not quite visualized the mortification of her relatives. She found
tears in her eyes over her mother's letter. Her sister's made her both
sorry and angry--a most disagreeable feeling--as when you step on the
cat on the stairs. Ross's letter she held some time without opening.
She was in her little upstairs room in the evening. She had swept,
scoured, scalded and carbolized it, and the hospitally smell was now
giving way to the soft richness of the outer air. The "hoo! hoo!" of
the little mourning owl came to her ears through the whispering night,
and large moths beat noiselessly against the window screen. She kissed
the letter again, held it tightly to her heart for a moment, and opened
"Dearest: I have your letter with its--somewhat surprising--news. It is
a comfort to know where you are, that you are settled and in no danger.
"I can readily imagine that this is but the preliminary to something
else, as you say so repeatedly; and I can understand also that you are
too wise to tell me all you mean to be beforehand.
"I will be perfectly frank with you, Dear.
"In the first place I love you. I shall love you always, whatever you
do. But I will not disguise from you that this whole business seems to
me unutterably foolish and wrong.
"I suppose you expect by some mysterious process to "develope" and
"elevate" this housework business; and to make money. I should not love
you any better if you made a million--and I would not take money from
you--you know that, I hope. If in the years we must wait before we can
marry, you are happier away from me--working in strange kitchens--or
offices--that is your affair.
"I shall not argue nor plead with you, Dear Girl; I know you think you
are doing right; and I have no right, nor power, to prevent you. But if
my wish were right and power, you would be here to-night, under the
shadow of the acacia boughs--in my arms!
"Any time you feel like coming back you will be welcome, Dear.
Any time she felt like coming back?
Diantha slipped down in a little heap by the bed, her face on the
letter--her arms spread wide. The letter grew wetter and wetter, and
her shoulders shook from time to time.
But the hands were tight-clenched, and if you had been near enough you
might have heard a dogged repetition, monotonous as a Tibetan prayer
mill: "It is right. It is right. It is right." And then. "Help
me--please! I need it." Diantha was not "gifted in prayer."
When Mr. Porne came home that night he found the wifely smile which is
supposed to greet all returning husbands quite genuinely in evidence.
"O Edgar!" cried she in a triumphant whisper, "I've got such a nice
girl! She's just as neat and quick; you've no idea the work she's done
today--it looks like another place already. But if things look queer at
dinner don't notice it--for I've just given her her head. I was so
tired, and baby bothered so, and she said that perhaps she could manage
all by herself if I was willing to risk it, so I took baby for a
car-ride and have only just got back. And I _think_ the dinner's going
to be lovely!"
It was lovely. The dining-room was cool and flyless. The table was set
with an assured touch. A few of Orchardina's ever ready roses in a
glass bowl gave an air of intended beauty Mrs. Porne had had no time
The food was well-cooked and well-served, and the attendance showed an
intelligent appreciation of when people want things and how they want
Mrs. Porne quite glowed with exultation, but her husband gently
suggested that the newness of the broom was visibly uppermost, and that
such palpable perfections were probably accompanied by some drawbacks.
But he liked her looks, he admitted, and the cooking would cover a
multitude of sins.
On this they rested, while the week went by. It was a full week, and a
short one. Mrs. Porne, making hay while the sun shone, caught up a
little in her sewing and made some conscience-tormenting calls.
When Thursday night came around she was simply running over with
information to give her husband.
"Such a talk as I have had with Miss Bell! She is so queer! But she's
nice too, and it's all reasonable enough, what she says. You know she's
studied this thing all out, and she knows about it--statistics and
things. I was astonished till I found she used to teach school. Just
think of it! And to be willing to work out! She certainly does her
work beautiful, but--it doesn't seem like having a servant at all. I
feel as if I--boarded with her!"
"Why she seemed to me very modest and unpresuming," put in Mr. Porne.
"O yes, she never presumes. But I mean the capable way she manages--I
don't have to tell her one thing, nor to oversee, nor criticize. I
spoke of it and she said, 'If I didn't understand the business I should
have no right to undertake it."
"That's a new point of view, isn't it?" asked her husband. "Don't they
usually make you teach them their trade and charge for the privilege?"
"Yes, of course they do. But then she does have her disadvantages--as
"Does she? What are they?"
"Why she's so--rigid. I'll read you her--I don't know what to call it.
She's written out a definite proposition as to her staying with us, and
I want you to study it, it's the queerest thing I ever saw."
The document was somewhat novel. A clear statement of the hours of
labor required in the position, the quality and amount of the different
kinds of work; the terms on which she was willing to undertake it, and
all prefaced by a few remarks on the status of household labor which
made Mr. Porne open his eyes.
Thus Miss Bell; "The ordinary rate for labor in this state, unskilled
labor of the ordinary sort, is $2.00 a day. This is in return for the
simplest exertion of brute force, under constant supervision and
direction, and involving no serious risk to the employer."
"Household labor calls for the practice of several distinct crafts, and,
to be properly done, requires thorough training and experience. Its
performer is not only in a position of confidence, as necessarily
entrusted with the care of the employer's goods and with knowledge of
the most intimate family relations; but the work itself, in maintaining
the life and health of the members of the household, is of most vital
"In consideration of existing economic conditions, however, I am willing
to undertake these intricate and responsible duties for a seven day week
at less wages than are given the street-digger, for $1.50 a day."
"Good gracious, my dear!" said Mr. Porne, laying down the paper, "This
young woman does appreciate her business! And we're to be let off easy
at $45.00 a month, are we"
"And feel under obligations at that!" answered his wife. "But you read
ahead. It is most instructive. We shall have to ask her to read a
paper for the Club!"
"'In further consideration of the conditions of the time, I am willing
to accept part payment in board and lodging instead of cash. Such
accommodations as are usually offered with this position may be rated at
$17.00 a month."
"O come now, don't we board her any better than that?"
"That's what I thought, and I asked her about it, and she explained that
she could get a room as good for a dollar and a-half a week--she had
actually made inquiries in this very town! And she could; really a
better room, better furnished, that is, and service with it. You know
I've always meant to get the girl's room fixed more prettily, but
usually they don't seem to mind. And as to food--you see she knows all
about the cost of things, and the materials she consumes are really not
more than two dollars and a half a week, if they are that. She even
made some figures for me to prove it--see."
Mr. Porne had to laugh.
"Breakfast. Coffee at thirty-five cents per pound, one cup, one cent.
Oatmeal at fourteen cents per package, one bowl, one cent. Bread at
five cents per loaf, two slices, one-half cent. Butter at forty cents
per pound, one piece, one and a-half cents. Oranges at thirty cents per
dozen, one, three cents. Milk at eight cents per quart, on oatmeal, one
cent. Meat or fish or egg, average five cents. Total--thirteen cents."
"There! And she showed me dinner and lunch the same way. I had no idea
food, just the material, cost so little. It's the labor, she says that
makes it cost even in the cheapest restaurant."
"I see," said Mr. Porne. "And in the case of the domestic servant we
furnish the materials and she furnishes the labor. She cooks her own
food and waits on herself--naturally it wouldn't come high. What does
she make it?"
'Food, average per day . . . $0.35
Room, $1.50 per w'k, ave. per day . . . .22
Total, per month . . . $17.10
$1.50 per day, per month . . . $45.00
"'Remaining payable in cash, $28.00.' Do I still live! But my dear
Ellie, that's only what an ordinary first-class cook charges, out here,
without all this fuss!"
"I know it, Ned, but you know we think it's awful, and we're always
telling about their getting their board and lodging clear--as if we
gave'em that out of the goodness of our hearts!"
"Exactly, my dear. And this amazing and arithmetical young woman makes
us feel as if we were giving her wampum instead of money--mere primitive
barter of ancient days in return for her twentieth century services!
How does she do her work--that's the main question."
"I never saw anyone do it better, or quicker, or easier. That is, I
thought it was easy till she brought me this paper. Just read about her
work, and you'll feel as if we ought to pay her all your salary."
Mr. Porne read:
"Labor performed, average ten hours a day, as follows: Preparation of
food materials, care of fires, cooking, table service, and cleaning of
dishes, utensils, towels, stove, etc., per meal--breakfast two hours,
dinner three hours, supper or lunch one hour--six hours per day for food
service. Daily chamber work and dusting, etc., one and one-half hours
per day. Weekly cleaning for house of nine rooms, with halls, stairs,
closets, porches, steps, walks, etc., sweeping, dusting, washing
windows, mopping, scouring, etc., averaging two hours per day. Door
service, waiting on tradesmen, and extras one-half hour per day. Total
ten hours per day."
"That sounds well. Does it take that much time every day?"
"Yes, indeed! It would take me twenty!" she answered. "You know the
week I was here alone I never did half she does. Of course I had Baby,
but then I didn't do the things. I guess when it doesn't take so long
they just don't do what ought to be done. For she is quick, awfully
quick about her work. And she's thorough. I suppose it ought to be
done that way--but I never had one before."
"She keeps mighty fresh and bright-looking after these herculean
"Yes, but then she rests! Her ten hours are from six-thirty a.m., when
she goes into the kitchen as regularly as a cuckoo clock, to
eight-thirty p.m. when she is all through and her kitchen looks like
a--well it's as clean and orderly as if no one was ever in it."
"Ten hours--that's fourteen."
"I know it, but she takes out four. She claims time to eat her meals."
"Half an hour apiece, and half an hour in the morning to rest--and two
in the afternoon. Anyway she is out, two hours every afternoon, riding
in the electric cars!"
"That don't look like a very hard job. Her day laborer doesn't get two
hours off every afternoon to take excursions into the country!"
"No, I know that, but he doesn't begin so early, nor stop so late. She
does her square ten hours work, and I suppose one has a right to time
"You seem dubious about that, my dear."
"Yes, that's just where it's awkward. I'm used to girls being in all
the time, excepting their day out. You see I can't leave baby, nor
always take him--and it interferes with my freedom afternoons."
"Well--can't you arrange with her somehow?"
"See if you can. She says she will only give ten hours of time for a
dollar and a half a day--tisn't but fifteen cents an hour--I have to pay
a woman twenty that comes in. And if she is to give up her chance of
sunlight and fresh air she wants me to pay her extra--by the hour. Or
she says, if I prefer, she would take four hours every other day--and so
be at home half the time. I said it was difficult to arrange--with
baby, and she was very sympathetic and nice, but she won't alter her
"Let her go, and get a less exacting servant."
"But--she does her work so well! And it saves a lot, really. She knows
all about marketing and things, and plans the meals so as to have things
lap, and it's a comfort to have her in the house and feel so safe and
sure everything will be done right."
"Well, it's your province, my dear. I don't profess to advise. But I
assure you I appreciate the table, and the cleanness of everything, and
the rested look in your eyes, dear girl!"
She slipped her hand into his affectionately. "It does make a
difference," she said. "I _could_ get a girl for $20.00 and save nearly
$2.60 a week--but you know what they are!"
"I do indeed," he admitted fervently. "It's worth the money to have
this thing done so well. I think she's right about the wages. Better
"O--she'll only agree to stay six months even at this rate!"
"Well--keep her six months and be thankful. I thought she was too good
They looked over the offered contract again. It closed with:
"This agreement to hold for six months from date if mutually
satisfactory. In case of disagreement two weeks' notice is to be given
on either side, or two weeks' wages if preferred by the employer." It
was dated, and signed "Miss D. C. Bell."
And with inward amusement and great display of penmanship they added
"Mrs. Isabel J. Porne," and the contract was made.
WHAT DIANTHA DID
It's a singular thing that the commonest place
Is the hardest to properly fill;
That the labor imposed on a full half the race
Is so seldom performed with good will--
To say nothing of knowledge or skill!
What we ask of all women, we stare at in one,
And tribute of wonderment bring;
If this task of the million is once fitly done
We all hold our hands up and sing!
It's really a singular thing!
Isabel Porne was a cautious woman, and made no acclaim over her new
acquisition until its value was proven. Her husband also bided his
time; and when congratulated on his improved appearance and air of
contentment, merely vouchsafed that his wife had a new girl who could
To himself he boasted that he had a new wife who could love--so cheerful
and gay grew Mrs. Porne in the changed atmosphere of her home.
"It is remarkable, Edgar," she said, dilating repeatedly on the peculiar
quality of their good fortune. "It's not only good cooking, and good
waiting, and a clean house--cleaner than I ever saw one before; and it's
not only the quietness, and regularity and economy--why the bills have
gone down more than a third!"
"Yes--even I noticed that," he agreed.
"But what I enjoy the most is the _atmosphere,_" she continued. "When I
have to do the work, the house is a perfect nightmare to me!" She
leaned forward from her low stool, her elbows on her knees, her chin in
her hands, and regarded him intently.
"Edgar! You know I love you. And I love my baby--I'm no unfeeling
monster! But I can tell you frankly that if I'd had any idea of what
housework was like I'd never have given up architecture to try it."
"Lucky for me you hadn't!" said he fondly. "I know it's been hard for
you, little girl. I never meant that you should give up
architecture--that's a business a woman could carry on at home I
thought, the designing part anyway. There's your 'drawing-room' and all
"Yes," she said, with reminiscent bitterness, "there they are--and there
they might have stayed, untouched--if Miss Bell hadn't come!"
"Makes you call her "Miss Bell" all the time, does she?"
Mrs. Porne laughed. "Yes. I hated it at first, but she asked if I
could give her any real reason why the cook should be called by her
first name more than the seamstress or governess. I tried to say that
it was shorter, but she smiled and said that in this case it was
longer!--Her name is Diantha--I've seen it on letters. And it is one
syllable longer. Anyhow I've got used to Miss Bell now."
"She gets letters often?"
"Yes--very often--from Topolaya where she came from. I'm afraid she's
engaged." Mrs. Porne sighed ruefully.
"I don't doubt it!" said Mr. Porne. "That would account for her six
months' arrangement! Well, my dear--make hay while the sun shines!"
"I do!" she boasted. "Whole stacks! I've had a seamstress in, and got
all my clothes in order and the baby's. We've had lot of dinner-parties
and teas as you know--all my "social obligations" are cleared off!
We've had your mother for a visit, and mine's coming now--and I wasn't
afraid to have either of them! There's no fault to be found with my
housekeeping now! And there are two things better than that--yes,
"The best thing is to see you look so young and handsome and happy
again," said her husband, with a kiss.
"Yes--that's one. Another is that now I feel so easy and lighthearted I
can love you and baby--as--as I _do!_ Only when I'm tired and
discouraged I can't put my hand on it somehow.
He nodded sympathetically. "I know, dear," he said. "I feel that way
myself--sometimes. What's the other?"
"Why that's best of aIl!" she cried triumphantly. "I can Work again!
When Baby's asleep I get hours at a time; and even when he's awake I've
fixed a place where he can play--and I can draw and plan--just as I used
to--_better_ than I used to!"
"And that is even more to you than loving?" he asked in a quiet
"It's more because it means _both!_" She leaned to him, glowing, "Don't
you see? First I had the work and loved it. Then you came--and I loved
you--better! Then Baby came and I loved him--best? I don't know--you
and baby are all one somehow."
There was a brief interim and then she drew back, blushing richly. "Now
stop--I want to explain. When the housework got to be such a
nightmare--and I looked forward to a whole lifetime of it and _no_
improvement; then I just _ached_ for my work--and couldn't do it! And
then--why sometimes dear, I just wanted to run away! Actually! From
_both_ of you!--you see, I spent five years studying--I was a _real_
architect--and it did hurt to see it go. And now--O now I've got It and
You too, darling! _And_ the Baby!--O I'm so happy!"
"Thanks to the Providential Miss Bell," said he. "If she'll stay I'll
pay her anything!"
The months went by.
Peace, order, comfort, cleanliness and economy reigned in the Porne
household, and the lady of the house blossomed into richer beauty and
happiness; her contentment marred only by a sense of flying time.
Miss Bell fulfilled her carefully specified engagement to the letter;
rested her peaceful hour in the morning; walked and rode in the
afternoon; familiarized herself with the length and breadth of the town;
and visited continuously among the servants of the neighborhood,
establishing a large and friendly acquaintance. If she wore rubber
gloves about the rough work, she paid for them herself; and she washed
and ironed her simple and pretty costumes herself--with the result that
they stayed pretty for surprising periods.
She wrote letters long and loving, to Ross daily; to her mother twice a
week; and by the help of her sister's authority succeeded in maintaining
a fairly competent servant in her deserted place.
"Father was bound he wouldn't," her sister wrote her; "but I stood right
up to him, I can now I'm married!--and Gerald too--that he'd no right to
take it out of mother even if he was mad with you. He made a fuss about
your paying for the girl--but that was only showing off--_he_ couldn't
pay for her just now--that's certain. And she does very well--a good
strong girl, and quite devoted to mother." And then she scolded
furiously about her sister's "working out."
Diantha knew just how hard it was for her mother. She had faced all
sides of the question before deciding.
"Your mother misses you badly, of course," Ross wrote her. "I go in as
often as I can and cheer her up a bit. It's not just the work--she
misses you. By the way--so do I." He expressed his views on her new
Diantha used to cry over her letters quite often. But she would put
them away, dry her eyes, and work on at the plans she was maturing, with
grim courage. "It's hard on them now," she would say to herself. "Its
hard on me--some. But we'll all be better off because of it, and not
only us--but everybody!"
Meanwhile the happy and unhappy households of the fair town buzzed in
comment and grew green with envy.
In social circles and church circles and club circles, as also in
domestic circles, it was noised abroad that Mrs. Edgar Porne had "solved
the servant question." News of this marvel of efficiency and propriety
was discussed in every household, and not only so but in barber-shops
and other downtown meeting places mentioned. Servants gathered it at
dinner-tables; and Diantha, much amused, regathered it from her new
friends among the servants.
Does she keep on just the same?" asked little Mrs. Ree of Mrs. Porne in
an awed whisper.
"Just the same if not better. I don't even order the meals now, unless
I want something especial. She keeps a calendar of what we've had to
eat, and what belongs to the time of year, prices and things. When I
used to ask her to suggest (one does, you know: it is so hard to think
up a variety!), she'd always be ready with an idea, or remind me that we
had had so and so two days before, till I asked her if she'd like to
order, and she said she'd be willing to try, and now I just sit down to
the table without knowing what's going to be there."
"But I should think that would interfere with your sense of freedom,"
said Mrs. Ellen A Dankshire, "A woman should be mistress of her own
"Why I am! I order whenever I specially want anything. But she really
does it more--more scientifically. She has made a study of it. And the
bills are very much lower."
"Well, I think you are the luckiest woman alive!" sighed Mrs. Ree. "I
wish I had her!"
Many a woman wished she had her, and some, calling when they knew Mrs.
Porne was out, or descending into their own kitchens of an evening when
the strange Miss Bell was visiting "the help," made flattering
propositions to her to come to them. She was perfectly polite and
agreeable in manner, but refused all blandishments.
"What are you getting at your present place--if I may ask?" loftily
inquired the great Mrs. Thaddler, ponderous and beaded.
"There is surely no objection to your asking, madam," she replied
politely. "Mrs. Porne will not mind telling you, I am sure."
"Hm!" said the patronizing visitor, regarding her through her lorgnette.
"Very good. Whatever it is I'll double it. When can you come?"
"My engagement with Mrs. Porne is for six months," Diantha answered,
"and I do not wish to close with anyone else until that time is up.
Thank you for your offer just the same."
"Peculiarly offensive young person!" said Mrs. Thaddler to her husband.
"Looks to me like one of these literary imposters. Mrs. Porne will
probably appear in the magazines before long."
Mr. Thaddler instantly conceived a liking for the young person, "sight
Diantha acquired quite a list of offers; places open to her as soon as
she was free; at prices from her present seven dollars up to the
"Fourteen dollars a week and found!--that's not so bad," she meditated.
"That would mean over $650 clear in a year! It's a wonder to me girls
don't try it long enough to get a start at something else. With even
two or three hundred ahead--and an outfit--it would be easier to make
good in a store or any other way. Well--I have other fish to fry!"
So she pursued her way; and, with Mrs. Porne's permission--held a sort
of girl's club in her spotless kitchen one evening a week during the
last three months of her engagement. It was a "Study and Amusement
Club." She gave them short and interesting lessons in arithmetic, in
simple dressmaking, in easy and thorough methods of housework. She gave
them lists of books, referred them to articles in magazines, insidiously
taught them to use the Public Library.
They played pleasant games in the second hour, and grew well acquainted.
To the eye or ear of any casual visitor it was the simplest and most
natural affair, calculated to "elevate labor" and to make home happy.
Diantha studied and observed. They brought her their poor confidences,
painfully similar. Always poverty--or they would not be there. Always
ignorance, or they would not stay there. Then either incompetence in
the work, or inability to hold their little earnings--or both; and
further the Tale of the Other Side--the exactions and restrictions of
the untrained mistresses they served; cases of withheld wages; cases of
endless requirements; cases of most arbitrary interference with their
receiving friends and "followers," or going out; and cases, common
enough to be horrible, of insult they could only escape by leaving.
"It's no wages, of course--and no recommendation, when you leave like
that--but what else can a girl do, if she's honest?"
So Diantha learned, made friends and laid broad foundations.
The excellence of her cocking was known to many, thanks to the weekly
"entertainments." No one refused. No one regretted acceptance. Never
had Mrs. Porne enjoyed such a sense of social importance.
All the people she ever knew called on her afresh, and people she never
knew called on her even more freshly. Not that she was directly
responsible for it. She had not triumphed cruelly over her less happy
friends; nor had she cried aloud on the street corners concerning her
good fortune. It was not her fault, nor, in truth anyone's. But in a
community where the "servant question" is even more vexed than in the
country at large, where the local product is quite unequal to the
demand, and where distance makes importation an expensive matter, the
fact of one woman's having, as it appeared, settled this vexed question,
was enough to give her prominence.
Mrs. Ellen A. Dankshire, President of the Orchardina Home and Culture
Club, took up the matter seriously.
"Now Mrs. Porne," said she, settling herself vigorously into a
comfortable chair, "I just want to talk the matter over with you, with a
view to the club. We do not know how long this will last--"
"Don't speak of it!" said Mrs. Porne.
"--and it behooves us to study the facts while we have them."
"So much is involved!" said little Mrs. Ree, the Corresponding
Secretary, lifting her pale earnest face with the perplexed fine lines
in it. "We are all so truly convinced of the sacredness of the home
"Well, what do you want me to do?" asked their hostess.
"We must have that remarkable young woman address our club!" Mrs.
Dankshire announced. "It is one case in a thousand, and must be
"So noble of her!" said Mrs. Ree. "You say she was really a
school-teacher? Mrs. Thaddler has put it about that she is one of these
dreadful writing persons--in disguise!"
"O no," said Mrs. Porne. "She is perfectly straightforward about it,
and had the best of recommendations. She was a teacher, but it didn't
agree with her health, I believe."
"Perhaps there is a story to it!" Mrs. Ree advanced; but Mrs. Dankshire
disagreed with her flatly.
"The young woman has a theory, I believe, and she is working it out. I
respect her for it. Now what we want to ask you, Mrs. Porne, is this:
do you think it would make any trouble for you--in the household
relations, you know--if we ask her to read a paper to the Club? Of
course we do not wish to interfere, but it is a remarkable
opportunity--very. You know the fine work Miss Lucy Salmon has done on
this subject; and Miss Frances Kellor. You know how little data we
have, and how great, how serious, a question it is daily becoming! Now
here is a young woman of brains and culture who has apparently grappled
with the question; her example and influence must not be lost! We must
hear from her. The public must know of this."
"Such an ennobling example!" murmured Mrs. Ree. "It might lead numbers
of other school-teachers to see the higher side of the home duties!"
"Furthermore," pursued Mrs. Dankshire, "this has occured to me. Would
it not be well to have our ladies bring with them to the meeting the
more intelligent of their servants; that they might hear and see
the--the dignity of household labor--so ably set forth?
"Isn't it--wouldn't that be a--an almost dangerous experiment?" urged
Mrs. Ree; her high narrow forehead fairly creped with little wrinkles:
"She might--say something, you know, that they might--take advantage
"Nonsense, my dear!" replied Mrs. Dankshire. She was very fond of Mrs.
Ree, but had small respect for her judgment. "What could she say? Look
at what she does! And how beautifully--how perfectly--she does it! I
would wager now--_may_ I try an experiment Mrs. Porne?" and she stood
up, taking out her handkerchief.
"Certainly," said Mrs. Porne, "with pleasure! You won't find any!"
Mrs. Dankshire climbed heavily upon a carefully selected chair and
passed her large clean plain-hemmed handkerchief across the top of a
"I knew it!" she proclaimed proudly from her eminence, and showed the
cloth still white. "That," she continued in ponderous descent, "that is
Knowledge, Ability and Conscience!"
"I don't see how she gets the time!" breathed Mrs. Ree, shaking her head
in awed amazement, and reflecting that she would not dare trust Mrs.
Dankshire's handkerchief on her picture tops.
"We must have her address the Club," the president repeated. "It will
do worlds of good. Let me see--a paper on--we might say 'On the True
Nature of Domestic Industry.' How does that strike you, Mrs. Ree?"
"Admirable!" said Mrs. Ree. "So strong! so succinct."
"That certainly covers the subject," said Mrs. Porne. "Why don't you
"We will. We have come for that purpose. But we felt it right to ask
you about it first," said Mrs. Dankshire.
"Why I have no control over Miss Bell's movements, outside of working
hours," answered Mrs. Porne. "And I don't see that it would make any
difference to our relations. She is a very self-poised young woman, but
extremely easy to get along with. And I'm sure she could write a
splendid paper. You'd better ask her, I think."
"Would you call her in?" asked Mrs. Dankshire, "or shall we go out to
"Come right out; I'd like you to see how beautifully she keeps
The kitchen was as clean as the parlor; and as prettily arranged. Miss
Bell was making her preparation for lunch, and stopped to receive the
visitors with a serenely civil air--as of a country store-keeper.
"I am very glad to meet you, Miss Bell, very glad indeed," said Mrs.
Dankshire, shaking hands with her warmly. "We have at heard so much of
your beautiful work here, and we admire your attitude! Now would you be
willing to give a paper--or a talk--to our club, the Home and Culture
Club, some Wednesday, on The True Nature of Domestic Industry?"
Mrs. Ree took Miss Bell's hand with something of the air of a Boston
maiden accosting a saint from Hindoostan. "If you only would!" she
said. "I am sure it would shed light on this great subject!"
Miss Bell smiled at them both and looked at Mrs. Porne inquiringly.
"I should be delighted to have you do it," said her employer. "I know
it would be very useful."
"Is there any date set?" asked Miss Bell.
"Any Wednesday after February," said Mrs. Dankshire.
"Well--I will come on the first Wednesday in April. If anything should
happen to prevent I will let you know in good season, and if you should
wish to postpone or alter the program--should think better of the
idea--just send me word. I shall not mind in the least."
They went away quite jubilant, Miss Bell's acceptance was announced
officially at the next club-meeting, and the Home and Culture Club felt
that it was fulfilling its mission.
WHAT DIANTHA DID
HERESY AND SCHISM.
You may talk about religion with a free and open mind,
For ten dollars you may criticize a judge;
You may discuss in politics the newest thing you find,
And open scientific truth to all the deaf and blind,
But there's one place where the brain must never budge!
Oh, the Home is Utterly Perfect!
And all its works within!
To say a word about it--
To criticize or doubt it--
To seek to mend or move it--
To venture to improve it--
Is The Unpardonable Sin!
Mr. Porne took an afternoon off and came with his wife to hear their
former housemaid lecture. As many other men as were able did the same.
All the members not bedridden were present, and nearly all the guests
they had invited.
So many were the acceptances that a downtown hall had been taken; the
floor was more than filled, and in the gallery sat a block of servant
girls, more gorgeous in array than the ladies below whispering excitedly
among themselves. The platform recalled a "tournament of roses," and,
sternly important among all that fragrant loveliness, sat Mrs. Dankshire
in "the chair" flanked by Miss Torbus, the Recording Secretary, Miss
Massing, the Treasurer, and Mrs. Ree, tremulous with importance in her
official position. All these ladies wore an air of high emprise, even
more intense than that with which they usually essayed their public
duties. They were richly dressed, except Miss Torbus, who came as near
it as she could.
At the side, and somewhat in the rear of the President, on a chair quite
different from "the chair," discreetly gowned and of a bafflingly serene
demeanor, sat Miss Bell. All eyes were upon her--even some opera
"She's a good-looker anyhow," was one masculine opinion.
"She's a peach," was another, "Tell you--the chap that gets her is well
heeled!" said a third.
The ladies bent their hats toward one another and conferred in flowing
whispers; and in the gallery eager confidences were exchanged, with
On the small table before Mrs. Dankshire, shaded by a magnificent bunch
of roses, lay that core and crux of all parliamentry dignity, the gavel;
an instrument no self-respecting chairwoman may be without; yet which
she still approaches with respectful uncertainty.
In spite of its large size and high social standing, the Orchardina Home
and Culture Club contained some elements of unrest, and when the yearly
election of officers came round there was always need for careful work
in practical politics to keep the reins of government in the hands of
"the right people."
Mrs. Thaddler, conscious of her New York millions, and Madam
Weatherstone, conscious of her Philadelphia lineage, with Mrs. Johnston
A. Marrow ("one of the Boston Marrows!" was awesomely whispered of her),
were the heads of what might be called "the conservative party" in this
small parliament; while Miss Miranda L. Eagerson, describing herself as
'a journalist,' who held her place in local society largely by virtue of
the tacit dread of what she might do if offended--led the more radical
Most of the members were quite content to follow the lead of the solidly
established ladies of Orchard Avenue; especially as this leadership
consisted mainly in the pursuance of a masterly inactivity. When wealth
and aristocracy combine with that common inertia which we dignify as
"conservatism" they exert a powerful influence in the great art of
Nevertheless there were many alert and conscientious women in this large
membership, and when Miss Eagerson held the floor, and urged upon the
club some active assistance in the march of events, it needed all Mrs.
Dankshire's generalship to keep them content with marking time.
On this auspicious occasion, however, both sides were agreed in interest
and approval. Here was a subject appealing to every woman present, and
every man but such few as merely "boarded"; even they had memories and
hopes concerning this question.
Solemnly rose Mrs. Dankshire, her full silks rustling about her, and let
one clear tap of the gavel fall into the sea of soft whispering and
In the silence that followed she uttered the momentous announcements:
"The meeting will please come to order," "We will now hear the reading
of the minutes of the last meeting," and so on most conscientiously
through officer's reports and committees reports to "new business."
Perhaps it is their more frequent practice of religious rites, perhaps
their devout acceptance of social rulings and the dictates of fashion,
perhaps the lifelong reiterance of small duties at home, or all these
things together, which makes women so seriously letter-perfect in
parliamentry usage. But these stately ceremonies were ended in course
of time, and Mrs. Dankshire rose again, even more solemn than before,
and came forward majestically.
"Members---and guests," she said impressively, "this is an occasion
which brings pride to the heart of every member of the Home and Culture
Club. As our name implies, this Club is formed to serve the interests
of The Home--those interests which stand first, I trust, in every human
A telling pause, and the light patter of gloved hands.
"Its second purpose," pursued the speaker, with that measured delivery
which showed that her custom, as one member put it, was to "first write
and then commit," "is to promote the cause of Culture in this community.
Our aim is Culture in the broadest sense, not only in the curricula of
institutions of learning, not only in those spreading branches of study
and research which tempts us on from height to height"--("proof of
arboreal ancestry that," Miss Eagerson confided to a friend, whose
choked giggle attracted condemning eyes)--"but in the more intimate
fields of daily experience."
"Most of us, however widely interested in the higher education, are
still--and find in this our highest honor--wives and mothers." These
novel titles called forth another round of applause.
"As such," continued Mrs. Dankshire, "we all recognize the
difficult--the well-nigh insuperable problems of the"--she glanced at
the gallery now paying awed attention--"domestic question."
"We know how on the one hand our homes yawn unattended"--("I yawn while
I'm attending--eh?" one gentleman in the rear suggested to his
neighbor)--while on the other the ranks of mercenary labor are
overcrowded. Why is it that while the peace and beauty, the security
and comfort, of a good home, with easy labor and high pay, are open to
every young woman, whose circumstances oblige her to toil for her
living, she blindly refuses these true advantages and loses her health
and too often what is far more precious!--in the din and tumult of the
factory, or the dangerous exposure of the public counter."
Madam Weatherstone was much impressed at this point, and beat her black
fan upon her black glove emphatically. Mrs. Thaddler also nodded; which
meant a good deal from her. The applause was most gratifying to the
speaker, who continued:
"Fortunately for the world there are some women yet who appreciate the
true values of life." A faint blush crept slowly up the face of
Diantha, but her expression was unchanged. Whoso had met and managed a
roomful of merciless children can easily face a woman's club.
"We have with us on this occasion one, as we my say, our equal in birth
and breeding,"--Madam Weatherstone here looked painfully shocked as also
did the Boston Marrow; possibly Mrs. Dankshire, whose parents were Iowa
farmers, was not unmindful of this, but she went on smoothly, "and whose
first employment was the honored task of the teacher; who has
deliberately cast her lot with the domestic worker, and brought her
trained intelligence to bear upon the solution of this great
question--The True Nature of Domestic Service. In the interests of this
problem she has consented to address us--I take pleasure in introducing
Miss Diantha Bell."
Diantha rose calmly, stepped forward, bowed to the President and
officers, and to the audience. She stood quietly for a moment,
regarding the faces before her, and produced a typewritten paper. It
was clear, short, and to some minds convincing.
She set forth that the term "domestic industry" did not define certain
kinds of labor, but a stage of labor; that all labor was originally
domestic; but that most kinds had now become social, as with weaving and
spinning, for instance, for centuries confined to the home and done by
women only; now done in mills by men and women; that this process of
socialization has now been taken from the home almost all the
manufactures--as of wine, beer, soap, candles, pickles and other
specialties, and part of the laundry work; that the other processes of
cleaning are also being socialized, as by the vacuum cleaners, the
professional window-washers, rug cleaners, and similar professional
workers; and that even in the preparation of food many kinds are now
specialized, as by the baker and confectioner. That in service itself
we were now able to hire by the hour or day skilled workers necessarily
above the level of the "general."
A growing rustle of disapproval began to make itself felt, which
increased as she went on to explain how the position of the housemaid is
a survival of the ancient status of woman slavery, the family with the
male head and the group of servile women.
"The keynote of all our difficulty in this relation is that we demand
celibacy of our domestic servants," said Diantha.
A murmur arose at this statement, but she continued calmly:
"Since it is natural for women to marry, the result is that our domestic
servants consist of a constantly changing series of young girls,
apprentices, as it were; and the complicated and important duties of the
household cannot be fully mastered by such hands."
The audience disapproved somewhat of this, but more of what followed.
She showed (Mrs. Porne nodding her head amusedly), that so far from
being highly paid and easy labor, house service was exacting and
responsible, involving a high degree of skill as well as moral
character, and that it was paid less than ordinary unskilled labor, part
of this payment being primitive barter.
Then, as whispers and sporadic little spurts of angry talk increased,
the clear quiet voice went on to state that this last matter, the
position of a strange young girl in our homes, was of itself a source of
much of the difficulty of the situation.
"We speak of giving them the safety and shelter of the home,"--here
Diantha grew solemn;--"So far from sharing our homes, she gives up her
own, and has none of ours, but the poorest of our food and a cramped
lodging; she has neither the freedom nor the privileges of a home; and
as to shelter and safety--the domestic worker, owing to her peculiarly
defenceless position, furnishes a terrible percentage of the
A shocked silence met this statement.
"In England shop-workers complain of the old custom of 'sleeping
in'--their employers furnishing them with lodging as part payment; this
also is a survival of the old apprentice method. With us, only the
domestic servant is held to this antiquated position."
Regardless of the chill displeasure about her she cheerfully pursued:
"Let us now consider the economic side of the question. 'Domestic
economy' is a favorite phrase. As a matter of fact our method of
domestic service is inordinately wasteful. Even where the wife does all
the housework, without pay, we still waste labor to an enormous extent,
requiring one whole woman to wait upon each man. If the man hires one
or more servants, the wastes increase. If one hundred men undertake
some common business, they do not divide in two halves, each man having
another man to serve him--fifty productive laborers, and fifty cooks.
Two or three cooks could provide for the whole group; to use fifty is to
waste 47 per cent. of the labor.
"But our waste of labor is as nothing to our waste of money. For, say
twenty families, we have twenty kitchens with all their furnishings,
twenty stoves with all their fuel; twenty cooks with all their wages; in
cash and barter combined we pay about ten dollars a week for our
cooks--$200 a week to pay for the cooking for twenty families, for about
a hundred persons!
"Three expert cooks, one at $20 a week and two at $15 would save to
those twenty families $150 a week and give them better food. The cost
of kitchen furnishings and fuel, could be reduced by nine-tenths; and
beyond all that comes our incredible waste in individual purchasing.
What twenty families spend on individual patronage of small retailers,
could be reduced by more than half if bought by competent persons in
wholesale quantities. Moreover, our whole food supply would rise in
quality as well as lower in price if it was bought by experts.
"To what does all this lead?" asked Diantha pleasantly.
Nobody said anything, but the visible attitude of the house seemed to
say that it led straight to perdition.
"The solution for which so many are looking is no new scheme of any
sort; and in particular it is not that oft repeated fore-doomed failure
called "co-operative housekeeping."
At this a wave of relief spread perceptibly. The irritation roused by
those preposterous figures and accusations was somewhat allayed. Hope
was relit in darkened countenances.
"The inefficiency of a dozen tottering households is not removed by
combining them," said Diantha. This was of dubious import. "Why should
we expect a group of families to "keep house" expertly and economically
together, when they are driven into companionship by the fact that none
of them can do it alone."
Again an uncertain reception.
"Every family is a distinct unit," the girl continued. "Its needs are
separate and should be met separately. The separate house and garden
should belong to each family, the freedom and group privacy of the home.
But the separate home may be served by a common water company, by a
common milkman, by a common baker, by a common cooking and a common
cleaning establishment. We are rapidly approaching an improved system
of living in which the private home will no more want a cookshop on the
premises than a blacksmith's shop or soap-factory. The necessary work
of the kitchenless house will be done by the hour, with skilled labor;
and we shall order our food cooked instead of raw. This will give to
the employees a respectable well-paid profession, with their own homes
and families; and to the employers a saving of about two-thirds of the
expense of living, as well as an end of all our difficulties with the
servant question. That is the way to elevate--to enoble domestic
service. It must cease to be domestic service--and become world
Suddenly and quietly she sat down.
Miss Eagerson was on her feet. So were others.
"Madam President! Madam President!" resounded from several points at
once. Madam Weatherstone--Mrs. Thaddler--no! yes--they really were both
on their feet. Applause was going on--irregularly--soon dropped. Only,
from the group in the gallery it was whole-hearted and consistent.
Mrs. Dankshire, who had been growing red and redder as the paper
advanced, who had conferred in alarmed whispers with Mrs. Ree, and Miss
Massing, who had even been seen to extend her hand to the gavel and
finger it threateningly, now rose, somewhat precipitately, and came
"Order, please! You will please keep order. You have heard the--we
will now--the meeting is now open for discussion, Mrs. Thaddler!" And
she sat down. She meant to have said Madam Weatherstone, by Mrs.
Thaddler was more aggressive.
"I wish to say," said that much beaded lady in a loud voice, "that I was
against this--unfortunate experiment--from the first. And I trust it
will never be repeated!" She sat down.
Two tight little dimples flickered for an instant about the corners of
"Madam Weatherstone?" said the President, placatingly.
Madam Weatherstone arose, rather sulkily, and looked about her. An
agitated assembly met her eye, buzzing universally each to each.
"Order!" said Mrs. Dankshire, "ORDER, please!" and rapped three times
with the gavel.
"I have attended many meetings, in many clubs, in many states," said
Madam Weatherstone, "and have heard much that was foolish, and some
things that were dangerous. But I will say that never in the course of
all my experience have I heard anything so foolish and so dangerous, as
this. I trust that the--doubtless well meant--attempt to throw light on
this subject--from the wrong quarter--has been a lesson to us all. No
club could survive more than one such lamentable mistake!" And she sat
down, gathering her large satin wrap about her like a retiring Caesar.
"Madam President!" broke forth Miss Eagerson. "I was up first--and have
been standing ever since--"
"One moment, Miss Eagerson," said Mrs. Dankshire superbly, "The Rev. Dr.
If Mrs. Dankshire supposed she was still further supporting the cause of
condemnation she made a painful mistake. The cloth and the fine bearing
of the young clergyman deceived her; and she forgot that he was said to
be "advanced" and was new to the place.
"Will you come to the platform, Dr. Eltwood?"
Dr. Eltwood came to the platform with the easy air of one to whom
platforms belonged by right.
"Ladies," he began in tones of cordial good will, "both employer and
employed!--and gentlemen--whom I am delighted to see here to-day! I am
grateful for the opportunity so graciously extended to me"--he bowed six
feet of black broadcloth toward Mrs. Dankshire--"by your honored
"And I am grateful for the opportunity previously enjoyed, of listening
to the most rational, practical, wise, true and hopeful words I have
ever heard on this subject. I trust there will be enough open-minded
women--and men--in Orchardina to make possible among us that higher
business development of a great art which has been so convincingly laid
before us. This club is deserving of all thanks from the community for
extending to so many the privilege of listening to our valued
He bowed again--to Miss Bell--and to Mrs. Dankshire, and resumed his
seat, Miss Eagerson taking advantage of the dazed pause to occupy the
"Mr. Eltwood is right!" she said. "Miss Bell is right! This is the
true presentation of the subject, 'by one who knows.' Miss Bell has
pricked our pretty bubble so thoroughly that we don't know where we're
standing--but she knows! Housework is a business--like any other
business--I've always said so, and it's got to be done in a business
way. Now I for one--" but Miss Eagerson was rapped down by the
Presidential gavel; as Mrs. Thaddler, portentous and severe, stalked
"It is not my habit to make public speeches," she began, "nor my desire;
but this is a time when prompt and decisive action needs to be taken.
This Club cannot afford to countenance any such farrago of mischievous
nonsense as we have heard to-day. I move you, Madam President, that a
resolution of condemnation be passed at once; and the meeting then
She stalked back again, while Mrs. Marrow of Boston, in clear, cold
tones seconded the motion.
But another voice was heard--for the first time in that assembly--Mrs.
Weatherstone, the pretty, delicate widower daughter-in-law of Madam
Weatherstone, was on her feet with "Madam President! I wish to speak to
"Won't you come to the platform, Mrs. Weatherstone?" asked Mrs.
Dankshire graciously, and the little lady came, visibly trembling, but
holding her head high.
All sat silent, all expected--what was not forthcoming.
"I wish to protest, as a member of the Club, and as a woman, against the
gross discourtesy which has been offered to the guest and speaker of the
day. In answer to our invitation Miss Bell has given us a scholarly and
interesting paper, and I move that we extend her a vote of thanks."
"I second the motion," came from all quarters.
"There is another motion before the house," from others.
Cries of "Madam President" arose everywhere, many speakers were on their
feet. Mrs. Dankshire tapped frantically with the little gavel, but Miss
Eagerson, by sheer vocal power, took and held the floor.
"I move that we take a vote on this question," she cried in piercing
tones. "Let every woman who knows enough to appreciate Miss Bell's
paper--and has any sense of decency--stand up!"
Quite a large proportion of the audience stood up--very informally.
Those who did not, did not mean to acknowledge lack of intelligence and
sense of decency, but to express emphatic disapproval of Miss Eagerson,
Miss Bell and their views.
"I move you, Madam President," cried Mrs. Thaddler, at the top of her
voice, "that every member who is guilty of such grossly unparlimentary
conduct be hereby dropped from this Club!"
"We hereby resign!" cried Miss Eagerson. "_We_ drop _you!_ We'll have
a New Woman's Club in Orchardina with some warmth in its heart and some
brains in its head--even if it hasn't as much money in its pocket!"
Amid stern rappings, hissings, cries of "Order--order," and frantic
"Motions to adjourn" the meeting broke up; the club elements dissolving
and reforming into two bodies as by some swift chemical reaction.
Great was the rejoicing of the daily press; some amusement was felt,
though courteously suppressed by the men present, and by many not
present, when they heard of it.
Some ladies were so shocked and grieved as to withdraw from club-life
altogether. Others, in stern dignity, upheld the shaken standards of
Home and Culture; while the most conspicuous outcome of it all was the
immediate formation of the New Woman's Club of Orchardina.
WHAT DIANTHA DID
Behind the straight purple backs and smooth purple legs on the box
before them, Madam Weatherstone and Mrs. Weatherstone rolled home
silently, a silence of thunderous portent. Another purple person opened
the door for them, and when Madam Weatherstone said, "We will have tea
on the terrace," it was brought them by a fourth.
"I was astonished at your attitude, Viva," began the old lady, at
length. "Of course it was Mrs. Dankshire's fault in the first place,
but to encourage that,--outrageous person! How could you do it!"
Young Mrs. Weatherstone emptied her exquisite cup and set it down.
"A sudden access of courage, I suppose," she said. "I was astonished at
"I wholly disagree with you!" replied her mother-in-law. "Never in my
life have I heard such nonsense. Talk like that would be dangerous, if
it were not absurd! It would destroy the home! It would strike at the
roots of the family."
Viva eyed her quietly, trying to bear in mind the weight of a tradition,
the habits of a lifetime, the effect of long years of uninterrupted
worship of household gods.
"It doesn't seem so to me," she said slowly, "I was much interested and
impressed. She is evidently a young woman of knowledge and experience,
and put her case well. It has quite waked me up."
"It has quite upset you!" was the reply. "You'll be ill after this, I
am sure. Hadn't you better go and lie down now? I'll have some dinner
sent to you."
"Thank you," said Viva, rising and walking to the edge of the broad
terrace. "You are very kind. No. I do not wish to lie down. I
haven't felt so thoroughly awake in--" she drew a pink cluster of
oleander against her cheek and thought a moment--"in several years."
There was a new look about her certainly.
"Nervous excitement," her mother-in-law replied. "You're not like
yourself at all to-night. You'll certainly be ill to-morrow!"
Viva turned at this and again astonished the old lady by serenely
kissing her. "Not at all!" she said gaily. "I'm going to be well
to-morrow. You will see!"
She went to her room, drew a chair to the wide west window with the far
off view and sat herself down to think. Diantha's assured poise, her
clear reasoning, her courage, her common sense; and something of
tenderness and consecration she discerned also, had touched deep chords
in this woman's nature. It was like the sound of far doors opening,
windows thrown up, the jingle of bridles and clatter of hoofs, keen
bugle notes. A sense of hope, of power, of new enthusiasm, rose in her.
Orchardina Society, eagerly observing "young Mrs. Weatherstone" from her
first appearance, had always classified her as "delicate." Beside the
firm features and high color of the matron-in-office, this pale quiet
slender woman looked like a meek and transient visitor. But her white
forehead was broad under its soft-hanging eaves of hair, and her chin,
though lacking in prognathous prominence or bull-dog breadth, had a
certain depth which gave hope to the physiognomist.
She was strangely roused and stirred by the afternoon's events. "I'm
like that man in 'Phantastes'," she thought contemptuously, "who stayed
so long in that dungeon because it didn't occur to him to open the door!
Why don't I--?" she rose and walked slowly up and down, her hands
behind her. "I will!" she said at last.
Then she dressed for dinner, revolving in her mind certain suspicions
long suppressed, but now flaming out in clear conviction in the light of
Diantha's words. "Sleeping in, indeed!" she murmured to herself. "And
nobody doing anything!"
She looked herself in the eye in the long mirror. Her gown was an
impressive one, her hair coiled high, a gold band ringed it like a
crown. A clear red lit her checks.
She rang. Little Ilda, the newest maid, appeared, gazing at her in shy
admiration. Mrs. Weatherstone looked at her with new eyes. "Have you
been here long?" she asked. "What is your name?"
"No, ma'am," said the child--she was scarce more. "Only a week and two
days. My name is Ilda."
"Who engaged you?"
"Mrs. Halsey, ma'am."
"Ah," said Mrs. Weatherstone, musing to herself, "and I engaged Mrs.
Halsey!" "Do you like it here?" she continued kindly.
"Oh yes, ma'am!" said Ilda. "That is--" she stopped, blushed, and
continued bravely. "I like to work for you, ma'am."
"Thank you, Ilda. Will you ask Mrs. Halsey to come to me--at once,
Ilda went, more impressed than ever with the desirability of her new
place, and mistress.
As she was about to pass the door of Mr. Matthew Weatherstone, that
young gentleman stepped out and intercepted her. "Whither away so fast,
my dear?" he amiably inquired.
"Please let one pass, sir! I'm on an errand. Please, sir?"
"You must give me a kiss first!" said he--and since there seemed no
escape and she was in haste, she submitted. He took six--and she ran
away half crying.
Mrs. Halsey, little accustomed to take orders from her real mistress,
and resting comfortably in her room, had half a mind to send an excuse.
"I'm not dressed," she said to the maid.
"Well she is!" replied Ilda, "dressed splendid. She said 'at once,
"A pretty time o' day!" said the housekeeper with some asperity, hastily
buttoning her gown; and she presently appeared, somewhat heated, before
That lady was sitting, cool and gracious, her long ivory paper-cutter
between the pages of a new magazine.
"In how short a time could you pack, Mrs. Halsey?" she inquired.
"Pack, ma'am? I'm not accustomed to doing packing. I'll send one of
the maids. Is it your things, ma'am?"
"No," said Mrs. Weatherstone. "It is yours I refer to. I wish you to
pack your things and leave the house--in an hour. One of the maids can
help you, if necessary. Anything you cannot take can be sent after you.
Here is a check for the following month's wages."
Mrs. Halsey was nearly a head taller than her employer, a stout showy
woman, handsome enough, red-lipped, and with a moist and crafty eye.
This was so sudden a misadventure that she forgot her usual caution.
"You've no right to turn me off in a minute like this!" she burst forth.
"I'll leave it to Madam Weatherstone!"
"If you will look at the terms on which I engaged you, Mrs. Halsey, you
will find that a month's warning, or a month's wages, was specified.
Here are the wages--as to the warning, that has been given for some
"By whom, Ma'am?"
"By yourself, Mrs. Halsey--I think you understand me. Oscar will take
your things as soon as they are ready."
Mrs. Halsey met her steady eye a moment--saw more than she cared to
face--and left the room.
She took care, however, to carry some letters to Madam Weatherstone, and
meekly announced her discharge; also, by some coincidence, she met Mr.
Matthew in the hall upstairs, and weepingly confided her grievance to
him, meeting immediate consolation, both sentimental and practical.
When hurried servants were sent to find their young mistress they
reported that she must have gone out, and in truth she had; out on her
own roof, where she sat quite still, though shivering a little now and
then from the new excitement, until dinner time.
This meal, in the mind of Madam Weatherstone, was the crowning factor of
daily life; and, on state occasions, of social life. In her cosmogony
the central sun was a round mahogany table; all other details of
housekeeping revolved about it in varying orbits. To serve an endless
series of dignified delicious meals, notably dinners, was, in her eyes,
the chief end of woman; the most high purpose of the home.
Therefore, though angry and astounded, she appeared promptly when the
meal was announced; and when her daughter-in-law, serene and royally
attired, took her place as usual, no emotion was allowed to appear
before the purple footman who attended.
"I understood you were out, Viva," she said politely.
"I was," replied Viva, with equal decorum. "It is charming outside at
this time in the evening--don't you think so?"
Young Matthew was gloomy and irritable throughout the length and breadth
of the meal; and when they were left with their coffee in the drawing
room, he broke out, "What's this I hear about Mrs. Halsey being fired
"That is what I wish to know, Viva," said the grandmother. "The poor
woman is greatly distressed. Is there not some mistake?"
"It's a damn shame," said Matthew.
The younger lady glanced from one to the other, and wondered to see how
little she minded it. "The door was there all the time!" she thought to
herself, as she looked her stepson in the eye and said, "Hardly
drawing-room language, Matthew. Your grandmother is present!"
He stared at her in dumb amazement, so she went on, "No, there is no
mistake at all. I discharged Mrs. Halsey about an hour before dinner.
The terms of the engagement were a month's warning or a month's wages.
I gave her the wages."
"But! but!" Madam Weatherstone was genuinely confused by this sudden
inexplicable, yet perfectly polite piece of what she still felt to be in
the nature of 'interference' and 'presumption.' "I have had no fault to
find with her."
"I have, you see," said her daughter-in-law smiling. "I found her
unsatisfactory and shall replace her with something better presently.
How about a little music, Matthew? Won't you start the victrolla?"
Matthew wouldn't. He was going out; went out with the word. Madam
Weatherstone didn't wish to hear it--had a headache--must go to her
room--went to her room forthwith. There was a tension in the
athmosphere that would have wrung tears from Viva Weatherstone a week
ago, yes, twenty-four hours ago.
As it was she rose to her feet, stretching herself to her full height,
and walked the length of the great empty room. She even laughed a
little. "It's open!" said she, and ordered the car. While waiting for
it she chatted with Mrs. Porne awhile over the all-convenient telephone.
Diantha sat at her window, watching the big soft, brilliant moon behind
the eucalyptus trees. After the close of the strenuous meeting, she had
withdrawn from the crowd of excited women anxious to shake her hand and
engage her on the spot, had asked time to consider a number of good
opportunities offered, and had survived the cold and angry glances of
the now smaller but far more united Home and Culture Club. She declined
to talk to the reporters, and took refuge first in an open car. This
proved very unsatisfactory, owing to her sudden prominence. Two
persistent newspaper men swung themselves upon the car also and insisted
on addressing her.
"Excuse me, gentlemen," she said, "I am not acquainted with you."
They eagerly produced their cards--and said they were "newspaper men."
"I see," said Diantha, "But you are still men? And gentlemen, I
suppose? I am a woman, and I do not wish to talk with you."
"Miss Bell Declines to Be Interviewed," wrote the reporters, and spent
themselves on her personal appearance, being favorably impressed
But Miss Bell got off at the next corner and took a short cut to the
house where she had rented a room. Reporters were waiting there, two
Diantha politely but firmly declined to see them and started for the
stairs; but they merely stood in front of her and asked questions. The
girl's blood surged to her cheeks; she smiled grimly, kept absolute
silence, brushed through them and went swiftly to her room, locking the
door after her.
The reporters described her appearance--unfavorably this time; and they
described the house--also unfavorably. They said that "A group of
adoring-eyed young men stood about the doorway as the flushed heroine of
the afternoon made her brusque entrance." These adorers consisted of
the landlady's Johnny, aged thirteen, and two satellites of his, still
younger. They _did_ look at Diantha admiringly; and she _was_ a little
hurried in her entrance--truth must be maintained.
Too irritated and tired to go out for dinner, she ate an orange or two,
lay down awhile, and then eased her mind by writing a long letter to
Ross and telling him all about it. That is, she told him most of it,
all the pleasant things, all the funny things; leaving out about the
reporters, because she was too angry to be just, she told herself. She
wrote and wrote, becoming peaceful as the quiet moments passed, and a
sense grew upon her of the strong, lasting love that was waiting so
"Dearest," her swift pen flew along, "I really feel much encouraged. An
impression has been made. One or two men spoke to me afterward; the
young minister, who said such nice things; and one older man, who looked
prosperous and reliable. 'When you begin any such business as you have
outlined, you may count on me, Miss Bell,' he said, and gave me his
card. He's a lawyer--P. L. Wiscomb; nice man, I should think. Another
big, sheepish-looking man said, 'And me, Miss Bell.' His name is
Thaddler; his wife is very disagreeable. Some of the women are
favorably impressed, but the old-fashioned kind--my! 'If hate killed
men, Brother Lawrence!'--but it don't."
She wrote herself into a good humor, and dwelt at considerable length on
the pleasant episode of the minister and young Mrs. Weatherstone's
remarks. "I liked her," she wrote. "She's a nice woman--even if she is
There was a knock at her door. "Lady to see you, Miss."
"I cannot see anyone," said Diantha; "you must excuse me."
"Beg pardon, Miss, but it's not a reporter; it's--." The landlady
stretched her lean neck around the door edge and whispered hoarsely,
"It's young Mrs. Weatherstone!"
Diantha rose to her feet, a little bewildered. "I'll be right down,"
she said. But a voice broke in from the hall, "I beg your pardon, Miss
Bell, but I took the liberty of coming up; may I come in?"
She came in, and the landlady perforce went out. Mrs. Weatherstone held
Diantha's hand warmly, and looked into her eyes. "I was a schoolmate of
Ellen Porne," she told the girl. "We are dear friends still; and so I
feel that I know you better than you think. You have done beautiful
work for Mrs. Porne; now I want you to do to it for me. I need you."
"Won't you sit down?" said Diantha.
"You, too," said Mrs. Weatherstone. "Now I want you to come to
me--right away. You have done me so much good already. I was just a
New England bred school teacher myself at first, so we're even that far.
Then you took a step up--and I took a step down."
Diantha was a little slow in understanding the quick fervor of this new
friend; a trifle suspicious, even; being a cautious soul, and somewhat
overstrung, perhaps. Her visitor, bright-eyed and eager, went on. "I
gave up school teaching and married a fortune. You have given it up to
do a more needed work. I think you are wonderful. Now, I know this
seems queer to you, but I want to tell you about it. I feel sure you'll
understand. At home, Madam Weatherstone has had everything in charge
for years and years, and I've been too lazy or too weak, or too
indifferent, to do anything. I didn't care, somehow. All the machinery
of living, and no _living_--no good of it all! Yet there didn't seem to
be anything else to do. Now you have waked me all up--your paper this
afternoon--what Mr. Eltwood said--the way those poor, dull, blind women
took it. And yet I was just as dull and blind myself! Well, I begin to
see things now. I can't tell you all at once what a difference it has
made; but I have a very definite proposition to make to you. Will you
come and be my housekeeper, now--right away--at a hundred dollars a
Diantha opened her eyes wide and looked at the eager lady as if she
suspected her nervous balance.
"The other one got a thousand a year--you are worth more. Now, don't
decline, please. Let me tell you about it. I can see that you have
plans ahead, for this business; but it can't hurt you much to put them
off six months, say. Meantime, you could be practicing. Our place at
Santa Ulrica is almost as big as this one; there are lots of servants
and a great, weary maze of accounts to be kept, and it wouldn't be bad
practice for you--now, would it?"
Diantha's troubled eyes lit up. "No--you are right there," she said.
"If I could do it!"
"You'll have to do just that sort of thing when you are running your
business, won't you?" her visitor went on. "And the summer's not a good
time to start a thing like that, is it?"
Diantha meditated. "No, I wasn't going to. I was going to start
somewhere--take a cottage, a dozen girls or so--and furnish labor by the
day to the other cottages."
"Well, you might be able to run that on the side," said Mrs.
Weatherstone. "And you could train my girls, get in new ones if you
like; it doesn't seem to me it would conflict. But to speak to you
quite frankly, Miss Bell, I want you in the house for my own sake. You
do me good."
They discussed the matter for some time, Diantha objecting mainly to the
suddenness of it all. "I'm a slow thinker," she said, "and this is
so--so attractive that I'm suspicious of it. I had the other thing all
planned--the girls practically engaged."
"Where were you thinking of going?" asked Mrs. Weatherstone.
"To Santa Ulrica."
"Exactly! Well, you shall have your cottage and our girls and give them
part time. Or--how many have you arranged with?"
"Only six have made definite engagements yet."
"Two laundresses, a cook and three second maids; all good ones."
"Excellent! Now, I tell you what to do. I will engage all those girls.
I'm making a change at the house, for various reasons. You bring them
to me as soon as you like; but you I want at once. I wish you'd come
home with me to-night! Why don't you?"
Diantha's scanty baggage was all in sight. She looked around for an
excuse. Mrs. Weatherstone stood up laughing.
"Put the new address in the letter," she said, mischievously, "and come
And the purple chauffeur, his disapproving back ineffectual in the
darkness, rolled them home.
WHAT DIANTHA DID
Men have marched in armies, fleets have borne them,
Left their homes new countries to subdue;
Young men seeking fortune wide have wandered--
We have something new.
Armies of young maidens cross our oceans;
Leave their mother's love, their father's care;
Maidens, young and helpless, widely wander,
Burdens new to bear.
Strange the land and language, laws and customs;
Ignorant and all alone they come;
Maidens young and helpless, serving strangers,
Thus we keep the Home.
When on earth was safety for young maidens
Far from mother's love and father's care?
We preserve The Home, and call it sacred--
Burdens new they bear.
The sun had gone down on Madam Weatherstone's wrath, and risen to find
it unabated. With condensed disapprobation written on every well-cut
feature, she came to the coldly gleaming breakfast table.
That Mrs. Halsey was undoubtedly gone, she had to admit; yet so far
failed to find the exact words of reproof for a woman of independent
means discharging her own housekeeper when it pleased her.
Young Mathew unexpectedly appeared at breakfast, perhaps in anticipation
of a sort of Roman holiday in which his usually late and apologetic
stepmother would furnish the amusement. They were both surprised to
find her there before them, looking uncommonly fresh in crisp, sheer
white, with deep-toned violets in her belt.
She ate with every appearance of enjoyment, chatting amiably about the
lovely morning--the flowers, the garden and the gardeners; her efforts
ill seconded, however.
"Shall I attend to the orders this morning?" asked Madam Weatherstone
with an air of noble patience.
"O no, thank you!" replied Viva. "I have engaged a new housekeeper."
"A new housekeeper! When?" The old lady was shaken by this
"Last night," said her daughter-in-law, looking calmly across the table,
her color rising a little.
"And when is she coming, if I may ask?"
"She has come. I have been with her an hour already this morning."
Young Mathew smiled. This was amusing, though not what he had expected.
"How extremely alert and businesslike!" he said lazily. "It's becoming
to you--to get up early!"
"You can't have got much of a person--at a minute's notice," said his
grandmother. "Or perhaps you have been planning this for some time?"
"No," said Viva. "I have wanted to get rid of Mrs. Halsey for some
time, but the new one I found yesterday."
"What's her name?" inquired Mathew.
"Bell--Miss Diantha Bell," she answered, looking as calm as if
announcing the day of the week, but inwardly dreading the result
somewhat. Like most of such terrors it was overestimated.
There was a little pause--rather an intense little pause; and
then--"Isn't that the girl who set 'em all by the ears yesterday?" asked
the young man, pointing to the morning paper. "They say she's a
Madam Weatherstone rose from the table in some agitation. "I must say I
am very sorry, Viva, that you should have been so--precipitate! This
young woman cannot be competent to manage a house like this--to say
nothing of her scandalous ideas. Mrs. Halsey was--to my mind--perfectly
satisfactory. I shall miss her very much." She swept out with an
"So shall I," muttered Mat, under his breath, as he strolled after her;
"unless the new one's equally amiable."
Viva Weatherstone watched them go, and stood awhile looking after the
well-built, well-dressed, well-mannered but far from well-behaved young
"I don't _know_," she said to herself, "but I do feel--think--imagine--a
good deal. I'm sure I hope not! Anyway--it's new life to have that
girl in the house."
That girl had undertaken what she described to Ross as "a large order--a
very large order."
"It's the hardest thing I ever undertook," she wrote him, "but I think I
can do it; and it will be a tremendous help. Mrs. Weatherstone's a
brick--a perfect brick! She seems to have been very unhappy--for ever
so long--and to have submitted to her domineering old mother-in-law just
because she didn't care enough to resist. Now she's got waked up all of
a sudden--she says it was my paper at the club--more likely my awful
example, I think! and she fired her old housekeeper--I don't know what
for--and rushed me in.
"So here I am. The salary is good, the work is excellent training, and
I guess I can hold the place. But the old lady is a terror, and the
young man--how you would despise that Johnny!"
The home letters she now received were rather amusing. Ross, sternly
patient, saw little difference in her position. "I hope you will enjoy
your new work," he wrote, "but personally I should prefer that you did
not--so you might give it up and come home sooner. I miss you as you
can well imagine. Even when you were here life was hard enough--but
"I had a half offer for the store the other day, but it fell through.
If I could sell that incubus and put the money into a ranch--fruit,
hens, anything--then we could all live on it; more cheaply, I think; and
I could find time for some research work I have in mind. You remember
that guinea-pig experiment I want so to try?"
Diantha remembered and smiled sadly. She was not much interested in
guinea-pigs and their potential capacities, but she was interested in
her lover and his happiness. "Ranch," she said thoughtfully; "that's
not a bad idea."
Her mother wrote the same patient loving letters, perfunctorily hopeful.
Her father wrote none--"A woman's business--this letter-writin'," he
always held; and George, after one scornful upbraiding, had "washed his
hands of her" with some sense of relief. He didn't like to write
But Susie kept up a lively correspondence. She was attached to her
sister, as to all her immediate relatives and surroundings; and while
she utterly disapproved of Diantha's undertaking, a sense of sisterly
duty, to say nothing of affection, prompted her to many letters. It did
not, however, always make these agreeable reading.
"Mother's pretty well, and the girl she's got now does nicely--that
first one turned out to be a failure. Father's as cranky as ever. We
are all well here and the baby (this was a brand new baby Diantha had
not seen) is just a Darling! You ought to be here, you unnatural Aunt!
Gerald doesn't ever speak of you--but I do just the same. You hear from
the Wardens, of course. Mrs. Warden's got neuralgia or something; keeps
them all busy. They are much excited over this new place of yours--you
ought to hear them go on! It appears that Madam Weatherstone is a
connection of theirs--one of the F. F. V's, I guess, and they think
she's something wonderful. And to have _you_ working _there!_--well,
you can just see how they'd feel; and I don't blame them. It's no use
arguing with you--but I should think you'd have enough of this
disgraceful foolishness by this time and come home!"
Diantha tried to be very philosophic over her home letters; but they
were far from stimulating. "It's no use arguing with poor Susie!" she
decided. "Susie thinks the sun rises and sets between kitchen, nursery
"Mother can't see the good of it yet, but she will later--Mother's all
"I'm awfully sorry the Wardens feel so--and make Ross unhappy--but of
course I knew they would. It can't be helped. It's just a question of
time and work."
And she went to work.
Mrs. Porne called on her friend most promptly, with a natural eagerness
"How does it work? Do you like her as much as you thought? Do tell me
about it, Viva. You look like another woman already!"
"I certainly feel like one," Viva answered. "I've seen slaves in
housework, and I've seen what we fondly call 'Queens' in housework; but
I never saw brains in it before."
Mrs. Porne sighed. "Isn't it just wonderful--the way she does things!
Dear me! We do miss her! She trained that Swede for us--and she does
pretty well--but not like 'Miss Bell'! I wish there were a hundred of
"If there were a hundred thousand she wouldn't go round!" answered Mrs.
Weatherstone. "How selfish we are! _That_ is the kind of woman we all
want in our homes--and fuss because we can't have them."
"Edgar says he quite agrees with her views," Mrs. Porne went on.
"Skilled labor by the day--food sent in--. He says if she cooked it he
wouldn't care if it came all the way from Alaska! She certainly can
cook! I wish she'd set up her business--the sooner the better."
Mrs. Weatherstone nodded her head firmly. "She will. She's planning.
This was really an interruption--her coming here, but I think it will be
a help--she's not had experience in large management before, but she
takes hold splendidly. She's found a dozen 'leaks' in our household