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ously mean to tell me that you can run the house with four servants instead of eleven?"
"I do! Of course we'll have to close up one of the bedroom floors entirely, and two of the three sittingrooms. I may even leave the furniture covers on in some places. You won't mind, will you? It will cut the house almost in half. Four servants can handle it easily.
"Of course I don't mean to claim that your bells will be answered so quickly, or that you'll get French cooking, or that I won't have to keep you waiting sometimes when you want me to go out with you in the evening-I shan't have any personal maid, you know; but think of the saving-a hundred and thirty dollars a month as against five hundred and five!"
"And the food they would have eaten!" I added with a glow of satisfaction. "Heaven knows what quantities!"
"That is another matter," remarked my wife judicially-"one I shall have to look into. But if I can reduce my servants' pay-roll by three hundred and seventy-five dollars-over 70 per cent-I ought to be able to do something with the butcher's and grocer's bills.'
"Who can find a virtuous woman?"" I murmured admiringly, "for her price is far above rubies." " My wife threw me a grateful smile.
"We shall probably have our ups and downs," she
admitted. "Mrs. Russell has been having a terrible time. You see, she kept her whole staff of domestics and cut down the kitchen-table to almost nothing. She insisted that it was too much trouble to try to get new servants. And this morning, when the butler gave notice and so did the cook, she was so paralyzed with fright that she told them to go ahead just as they had before."
"That's a fine way to get behind the administration!" I retorted in disgust. "What do you hear of other people?"
"A great many are cutting down or living in hotels. The employment offices are full of domestics looking for places-even men. I didn't have any trouble. Our chief difficulty is going to be about the supply bills.... John, you look tired! What's the matter?" "Oh, nothing," I evaded her. "It's all right. FeelThen I have had my
ing our journey a little, I guess.
talk with René-and I built a fire in the furnace." "I'm so glad you did," she replied. "The house was too cold."
"So am I," I muttered, but for a different reason.
When the new servants, in due course, made their appearance I was unable to observe any difference between them and the old. It is quite true that it took our one maid somewhat longer to serve dinner than it had our butler and second man; but personally I felt
much more at ease than when every mouthful I ate was being watched and criticised by the imposing gentlemen who had hitherto condescended to pass me my food in return for their board and lodging, in addition to a monetary consideration almost as large as had been my paternal grandfather's salary as a clergy
Moreover, as the days passed I did not notice that the meals were any less abundant or appetizing than before. Like most men, I cared nothing for variety. What I wanted was solid food, well cooked. And this I had in plenty; in fact, after the lapse of a week I asked Helen whether she was not rather extravagant in her providing.
Seriously, I had not noticed any particular change in our manner of living, except a few trifles, such as that after the soup we now had fish or meat, salad or dessert, instead of all four; that when we had chops they did not wear pantalets; and that our desserts lacked the architectural magnificence and Cinquecento ornamentation that had previously characterized them.
'Extravagant?" answered Helen, opening a drawer and handing me a little pile of slips. "Perhaps I'll get the ordering down finer as we go along. As it is, we are living on about a third of what we used to spend. Most of it went on the kitchen-table; but there was a tremendous waste on our own. I suppose
you've noticed that we don't have very much left over when we get through? No? Well, Julia's idea -the idea of most cooks in big houses, I guess—was that the serving of a luncheon or dinner was an æsthetic affair. How the table looked was just as important as how the food tasted.
"For instance, she always served a complete circle of lamb chops, no matter how many of us were going to eat them; and the roast beef or saddle of lamb had to be big enough to look well on the dish. Quantity was an end in itself; it was part of a properly ordered meal. And we always had meat twice a day and fancy fruits from the grocer. Haven't you missed
"Missed what?" I asked.
"The meat and fruit."
"Haven't we been having them right along?" Helen could not repress a smile.
"What is the use of keeping house for a man, anyway," she exclaimed with assumed peevishness, "when he doesn't care two cents whether the table is pretty or not, or whether he eats steak or baked beans!"
"But I'm crazy about beans!" I replied.
"Then you ought to be perfectly satisfied," she laughed. "You've had them three times this week!"
"I am," I answered. "I don't want anything better. And that fillet of sole you gave me last night—”
"Flounder, at sixteen cents a pound!" she interrupted.
"But, Helen," I protested with sincere admiration, "how did you know how to do it? You who've always been used to the best of everything and have hated to have anything to do with servants, or even to go into the kitchen!"
She looked at me quizzically.
"John," she said, "you don't think I'm an absolute fool, do you? Don't you suppose that I-and all rich women-have always known that we did not eat simply in order to satisfy our hunger and keep ourselves strong and well-but for appearances? It didn't take any brains to realize that. The food served in the dining-room has always had a decorative quality-just like the linen and silver and china. And there had to be a certain number of courses. Why, I never used to sit down to lunch, even by myself, without having some sort of hors d'œuvre, soup, an entrée, salad, and dessert! You don't imagine I thought I needed them, do you? Now tell me: What do you have for lunch down-town?"
"A slice of roast beef and a cup of coffee."
"Exactly!" she retorted. "You eat what you need to satisfy your appetite, and no more. Well, we women used to eat the kind of food a seventy-five-dollar cook thought she ought to prepare and an eightydollar butler would be willing to serve without losing