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her daughters doing their share of the housework, as a matter of course-just as they are doing in England.
And that is exactly what Helen and Margery are doing now. If the wives of my friends are not willing to do this-why, they had better look round for a nice, dry, airy cave in a sunny climate where they can sleep on the ground, live on yams and breadfruit and bathe-if they still find bathing necessary and agreeable in the nearest brook.
But running the house is a woman's job, let who will deny it. Mrs. Emily James Putnam, in "The Lady," quotes the account Ischomachos gave to Socrates of how he started his wife in the right direction after he had married her. Isch was a young Athenian swell of about the same social status as our friend Highbilt, here in New York.
"First," said he, "we put together everything that had to do with the sacrifices. Then we grouped the maids' best clothes, the men's best clothes and their soldier outfits, the maids' bedding, the men's bedding, the maids' shoes and the men's shoes. We put weapons in one group and classified under different heads the tools for wool-working, baking, cooking, care of the bath and of the table, and so on. Then we made a cross-classification of things used every day and things used on holidays only. Next we set aside from the stores sufficient provisions for a month, and also what we calculated would last a year. That is the
only way to keep your supplies from running out before you know it.
"After that we put everything in its appropriate place, summoned the servants, explained our system to them, and made each one responsible for the safety of each article needed in his daily work, and for restoration, after use, to its proper place. . . . I told my wife that good laws will not keep a state in order unless they are enforced, and that she, as the chief executive officer under our constitution, must contrive by rewards and punishments that law should prevail in our house.
"By way of apology for laying upon her so many troublesome duties, I bade her observe that we cannot reasonably expect servants spontaneously to be careful of the master's goods, since they have no interest in being so; the owner is the one who must take trouble to preserve his property. . . . I advised her to look on at the bread-making and stand by while the housekeeper dealt out the supplies, and to go about inspecting everything. Thus she could practise her profession and take a walk at the same time. I added that excellent exercise could be had by making beds and kneading dough."
Good sense, that! The newly wedded Mrs. Ischomachos could teach a good deal to some of our war brides. Modern New York can learn something from ancient Athens. But our women will come up to
the domestic scratch later on, even if they have not done so already. Education is slow, particularly in the case of the middle-aged-and resurfacing one's gastro-intestinal tract is a hazardous process.
However, it is doing Helen and Margery and me a great deal of good. My wife looks younger than she has for years, because she eats only what she needs to eat and walks instead of riding in a motor. Both she and Margery have gained alertness in body and mind. They have tackled their job gallantly and have never even complained; but I know that at times it has been hard for them.
It is easy enough for the man who is away from home all day, occupied about his business. He does not care very much how the house runs so long as he gets his warm supper, his pipe, and his cosey chair by the reading-lamp. It is the woman who has to assume all the worry of making things go, of planning all the details of housekeeping, of keeping the servants good-natured, of making both ends meet. It is trebly hard if one has to begin after fifty. It is often easier to give up one's money or one's sons than to break the habits of a lifetime.
The war is doing strange things to us. It is giving us new natures. I have not said my prayers since I was a boy, and I gave up reading the Scriptures years ago; but the other night, just before we went up to bed, I took down our old dusty family Bible and
opened it at the family record. There, in There, in my mother's fine handwriting, was the record of my birth, and beneath it, in Helen's, was that of our Jack-who is going away so soon.
"Look here, Helen," I said awkwardly, "don't you think we might get something out of this again if we read a bit every night?"
She nodded, her face lighting up with eagerness. "I'm so glad you feel that way, John!" she exclaimed.
So I turned over the pages until I came to what I was looking for-the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs -and cleared my throat.
66 6 'Who can find a virtuous woman?"" I read, "for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field and buyeth it; with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good; her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. . . . She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the
bread of idleness. Her children arise up and call her blessed her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.'
"Thou excellest them all!" I repeated softly.
"Oh, John!" murmured Helen, and a blush flickered prettily for a moment upon her cheek. "Don't you think you might get a little tired of a woman quite as competent as all that?"