List Of Contents | Contents of The Treasure, by Kathleen Norris
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growing boys in the family, without encountering such opposition as
this. A day or two later she went into New Troy, the nearest big
city, and came back triumphantly with Lizzie.

And at first Lizzie really did seem perfection. It was some weeks
before Mrs. Salisbury realized that Lizzie was not truthful;
absolutely reliable in money matters, yet Lizzie could not be
believed in the simplest statement. Tasteless oatmeal, Lizzie glibly
asseverated, had been well salted; weak coffee, or coffee as strong
as brown paint, were the fault of the pot. Lizzie, rushing through
dinner so that she might get out; Lizzie throwing out cold
vegetables that "weren't worth saving"; Lizzie growing snappy and
noisy at the first hint of criticism, somehow seemed worse sometimes
than no servant at all.

"I wonder--if we moved into New Troy, Kane," Mrs. Salisbury mused,
"and got one of those wonderful modern apartments, with a gas stove,
and a dumbwaiter, and hardwood floors, if Sandy and I couldn't
manage everything? With a woman to clean and dinners downtown now
and then, and a waitress in for occasions."

"And me jumping up to change the salad plates, Mother!" Alexandra
put in briskly. "And a pile of dishes to do every night!"

"Gosh, let's not move into the city--" protested Stanford. "No
tennis, no canoe, no baseball!"

"And we know everyone in River Falls, we'd have to keep coming out
here for parties!" Sandy added.

"Well," Mrs. Salisbury sighed, "I admit that it is too much of a
problem for me!" she said. "I know that I married your father on
twenty dollars a week," she told the children severely, "and we
lived in a dear little cottage, only eighteen dollars a month, and I
did all my own work! And never in our lives have we lived so well.
But the minute you get inexperienced help, your bills simply double,
and inexperienced help means simply one annoyance after another. I
give it up!"

"Well, I'll tell you, Mother," Alexandra offered innocently;
"perhaps we don't systematize enough ourselves. It ought to be all
so well arranged and regulated that a girl would know what she was
expected to do, and know that you had a perfect right to call her
down for wasting or slighting things. Why couldn't women--a bunch of
women, say--"

"Why couldn't they form a set of household rules and regulations?"
her mother intercepted smoothly. "Because--it's just one of the
things that you young, inexperienced people can talk very easily
about," she interrupted herself to say with feeling, "but it never
seems to occur to any one of you that every household has its
different demands and regulations. The market fluctuates, the size
of a family changes--fixed laws are impossible! No. Lizzie is no
worse than lots of others, better than the average. I shall hold on
to her!"

"Mrs. Sargent says that all these unnecessary demands have been
instituted and insisted upon by women," said Alexandra. "She says
that the secret of the whole trouble is that women try to live above
their class, and make one servant appear to do the work of three--"

The introduction of Mrs. Sargent's name was not a happy one.

"Ellen Sargent," said Mrs. Salisbury icily, "is not a lady herself,
in the true sense of the word, and she does very well to talk about
class distinctions! She was his stenographer when Cyrus Sargent
married her, and the daughter of a tannery hand. Now, just because
she has millions, I am not going to be impressed by anything Ellen
Sargent does or says!"

"Mother, I don't think she meant quality by 'class,'" Sandy
protested. "Everyone knows that Grandfather was General Stanford,
and all that! But I think she meant, in a way, the money side of it,
the financial division of people into classes!"

"We won't discuss her," decided Mrs. Salisbury majestically. "The
money standard is one I am not anxious to judge my friends by!"

Still, with the rest of the family, Mrs. Salisbury was relieved when
Lizzie, shortly after this, decided of her own accord to accept a
better-paid position. "Unless, Mama says, you'd care to raise me to
seven a week," said Lizzie, in parting.

"No, no, I cannot pay that," Mrs. Salisbury said firmly and Lizzie
accordingly left.

Her place was taken by a middle-aged French woman, and whipped cream
and the subtle flavor of sherry began to appear in the Salisbury
bills of fare. Germaine had no idea whatever of time, and Sandy
perforce must set the table whenever there was a company dinner
afoot, and lend a hand with the last preparations as well. The
kitchen was never really in order in these days, but Germaine cooked
deliciously, and Mrs. Salisbury gave eight dinners and a club
luncheon during the month of her reign. Then the French woman grew
more and more irregular as to hours, and more utterly unreliable as
to meals; sometimes the family fared delightfully, sometimes there
was almost nothing for dinner. Germaine seemed to fade from sight,
not entirely of her own volition, not really discharged; simply she
was gone. A Norwegian girl came next, a good-natured, blundering
creature whose English was just enough to utterly confuse herself
and everyone else. Freda's mistakes were not half so funny in the
making as Alexandra made them in anecdotes afterward; and Freda was
given to weird chanting, accompanying herself with a banjo,
throughout the evenings. Finally a blonde giant known as "Freda's
cousin" came to see her, and Kane Salisbury, followed by his elated
and excited boys, had to eject Freda's cousin early in the evening,
while Freda wept and chattered to the ladies of the house. After
that the cousin called often to ask for her, but Freda had vanished
the day after this event, and the Salisburys never heard of her

They tried another Norwegian, then a Polack, then a Scandinavian.
Then they had a German man and wife for a week, a couple who
asserted that they would work, without pay, for a good home. This
was a most uncomfortable experience, unsuccessful from the first
instant. Then came a low-voiced, good-natured South American
negress, Marthe, not much of a cook, but willing and strong.

July was mercilessly hot that year, thirty-one burning days of
sunshine. Mrs. Salisbury was not a very strong woman, and she had a
great many visitors to entertain. She kept Marthe, because the
colored woman did not resent constant supervision, and an almost
hourly change of plans. Mrs. Salisbury did almost all of the cooking
herself, fussing for hours in the hot kitchen over the cold meats
and salads and ices that formed the little informal cold suppers to
which the Salisburys loved to ask their friends on Saturday and
Sunday nights.

Alexandra helped fitfully. She would put her pretty head into the
kitchen doorway, perhaps to find her mother icing cake.

"Listen, Mother; I'm going over to Con's. She's got that new serve
down to a fine point! And I've done the boys' room and the guest
room; it's all ready for the Cutters. And I put towels and soap in
the bathroom, only you'll have to have Marthe wipe up the floor and
the tub."

"You're a darling child," the mother would say gratefully.

"Darling nothing!" And Sandy, with her protest, would lay a cool
cheek against her mother's hot one. "Do you have to stay out here,
Mother?" she would ask resentfully. "Can't the Culled Lady do this?"

"Well, I left her to watch it, and it burned," Mrs. Salisbury would
say, "so now it has to be pared and frosted. Such a bother! But this
is the very last thing, dear. You run along; I'll be out of here in
two minutes!"

But it was always something more than two minutes. Sometimes even
Kane Salisbury was led to protest.

"Can't we eat less, dear? Or differently? Isn't there some simple
way of managing this week-end supper business? Now, Brewer--Brewer
manages it awfully well. He has his man set out a big cold roast or
two, cheese, and coffee, and a bowlful of salad, and beer. He'll get
a fruit pie from the club sometimes, or pastries, or a pot of

"Yes, indeed, we must try to simplify," Mrs. Salisbury would agree
brightly. But after such a conversation as this she would go over
her accounts very soberly indeed. "Roasts--cheeses--fruit pies!" she
would say bitterly to herself. "Why is it that a man will spend as
much on a single lunch for his friends as a woman is supposed to
spend on her table for a whole week, and then ask her what on earth
she has done with her money!"

"Kane, I wish you would go over my accounts," she said one evening,
in desperation. "Just suggest where you would cut down!"

Mr. Salisbury ran his eye carelessly over the pages of the little

"Roast beef, two-forty?" he presently read aloud, questioningly.

"Twenty-two cents a pound," his wife answered simply. But the man's
slight frown deepened.

"Too much--too much!" he said, shaking his head.

Mrs. Salisbury let him read on a moment, turn a page or two. Then
she said, in a dead calm:

"Do you think my roasts are too big, Kane?"

"Too big? On the contrary," her husband answered briskly, "I like a
big roast. Sometimes ours are skimpy-looking before they're even

"Well!" Mrs. Salisbury said triumphantly.

Her smile apprised her husband that he was trapped, and he put down
the account book in natural irritation.

"Well, my dear, it's your problem!" he said unsympathetically,
returning to his newspaper. "I run my business, I expect you to run
yours! If we can't live on our income, we'll have to move to a
cheaper house, that's all, or take Stanford out of school and put
him to work. Dickens says somewhere--and he never said a truer
thing!" pursued the man of the house comfortably, "that, if you
spend a sixpence less than your income every week, you are rich. If
you spend a sixpence more, you never may expect to be anything but

Mrs. Salisbury did not answer. She took up her embroidery, whose
bright colors blurred and swam together through the tears that came
to her eyes.

"Never expect to feel anything but poor!" she echoed sadly to
herself. "I am sure I never do! Things just seem to run away with
me; I can't seem to get hold of them. I don't see where it's going
to end!"

"Mother," said Alexandra, coming in from the kitchen, "Marthe says
that all that delicious chicken soup is spoiled. The idiot, she says
that you left it in the pantry to cool, and she forgot to put it on
the ice! Now, what shall we do, just skip soup, or get some beef
extract and season it up?"

"Skip soup," said Mr. Salisbury cheerfully.

"We can't very well, dear," said his wife patiently, "because the
dinner is just soup and a fish salad, and one needs the hot start in
a perfectly cold supper. No. I'll go out."

"Can't you just tell me what to do?" asked Alexandra impatiently.

But her mother had gone. The girl sat on the arm of the deserted
chair, swinging an idle foot.

"I wish I could cook!" she fretted.

"Can't you, Sandy?" her father asked.

"Oh, some things! Rabbits and fudge and walnut wafers! But I mean
that I wish I understood sauces and vegetables and seasoning, and
getting things cooked all at the same moment! I don't mean that I'd
like to do it, but I would like to know how. Now, Mother'll scare up
some perfectly delicious soup for dinner, cream of something or
other, and I could do it perfectly well, if only I knew how!"

"Suppose I paid you a regular salary, Sandy--" her father was
beginning, with the untiring hopefulness of the American father. But
the girl interrupted vivaciously:

"Dad, darling, that isn't practical! I'd love it for about two days.
Then we'd settle right down to washing dishes, and setting tables,
and dusting and sweeping, and wiping up floors--horrors, horrors,

She left her perch to take in turn an arm of her father's chair.

"Well, what's the solution, pussy?" asked Kane Salisbury, keenly
appreciative of the nearness of her youth and beauty.

"It isn't that," said Sandy decidedly. "Of course," she pursued,
"the Gregorys get along without a maid, and use a fireless cooker,
and drink cereal coffee, but admit, darling, that you'd rather have
me useless and frivolous as I am!--than Gertrude or Florence or
Winifred Gregory! Why, when Floss was married, Dad, Gertrude played
the piano, for music, and for refreshments they had raspberry ice-
cream and chocolate layer cake!"

"Well, I like chocolate layer cake," observed her father mildly. "I
thought that was a very pretty wedding; the sisters in their light

"Dimity dresses at a wedding!" Alexandra reproached him, round-eyed.
"And they are so boisterously proud of the fact that they live on
their father's salary," she went on, arranging her own father's hair
fastidiously; "it's positively offensive the way they bounce up to
change plates and tell you how to make the neck of mutton
appetizing, or the heart of a cow, or whatever it is! And their
father pushes the chairs back, Dad, and helps roll up the napkins--
I'd die if you ever tried it!"

"But they all work, too, don't they?"

"Work? Of course they work! And every cent of it goes into the bank.
Winnie and Florence are buying gas shares, and Gertrude means to
have a year's study in Europe, if you please!"

"That doesn't sound very terrible," said Kane Salisbury, smiling.
But some related thought darkened his eyes a moment later. "You
wouldn't have much gas stock if I was taken, Pussy," said he.

"No, darling, and let that be a lesson to you not to die!" his
daughter said blithely. "But I could work, Dad," she added more
seriously, "if Mother didn't mind so awfully. Not in the kitchen,
but somewhere. I'd love to work in a settlement house."

"Now, there you modern girls are," her father said. "Can't bear to
clear away the dinner plates in your own houses, yet you'll
cheerfully suggest going to live in the filthiest parts of the city,
working, as no servant is ever expected to work, for people you
don't know!"

"I know it's absurd," Sandy agreed, smiling. Her answer was ready
somewhere in her mind, but she could not quite find it. "But, you
see, that's a new problem," she presently offered, "that's ours to-
day, just as managing your house was Mother's when she married you.
Circumstances have changed. I couldn't ever take up the kitchen
question just as it presents itself to Mother. I--people my age
don't believe in a servant class. They just believe in a division of
labor, all dignified. If some girl I knew, Grace or Betty, say, came
into our kitchen--and that reminds me!" she broke off suddenly.

"Of what?"

"Why, of something Owen--Owen Sargent was saying a few days ago. His
mother's quite daffy about establishing social centers and clubs for
servant girls, you know, and she's gotten into this new thing, a
sort of college for servants. Now I'll ask Owen about it. I'll do
that to-morrow. That's just what I'll do!"

"Tell me about it," her father said. But Alexandra shook her head.

"I don't honestly know anything about it, Dad. But Owen had a lot of
papers and a sort of prospectus. His mother was wishing that she
could try one of the graduates, but she keeps six or seven house
servants, and it wouldn't be practicable. But I'll see. I never

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