List Of Contents | Contents of The Treasure, by Kathleen Norris
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was always anxious to avoid details; Sandy, all youthful enthusiasm
and ignorance, and Owen Sargent, quoting his insufferable mother?
For some moments she had been fighting an impulse to soothe them all
with generalities. "Never mind; it's always been a problem, and it
always will be! These new schemes are all very well, but don't
trouble your dear heads about it any longer!"

Now she sank back, satisfied. The whole thing was but a mad, Utopian
dream. Thirty-seven dollars indeed! "Why, one could get two good
servants for that!" thought Mrs. Salisbury, with the same sublime
faith with which she had told her husband, in poorer days, years
ago, that, if they could but afford her, she knew they could get a
"fine girl" for three dollars a week. The fact that the "fine girl"
did not apparently exist did not at all shake Mrs. Salisbury's
confidence that she could get two "good girls." Her hope in the
untried solution rose with every failure.

"Thirty-seven is steep," said Kane Salisbury slowly. "However! What
do we pay now, Mother?"

"Five a week," said that lady inflexibly.

"But we paid Germaine more," said Alexandra eagerly. "And didn't you
pay Lizzie six and a half?"

"The last two months I did, yes," her mother agreed unwillingly.
"But that comes only to twenty-six or seven," she added.

"But, look here," said Owen, reading. "Here it says: 'NOTE. Where a
graduate is required to manage on a budget, it is computed that she
saves the average family from two to seven dollars weekly on food
and fuel bills.'"

"Now that begins to sound like horse sense," Mr. Salisbury began.
But the mistress of the house merely smiled, and shook a dubious
head, and the younger members of the family here created a diversion
by reminding their sister's guest, with animation, that he had half-
asked them to go out for a short ride in his car. Alexandra
accordingly ran for a veil, and the young quartette departed with
much noise, Owen stuffing his pamphlets and booklet into his pocket
before he went.

Mr. and Mrs. Salisbury settled down contentedly to double Canfield,
the woman crushing out the last flicker of the late topic with a
placid shake of the head, when the man asked her for her honest
opinion of the American School of Domestic Science. "I don't truly
think it's at all practical, dear," said Mrs. Salisbury regretfully.
"But we might watch it for a year or two and go into the question
again some time, if you like. Especially if some one else has tried
one of these maids, and we have had a chance to see how it goes!"

The very next morning Mrs. Salisbury awakened with a dull headache.
Hot sunlight was streaming into the bedroom, an odor of coffee,
drifting upstairs, made her feel suddenly sick. Her first thought
was that she COULD not have Sandy's two friends to luncheon, and she
COULD not keep a shopping and tea engagement with a friend of her
own! She might creep through the day somehow, but no more.

She dressed slowly, fighting dizziness, and went slowly downstairs,
sighing at the sight of disordered music and dust in the dining-
room, the sticky chafing-dish and piled plates in the pantry. In the
kitchen was a litter of milk bottles, saucepans, bread and crumbs
and bread knife encroaching upon a basket of spilled berries, egg
shells and melting bacon. The blue sides of the coffee-pot were
stained where the liquid and grounds had bubbled over it. Marthe was
making toast, the long fork jammed into a plate hole of the range.
Mrs. Salisbury thought that she had never seen sunlight so
mercilessly hot and bright before--

"Rotten coffee!" said Mr. Salisbury cheerfully, when his wife took
her place at the table.

"And she NEVER uses the poacher!" Alexandra added reproachfully.
"And she says that the cream is sour because the man leaves it at
half-past four, right there in the sunniest corner of the porch--
can't he have a box or something, Mother?"

"Gosh, I wouldn't care what she did if she'd get a move on," said
Stanford frankly. "She's probably asleep out there, with her head in
the frying pan!"

Mrs. Salisbury went into the kitchen again. She had to pause in the
pantry because the bright squares of the linoleum, and the brassy
faucets, and the glare of the geraniums outside the window seemed to
rush together for a second.

Marthe was on the porch, exchanging a few gay remarks with the
garbage man before shutting the side door after him. The big stove
was roaring hot, a thick odor of boiling clothes showed that Marthe
was ready for her cousin Nancy, the laundress, who came once a week.
A saucepan deeply gummed with cereal was soaking beside the hissing
and smoking frying pan Mrs. Salisbury moved the frying pan, and the
quick heat of the coal fire rushed up at her face--

"Why," she whispered, opening anxious eyes after what seemed a long
time, "who fainted?"

A wheeling and rocking mass of light and shadow resolved itself into
the dining-room walls, settled and was still. She felt the soft
substance of a sofa pillow under her head, the hard lump that was
her husband's arm supporting her shoulders.

"That's it--now she's all right!" said Kane Salisbury, his kind,
concerned face just above her own. Mrs. Salisbury shifted heavy,
languid eyes, and found Sandy.

"Darling, you fell!" the daughter whispered. White-lipped, pitiful,
with tears still on her round cheeks, Sandy was fanning her mother
with a folded newspaper.

"Well, how silly of me!" Mrs. Salisbury said weakly. She sighed,
tried too quickly to sit up, and fainted quietly away again.

This time she opened her eyes in her own bed, and was made to drink
something sharp and stinging, and directed not to talk. While her
husband and daughter were hanging up things, and reducing the
tumbled room to order, the doctor arrived.

"Dr. Hollister, I call this an imposition!" protested the invalid
smilingly. "I have been doing a little too much, that's all! But
don't you dare say the word rest-cure to me again!"

But Doctor Hollister did not smile; there was no smiling in the
house that day.

"Mother may have to go away," Alexandra told anxious friends, very
sober, but composed. "Mother may have to take a rest-cure," she said
a day or two later.

"But you won't let them send me to a hospital again, Kane?" pleaded
his wife one evening. "I almost die of lonesomeness, wondering what
you and the children are doing! Couldn't I just lie here? Marthe and
Sandy can manage somehow, and I promise you I truly won't worry,
just lie here like a queen!"

"Well, perhaps we'll give you a trial," smiled Kane Salisbury, very
much enjoying an hour of quiet, at his wife's bedside. "But don't
count on Marthe. She's going."

"Marthe is?" Mrs. Salisbury only leaned a little more heavily on the
strong arm that held her, and laughed comfortably. "I refuse to
concern myself with such sordid matters," she said. "But why?"

"Because I've got a new girl, hon."

"You have!" She shifted about to stare at him, aroused by his tone.
Light came. "You've not gotten one of those college cooks, have you,
Kane?" she demanded. "Oh, Kane! Not at thirty-seven dollars a month!
Oh, you have, you wicked, extravagant boy!"

"Cheaper than a trained nurse, petty!"

Mrs. Salisbury was still shaking a scandalized head, but he could
see the pleasure and interest in her eyes. She sank back in her
pillows, but kept her thin fingers gripped tightly over his.

"How you do spoil me, Tip!" The name took him back across many years
to the little eighteen-dollar cottage and the days before Sandy
came. He looked at his wife's frail little figure, the ruffled
frills that showed under her loose wrapper, at throat and elbows.
There was something girlish still about her hanging dark braid, her
big eyes half visible in the summer twilight.

"Well, you may depend upon it, you're in for a good long course of
spoiling now, Miss Sally!" said he.


Justine Harrison, graduate servant of the American School of
Domestic Science, arrived the next day. If Mrs. Salisbury was half
consciously cherishing an expectation of some one as crisp and
cheerful as a trained nurse might have been, she was disappointed.
Justine was simply a nice, honest-looking American country girl, in
a cheap, neat, brown suit and a dreadful hat. She smiled
appreciatively when Alexandra showed her her attractive little room,
unlocked what Sandy saw to be a very orderly trunk, changed her hot
suit at once for the gray gingham uniform, and went to Mrs.
Salisbury's room with great composure, for instructions. In passing,
Alexandra--feeling the situation to be a little odd, yet bravely,
showed her the back stairway and the bathroom, and murmured
something about books being in the little room off the drawing-room
downstairs. Justine smiled brightly.

"Oh, I brought several books with me," she said, "and I subscribe to
two weekly magazines and one monthly. So usually I have enough to

"How do you do? You look very cool and comfortable, Justine. Now,
you'll have to find your own way about downstairs. You'll see the
coffee next to the bread box, and the brooms are in the laundry
closet. Just do the best you can. Mr. Salisbury likes dry toast in
the morning--eggs in some way. We get eggs from the milkman; they
seem fresher. But you have to tell him the day before. And I
understood that you'll do most of the washing? Yes. My old Nancy was
here day before yesterday, so there's not much this week." It was in
some such disconnected strain as this that Mrs. Salisbury welcomed
and initiated the new maid.

Justine bowed reassuringly.

"I'll find everything, Madam. And do you wish me to manage and to
market for awhile until you are about again?"

The invalid sent a pleading glance to Sandy.

"Oh, I think my daughter will do that," she said.

"Oh, now, why, Mother?" Sandy asked, in affectionate impatience. "I
don't begin to know as much about it as Justine probably does. Why
not let her?"

"If Madam will simply tell me what sum she usually spends on the
table," said Justine, "I will take the matter in hand."

Mrs. Salisbury hesitated. This was the very stronghold of her
authority. It seemed terrible to her, indelicate, to admit a

"Well, it varies a little," she said restlessly. "I am not
accustomed to spending a set sum." She addressed her daughter. "You
see, I've been paying Nancy every week, dear," said she, "and the
other laundry. And little things come up--"

"What sum would be customary, in a family this size?" Alexandra
asked briskly of the graduate servant.

Justine was business-like.

"Seven dollars for two persons is the smallest sum we are allowed to
handle," she said promptly. "After that each additional person calls
for three dollars weekly in our minimum scale. Four or five dollars
a week per person, not including the maid, is the usual allowance."

"Mercy! Would that be twenty dollars for table alone?" the mistress
asked. "It is never that now, I think. Perhaps twice a week," she
said, turning to Alexandra, "your father gives me five dollars at
the breakfast table--"

"But, Mother, you telephone and charge at the market, and Lewis &
Sons, too, don't you?" Sandy asked.

"Well, yes, that's true. Yes, I suppose it comes to fully twenty-
five dollars a week, when you think of it. Yes, it probably comes to
more. But it never seems so much, somehow. Well, suppose we say

"Twenty-five, I'll tell Dad." Alexandra confirmed it briskly.

"I used to keep accounts, years ago," Mrs. Salisbury said
plaintively. "Your father--" and again she turned to her daughter,
as if to make this revelation of her private affairs less
distressing by so excluding the stranger. "Your father has always
been the most generous of men," she said; "he always gives me more
money if I need it, and I try to do the best I can." And a little
annoyed, in her weakness and helplessness by this business talk, she
lay back on her pillow, and closed her eyes.

"Twenty-five a week, then!" Alexandra said, closing the talk by
jumping up from a seat on her mother's bed, and kissing the
invalid's eyes in parting. Justine, who had remained standing,
followed her down to the kitchen, where, with cheering promptitude,
the new maid fell upon preparations for dinner. Alexandra rather
bashfully suggested what she had vaguely planned for dinner; Justine
nodded intelligently at each item; presently Alexandra left her,
busily making butter-balls, and went upstairs to report.

"Nothing sensational about her," said Sandy to her mother, "but she
takes hold! She's got some bleaching preparation of soda or
something drying on the sink-board; she took the shelf out of the
icebox the instant she opened it, and began to scour it while she
talked. She's got a big blue apron on, and she's hung a nice clean
white one on the pantry door."

There was nothing sensational about the tray which Justine carried
up to the sick room that evening--nothing sensational in the dinner
which was served to the diminished family. But the Salisbury family
began that night to speak of Justine as the "Treasure."

"Everything hot and well seasoned and nicely served," said the man
of the house in high satisfaction, "and the woman looks like a
servant, and acts like one. Sandy says she's turning the kitchen
upside down, but, I say, give her her head!"

The Treasure, more by accident than design, was indeed given her
head in the weeks that followed, for Mrs. Salisbury steadily
declined into a real illness, and the worried family was only too
glad to delegate all the domestic problems to Justine. The invalid's
condition, from "nervous breakdown" became "nervous prostration,"
and August was made terrible for the loving little group that
watched her by the cruel fight with typhoid fever into which Mrs.
Salisbury's exhausted little body was drawn. Weak as she was
physically, her spirit never failed her; she met the overwhelming
charges bravely, rallied, sank, rallied again and lived. Alexandra
grew thin, if prettier than ever, and Owen Sargent grew bold and big
and protecting to meet her need. The boys were "angels," their
sister said, helpful, awed and obedient, but the children's father
began to stoop a little and to show gray in the thick black hair at
his temples.

Soberly, sympathetically, Justine steered her own craft through all
the storm and confusion of the domestic crisis. Trays appeared and
disappeared without apparent effort. Hot and delicious meals were
ready at the appointed hours, whether the pulse upstairs went up or
down. Tradespeople were paid; there was always ice; there was always
hot water. The muffled telephone never went unanswered, the doctor
never had to ring twice for admittance. If fruit was sent up to the
invalid, it was icy cold; if soup was needed, it appeared, smoking
hot, and guiltless of even one floating pinpoint of fat.

Alexandra and the trained nurse always found the kitchen the same:
orderly, aired, silent, with Justine, a picture of domestic
efficiency, sitting by the open window, or on the shady side porch,
shelling peas or peeling apples, or perhaps wiping immaculate

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