List Of Contents | Contents of The Treasure, by Kathleen Norris
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glasses with an immaculate cloth at the sink. The ticking clock, the
shining range, the sunlight lying in clean-cut oblongs upon the
bright linoleum, Justine's smoothly braided hair and crisp percales,
all helped to form a picture wonderfully restful and reassuring in
troubled days.

Alexandra, tired with a long vigil in the sick room, liked to slip
down late at night, to find Justine putting the last touches to the
day's good work. A clean checked towel would be laid over the
rising, snowy mound of dough; the bubbling oatmeal was locked in the
fireless cooker, doors were bolted, window shades drawn. There was
an admirable precision about every move the girl made.

The two young women liked to chat together, and sometimes, when some
important message took her to Justine's door in the evening,
Alexandra would linger, pleasantly affected by the trim little
apartment, the roses in a glass vase, Justine's book lying open-
faced on the bed, or her unfinished letter waiting on the table. For
all exterior signs, at these times, she might have been a guest in
the house.

Promptly, on every Saturday evening, the Treasure presented her
account book to Mr. Salisbury. There was always a small balance,
sometimes five dollars, sometimes one, but Justine evidently had
well digested Dickens' famous formula for peace of mind.

"You're certainly a wonder, Justine!" said the man of the house more
than once. "How do you manage it?"

"Oh, I cut down in dozens of ways," the girl returned, with her
grave smile. "You don't notice it, but I know. You have kidney
stews, and onion soups, and cherry pies, instead of melons and
steaks and ice-cream, that's all!"

"And everyone just as well pleased," he said, in real admiration. "I
congratulate you."

"It's only what we are all taught at college," Justine assured him.
"I'm just doing what they told me to! It's my business."

"It's pretty big business, and it's been waiting a long while," said
Kane Salisbury.

When Mrs. Salisbury began to get well, she began to get very hungry.
This was plain sailing for Justine, and she put her whole heart into
the dainty trays that went upstairs three times a day. While she was
enjoying them, Mrs. Salisbury liked to draw out her clever maid, and
the older woman and the young one had many a pleasant talk together.
Justine told her mistress that she had been country-born and bred,
and had grown up with a country girl's longing for nice surroundings
and education of the better sort.

"My name is not Justine at all," she said smilingly, "nor Harrison,
either, although I chose it because I have cousins of that name. We
are all given names when we go to college and take them with us.
Until the work is recognized, as it must be some day, as dignified
and even artistic, we are advised to sink our own identities in this

"You mean that Harrison isn't your name?" Mrs. Salisbury felt this
to be really a little alarming, in some vague way.

"Oh, no! And Justine was given me as a number might have been."

"But what is your name?" The question fell from Mrs. Salisbury as
naturally as an "Ouch!" would have fallen had somebody dropped a
lighted match on her hand. "I had no idea of that!" she went on
artlessly. "But I suppose you told Mr. Salisbury?"

The luncheon was finished, and now Justine stood up, and picked up
the tray.

"No. That's the very point. We use our college names," she
reiterated simply. "Will you let me bring you up a little more
custard, Madam?"

"No, thank you," Mrs. Salisbury said, after a second's pause. She
looked a little thoughtful as Justine walked away. There is no real
reason why one's maid should not wear an assumed name, of course.

"What a ridiculous thing that college must be!" said Mrs. Salisbury,
turning comfortably in her pillows. "But she certainly is a splendid

About this point, at least, there was no argument. Justine did not
need cream or sherry, chopped nuts or mushroom sauces to make simple
food delicious. She knew endless ways in which to serve food;
potatoes became a nightly surprise, macaroni was never the same,
rice had a dozen delightful roles. Because the family enjoyed her
maple custard or almond cake, she did not, as is the habit with
cooks, abandon every other flavoring for maple or almond. She was
following a broader schedule than that supplied by the personal
tastes of the Salisburys, and she went her way serenely.

Not so much as a teaspoonful of cold spinach was wasted in these
days. Justine's "left-over" dishes were quite as good as anything
else she cooked; her artful combinations, her garnishes of pastry,
her illusive seasoning, her enveloping and varied sauces disguised
and transformed last night's dinner into a real feast to-night.

The Treasure went to market only twice a week, on Saturdays and
Tuesdays. She planned her meals long beforehand, with the aid of
charts brought from college, and paid cash for everything she
bought. She always carried a large market basket on her arm on these
trips, and something in her trim, strong figure and clean gray gown,
as she started off, appealed to a long-slumbering sense of house-
holder's pride in Mr. Salisbury. It seemed good to him that a person
who worked so hard for him and for his should be so bright and
contented looking, should like her life so well.

Late in September Mrs. Salisbury came downstairs again to a spotless
drawing-room and a dining-room gay with flowers. Dinner was a little
triumph, and after dinner she was escorted to a deep chair, and
called upon to admire new papers and hangings, cleaned rugs and a
newly polished floor.

"You are wonderful, wonderful people, every one of you!" said the
convalescent, smiling eyes roving about her. "Grass paper, Kane, and
such a dear border!" she said. "And everything feeling so clean! And
my darling girl writing letters and seeing people all these weeks!
And my boys so good! And dear old Daddy carrying the real burden for
everyone--what a dreadfully spoiled woman I am! And Justine--come
here a minute, Justine--"

The Treasure, who was clearing the dining-room table, came in, and
smiled at the pretty group, mother and father, daughter and sons,
all rejoicing in being well and together again.

"I don't know how I am ever going to thank you, Justine," said Mrs.
Salisbury, with a little emotion. She took the girl's hand in both
her transparent white ones. "Do believe that I appreciate it," she
said. "It has been a comfort to me, even when I was sickest, even
when I apparently didn't know anything, to know that you were here,
that everything was running smoothly and comfortably, thanks to you.
We could not have managed without you!"

Justine returned the finger pressure warmly, also a little stirred.

"Why, it's been a real pleasure," she said a little huskily. She had
to accept a little chorus of thanks from the other members of the
family before, blushing very much and smiling, too, she went back to
her work.

"She really has managed everything," Kane Salisbury told his wife
later. "She handles all the little monthly bills, telephone and gas
and so on; seems to take it as a matter of course that she should."

"And what shall I do now, Kane? Go on that way, for a while anyway?"
asked his wife.

"Oh, by all means, dear! You must take things easy for a while. By
degrees you can take just as much or as little as you want, with the

"You dear old idiot," the lady said tenderly, "don't worry about
that! It will all come about quite naturally and pleasantly."

Indeed, it was still a relief to depend heavily upon Justine. Mrs.
Salisbury was quite bewildered by the duties that rose up on every
side of her; Sandy's frocks for the fall, the boys' school suits,
calls that must be made, friends who must be entertained, and the
opening festivities of several clubs to which she belonged.

She found things running very smoothly downstairs, there seemed to
be not even the tiniest flaw for a critical mistress to detect, and
the children had added a bewildering number of new names to their
lists of favorite dishes. Justine was asked over and over again for
her Manila curry, her beef and kidney pie, her scones and German
fruit tarts, and for a brown and crisp and savory dish in which the
mistress of the house recognized, under the title of chou farci, an
ordinary cabbage as a foundation.

"Oh, let's not have just chickens or beef," Sandy would plead when a
company dinner was under discussion. "Let's have one of Justine's
fussy dishes. Leave it to Justine!"

For the Treasure obviously enjoyed company dinner parties, and it
was fascinating to Sandy to see how methodically, and with what
delightful leisure, she prepared for them. Two or three days
beforehand her cake-making, silver-polishing, sweeping and cleaning
were well under way, and the day of the event itself was no busier
than any other day.

Yet it was on one of these occasions that Mrs. Salisbury first had
what she felt was good reason to criticize Justine. During a brief
absence from home of both boys, their mother planned a rather formal
dinner. Four of her closest friends, two couples, were asked, and
Owen Sargent was invited by Sandy to make the group an even eight.
This was as many as the family table accommodated comfortably, and
seemed quite an event. Ordinarily the mistress of the house would
have been fussing for some days beforehand, in her anxiety to have
everything go well, but now, with Justine's brain and Justine's
hands in command of the kitchen end of affairs, she went to the
other extreme, and did not give her own and Sandy's share of the
preparations a thought until the actual day of the dinner.

For, as was stipulated in her bond, except for a general cleaning
once a week, the Treasure did no work downstairs outside of the
dining-room and kitchen, and made no beds at any time. This meant
that the daughter of the house must spend at least an hour every
morning in bed-making, and perhaps another fifteen minutes in that
mysteriously absorbing business known as "straightening" the living
room. Usually Sandy was very faithful to these duties; more, she
whisked through them cheerfully, in her enthusiastic eagerness that
the new domestic experiment should prove a success.

But for a morning or two before this particular dinner she had
shirked her work. Perhaps the novelty of it was wearing off a
little. There was a tennis tournament in progress at the Burning
Woods Country Club, two miles away from River Falls, and Sandy, who
was rather proud of her membership in this very smart organization,
did not want to miss a moment of it. Breakfast was barely over
before somebody's car was at the door to pick up Miss Salisbury, who
departed in a whirl of laughter and a flutter of bright veils, to be
gone, sometimes, for the entire day.

She had gone in just this way on the morning of the dinner, and her
mother, who had quite a full program of her own for the morning, had
had breakfast in bed. Mrs. Salisbury came downstairs at about ten
o'clock to find the dining-room airing after a sweeping; curtains
pinned back, small articles covered with a dust cloth, chairs at all
angles. She went on to the kitchen, where Justine was beating

"Don't forget chopped ice for the shaker, the last thing," Mrs.
Salisbury said, adding, with a little self-conscious rush, "And, oh,
by the way, Justine, I see that Miss Alexandra has gone off again,
without touching the living room. Yesterday I straightened it a
little bit, but I have two club meetings this morning, and I'm
afraid I must fly. If--if she comes in for lunch, will you remind
her of it?"

"Will she be back for lunch? I thought she said she would not,"
Justine said, in honest surprise.

"No; come to think of it, she won't," her mother admitted, a little
flatly. "She put her room and her brothers' room in order," she
added inconsequently.

Justine did not answer, and Mrs. Salisbury went slowly out of the
kitchen, annoyance rising in her heart. It was all very well for
Sandy to help out about the house, but this inflexible idea of
holding her to it was nonsense!

Ruffled, she went up to her room. Justine had carried away the
breakfast tray, but there were towels and bath slippers lying about,
a litter of mail on the bed, and Mr. Salisbury's discarded linen
strewn here and there. The dressers were in disorder, window
curtains were pinned back for more air, and the coverings of the
twin beds thrown back and trailing on the floor. Fifteen minutes'
brisk work would have straightened the whole, but Mrs. Salisbury
could not spare the time just then. The morning was running away
with alarming speed; she must be dressed for a meeting at eleven
o'clock, and, like most women of her age, she found dressing a slow
and troublesome matter; she did not like to be hurried with her
brushes and cold creams, her ruffles and veil.

The thought of the unmade beds did not really trouble her when, trim
and dainty, she went off in a friend's car to the club at eleven
o'clock, but when she came back, nearly two hours later, it was
distinctly an annoyance to find her bedroom still untouched. She was
tired then, and wanted her lunch; but instead she replaced her
street dress with a loose house gown, and went resolutely to work.

Musing over her solitary luncheon, she found the whole thing a
little absurd. There was still the drawing-room to be put in order,
and no reason in the world why Justine should not do it. The girl
was not overworked, and she was being paid thirty-seven dollars and
fifty cents every month! Justine was big and strong, she could toss
the little extra work off without any effort at all.

She wondered why it is almost a physical impossibility for a nice
woman to ask a maid the simplest thing in the world, if she is
fairly certain that that maid will be ungracious about it.

"Dear me!" thought Mrs. Salisbury, eating her chop and salad, her
hot muffin and tart without much heart to appreciate these
delicacies, "How much time I have spent in my life, going through
imaginary conversations with maids! Why couldn't I just step to the
pantry door and say, in a matter-of-fact tone, 'I'm afraid I must
ask you to put the sitting-room in order, Justine. Miss Sandy has
apparently forgotten all about it. I'll see that it doesn't occur
again.' And I could add--now that I think of it--'I will pay you for
your extra time, if you like, and if you will remind me at the end
of the month.'"

"Well, she may not like it, but she can't refuse," was her final
summing up. She went out to the kitchen with a deceptive air of

Justine's occupation, when Mrs. Salisbury found her, strengthened
the older woman's resolutions. The maid, in a silent and spotless
kitchen, was writing a letter. Sheets of paper were strewn on the
scoured white wood of the kitchen table; the writer, her chin cupped
in her hand, was staring dreamily out of the kitchen window. She
gave her mistress an absent smile, then laid down her pen and stood

"I'm writing here," she explained, "so that I can catch the milkman

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