Monday, 1 May 2017

A Hiatus

Apologies for the lack of posting lately! I have been suddenly and unexpectedly busy. Posting will resume next week.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

16 July 1881 'The Art of Shopping' by Mary Selwood

What is it in shopping which so attracts the feminine mind? It must be admitted that the sterner sex are, as a rule, indifferent to the charms of such expeditions, and will suffer much, rather than accompany a lady to a round of shops. And yet a charm there must be, or else why all this crowd of people invariably found at every favourite establishment, many of whom, if they told the strict truth, must own to having come for some trifling purchases which might just as well have been indefinitely postponed, or done without altogether?

Others will go shopping, as they wrongly call it, simply to look in at the windows on the chance of seeing something pretty and cheap, when they rush in and buy it, and go home rejoicing and boasting to all their friends of the bargain they have lighted on.

Let such foolish ones lay to heart this axiom: "Never buy a thing simply because it is cheap."

"Oh, but it is sure to come in some time," they reply.

Perhaps it may, sooner or later, probably later; and meanwhile it will be laid aside, getting dingy and out of date, and when at last a use comes for it its freshness is gone, and you wish you had never bought it, and could go and get new.

Some members of the shopping world have wonderful notions of economy. They will walk long distances to save a few pence in their purchases, not taking into account the wear of shoe leather or the waste of time, or the mental and bodily fatigue, which surely is of some account if our energies are worth anything.

"Oh, why don't you go to Brown's for that ribbon? I got the very same thing there for 5 3/4 d only yesterday," such a one will say to a friend who is paying 6d for it at Jones's. Now Brown's is nearly a mile away and this economical lady forgot to mention that by the time she got to the shop she was so exhausted that she had to take a hansom home, so that in the end she lost considerably by the transaction.

Certainly there is no object in paying more than is necessary, even though it is but a farthing a yard; but a great deal of extravagance is practised and called economy by people who have not studied the art of shopping. As a rule it is not economical, but the reverse, to buy cheap imitations instead of the real thing; they are in the end not cheap, but dear. A poor thing, of bad material or badly made, may pass muster for a little time, but very soon its outside gloss of respectability begins to fade, its true self shows through, and everybody can see that it is nothing but a sham. And do we not all in our hearts despise shams? And rightly too, for they are the very essence of vulgarity.

But buy a good thing, and besides lasting ten times as long as the inferior, it will look good and respectable, and unspeakably more refined, even when worn away to its last threads. So the true wisdom and economy is to have honestly good things, and, if necessary, fewer of them, and not to deck our houses and ourselves in an ostentatious super-abundance of "bargains (which are not bargains) picked up so cheaply" here and there and everywhere.

Unless one can afford to fritter away an amazing amount of money, it is well on entertaining a tempting shop not to think: "Now what shall I buy, what do I want?" but to keep in mind the query: "What can I do without?"

A prudent shopper will keep her eyes from straying amongst the tempting array as she walks up the shop, lest, seeing thee temptation to buy should be too strong for her strength of mind. She will turn a deaf ear to the insinuations of the shopkeeper anent a "special cheap line in gloves," or "a manufacturer's stock of ribbons at less than cost price," conscious that though they may be cheap in one way, they would not be so to her, because she does not want them.

Shoppers may be arranged in three classes; probably we can all fix on one of our acquaintances as typical of each class.

First, then, the desperately economical, not to say stingy, shopper, of whom mention has already been made. Having possibly abundant means, yet nothing gives her so much pleasure as to buy her goods more cheaply than anyone else. Always on the look out for bargains, she moves her patronage from one shop to another, not because the goods are better, but she has the idea that they may be cheaper, or that the vendor may be more readily beaten down in price.

For this dreadful individual, on being shown any article, immediately, and as a matter of course, begins to persuade the shopman to take less than the price. Perhaps in the hope of retaining her custom he does abate a trifle at first, but, finding that there is no end to her bargaining, he becomes impatient and indifferent whether she goes elsewhere or not.

The members of the 2d class are not so numerous as those of the other two, but still they exist in no small numbers.

A lady of class number two will not and cannot believe that anything is good unless the full or more than the full price is paid for it.

"This is nice tender beef, my dear," she says to her daughter, the housekeeper .

"It is American, mother, eightpence half-penny a pound."

"Ah, well, I thought it was very flavourless all the time."

Or, after admiring the new carpet in a friend's room, she is told it was bought at a little reduction because the pattern was not fashionable, she will say, sympathisingly, "Well, it won't wear of course; it is such a mistake to buy underpriced goods when you want wear."

No shops are to be patronised except those "good old-fashioned" ones, which charge a trifle more for everything than everybody else. The addition to the price appears to add flavour and air to the wares  which is quite wanting in those bought at more reasonable prices.

Ah, well, class two, you are foolish, prejudiced, aggravating, but nevertheless to be preferred to your predecessor.

In the third class we find those who understand how to shop. Without being niggardly, they will not pay more than a thing is worth, though it will be on sale at the best and most old-fashioned shop in the world. On hearing the price, if she thinks it excessive, she will say so, quietly but straightforwardly, not in the hope of getting it reduced, but to explain her not purchasing it. The truth is much better than a number of foolish groundless reasons which the attendant probably sees through in a moment and despises accordingly.

Again, if she be pleased with an article in quality and price, she will gratify the shopkeepers by saying so equally frankly.

On the other hand, she will never buy cheap rubbish; she carefully examines it and detects the good from the bad, and lets no amount of persuasion or cheapness tell against her own good judgment. She chooses out certain shops and goes to them as much and as continuously as she fairly can. She knows what she wants before going in, or if she does not know exactly she tells the attendant clearly what purpose it is for, and he is always willing to suggest. By this means she avoids the annoying practice of getting the counter covered with unsuitable goods, and finally departing without purchasing at all.

Should she have unavoidably caused extra trouble, or taken up a good deal of time, a polite "I am sorry to have troubled you" will mollify the poor tired server, and do away with the grumbling remarks which would probably be made after her departure.

If she meets an acquaintance in a shop, after greeting her she will finish her purchases before entering into conversation, so as not to keep the attendant waiting, for his time is valuable, though she may have plenty of leisure.

But a word must be said about servers. Are they themselves always perfect? Can they know how much custom they sometimes drive away from their masters' shops by their surliness and unwillingness to oblige? As a rule, they are amazingly patient and good-humoured, but still one hears too frequently such a speech as this. "Oh, I never go to Brown's, they have such disagreeable, uncivil people to serve; I prefer to walk a little further on to Jones's. It is not such a good shop, but they are so polite, and seem so anxious to please."

If they only knew how pleasant it is to be served by a civil, obliging person, and how annoying to have an impatient or unwilling one, they would certainly exert themselves to preserve at least an outward show of patience and good temper, even if they cannot manage to affect the interest in their customers which is such a charm in the attendants at many shops.

The importunate shopkeeper, too, is very annoying, who, when one is in a great hurry, persists in bringing out box after box of "special lines" and displaying them, regardless of your assurances that you d not require anything more.

Also, it is very provoking to be told that a certain article matches your pattern, or is suitable for your purpose, when it is quite evident that it would not do at all. This importunity is often due to the "rules of the house," where the assistants are paid a commission on articles which they contrive to sell. It is never done at the stores, and hence one of the comforts of shopping at these places instead of at shops. Pressing people to buy in that way seldom has the desired effect, and certainly makes them reluctant to go to the shop again.

The one thing to be considered on both sides by sellers and buyers is how to do to others as we would be done by.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

9 July 1881 - 'The Duties of Servants' by Sophia F.A. Caulfield, Part Two

While the world lasts there will be the rich and the poor, the rulers and the ruled, the employer and the employed; each class enjoying its own rights, privileges, and responsibilities. Those employing your labour, be assured, are fellow-workers, even if not for hire, and have to bear the cares and anxieties which belong to their position, many of which are far heavier than your own, and with which you have little or no acquaintance. Do not wish to exchange your lot for theirs. You can elevate your position and gain the respect of your employers as well as your fellows by your propriety of conduct, manners and dress. Common, cheap finery is as little becoming as it is unsuitable, and those who wear it are not those who obtain first-class situations and become elevated to confidential positions amongst their employers. The common-looking, vulgar style of wearing what a low class of servant-girls in lodging-houses call a "flag" at the back of the head stamps them at once as belonging to the lowest grade of untrained and cheap servants. A real cap is pretty and becoming, and is suitable to those whose work must make their hair dusty, and the exposure to draughts disarrange it. That most respectable and high-class race of servants who used to live from twenty to fifty years, or for life, in the same family – dying in the home of their adoption, beloved and respected; or else were pensioned on the death of their employers, to enjoy independence in a home of their own – these were not people who wore a strap of crochet work on the back of a dusty head. They had no desire to look "shabby genteel" either. They wore good, plain dresses and pretty white caps. And so in the gentry, the maid servants are dressed as in olden times, following in the steps of those who rose to positions of competence and future independence. The lady's-maid alone is exempt from wearing a cap, simply because she is always about her mistress, and her work does not exposure her to any chance of looking dusty and disarranged. But as she advances in life she also adopts a cap, as the hair becomes grey and possibly thin.

It is said that "there is honour amongst thieves." If not influenced by better and more sacred motives, at least you might be ashamed to degrade yourself to a lower standard than theirs. Yet, rightly or wrongly, young servant girls are accused of being very dishonourable, in being much given to what is called "tittle-tattle," as well as charged with trying hopelessly to look like what they are not. It should be regarded as a point of honour amongst you never to repeat outside the house, nor even in the servants' hall nor kitchen, what you were trusted to hear at your master's table or in your mistress's apartments. Never stop to listen to their conversation (which you might misunderstand if you did), but give your whole attention to your own business. With reference to the respect due to them, to the duty of "not answering again," of abstaining from purloining, and "showing all fidelity," I refer you to the words of Divine inspiration, which have given no "Uncertain sound" in their directions both to masters and servants. Having known of several instances within the circle of my own family and connections of those who have lived from five-and-twenty to upwards of fifty years in the same family, deservedly beloved and respected, I know how to appreciate the faithful and high-principled amongst them, and am ready to believe in the extensive existence of such, in the class to which you, my readers, belong. Strive early to emulate such bright examples, and ever remember that amongst the most humble in birth and circumstances there is such a thing as "Nature's nobility" – the highest sentiments of honour and feelings of propriety, combined with the greatest humility and modesty of demeanour, and of that good sense which makes a man or woman know and live according to their natural position in life; and are placed in that position of trust and trial only as a temporary training for a state of far higher existence.

"Be thou faithful in a few things, and I will make thee ruler over many things."

To the mistresses of families I would now make two or three suggestions. The inefficiency of domestic servants, the rare examples of grateful and loving service rendered, the silly vanity which induces ignorant young girls to ape a position they can never attain and thus even throw a doubt on their moral character – all these points form subjects of perpetual fault-finding, sour your temper and prejudice you against the whole class.

Doubtless you cannot "make bricks without straw," and you have much cause for dissatisfaction. A servant professes to know all the duties and method of performing, for which she expects all the wages you may be induced to give, with all the comforts of a home, and you discover that she possesses but a very superficial idea of any of them. She wastes your provisions perhaps by bad cookery or forgetfulness of them; articles destroyed by neglect of repair, and every description of disaster and annoyance. We all suffer in a greater or less degree, paying honest wages for dishonest services. Alas! "That which is crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is wanting cannot be numbered."

But if we feel so keenly our own wrongs we should apply ourselves all the more zealously to redress them; and if we judge the shortcomings and misdoings of our maid-servants, let us take care that our own conduct be absolutely above reproach.

If, as a general rule, the young domestic servants of the present day are inferior as regards both their efficiency and manners, as well as devoted fidelity to their predecessors, the fault is not always and entirely to be laid to their charge. Those whether employ them very frequently show themselves utterly ignorant of their own duties towards them, and the great responsibility which lies on their own shoulders. Apart from all higher motives, the old saying, "Noblesse oblige" seems little to influence their deportment towards them. There is a petty and most vulgar meanness in the ostentatious way in which ladies of no real position in society themselves will order about their attendants as if they were only automatons, and not persons under their benevolent care and wise judicious training. The more or less uneducated need as careful and considerate training as children.

Every household should remember that by a Divine decree it is the mistress who is to "guide the house," and the duties which this sacred charge involves are to be gravely accepted and prayerfully carried out. It is not to be supposed that she has only to give her servants certain orders, and to scold or dismiss them if they be not fulfilled. In a very extended sense, she has the souls and bodies, health, training, and the present and eternal well-being of those under her authority placed in her charge; or, to say the least, within her influence – an influence for good or evil for which she will assuredly have one day to render an account.

The service which she buys with gold may be rendered for love. How often has this been realised when reverses have changed the order of the household, and the faithful servant has selected to share the scant necessaries of life with the beloved and revered heads of the family; not grudging the least extra service that seems to outweigh the gold in the balance set against it, but, thenceforth, as the tried and tested and deservedly trusted friend, clinging with affection and respect to her unfortunate master and mistress?

But money alone will not purchase fidelity like this. "If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned." Of course there are the naturally high-principled, as well as the God-fearing, amongst little-educated people, as well as amongst those who have had the benefit of the best intellectual culture. Faithful service, even in little matters – out of sight, perhaps, and unappreciated – will sometimes be found here, even when mistress – who pays her servant, and gives her a home – is not to be classed among "the good and gentle." But "as a man sows so shall he reap" is a rule of very general application. If kindness and consideration, supplementing honest payment of service, do not always meet a just reward at the hands of our servants, so we have no right to expect a cordial, hearty, cheerful service for a cold return in money only.

To claim unquestioning obedience – a respectful address and answers – a suitable style of dress – a strict conformity to the hours and rules of the house – and of the performance of the work, in conformity with your own directions – are all requirements perfectly within the limits of your rightful authority. But be careful to give each servant, before her entrance into your family, the complete list of the rules by which she is to be guided; so that if she should demur at any of them, she may do so at once. In the same way, make her acquainted with the amount of rest and recreation you can allow her; and after her ready agreement to your proposals, then let her find that – strict as you may be on certain points – you are no niggard in kindly consideration for her, and that her pleasures are given with an ungrudging hand. Above all things, remember that if you lose your temper in speaking to her, you lower yourself in her estimation. Speak firmly, and gravely, if need be; but do not forget yourself for a moment, or lower your dignity by saying anything in haste that you would not like to hear repeated in the servants' hall as a specimen of an ill-governed temper. Such outbreaks, however justly you may have been offended, may make your servants fear, but never respect you.

In reference to the recreations to which I alluded, a few suggestions should be given. Going out after dark is by no means include amongst them, unless it to be to take turn with other servants in going to church or chapel. Let no Sundays pass without sending each servant to a place of worship once in the day. They need out-of-door air, as well as their mistress. Send them for their weekly outing while the sun shines, or at least that the daylight lasts, to see their families and friends, or do their shopping. Do not grudge a cup of tea "once in a way," to the relative or friend who may come to see them when the chief work of the day is over.

Supply them always with some nice book – such as a volume of magazines (for instance, our own paper, the Sunday at Home, or the Leisure Hour), for, apart from the kindliness of the act, it is your duty to educate their minds; and in so doing you are also training them to be more efficient servants.

Some little time should always be allowed – if not every day, at least once in the week – for their own needlework, the necessary mending and making of their clothing and caps. It is equally for your own satisfaction that they should be accorded some time for this, as otherwise their appearance will be unsuitable to your house; and sitting up late at night – as many are obliged to do – is most undesirable on every account.

Remember that while all familiarity should be avoided, there is a quiet dignified politeness of manner and mode of address that invariably calls forth a politeness of response. Do not allow your self-respect and self-assertion to border upon an ostentatious demeanour. You will never elevate your position in their eyes by so doing. The lady-like politeness of your own manner will invariably be reflected to some extent in that of the servant whom you address.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

2 July 1881 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

C.J.S. – Avoid writing to other people's husbands, beyond a note on business, of course; and on all occasions let it be openly done, and to be read freely to the wife. Of course, the father of the bride should, in the case you name, take his aunt out of the church.

SHORT INTELLECT – Why should you "cultivate a bad memory"? Better to cultivate a good one. This may be done by daily learning by heart some pieces of poetry or prose.

MARGERITE – Thank you  for the exquisite flowers. It is very kind of you to send them after all our inattention to your enraged sister's letters. We are sorry to hear that, notwithstanding all we say in THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER, you find nothing to do that "nobody wants you," and that "everything is a dreary monotony." We cannot believe that you are anxious to be of service and to do your duty aright, for if you were you would soon find plenty of employment for your hands, head and heart.

IMPERIAL LILY – 1. At fifteen years of age you are far too young to become a hospital nurse. You should be learning your lessons in the schoolroom. Eighteen would be quite early enough for such a vocation. On the efficiency of a nurse the life of a patient mainly depends, under God's providence. 2. Do not send your dove on a long journey till mild weather has returned, and then cover the cage well. We should not imagine that the other would die from the loss of the other hen's companionship. If you have reason to think that their friendship was exceptionally romantic, get a mate for her without delay to fill the "aching void," before any sad catastrophe should occur.

AN ENGLISH GIRL – So you think that our correspondents are "imaginary people"? If so, you must be "an imaginary person" yourself, being one of them. Taking your view of the matter, it would be unnecessary to answer the query from a sham "English Girl"; but granting her "the benefit of a doubt" we answer this impatient little lady forthwith, to relieve her extreme anxiety on the question of "whether a leather belt may be worn over a jacket bodice"? Under a sense of deep responsibility we venture to say that it is a matter of no consequence whatever where little girls are concerned. Grown up persons do not wear them at present. Judging from her writing, "English Girl" must be about nine or ten years old, and she writes badly even for that.

DUMPS – We truly commiserate poor "Dumps." Your powers of attraction do not depend on mere personal beauty, but on a good and pleasing expression, gracious and gentle manners. Do not anticipate the possibility of a single life with dread. You need not suffer from loneliness on that account; but even that would be far preferable to married life under many circumstances that we might name. Ask God to provide for you as shall be for your best interests, in this life, and in that which is to come.

CURLEW – We are amused by our youthful reader's anxiety to know what chance there is of her being afflicted with lunacy, "on account of the high pressure of the age." This pressure, she says, "is without doubt felt by every single person in however remote a place he may be living." Our anxious little friend excludes from consideration (she adds) "those who become insane from over-taxing the mind." Be calm, dear reader, we do not live, even here, in such a terrible steam-engine for grinding out our brains as you imagine, working them as we do. As many become dull and even imbecile from extreme low "pressure" idleness, and lack of wholesome interest in the family and home business of their lives. Take note of that.

LITTLE RIGGLE – Thank you  for the pretty and nicely made pen wiper. Your writing is too stiff.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

2 July 1881 - 'How to Improve One's Education' Part One

The numerous readers of THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER must vary so much in age, position, and education, that it is not possible to write on such a subject as we have chosen exactly in the way that will give most satisfaction to everyone. Nevertheless we will undertake to say that no girl who carefully reads what follows on the question of self-improvement will regret having done so; on the contrary, it is hoped that each one will be either refreshed, or encouraged, or stimulated to adopt at once one of the methods here suggested for increasing her own usefulness.

The subject of "Finishing Schools" will be a familiar one to many. In all probability some who read this will already have left such an establishment, with a "finished" education; it is hoped to attract and rouse these to the reality that as long as we live we shall find something to learn, and that our life and our education must terminate at the same time.

There are also probably many amongst our readers who regret that they have not been able to enjoy the privileges that a dear friend has enjoyed, so far as early teaching is concerned. More than this, that circumstances have arisen to cause a gap in educational work just at a time when the mind is most ripe to receive instruction. Perhaps, too, during this unfortunate period much with which one was one familiar has been lost, hopelessly lost, it seems. Let these remember that it is never too late to learn, and that much can be done in the way of making up deficiencies in early education by patient and persevering study. One's own desire and strength of purpose are large factors in such work: we hope to guide the way and encourage those who are patiently plodding on.

Another class of readers, possibly not a very small one, if one could hear the silent assent which follows the reading of the remark, may include those who, having been provided with the best means of obtaining instruction, have not felt a sufficiently strong desire to learn much. They have done what was absolutely necessary to be done at school, but were glad when the time came to leave school. Let us hope that at least these also fall within the number of those who are really desirous to do something for self-improvement.

Though it would be possible to select other classes of readers, we will rest satisfied for the present with asking (1) all those who think they know all that it is necessary for them to know; (2) all those, who from a variety of circumstances apart from themselves, have been unable to receive a good education; and (3) all those who, having had the opportunity of good teaching, have not been able to appreciate it, and so have lost much from their own want of wisdom, to spend a quiet half hour with us.

The question now occurs, What is a good education? Opinions vary very much as to what standard should be acknowledged as the test of a good education, but no one will dispute the point, that position in life must always be an element in determining this. For instance, the education which one would call goods  for the upper classes in a Board school, would not be entitled to the same epithets in the upper classes of our middle class and high schools; and what would be a good education  for the housemaid could not be considered in the same light when speaking of the ladies of the house. In every grade and rank of life however, the intelligence which is given to us has to be cultivated, and it behoves each one to do the best that is possible to improve and elevate the mind. It has been said that "the best part of one's education is that which one gives to one's self," If this be realised, then there can be no stronger inducement necessary to urge forward those who have hitherto thought to impossible to teach one's self.

Begin to study at once. As soon as the effort is made much pleasure and a good deal of knowledge will be sure to follow. We shall not now expect to be met with the remark, "Yes, some people are clever, and can work alone;" only believe that all people can work alone, and do very much real good to themselves, if they will not e faint-hearted, and give up in despair at the first difficulty which presents itself.

But we have not yet fixed our standard of what we ought to know. Let us adopt then as our motto the well known words of a well-educated man who decided that we ought to know "something of everything, and everything of something." Let us also remember with this the French proverb, "Les demi-connaissances sont plus dangereuses que l'ignorance."

The field is wide when we feel that we must know something of everything, but then we have made up our minds and we shall not readily be turned aside by difficulties. We already, too, have a foundation of general education to work upon, and the whole of our life may be devoted to the perfecting of our mind. The question now is, How are we to work?

Well, one has to find out what one already knows, and this may be done by testing one's self by getting copies of questions given at a general examination, say the College of Preceptors, for instance, and answering these questions. Of course one must be very strict with one's self with regard to keeping the rules and correcting the papers when done; no fault must be allowed to pass unnoticed, and one must answer the questions at once – that is at sight; no looking up of little points must be allowed when once the questions have been read, and everything must be done in the given time.

It would be well, if not very advanced, or not in the habit of working examination questions, to test one's self first with the third class papers, then with the second, and so on. When finished the answers may be compared with a book on the subject and all mistakes marked. Something is now accomplished. The difference between real and fancied knowledge has been made plain, and knowing now what you do not know helps to fix for you what you want to know Now take a schedule of some examination, or form a definite plan of work, fixing the subject, or subjects of study, and the time to be devoted to it, taking care to keep most steadily to the plan laid down. Make it a duty and remember that "England expects that every man will do his duty," and every girl too!

Before saying more on the details of study we will consider a few points of general interest. They will not be exhaustive, neither will they be new to all our readers, but they will, it is to be hoped, open out some new veins of thought to many minds. To those who are very anxious to work we say –

1. Do not attempt too many subjects of study at once if you are much occupied with household duties or engaged in teaching. Remember that regular and systematic study spread over a period of time, even though the time be in half-hours, will enable one to store up a good deal of knowledge in the course of a few years. To those who think differently let me say very earnestly try it.

2. Make an effort to surround yourself with useful books. Many girls find in their homes wonderful stores of books; they know the book-cases, but are often astounded when an occasional visitor tells them that the information they seek is in such and such a book, on such and such a shelf in a particular bookcase in their own home! Besides having books, know what is inside them, examine and criticise them as you do your acquaintances, and be able to give the good and bad points in them. Make them your friends and companions. You will seldom have time to feel dull. With many, however, the case is different, and it is not easy always to get books. One good plan to adopt is to keep a list of books by you that you really want, and when asked by friends what you would like for a birthday present, Christmas present &c., to name one or two of your long-desired friends.

3. Cultivate the friendship of those who are better informed than yourself take every opportunity, without of course being tedious, of talking with well-read people, listening with the utmost attention, and asking for explanations when you do not understand. Much help and guidance in the choice of books may be obtained from these people.

4. Read carefully and thoughtfully. The habit of reading man story books and missing over the "dry" parts is very unhealthy, and is by no means a good preparation for study. Nothing can make up  for the want of regular and careful reading. "Reading," as Bacon tells us, "maketh a full man;" he also gives us a very good piece of advice on reading, "Read not to contradict nor to believe, but to weigh and consider," preparing us  for the fact that much that we read must be questioned and tested before we are to accept it as fact, and this throws us back on the judgment of those who are wiser than ourselves and who best know what books we should read. The same great writer tells us further that "some books are to be tasted, and then to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."

5. In order to be quite sure of the real benefit derived from reading it is necessary to examine one's self from time to time and recapitulate and summarise what has been done. Another good plan is to keep a book for extracts.

The following is a good introduction to such a book:-

"In reading authors, when you find
Bright passages that strike your mind
And which perhaps you may have reason
To think of at another season,
Be not contented with the sight,
But take them down in black and white;
Such a respect is wisely shown,
It makes another's sense one's own."

6. It is also a good plan to write short essays on subjects that have been read. This will help wonderfully in giving readiness and precision in expressing one's thoughts, and it is also a guarantee that one knows a subject. It is not possible to write clearly upon a subject of which one is altogether ignorant.

7. Where possible it is also a good plan to discuss certain points in reading. It is an advantage to acquire the habit of good speaking. Many people speak indistinctly or incoherently, who are of necessity obliged to speak in public. This would not happen if the art of speaking or debating were more usually adopted. A few girls, sisters and their friends, might have weekly, fortnightly, or monthly meetings, choose a president or umpire, and speak on a given subject, say for five or ten minutes each, with very great advantage. Of course it is hardly necessary here to suggest that the subject should be prepared, and that there should be no gossip and no temper admitted into these little societies. An afternoon tea would be a genial close.

8. Another very interesting mode of self-improvement, known and practised possibly by many readers of this paper, is that of forming a kind of literary society, or club, the members of which write papers on given or self-chosen subjects, to be read and remarked on in writing, by each member of the club. The prize schemes of THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER are a public form of this method; an appreciated one also.

9. Among girls, too, it is very customary to have Dorcas meetings. It is a good plan here for one to read aloud. A lighter kind of literature, or poetry, will form a pleasant and healthy recreation here, as well as at the evening needlework, where fathers and brothers join the circle, and sometimes become the reader.

Many more points occur as showing their advantages, but doubtless our readers have already framed some additional ones of their own; if so, our object in this respect is already gained.

In gathering up in conclusion the thoughts put forward here, our readers will readily agree that our centre of observation is on the choice, accumulation and use of books. THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER has already shown "how to form a small library." Of books not to be found in this library, and not included in the list of gift books spoken of, and yet needed, the lending library, of which nothing has been said, will supply the place. There are students' lending libraries, as well as circulating libraries, which contain little but novels. Books then are within reach, and we hope also that every girl has some one to guide her in the choice of books; may she use them well when she has the! She will not regret the work when she has acquired the knowledge which gives pleasure in its search, enjoyment in the possession and satisfaction in its distribution; which makes her a happier, more intelligent, and more useful member of society, and a help-meet  for the best of men.

Monday, 27 February 2017

2 July 1881 - 'How to Make Clear Soup' by Phillis Browne

Having prepared our stock, strained it overnight, and left it in an uncovered vessel in a cool larder, the next question we have to ask ourselves is, "What shall we do with it?"

There is no room for doubt here, no matter how we may proceed afterwards. The first thing to be done is to clear away the fat, which will have settled in a cake on the top of the stock. If the stock is a jelly, we may take this off more easily if we use a metal spoon which has first been dipped into hot water, and after we have taken off as much fat as we can in this way, we must wipe the jelly and the basin with the corner of a napkin which has been wrung out in hot water.

It is said that people learned in cookery know of five hundred different kinds of soup. If this be true, it is probable that a large proportion of these soups are so much like each other that ordinary people could not discover the points of difference between them. It is also probable that a goodly number are made of clear soup. Besides, cooks who can make good clear soup can make all kinds of soup; and therefore we will begin our lesson now by describing the process of clarification.

Soup is sometimes made clear with white of egg, and sometimes with raw lean meat, beef, or veal, the medium in each case being the same – albumen.

I daresay you remember that when we were talking about boiling meat we said that we put meat which was to be eaten into boiling water for two or three minutes, in order that the albumen might harden on the outside and form a sort of shield to keep in the goodness of the meat. When we boil the raw meat in the stock the albumen hardens as before, but being mixed with the liquid it takes the impurities contained there with it, and all are collected in a mass together, and can be strained away.

We must not suppose, however, that it makes no difference whether we use white of eggs or lean meat in clarifying soup. Lean meat enriches soup, white of egg impoverishes it; and it is more profitable to clarify weak stock with lean meat than it is to clarify strong stock with white of egg.

As to the quantity of meat to be used for clarification, that must depend on the weight of meat employed in making the stock, not upon the measure of liquor which we have at our disposal. The proportion of meat needed for clarification is half a pound of lean meat for every two and a half pounds of meat used in making the stock, and the quantity of lean meat needed would be no less if in making the stock we had used half a  pint only of water to the pound of meat. Indeed, if the liquid were very strong we should find it an advantage to mix about a teaspoonful of white of egg with the raw meat, because strong liquids are more difficult to clarify than thin ones.

We will, therefore, suppose that we have stock made with two pounds and a half of meat, and that we are going to clarify it with half a pound of lean meat freed entirely from fat and skin. How should we proceed?

We must first cut the meat into very small pieces (if we have such a thing we may pass it through the sausage machine instead), and put with it a carrot, a turnip, and the white part of a good-sized leek, or, wanting this, an onion, but a leek is much the more delicate in flavour of the two. Of course we must wash the vegetables, scrape the carrot, and cut the turnip and the leek into small pieces. We may add also a stick of celery, half a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme and parsley, and half a dozen peppercorns.

We now pour the stock, already freed from fat, very steadily into a perfectly clean saucepan, being careful always not to disturb and also to leave behind any sediment there may be at the bottom of the vessel. We put the saucepan on a quick fire, stir the chopped meat and the flavouring ingredients into it, and keep stirring until a froth begins to form on the liquor. We then stop stirring at once, wait until the liquor rises high, draw the pan back instantly, and let it stand at the side of the fire for a quarter of an hour or so.

If we now take a little of the liquid in a silver spoon we shall find that part of it is bright and clear, and we can see the silver through it; the other is a sort of curd, mixed with vegetables and meat. This curd is the albumen which has hardened and gathered the impurities which were in the soup with it, and this it is which must be removed by straining.

Whilst the liquor is standing by the side of the fire we may prepare the strainer. A jelly bag is not the best thing we can take, because we want to pour the liquid in gently, and it is awkward to do this with a deep jelly bag. Better to take the thick flannel of which the jelly bag would have been made, wring it out of boiling water, and tie it to the four legs of a chair which has been turned upside-down on a table. The vessel  for the soup can be placed underneath the flannel, and the liquor can be poured on slowly and gently so as not to disturb the scum, which will serve as a filter  for the soup. Now, if my directions have been followed exactly I am quite sure that a beautifully bright clear soup will be obtained, and one that will taste pleasantly also when it has been boiled up again with salt and a small piece of sugar.

Perhaps girls feel inclined to ask, Must the flavouring ingredients be put into stock which has already been flavoured when it was made? Yes, they must. The quantities here given are for flavoured stock. If the stock were not flavoured at all, a larger proportion of vegetables would be needed. One secret of having well-tasting soup is to let it be freshly flavoured. The vegetables are put in here to revive the flavour, and the flavour needs reviving after the stock has been all night I larder. Otherwise the soup will have a stale taste, which will be anything but agreeable.

I may say in passing that it is this necessity for reviving the flavours which makes the difficulty with tinned soups. People often say that tinned soups taste of the tin, or, in other words, the flavour is stale. If they would take the trouble to boil a few fresh flavourers with a small quantity of fresh stock, and add this either strained, or in the case of purees rubbed through a sieve to the soup which is in the tin, they would find that the tinned taste was scarcely perceptible.

One point must be carefully noted in clearing soup, and that is – the cook must stop whisking instantly when the scum begins to rise; also, the pan must be drawn back as soon as the liquor bubbles. If the liquor is whisked too long, or boiled too long, the scum may sink down again, and the soup will be spoiled.

Another point to be noted is that the soup must not be clarified the day before it is wanted, or it will become cloud with standing.

It is astonishing what a number of soups may be made of this clear soup. Sago, rice, macaroni, vermicelli nouilles, pearl barley, tapioca, and semolina may all be boiled separately, then dropped into it, and the soup will then be called after the name of the distinctive ingredient. When spring vegetables, young turnips, carrots, or leeks are put into clear soup, it becomes printaniere, or spring soup. When these same vegetables are softly stewed in butter and cut into shreds it is julienne. When savoury custard (cut into diamonds or stars) is put into it, it is soup royale. If Brussels sprouts are introduced it is a Flemish soup; if crusts of bread, it is croute a pot; if homely vegetables, it is soup a la paysanne; if poached eggs, it is Colbert's soup. And so we might go on, jardinière, brunoise, chiffonnade, macedoine, nivernaise, and others are all clear soup, with very slight differences.

If there are any girls belonging to this class who try to follow my instructions and make some clear soup in the way I have described, I know quite well what the result will be. The soup will be excellent, bright, clear, and good, but they will feel that it has been a great trouble to make I should not be surprised if their state of mind were similar to that of the charity-boy mentioned in "Pickwick," who, when he got to the end of the alphabet, said, "Whether it is worth while going through it so much to learn so little is a matter of taste. I think it isn't." After all, important as cookery may be, there are other things to be done in the world, and though we might be willing to make the best clear soup for high days and holidays, it is more than probable that few would be able to give the time to it very often. Therefore, it will be an advantage to learn an easier and cheaper way of preparing it, so as to achieve very nearly, though not quite, as satisfactory a result.

The easier method is to use stock made of Liebig's Extract of Meat, instead of stock from fresh meat. A small quantity of this extract dissolved in a little boiling water will supply a clear straw-coloured liquor, which tastes quite sufficiently of meat, and which may easily be converted into excellent soup. Of course the difficulty here is the flavouring. We must so flavour this extract of eat stock that no one shall know what it was, but shall, if they think anything at all about the matter, regard it as a matter of course that the stock  for the soup was made in the usual way, "with trouble and charges," to use an expression of Izaak Walton's.

Whatever vegetables are used in flavouring this soup must be cleansed thoroughly and boiled separately. A little soaked gelatine may be boiled in the liquid, which must be skimmed thoroughly; and as soon as it tastes pleasantly, and before the vegetables are soft, the liquid must be strained off for use.

As to what flavourers we are to use in making the stock, the question must be answered by another – What flavourers can we get at the time? We need not always make our soup exactly alike. When we once get the idea we can vary the flavour according to the ingredients at our command. Supposing we want a small quantity of soup for a small family, let us flavour a pint of water pleasantly and rather strongly by boiling in it the white part of a leek, six or eight fresh pepper-corns, and a stick of celery, or a small pinch of celery seed tied in muslin; a turnip, a small carrot, and a little parsley can be added, if liked, or an onion with one or two cloves may be used instead of the leek.

We must cleanse and prepare the vegetables before using. Also we must remove the scum from the liquid as it rises, and boil in it about a teaspoonful of good gelatine which has been soaked in water for a while; then we dissolve a small quantity of extract of meat in fresh boiling water (I cannot say exactly how much, because extract of meat varies in quality – about a teaspoonful), strain the stock in which the vegetables were boiled, mix the two together, and add salt until the liquid is coloured sufficiently and tastes well. It should not be over-brown, and it should not taste specially of the dissolved extract, but rather of a combination of meat and vegetables. When wanted make it hot, and the soup is ready. When they are to be had, a handful of green peas or a little carrot and turnip finely shred and boiled separately are a great addition to this soup. A tablespoonful of crushed tapioca may be simmered in it till clear to make a change, or it may be thickened with arrowroot. Perhaps girls feel inclined to say, "What a small quantity you have made; there will not be enough!" Quite enough for a small family – that is, for four or five people. One reason why English people do not like soup is, that when they make it at all they make it in such large quantities that they get tired of it before it is finished. They have an idea that if they make soup at all they must make a gallon. A gallon of soup! Why, it would be enough for twenty people. If four persons were compelled to drink it day after day until it was finished, they would ever afterwards say they do not like soup. Let me advise girls to make a quart of soup to begin with, and if it is liked they can make a quart of another kind another day.

Fresh herbs are excellent for flavouring soup; tarragon leaves especially impart a delicious and quite unique flavour, although it is with tarragon as with celery seed – a very little goes a long way. Shallots and leeks are always to be preferred to onions when they can be obtained; they are more delicate in flavour. A ham bone is a perfect treasure for flavouring, but if we use it we must clarify the soup with a little lean meat or a teaspoonful of white of egg. Mushroom ketchup and prepared sauces, too, are valuable helps for flavouring soups when used very sparingly, but a soup ought not to taste of mushroom ketchup above everything. There is still another way of making clear soup, and that is by boiling broth to a glaze, adding water, and simmering gently. I fear, however, that space will not allow me to describe this now, besides which it is a little difficult for amateurs. I must, therefore, advise girls to try the plans we have been speaking of. In our next lesson we will try to make thick soups and purees.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Tragedy!


The Tumblr is gone and I will have to redo everything I posted on it. I will delete all the broken links I can, but if I miss one please let me know. :( 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

25 June 1881 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

Before WebMD there was the Answers to Correspondents in The Girl's Own Paper

MYRA S. – We decline to inform anybody "the size their waist ought to be." "A Ward in Chancery" is an infant under the protection of the Court of Chancery.

MAY. – Cover the canary's cage by all means at night if the room be cold or draughty. Dogs' biscuits are the best food.

SNOWSTORM. – Very finely powdered burnt alum to use, and alum-water as a gargle, are often useful in such enlargement. For your decanters try a little lemon juice and fine salt mixed, which may remove the mildew. A bottle rack is used for drying bottles.

SIGNORA MASANTE. – Your letter is one of those which gives us encouragement in our work. You would obtain a few lessons in hairdressing easily, but you would have to begin as young ladies' or second maid, as it is difficult to get a situation of the sort without previous experience. You will obtain it through an advertisement in a good paper. Your writing and composition do you credit, the only drawback to the former being the flourishes with which it is graced.

LORNA. – You send us five or six questions, which is more than your share. Do not plait your hair too tight, its sudden falling out was probably more due to your health than to your having plaited it. Put your dried ferns into a book, and fasten strips of paper across their stalks to keep them in their place.

M.V.V. – Avoid sugar and sweet things, and never take beer. Biscuits would also be better than bread. You might improve your writing by writing copies of running hand, so as to acquire more freedom with your pen.

A DROWSY SUBSCRIBER. – So many call themselves "subscribers" that we have to supply some distinguishing appellation. The extreme nervousness of which you complain, combined with an equally distressing degree of drowsiness, sleeping for three hours in the day, in addition to sleeping heavily through the night, shows you to need a personal interview with some good doctor. We could not venture to prescribe for you. You appear to be suffering from malaria.

A PECULIAR SCOTCH LASSIE. – We confess that we are unable to give a satisfactory solution of such a phenomenon as that described. The writer's case might have deserved record in the book of "wonderful people," for "her eyes make a noise when she blinks," and like some mechanical toy she produces a rattling all over! A peculiar "grating noise in her chest when coughing," and another "in her throat when swallowing." We sympathise with her, but can only recommend the visit of a doctor who can judge of these noises and their probable causes.


VIETCHEN. – Your case is a very extraordinary one. We cannot give a recommendation of any particular doctor, but may tell you the climate of the island of Sark (Channel Islands) is said to be most beneficial to sufferers from asthma Your handwriting is good. 

Monday, 20 February 2017

25 June 1881 - 'Seasonable Dress and How to Make It'


This month we learn that the Little Black Dress was as integral a part of a woman's wardrobe a century ago as it was today. 

Last month we mentioned the pretty old-fashioned ginghams had returned to fashion under the name of "Zephirs," and that they fully retained their former qualities of excellent wear and washing. Since then we have seen some charming dressed of pink, both plain, striped, and checked, which we must mention in the first instance. We always think how pleasant it is to be young, and to be able to wear a pink dress; they seem so becoming and suitable to the brightness of the fresh springtime of youth, that one feels glad when they are in fashion; and we like to clothe our human flowers with some of the lovely hues that our Maker uses for His "flowers of the field." Flowers and young girls should ever resemble innocence, purity and beauty.

These pretty dresses should be simply made. Both last month and this we have given suitable sketches for them – and the gatherings at the neck, sleeves, and front form a very pretty style. Nottingham lace is a good trimming for them, or Swiss embroidery; but they are quite as often made up with plaitings of the same, or bias bands turned up as a border, and sewn down on the outside with the sewing-machine. The bodices are made full, and gathered at the waist and neck, like the small figure in the June number.

The present seems to be an excellent time for purchasing black silks at moderate prices, and as a good black silk is unquestionably one of the best and most serviceable of dresses that any woman or girl can have, much care should be exercised in its selections. As far as we can see, about 5s per yard should purchase silk of good quality and wear, and there are several of the very best London drapers who both sell and recommend black silks at this price. We advise, when it is possible, that everyone who requires one should go to some well-known shop, and be guided by the advice there given in choosing. Very thick, ribbed, heavy silks should be avoided, and one of lighter texture be selected, as bright-looking on the surface as can be found. An old lady of our acquaintance used to choose black silk by holding it up to the light. If it looked of a greenish hue the silk was a good one, and she knew it would wear well. Another friend of ours takes up a fold of the silk between her finger and thumb, and, pressing it, makes a crease. If the crease should come out easily the silk is a good one; but if it remain, or should make a whitish mark, beware of purchasing it. We have ourselves found, however, that at a good draper's they will usually recommend a good article. Of course we make up our black and other silk dresses just now under great advantages, false or foundation skirts being used, generally made of alpaca, on which the silk may be suitable mounted as trimmings, kiltings, scarves and draperies; so we save the silk to the extent of four or five yards. Ten or twelve yards are nor generally sold for an ordinary short costume, so if we manage to make it at home, it will be seen that a black silk gown is within the reach of a very modest purse.

From an American source we glean a very clever and economical idea – i.e., that of having several plastrons or fronts to our "one black silk," which completely change its appearance, and give us walking, dinner, and evening dresses in one gown. The dress must, of course, be made en princesse in front, or the plastrons cannot be buttoned on. It forms the front of the bodice, and the apron or front breadth of the skirt, and is edged with button-holes if the buttons be on the dress, or hooks and eyes if preferred. One plastron may be of black velvet, edged with lace, or plain; high in the neck, and finished by a black lace frill. Another, for evening wear, might be of red, old gold, or violet satin, covered or trimmed with black or white lace, opening square or heart-shaped at the neck. A third might be of puffings or gathers, in damasse silk, brocade, or satin, to make it into a simple yet stylish walking-dress. A cuff or trimming  for the sleeves may also be arranged to match each plastron, such as a pair of long velvet cuffs to button on over the sleeves, with the black velvet one; or a pair of puffed sleeves to be sewn in with the coloured evening dress. The buttons may be of jet, and if they to be attached to the bodice and skirt they will do for every plastron.

Amongst the great boons to our clever readers, who are able to help themselves in trimming and altering dress, the fashionable Madras muslin must be named, a material which can be made useful in so many ways and over so many styles of dresses. The last time we saw an old black silk "done up," Madras muslin was the material used, and several of the pretty self-coloured sateens f last year have been remodelled this season with the aid of a few yards of this moderately-priced stuff. For an old half-worn coloured silk it is the very thing, and with a scarf tunic and draperies, gathered and puffed sleeves, and front, it becomes quite a new dress.

The fashion of coat bodices of different materials is a very useful and convenient one. They are made of velvet, velveteen, velvet broche, striped and chessboard velvet and satin. These last are all cheap now, as they are gone out of fashion, and the present stock is all reduced. Steel or silver buttons, or jet ones, are pretty, and no other trimming is requisite with them. We have recently seen some young ladies in the park in coat-bodices of red, or dull crimson cloth, with tiny gold buttons. These are worn with black silk, satin velveteen, or well-trimmed cashmere skirts. Also with cream-coloured and any fancy sateens which have red in the pattern. Perhaps this idea may be considered a happy one for a tennis club uniform, or a dress for the frequent lawn-tennis garden meetings, which constitute the chief amusement of the summer.


The Alsatian bows seem very great favourites with young girls, as well as older ones; and we have seen several very pretty turn-down hats decorated with one of these graceful bows on the top of the crown. They also form the great ornament of the favourite "Granny" and "Under the window" bonnets, which seem to be worn everywhere excepting in London.

Our illustration gives a lively party of girls enjoying themselves in a shrubbery. The dresses are all useful and pretty summer ones, which nearly any girl could arrange for herself. The figure standing by the table, with her hand upon it, wears a gingham, or zephyr costume, of pale blue, the trimmings being of Swiss embroidery. The bodice is gathered in front at the waist and on the shoulders; the sleeves are in rows of fine puffs all the way down; the over-skirt consists of two pointed shawl-shaped corners.

The second figure is made of cashmere and satin, the polonaise being of cashmere and the skirt of the same, trimmed with longitudinal plaitings of satin. The cape is of closely gathered satin, and is edged with a beaded fringe. The hat is a very small straw one with undulating wavy edges, and a spray of fern leaves, roses, and black velvet at the back.

The third figure wears a Mother Hubbard cloak of cashmere to match her dress, while the dress of number four is a brown beige, made up with a plaided or "shepherdess checked" beige of a darker colour. The hat is of white straw, trimmed with brown velvet, and brown ostrich tips shaded to yellow.

The young lady who holds a branch, and faces the reader, is the wearer of one of the pretty old-fashioned gowns which have been revived from the fashions of our grandmothers. Any light-washing material may be chosen for it. Each of the four flounces are headed by a puffing of the same, with a very small amount of fullness. The bodice is full, and has a band on the waist, while the pretty fichu is crossed over it, which fastens at the back. The small leather satchel which hangs at the side represents one of the newest and most fashionable shapes in which they are worn.  It is made of yellow leather, and has a leathern girdle, to hang round the waist.



In the second illustration, we find an old lady and a very little girl; both are intended as suggestions; for, in spite of ours being a girls' paper, there is no doubt but that our readers include many who are no longer girls, and a considerable number of mammas who are glad of a small bit of advice. The cloak of the elderly lady is of silk or cashmere, and that of the little girl a "Mother Hubbard" of grey beige, with trimming of blue. However foolish-looking we may think them as garments, there is no doubt that little girls do wear them, and look very well in them too, but they are only suited to the promenade and the park, and for very best Sunday habiliments.


The illustration given of a cloak is one suitable to any age, and which is worn by quite young girls. They sometimes match the dress material, or are of black cashmere and satin, or of satin only. A thin material like grenadine will probably be used as the summer advances, if it should prove pleasant and warm.

The shaded or ombre satins, and aerophane crapes are much used  for the tops of toque hats, and they are very pretty indeed, as well as becoming. The gathered edges of the hats are made of black velvet.

Monday, 13 February 2017

25 June 1881 - 'The Difficulties of a Young Housekeeper and How She Overcame Them' by Dora Hope - Chapter Eight

"So your friend is to arrive to-day, is she, Madge?" said Mr Colville, one morning in June, as they sat at breakfast. "Miss – Miss Dolabella – let me see, what is her name?"

"Dorothy, papa; Dorothy Snow."

"Sweet thing in names, certainly," remarked Tom. "I say, Madge, what is she like?"

"Well, I have not seen her for more than two years, as, being my senior, she left school before I did, and we have never met since. But I used to admire her immensely; she was very tall and very dark and handsome, and I thought her very clever, but then I think schoolgirls always exaggerate the good qualities of their friends."

"H'm, glad she's nice-looking," said Tom, complacently, with a glance at the pier-glass, as he fingered his collar and tie delicately with his finger tips, to make sure they were arranged as they should be. Tom was at that age when, though exceedingly boyish in many ways, he still felt himself very much grown up and manly. He began to feel an interest in the cut of his coat, and displayed even anxiety about the shape of his hats.

"Oh, my dear boy, she will very soon crush you if you evince admiration, I'm quite sure," said Margaret, laughing. "Do is so splendidly strong and tall, she could pick you up in her finger and thumb, almost."

"May we call her Do, too, Madge?" asked Dick.

"No; of course, you must say Miss Snow, unless she tells you you need not. She used to be so teased about her name at school, they always used to call her Do Snow, but I beg you won't do that."

The meeting between the friends was hearty and warm, for though a correspondence had been kept up they had not seen one another since the old days at school, and there would be large arrears of talk to make up during Dorothy's fortnight visit.

Margaret knew quite well that her friend's home was a more luxurious one than her own. With plenty of servants, it was not likely that she would take any part in household matters herself, and Margaret could not help wondering what she would think of the innumerable duties which devolved upon the mistress of the Colville household.

The morning after Dorothy's arrival, Margaret, with some little hesitation, asked if she would excuse her for half an hour, and having no idea of attempting to hide anything of the sort, explained that she usually made the pastry herself instead of trusting it to a not very efficient maid.

To her surprise, Dorothy begged to be allowed to come and help, or at any rate look on, for her mother had lately taken up the idea of her learning all about cooking and cleaning, and so, having been "learning hard" lately, she would be delighted to continue her education.

Of course Margaret was only too pleased, and so it happened that some of their merriest times were spent by the two girls in the kitchen.

One morning, as Margaret was tying on her large apron and rolling up her sleeves preparatory to a plunge in the flour tub, Dorothy bethought her of certain items of cookery in which she considered herself proficient.

"Did you not say, Margery, the Trents are coming to supper to-night?" asked she.

"Yes, they are," replied Margaret, "I want you to see Mrs Trent, she is such a good friend to me."

"Oh, then, do let me make some delicacies for supper!" cried Dorothy. "You need not look so alarmed, I can make a select few dishes beautifully. Now, if you will consent, you shall have the loveliest jelly you ever tasted, which will cost a mere nothing. Do you happen to have any very cheap claret in the house? That as 10d a bottle will do."

"No, I fear we have not, but Betsy shall go and get a bottle; or stay, perhaps, as she is a teetotaller, she might not like the errand, so we will go ourselves as my pastry will not be required."

"But we must provide something else for supper besides. One jelly is hardly enough."

"No, hardly. Let me see, there will be cold lamb and mint sauce –"

"Will you not have a salad with mayonnaise sauce also? I feel competent for that; even mamma praises my mayonnaise sauce."

"That will do very nicely, and with a dish of gooseberry fool, I think there will be enough. We do not usually make much difference  for the Trents."

After their purchases were made the girls set to work at their cooking, Dorothy having borrowed one of Margaret's aprons and pairs of sleeves.

"Now, look here, Margery, you ought to learn how to make this jelly; it is so nice and cheap withal," said Dorothy, as she uncorked the bottle of wine. "See now, I simply put into my earthenware pot 1 oz of gelatine,  a fourpenny jar of red currant jelly, the rind and juice of one lemon, 3/4 lb loaf sugar, and the claret. They are to simmer gently till the gelatine is melted, and then boil for five minutes. That is the whole process. Now I strain it into this mould, which has been standing in cold water meanwhile, and there you are."

"That is an easily made jelly, certainly," said Margaret, admiringly; "and I must say it looks nice too."

"I should think it was nice indeed!" Dorothy exclaimed. "At home, when we want it specially good, we put in a small cupful of brandy also. And when the jelly is turned out we pour round it some cream, sweetened and flavoured with almond or anything we choose. But it is quite good enough for ordinary occasions without these expensive adjuncts."

"Now,  for the mayonnaise sauce, Do. But would it not be better to leave the making of that til nearer the time?"

"Oh, no, it will not matter; of course, we will not pour it over the salad till just before supper. You have to put the yolk of an egg into a basin, so oh dear, how difficult it is to separate the yolk and white!) also a little white pepper and salt, and a quarter teaspoonful of mustard. Then you mix them well together."

"How much salad oil shall you allow?" asked Margaret, looking on with much interest.

"I believe tastes differ about that, but I have been instructed that 1/4 pint is about right. It must not be put in all at once, you observe, but just very slowly, drop by drop, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon, until about half of it is used. Next, I put in the least little drop of vinegar, Tarragon and the ordinary kind mixed, and then go on very slowly adding the remainder of the oil. There, this is turning out very well, as smooth as cream, and yet not oily-looking. Now it ought to have a teaspoonful of whipped cream added, but perhaps town milk does not yield cream?"

"Yes, it does, more or less," answered Margaret, fetching a basin from the pantry. "Betsy always puts it to stand when it comes in, and though the cream is not as thick as it might be, still we should not fancy our tea and coffee without it. Why, how clever you are, Do; and you pretended to be such an ignoramus."

"So I am; I have very nearly come to the end of my cooking capabilities already, and I know simply nothing of the management of a house. Now we must put this sauce in the very coolest place you have till it is wanted, and then, please, let me watch you make the gooseberry fool."

Margaret began by putting the green gooseberries into a jar with a little water, and a good deal of sugar.

This was set in a saucepan of boiling water, which was let boil till the fruit was soft enough to mash. After being reduced to a pulp, it was worked through a colander into a basin. Next some cold milk and cream should have been added, but as the latter was not plentiful, Margaret used a little corn flour instead. Allowing a pint of milk to the same measure of pulp, she put it on to boil, then mixed the corn flour (in the proportion of one teaspoonful to each pint of milk) in a cup of cold milk, and added it to the rest in the saucepan. After boiling, it was slowly stirred into the fruit. Margaret then tasted it, and made a wry face at the sourness.

"What, sour after all that sugar?" exclaimed Dorothy.

"Yes, it does take such a quantity," Margaret replied, as she added more, "and it is simply uneatable if you stint the sugar. Now you have seen the whole mystery of a gooseberry fool, so when I have told Betsy to be sure and put plenty of sugar to the mint sauce suppose we have a run round the garden before dinner?"

Mr Colville unexpectedly joined them at that meal. AS this was a very rare occurrence, he said he would be treated as a guest, and refused to take the head of the table, which post Margaret was anxious to vacate, declaring she would be far too nervous to carve with her father looking on.

"But you carve splendidly, Madge; I have often noticed and admired your skill," said Dorothy.

"I do better than some girls, I think, because it is not usually considered necessary for them to know how. I was determined to learn, because I have to do it so often."

"And it is certainly a very useful accomplishment," said Dorothy; "one feels so utterly stupid at having to refuse if asked."

"It is still worse to make the attempt and fail," remarked Mr Colville. "You know, Miss Snow, many people, ladies particularly, think it quite enough if they are able to cut a joint to pieces, anything beyond that they consider gluttonous Epicureanism. Of course, one undoubtedly enjoys one's dinner more if it be well cut, but the chief thing is that a joint goes twice as far, so it is most economical. And, as old Dr Kitchener says, 'A dextrous carver will help half-a-dozen people in half the time one of your would-be-thought polite folks wastes in making civil faces to a guest.'"

"What delightfully plain speaking," laughed Dorothy.

"The, every carver ought to know which is considered the best part of whatever he may be serving," continued Mr Colville, "for some people would be quite offended if, when dining out, they were not helped to, for instance, some of the thin part of salmon as well as the thick, or the fins of turbot, or if they had any other part than the wing of a fowl, the back of a hare, or the breast of turkey. However, I must defer the rest of my discourse on the merits of good carving til a more favourable opportunity, for I see it is time I were off."

The next day the two girls had betaken themselves to a pretty summer-house in the garden for a chat after dinner, when Betsy brought some letters to them which the postman had just left.

The summer-house was a rustic and, it must be added, an unsteady-looking erection. It had been built, at great pains and labour, by Tom and Dick, as a pleasant surprise for their father on his return from a recent short absence from home. They intended the family to have tea in it on the evening of Mr Colville's arrival; but Margaret thought she detected a slightly slanting tendency about the walls, and trembled  for the safety of her pretty tea-set, and likewise of their own heads. So she suggested tea on the lawn, from whence they could look at the summer-house, and, as she pointed out, see it much better than if they were inside. And a happy thing it was that her idea was carried out, for during their merry meal Dick stepped into the edifice, sand, to prove its strength, rashly shook one of the uprights with both hands. The whole affair tottered for an instant, and then entirely collapsed, burying the young architect in its ruins. The hapless youth, when extricated, was found to be unhurt (save in his mind, which was considerably wounded), and with the aid of a carpenter the summer-house once more reared its head in beauty and strength, surpassing its original state.

In fact, it could now be pronounced safe, and here it was that Margaret and Dorothy sat to read their letters that fine June day.

"Do you know, I think Betsy must have had a letter from her dear baker, she looked so beaming," said Dorothy. "I have heard from home, and mamma says she hopes I shall one day blossom forth into another such model young housekeeper as you are. But she does not seem very sanguine about it, I must confess."

"Now, Do, don't you flatter me so; pray, what have you been saying to Mrs Snow about me? I must write and tell her the truth. My letter is from Joanna, and I think I will read it out lout to you, because whether you like it or not, it will be very useful for your education. I asked a number of questions the last time I wrote, and she says, in answer to one apropos of my bill file, 'By all means keep your paid and receipted bills, all of them, excepting those for very trifling sums. Put them o file till the end of the quarter, then take them off, and having labelled and stitched them together, put them away in some safe place.

"For cool summer drinks nothing is better than different sorts of 'ades'. The nicest possible lemonade is made thus: - Remove the peel and every scrap of white, and also the pips, from three lemons, Slice them and lay them, with the peel of one, in a quart jug. Add half a pound or more of loaf-sugar, and fill the jug with boiling water. When cold, this is just as good as some of the complicated lemonades. Another pleasant drink is made by substituting  for the lemon slices of apples, peeled and cored. This does not require so much sugar and a squeeze of lemon improves it. Again, raspberry vinegar and water with lemon juice is very agreeable. All these are immensely improved by the addition of a lump of ice.

"Then you asked me, I think, about preserving –"

"Yes, I did," put in Margaret, "but I changed my mind, and am now going to be content with the fruit I bottled."

"I should like to hear about it, though, please," said Dorothy. "It may come in useful some day."

"Well, here are Joanna's sentiments on the subject: - 'Let the fruit be perfectly dry when you gather it – that is to say, no rain ought to have fallen for at least twenty-four hours previously. If it should chance to be showery weather, so that you cannot keep to this rule, boil the fruit an extra long time, or it will soon be mouldy. The fruit should be preserved as soon as possible after gathering. Use good sugar; it is economy in the end, as it requires less skimming, and hence there is less waste. As a rule, allow 1lb of sugar to one quart of fruit. Very economical people do not add the sugar till the fruit has boiled some time, and all the skimming is done; but I do not think the preserve would be thoroughly sweet, nor would it, I fancy, keep equally well. If you use a brass pan, be sure it is perfectly clean and dry; the least dirt or moisture left in it after the last time of using will have a produced verdigris, which, as doubtless you know, is deadly poison.'

"If you ever have to preserve, Do, take my advice and use an earthenware pan – then there is no danger of verdigris, and it would be much easier to clean," remarked Margaret. "But Joanna mentions the brass one because she knows we have one. Let me see – where was I? Oh, here is the place:- 'Have a good red fire – not a blazing one. Let the preserve boil as fast as possible, but be careful it does not boil over. Stir all the time with a wooden spoon, removing the scum as it rises. When it thoroughly boils, do not stir violently or you will mash the fruit, and the beauty of preserve is to keep it whole and distinct. If you leave off stirring, the fruit will stick to the bottom of the pan in a mass, and the whole will be spoilt. When it has boiled fast about twenty minutes, try a little on a plate; if it sets in five minutes or so, it is done enough. Pour it into pots, and when cold, cover it down. The best and simplest way of covering is to take a piece of paper the right size, brush it well over with white of egg slightly beaten, and press it over the pot. It will adhere firmly, and is quite airtight. An improvement to strawberry jam is to add red currant juice. Stew the currants in a jar in a cool oven till the juice is thoroughly out; strain it, and pour it into the strawberries, allowing the same proportion of sugar as for other fruit.'"

"Are you tired of this instructive letter, Do?" asked Margaret, laying down the third sheet. "Please say if you are. You see I ask so many questions, that Joanna's letters are necessarily rather long."

"No, indeed, I am not tired; pray go on if there is any more of the same nature."

"'Beans are in season now,'" continued Margaret. "'Gather them before they are quite full grown and throw them at once, after shelling, into boiling salt and water, with a bunch of summer savory, which is boiled with them, as mint is with peas. When done serve them in a vegetable-dish, with a piece of butter stirred amongst them, or else make a tureen of melted butter, in which is chopped the cooked savory.

"Arthur tells me that beans and bacon are quite an aristocratic dish now! I always considered it a very homely one. The two should be cooked separately, as the bacon spoils the colour of the beans. Put the former into cold, and the latter into *boiling water, when cooking them.

"Now I come to 'lastly', which is the rather unpleasant subject of the dust-bin. You must be most particular that no greens, cabbage leaves, and such like are thrown in, neither should there be scraps of meat or bone. In fact, try to keep it free from everything from which a disagreeable odour could arise. Then it must be cleared regularly once a week during the summer; do not on any account let it go longer, and now and then have the inside whitewashed. You might occasionally also throw in a little chloride of lime."

"There, Do, I hope you feel a great deal the better for hearing all of that?"

"Oh, Madge, I think it is well to be you to have such a sister. What would you do without her?"

"Indeed, I do not know," answered Margaret, folding up her letter. "But, you know, I feel dreadfully dependent on my friends, for in the least difficulty I always go, at least, write to Joanna. Then Mrs Melrose, the 'lady with ideas,' as you call her, is very kind in giving me hints; and then as to Mr Trent –"

"And as to Mr Trent?" interrogated Dorothy, mimicking her friend's done.

"Well," said Margaret stiffly, "I don't know that Mr Trent's acquaintance is of vital importance to my housekeeping."

"Oh, Madge, why you are ungrateful after the cunning way in which he extricated the stopper from the decanter last night."

"Did he do so?  It must have been whilst I was upstairs with Mrs Trent."

"Yes, it was most firmly fixed; we all tried in vain, when Wilfrid, with charming modesty, said he thought he could get it out. I fetched, at his direction, a basin of hot water, in which he plunged the neck of the decanter, tapping it gently on each side. Still it would not come out, so the ingenious thing asked for some oil, of which he put the last drop round the stopper, just where it enters the bottle, held it before the fire for a minute, and out it came in a twinkling!"

"Oh, it was rather sharp, perhaps," replied Margaret; "but it was a pity to spoil the sherry by mixing it with oil."

"Now, Madge, you are in a very contrary frame of mind. There was not much wine in the decanter, and it was not spoilt, because I very quickly wiped the inside of the neck with a clean serviette from the sideboard drawer. And even if it did taste oily, it could be used perfectly well for cookery. So you may just as well admit that Wilfrid Trent is a very clever, ingenious, handsome, good and altogether nice fellow; certainly he would admit the same and a good deal more of you."

"Particularly the 'fellow' part of it!" retorted Margaret. "No, Do; the first time he saw me I was most shamefully untidy and floury, being in the middle of pastry-making, and that filled him with a repulsion for me that he has never conquered."

But a merry look in the girl's eyes either belied her words, or else proved the fact in no way affected her peace of mind.