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The Expert Maid-Servant By Christine Terhune Herrick Characters: 13629

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Rise at six o'clock and have clothing in readiness, so as to be dressed and down-stairs by six-thirty. Strip the bed and open the window before leaving the room.

If the care of the furnace is in your hands, open the draughts and put on a little coal.

Light the kitchen fire, fill the kettle, put on the breakfast cereal and potatoes, or anything that requires some time to cook.

Open the windows of rooms on first floor, brush up the floor and the halls, and sweep off the front steps. Go over bare floor in dining-room with a cloth and dust the dining-room. Put more coal in furnace, close draughts, and give a look at kitchen fire.

Set table for breakfast. If a large cloth is used, put it on over the canton-flannel "silence cloth." If a square of damask or doilies are employed at breakfast, lay them on evenly. Crooked spreading of a table is an abomination.

At each place put a plate, knife, fork, and two spoons, the knife and spoons to the right, with the napkin beside them; the tumbler also on the right. The fork must be on the left, and near it the bread-and-butter plate. If fruit is the first course, there should be at each place a fruit-plate with a doily, finger-bowl, and fruit-knife on it. For oranges an orange-spoon should also be laid on the plate. When a cereal is the first course, the porridge bowls or saucers should be at each plate.

Arrange the cups and saucers, sugar-bowl, cream-jug, and other necessaries at the end of the table where the mistress of the house sits. At the other end place the carvers and lay the heavy mat for the hot dish the master of the house is to serve. See that there are tablespoons, salt-cellars, and pepper-cruets, and the call-bell on the table, a salt and pepper to every two persons, the tablespoons at the corners of the table, the call-bell near the mistress's hand.

Return to kitchen and prepare breakfast. Cut bread, fill glasses, and bring in butter the last thing. Do not announce the meal until everything is ready to serve. Put on a clean apron to wait on table.

While the family is eating the last course of breakfast go to the bedrooms, strip the beds, turn the mattresses, hang the bedclothing over chairs, and leave it to air while going over the floors with a carpet-sweeper. Empty soiled water in bedrooms.

Go down-stairs and have your own breakfast. Clear the table, scrape dishes and put them in water. Return to second floor, make beds, dust and clean bath-room.

Wash and put away dishes. Rinse out dish-towels and put them over to boil. See what is in the pantry and refrigerator. Wipe off the shelves of pantries and refrigerator every day. Scald out ice-box three times a week. Clean and fill lamps.

Go now to any special work, such as sweeping, washing windows, or general cleaning. Stop this in time to prepare luncheon. Set the table for this meal as you did for breakfast. Be sure that the dining-room has been well aired and that there is no odor of stale food left from breakfast. Observe the same rules as at breakfast about serving butter, bread, and water.

After luncheon clear table, darken dining-room, and finish any small duties that have been left over from the morning. Plan your work so as to have only light tasks in the afternoon.

Change your dress, brush your hair, put on a fresh cap and a clean apron, and be ready to wait on the door. If afternoon tea is to be served at five o'clock, make the tray ready and carry it in at the proper hour. Start to get dinner in time so that there will not be a rush at the last moment. If possible, arrange the preparations so that the cooking can safely be left half an hour before dinner-time in order to set the table.

Spread on the thick "silence cloth" smoothly and lay the table-cloth over it evenly and without a wrinkle. Place the centre-piece in the middle of the table with the vase of flowers or jardinière on it, lay a carving-cloth in front of the master of the house, with the carvers. If a mat is used under the meat dish, put it in place. At the other end of the table lay the soup-ladle. At each place there should be a service plate with the knife and soup-spoon to the right of this, with the tumbler and napkin; the fork or forks, if more than one will be needed, at the left. If butter is served at dinner, the bread-and-butter plate may be at the left. If not, a piece of bread, cut thick, may be laid on the napkin. In most households it is customary to give a clean napkin at dinner. This should be folded plainly. The tablespoons, salts, peppers, and call-bell should be in place as at other meals. If such articles as olives, salted nuts, and the like are used, they should be on the table before dinner is served. When soup is the first course the soup-plates may be put on the service plates and the tureen be placed in front of the mistress before dinner is announced. In houses where gongs or bells are not used, the maid comes to the door of the room where the mistress is seated and announces, "Dinner is served."

If you have not dressed earlier, change your waist just before announcing dinner.

After the soup is served, dish the rest of the dinner and be ready to bring it in when the soup has been eaten. Take out the tureen first, then the soup-plates, carrying out two at a time, one in each hand. Carry in all the hot dinner-plates at once, put them on the serving-table, and as you take up a service plate from the table put a hot dinner-plate in its place. Bring in the meat dish first and put it in front of the carver, and then bring in the vegetable dishes and place them on the serving-table or dinner-wagon. Pass meat and vegetables and see that every one has bread and that the glasses are filled. Return to the kitchen and wash the silver and china of the first course.

When clearing the table after this course, take out the meat and vegetables first and then the soiled plates. If salad is to be served next, put down a salad-plate in place of the dinner-plate removed. Set the oil and vinegar cruets and the bowl for mixing the salad-dressing in front of the hostess, and pass the salad first and afterwards the dressing. The dishes of the preceding course may be washed during the salad course.

If a sweet comes next or in place of a salad course, clear the table, removing salts and peppers, unused silver, and everything except glasses. Brush off the crumbs into a plate with a folded napkin, take off and fold the carving-cloth. Put the plates and finger-bowls on the table. Bring in the sweet. When this has been finished, take out the dish that has held it, remove the soiled plates, and bring in the coffee.

Return to the kitchen, have your own dinner, and finish washing the dishes. By this time the family will have left the tab

le. Clear this, remove the cloth, folding it in the creases, put away the china, and darken the room. Finish putting the kitchen in order for the night.

On Monday morning rise early enough to get a good start at the washing. Any work of this sort that can be done before breakfast is just so much clear gain. Proceed with other work as on other days, except that the dusting of the rooms and the care of the chambers will probably be assumed by the mistress. Wash the sheets and other heavy pieces early in the day in order that they may have a chance to dry. Do the flannels early and follow them with the fine clothes. The second water from the flannels may be used for the first rinsing of the cotton clothes. If the worst-soiled pieces can be put in soak overnight it will lessen the labor on Monday morning.

On Tuesday morning it is also well to get an early start in order to make a good beginning on the ironing. The same rule of early rising will be found helpful when there is any piece of extra work to be accomplished. A prompt beginning gives time for rest in the latter part of the day.


Rise at six o'clock and be down-stairs by six-thirty. Open draughts of furnace and put on a little coal. Fill the kettle and put the cereal over the fire. Make ready the materials for the breakfast. When the furnace fire has come up put on more coal and close draughts. Open the windows of the cellar, air the pantry, and see that the kitchen is in good order, the stove blacked, etc. After the family and the kitchen breakfast inspect the contents of the pantries and refrigerator and plan with the mistress for the best use that can be made of left-overs. If soup is to be made it should be put over now, and desserts that are to be served cold should be prepared. The ice-box must be scoured out with hot water and soda three times a week, the shelves of the pantry and the refrigerator wiped off every day.

Each morning see what is wanted in the way of groceries and other provisions, and make a list of what is lacking, to be handed to the mistress before she goes to market. After the luncheon and dinner are planned there will probably be time to do a little work outside of the kitchen before the hour for making ready for luncheon. Never be behindhand in such preparations so that the waitress is delayed in serving. Keep the luncheon hot after it comes from the table, and have the kitchen table set ready for the maids.

In the afternoon there is usually time for resting and changing the dress. The beginnings of the dinner should be made in season and the utensils used should, as far as possible, be washed as fast as they are done with in order to prevent a clutter of work when the meal is over. Wash the pots and pans in which the dinner is cooked as soon as the food is out of them. Scalding water should be put into a vessel as soon as you have finished using it. Scald out towels and fish and jelly cloths as soon as you have done with them. Keep the sink clean, and wash it out thoroughly after each meal.


Rise at six o'clock and be down-stairs at six-thirty. Open and air the rooms on the first floor, brush off the steps, sweep out the halls, and brush down the stairs. Brush up the drawing-room or go over the floor with a carpet-sweeper, wipe up the hard-wood floors, and dust the rooms. If the woodwork is painted, spots must be wiped from it. Take hot water up to bedrooms half to three-quarters of an hour before breakfast, according to directions previously given by mistress. Wait on table during the early part of the meal. Pass the fruit, offering it from the left side. Take off fruit-plates from the right side, putting porridge service in the place of the plate removed. Offer porridge, as sugar and cream, from the left side, remove soiled porridge service from right side, putting hot plate in its place. Offer other dishes from left side, or if the plate is served by the carver, put it in front of the guest from right side. Place cup and saucer on the right, offer sugar and cream from the left.

When dismissed after the service of breakfast, go up-stairs to the bedrooms and proceed with them as directed previously in duties of "General-Housework Maid." Have breakfast when summoned by cook, clear table, and prepare dishes for washing. Return to the bedrooms, finish the work there and in the bath-room, and then wash dishes, put them away, and despatch other work of the dining-room. See if silver needs cleaning and that table-linen is in order. Polish brasses, rub off furniture, wash windows, or attend to other work of this sort. Make butter-balls for the next meal. Clean and fill lamps.

Set table for lunch according to previous directions. Wait as at breakfast. Be careful that no glass is allowed to become empty, and keep a watch on the plate of each guest, offering to replenish it as it is emptied.

After luncheon clear the table before going to luncheon in the kitchen. Wash dishes and dress for the afternoon, requesting the cook to answer the bell while you are in your room. Be in readiness to attend the door during the afternoon. Make the tray ready for tea at five o'clock, and carry it in at the appointed hour without waiting for the order. If the salad is in your care, prepare it in time and see that the mayonnaise, if this is needed, is made in season. Set the table according to directions already given. At dusk draw down the shades and light gas and lamps in hall and drawing-room.

In passing the soup do not use a tray, but put the soup-plate down in front of each guest, from the right. Remove the soup-plate from the right, leaving the service plate untouched. When the hot dinner-plates are brought in, take up the service plate, substituting the dinner-plate. Bring the meat to the table first, then place the vegetables on the serving-table. Stand back of the carver, a little to the left. Take each plate as he serves it and put it down in front of the guest, from the right. Pass vegetables, etc., from the left. Follow the same plan as has been outlined earlier in serving salad, sweets, and coffee.

Should you be expected to remain in the dining-room throughout the meal, the soiled dishes must remain untouched until after dinner. If you are permitted to wait in the pantry, many of the soiled dishes can be washed during the meal.

When coffee has been served, go up to the chambers, remove spreads, shams, etc., turn down beds, and close the blinds. Come down to your own dinner, and then clear the table, wash the dishes, and put the dining-room in order for the night. Be ready to answer the bell during the evening. About ten o'clock take iced water to the chambers. If up later than the members of the family, turn out lights and lock up.


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