“Are you a good laundress?” asked Aunt Alice.
“Yas’m, I am! Ef I do say it dat shouldn’t, you jes’ ought to see de clothes I sends up! Dey’s jes’ like druvven snow. Oh, dey won’t be no trouble about de laundry work!”
“And can you sweep?” said Patty.
“Can I sweep? Law, chile, co’se I kin sweep! What yo’ s’pose I want to hire out for, ef I can’t do all dem things? Oh, dey won’t be no trouble about sweepin’!”
“Well, where will the trouble be, Mancy?” said Patty.
“Dey moughtn’t be any trouble, miss,” said the black woman earnestly; “but if dey is, it’ll be ‘count o’ my bein’ spoke cross to. I jes’ nachelly can’t stand bein’ spoke cross to. It riles me all up.”
“I don’t believe there will be any trouble on that score,” said Patty, laughing. “My father and I are the best-natured people in the world.”
“I believe yo’, missy; an’ dat’s why I wants to come.”
“There will be another servant, Mancy,” said Aunt Alice; “a young girl who will be a waitress. She is ignorant and inexperienced, but Very willing to learn. Do you think you could get along with her?”
“Is she good-natured?” asked Mancy.
“I don’t know her very well,” said Patty; “but I think she is. I’m sure she will be, if we are.”
“Den dat’s all right,” said Mancy. “I kin look after you two chilluns, I ’spect, and get my work done, too. When shall I come?”
“The house isn’t quite ready yet,” said Patty; “but I hope to go there to live on New Year’s day.”
“I think we’d be glad of Mancy’s help a few days before that,” said Aunt Alice.
And so, subject to Mr. Fairfield’s final sanction, Mancy was engaged. And now Patty’s whole establishment, including Pudgy the cat, was made up.
A few days before the close of the old year, Patty sat at her desk in the library of Boxley Hall.
She was making lists of good things to be ordered for the feast on New Year’s day; and, as it was her first unaided experience with such memoranda, she wore an air of great importance and a deeply puckered brow.
Mancy, with her arms comfortably akimbo, stood before her young mistress ready to suggest, but tactfully chary of advice.
They were not yet living in the new home, but all the furniture was in place, the furnace fire had been started, and the palms arranged in the little conservatory.
So Patty spent most of her time there, and some of the Elliotts were usually there with her.
But this morning she was alone with Mancy, struggling with the all-important lists.
“I’ll make the salad myself,” she remarked, as she wrote “olive oil” on her slip of paper.
“Yas’m,” answered Mancy, rolling her eyes with an expression of dubious approval. “Does yo’ know how, missy?”