Throughout that day bustle and confusion had reigned supreme in the house of Mr. Walters. Caddy, who had been there since the break of day, had taken the domestic reins entirely from the hands of the mistress of the mansion, and usurped command herself. Quiet Esther was well satisfied to yield her full control of the domestic arrangements for the festivities, and Caddy was nothing loath to assume them.
She entered upon the discharge of her self-imposed duties with such ardour as to leave no doubt upon the minds of the parties most interested but that they would be thoroughly performed, and with an alacrity too that positively appalled quiet Esther’s easy-going servants.
Great doubts had been expressed as to whether Caddy could successfully sustain the combined characters of chef de cuisine and bridesmaid, and a failure had been prophesied. She therefore felt it incumbent upon her to prove these prognostications unfounded, and demonstrate the practicability of the undertaking. On the whole, she went to work with energy, and seemed determined to establish the fact that her abilities were greatly underrated, and that a woman could accomplish more than one thing at a time when she set about it.
The feelings of all such persons about the establishment of Mr. Walters as were “constitutionally tired” received that day divers serious shocks at the hands of Miss Caddy—who seemed endowed with a singular faculty which enabled her to discover just what people did not want to do, and of setting them at it immediately.
For instance, Jane, the fat girl, hated going upstairs excessively. Caddy employed her in bringing down glass and china from a third-story pantry; and, moreover, only permitted her to bring a small quantity at a time, which rendered a number of trips strictly necessary, to the great aggravation and serious discomfort of the fat girl in question.
On the other hand, Julia, the slim chambermaid, who would have been delighted with such employment, and who would have undoubtedly refreshed herself on each excursion upstairs with a lengthened gaze from the window, was condemned to the polishing of silver and dusting of plates and glass in an obscure back pantry, which contained but one window, and that commanding a prospect of a dead wall.
Miss Caddy felt in duty bound to inspect each cake, look over the wine, and (to the great discomfiture of the waiter) decant it herself, not liking to expose him to any unnecessary temptation. She felt, too, all the more inclined to assume the office of butler from the fact that, at a previous party of her sister’s, she had detected this same gentleman with a bottle of the best sherry at his mouth, whilst he held his head thrown back in a most surprising manner, with a view, no doubt, of contemplating the ceiling more effectually from that position.