Barbara gave us currant-jelly; she was a stingy Barbara about that jelly, and counted her jars; and when father and Stephen came in, there was the little dinner of three covers, and a peach-pie of Saturday’s making on the side-board, and the green screen up before the stove again, and the baking-pan safe in the pantry sink, with hot water and ammonia in it.
“Mother,” said Barbara, “I feel as if we had got rid of a menagerie!”
“It is the girl that makes the kitchen,” said Ruth.
“And then the kitchen that has to have the girl,” said Mrs. Holabird.
Ruth got up and took away the dishes, and went round with the crumb-knife, and did not forget to fill the tumblers, nor to put on father’s cheese.
Our talk went on, and we forgot there was any “tending.”
“We didn’t feel all that in the ends of our elbows,” said mother in a low tone, smiling upon Ruth as she sat down beside her.
“Nor have to scrinch all up,” said Stephen, quite out loud, “for fear she’d touch us!”
I’ll tell you—in confidence—another of our ways at Westover; what, we did, mostly, after the last two meals, to save our afternoons and evenings and our nice dresses. We always did it with the tea-things. We just put them, neatly piled and ranged in that deep pantry sink; we poured some dipperfuls of hot water over them, and shut the cover down; and the next morning, in our gingham gowns, we did up all the dish-washing for the day.
* * * * *
“Who folded all those clothes?” Why, we girls, of course. But you can’t be told everything in one chapter.
SPRINKLES AND GUSTS.
Mrs. Dunikin used to bring them in, almost all of them, and leave them heaped up in the large round basket. Then there was the second-sized basket, into which they would all go comfortably when they were folded up.
One Monday night we went down as usual; some of us came in,—for we had been playing croquet until into the twilight, and the Haddens had just gone away, so we were later than usual at our laundry work. Leslie and Harry went round with Rosamond to the front door; Ruth slipped in at the back, and mother came down when she found that Rosamond had not been released. Barbara finished setting the tea-table, which she had a way of doing in a whiff, put on the sweet loaf upon the white trencher, and the dish of raspberry jam and the little silver-wire basket of crisp sugar-cakes, and then there was nothing but the tea, which stood ready for drawing in the small Japanese pot. Tea was nothing to get, ever.
“Mother, go back again! You tired old darling, Ruth and I are going to do these!” and Barbara plunged in among the “blossoms.”
That was what we called the fresh, sweet-smelling white things. There are a great many pretty pieces of life, if you only know about them. Hay-making is one; and rose-gathering is one; and sprinkling and folding a great basket full of white clothes right out of the grass and the air and the sunshine is one.