Their girl had gone. Since Luclarion left, they had fallen into that Gulf-stream which nowadays runs through everybody’s kitchen. Girls came, and saw, and conquered in their fashion; they muddled up, and went away.
The nice times were in the intervals when they had gone away.
Mrs. Ripwinkley did not complain; it was only her end of the “stump;” why should she expect to have a Luclarion Grapp to serve her all her life?
This last girl had gone as soon as she found out that Sulie Praile was “no relation, and didn’t anyways belong there, but had been took in.” She “didn’t go for to come to work in an Insecution. She had always been used to first-class private families.”
Girls will not stand any added numbers, voluntarily assumed, or even involuntarily befalling; they will assist in taking up no new responsibilities; to allow things to remain as they are, and cannot help being, is the depth of their condescension,—the extent of what they will put up with. There must be a family of some sort, of course, or there would not be a “place;” that is what the family is made for; but it must be established, no more to fluctuate; that is, you may go away, some of you, if you like, or you may die; but nobody must come home that has been away, and nobody must be born. As to anybody being “took in!” Why, the girl defined it; it was not being a family, but an Insecution.
So the three—Diana, and Hazel, and Sulie—were down in the kitchen; Mrs. Ripwinkley was busy in the dining-room close by; there was a berry-cake to be mixed up for an early tea. Diana was picking over the berries, Hazel was chopping the butter into the flour, and Sulie on a low cushioned seat in a corner—there was one kept ready for her in every room in the house, and Hazel and Diana carried her about in an “arm-chair,” made of their own clasped hands and wrists, wherever they all wanted to go,—Sulie was beating eggs.
Sulie did that so patiently; you see she had no temptation to jump up and run off to anything else. The eggs turned, under her fingers, into thick, creamy, golden froth, fine to the last possible divisibility of the little air-bubbles.
They could not do without Sulie now. They had had her for “all winter;” but in that winter she had grown into their home.
“Why,” said Hazel to her mother, when they had the few words about it that ended in there being no more words at all,—“that’s the way children are born into houses, isn’t it? They just come; and they’re new and strange at first, and seem so queer. And then after a while you can’t think how the places were, and they not in them. Sulie belongs, mother!”
So Sulie beat eggs, and darned stockings, and painted her lovely little flower-panels and racks and easels, and did everything that could be done, sitting still in her round chair, or in the cushioned corners made for her; and was always in the kitchen, above all, when any pretty little cookery was going forward.