Open main menu

Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1977

This page has been validated.
 
1775
DOMESTIC SERVANTS AND THEIR DUTIES

dress when required, also upon any lady visitor. She has often to help in bed making, and is generally required to dust the drawing-room, often to arrange the flowers for that and the dining-room, to put up fresh curtains, look after the drawing-room fire, and answer the sitting-room bell. She washes up the breakfast, tea and coffee things, and the glass and plate from dinner, and the plate is under her charge to be kept clean and in order. She does, in fact, all the lighter and less menial work of a housemaid, combining with these many little tasks that a mistress who kept only two servants would in all probability do for herself.

Everyday Dress.—As a housemaid, her morning attire should be a print gown and simple white cap, but she will not need the rough apron worn by the former, and can wear a white one, so that she is always ready to answer bells. In the afternoon her dress should be a simply-made black one, relieved by white collar, cuffs and cap, and a pretty lace-trimmed bib apron.

Waiting at Table.—The parlour-maid should move about the room as noiselessly as possible, anticipating people's wants by handing them things without being asked for them, and altogether be as quiet as possible. It will be needless here to repeat what we have already said respecting waiting at table in the duties of the butler and footman: rules that are good to be observed by them, are equally good for the parlour-maid. If there be a man-servant in attendance, he takes the butler's place and she the footman's, as already detailed; if the housemaid assists, then the parlour-maid takes the first place.

Evening Work.—Dinner over, the parlour-maid will now have to remove and wash up the plate and glass used, restoring everything to its place; next prepare the tea and take it up, bringing the tea-things down when finished with, and lastly, give any attendance required in the bedrooms.

A still-room maid—is kept in some large establishments where there is a full staff of men, and she does some few of the duties of the parlour-maid of smaller households. She washes and puts away the china, for example, from breakfast and tea, prepares the tea-trays for the drawing-room, arranges the dining-room dessert and sometimes the flowers, and generally waits on and assists the housekeeper.

We can more easily define her duties, however, by calling her what she practically is, the housekeeper's assistant.

THE HOUSEMAID

Upper Housemaids. In large establishments there are several house-maids. and according to the number kept the actual work of the head housemaid may be determined being practically little if there be many, while her responsibilities are in inverse ratio. She has not so much to do the work as to see that it is done, reserving the lighter and more important tasks for her own share.

The best upper housemaids are those that have risen to the post,