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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/58

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The Daily Duties of a Housekeeper are regulated, in a great measure, by the size of the establishment she superintends. She should rise early, and see her assistants are duly performing their work, and that the preparations for breakfast are progressing satisfactorily. After breakfast, which, in large establishments, she will take in the "housekeeper's room," with the lady's-maid, butler, and valet, served by one of the under-maids, she will, on days set apart for such purposes, carefully examine the household linen, with a view to its being repaired, or further necessary supplies being procured; she will also see that the furniture throughout the house is well rubbed and polished; and attend to all the necessary details of marketing and ordering goods from the tradesmen.

The Housekeeper's Room is generally made use of by the lady's-maid, butler and valet, who take there their breakfast, tea and supper. The lady's-maid will also use this apartment as a sitting-room, when not engaged with duties which would call her elsewhere. In different establishments, according to their size, means and expenditure of the family, different rules, of course, prevail. For instance, in mansions where great state is maintained, and there is a house-steward, two distinct tables are kept, one in the steward's room for the principal members of the staff, the second in the servants' hall for the other domestics. At the steward's dinner-table, the steward and housekeeper preside; and here, also, may be included the lady's-maid, butler, valet.

After Dinner, the housekeeper, having seen that her assistants have returned to their various duties, and that the household is in proper working order, will have many important matters claiming her attention. She will, possibly, have to give the finishing touch to some article of confectionery, or be occupied with some of the more elaborate processes of the still-room. There may also be the dessert to arrange, ice-creams to make; and many employments that call for no ordinary degree of care, taste and attention.

The Still-room was formerly much more common than at present, for in days of "auld lang syne" the still was in constant requisition for the supply of home-made wines, spirits, cordials and syrups, home-made medicines, scents, and other aromatic substances for the toilet, and sweet-flavoured waters for the purposes of cookery. There are some establishments, however, in which distillation is still carried on, and in these the still-room maid has her old duties to perform. In a general way, however, this domestic is immediately concerned with the housekeeper. For the latter she lights the fire, dusts her room, prepares the breakfast table, and waits at the different meals taken in the housekeeper's room. A still-room maid may learn a very great deal of useful knowledge from her intimate connexion with the housekeeper, and if she be active and intelligent, may soon fit herself for a better position in the household.

Evening Occupation.—In the evening, the housekeeper will often busy