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The Young Housekeeper
by [?]

“I HOPE, Emily, that you don’t think I expect you to work–to spend the bright morning hours in the kitchen, when we commence keeping house,” said George Brenton to his young wife.

This remark was made as he left the room, in reply to something which Emily had been saying relative to their projected plan of housekeeping. Mrs. Anderson, her mother, entered the parlour at one door, as her son-in-law left it by another. “And I hope,” said she, “that, for your own sake as well as your husband’s, you will not think of fulfilling his expectations–that is, strictly speaking.”

“And why not? George is always pleased to have any suggestion of his attended to, however indirectly it may be made.”

“He would not be pleased, if on trial it should compromise any of his customary enjoyments. George’s income, as yet, is not sufficient to authorize you to keep more than one girl, who must be the maid-of-all-work; and even if you should be so fortunate as to procure one who understands the different kinds of household labour, there will be times when it will be necessary for you to perform some part of it yourself–much more to superintend it.”

“But, mother, you know how I always hated the kitchen.”

“This is a dislike which necessity will, or at least ought to overcome. You have never felt that there was much responsibility attached to the performance of such household tasks as I have always required of you, and in truth there never has been, as I could always have very well dispensed with them. I required them for your own good, rather than my own. Before habits of industry are formed, necessity is the only thing which will overcome our natural propensity to indulge in indolence.”

“I am sure that I am not indolent. I always have my music, embroidery, or reading to attend to. As to being chained down to household drudgery, I cannot think of it, and I am certain that it would be as much against George’s wishes as mine.”

“It would undoubtedly be gratifying to him, whenever he had an hour or two, which he could spend at home, to see you tastefully dressed, and to have you at leisure so as to devote your time wholly to him.”

“You make George out to be extremely selfish, which I am sure he is not.”

“No, not more so than we all are.”

“Why, mother, I am sure you are not selfish. You are always ready to sacrifice your own enjoyment for the sake of promoting that of others.”

“I have been subjected to a longer course of discipline, than either you or George. I have lived long enough to know, that the true secret of making ourselves happy is to endeavour to make others so. This is, at least, the case with all those whose finer sensibilities have not been blunted, or, more properly speaking, have been rightly cultivated. But it will do no good to enter into a metaphysical discussion of the subject. The course proper to be pursued by a woman, whose husband’s income is rather limited, appears to me perfectly plain.”

“The course proper for me to pursue, is that which will best please George.”

“Certainly, and that is precisely what I would advise you to do; but I don’t think that literally acting upon this suggestion of his, respecting domestic duties, will please him for any great length of time.”

Emily made no reply to this. She had decided in her own mind to obey the wishes of George, more especially as they exactly accorded with her own.

A few weeks from the time of the foregoing conversation, George and Emily Brenton commenced housekeeping. Their house was neatly and handsomely furnished, and through the influence of Emily’s mother, Experience Breck, a girl thirty-five years old, who well understood domestic, labour, undertook to perform the duties of chambermaid, laundress, and cook, for what all concerned considered a reasonable compensation.