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“Could you not correct her fault?” suggested my wife.

“I have done all I can. I told her we could not have such bread, that it was dreadful; Bob says it would give him the dyspepsia in a week; and then she went and made exactly the same! It seems to me mere willfulness.”

“But,” said I, “suppose, instead of such general directions, you should analyze her proceedings and find out just where she makes her mistake: is the root of the trouble in the yeast, or in the time she begins it, letting it rise too long?–the time, you know, should vary so much with the temperature of the weather.”

“As to that,” said Marianne, “I know nothing. I never noticed; it never was my business to make bread; it always seemed quite a simple process, mixing yeast and flour and kneading it; and our bread at home was always good.”

“It seems, then, my dear, that you have come to your profession without even having studied it.”

My wife smiled and said,–

“You know, Marianne, I proposed to you to be our family bread-maker for one month of the year before you married.”

“Yes, mamma, I remember; but I was like other girls: I thought there was no need of it. I never liked to do such things; perhaps I had better have done it.”

“You certainly had,” said I, “for the first business of a housekeeper in America is that of a teacher. She can have a good table only by having practical knowledge, and tact in imparting it. If she understands her business practically and experimentally, her eye detects at once the weak spot; it requires only a little tact, some patience, some clearness in giving directions, and all comes right. I venture to say that your mother would have exactly such bread as always appears on our table, and have it by the hands of your cook, because she could detect and explain to her exactly her error.”

“Do you know,” said my wife, “what yeast she uses?”

“I believe,” said Marianne, “it’s a kind she makes herself. I think I heard her say so. I know she makes a great fuss about it, and rather values herself upon it. She is evidently accustomed to being praised for her bread, and feels mortified and angry, and I don’t know how to manage her.”

“Well,” said I, “if you carry your watch to a watchmaker, and undertake to show him how to regulate the machinery, he laughs and goes on his own way; but if a brother-machinist makes suggestions, he listens respectfully. So, when a woman who knows nothing of woman’s work undertakes to instruct one who knows more than she does, she makes no impression; but a woman who has been trained experimentally, and shows she understands the matter thoroughly, is listened to with respect.”

“I think,” said my wife, “that your Bridget is worth teaching. She is honest, well-principled, and tidy. She has good recommendations from excellent families, whose ideas of good bread, it appears, differ from ours; and with a little good-nature, tact, and patience, she will come into your ways.”

“But the coffee, mamma,–you would not imagine it to be from the same bag with your own, so dark and so bitter; what do you suppose she has done to it?”

“Simply this,” said my wife. “She has let the berries stay a few moments too long over the fire,–they are burnt, instead of being roasted; and there are people who think it essential to good coffee that it should look black, and have a strong, bitter flavor. A very little change in the preparing will alter this.”

“Now,” said I, “Marianne, if you want my advice, I’ll give it to you gratis: make your own bread for one month. Simple as the process seems, I think it will take as long as that to give you a thorough knowledge of all the possibilities in the case; but after that you will never need to make any more,–you will be able to command good bread by the aid of all sorts of servants; you will, in other words, be a thoroughly prepared teacher.”