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A Peevish Day, And Its Consequences
by [?]

“What next?” peevishly ejaculated Rachael, and then slowly proceeded to obey the summons.

“How could you leave my chamber in such a condition as this?” was the salutation that met her ear, as she entered the presence of Mrs. Smith, who, half raised upon the bed, and leaning upon her hand, looked the very personification of languor, peevishness, and ill-humour. “You had plenty of time while we were eating breakfast to have put things a little to rights!”

To this Rachael made no reply, but turned away and went back into the kitchen. She had scarcely reached that spot, before the bell rang again, louder and quicker than before; but she did not answer it. In about three minutes it was jerked with an energy that snapped the wire, but Rachael was immovable. Five minutes elapsed, and then Mrs. Smith, fully aroused from the lethargy that had stolen over her, came down with a quick, firm step.

“What’s the reason you didn’t answer my bell? say!” she asked, in an excited voice.

Rachael did not reply.

“Do you hear me?”

Rachael had never been so treated before; she had lived with Mrs. Smith for three years, and had rarely been found fault with. She had been too strict in regard to the performance of her duty to leave much room for even a more exacting mistress to find fault; but now, to be overtasked and sick, and to be chidden, rebuked, and even angrily assailed, was more than she could well bear. She did not suffer herself to speak for some moments, and then her voice trembled, and the tears came out upon her cheeks.

“I wish you to get another in my place. I find I don’t suit you. My time will be up day after tomorrow.”

“Very well,” was Mrs. Smith’s firm reply, as she turned away, and left the kitchen.

Here was trouble in good earnest. Often and often had Mrs. Smith said, during the past two or three years–“What should I do without Rachael?” And now she had given notice that she was going to leave her, and under circumstances which made pride forbid a request to stay. Determined to act out her part of the business with firmness and decision, she dressed herself and went out, hot and oppressive as it was, and took her way to an intelligence office, where she paid the required fee and directed a cook and chambermaid to be sent to her. On the next morning, about ten o’clock, an Irish girl came and offered herself as a cook, and was, after sundry questions and answers, engaged. So soon as this negotiation was settled, Rachael retired from the kitchen, leaving the new-comer in full possession. In half an hour after she received her wages, and left, in no very happy frame of mind, a home that had been for three years, until within a few days, a pleasant one. As for Mrs. Smith, she was ready to go to bed sick; but this was impracticable. Nancy, the new cook, had expressly stipulated that she was to have no duties unconnected with the kitchen. The consequence was, that notwithstanding the thermometer ranged above ninety, and the atmosphere remained as sultry as air from a heated oven, Mrs. Smith was compelled to arrange her chamber and parlours. By the time this was done, she was in a condition to go to bed, and lie until dinner-time.

The arrival of this important period brought new troubles and vexations. Dinner was late by forty minutes, and then came on the table in a most abominable condition. A fine sirloin was burnt to a crisp. The tomatoes were smoked, and the potatoes watery. As if this was not enough to mar the pleasure of the dinner hour for a hungry husband, Mrs. Smith added thereto a distressed countenance and discouraging complaints. Nancy was grumbled at and scolded every time she had occasion to appear in the room, and her single attempt to excuse herself on account of not understanding the cook-stove, was met by, “Do hush, will you! I’m out of all patience!”