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A Peevish Day, And Its Consequences
by [?]

As to the latter part of the sentence, that was a needless waste of words. The condition of mind she described was fully apparent.

About three o’clock in the afternoon, just as Mrs. Smith had found a temporary relief from a troubled mind, and a most intolerable headache, in sleep, a tap on the chamber-door awoke her, and there stood Nancy, all equipped for going out.

“I find I won’t suit you, ma’am,” said Nancy, “and so you must look out for another girl.”

Having said this, she turned away and took her departure, leaving Mrs. Smith in a state of mind, as it is said, “more easily imagined than described.”

“Oh dear! what shall I do?” at length broke from her lips, as she burst into tears, and burying her face in the pillow, sobbed aloud. Already she had repented of her fretfulness and fault-finding temper, as displayed toward Rachael, and could she have made a truce with pride, or silenced its whispers, would have sent for her well-tried domestic, and endeavoured to make all fair with her again. But, under the circumstances, this was now impossible. While yet undetermined how to act, the street-bell rung, and she was compelled to attend the door, as she was now alone in the house. She found, on opening it, a rough-looking country girl, who asked if she were the lady who wanted a chambermaid. Any kind of help was better than none at all, and so Mrs. Smith asked the young woman to walk in. In treating with her in regard to her qualifications for the situation she applied for, she discovered that she knew “almost nothing at all about any thing.” The stipulation that she was to be a doer-of-all-work-in-general, until a cook could be obtained, was readily agreed to, and then she was shown to her room in the attic, where she prepared herself for entering upon her duties.

“Will you please, ma’am, show me what you want me to do?” asked the new help, presenting herself before Mrs. Smith.

“Go into the kitchen, Ellen, and see that the fire is made. I’ll be down there presently.”

To be compelled to see after a new and ignorant servant, and direct her in every thing, just at so trying a season of the year, and while her mind was “all out of sorts,” was a severe task for poor Mrs. Smith. She found that Ellen, as she had too good reason for believing, was totally unacquainted with kitchen-work. She did not even know how to kindle a coal fire; nor could she manage the stove after Mrs. Smith had made the fire for her. All this did not in any way tend to make her less unhappy or more patient than before. On retiring for the night she had a high fever, which continued unabated until morning, when her husband found her really ill; so much so as to make the attendance of a doctor necessary.

A change in the air had taken place during the night, and the temperature had fallen many degrees. This aided the efforts of the physician, and enabled him so to adapt his remedies as to speedily break the fever. But the ignorance and awkwardness of Ellen, apparent in her attempts to arrange her bed and chamber, so worried her mind, that she was near relapsing into her former feverish and excited state. The attendance of an elder maiden sister was just in time. All care was taken from her thoughts, and she had a chance of recovering a more healthy tone of mind and body. During the next week, she knew little or nothing of how matters were progressing out of her own chamber. A new cook had been hired, of whom she was pleased to hear good accounts, although she had not seen her; and Ellen, under the mild and judicious instruction of her sister, had learned to make up a bed neatly, to sweep, and dust in true style, and to perform all the little etceteras of chamber-work, greatly to her satisfaction. She was, likewise, good-tempered, willing, and to all appearance strictly trustworthy.

One morning, about a week after she had become too ill to keep up, she found herself so far recovered as to be able to go down stairs to breakfast. Every thing upon the table she found arranged in the neatest style. The food was well cooked, especially some tender rice cakes, of which she was very fond.

“Really, these are delicious!” said she, as the finely flavoured cakes almost melted in her mouth. “And this coffee is just the thing! How fortunate we have been to obtain so good a cook! I was afraid we should never be able to replace Rachael. But even she is equalled, if not surpassed.”

“Still she does not surpass Rachael,” said Mr. Smith, a little gravely. “Rachael was a treasure.”

“Indeed she was. And I have been sorry enough I ever let her go,” returned Mrs. Smith.

At that moment the new cook entered with a plate of warm cakes.

“Rachael!” ejaculated Mrs. Smith, letting her knife and fork fall. “How do you do? I am glad to see you! Welcome home again!”

As she spoke quickly and earnestly, she held out her hand, and grasped that of her old domestic warmly. Rachael could not speak, but as she left the room she put her apron to her eyes. Hers were not the only one’s dim with rising moisture.

For at least a year to come both Mrs. Smith and her excellent cook will have no cause to complain of each other. How they will get along during the last week of next August we cannot say, but hope the lesson they have both received will teach them to bear and forbear.