At Home with the Jardines

Publisher: DigiLibraries.com
ISBN: N/A
Language: English
Published: 1 month ago
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CHAPTER I

MARY

I have never dared even inquire why our best man began calling my husband the Angel. He was with us a great deal during the first months of our marriage, and he is very observing, so I decided to let sleeping dogs lie. I, too, am observing.

It is only fair to state, in justice to the best man, that I am a woman of emotional mountain peaks and dark, deep valleys, while the Angel is one vast and sunny plateau. With him rain comes in soothing showers, while rain in my disposition means a soaking, drenching torrent which sweeps away cattle and cottages and leaves roaring rivers in its wake. But it took Mary to discover that the smiling plateau was bedded on solid rock, and had its root in infinity.

Mary is my cook!

Yet Mary is more than cook. She is my housekeeper, mother, trained nurse, corporation counsel, keeper of the privy purse, chancellor of the exchequer, fighter of exorbitant bills, seamstress, linen woman, doctor of small ills, the acme of perpetual good nature, and my best friend.

Cheiro, when he read my palm, said he never before had seen a hand which had less of a line of luck than mine. He said that I was obliged to put forth tremendous effort for whatever I achieved. But that was before Mary selected me for a mistress, for Mary was my first bit of pure luck. Our meeting came about in this way.

We were at the Waldorf for our honeymoon, which shows how inexperienced we were, when a chance acquaintance of the Angel's said to him one night in the billiard-room:

"Jardine, I hear that you are going to housekeeping!"

"Yes," said Aubrey, "we are."

"Has your wife engaged a cook yet?"

"Why, no, I don't believe she has thought about it."

"Well, I know exactly the woman for her. Elderly, honest, experienced, cooks game to perfection, doesn't drink, thoroughly competent in every way, and the quaintest character I ever knew. Lived in her last place twenty-three years, and only left when the family was broken up. Shall I send her to see you?"

"Do," said Aubrey.

He forgot to tell me about it, so the next morning while he was shaving, a knock came, and in walked Mary. I was in a kimono, writing notes and waiting for breakfast to be sent up. Hearing voices, Aubrey came to the door with one-half of his face covered with lather, and said:

"Oh, yes. I forgot to tell you. Are you the cook sent by Mr.
Zanzibar?"

"Yes, sir," said Mary.

Aubrey retired to the bathroom again, communicating with me in pantomime.

I looked at Mary, and loved her. We eyed each other in silence for a moment.

"Won't you sit down?" I said, looking at her white hair.

"Thank you, but I'll stand."

That settled it. I didn't care if she stole the shoes off my feet if she knew her place as well as that. Her face beamed; her skin was fresh and rosy. Her blue eyes twinkled through her spectacles.

"Would you," I said, "would you like to take entire charge of two orphans?"

She burst into a fit of laughter.

"Is it you and your husband, you mean?"

"It is. I wish you would come and keep house for us."

"I'd like to, Missis....