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Title: The Expert Waitress: A Manual for the Pantry, Kitchen, and Dining-Room

Author: Anne Frances Springsteed

Release date: June 12, 2015 [eBook #49202]

Language: English

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Illustration: Printer's logo


Copyright, 1894, by Harper & Brothers.

All rights reserved.






Is Dedicated by



The papers entitled “The Expert Waitress” are intended rather as a working model than as a set of rules from which there is no appeal. It is recognized that tastes and opinions vary as much as do the various dining-rooms in which they are expressed. In writing these papers, one idea has been kept in mind: No rule has been laid down that has not a good reason for its existence.

Some things, desirable in themselves, have been omitted because they are not possible to one pair of hands and feet, even when guided by a well-regulated brain.



[Pg 1]


Pearled Oats with Cream.
Lamb Chops.   Creamed Potatoes.
Bread.   Hot Muffins.
Coffee.   Milk.
Cream or Hot Milk.

The breakfast given is a usual one in many households. Learn to serve this properly, and it will be easy to make changes where ideas vary as to comfort and convenience.

To serve the breakfast given there will be needed: Napkins, tumblers, salt cups, pepper boxes, salt spoons, butter plate and knife, bread-and-butter plates, bread plate, bread knife, bread board, muffin dish, water pitcher, milk pitcher, trays.

[Pg 2]

Fruit. Fruit dish.
Finger bowl.
Fruit plates. Fruit knives.
Fruit spoons.
Covered dish.
Cream jugs.
Sugar bowl.
Cereal dishes
on plates.
Chops and
Tray for platter.
Covered dish.
Small carver and fork.
Two tablespoons.
Breakfast knives.
Breakfast forks.
Coffee. Hot-water kettle.
Coffee pot and stand
and small strainer.
Hot-milk pitcher
(covered) and
Cream jug.
Sugar bowl.
Slop bowl.
Coffee cups
and saucers.
Sugar tongs

The dish of fruit is to stand in the centre of the table. Place a salt cup, with its spoon, and a pepper box for the use of every two people. Put for each person a fruit plate, on which is a fruit doily, and a finger bowl one third full of water. On the plate at the right of the bowl lay a silver fruit knife, on the left of the plate a fruit spoon. At the right of each plate place a tumbler for water and another for milk. At the left put a little plate for bread, butter, and hot muffins. On the [Pg 3] table, at the right of the plates, lay a breakfast knife, with the sharp edge of the blade turned towards the plate, a silver knife for butter, and a dessertspoon, with bowl turned up. At the left lay a breakfast fork, with the tines turned up, and a napkin.

If the polished table, without a cloth, is preferred for breakfast, it will be necessary to take thought about hot dishes, none of which must come in direct contact with the table. Either they must be served from a side-table, or the polished table must be in some way protected. Table mats have been discarded by many ladies because they are so often merely useful without being ornamental.

Among the handsomest things with which to replace table mats are hand-painted trays, set in rims of split bamboo. The rim protects the table, and prevents the platter from sliding. These should be handled with great care, on account of their value. With one of these trays at the foot of the table, the fruit in the centre, and the coffee service at the [Pg 4] head, all has a finished appearance when breakfast is served.

With the placing of the coffee service at the head of the table the difficulty of heat again presents itself, and this time cannot be obviated by the side-table. The hot-water kettle is taken care of by its own lamp-stand; but the coffee-pot and hot-milk jug still remain. These must be provided for according to their character. If of silver, they should rest on silver stands; if of china, then on china stands; the purpose being to make the stand appear like a part of that which rests upon it, and so be as unnoticeable as possible.

The expert waitress will arrange her sideboard and side-table with as much care as she does the table itself. These two accessories should hold everything that may, can, or shall be needed. The sideboard may be left uncovered if the table is uncovered. If the table is draped, a suitable cloth must be laid on the sideboard. A side-table should always be draped. Use this for hot dishes without [Pg 5] stands. The sideboard should hold in readiness extra plates, knives, forks, spoons, tumblers and napkins, fine sugar for the pearled oats, a pitcher of water, and a pitcher of milk.

On the side-table should be plenty of space for whatever hot dishes are to be placed upon it, including the muffin dish, a silver tray for placing and removing everything that is not soiled; another tray, either of silver or carved wood, for removing that which is soiled, a small napkin for taking up quickly anything that may be spilled, and a large napkin or neat towel to be used in an emergency, such as the accidental overturning of a glass of milk or a cup of coffee.

When she thinks that all is ready, the waitress should ask and answer every one of these questions:

Does the table need anything more?

Is the sideboard perfectly arranged?

Is there plenty of room on the side-table?

Are the chairs properly placed?

[Pg 6] Are the morning papers where they should be?

Are any doors unnecessarily open?

Is there a drawer that is not tightly closed?

Has any dust been overlooked in the dining-room?

Two minutes before the breakfast hour begin to fill the glasses with water. This will be finished in time, and the water will be cool and fresh.

As to the time of placing butter upon the table, a waitress must be guided by her judgment. In winter, when butter is very hard, it may be put on sooner than in summer, when it should be kept cool until needed.

Bread must be always freshly cut.

When the family are seated at the table, place the fruit dish on a tray and hand it to the lady of the house, standing at her left side. Offer to each person, always at the left.

When the fruit has been served, see if any one has emptied his glass of water. Never, under any circumstances, let any one ask for [Pg 7] a glass of water. Fill it before he can ask. If carafes are used, and each one fills his own glass, after it has been once emptied, then keep watch of ice, and offer when it is needed.

When the fruit course is finished, remove everything pertaining to it. Take first the fruit dish, then, in each hand, a plate with its finger-bowl, knife, and spoon, and place quietly and quickly in the pantry until all are removed. If a knife, only, has been used, do not leave the fruit spoon because it is clean, but take it away with the other things. If any fruit juice has, by chance, found its way to the polished table, take it up so deftly with a small napkin that no one is aware of it.

When the fruit is removed, bring the dish of pearled oats and place on the tray at the foot of the table. Lay a tablespoon at the right of the dish. Place before each person a cereal dish on a plate. Remove the cover of the pearled oats to the side-table. Place the dish on the tray, put the spoon in the dish, and offer first to the lady of the house, standing [Pg 8] at her left. Offer to each person from the left. Then pass the sugar and cream.

When the cereal course is finished, take the cereal dish, with its tray, and place it on the side-table. Cover the dish. Take in each hand a cereal dish and plate, until all are removed to the pantry.

For the meat course see that the plates are warm, but not hot enough to mar the polish of the table. Where a cloth is used they may be hotter. Place a tray for the hot platter at the foot of the table, and stand the platter of chops on it. Lay a small carving-knife and tablespoon at the right of the platter, and a small carving-fork at its left. Place a pile of warmed plates in front of the platter.

When a chop has been served, take the plate in the right hand, place it on the tray, and take it to the lady of the house. Serve, first, all on one side of the table, then all on the other side. There is no choice in this service, for the carver asks each one if he may serve them. Go to the right of the person [Pg 9] served and place the plate, instead of having it taken from the tray at the left.

Take the potato dish from the side-table, uncover and place on the tray; put a tablespoon in the dish and pass. Serve each person from the left.

Place a platter of plain bread on the table, and then pass the hot muffins. If any one does not care for hot bread he may decline, because he knows that the cold bread is at hand.

Pass the butter and the bread.

Watch the water tumblers and fill when empty. Offer milk.

When the lady of the house begins to pour the coffee, take a cup as it is filled and move quickly to the right of the person for whom it is intended. Set the cup down. There is no choice about this. Each cup is made to suit the individual taste of the one to whom it is sent.

When the coffee is served, look about to see what may be needed at any part of the table. [Pg 10] Do not offer milk to one whose glass is still filled, or muffins to one who has an untouched muffin on his plate. Do not leave the breakfast-room until quite sure that everything that there is to do has been finished.

The breakfast described is served to a family of regular people, all of whom sit down at the same time, and it does not take any great amount of “mother wit” to serve it properly.

What really tests the skill of a waitress is to serve a breakfast in the manner necessary in many families.

There is a regular breakfast hour at which three or four of the family are prompt; but one of the gentlemen, perhaps, has to breakfast an hour earlier in order to get to business in time, while others, whose studies or pleasures keep them late at night, come afterwards.

To make every one comfortable is not easy, but it is quite possible. There must be no hurry; that is, no appearance of haste; but a waitress must move quickly to accomplish what is needed. If the butler’s pantry has a [Pg 11] gas stove, her task will be much simplified. The mistress of a household who breakfast in this manner will be glad to furnish her pantry with every convenience necessary for the comfort of her family. There will be coffee-pots of the sizes needed, a jar of freshly ground coffee, and a kettle the right size for the gas stove, so as to have freshly boiled water whenever it is needed. A waitress who is disposed to make the most of these conveniences can save both herself and others great annoyance.

If coffee is made only in the kitchen, then the side-table will have the proper appliances for keeping coffee and milk at the required temperature. A lamp under a coffee urn soon destroys the flavor of fine coffee, but a lamp under a hot-water tray will do no harm. If this tray is a simple flat one, it will be of little use. It must be one with rings of metal, one or more of which may be removed at a time, according to the size of the coffee-pot or milk jug which is to be surrounded by the [Pg 12] heat. These simple trays are made of planished tin. In the hands of an ignorant maid they are utterly useless. In careful hands they are a great aid and comfort in the breakfast-room.

A breakfast served in this way gives the following rules:

I—A dining-room must be in perfect order before breakfast is served.

II—A waitress is responsible for the heat of the dishes after they come from the kitchen. If too hot, she must cool them; if not hot enough, she must send them back.

III—Coffee and hot milk must be kept at the right temperature to preserve their best flavor.

IV—Water must be fresh and cool.

V—Butter must not be served so soon as to become soft and oily.

VI—Bread must be freshly cut.

VII—Glasses must be kept filled.

VIII—Nothing but an unexpected extra should ever be asked for.

[Pg 13] IX—Everything must be passed at the left, placed at the right.

X—In clearing the table, food must be first removed; then soiled china, glass, silver, and cutlery; then clean china, glass, silver, and cutlery; then crumbs.

XI—Everything relating to one course must be removed before serving another course.

[Pg 14]


Panned Oysters.
Claret.   Apollinaris.
Spaghetti.   French Fried Potatoes.
Bread.   Butter.
Fruit Tarts.

Centre-piece of flowers, ferns, or confections, napkins, tumblers, claret glasses, bread-and-butter plates, butter plate and knife, bread plate, board and knife, salt cups, pepper boxes, salt spoons, ice pitcher, trays.

A dining-room, aired for a few minutes after breakfast, will be fresh for luncheon; but the thermometer should be consulted to see whether the mercury is too high or too low.

[Pg 15]

Oysters. Cracker plate. Oyster dishes on
Small soup spoons.
Platter and tray.
Two covered
vegetable dishes.
Luncheon plates. Small carver
and fork.
Gravy spoon.
Med’m steel knives.
” silver ”
” ” forks.
Tarts. Flat-dish doilies.
Finger bowls.
Dessert plates. Pie knife.
Dessert forks.
Cocoa. Cocoa pitcher,
with cover
and stand.
Sugar bowl.
Cups and saucers. Teaspoons.
Sugar tongs.

Dust your sideboard, and any other article of furniture that has lost its fresh look since breakfast.

Make the table the proper size, always allowing an extra place for a guest.

If the polished table is preferred, see that there is no spot on it and wipe with a soft cloth.

If a table-cloth is to be used, first lay the flannel cloth without crease or wrinkle; then lay the linen cloth perfectly smooth and even.

[Pg 16] In the centre of the table place a vase of flowers, a pot of ferns, or a glass plate with crystallized ginger or bonbons.

At the foot of the table place a tray for the beefsteak platter, and lay the gravy spoon at the right of it.

At the head of the table place a stand for the cocoa pitcher, sugar bowl, with tongs, cups, saucers, and teaspoons.

If carafes are used, place one for the use of every two people, and a salt cup and pepper box for every two persons, unless the individual salts are preferred.

Place a small luncheon plate for each person. At the right lay a luncheon knife, with the sharp edge turned towards the plate, a knife for butter, a small soup spoon for oysters, a tumbler for water, another for Apollinaris, and a glass for claret. At the left lay a luncheon fork, with the tines turned up, a bread-and-butter plate, and a napkin.

Place your dessert plates, each with its fork, on the sideboard. On the sideboard have a [Pg 17] water pitcher, extra glasses, knives, forks, and spoons. Have on the sideboard, or at hand in the pantry, everything that may be asked for, as fine sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mixed mustard, and red and white pepper.

See that the right platter is being heated for the beefsteak, and be sure that the tray corresponds in size.

Fill the water pitcher, and have an extra pitcher of filtered water, or bowl of ice, in your pantry.

Cut the bread, and leave a loaf lying on the bread board in the pantry, with the bread knife by the side of it.

See that the oyster dishes are placed to heat in time to be very hot indeed.

See that the luncheon plates are warm, but not too hot to mar the polish of the table; if a cloth is used, they may be hotter.

Five or ten minutes before luncheon-time find out whether there is any reason why luncheon should not be served at the appointed hour. If the family are ready, bring the [Pg 18] butter and fill the glasses. Put a dish of oysters on each plate, see that every chair is properly placed, and announce that luncheon is served.

When all are seated, put the cracker plate on your tray and pass, going always to the left.

To remove the oyster course, take in each hand a plate, with its oyster dish and spoon, and carry to pantry, until all are removed.

Bring your vegetables to the side-table. Place the beefsteak platter on the tray before the carver, lay carving-knife at the right and carving-fork at the left of the platter, and put the warm luncheon plates in front of the carver.

When some beefsteak has been served, take the plate in your right hand and lift to your tray. Take to the lady of the house. Serve all on one side first, then all on the other side. Go to the right of the person served and put the plate down.

Place the potato dish on your tray, put a spoon in the dish, and pass. Go to the left [Pg 19] side, as the person served will use his right hand. Pass your spaghetti in the same manner. Offer gherkins.

Pass the bread.

Pass the butter.

Fill the glasses.

Offer claret and Apollinaris.

Never let anybody ask for anything which belongs to the regular luncheon. If demands are made upon the sideboard, supply them quietly and quickly. Pass the vegetables, bread, and butter whenever needed. Listen when beefsteak is offered, and be ready to hand the proper plate without being sent for it.

In removing this course, take a suitable tray and lay on it the carver, with its fork and the gravy spoon. Be careful to see that the edge of carver does not touch fork or spoon, and lay the carver and fork by themselves in the pantry. Next take out the beefsteak platter and tray, and then the vegetable dishes. Take the luncheon plates, one in each hand, until all are removed.

[Pg 20] Take the bread-and-butter plates, butter and gherkin dishes. Take off the china tray, salt cups, pepper boxes, and any clean glass or silver that has not been used.

If from a polished table, remove the crumbs with a fringed napkin and crumb-tray or plate. If a cloth is used, with a silver crumb knife and tray or plate.

Place a dessert plate, with its fork, before each person.

Pass tarts, offering them at the left. Place cups of cocoa at the right.

Fill the glasses.

Pass the tarts a second time. If cups are empty, pass them to be filled without waiting to be told.

Remove tart plates, by taking one in each hand, to pantry, until all are removed.

Place a plate, with finger bowl, for each person, and pass bonbons.

A luncheon served in this way gives us the following rules:

I—A dining-room must be free from dust [Pg 21] and at a pleasant temperature; neither too warm nor too cold.

II—A waitress is responsible for the proper heating of dishes before they are brought to the table.

III—A meal must never be announced until everything which is needed, or may be needed, is in readiness.

IV—Water must be fresh and cool.

V—Butter must not be served so soon as to become soft and oily.

VI—Bread must be freshly cut.

VII—Glasses must be kept filled.

VIII—Nothing but an unexpected extra should ever be asked for.

IX—Everything which admits of choice must be passed at the left. Everything which does not admit of choice must be placed at the right.

X—In clearing the table, food must be first removed, then soiled china, glass, silver, and cutlery, then crumbs.

XI—Everything relating only to one course must be removed before serving another course.

[Pg 22]


Olives.   Salted Almonds.
Broiled Bass, Maître d’hôtel Sauce.
Roast Lamb, Mint Sauce.
Green Pease.   Baked Tomatoes.
Potato Croquettes.
Lettuce Salad.
Crackers.   Cheese.
Neapolitan Pudding.

To serve this dinner you will need a heavy table-cloth, a linen table-cloth, carving-cloths, dinner napkins, flower bowl, candelabra, carafes, decanters, tumblers, sherry and claret glasses, salt cups, pepper boxes, salt spoons, bread plate, olive dishes, almond dishes, and spoons.

[Pg 23]

Soup. Soup tureen. Soup plates. Soup ladle.
Soup spoons.
Fish. Fish platter.
Sauce boat.
Fish plates. Fish slice and fork.
Sauce ladle.
Fish forks.
Fish knives
(if required).
Roast. Platter.
Sauce boat.
Three covered
vegetable dishes.
Dinner plates. Large carver
and fork.
Gravy spoon.
Sauce ladle.
Three tablespoons.
Dinner knives.
Dinner forks.
Salad. Salad bowl.
Cracker plate
with doily.
Cheese plate
with doily.
Salad plates. Salad fork
and spoon.
Cheese knife.
Salad forks.
Cheese knives.
Dessert. Flat pudding dish.
Finger bowls.
Dessert plates. Pudding slicer.
Dessert forks.
Coffee. Tray and tray cloth.
Sugar bowl.
Cream jug.
After-dinner cups
and saucers.
Sugar tongs.
Coffee spoons.

Make sure that the air of the dining-room is fresh, and the temperature agreeable.

If dust has gathered on polished surfaces since luncheon, wipe them lightly with a soft cloth.

[Pg 24] See that your table is exactly in its right place, and not in the least askew. Lay the Canton-flannel cloth perfectly smooth. Lay the linen cloth flat and without a wrinkle. See that the coverings of the sideboard and side-table are fresh and straight.

Place the flowers in the centre of the table.

If candelabra are used, put one on each side of the flowers, on a line with them. If four candlesticks, place them in a square a little distance from the flowers.

Spread a carving-cloth at the head and one at the foot of the table. Be sure that they lie quite straight across it.

Place a carafe for the use of every two persons, and a salt cup and pepper box for every two persons.

Lay a dinner plate for each person. On the right of each plate lay a soup spoon, with the bowl turned up, a dinner knife with the sharp edge turned towards the plate, a fish knife (if fish knives are used), a tumbler for water, a glass for sherry, and a glass for claret.

[Pg 25] At the left of each plate lay a fork for fish, and a larger one for the roast. Lay them in the order in which they are to be used, the fish fork being outside. At the left place also a napkin folded simply and holding a piece of dinner bread.

On the sideboard place the dessert plates, on each one of which is a doily under a finger bowl one-third full of water, and a dessert fork. Put on the sideboard astray with after-dinner cups, saucers, and spoons, a small bowl of lump sugar, and a small cream jug. Have on the sideboard, also, extra glasses, knives, forks, and spoons.

On the side-table place extra plates, the carvers with their forks, tablespoons, and sauce ladles. Leave room on the side-table for vegetable dishes and sauce boats.

Be sure that the salad bowl, olive dishes, and pudding dish are cool, the tureen, dishes, and plates being properly heated. When it is nearly time for dinner, place two olive dishes and two almond dishes, alternately, [Pg 26] just outside of the candelabra; place a decanter of sherry near the carver’s right, and a decanter of claret at the opposite corner of the table; fill the carafes, fill the tumblers, light the candles.

Place the soup tureen and some warm soup plates at the head of the table, lay the soup ladle at the right of the tureen, see that every chair is in its place, and announce that dinner is served.

When all are seated, uncover the soup tureen, put the cover on the side-table, and stand at the left of the hostess.

When a ladleful of soup is served, lift the soup plate with your right hand and place it on your tray. Take it to the person at the right of the hostess. Go to the right side. Place the soup plate on the cold dinner plate. Serve all on one side, then begin at the left of the hostess and serve all on the other side.

To remove the soup course, take first the tureen, then a soup plate in each hand, until all are removed. To remove soiled plates, go [Pg 27] to the right. Properly done, this way is more agreeable to those who sit at table than when plates are taken from the left.

Pour sherry. Be careful to pour each glass three-fourths full.

Place the platter of fish and warmed fish plates before the host. Lay the fish slice at the right of the platter and the fish fork at the left of the platter.

When a portion of fish has been served, lift the plate in your right hand and place on your tray. Go to the hostess first and exchange the cold plate for the fish plate. Serve all on one side, then begin at the left and serve all on the other side. Place the sauce boat on your tray and offer at the left, going all around the table.

To remove the fish course, take first the fish platter, then the plates, one in each hand, until all are removed.

Pour claret, and leave the decanter near the host. Pour each glass only three-quarters full.

If olives and almonds have not been served [Pg 28] by the persons at table to each other, serve olives first, then almonds.

Place the roast before the carver, and the hot plates. Lay the carving-knife and gravy spoon at the right of the platter, and the carving-fork at the left of the platter. Serve the roast in the same manner as the fish.

Put a spoon in the potato dish and place it on your serving tray. Offer at the left of each person. Return the potato dish to the side-table; serve the pease in the same manner, then tomatoes, and then mint sauce.

To remove this course, first lift the carver, the carving-fork, and gravy spoon to your tray and carry them to the pantry. Lay the carver and fork carefully by themselves. Remove the platter with the roast. Remove plates, one in each hand.

Remove the crumbs.

Place the salad fork and spoon in the salad bowl; put the bowl on your tray. Place it before the host, with the salad plates. Lay a fork and a knife quietly and quickly at each place.

[Pg 29] When some salad is served, take to the hostess. Set the plate down from the right. Serve all on one side, then all on the other side.

Pass the crackers, then the cheese.

Remove the salad bowl, salad plates, olives, almonds, salt cups, pepper boxes, and wine-glasses.

Remove the crumbs.

Remove the carving-cloths.

Place a dessert plate, with its finger bowl and dessert fork, before each person. Place the pudding before the hostess. Lay the pudding slicer at the right of the pudding dish. Serve first the person at the right of the hostess. Serve all on one side, then begin at the left of the hostess and serve all on the other side.

Remove the pudding dish, plates, and finger bowls.

Place the coffee tray before the hostess, and bring the coffee-pot. When the coffee is poured, place a cup at the right of each person. Offer sugar and cream at the left.

[Pg 30] If carafes are empty, fill them with fresh water.

Do not leave the dining-room until you are sure that you have finished all that there is to do.

A dinner served in this way gives us the following rules:

I—A dining-room must be free from dust and at a pleasant temperature.

II—Table-cloths must be laid without wrinkles and perfectly straight.

III—The sharp edge of knives must be turned towards the plate; bowls of spoons and tines of forks must be turned up.

IV—Carvers must be treated with as much respect as if they were razors.

V—A waitress is responsible for the proper heating of dishes and plates before they are brought to the table.

VI—A meal must never be announced until everything is in readiness which is needed or may be needed.

VII—Bread must be freshly cut.

[Pg 31] VIII—Everything which admits of choice must be passed at the left. Everything which does not admit of choice must be placed at the right.

IX—Soiled plates and dishes should be removed from the right.

X—In clearing the table, food must be first removed, then soiled china, glass, silver, and cutlery, then clean china, glass, silver, and cutlery, then crumbs, then carving-cloths.

XI—Everything relating only to one course must be removed before serving another course.

[Pg 32]


Bouillon in Cups.
Chicken in Aspic Jelly.   Roast Ham.
Saratoga Potatoes.
Olives.   Rolls.
Mustard Pickles.   Butter.
Salad Romaine.
Crackers.   Cheese.
Almond Pudding.

To serve this supper you will need: Heavy table-cloth, linen table-cloth, carving-cloths, napkins, doilies, flower bowl, candlesticks, carafes, tumblers, salt cups, pepper boxes, salt spoons, plate for rolls, butter plate and knife, bread-and-butter plates, olive dishes, pickle dishes, and forks.

Supper is served, instead of dinner, when it is necessary to gain time for an evening entertainment, [Pg 33] or when for other reasons a shorter instead of longer meal is desirable.

Bouillon. Bouillon bowls
with covers.
Small plates. Small soup
Meats, etc. Two cold platters
Vegetable dish.
Supper plates. Aspic slicer.
Ham slicer and
M’d’m steel knives.
” silver  ”
 ” ”forks.
Salad. Salad bowl.
Cracker plate
with doily.
Cheese plate
with doily.
Salad plates. Salad fork
and spoon.
Cheese knife.
Salad forks.
Cheese knives.
Dessert. Pudding dish. Dessert plates.
Finger bowls.
Pudding spoon.
Dessert forks.
Coffee. Tray and tray
Sugar bowl.
Cream jug.
cups and saucers.
Sugar tongs.
Coffee spoons.

As many dishes as are possible, without crowding, are placed upon the table before the meal is announced.

Have the air of the dining-room fresh, and the temperature not too high.

[Pg 34] See that the furniture is free from dust.

Be sure that the table is quite straight. Lay Canton-flannel cloth perfectly smooth. Lay linen cloth without a wrinkle. See that the coverings of the sideboard and side-table are fresh and straight.

Place flowers in the centre of the table, and four candlesticks in a square outside of them.

Lay carving-cloths at the foot and the head, and see that they are straight across the end of the table.

Place a carafe for the use of every two persons, and a salt cup and pepper box for every two.

For each person lay a small plate. On the right of each plate lay a small silver knife, a medium steel knife, with the sharp edge turned towards the plate, a small soup spoon for bouillon, and a tumbler. At the left lay a salad fork, a medium silver fork, a napkin, and a bread-and-butter plate with a supper roll and a tiny butter ball.

Lay your sideboard and side-table with care. [Pg 35] Make sure that everything is in readiness which is or may be needed.

On the side-table have a coffee tray with cups, saucers, spoons, sugar bowl, and cream jug. A salad tray with oil, vinegar, mixed mustard, and red and white pepper; also the carving knives and forks.

On the sideboard place the dessert plates, each with a doily, on which stands a finger bowl one-third full of water. At the right of the finger bowl, on the plate, lay a dessert fork. On the sideboard lay, also, extra knives, forks, spoons, and glasses.

Place the aspic of chicken at the head of the table, and lay the slicer between it and the plates before the hostess. The plates should be half the number of the persons at table. Place the roast ham at the opposite end of the table, with the same number of plates as for the chicken. Lay the carving knife and fork between the platter and the pile of plates.

Place the olives and pickles alternately between and just outside the line of the candlesticks. [Pg 36] Fill the carafes and the tumblers. Put a bowl of bouillon (covered) on each plate. See that every chair is in its place and announce that supper is served.

To remove the bouillon bowls, take in each hand a plate, with its bowl, cover, and spoon, until all are removed.

When a slice of ham has been placed on a plate, take the plate in your right hand, place it on your tray, and go to the left of the hostess. Hold your tray so that she can comfortably put a helping of chicken on the plate with the ham. Serve this plate to the person on the right of the hostess. She will now have a helping on a second plate. Take this plate from her right, carry it to the left of the host for a helping of ham. Serve this to the person at the right of the host. Take from his right the next plate which is ready and carry it to the left of the hostess, as before. Serve the next person on her right, and so on until all are served.

Place a spoon in the potato dish, put on [Pg 37] your tray, and pass it at the left, going all around the table.

Pass the pickles, olives, butter, and rolls, if rolls have been furnished with bouillon.

Keep the carafes filled and offer ice for the glasses.

When this course is finished, remove first the carvers and carving-forks and spoon, then the meat platters and vegetable dish. Next take the plates, one in each hand, until all are removed. Then take the bread-and-butter plates, and the olive and pickle dishes.

Remove the crumbs.

Remove the carving-cloths.

Place the salad fork and spoon in the salad bowl, put it on your tray, and place it before the host. Put the salad plates before the host.

When some salad has been served, take the plate in your right hand and put it on your tray. Serve the hostess first by going to the right and putting the plate down. Serve all on one side of the table first, then begin at the left of the hostess and serve all on the other side.

[Pg 38] Offer crackers, then cheese, going all around the table.

Remove the salad bowl, lifting it from the right of the host to your tray. Remove the plates, one in each hand, until all are removed.

Remove the crumbs.

Place a dessert plate, with its bowl and fork, before each person.

Place the pudding before the hostess. Lay the pudding slicer at the right of the pudding dish.

To serve the pudding begin at the right of the hostess, each time exchanging the dessert plate before the person served for the plate on your tray.

Remove the pudding dish and plates and finger bowls.

Place the coffee tray before the hostess. Bring the coffee-pot and place at the right of the tray.

When the coffee is poured place a cup at the right of each person.

Offer sugar and cream.

[Pg 39]

Afternoon Tea

For afternoon tea you need: Two small tables, fringed or embroidered tea cloths, doilies, an urn for bouillon, bouillon cups, spoons, a teakettle, teapots, tea caddy, sugar bowls, cream jugs, sugar tongs, teacups and saucers, teaspoons, a pitcher for iced water, tumblers, plates for finger rolls, plates for small cakes, bonbon dishes.

The afternoon tea which may properly be placed under the head of receptions is not here considered. To serve it requires more than one person.

The simple afternoon tea of a lady who is at home informally to her friends should be arranged by the waitress. She should have command of this situation, as well as of all others in her department. Bouillon should [Pg 40] be hot, a cup of tea should be hot and fresh. Finger rolls should be spread in such a manner that bits of butter will not come in contact with gloves. A tumbler must be only three-fourths full of water.

Place a small table—round if possible—where it will be most convenient for the hostess. Lay on it a daintily embroidered tea cloth, two or three choice cups and saucers, with spoons, a small sugar bowl with sugar tongs, a small cream jug, a dish of bonbons, and, at the last moment, a small teapot of freshly made tea.

In a corner of the room, or at one side in the background, lay another table with a tea cloth and place upon it an urn of bouillon, bouillon cups, doilies, teacups and saucers, spoons, a kettle of boiling water, a pitcher of iced water, tumblers, plates of finger rolls and small cakes, a dish of bonbons, a sugar bowl, a cream jug, and a tea caddy. On this table have, also, a teapot heating for the next brewing of tea. Twenty minutes, or even more, [Pg 41] may elapse between the serving of the first cups of tea and those which follow. Tea to be enjoyable must be freshly brewed.

When the hostess has received a guest or guests, offer bouillon from a tray which holds also a small plate of finger rolls and one or two doilies. If tea, which the hostess offers, is preferred, offer cakes with it.

Observe quietly when a guest has finished a cup of bouillon or a cup of tea, and, without the least appearance of haste, remove it on your tray. Be sure that the hostess has always some fresh cups ready to serve, and replenish the sugar bowl and cream jug when necessary.

If tea and cake only are served, you will still need a table for the hot-water kettle, pitcher of iced water, tumblers, and whatever is necessary to replenish the tea-table of the hostess.

If Russian tea be served, select a fair, fresh lemon and slice it evenly. Place a small dish which holds three or four slices of lemon on the tea-table, and have another in reserve from which to replenish.

[Pg 42]

Picnic and Travelling Luncheons

Choose a drawer or shelf on which to keep all the neat boxes which otherwise would be thrown away. With them put cords, small, wide-mouthed bottles, with suitable corks, a package of paraffine paper, and some light wrapping paper.

With these accessories at hand it is an easy matter to put up a few sandwiches, some olives or tiny pickles, and some wafers or cake.

If picnic luncheons are frequent in summer and the waitress assists the cook in putting them up, she can save much time and many mistakes of omission by writing out a list of all the things ordinarily needed for such occasions. This list she will keep in a safe place, and refer to it as soon as a picnic is mentioned to see what will have to be done the day before or early in the morning.

[Pg 43] A list may be something like this:

[Pg 44]

Care of Dining-Room

Suppose a dining-room in which the movable furniture consists of a table, a sideboard, a side-table, a dinner wagon, a screen, and twelve chairs. In the middle of the floor is a large rug which covers all except a polished border of three feet from the walls all around the room. The two windows are draped with curtains, there are pictures on the walls and candelabra and ornaments on the mantel. In one corner of the room is a closet, with glass doors, for glass, and in another corner one similar for fine china. Under the one for glass is a safe for silver, and under the one for china, shelves for some linen. Both safe and shelves are enclosed by doors without glass.

The dining-table is the right size for the family, its extra leaves being in their frame in [Pg 45] the pantry. It stands in the middle of the rug.

The end of the table next to the door is the head; that next the window, the foot.

The sideboard is long enough and broad enough to hold all that need be placed upon it. It stands at the side of the room between the china closet and the pantry door. The side-table has two large drop leaves, one or both of which may be used as occasion requires. It stands at the side of the room between the mantel and a corner. The dinner wagon is made of the same wood as the other furniture in the dining-room. It is made of shelves of the same size, each with a little guard rim of wood or brass, and each large enough to hold easily a large dinner plate. It stands on the polished floor between the window and the corner next to the pantry door. There is no sill under this door, and the wagon is on rubber rollers, so that it can be moved noiselessly and rolled into the space in the pantry which is provided for it. The screen [Pg 46] has two broad leaves and is placed so as to hide the pantry door.

The rug in the dining-room should be brushed up every morning, or swept with a carpet sweeper, and the polished border should be wiped with a dry cloth. Once every week the room should be thoroughly swept.

Roll up the rug ready to be taken out for shaking. Lay on the dining-table either paper or a sheet which is kept for the purpose, to prevent scratches. On this place ornaments, dishes from the sideboard, etc., and cover to keep from the dust. See that all doors and drawers are tightly closed. Open the windows.

If the rug cannot be taken out each time, draw it one side, and move the table into a corner before putting anything on it. Sweep the rug well, being sure to sweep with the nap and not against it. Roll it up as closely as possible. Sweep the floor with a hair brush having a long handle, and use a broom for the rug only, so as to permit as little dust as possible [Pg 47] to rise to pictures and curtains. Take up the dust and carry it away. Shake out the curtains so deftly that you neither tear nor wrinkle them. Take a feather duster with a long handle to brush off the tops of the curtain poles, tops of pictures, and mouldings which are too high to reach with a cloth.

Bring a pail of water and wipe up the floor with a wet cloth. Learn to rub with the grain of the wood, and do not leave lines or streaks. When dry, rub the polished border with crude petroleum, which should be applied with cotton waste, such as is used to clean engines, and polish with clean cotton waste. A very small amount of crude petroleum should be used, and a weekly use of it keeps the polish fresh.

Wash your hands; relay the rug; dust the room. In dusting use a small feather duster where necessary, but depend chiefly upon soft cloths. Dust should be taken up and shaken out of doors, not whisked again around a room.

Replace china and ornaments. Notice carefully [Pg 48] whether any spot or stain needs to be removed. Polish glass doors and glass of pictures. Wash windows.

To keep the polish of the dining-table perfect, rub every three days with a mixture made of equal parts of olive oil and turpentine. Apply with flannel cloth and polish with clean flannel cloth. Dull spots on other furniture may be treated in the same way.

Every morning before breakfast the dining-room must be well aired and thoroughly dusted.

After each meal crumbs must be taken up carefully from the rug.

[Pg 49]

Care of Pantry

Neatness and order in your pantry will depend in great measure upon the way you clear your table. If you look upon your butler’s pantry as a dumping-ground, then dirt and disorder will be inevitable. But, on the contrary, if you consider it a workshop, to be kept shipshape, you will avoid these dangers. Shipshape means a place for everything and everything in its right place.

Make up your mind in the beginning where you want to lay your knives, where you want your silver, which is the best place for your heavier china and the safest for your delicate pieces. When these places are well chosen, then stick to them.

You must be sure to have a bowl or pan large enough to hold all the broken bits and [Pg 50] bones from any meal. A large yellow bowl or agate pan is suitable for this. Do not use a tin pail; it is not cleanly. A piece of lemon or a spoonful of tomato will rust it and it will soon become disagreeable.

Do not begin your work until the food is put away. Next empty every glass, cup, bowl, and pitcher. Rinse with cold water those which have been used for milk or cream. Scrape your plates and dishes carefully, and put those of one sort together. This saves time; it does not waste it. A crust of bread from the broken bits will easily wipe out a fine china bowl or silver ladle without scratching it as a knife or spoon might do.

Keep a pan and brush at hand, and if food is dropped on your pantry floor take it up at once. Then you will have one greasy spot instead of long streaks to scour out.

When you have finished washing dishes, always leave your pan or sink perfectly clean. Your sapolio is provided for the purpose of [Pg 51] cleaning them thoroughly and in an expeditious manner. Once a week you must wash down the pipes with a strong solution of sal soda and water that is actually boiling, not simply hot.

Never leave soiled towels lying in your pantry. After each meal wash out those you have used and hang them to dry. You may add a little dilute ammonia to the water in which you wash them. Once a week, all towels that have been used should be thoroughly washed, scalded, and ironed. You need fresh ones each time for glass and fine china. Do not let your pile of fresh ones get exhausted before you have other fresh ones to take their place.

Your pantry shelves should be kept well dusted, every drawer clean and in order, the knife cleaner in proper place, the silver-cleaning materials in their place. See that the clean hand towels are not mixed with the dish towels. Keep salad cloths by themselves. Be sure that the brooms and long dusters are [Pg 52] hung, not standing on the floor, and choose a good place for keeping dusting cloths and small feather dusters.

Always remember that shipshape means a place for everything and everything in its right place.

[Pg 53]

Washing Dishes

To wash dishes, silver, and knives, you need: A clean sink, plenty of hot water, soap without much soda in it, a dish drainer, dish cloths and mops, a soap shaker, a cake of sapolio, a bottle of dilute ammonia, a knife cleaner, plenty of clean, dry towels.

Make a suds not too strong. Too much soap quickly takes color and gilding off from china.

Never leave soap lying in the water.

Begin with the glass, and see that every glass is emptied before you begin to wash. Cold water in one, some milk in another, claret in another, will soon make your pan unfit to wash anything in.

The rule for glass holds good for cups. See that every cup is emptied before you begin to wash.

[Pg 54] When a pitcher has been used for milk or cream, rinse it first with cold water, and you will have no trouble to cleanse it. The same rule applies to tumblers.

After the glass, take the delicate china cups and saucers, dessert plates, etc. Put your mind on your work. Inspect each piece when it leaves your hand to see if it is perfectly clean and dry.

By the time the glass and fine china are washed the water will be chilled. Let it run out, and make a fresh hot suds for the silver.

Never leave soap lying in the water.

When silver is washed clean and laid on the drainer, fill a pitcher with hot water and pour over it.

Now use your judgment and see whether the water is clean enough and hot enough for dishes. If it is, take a pile of plates, or your vegetable dishes, or whatever you think you can cleanse without needing hot water.

Change the water whenever it is necessary.

Never on any account leave dishes lying in [Pg 55] the water while you go to attend to something elsewhere. To do so injures gilding and color. Remember if you are quick you can do a good deal before one water cools, and you will have to change only when it is soiled.

Never put many dishes to wash at one time. The size of your sink or pan will regulate the number. Put dishes of one kind in at one time, and dishes of another kind in the next time. Then you can work rapidly.

If you put in a pile of dinner plates, some bread-and-butter plates, a little pitcher, and a sauce boat, and you find when you are through that the pitcher is cracked, a handle off of the sauce boat, and a chip out of one of the large plates, do not report that you could not prevent these accidents. Such things do not come under the head of accidents; they come under the head of carelessness.

You may rinse plates and dishes in the same way that you do silver, with this difference: you must see that the water poured upon delicate china is not too hot, or it will crack it.

[Pg 56] Before you begin to wash at all, ask yourself where you are going to stand your dishes when they are dried. Arrange so that you have room enough without letting clean dishes touch soiled ones, or without being obliged to put dry dishes on a wet spot.

When your silver is dried put it away. Do not let it lie where it will be spattered from the washing of the next things.

There are two good reasons for spreading out a clean towel on which to lay your silver as you dry it. One is that the silver does not get scratched, and the other is that it enables you to handle it in a noiseless manner.

There is a good reason for washing dishes of one kind together, aside from the question of cracking and chipping. When they are washed and dried they are ready to put away without further sorting.

Silver trays used at each meal should be washed after each meal, just as regularly as a bread plate or a crumb tray. Sometimes crumbs fall on a tray, sometimes a drop from [Pg 57] a sauce boat. These you can see; but, unless you think about it, you will not realize that you cannot serve a meal without leaving finger marks and dull spots on the edge of a tray.

Watch the inside of your pitchers. Sediment from boiling water or stains from chocolate may be easily removed the first day; after that twice the time, at least, will be needed to efface them. If clear water or hot soapsuds will not do it, use a little sapolio.

When your dishes and silver all are finished, cleanse your steel knives. Never let the handles touch the water. Hold in your left hand and wash the blades with your right. After they are washed scour the blades with bath brick or on an emery board. Let the blade rest flat upon your board; this prevents bending and loosening the handle.

There is a knife cleaner which many ladies would like to have used for their knives, if they knew that it would be properly used. It is a disk with emery pads on a wheel, and has [Pg 58] spaces for both small knives and carvers. If the knives are put in as they should be, a few turns of the wheel will polish and sharpen them at the same time. If carelessly put in, both knives and machine can be spoiled in one using. But this machine is costly, and you will need to prove yourself an expert before adding it to the pantry furnishings.

[Pg 59]

Care of Silver, Etc.

Once every week your silver should be thoroughly polished.

First clean with electro-silicon, or any perfectly smooth powder, mixed with a little alcohol and water. Rub with soft cloths or chamois, and use a soft brush where necessary. Sometimes it is impossible to get all the powder out of tracery and filigree work. In that case hold under boiling water and dry quickly.

If you have a Vienna coffee-pot, Benares brass trays, or similar articles to clean, rub first with electro-silicon and a mixture of one-half lemon juice and one-half water, then polish with hard silver rouge.

To keep the polish of your tables in order, have a mixture of one-half turpentine and one-half olive oil. Wash the wood with clear [Pg 60] water, or water in which a little borax has been dissolved. Never rub soap on polished wood. Rub a little of the oil and turpentine on with a flannel cloth. Polish with a clean flannel.

[Pg 61]


Dining-room lamps are either a source of great pleasure or of perpetual torment.

Any one who washes dishes according to the directions given will not have to be told to have always a spotless chimney and no oil on the outside of jars.

To prevent oil from oozing over the top of the burner, turn the wick down after the light is out.

Rub the wicks, do not cut them. A new wick must be started right. Loose threads should be clipped off to start with, but when once in shape the necessity for clipping will be very rare. A wick ought to be put in several hours before using, so that it may be thoroughly saturated with oil. When a lamp has been burned, if one part is a little higher [Pg 62] than the other parts it will char first, and, when well charred, can be rubbed off to the level of the rest. A bit of soft paper, a nailbrush, or, best of all, the unbroken finger of a glove, will do this successfully.

Be sure that no bit of charred wick or burned fly or moth is left in the lower part of the burner. There is danger of these igniting and setting fire to the oil in the reservoir. A clean, unbroken lamp is not dangerous.

If a lamp has been left standing with a little oil in, it should not be lighted until filled and the burner carefully wiped. It is possible that gas may have formed, making the lamp, as it stands, unsafe to light before refilling.

To start the circular wick of a large lamp, like the Rochester, put a new wick in the burner, and saturate thoroughly with oil that part of the wick that is above the burner, which is best done by holding wick and edge of burner upside down in a shallow cup of oil. Put the burner in the lamp, but have no oil in the lamp. Light the wick and put the chimney [Pg 63] on. Let the oil burn out of the wick. This method chars the wick so that it can be rubbed down to a smooth, even surface. Started rightly, a wick can be kept even. The objection to this is the odor from the burning wick; but the time necessary to do it is short, and an open window can be arranged without having enough draught to break the chimney.

When a lamp is first lighted, leave the flame low until the metal of the burner is heated, then turn as high as possible without smoking. This secures a clear, steady flame.

To clean burners, boil in water in which sal soda has been dissolved. Put one teaspoonful to each quart of water.

To prevent chimneys from cracking, put them before using into a large pan and cover them with cold water. Bring the water slowly to a boil. Take the pan off of the fire and let the chimneys cool slowly in the water.

If the brass catches of a burner are too tight, the chimney will break as it expands [Pg 64] with the heat. These catches are easily loosened without injuring the lamp.

Alcohol lamps for kettles and chafing-dishes must be kept perfectly clean. The wicks must sometimes be renewed before they are burned out. The question, What is the matter with the lamp? may often be solved by putting a fresh wick in the place of one that has become clogged.

This is very often true of oil lamps. There is more or less paraffine in oil, which fills the wick and prevents combustion.

[Pg 65]


The chair placed for a carver must be high enough to allow the work to be done comfortably without the carver being obliged to stand. The platter must be large enough to hold the entire joint or bird when carved, without any piece falling over the edge of the platter. A waitress should make sure before placing a dish in front of the carver that the platter is really hot; if it is not the dish gravy will become chilled, and consequently unfit for use, before it can be served.

See that no string or skewer is left to annoy the carver. The silver skewers sent to table intentionally are, of course, excepted. The platter must be placed near enough to the carver to prevent awkwardness or the necessity of moving the dish. In serving large birds, [Pg 66] as goose or turkey, place the head always to the left. If smaller birds, as partridge or grouse, which are placed across the platter, let the heads be on the farther side. A saddle of mutton should be placed with the tail end to the left of the carver. A haunch of venison or mutton, with the loin or backbone nearest the carver. A leg of mutton or lamb, or a knuckle of veal, with the thickest part towards the back of the platter. A shoulder of mutton or veal, with the thickest part up. A rib roast or a sirloin roast should be placed with the backbone at the right end of the platter. A rump roast, with the backbone at the farther side of the platter. A round of beef, with the flesh side up. A sirloin beefsteak, with the tenderloin next to the carver. A fillet of beef, with the thickest end at the right end of the platter. A calf’s head, with face to the right. A roast pig, with head to the left. A roast ham, with the thickest part on the farther side of the platter.

A waitress should know how to carve. The [Pg 67] first steps may be learned by cutting bread and slicing pressed meats. To do these two things perfectly, one must acquire a steady hand and a straight eye. Slices must be of uniform thickness, thin enough to be delicate, not thin enough to break. There must be no ragged edges. From the slicing of cold meats to the slicing of a rolled roast or other meats from which the bones have been taken is not a great step if the knife be in perfect condition. Enough confidence will have been gained to grasp the slicer firmly and slice quickly and firmly across the roast.

Further than this it will not be well to go without some object lessons, for the meats are not the only things to be considered; the knives must be kept from injury.

When you have placed a rib roast properly, watch the carver. Study the different positions of the knife and fork, as he puts the fork in the middle and cuts down to the ribs close to the backbone. The thick gristle near the backbone will be next cut off. Then from the [Pg 68] side nearest the carver will be cut thin, even slices parallel with the ribs, and the knife run under them, separating them from the bone. The sirloin roast will be sliced in the same way, a cut being made at the flank end as well as near the backbone to separate the slices.

You will notice that a good carver is careful to serve neatly the crisp fat with the rare slices. This adds richness to their flavor.

To carve a beefsteak, the eye must be trained to know at once the best parts, and all of the best should not be served to one or two persons. First cut out the tenderloin close to the bone and cut it into long, narrow pieces, then cut the other part from the bone and cut into strips. Serve a part of each, and serve the fat to those who prefer it.

To carve a leg of mutton or lamb, or knuckle of veal, put the fork in the top, turn it towards you and cut slices through to the bone, slip the knife under and cut them away from the bone. The under side may be sliced in the same manner.

[Pg 69] A saddle of mutton must be carved with the grain of the meat, in long, thin slices from each side of the back. It must be partly turned over to reach the tenderloin and kidney fat.

The leg and saddle of venison are carved in the same way as the leg and saddle of mutton. When the leg and loin are served together, the loin should be carved before the leg. First cut off the flank and cut it in pieces, then separate the ribs and afterwards carve the leg.

It will be better not to attempt to carve a forequarter of mutton, lamb, or veal until this part has been studied uncooked and the joints learned. The same advice applies to birds, large and small.

To carve a forequarter, put the carving-fork in firmly near the knuckle. Cut all around the leg and up on the shoulder. Lift the leg from the shoulder and cut till you reach the joint. Cut through this joint, then from left to right, separating the lower from the upper part of the breast. Take out the blade, if it [Pg 70] has not already been removed, divide the ribs, and then slice the leg if it be required.

Roast ham should be cut from the thickest part down to the bone, in thin slices, the fat and crust being served with each slice.

In carving tongue, the tip or thinnest part should be cut lengthwise. The centre is the finest part.

Before trying to carve poultry, study the joints of the uncooked birds. When you find a joint and cut the cord and gristle, a leg or a wing is free. To find a side bone or a collar bone is not easy at first, but can be learned by a little practice.

Watch the rapid manipulations of a good carver. Remember that to carve a roast chicken or turkey, you remove first the leg, then the wing, from one side, then the leg and wing from the other side, separating the joints. Then carve the breast on each side; next take off the wishbone, separate the collar bones and shoulder blades, separate the breastbone from the back, then the back from the body, and [Pg 71] then the side bones. In large birds the second joints and legs should be carved in at least two pieces.

The breast of a roast goose and of a roast duck should be cut parallel to the breastbone.

Small birds, when not served whole, may be cut from the neck to the end of the breast and down through the backbone.

To carve a large partridge, cut off the leg and wing from one side, then from the other; leg and wing should be served together. Remove the breast from the back and cut it through the middle. When the birds are smaller, serve one half of a bird to each person.

In carving fish, learn to serve neatly and leave the backbone on the platter. Carve to the bone, and serve. Remove the bone to one side and carve the lower half.

A carver should try not only to serve each person acceptably, but to leave the meat on the platter in appetizing form for a second helping.

[Pg 72]

Care of Carvers

Fine carvers should be treated with the same respect as fine razors. They should be laid always by themselves. On no account should the edge of one carver touch that of another carver, nor should it touch any other hard substance.

A carver must always be sharpened on its steel before it is offered for use, unless a contrary direction is given, and when necessary should be taken without delay to the shop of a careful workman to have the edge renewed.

It is safest to replace carvers in their own cases. When they are laid in a drawer, it is well to keep each one in its own simple case of heavy gray flannel.

[Pg 73]

General Rules

The air of a dining-room must be fresh, and not too warm. Furniture must be free from dust. Table-cloths must be laid straight and smooth. Side-tables must be draped. Napkins must be folded simply, and not in fanciful shapes, as fans, etc. The edge of a knife must be turned towards the plate; bowls of spoons and tines of forks turned up. Knives and spoons must be placed at the right of a plate; forks at the left. Place knives and forks in the order in which they are to be used; the first one used, on the outside.

All glasses must be placed at the right.

Napkins and bread-and-butter plates must be placed at the left.

Carvers, fish-slice and fork, etc., should be laid on a side-table until needed, then placed [Pg 74] quietly and quickly, the knife at the right of the platter, and the fork at the left.

Extra plates, glasses, knives, forks, and spoons should be in readiness on the side-board.

Such things as mustard, vinegar, etc., which may be wanted, should be in readiness on the side-table or in the pantry.

Filtered water, ice, and extra bread or rolls should always be at hand in the pantry during a meal.

Bread must be freshly cut.

Water must be fresh and cool.

Butter must not be served so soon as to become soft.

A waitress is responsible for the proper heating of dishes before they are brought to the table.

A meal must not be announced until everything is ready which is or may be needed.

Everything not too large to rest comfortably upon a serving-tray should be handed from it.

Any dish from which a person at table [Pg 75] helps himself should be offered at the left. Any dish which the waitress serves should be placed at the right.

Glasses for water must be kept filled.

In removing a course, food must be first taken; then soiled china, glass, silver, and cutlery; then clean china, glass, silver, and cutlery; then carving-cloths, and lastly crumbs.

Soiled plates and dishes should be removed from the right.

To remove a carving-cloth, fold it quickly together and lift to tray.

Everything relating only to one course must be removed before serving another course.

Plates and dishes must never be piled together so that china rests on pieces of silver.

Work in pantry must be as nearly noiseless as possible.

A waitress must not leave the dining-room until she is sure that there is nothing more for her to do.

Before a girl is an “expert” in waiting she must learn:

[Pg 76] To stand straight.

To step lightly and quickly.

To dress neatly.

To keep tidy hair, clean teeth, and clean finger-nails.

To close a door without noise.

To take proper care of a dining-room, pantry, silver, brass, lamps, and polished wood.

To handle dishes and silver in a quiet manner.

To carry dishes without having them touch her dress.

To treat carvers with as much respect as if they were razors.

To sharpen carvers.

To remove crumbs.

To cut bread.

To make butter balls.

To dress salads.

To make sandwiches.

To make coffee, tea, and chocolate.

To serve wines.

[Pg 77]

Miscellaneous Instructions

Dainty meals are served in a great many houses where there is neither time nor inclination for the number of courses which are considered necessary at other tables. Perfection of serving, that is, perfect comfort, should be aimed at as much in one case as in the other. There should be absolute cleanliness and noiseless movement. Meals should be ready on time, and there should be no occasion to wait for things that ought to be close at hand. Time may be gained without causing confusion, if proper thought be given beforehand to the serving of each particular dish. Instead of passing a fish sauce, it may, in many cases, be put on the platter with the fish, so that the carver serves some of it with each helping. Meat gravies may be put on [Pg 78] the table to be passed from one to another without the help of the waitress. When this is done the waitress should select two suitable gravy boats or bowls, see that they are properly heated and not filled too full. When she has brought hot plates to the carver she may bring the gravy boats, put one near one end of the table and another near the other end. This may be done so quickly that she will be ready to take the first plate which the carver has ready for her. The same rule applies to pudding sauces. Instead of one large bowl or dish, two pretty, smaller ones may be selected and put on the table immediately after the pudding has been placed before the hostess. Pickles and other relishes may be served in two or more small dishes and put at convenient distances along the table.

A dinner-table is much more attractive with a handsome plate before each person as he or she is seated; but where time and space are limited, the cold plate may be dispensed with.

[Pg 79] The proper placing of a side-table makes every difference in the serving of a meal. A small table at each end of the room is often desirable. This gives a proper place to put down a vegetable or other dish, without walking the length of the room, when the waitress needs to take a plate to the carver for a second helping. This table may hold whatever extras may be needed by the hostess for the dishes which she serves, as the table near the host holds extra carvers, etc., which he may need. These tables must be used with discretion, and no unsightly dish, which should be at once carried to the pantry, must be allowed to remain on them. Their object, like that of the dinner wagon described in “Care of Dining-Room,” is simply to lessen time between courses and to help a waitress to pass vegetables before meats have grown cold.

The best serving is often most appreciated where there are not the conveniences necessary for carrying out rules which at first sight seem very simple. To remove the dishes from [Pg 80] a dinner of even five or six courses, according to the directions given, it is necessary to have a pantry large enough to put down the dishes as they are taken from the table, without piling one upon the other. This takes a good deal of space. The one waitress has no assistant to take from her hand and deftly separate knives, forks, and spoons from plates and dishes, piling all in a compact manner. It is necessary, therefore, that she should exercise her very best common-sense.

If the pantry opens into a roomy, well-ventilated kitchen, by a swing door which makes no noise, then a large table may be placed in the kitchen so that an extra step or two will make possible the putting down of all dishes for which there is no room in the pantry. Where this is not possible, some means must be devised for gathering together the dishes with the least possible confusion. One way to do it is the following:

When a course is finished take a suitable tray for soiled dishes; go to the right of each [Pg 81] person to remove the dishes, beginning at any convenient place at the table. After a cereal course, place a dish on your tray and quickly, without any noise, lay the spoon by the side of it on your tray. Put the next dish on the top of the one you have already taken and the spoon by the other spoon. When you have taken dishes and spoons, take plates, piling one above another on your tray.

If there are few people at table, you may take all at once; if there are more, you must judge for yourself how many times to go. Follow this rule: Never pile dishes on a tray in a manner to look disagreeable to yourself or to those who sit at table.

Salad and dessert plates you may remove as you do cereal dishes, putting forks or spoons on the tray by the side of the plates.

After a meat course, go to the right, holding your tray in your left hand near enough to let no particles of food fall upon the table. Take the knife and fork at the same time in your right hand, lay the knife on one side of your [Pg 82] tray and the fork on the other side. As you go around the table in this way put all the knives together on one side and the forks on the other. Carry the knives and forks to the pantry. Next take the plates. Put one above another on your tray until you have taken three or four from the table. Proceed in this manner until all are removed.

A waitress will do well to make herself acquainted as soon as possible with the proper way of serving other courses than those of the simple dinner. She should know how to serve oysters and clams cold on the half-shell, or to see that the oyster plates are thoroughly chilled without being cracked. She should know the different sauces and the correct manner of serving. For instance, if game be served without a sauce, she may offer dressed celery or lettuce to be taken on the same plate. If a hot sauce and a salad are both served, she will provide an extra plate for the salad. She should learn the correct temperature for wines, as well as the glasses in which they belong, [Pg 83] and various other details necessary to be attended to during a full dinner.

Many things may be learned by cheerfully assisting the caterer who serves an occasional dinner in the household, or by taking a position where a part of the parlor maid’s duty is to assist an experienced butler; or, in many houses, the mistress herself will kindly give the necessary instruction.

A waitress who has become competent may arrange and serve special meals, delegating the work done formerly with a caterer to assistants under her. She must be careful not to attempt more than she can safely perform, and then carry out her plan with quiet confidence in her own ability. Except in case of an accident which she cannot remedy, she should not speak to the hostess, who should be left perfectly free to entertain her guests without a care about the food which they are eating. All doubts should be settled before the lady of the house goes to her room to dress for dinner. A waitress, however competent, must consult those whom [Pg 84] she serves upon the special way of having many things done. She must know how to sharpen carvers, but she must not try her hand upon new ones without finding out whether the host prefers to handle them entirely himself; this question to be asked, of course, before laying the table. The special form of serving boiled eggs should also be settled, and the question of serving cheeses whole or broken.

Cheeses of the pineapple and Eadam varieties should be cut so that the top will fit again closely and exclude the air. To preserve perfectly a section cut from any large cheese, it should be kept wrapped in a napkin or piece of cheese cloth wrung out of cider vinegar. Rhine wine will answer the same purpose, but the vinegar will not leave an objectionable trace. Cheese should always be served on a folded napkin, for the reason that it is more or less oily and looks pleasanter on the napkin than on the plate.

The crisp green salad, with its accompaniment [Pg 85] of a red or golden cheese, is one of the most agreeable courses of the dinner, and no unsightly crumbs should be left on the cloth before it is served.

A carving-cloth should not be folded on the table. The corners may be turned deftly together and the cloth removed to a tray on which it may be carried to the pantry, to be folded later.

When a number are at table, only a part of the plates should be put before the carver at one time; but the others must be ready on a near side-table.

By learning to make dainty paper frills for lamb chops or for the bone of a ham, and by studying simple garnishings of fresh parsley, celery tips, and lemon, pleasant effects may be produced and a reputation for taste and skill acquired. The same dish may be served in a variety of ways, one of which may tempt the appetite where others have failed. Instead of serving chicken salad in a plain dish at luncheon, it may be put in cups made by removing [Pg 86] the pulp from solid red tomatoes, and each tomato placed on a bed of green lettuce leaves.

One is always pleased by a novelty, that is, after the more substantial part of a meal is finished, and a waitress who becomes an artist in her especial line may not only give a great deal of pleasure to others, but keep herself from getting tired of the daily routine. If she wishes to raise her work above the level of mere drudgery, she will study to see how she can improve each day upon the work of the day before.

Nothing should ever be done because Mrs. X’s butler does so and so, or because Mrs. Y’s maid says she saw it done like this in England. Every good rule has a good reason for its foundation; every rule which has not a good reason for being should be replaced by a better one.

There are good reasons for serving the lady of the house first, although this rule is often waived to do honor to the distinguished guest [Pg 87] for whom a luncheon or dinner is given. In a country-house several distinguished people or dear friends are entertained at one time; to serve the hostess first and follow a regular order along the table makes no distinction. Novelties are often introduced, both in food and in service. Dishes are served before which a guest hesitates as to which fork or which spoon to use until he glances at his hostess to see which one she takes up.

Not every one who travels goes to the East, and not every one who goes to the East is entertained by Eastern dignitaries and brings Eastern customs home. When a lady does dispense with finger-bowls and follows the custom of a Grand Pacha in having passed to her guests a large silver bowl of rose water, in which each one in turn is expected to dip the tips of the fingers and wipe them on a pearl-fringed towel, she need not be surprised if the first guest, seeing this bowl of rare workmanship presented at her left hand, looks about on the tray for some spoon or ladle by [Pg 88] which she is to help herself to the pale beverage. If the bowl be handed first to the hostess and she follows the custom of the Grand Pacha, no guest need betray that she was not brought up in the house of a Grand Pacha herself.

A hostess who takes pride in having her forks made to suit special courses, like asparagus, and who has several forks laid by each plate before dinner is served, finds it necessary to take up the right one before her guests make a choice. I have in mind a dinner where the hostess delayed the tasting of a course, the absent-minded host took the wrong fork, some guests took one and some another. The butler did his best to replace the right ones; but after all his efforts, somebody had a wrong fork to the end of the dinner.

A waitress should remember, when going into a new family, that some things, which seem novel to her and only to be done away with, may be old-established family customs, to which she must adapt herself if she is to [Pg 89] give satisfaction. If she finds that pease, tomatoes, and other vegetables are served in a semi-liquid state instead of the drier one to which she has been accustomed, she must use the small dishes provided, remembering that the rule, “all vegetables are to be eaten from the dinner plate,” is not accepted by all housekeepers, although it is by a great number. So, if fish knives are provided, she need not feel that she is offending against good manners, even if she has seen only forks used before.

However, there are some things which a little true tact and management might alter for the benefit of all concerned. I knew one table where many well-cooked dishes and many delicate desserts were served, at which the relishes were something startling. Spanish peppers, stuffed and pickled, I had been used to see cut in small pieces and served from a pickle dish. At this table a whole stuffed Spanish pepper was served to each person in a small dish which held some of the vinegar as well as the pepper.

[Pg 90] An improvement upon this is the serving of olives in small dishes to each person, although it is hard to realize how any one at a well-served dinner would care to eat a relish as if it were a vegetable. Those who are fond of olives think them very, very good, and those who do not like them think they are horrid; but it would seem better to lunch off of them when alone, and not neglect for one flavor the many flavors prepared for enjoyment during a well-thought-out dinner.

A waitress with good health, a fair amount of brains, and a determination to be a better waitress than any woman was before, has a great field before her. But if she aspires to raise waiting to the dignity of a profession, she must study; she must educate her eye to know the difference between a line that is exactly straight and one that is slightly askew; she must train her memory until the daily routine is perfectly easy and she can give thought to decoration and invention; she must educate her hands until they are to be trusted [Pg 91] with the care of the frailest glass and china, and educate her sense of smell and of taste until she can suit each salad dressing to the dinner of which it forms a part, making it rich or piquant, as the other dishes demand.

In one of our largest cities I have been shown a large kitchen which had been fitted up next to an employment bureau for the training of partially trained cooks and waitresses. The teacher had been dismissed, the cooking utensils and the range were for sale. “Why?” “Because the ladies would not give their maids any time to come and learn.” I have no doubt that this was true; but there are plenty of ladies who do wish their maids to learn, and if those who have opportunities for improvement will make the most of those opportunities, they will raise the standard of work, and inspire their co-workers who are now willing to stay as they are and let well enough alone.

[Pg 92]

Useful Suggestions

In order to do any work in the best manner it is necessary that one should be strong and well. To become strong and to keep well some simple rules must be understood and carefully followed. One may be blessed with good health, but no constitution can stand the strain made upon it when the ways and means for preventing fatigue and disease are disregarded.

To keep good health it will be necessary to form carefully and to continue steadily nice habits of personal cleanliness.

Personal cleanliness includes more than keeping the skin and the hair, the nails and the teeth, clean. It includes keeping one’s sleeping-room sweet and fresh, and airing the bed thoroughly every morning. To spread [Pg 93] up a bed a few minutes after one is out of it may give to the room an air of neatness, but it folds into the bedding the close air of the night instead of letting it all go out of the window, to be replaced by the freshness of the morning.

And cleanliness means more than a clean gown and clean collar and cuffs. One of the first things for a waitress to consider is her supply of underclothing. She will see the necessity of fresh print dresses for morning work, and a neat dark costume for afternoons; but she may be thoughtless at first about underclothing. Yet to keep clean, and by keeping clean to promote good health, nothing is more important than to be able to change underclothing whenever she feels the need of doing so. And in clothing, stockings are an important item. It is restful to change shoes, but more restful to change both shoes and stockings. The warm, tired foot is very grateful for the clean, smooth stocking before it begins its rounds about the evening dining-table.

[Pg 94] Slippers or low shoes for house wear must be thoroughly comfortable, and shoes for out-of-doors must give a firm support to the feet, and at the same time protect them from the wet and the cold. To buy cheap shoes is not real economy. A shoe to be worth buying should be well made and fit comfortably. Such a shoe will outwear two or three pairs of the cheap ones which are showy but poorly made.

To preserve health it is very important to have a sufficient amount of sleep. Girls sometimes say that they need only a little sleep, and are never tired except just before they get up in the morning. But one ought not to feel tired in the morning just before getting up. Sleep should be long enough to refresh both mind and body, and care should be taken to insure the necessary amount.

It may seem at first as if regulation of hours is beyond the control of one who is serving other persons; but in this, as in many other things, much depends upon the worker [Pg 95] and the manner in which she performs her work. If hours of waiting are ended early she must go to bed early, for she will be required to be up betimes in the morning. If she has to wait late at night it is not likely that she will be required to be up too early in the morning, provided, her work is carefully done after she is up. If she loses health and strength because of too little sleep it will sometimes be on account of sitting up late, as many say they do, to read exciting novels; or, when she has evenings out, crowding as much exercise and excitement into one evening as ought to go to the enjoyment of a dozen.

It is said, too, that the matter of meals is beyond control; but this is often not so. Many a lady has taken the greatest pains to arrange proper meals for the maids in her employ, and has had them served at an earlier hour than those of the family. In this case a waitress does not have to stand with an empty stomach, passing food which makes her feel faint and ill, she scarcely knows why. [Pg 96] The idea that a hasty meal taken at intervals from the remains of a late dinner is better than a plainer one nicely served and eaten at leisure is one of the greatest mistakes that can be made; yet it is constantly made by many of those to whom the choice is given of having meals before or after waiting upon the table.

Many employers are more than ready to arrange for the comfort of maids in this and in other matters. When they are not, it must be remembered that they have been too long and too sorely tried by ignorant and unappreciative help to hope at first that the new order of intelligent and thoroughly trained waitresses is going to be any better than those who have preceded them in the household.

With good health it is easier to break up bad habits and form better ones than when one has to give valuable time and attention to bodily ailments.

A habit too easily formed, and one which should be at once broken up, is that of listening [Pg 97] to what is said at table, instead of concentrating attention upon the waiting. Not that there is any harm in listening to good conversation, but if while listening one misses the softly spoken “Bread, please,” or “Will you fill my glass?” and has to be recalled by a repetition of the request by the mistress of the house, some marks have certainly been lost from a perfect record.

Elderly persons should not be neglected, but should be especially considered at meals. Often some little thing from the side-board, not cared for by the rest of the family, may be desired by them. A little forethought will provide the vinegar or celery salt or whatever it may be, and no unnecessary interruption to the meal need be made.

At breakfast and luncheon a, waitress may add much to every one’s comfort by keeping a watchful eye on the plates of the children. A hungry child is sometimes apparently unreasonable without wishing to be naughty. One child may be forbidden maple syrup on [Pg 98] his cereal and allowed sugar. If the sugar be not provided, and he sees the others eating the syrup which he loves but may not have, it is almost too much to expect that he will wait patiently until his needs are remembered.

Waiting is a department of woman’s work which is capable of being greatly improved and raised to a higher standard. The women who will improve this department are those who appreciate the necessity of good health, and who will use every means in their power to secure health and to keep it. They are women who will learn thoroughly the duties they have elected to perform. They will train hand and foot to do their instant bidding. They will train the eye so that nothing in the daily routine will be left undone, and so that nothing outside of it which may add to the general comfort will escape their notice.

[Pg 99]

In the Invalid’s Room

It may be objected that the sick-room is not a place for the waitress—that the trained nurse is also the waitress of her patient. This is often true, for in cases of extreme illness it is many times unsafe to allow the confusion of voices with the noise of movement which accompanies the entrance of one unaccustomed to invalids. There are, however, numerous instances of transient illness or indisposition which are to be considered. If a little girl has had croup in the night, and must be kept in bed the next day, a nurse is not sent for; or if a boy goes swimming too early in the season, and has such a cold after it that he cannot get up, it will not be considered necessary to bring some one in from outside to take care of him. Then there are convalescents after [Pg 100] an illness, and elderly persons who perhaps two or three times a week may need to breakfast in bed. Enough cases to make it worth while for a waitress to consider as a part of her training the proper way to conduct herself in the sick-room.

The nearer she brings her work to perfection in other departments, the nearer perfection will she be in this.

The first thing to consider will be the nicety of her appearance and the absence of noise. If she has been out in the street to do an errand, she will on no account hasten to the sick-room with a tray before she has replaced by her soft shoes the heavier ones which may have a squeak in them. And she will at no time go hastily into a sick-room. She will open the door as softly as a nurse herself would do, and move as noiselessly when she is in the room. She will not express by her looks that she thinks a patient is worse than the day before, or say, in what she calls a whisper, as she goes out, “She looks a good [Pg 101] deal paler,” or, “I really believe he is going to be down sick.”

The tray taken to an invalid should be studied as carefully as the table in the dining-room. A trained eye will let no spot or stain on the dining-room linen escape it; nor will a trained waitress fail to replace a spotted cloth by a fresh one. On a tray cloth a coffee stain or a fruit stain is not at all sure to escape notice because it is covered by a plate or a saucer. That plate or that saucer is the very one that will surely be lifted, and the stain will jar the sense of neatness, which grows more keen when one is shut in from all outside things which in health claim the attention.

Selection of china and glass is another important matter. A cup of one pattern set in a saucer of another pattern is an offence to the invalid’s eye, and to let a person suffering with pain put to his lips a glass with a piece chipped out of the edge is a cruelty.

In the service offered to an invalid the same [Pg 102] is true as of all other service. If it be done by rule and method, as if by the working of machinery that has no heart in it, it will fall far short of what it might easily be made by a little care and thoughtfulness. If, for instance, a chop—which it is well understood the patient must eat plain—be served with a little bunch of cress, the fresh green feeds the eye, and the invalid is conscious that thought has been given to her pleasure as well as to her needs. A whole train of sad and weary thoughts has been changed by one cheerful yellow pansy hastily dropped on a tray so that it lay smiling between a cup and a cream jug.

A waitress who cares how she does her work in the sick-room and out of it will soon find that the attention she gives is appreciated. It will not be long before china closets which have been locked will be opened, old glass will be brought out for occasional use, and great pleasure expressed by its owners that it is again possible to have it handled without fear of its being destroyed. This [Pg 103] care bestowed upon inanimate things is one indication of a truthful character, and the waitress will find herself treated, not like one who must be watched and in a sense suspected, but with the confidence which is her right, and which will give her the sense of being an individual, not merely part of the household machinery.

When confidence in her is once established there are many ways by which it will be expressed. She will be asked to execute little commissions given only to one who can be thoroughly relied upon. She may be left in charge of the house, with the direction of other workers under her, or she may be asked to go to the country-house to direct and assist in its arrangement before the family take up their summer residence there.

All this will give variety to what otherwise might be in danger of becoming a trifle monotonous; but it is not the variety which is the greatest advantage. It is the fact that she is not a mere worker, not a machine which [Pg 104] may do its work with absolute exactness, never losing a minute, and always being in its own place. She will do her work with exactness, and may be relied upon like a machine; but she will also use her power to help, to suggest, and to put in motion forces outside of herself and her routine.

When the best relationship has been established between employers and those who are employed, the question of change will assume a very different aspect. Questions which ordinarily make an end of any contract entered into will be simply the subject of explanation, or at the most of arbitration, and although others may come and go, the waitress will stay on year after year.

When she does decide to go she will leave with regret what has been to her really a home, and, on the part of her employer, the most genuine regret will be felt and expressed. Great interest will be taken in all that concerns her future welfare, gifts will be prepared by each member of the household, [Pg 105] the wedding will be made merry, and good wishes will follow her to the new home, where it will be hoped that she may have as much comfort as she has given to others during her years of faithful work as a waitress.

[Pg 106]

Truthfulness in the Waitress

A waitress should be truthful in spirit, as well as truthful regarding the letter of her contract. We are told sometimes that this is impossible; that it is necessary to tell some falsehoods in order to secure a good place, or to keep one after being in it for a time. But this is not so. An expert waitress need never be without a place, and she need never stay in a place for lack of another after real difficulties have arisen in her way.

How do I know this? Because perfect service never goes a-begging, and if her work is perfect there will always be a demand for it. Think of our servants of the public—the clergy and the doctors. Does a minister who satisfies his congregation ever lack a congregation? Does a successful doctor have to drive [Pg 107] about looking for patients? We know very well that he does not; we know that his office is crowded day after day. How did he come to be successful? First he studied, and then he practised, and when he began to practise he found that there were many things which he did not know. Was he content with the knowledge he had acquired? By no means. He studied more, and put the new knowledge into practice. How did he gain the entire confidence of the persons he serves? By doing well what he professed to do, and by being ready for any emergency. And this is what a waitress must do. First she must study, then she must practise, then she must study more and practise more, and she must be equal to emergencies.

If word comes to a doctor that a child has fallen down-stairs and broken its arm, does the doctor send back word that his hours are over and he cannot go to the child? And if an accident happens in the waitress’s department—if a piece of ceiling falls, for instance, [Pg 108] when she is about to go up to bed—will she say that her hours are over, and some one else must clean up the mortar in the pantry? If the doctor thinks he is all through for the evening and another patient comes in, will he dismiss the late comer without a word? And if, after a table is all laid, an extra guest comes in, will the waitress fail to lay another cover quietly and quickly?

Yes, many will say, so many patients, so much money. But it is not so. The persons who take up a doctor’s time and try his patience almost beyond words are often those who have no idea of the value of his time, and who have no money to pay him for it.

When a maid calls herself a waitress she is not truthful unless she has studied her work until she is familiar with it, and this familiarity can come only after some amount of practice.

Truthfulness includes honesty, and to be honest means very much more than being above taking money or jewels which belong [Pg 109] to others. To be true and honest in spirit is to have an intelligent care of whatever is put in a worker’s charge and which belongs to her department. It is not honest to let a beautiful damask cloth with a little rent in it go to the laundress without first reporting the rent to the owner of the cloth. It is not honest to let a fine carver rust for lack of attention at the proper time. It is not true that no gas is wasted when a gas stove is left partly turned on all night near an open window.

We have often heard that time is money. Now if one does not understand her work as she may understand it if she will study, she is constantly taking other people’s time, which we are told is other people’s money.

That all the world is not honest, that we are not always treated from the standpoint of strictly fair dealing, makes no difference to her. She is not other people, she is herself.

Among the men in one of our Eastern States whose business it is to lay stone walls [Pg 110] is one who has an especial talent for the work. Stones of any shape answer his purpose. He does not ask any direction, he does not have to make any measurements, or use any stakes or a line to lay his stones by. And in the whole State there are no such beautiful walls as this man lays. Does he ever have to tell a falsehood in order to get work? Does he ever talk about other persons interfering with him? Or does he need to care what other persons think? He does his work so much better than other men that it will always be sought. And although he has a special talent for it, he does not let that make him careless. His is true work, honest work, and so long as he keeps his health and there are stone walls to lay he need never rest with idle hands.

With regard to the privileges granted to workers it is not easy to lay down any set of rules that will meet the requirements of every household in the land. In some cities rules are in force to which the majority of [Pg 111] families conform, and they seem to answer very well. But the needs of a family where there are little children differ from the needs of a family of adults. A larger number in a household will necessitate arrangements the need of which does not exist in one made up of a few members. In order to consult the varied tastes and arrange for the comfort of all, special hours must sometimes be considered, and it is not wise for a worker to start out by saying that she must have such and such times for her own. The time offered by the existing arrangements may be, if she will stop to think, much better for her.

It is important to comprehend exactly what is promised, so that there may be no mistake and no disappointment on either side. The time stipulated as belonging to a worker is certainly her own; the rest of her time as certainly belongs to the person to whom she has agreed to give it. But if her sister were going to be married, a girl would feel very grieved if she were not allowed to go to the [Pg 112] wedding, and yet there was nothing said about the wedding when she promised her time. Will she realize the equal importance of the occasion if the lady of the house is obliged to ask her to give up one of her evenings because of some especial entertainment?

There is very little doubt about her securing the proper privileges with regard to outings. Something quite as important is that she should care about her sleeping accommodations. Ladies say that again and again they have taken pleasure in fitting up cosey rooms for the maids who were to do the work of the household, and they have been grievously disappointed to find that their efforts were not in the least appreciated. No care was taken to preserve order and neatness; in fact, carelessness had been so universal that they had lost all heart about it. What is needed is plenty of fresh air, with an opportunity to preserve thorough cleanliness, and no right-minded lady will fail to respect a maid who makes a point of claiming these privileges.

[Pg 113] Where many privileges are not granted one is inclined to place the blame no more upon the employers than upon the employed, for I think we must all admit that, aside from some notable exceptions, waitresses have not so comported themselves as to make the persons they served take a keen interest in them.

When a reform is attempted there are always some rough places to be gotten over at first, some pioneer work to be done; but it is possible for a new order of waitresses to raise this department of women’s work to such a standard of excellence that there will be no need to ask for privileges; they will be granted without the asking.

[Pg 114]


When a waitress has gone into a home, and has made a contract which is satisfactory to herself and to her employer, she will need to adapt herself to her new surroundings, as she must not expect that they will in all things adapt themselves to her.

The first thing to which she may have to adapt herself is the fact that she is not looked upon as a person in whom one can repose perfect confidence. But she must remember that waitresses of the old order have in many cases abused their position, that they have sent too much china and cut glass to the ash barrel for any owner of such valuable articles to consider these and other belongings safe in new hands.

A waitress will, if possible, go into a new home in the morning, and not attempt a dinner [Pg 115] until she has had time to take the bearings of dining-room and pantry. While she is serving luncheon, and is going back and forth from the pantry, she need not be surprised if she hears a conversation something like this:

“The new waitress does very nicely, mamma.”

“Yes, a new broom sweeps clean, my dear.”

“But she looks as if she knew how to work.”

“She may know how; but I suppose she will be like all the rest. I have no faith in any of them any more.”

The new waitress need not be angry. She need not be even enough disturbed to let the blood rush into her cheeks, for she knows that she is competent and she can afford to bide her time.

She will make some haste with the luncheon dishes, for there is an important piece of work to be done before dinner. She will take out her memorandum-book, with its nicely sharpened pencil, and begin to make a list of all chipped china and glass and of all silver that [Pg 116] is marred. The lady of the house will be expecting questions, and should be asked to make this possible by showing where all pieces are kept which she wishes to have used. If objection be made, it is only necessary to say modestly but firmly that a contract which holds one responsible for all breakage makes it necessary that such a list should be made. The truth of this will at once be apparent and full opportunity given.

When finished, a copy of the list should be taken to the lady of the house, that she may compare it with the original and so avoid any mistake.

Next to making a list of the dishes should come a thorough study of the pantry. This it will not be possible to make all in one day. The new waitress will not be discouraged by anything that may be in the pantry, for what seems a defect the first day may prove a merit the next. Some things cannot be changed. The window, the sink, the shelves for dishes, are fixtures, and these are some of [Pg 117] the things to which she must adapt herself. There are other things which may be made to adapt themselves to the new-comer.

When she finds something which she would like to have changed she should make a note of it, and not feel sure that she is right until she has tested it well. She should go on making notes until she has put down everything which in her judgment seems necessary. The list should then be well studied, and anything which cannot be remedied should be crossed off.

When she has been in the house long enough to know whether she is likely to please; when she has at least shown that she understands her business, she will show the list to her employer and tell her what things she would like to have in order to make her work more convenient. Possibly a lady may consider her pantry already perfect and be annoyed by any suggestion; but it is more than likely that she will be gratified to find that she has some one in her employ who really cares how and by [Pg 118] what means the work is done. She will probably say that she is glad to see such a list; that the articles asked for she was careful to provide when she began her house-keeping, but she found they were neglected, broken, or thrown away. The list would probably be something like this:

Neat brass hooks for fresh white apron, brooms, and dusters.

Three new hand towels.

Zinc dish drainer.

Small towel rack.

Lamp in bracket, to throw light on dishes to be washed in the evening.

Two dozen towels for glass and fine china.

Two new salad cloths.

If the lady be a busy person she may imagine that some of these requests are unnecessary and therefore unreasonable; but she will go into the pantry to see what is already there. She will not be surprised to find her salad cloths with the silver cleaning materials, for she has had too much experience to be surprised [Pg 119] at anything. She will sort out the hand towels from the lamp cloths, and see that she needs new towels for silver and china. It is more than probable that the rack, the hook, and the drainer will be promised, although no time may be set for the fulfilment of the promise.

Now is the opportunity to prove that real thought has been given to the matter. The waitress should be ready to say, “To-morrow will be my afternoon out. If you like I will get the hooks; they will cost so many cents apiece. Where I get those I can get a small towel rack for so much. I have measured the sink and find that the drainer needs to be so long and so wide, and I know that the plumber three blocks away will make it for so much.” The amounts will be so small, while the convenience will be so apparent, that she will probably be commissioned to get them at once. She must be sure of her prices and in no case must she exceed them. She must not ask for one thing on one day and another thing on another [Pg 120] day. All requests should be made at one time, and nothing further asked for until it becomes absolutely necessary.

When she has adapted herself to her pantry and her pantry to herself, so that she can do her work in the best possible manner, she may turn her attention more entirely to the peculiarities of the family which she has agreed to serve, for it goes without saying that they have their peculiarities just as she has her own. For instance, we will suppose that one of the gentlemen always wishes butter at dinner, no matter how many sauces have been provided. Half of the time he does not touch it; but he wishes it there. She cannot change that any more than she can make the near-sighted lady see by taking away her glasses. What she is to do is never to forget that butter. Some persons have a habit of saying, “No, thank you,” when a dish is offered, and asking for it the moment it has been set down. She can soon determine if any one who does this is at the table and need not be “upset” by the request. [Pg 121] If she can learn to make a bit of a pause at the plate—not disrespectfully, but by way of suggestion that some of the dish may be cared for—she will soon have no trouble.

In every household there are some things that will puzzle an ignorant girl and some that may puzzle even a competent, well-trained waitress; but study and careful thought will make her find the best way to promote the general comfort and keep each person at table happy and serene.

[Pg 122]

A Servant’s Contract

One reason of the lack of confidence which exists between mistress and maid is the constant change which takes place between the employers and the employed. If a remedy is to be found for this—and a remedy must be found—it will be necessary to know the reason why, with some exceptions, maids are seeking good places, and good places are waiting for the right maids to come and fill them.

Without doubt the chief reason is the lack of a clear understanding between mistress and maid at the beginning of an engagement. Promises are made very much at hap-hazard, and a contract entered into, the conditions of which are not fully understood by either side. To avoid mistakes it is necessary first to understand the meaning of a contract.

[Pg 123] A contract is an agreement between two or more persons by which something is promised on one side in return for something promised by the other side. A contract is just as binding upon one party as upon the other. It is not something to be kept on one side, while it lets the other go free of responsibility. If responsibility be shirked by one party, then the other is at liberty to consider the contract broken, and decline to keep his part of it. For instance, a carpenter agrees to build a house for a certain sum of money. If he fails to build the house, the man for whom he agreed to build it does not feel bound to pay him anything for promising to build it. If a caterer agrees to furnish refreshments for an evening entertainment, and fails to send them, the person who had given the order would certainly not feel obliged to pay the bill, if presented.

In the case we are considering the contract is between two persons. It is an agreement by which a certain amount of service of a [Pg 124] specified kind is promised for a stipulated sum of money and a home.

Every maid who goes into a home says that she will do certain things, and that she will do them well. She claims that she knows how to do and will do her work in the best manner. On this understanding she is employed, and is promised a certain sum of money in addition to her bed and her board. Often a few days prove that there has been a mistake. In the first place, she does not know how to do her work in a first-class manner, and in the second place she does not try to do it well. Her employer talks with her about it, tries to show her better ways, begs her not to be careless, all to no purpose. After a fair trial she is told that she will not answer the requirements of the place. Does it ever occur to her to take less than the stipulated wages? By no means. She has not at all come up to the promises of her agreement; or, in other words, she has broken her contract. This would certainly justify the party on the other side in breaking [Pg 125] hers to the extent of paying only for the kind of work that has been given, instead of paying for the first-class work that was promised. But ladies do not like to be called mean, and they pay out their money knowing that they have not received the value of it.

In order for a waitress to know whether she has fulfilled her part of a contract, and whether the blame rests with her, she will need to understand very fully what she has contracted to do.

Most important of all in this connection is the promise not to abuse the china and silver. We all know more or less about the china craze—the collecting of pieces of old china, some of it not so fine as may be bought in the shops to-day, but old. This old china has passed through a great many hands, and been washed a great many times. Some of it has passed from pantry to pantry, as it became the possession of one family after another, and a great deal of it is neither broken, cracked, nor chipped. This proves that somebody, or a [Pg 126] good many somebodies, must have known how to wash china without injuring it in any way, and what has been done in this way may be done again. It will not be done by ignorant girls who have no idea of learning the best ways; but it will be done by the many who are anxious to do always what is right, even at some inconvenience to themselves.

Superstition must be gotten rid of in the beginning. Some persons say, “There! I have broken that; now I must break three things before I can stop;” or, “Now I have begun to break, there is no telling when I can stop,” as if they were not responsible for the damage done. For this there is one sure remedy, and possibly one only, which has been tried in a number of cases, and always with success. The person who breaks china or defaces silver must, so far as is possible, repair from her own purse the damage done.

But accidents? Yes, once in a lifetime a dumb-waiter breaks down, a cleat under a shelf gives way, or a child runs against a door and [Pg 127] knocks a tray full of dishes out of a steady hand. All these are accidents. There is no question about them: they could not have been helped. When anything cannot be provided against it may be called an accident; when it happens from lack of foresight it may be called carelessness.

One point to be considered is that the articles which a maid destroys are often too valuable for her to replace. Even if she has the willingness, she has not the money to buy pieces of equal value. All the more should she provide herself with all possible safeguards against the destruction of other persons’ property. A contract might be entered into which would be something like this: A certain sum of money is promised to a waitress in return for work performed in an acceptable manner. If at the end of each month no china, glass, or silver is broken or defaced, then one-fifth or one-quarter of the sum promised is to be added to the original amount. If pieces are broken or marred, then the extra dollars are [Pg 128] to go towards replacing what has been spoiled. That is, if the maid keeps her contract by doing her work in the manner she has promised, she will be paid for good work and careful management. If she breaks her contract by carelessness and heedless handling, there is some slight provision made against the damage done.

When the idea is once grasped that a contract is not a one-sided affair, when a maid realizes that she is as much bound by it as her employer, then she will think before she promises, and she will not undertake more than she has capacity and training to perform. Then she will not expect to be paid for what she has not done, and she will have too much self-respect to accept wages which she has not earned.

Another thing which will not fail to be discussed by reformers of this branch of household service which we are considering is the question of tips and souvenirs. We are told that the reason why the system of tips prevails on railway trains and in hotels is because [Pg 129] the wages of the employés are not sufficient for their support. This is not true of all these workers; and if it be true of some, it need not be true of the household. A really good waitress can always command a proper return for her services. If she has brains enough to become a model waitress she will have sense enough to know what her services are worth, and her demands will be gladly acceded to when she has proved that her work is worth the price which she has placed upon it. This point being settled, she will be satisfied with the stated amount, and bend her mind to her work without any idea of attracting the favor of, or receiving tips from, any member or guest of the household. How else can she preserve her self-respect?

Souvenirs are not tips, and may be considered. The new order of waitresses will so conduct themselves that after a time no one will think of offering them tips; but there are occasions when souvenirs are quite suitable, and may be accepted with perfect propriety.

[Pg 130] Suppose that preparations are made some morning for a child’s party to take place in the afternoon. A little guest confides to the waitress that she is going to wear her sweet white dress that was finished just before she left home. She begs her nurse to show it, and the nurse goes to a trunk to take it out. Alas for the child’s hopes! The sash, which is an important part of the dress, is hopelessly crushed, so that it is not fit to wear. Nurse is too busy to freshen it up; another dress must answer. The waitress may not half comprehend what a terrible disappointment this is to the child, yet she carries away the sash, and, long before time for the party, brings it back as smooth and fresh as it was in the beginning.

When the mamma returns she listens to a wonderful tale of distress and joy, and it means far more to her than to the child. When she is about to leave the house, if she wishes to show that she remembers how thoughtful the waitress had been, and offers [Pg 131] her some pretty gift, there is no reason in the world why she should not accept it with pleasure.

If old people are among the guests, there are many little things outside the line of prescribed duties which may sometimes be done for them. Elderly persons are so grateful to those who see and remember their especial needs and wishes that it seems quite natural and proper that they should offer gifts to those who are thoughtful for them.

But the things I speak of are those which a true waitress will do wherever she is placed. She will do them for a person without money as quickly as for one who has money. She will do them not because she is a waitress, but because she is a woman—a woman with a warm heart and a willing hand.



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