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THE NURSERY MAID.* Mother. Oh, Letty, my dear, is it you ? So you have got leave to come and see me. Well, how do you like your place ?
Letty. Well, mother, I don't know what to say. It is all so different.
Mother. What ever do you mean, child ? Different from home? Of course it is.
Letty. Oh, but it isn't one bit what I expected. I thought I was going to live along of Mrs. Stanley, and she was always dressed so beautiful, and spoke so kindly, when she came to see you, I thought I should so like her for a mistress; but I have nothing to do with her; I never see her except at prayers, and if she comes into the nursery. She's never once noticed me since the day I came, when she told me to be a good girl, and try to please Mrs. Norris. As if any. body could please Mrs. Norris !
Mother. Why, Letty, Mrs. Stanley has something else to do, besides following you about at your work. You were hired as nursery maid, not as a head nurse.
Letty. But, mother, I did very well at Mrs. Jones's. I nursed her baby very nice. But Mrs. Norris is so over particular—she won't trust me in the very least thing.
* Whenever any bad grammar occurs in these dialogues, such as “ children are brought up very different,” the class should be invited to correct it, and to state their reasons for such correction.
Mother. How foolish you do talk, to be sure ! Mrs. Jones only took you out of goodness to me and father, just to hold the baby and muddle about. She never pretended to make a servant of you. Gentlefolks' children are brought up quite different, as you must see; and if ever you mean to get up in the world, and be a head seryant, you must begin at the beginning
Letty. And there's so many rules-rules about everything. That little Emly ; such a dear, little, pretty child! I could be very fond of her; but, only think, Mrs. Norris won't let me call her Emly; it's to be Miss Emly, and Master Arthur! such nonsense and I have to say, “If you please,” whenever I ask those mites of babies to do anything.
Mother. Well ! but are they not taught to speak civil to you?
Letty. Oh yes! they are made to say “ Thank you,” and all that stuff. I never had all those foolish fads at Mrs. Jones's. And then I have to light the fire, and clean the nurseries. Jack Wilton says I'm a perfect drudge, and so is he to the coachman and footman, and he doesn't see that I have any call to be anybody's drudge. Mrs. Norris is only a servant.
Mother. If I were to catch Jack Wilton talking such wicked, ungrateful nonsense, I should like to tell him what I think of him. If I were his master, I'd dress him in his sweeper's rags again, and send him back to his crossing. Why, they took him out of nothing but charity, and now he turns up his nose at them. I hate such ingratitude! As to you, Letty; as sure as you live, if your father heard you go on like that, he'd send you out as maid-of-allwork somewhere, that you might learn to value your place.
Letty. Oh, mother.! don't be so angry with me. I meant no harm, only I don't seem to think it's fair that a servant should order me about. I wouldn't mind a real mistress.
Mother. But, as I said before, all beginners must be content to be taught their business by those who know it. You have plenty of victuals and drink; not more to do than is good for you; and better wages than you could expect. What ever would you have ?
Letty. Well, what I should really like, would be to be a dress-maker, like Patty Larkins.
Mother. How silly you do talk! Where is father to get the £20 premium ? How are we to afford to keep you for two years? And who can say that at the end of two years you will get any dress-making when you are out of your time. Dress-making is very well for those who have a bit of money to fall back upon ; but, trust me, who know the world better than you do, a place in such a house as Mrs. Stanley's is the very best thing that you could have.
Letty. But, mother; it is so dull ! Mrs. Wilkins, the housekeeper, hardly lets a word be spoken at the hall dinner; and, as Jack says, that's very aggravating, to be kept so prim. I'm not let down to supper at all—have to fetch it up, and sit in the nursery for fear the children should wake.
Mother. Well, you are in want of a hardship when that's one. What do you have for supper ?
Letty. Oh, such stupid suppers, and dinners too! everlasting mutton and potatoes; beef on Sundays. Oh, how I long for a bit of broiled bacon, like I had at home! And then, only think, we are allowanced ! which sounds very mean for such a large family. Mrs. Wilkins gives me so much tea and sugar, and I have half a pound of butter a week.
Mother. But you have enough?
Letty. Well, I have; but it seems so strange, with such rich people as they are, why we may not all go and help ourselves. And we can't go out for a walk without asking leave, as if we were a parcel of children! Nor may we talk to any friends we meet out, nor take the children into any houses. I only just ran with Emly to Patty Larkins, to show her her new hat and frock, and she kissed her, and Mrs. Norris said it must never happen again. As if Patty could have hurt the child!
Mother. From beginning to end, you talk like an ignorant child, that don't know what service is, and yet won't be taught. It worrits me to death to hear you. If you throw yourself out of place, you will die in a workhouse, just as sure as you are born. I think you must have met with those that have given you very bad advice, or you never could have been so foolish. I shall not encourage you, however, and your father will be dreadfully vexed too—so hard as he works—to see you care so little to get off his hands.
Letty. Oh, mother! I don't mean to do that, and I want to be a good girl, only I feel so disappointed.
I thought that I should be so happy, in that fine house, with such lots of servants and plenty to eat and drink ; and I am put about, and sent about, and don't seem to do as I like all day long.
Mother. Because, dear child, you thought you were going to be a mistress, and it turns out you are a servant. But, depend upon it, if you changed places with your mistress to-morrow you would find she had her troubles too.
Letty. I should like to try, anyhow. She, who can go where she likes, and have what she likes, all day long! Oh! mother, she can't be unhappy.
Mother. Don't you think she was unhappy when her baby died, or when Mr. Stanley had the fever, and almost died too? No, my child; happiness don't lie that way,
Letty. I wish I knew then which way it does lie.
Mother. You used to be a good one at your lessons at school. Don't you remember something about doing your duty, and getting your living, in the state of life to which it has pleased God to call you ? Now He has called you to be a servant, and there's plenty of happiness to be had that way. I know it, for I was one myself, and don't want my girls to be anything else ; but it must be by doing your duty, not having your own way. God sent us all into the world to work somehow.
Letty. Well, I suppose what you say is true ; but nothing can make me like being ordered about by another servant. It does put me out, and there's the long and short of it.