People of experience tell awful stories about the miseries of
boarding, and boarding-houses, and it is very clearly palpable to us
that keepers of boarding-houses could a tale unfold of their own
miseries, equal, if not double that of the luckless creatures who
board. That housekeeping has its joys it would be vain to deny, but we
need no ghost come from the grave to inform us that the secrets of the
kitchen are as numerous and as harrowing, as all can attest that ever
had occasion to keep house or hire a Betty.
When Mr. Peter Perriwinkle got married, he exclaimed against hotels,
and abominated boarding-houses; quitting both species of human
habitations, he up and rented a house, and to hear his glowing
description of the housesuch a cosy little three-storied brick house,
on a street too broad for the neighbors opposite to see into his front
parlors, and no houses in the rear from which the prying eye of the
curious and idle could spy into back kitchen closets or dinner potsin
brief, Perriwinkle went on with that strain of domestic eloquence,
peculiar to new beginners in the arts and mysteries of housekeeping,
and after a general detail of the quiet comfort and unalloyed happiness
he and Mrs. P. were bound to enjoy for the balance of their lives, we
Ah, my dear sir, you've but the ephemeral bright side of your
vision yet. But no matter, dear Pete, as the man said of the
sausageshope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.
But, brother Jack, I've no reason to look for any thing but a good
time. Haven't I married one of the best women in the world? I'm too
experienced in life, my boy, to call any female women angels, doves, or
sugar plums, you know, but my wife is a real woman!
Yes, Pete, she is all that, said we.
Well, ain't I square with the world? Enough laid up for a wet
daydon't care twopence ha'penny for politics, or soldier
fol-de-rolswho wins or who loses in such hums?
Granted, old fellow.
I tell you I've a perfect little paradise of a house engaged,
furnished and provisioned for a twelvemonth.
No doubt of all that.
As to friends and acquaintances, I have plenty, and of the right
stripe, too; I'd swear to that without any reluctance.
I hope, Peter, you have.
Then what in faith do you imagine I have in embryo to upset or
disturb the even tenor of my way, old boy? Come, answer that.
Does your domestic apparatus work well?
I haven't tried it yet.
Are your appurtenancesyour household appointmentsfrom kitchen
to parlor, from coal cellar to top scuttle, all they are cracked up to
Well, you see, the fact is, I can't tell that, yet.
Do your chimneys draw? Does your range or cooking stove do things
up brown? Have you got your Bettys?
I vow you've sort of got me this time, brother Jack; but I'll find
out, soon, and let you know.
Do, if you please, Peter, and let us hear an account of how things
are working after the first quarter's experience.
Perriwinkle opened with a neat supper party. We attended, and every
thing looked cap-a-pie; new, tasteful and happy as any thing human
under God's providence and the art and judgment of man could promise.
At midnight the company dispersed, all wishing the Perriwinkles life,
love, and lots of the small fry.
Months passed, full three; we met our old and familiar friend, Peter
Perriwinkle, and as we had not seen him for some time, we met with
greetings most cordial.
How is every thing, old boyparadise regained?
Ah, said Peter, with an ominous shake of the head, dear
Jack,we've a great deal to learn in this world, and as our old friend
Sam Veller says, whether its worth while to pay so much to learn so
little, at costis a question.
You begin to think so, eh?
Things don't work quite so smooth as I expectedI've moved!
What? Not so soon?
Yes, sir, said Perriwinkle; that house was a nuisance!
A nuisance? Why, I thought you were in raptures with it?
Had water every wet spell, knee-deep in the cellar; full of rats,
bugs, and foul air.
You don't say so?
Yes, I do, said Perriwinkle, mournfully. Chimneys smoked, paper
peeled off the walls, Mrs. P. got the rheumatics, a turner worked all
night, next door, the fellow that had previously lived or stayed in the
house, ran off, leaving all his bills unpaid, and our door bell was
incessantly kept ringing by ugly and impudent duns, and the creditors
of the rascal, whom I did not know from a side of sole leather. I lived
there in purgatory!
Too bad, said we. Well, you've moved, eh?
Movedand such an infernal job as it was. You know the two vases I
received as a present from my brother, at Leghorn; I wouldn't have
taken $100 each, for them
They are worth it; more too.
The carman dropped one out of his hands, broke it into a half
bushel of flinders, and I hit the centre table upon which the other
stood, with a chair, and broke it into forty pieces. But, that wasn't
any thing, sir. My wife packed up the elegant set of china presented
her by her sister, in a large clothes basket, and set it out in the
hall, and while our Irish girl and the carman were carrying out a heavy
trunk, the girl lost her balance and fell bump into the basket. She
weighed over two hundred poundsevery article of the china was crushed
This was too bad, said we, condolingly.
Our carpets were torn in getting them up, for I had them put down
fast and tight, never supposing they'd come up until thread-bare and
out of fashion; they were stained and daubed. The veneering of the
piano and other furniture is scratched and torn; a hundred small
matters are mutilated. Franklin thought a few moves was as bad as a
fire; one move convinces me that the old man was right. But, my dear
fellow, I won't bore you with my miseries. We are now moved, and look
comfortable again. Call and see us, do. Good bye.
About a fortnight after meeting Perriwinkle, one evening we went up
town to see him and his lady. Mrs. P., before marriage, was an uncommon
even-tempered and most amiable woman. She had now been married about
six months. Upon entering the parlor we found Mrs. P. laboring under
much excitement, and poor Peterhe was doing his best to pacify and
Halloo! what's the trouble?we were familiar enough to ask the
questionas they were alone, without intruding.
Take a seat, John, said Perriwinkle. Mrs. P. and the cook have
had a misunderstanding. A little muss, that's all.
Mr. Humphries, responded the irritated wife, you don't know how
one's temper and good nature are put out, sir, by housekeeping; by the
impudence, awkwardness, and wasteful habits of servants, sir.
Oh! yes, we do, Mrs. P.; we've had our experience, we replied.
Well, sir, she continued, I have suffered so in ordering,
directing, and watching these women and girlshad my feelings so
outraged by them, time and again, since we began housekeeping, that I
vow I am out of all manner of patience and charity for them. We have
had occasion to change our help so often, that I finally concluded to
submit to the awkwardness that cost us sets of china, dozens of
glasses, stained carpets, soiled paints, smeared walls, rugs upon the
top of the piano, and the piano cloths put down for rugs; Mr. P.'s best
linen used for mops, and puddings boiled in night-caps. But, sir, when
this evening I found the dough-tray filled with the chambermaid's old
clothes, she wiping the lamps with our linen napkins, and the cook
washing out her stockings in the dinner potI gave way to my angry
passions, and cried with vexation!
And she really did cry, for female blood of Mrs. P.'s pilgrim stock,
couldn't stand that, nohow.
P. S.Perriwinkle and lady sold off, and took rooms at the Tremont
House, in order to preserve their morals and money.