Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesKathleen - Chapter 11
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Kathleen - Chapter 11 Post by :eniks Category :Long Stories Author :Christopher Morley Date :May 2012 Read :2077

Click below to download : Kathleen - Chapter 11 (Format : PDF)

Kathleen - Chapter 11

CHAPTER XI

Mrs. Kent was a deal puzzled by the bearing and accoutrements of her substitute cook. Eliza Thick appeared on the premises about seven o'clock, and with the aid of the housemaid breakfast went through fairly smoothly. It was Kathleen's query about the coffee that elicited the truth. Mary, with nervous gigglings, announced to her mistress that Ethel was ill and had sent a substitute. The coincidence that Josephine's nominee should turn out to be a friend of Ethel struck Mrs. Kent as strange, and presently she went down to interview the new kitcheneer.

Eliza Thick, a medium-sized but rather powerfully fashioned female, generously busted and well furnished with rich brown hair, was washing the dishes. She curtseyed respectfully as Mrs. Kent entered the kitchen.

"Good morning," said Mrs. Kent. "You are Eliza Thick?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"You brought a note from Ethel?"

"Yes, ma'am;" and fumbling in an opulent bosom, Eliza drew forth a crumpled scrap of paper.

"I had a telegram from my niece in Oxford recommending you. How did she know of you?"

"I worked at Lady Marg'ret 'All, ma'am, where the young lady is studyin'."

"Why did you leave your place there?"

"If you please, ma'am, my dishes was so tasty that it made the young ladies discontented when they got 'ome. Their parents complained that it gave 'em too 'igh ideas about wittles. The principal said I was pamperin' 'em too much, an' offered to release me."

Mary, who was listening, gave a loud snort of laughter, which she tried to conceal by rattling some plates.

"Well, Eliza," said Mrs. Kent, "that will do. You must get on with the work as best you can. Judging by the coffee this morning, I don't think your cooking will have the same effect on us that it did on the students at Lady Margaret Hall. We were expecting a guest for lunch but I will have to put him off until supper. I have written out the menu for the day. Mary will give you any help she can."

"If you please, ma'am?" said Eliza.

"Yes?"

"Cook gave me a message for Miss Kathleen, ma'am, which she asked me to deliver in person."

"A message for Miss Kathleen?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Well, you can tell me, I will tell Miss Kathleen."

"Cook said I was to give it to her personally," said the persistent Eliza.

"How very extraordinary," said Mrs. Kent. "What did you say was the matter with Ethel--is it anything contagious?"

"Oh, no, ma'am, I think it's just a touch of--of nervous debility, ma'am--too many white corpuscles, ma'am."

"Well, I don't think Miss Kathleen can come down now, Eliza; we have just had a very strange telegram which has rather upset us."

"Yes, ma'am."

The new cook sat down to peel potatoes and study the mechanics of Kitchencraft. She found much to baffle her in the array of pots and pans, and in the workings of the range. From a cupboard she took out mince-meat choppers, potato mashers, cream whippers, egg-beaters, and other utensils, gazing at them in total ignorance of their functions. Mrs. Kent had indicated jugged hare and mashed potatoes for lunch, and after some scrutiny of the problem Eliza found a hammer in the cabinet with which she began to belabour the vegetables. Mary, who might have suggested boiling the potatoes first, was then upstairs.

By and by Kathleen heard the thumping, and came into the kitchen to investigate.

"Good morning, Eliza."

"Good morning, Miss," said the delighted cook. "Oh, I _am so happy to see you, Miss!"

"Thank you, Eliza. Did you have a message for me from Ethel?"

"Yes, Miss. Er--Ethel said she hoped you'd give me all the help you can, Miss, because--er, you see, Miss, cooking for a private family is very different from working in a college where there are so many, Miss."

"I see. Well--what on earth are you doing to those potatoes, Eliza?"

"Mashing 'em, Miss."

"What, with a _hammer_!"

"I washed the 'ammer, Miss."

"Surely you didn't mash them that way at Maggie Hall, Eliza?"

"Yes, miss. The young ladies got so they couldn't abide them done any other way."

Kathleen looked more closely, and examined the badly bruised tubers. "Good gracious," she exclaimed, with a ripple of laughter. "They haven't been cooked yet!"

Eliza was rather taken aback.

"Well, you see, Miss," she said, "at the college we used nothing but fireless cookers, and I don't understand these old-fashioned stoves very well. I wanted to get you to explain it to me."

"It's perfectly simple," said Kathleen. "This is the oven, and when you want to bake anything--_Phew_!" she cried, opening the oven door, "what _have you got in here?"

She took a cloth, and lifted out of the oven a tall china pitcher with a strange-looking object protruding from it.

Eliza was panic stricken, and for an instant forgot her role.

"My God! I put the hare in there and forgot all about it. What a bally sell!"

Kathleen removed the hideous thing, hardly knowing whether to laugh or cry.

"Look here, Eliza," she said. "They may jug hares that way at Maggie Hall, but I doubt it. Now, what _can you cook? We've got guests coming to-night. A gentleman from America is going to be here and we must put our best foot forward."

Eliza's face was a study in painful emotion.

"Excuse me, Miss," she said, "but is that American gentleman called Mr. Blair?"

"Yes," said Kathleen. "Really, Eliza, you are most extraordinary. How did you know?"

"I've heard of him," said Eliza. "I think I ought to warn you against him, miss. He's--he's a counterfeiter."

"Nonsense, Eliza. What notions you do have! He's an antiquarian, and he's coming to see my father about archaeology. He's a friend of Miss Josephine, from Oxford. Now I think you'd better get on with your cooking and not worry about counterfeiters."

"Miss Kathleen," said Eliza, "I think I'd better be frank with you. I want to tell you--"

Here Mary came into the kitchen, and although Eliza Thick made frantic gestures to her to keep away, the housemaid was too dense to understand. The opportunity for confession was lost.

"Now, Eliza," said Kathleen, "Mary will help you in anything you're not certain about. I'll come down again later to see how you're getting on."

By supper time that night Eliza Thick began to think that perhaps she had made a tactical error by interning herself in the kitchen where there was but small opportunity for a tete-a-tete with the bewitching Kathleen. The news that Blair was coming to the evening meal was highly disconcerting, and the worried cook even contemplated the possibility of doctoring the American's plate of soup with ratsbane or hemlock. Once during the afternoon she ventured a sally upstairs (carrying a scuttle of coal as a pretext) in the vague hope of finding Kathleen somewhere about the house. Unfortunately she met Mrs. Kent on the stairs, who promptly ordered her back to her proper domain. Here Eliza found a disreputable-looking person trying to cozen Mary into admitting him to the house. He claimed to be an agent of the gas company, in search of a rumoured leak. Eliza immediately spotted Priapus, and indignantly ejected him by force of arms. In the scuffle a dish pan and several chairs were overturned. Mary, whose nerves were rather unstrung by the sustained comedy she was witnessing, uttered an obbligato of piercing yelps which soon brought Kathleen to the scene. Eliza received a severe rating, and so admired the angry sparkle in Kathleen's eyes that she could hardly retort.

"One other thing, Eliza," said Kathleen, in conclusion. "There are to be two guests at supper. Mr. Carter, a curate from Oxford, is coming, too. Please allow for him in your preparations."

"If you please, Miss," cried the much-goaded cook, "is that Mr. Stephen Carter?"

"I believe it is," said Kathleen, "but what of it? Is he a counterfeiter, too?"

"Miss Kathleen, I know you think it strange, but I must warn you against that curate. Dear Miss Kathleen, he is dangerous. He is not what he seems."

"Eliza, you forget yourself," said Kathleen, severely. "Mr. Carter comes with an introduction from the Bishop of Oxford. I hope that is satisfactory to you! In any case, we do not need your approval for our list of guests. Mrs. Kent wants you to take great care with the stuffed eggs. Those mashed potatoes made her quite ill."

"Please, Miss, I'm dreadful worried about those eggs. The book says to make a nest for 'em, and truly I don't know how to go about it. The young ladies at college never ate their eggs in nests, miss. And when I gets nervous I can't do myself justice, Miss. I never can remember which is the yolks and which is the whites, miss."

"Now, that will do, Eliza," said Kathleen. "You are a very eccentric creature, but I don't think you are as stupid as all that. What do you want? Do you expect me to come down here and oversee all your preparations?"

"Oh, if you only would, Miss, it would be _so gratifying!"

Kathleen laughed, a girlish bubbling of pure mirth, which was dreadful torment to the jealous masquerader. She departed, leaving the cook a prey to savage resolve. "Well," thought Eliza, "if the supper is bad enough I guess she'll just _have to come down and help me. Thank goodness Blair and Carter are _both coming; they'll cut each other's throats, and perhaps the stuffed eggs will win after all. As for that gas-man, he won't get into this house unless it's over my dead body!"

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

Kathleen - Chapter 12 Kathleen - Chapter 12

Kathleen - Chapter 12
CHAPTER XIIIt was a feverish and excited Eliza that Kathleen found in the kitchen when she tripped downstairs after the soup course. On a large platter the cook had built a kind of untidy thicket of parsley and chopped celery, eked out with lettuce leaves. Ambushed in this were lurking a number of very pallid and bluish-looking eggs, with a nondescript stuffing bulging out of them. "I forgot to measure the yolks, Miss," wailed Eliza. "That's why the stuffing don't fit. Shall I throw a dash of rum on board to stiffen 'em up?" In spite of her vexation, Kathleen could
PREVIOUS BOOKS

Kathleen - Chapter 10 Kathleen - Chapter 10

Kathleen - Chapter 10
CHAPTER XThe Rhodes Scholar was correct in having feared the Goblin as a dangerous competitor in the quest of the Grail. King, as we have intimated before, was a quaint-minded and ingenious person, modest in stature but with a twinkling and roving eye. He was one of the leading spirits of the OUDS, known in full as the Oxford University Dramatic Society, and his ability to portray females of the lower classes had been the delight of more than one Shakespearean rendering. No one who saw him as Juliet's nurse in a certain private theatrical performance in the hall of New
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT