Tag Archives: servants’ duties

The Brute Asked Her to Black His Boots: 1890

MAIDPORTRAIT

A Case of Mistaken Identity.

A young lady of this city who is engaged to a well-known young society gentleman recently made an experiment to try the temper and habits of her fiancé which nearly resulted in disastrous consequences. Reading her morning paper she saw an advertisement for a domestic. The number of the house was that of her lover’s, where he kept a sort of bachelor’s hall with his father, who was a widower. It occurred then and there to Miss H– to supply the demand. Not in person, but by proxy. She knew of a tidy little German who was bright and engaging, and who wanted a place. She sent for her and gave instructions as to what she was to see and hear, and particularly charged her to observe how Mr. F– conducted himself, what he ate, and if he was good-tempered and easy to please. Christine promised to watch everything and report at the end of the week.

But before the week was up the girl reported with all her belongings and her eyes overflowing with tears. She had been asked to black Mr. F’s. boots, he had ordered her about as if she were a dog, and he wouldn’t eat anything but gruel, and toast, and he swore at her because she forgot to wash off the front steps. Then Miss H. sat down and wrote to her lover:

“You are a brute. No man who was not a brute would ask a woman to black his boots and swear at her for a moment’s forgetfulness. I consider that I have had a narrow escape.”

There was a frantic man went tearing up the avenue that evening and rushed into the presence of Miss H.—but it was some time before he could make her understand the truth of the matter or that he was not that manner of man. The girl had not seen him at all, but had been employed by his dyspeptic old father–whom she knew solely as Mr. F. It was simply a case of mistaken identity.

Daily Independent [Elko NV] 21 February 1890: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil is pursing her lips dubiously. It is axiomatic that the apple does not fall far from the tree. It is entirely possible that the young society gentleman will become just like his father as he ages. Should Miss H. risk marrying him, it might be well to insist on competent medical advice and to pour out gold without stinting to keep any cook who understands his digestive system. Personally Mrs Daffodil would not risk linking her lot in life with one brought up by a brute, but she can recommend a daily splash of cider vinegar in water for his collywobbles.

 

 

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You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.