Mrs Beetroot’s book of household mismanagement. 11.

Breeding one’s own servants.

Upon occasion one can find oneself excessively vexed in the matter of a sufficiency of servants.  If a person in one’s employ should commit some crime such as the theft of dust or failing adequately to polish the coal for the parlour fire, the summary dismissal may leave one unattended possibly for days.  Indeed one had a close acquaintance, who, having lost a quick succession of lady’s maids, was obliged to learn how to blow her own nose.

Such suffering and inconvenience could be circumvented entirely if one was able to replicate an endless supply of servants, without the grim necessity of advertising in magazines, upsetting the household routine with endless interviews, indoctrinating new members of staff and so on.  How much more suitable it would be if servants could be found who were already inured to the ways of the house, raised, as it were, with high ideals and low expectations and in general bred to a life of service.  One would not expect a racehorse to do well had it not been the progeny of a racehorse and also, another race horse.  Or at least a male race horse and a female horse with a passing interest in moving fairly quickly, sometimes.

One was constrained to discover the mechanism by which servants replicate when left to their own devices.  Alarmingly, it appears that some of them may be in wedlock even though they are not engaged at the lower rate for a couple, for example a cook and a gardener.  The state of matrimony can sometimes be detected by servants sharing the same last name.  In such a case the gardener may bear the name Mr. Bloggins and the cook the name Mrs. Bloggins for the sole reason that they are married each to the other.  Thus by learning the forenames and the surnames of the servants much may be deduced.  Naturally in a large household where all the footmen are addressed as James, for the convenience of the guests, some of whom are so aristocratic they have difficulty in recalling their own nomenclature, it will be necessary to discover the actual name of the servant in question.  This will necessitate directly speaking to him, even if he is the potboy. In truth this may be taking matters too far.  The notion of the potboy having a name is clearly ridiculous, though if he does, the cook may know it.  Curiously the same may be true of certain members of the aristocracy; one had a dear friend who had an acquaintance who knew an earl who was only ever addressed as Earl, or Your Grace.  Upon his demise it was discovered that he had never been christened at all, thus he was obliged to be interred beneath his coat of arms alone.  In such matters as direct enquiries, delicacy and social niceties can cause difficulties to arise.

Having ascertained which servants are married to each other, it should be easy, mayhap, to request them to breed, for example when ordering the menus for the week. One essayed this conversation yesterday forenoon with this, not altogether successful, result:

……and Charlotte Russe for the dessert on Wednesday evening served with the Sauternes and a selection of petites fours.  Could you also produce small servants Mrs Bridgenose?

What Ma’am?  Like dwarves?

No, tiny people.

Like……..fairies, do you mean, Ma’am?

I want little people, little, little people.

To eat, do you mean, Ma’am?  Confectionary?  Marzipan is it?

No, to wait.  At table.

Well they wouldn’t not be no good, would they, Ma’am?  They wouldn’t be able to reach.  They’d have the cloth off on the floor and all the plates with it.

No, I mean starting as small people in order to work later.

Oh!  Oh I know what you mean.  I’ll see if they can be got.

Excellent!  Capital!  I admire your spirit.

Yes, Midnight Midgets and Darius the Human Cannonball, I saw them at the music hall last week.

Oh Mrs Bridgenose, how you obfuscate the matter at hand!

……………Thank you Ma’am, I do my best.  Will you be wanting to hire the Human Cannonball as well?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ – learning from the past but not much.

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