THE HOUSE THAT JILL BUILT, AFTER JACK'S HAD PROVED A FAILURE.
A BOOK ON HOME ARCHITECTURE, WITH ILLUSTRATIONS,
BY E.C. GARDNER,
Author of "Homes and How to Make Them." "Home Interiors," "Common Sense in Church Building," etc.
SPRINGFIELD, MASS.: W.F. ADAMS COMPANY, 1896.
1882, BY OUR CONTINENT PUBLISHING Co. All rights reserved. E.C. GARDNER, 1895.
Printed and Bound by CLARK W. BRYAN COMPANY, Springfield, Mass.
CHAPTER I. A WISE FATHER AND A GLAD SON-IN-LAW 7
CHAPTER II. MORAL SUASION FOR MALARIAL MARSHES 20
CHAPTER III. A FIRST VISIT AND SAGE ADVICE 32
CHAPTER IV. MANY FIRES MAKE SMALL DIVIDENDS 48
CHAPTER V. WHEN THE FLOODS BEAT AND THE RAINS DESCEND 63
CHAPTER VI. THE WISDOM OF JILL IN THE KITCHEN 78
CHAPTER VII BE HONEST AND KEEP WARM 90
CHAPTER VIII TRUTH, POETRY AND ROOFS 103
CHAPTER IX. PROFESSIONAL ETIQUETTE—BLINDS AND BESSIE 115
CHAPTER X. MORE QUESTIONS OF FIRE AND WATER 128
CHAPTER XI. WHAT SHALL WE STAND UPON? 140
CHAPTER XII. FROM MATHEMATICS TO ANCIENT BRIC-A-BRAC 151
CHAPTER XIII. ECONOMY, CLEANLINESS, AND HEALTH 166
CHAPTER XIV. SAFE FLUES AND MORE LIGHT 177
CHAPTER XV. A DANGEROUS RIVAL 189
CHAPTER XVI. A NEW WAY OF GETTING UP STAIRS AND A NEW MISSIONARY FIELD 203
CHAPTER XVII. THE RIGHT SIDE OF PAINT, A PROTEST AND A PROMISE 221
CHAPTER XVIII. THE HOUSE FINISHED AND THE HOME BEGUN 233
CHAPTER XIX. TEN YEARS AFTER 250
CHAPTER XX. A DOUBLE CONCLUSION 258
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
From Drawings by the Author.
1. "COUSIN GEORGE'S EXTERIOR" 11
2. COUSIN GEORGE'S FIRST FLOOR 14
3. COUSIN GEORGE'S SECOND FLOOR 15
4. "WARMTH IS BEAUTY" 21
5. A HIDDEN FOE 23
6. A BURIED GRIDIRON 24
7. THE PROTECTING "CUT-OFF" 25
8. A "CROSS-SECTION" PROPHECY 28
9. HEAT FROM ALL SIDES 30
10. AUNT MELVILLE'S AMBITION 33
11. NO PLACE FOR THE BED 36
12. ENLARGED BY DESTRUCTION 37
13. A SLIGHT ADDITION 39
14. GROUND FLOOR OF AUNT MELVILLE'S AMBITION 42
15. FIRST FLOOR OF AUNT MELVILLE'S AMBITION 43
16. A SECURE OUTLOOK 49
17. MINED AND COUNTERMINED 52
18. A DORMER OF BURNED CLAY 55
19. THE TOPMOST PEAK 59
20. WILL'S MASTERPIECE 65
21. THE FIRST FLOOR OF WILL'S MASTERPIECE 73
22. THE SECOND FLOOR OF WILL'S MASTERPIECE 75
23. THE OUTSIDE OF TED'S HOUSE 79
24. JILL'S KITCHEN IN BLACK AND WHITE 83
25. THE FIRST FLOOR OF TED'S HOUSE 88
26. THE POOR BUT MODEST ATTORNEY'S COTTAGE 91
27. A DOUBLE TEAM 94
28. WARMTH UNDER THE WINDOW 96
29. STEAM PIPES BESIDE THE FIREPLACE 97
30. THE ATTORNEY'S FLOOR PLAN 101
31. NO CONCEALMENT OR DISGUISE 105
32. WITH A MULLION AND WITHOUT 110
33. JACK'S ARCHITECTURAL PHRENOLOGY 112
34. THE HAT MAKES THE MAN 113
35. THE CONTRIBUTION OF BESSIE'S FATHER 117
36. THE FIRST FLOOR OF THE CONTRIBUTION 123
37. A GARGOYLE 130
38. A CHOICE OF GUTTERS 131
39. A SIMPLE RECESS 133
40. IN THE MIDDLE RANK 135
41. THE WORTH OF A COSY COTTAGE 137
42. A PROMISE OF SOCIAL SUCCESS 141
43. A REASONABLE HOPE 143
44. FLOORS AS THEY ARE: FLOORS AS THEY MIGHT BE 145
45. BRICKS AND BOULDERS ON GRANITE UNDERPINNING 149
46. NOT BRILLIANT, BUT IMPRESSIVE 153
47. WOODEN RICHNESS 155
48. NO WASTE OF WOOD 156
49. FIRST FLOOR OF THE PROMISE 158
50. SECOND FLOOR OF THE PROMISE 159
51. NO PLACE FOR SECRET FOES 167
52. SAFE AND SAVING FLUES 179-80
53. A PICTURE IN GLASS OVER THE FIREPLACE 181
54. GLASS OF MANY COLORS, SHAPES AND SIZES 183
55. SHELVES IN THE MIDDLE, CUPBOARDS ABOVE AND BELOW 185
56. "THE OAKS" 191
57. OUTSIDE BARRIERS 195
58. INSIDE BARRIERS 196
59. COMMON UGLINESS—SIMPLE GRACE 197
60. FIRST FLOOR PLAN OF "THE OAKS" 201
61. LOOKING TOWARD SUNSET 205
62. NEAR THE TURNING-POINT 207
63. A CHOICE OF BALUSTERS 209
64. THE BIG FIREPLACE IN THE KEEPING-ROOM 211
65. ONE WAY TO BEGIN 213
66. A BROADSIDE OF AN EASY ASCENT 215
67. A DIVIDING SCREEN AT THE FOOT OF THE STAIRS 219
68. BITS OF CORNICES 223
69. MOULDINGS FAIR TO SEE, BUT HARD TO KEEP CLEAN 225
70. FRAGMENTS OF ARCHITRAVES 227
71. A CHOICE OF WAINSCOTS 229
72. WOOD PANELS FOR WALLS AND CEILINGS, WITH IRREGULARITIES IN LEATHER, PAINT AND PAPER 231
73. THE HOUSE THAT JILL BUILT 235
74. THE FIRST FLOOR OF THE HOUSE THAT JILL BUILT 239
75. THE SECOND FLOOR OF THE HOUSE THAT JILL BUILT 241
76. THE EAST END OF JILL'S DINING-ROOM 243
77. A CASTLE IN SPAIN 263
Also Initials, Tail-Pieces, etc.
INDEX OF SUBJECTS.
BUILDING SITES 16 BRICKS 46, 53, 58 BLINDS 116 CHIMNEYS 179 CONTRACT WORK 233 COMPETITIVE PLANS 237 DOORS 194 FIREPROOF CONSTRUCTION 54 FALSE CHIMNEY-PIECE 98 FIREPLACES 134 FLOORS 140 FASHION 224 GUTTERS 129 HEATING 97, 132 HEIGHT OF ROOMS 138 HARD WOOD 197 INTERIOR FINISH 221 KITCHEN ARRANGEMENTS 81, 125 PLUMBING 166, 177 PANTRIES 186, 189 PAINT 223 ROOFS 69, 113 STAIRS 38, 214 STAINED GLASS 38, 183 TERRA COTTA 61 UNDER-DRAINING 24 VENTILATING FLUES 178 WINDOWS 110, 183 WOODEN BUILDINGS 51
TO THE REVISED EDITION.
On a recent visit to the young woman whose experiences and observations are contained in this book, I was greatly pleased to find her zeal and interest in domestic architecture unabated. She sees that there have been changes and improvements in the art of house building, but declares that while some of her opinions and suggestions of ten years ago have been approved and accepted, it is still true that by far the greater number of those who plan and build houses are guided by transient fashion, thoughtless conservatism and a silly seeking for sensational results, rather than by truth, simplicity and common sense.
She has no doubt that her daughter, Bessie, will study and practice domestic architecture, and naturally expects the houses of the future to contain charms and comforts of which we have as yet only the faintest conception.
E.C. GARDNER. Springfield, Mass., November, 1895.
"MR. E.C. Gardner, architect, has consented to write us a series of articles upon house-building," said one of his associates to the editor of OUR CONTINENT a few months since. "What do you think of it?"
"We have no sort of use for such a thing," replied the editor. "There are treatises enough professing to instruct people how to build houses. You can't make every man his own carpenter any more than you can make him his own lawyer. More's the pity."
"But I thought you said you wanted some one who had sense enough to put a thoroughly capable and accomplished housewife's notions of what a house should be into readable prose?"
"So I did," responded the editor, "and I still want it, and am likely to want it for a long time. I do not wish articles on House-building but on Home-building, and you will never get such from an architect."
"Don't be too sure of that," said the other, who had had a taste of the writer's quality before. "Suppose he should wish to try it?"
"Well,—let him," was the grumbled assent.
The editor did not believe in architects. He had built one or two houses that did well enough on paper, but were simply appalling in their unfitness when he came to try to adapt the occupants to the earthly tabernacles which had been erected for their use and enjoyment. He had read house-building books, examined plans and discoursed with architects until he verily believed that the whole business was a snare and a delusion. After this experience he had settled down to the serious belief that the best way to build a house was to erect first a square building containing but one room, and then add on rooms as the occupants learned their needs or the family increased in numbers. In this way, he stoutly maintained, had been erected all those old houses, whose irregularity of outline and frequent surprises in interior arrangement never cease to charm. He asserted boldly that a man's house ought to grow around him like an oyster's-shell, and should fit him just as perfectly; in fact, that it should be created, not built. From architects and their works he prayed devoutly to be delivered, and having theretofore illustrated that part of the proverb which avers that "fools build houses," he declared himself determined thenceforth only to illustrate the latter-part of the proverb:—"and wise men live in them."
Having, however, became sponsor in some sort for what Mr. Gardner might write, he was bound to give attention to it. Very much to his surprise, he found it instead of a thankless task, a most agreeable entertainment. Seldom, indeed, have wit and wisdom been so happily blended as in these pages. The narrative that runs through the whole constitutes a silver thread of merriment on which the pearls of sense are strung with lavish freedom. Every page is sure to contain the subject-matter for a hearty laugh close-linked with a lesson that may well be conned by the most serious-minded. The philosophy of home-building and home-improving is expounded with a subtlety of humor and an aptness of illustration as rare as they are relishable.
There are three classes of people to whom this little volume with its quaint descriptions and wise suggestions will be peculiarly welcome.
First—Those who contemplate, at some time, the building of a home. It matters not whether it is to be humble or palatial, "The House that Jill Built" will be found to contain not only the most valuable suggestions, but a humorous gaiety that will be sure to add pleasure to this duty.
Second—Those who desire at any time to enlarge, modify or improve the homes in which they live; for they will find very forcibly illustrated in its pages the principles which should govern such modification.
Third—Those who, like the writer hereof, have suffered in purse and comfort from the lack of such a pleasant and philosophical treatise, and who will be glad to see how their blunders might have been avoided.
"The House that Jill Built" is founded on the rock of common sense. It does not profess to tell the prospective builder how to be his own architect and carpenter; it does not fit him out with a plan ready made and tested—by somebody else: but deftly and easily it leads him to think about the essential elements of the home he desires until, almost unconsciously, he finds himself prepared to give such directions to an honest architect as will secure for his home, convenience, safety and that peculiar fitness which is the chief element of beauty in domestic architecture. It is not so much for what is taught as for what is suggested that the book is valuable. What the author has written is perhaps not more remarkable than the peculiar art with which he compels the reader to think for himself. "The House that Jill Built" may fairly be said to take the first place among the many works that are designed to make our domestic architecture what it ought to be—the art by which the house-builder may erect a home adapted to his needs, commensurate with his means, in harmony with its surroundings and conducive to the health and comfort of its occupants. What the author's pen has so well described his pencil has illustrated with equal happiness.
In penance for the lack of faith displayed at the outset and in hearty approval of the pages that follow, the Editor has written these words.
A.W. TOURGEE. PHILADELPHIA, Oct., 1882.
THE HOUSE THAT JILL BUILT.
A WISE FATHER AND A GLAD SON-IN-LAW.
Among the wedding-presents was a small white envelope containing two smaller slips of paper. On one of these, which was folded around the other, was written,
"A NEW HOUSE, FROM FATHER."
The enclosed slip was a bank-check, duly stamped and endorsed. Did any old wizard's magic-box ever hold greater promise in smaller compass! Certainly not more than the bride saw in imagination as she read the figures upon the crisp bit of tissue. Walls, roof and stately chimneys arose in pleasant pictures before her mental vision. There were broad windows taking in floods of sunshine; fireplaces that glowed with living flames and never smoked; lazy lounging places and cosy corners for busy work or quiet study; sleepy bed-rooms; a kitchen that made housework the finest art and the surest science, and oh, such closets, such stairways, such comforts! such defiance of the elements, such security against cold and heat, against fire, flood and tempest! such economy! such immunity from all the ills that domestic life is heir to, from intractable servants to sewer-gas!
If some ardent esthete had arrested her flight of fancy by asking whether she found room for soul-satisfying beauty, she would have dropped from her air-castle, landing squarely upon her feet, and replied that if her house was comfortable and told no lies it would be beautiful enough for her—which was saying a great deal, however interpreted, for she loved beauty, as all well-balanced mortals ought, and she would have been conspicuously out of place in a house that was not beautiful.
Perhaps I ought to explain that the house that Jack built, intending to establish Jill as its mistress when it should be completed, had proved most unsatisfactory to that extremely practical young woman. In consequence, she had obstinately refused to name the happy day till the poor, patient fellow had kept bachelor's hall nearly a year. At last, in consideration of an unqualified permission to "make the house over" to any extent, the rough place that threatened to upset them was made smooth. Her father's present, wisely withheld till peace was declared, left nothing to be desired, and they started on their wedding journey as happy as if they owned the universe. This excursion, however, came near being a failure from the sentimental standpoint, because, wherever Jill discovered a house that gave any outward sign of inward grace, it must be visited and examined as to its internal arrangements. Naturally this struck Jack as an unromantic diversion, but he soon caught the spirit, and after much practice gave his salutatory address with apparent eagerness:
"My wife and I happen to be passing through town and have been struck by the appearance of your house. Will you kindly allow us to have a glimpse of the interior?"
The request was invariably granted, for nothing is more gratifying than the fame of having the "finest house in town." Unhappily the interiors were never satisfactory to Jill, and her valedictory to the owners of the striking houses seldom went beyond thanks for their courtesy.
"We visited several houses on our trip," she observed to her father—
"Several hundred," said Jack—
"But were disappointed in them all. Many of them must have cost more than ours will cost, but the money seemed to us foolishly spent."
"Yes," said her husband, "we concluded that the chief plank in the platform of the architects and builders was 'Millions for display—not one cent for comfort.'"
"Well, Jack, we have learned one thing on our travels—where not to look for the plans of our house."
A box of letters from her dear five hundred friends awaited Jill's return, and a whole afternoon was devoted to them. Each letter contained some allusion to the new house. At least ten conveyed underscored advice of the most vital importance, which, if not followed, would demoralize the servants, distress her husband and ultimately destroy her domestic peace. Taken at a single dose, the counsel was confusing, to say the least; but Jill read it faithfully, laid it away for future reference, and gave the summary to her husband somewhat as follows:
"It appears, Jack, my dear, to be absolutely indispensable to our future happiness that the house shall front north, south, east and west."
"Let's build it on a pivot."
"We must not have large halls to keep warm in cold weather, and we must have large halls 'for style.' The stories must not be less than eleven nor more than nine feet high. It must be carpeted throughout and all the floors must be bare. It must be warmed by steam and hot water and furnaces and fireplaces and base-burners and coal grates."
"We shan't have to go away from home to get into purgatory, shall we?"
"Hush! The walls of the rooms must be calcimined, painted, frescoed and papered; they must be dyed in the mortar, finished with leather, with tiles, with tapestry and with solid wood panels. There must be blinds—outside blinds, awnings, inside shutters, rolling blinds, Venetian shades and no blinds at all. There must be wide, low-roofed piazzas all around the house, so that we can live out of doors in the summer, and on no account must the sun be excluded from the windows of the first story by piazza roofs. At least eight patent sanitary plumbing articles, and as many cooking ranges, are each the only one safe and fit to be used. The house must be high and low—"
"I'm Jack and you shall be game—"
"It must be of bricks, wood and stone, separately and in combination; it must be Queen Anne, Gothic, French, Japanesque and classic American, and it must be painted all the colors of an autumn landscape."
"Well, there's one comfort," said Jack; "you haven't paid for this advice, so you won't be obliged to take it in order to save it."
"I should think not, indeed, but that isn't the trouble. These letters are from my special friends, wise, practical people, who know everything about building and housekeeping, and they speak from solemn conviction based on personal experience."
"Moral: When the doctors differ, do as you please."
Three of the letters, reserved for the last on account of their unusual bulk, contained actual plans. One was from an old school friend who had married an architect and couldn't afford to send a wedding present, but offered the plans as a sort of apology, privately feeling that they would be the most valuable of all the gifts; the second was from a married brother in Kansas who had just built himself a new house, and thought his sister could not do better than use the same plans, which he had "borrowed" from his architect; and the third was from Aunt Melville, who was supposed (by herself) to hold the family destiny in the hollow of her hand.
"For once," she wrote, "your father has done a most sensible thing. Every girl ought to have a present of a new house on her wedding-day. You were very silly to make such a fuss about the house that Jack built, for it is a very stylish-looking house, even if it isn't quite so convenient inside; but of course you can improve upon it, and fortunately I can contribute just what you need—the plans of the house that your Uncle Melville built for George last year. It isn't as large as it ought to be, but it will suit you and Jack admirably. You must tell me how much you have to spend. This house can be very prettily built for eight or ten thousand dollars, and if you haven't as much as that you must ask for more. The hall is decidedly stylish, and, with the library at one side and drawing-room at the other, you will have just room enough for your little social parties. The room behind the drawing-room Jack needs for his private use, his study, office, smoking-room or whatever he calls it—a place to keep his gun, his top-boots, his fishing-rod and his horrid pipes; where he can revel to his heart's content in the hideous disorder of a 'man's room,' pile as much rubbish as he likes on the table, lock the doors and defy the rest of the household on house-cleaning days. The dining-room is good and the kitchen arrangements are perfect. George's wife has changed servants but three times since they began housekeeping, nearly a year ago, which certainly proves that there is every possible convenience for doing work easily. The outside of the house is not wholly satisfactory. There should be a tower, and you must put one on somewhere."
Then followed several pages of advice about furnishings and a postscript announced that Colonel Livingston was charmed with the house and would probably build one like it for Clara. The charm of Aunt Melville's advice lay in its abundant variety. It was new every morning and fresh every evening. The latest thing was always the best. The plans of to-morrow were certain to be better than those of yesterday.
Jill therefore made a careful study of the first installment, not doubting that others of superior merit would be forthcoming. She found many things to approve. The hall promised comfort and good cheer, whether stylish or not. The vista across through the parlor bay and the wide library window would give a pleasant freedom and breadth. The stairs were well placed, the second landing with its window of stained glass being especially attractive, whether as a point of observation or as a cosy retreat, itself partly visible from the hall below. Every chamber had a closet of its own, not to mention several extra ones, and there was a place for every bed.
"As for your sanctum, Jack, I don't at all approve. It will be hard enough, I've no doubt, to keep you from lapsing into barbarism, and I shall never allow you to set up a den, a regular Bluebeard's room, all by yourself. I promise never to put your table in order, but I wouldn't trust the best of men with the care of a closet or a bureau-drawer for a single week, much less of an entire room with two closets, a case of drawers, a cupboard and a chimney-piece. But the chief fault of the plan is that it doesn't happen to suit our lot. The entrances are not right, the outlooks are not right, the chimneys are not right."
"Turn it around."
"And spoil it? No; I learned a second lesson on our journey, and it was well worth what it cost. We shall never find a plan made for somebody else that will suit us."
"Not good enough?"
"It isn't a question of goodness—it's a question of fitness. Neither Cousin George's, nor any other house I ever saw, is precisely what we need."
"Moral: Draw your own plans."
"We must, and we'll begin to-morrow."
"Why not this evening?"
"We couldn't see."
"Light the gas."
"Oh, but we must make the plans out of doors on the lot. We shall then know where every room will be, every door and especially every window. We must fix the centre of the sitting-room in the most commanding situation, and be certain that the dining-room windows do not look straight into somebody's wood-shed. Then, if there are any views of blue hills and forests far away over the river, I shall be uncomfortable if we do not get the full benefit of them."
"Don't you expect to have anything interesting inside the house?"
"Except my husband? Oh yes! but it would be a wicked waste of opportunities not to accept the blessings provided for us without money and without price, which only require us to stand in the right places and open our hearts and windows to receive them."
Jill's second lesson was indeed worth learning, even if it cost a wedding journey. Every house must suit its own ground and fit its own household, otherwise it can neither be comfortable nor beautiful.
The next morning, armed with a bundle of laths, sharpened at one end, and equipped with paper, pencil and tape-line, the prospective house-builders proceeded to lay out, not the house but the plan. They planted doors, windows, fireplaces and closets, stoves, lounges, easy-chairs and bedsteads, as if they were so many seeds that would grow up beside the laths on which their respective names were written and bear fruit each according to its kind. Later in the day a high step-ladder was introduced, from the top of which Jill scanned the surrounding country, while Jack stood ready to catch her if she fell. The neighbors were intensely interested, and their curiosity was mixed with indignation when, toward night, a man was discovered cutting down two of the rock-maple trees that Jill's grandfather planted more than fifty years before, and which stood entirely beyond any possible location of the new house.
"This evening, Jack, you must write for the architect to come."
"I thought you were going to make your own plans."
"I have made them, or rather I have laid them out on the ground and in the air. I know what I want and how I want it. Now we must have every particular set down in black and white."
Jack wrote accordingly. The architect was too busy to respond at once in person, but sent a letter referring to certain principles that reach somewhat below the lowest foundation-stones and above the tops of the tallest chimneys.
MORAL SUASION FOR MALARIAL MARSHES.
"You are quite right," the architect wrote, "to fix the plan of your house on the lot before it is made on paper, provided first the lot is a good one. Nothing shows the innate perversity of mankind more forcibly than the average character of the sites chosen for human habitations in cities, in villages and in the open country. Or does it rather indicate the instinctive struggle for supremacy over nature? The 'dear old nurse' is most peaceably inclined toward us, yet we shall never be satisfied till all the valleys are exalted and the hills laid low. Not because we object to hills and valleys—quite the contrary; but we must show our strength and daring. Nobody wants the North Pole, but we are furious to have a breach made in the wall that surrounds it. If we discover a mighty primeval forest we straightway grind our axes to cut it down; an open prairie we plant with trees. When we find ourselves in an unclean, malarious bog, instead of taking the short cut out, shaking the mud from our feet and keeping clear of it forever after, we plunge in deeper still and swear by all the bones of our ancestors that we will not only walk through it dry-shod, but will build our homes in the midst of it and keep them clean and sweet and dry. The good mother beckons to us with her sunshine and whispers with her fragrant breezes that on the other side of the river or across the bay the land is high and dry, that just beyond the bluffs are the sunny slopes where she expected us to build our houses, and, like saucy children as we are, we say that is the very reason we prefer to go somewhere else.
"Now, if the particular spot of earth on which you expect to set up the temple of your home is not well adapted to that sacred purpose, think a bit before you commence digging. If it is low, wet and difficult of drainage; if the surface water or the drains from adjacent lands have no outlet except across it; if its size and shape compel your house to stand so near your neighbor on the south that he takes all the sunshine and gives you the odors of his dinner and the conversation of his cook in exchange; if there are no pleasant outlooks; if it is shaded by trees owned by somebody who will not be persuaded to cut them down for love nor money—by all means turn it into a fish-pond, a sheep-pasture or a public park. You can never build upon it a satisfactory home. Perhaps it is within five minutes' walk of the post-office and on the same street with Mrs. Adoniram Brown, and these considerations outweigh all others. In that case there is no help for you. You must make the best of it as it is.
"If you have a suspicion that the ground is naturally wet, that it contains hidden springs or conceals an impervious basin, making in effect a pool of standing water underground, the first necessity is a clean outlet—not a sewer—low enough to underdrain the lot at least a foot and a-half below the bottom of the cellar. Having found the clean outlet, lay small drain tiles, two or three inches in diameter, under the entire house and for several feet all around it, like a big gridiron. When this is buried under one or two feet of clean gravel or sand you will have a permanently dry plot of ground to build upon. The same treatment will be effective if the ground is "springy." But there must be a "cut-off" encircling the house. This you can make by digging a trench a foot wide, reaching down to the drain tiles, and filling it nearly to the top with loose stones or coarse gravel, the surface of the ground being graded to slope sharply toward the trench. The surface water between it and the house, and any moisture creeping toward the house from without, will then be caught in this porous trap and fall to the gridiron.
"It is possible, theoretically, to build an underground cellar so tight that it may be lifted up on posts and used for a water-tank, or set afloat like a compartment-built iron steamer. Such walls may be necessary under certain circumstances. They may be necessary for cellars that are founded in swamps, in salt marshes below the level of the sea, and in old river-beds, where the original iniquity of the standing water is made still more iniquitous by the inevitable foulness of the washing from streets and the unclean refuse from sinks and back doors. But for buildings that have four independent walls, with room enough for a man to ride around his own house in a wheelbarrow without trespassing on his neighbors, and which are not hopelessly depressed below all their surroundings, it is better to use a little moral suasion on the land itself than to spend one's resources in a defiant water-proof construction. Instead of drain tiles, small stones covered with a thin layer of hay or straw before being buried in the sand may be used if more economical.
"If you cannot find the clean outlet for these buried drains or tiles below the level of the cellar bottom, then raise the cellar, house and all. No matter if you are accused of having a 'stuck up' house—better be stuck up than stuck in the mud. Raise it till the entire cellar is well above the level of thorough drainage. If this happens to carry it above the surface of the ground, set the house on posts and hang the cellar under the floor like a work-bag under a table or the basket to a balloon.
"The foundation walls must indeed touch solid bottom and extend below the action of frost; but if the wall above the gridiron and below the paving of the cellar is of hard stones, or very hard bricks laid in cement, there will be little risk from rising moisture.
"After all, the chief danger is not from underground springs, from clean surface water or an occasional rising of the floods, but from the unclean wastes that in our present half-civilized state are constantly going out of our homes to poison and pollute the earth and air around them."
"Half-civilized indeed!" said Jack, interrupting the reading of the letter. "Besides, he is premature as well as impertinent. He doesn't know but the house will stand on a granite boulder."
"I suppose he intends to warn us, and I am not certain that our lot is as dry as it ought to be. At all events we will have some holes dug in different places and see if any water comes into them."
"Of course it will. Haven't we just had the 'equinoctial'? The ground is full of water everywhere."
"If it is full this spring it will be full every spring. We may as well order the drain tiles."
"It shall be done," said Jack. "Now let us have the second proviso. I hope it will be shorter than the first."
"And, secondly," Jill continued reading, "provided you know what your house is for. It is my conviction that of all the people who carefully plan and laboriously build themselves houses, scarcely one in ten could give a radical, intelligent reason for building them. To live in, of course; but how to live is the question, and why. As they have been in the habit of living? As their neighbors live? As they would like to live? As they ought to live? Is domestic comfort and well-being the chief motive? It is not, usually; hence, there are in the world a great many more houses than homes."
"Oh, bother the preaching! It's all true, but we don't happen to need it. When is he coming?"
"Next week, and he hopes we shall have 'some general idea of what we want.' How very condescending! We know precisely what we want, as I can easily show him."
Jill accordingly produced a fresh sheet of "cross-section" paper, on whose double plaid lines the most helpless tyro in drawing can make a plan with mathematical accuracy provided he can count ten, and on this began to draw the plan of the first floor, expounding as she drew.
"If we call the side of the house which is next the street the front, the main entrance must be at the east side, because we need the whole of the south side for our living rooms. You know the view toward the southwest is the finest we shall have, especially from the chambers."
"How do I know? I didn't climb the step-ladder."
"And we must have a large bay window directly on that corner. The hall must run through the house crosswise, with the stairs on the west side of the house. As there is nothing to be seen in this direction except the white walls and green blinds of the parsonage, the windows on the stair-landing shall have stained glass. The dining-room will be at the north side of the hall, with plenty of eastern windows, and behind that the kitchen with windows at opposite sides. But you wouldn't understand the beauty of my kitchen arrangements now. By-and-by, when you are wiser, I will explain them. Do you like a fireplace in the hall, Jack?"
"I don't know as I do. Do you?"
"Of course! certainly."
"I shall be of all men most miserable without one. Can't we have two?"
"Perhaps so; but first let me read you Cousin Bessie's letter:
MY DEAREST JILL: I'm perfectly delighted to hear about the new house. It will be an immense success. I know it will—you are so wise and so practical. How I shall enjoy visiting you! It is delightful to build houses now. Everybody thinks so much more of the beautiful than they used to. Some of my friends have the loveliest rooms. The tones are so harmonious, the decorations so exquisite! Such sympathetic feeling and spiritual unity! I wish you could see Kitty Kane's hall. It isn't bigger than a bandbox, but there's the cunningest little fireplace in one corner, with real antique andirons and the quaintest old Dutch tiles. They never make a fire in it; couldn't if they wanted to—it smokes so. But it is so lovely and gives the hall such a sweet expression. You will forgive me, won't you, Jill, dear? but you know you are so practical, and I do hope you won't forget the esthetic needs of home life. Your loving cousin, BET."
"Let's give up the hall fireplace," said Jack.
"By no means; our hall is large and needs a fireplace—one that will not smoke and will warm not only the hall in very cold weather, but the whole house when it isn't quite cold enough for steam. The sides and back will be of iron with an air-chamber behind them, into which fresh air will be brought from out of doors and come out well warmed at the sides." (Jill's idea was something like the above figure for the plan.)
"It will be a capital ventilator, too, for the centre of the house. There will be a damper in the hearth to let the ashes down into the ash-pit. I suppose a stove would answer, but this will be better because it won't have to be blacked, and it will last as long as the house."
"How will it look standing out there all alone by itself?"
"Haven't I told you, my dear, that whatever is well looks well?"
"Yes, but it takes a mighty faith to believe it, and I'm not even a mustard-seed. What is the little room in the southwest corner for?"
"That is the library, and for an ordinary family it is large enough. It is twelve feet by fourteen. It will hold three or four thousand books, a table, a writing-desk, a lounge and three or four easy chairs. More room would spoil the privacy which belongs to a library and make it a sort of common sitting-room. Moreover, by drawing aside the portieres and opening the doors we can make it a part of the large room when we wish to; and, on the other hand, when they are closed and the bay window curtains drawn, instead of one large room we shall have three separate apartments for three solitary misanthropes, for three tete-a-tetes, or for three incompatible groups, not counting the hall—no, nor the stair-landing, which will be a capital place for a quiet—"
At this point they were interrupted by a telegram from Aunt Melville, begging them not to begin on George's plan, as she had found something much more satisfactory.
A FIRST VISIT AND SAGE ADVICE.
They didn't begin to build, from Cousin George's nor from any other plan, for many weeks. Until the new house should be completed, Jill had agreed to commence housekeeping in the house that Jack built, without making any alterations in it, only reserving the privilege of finding all the fault she pleased to Jack privately, in order, as she said, to convince him that it would be impossible for them to be permanently happy in such a house.
"I supposed," said Jack, with a groan, "that my company would make you blissfully happy in a cave or a dug-out."
"So it would, if we were bears—both of us. As we are sufficiently civilized, taken together, to prefer artificial dwellings, it will be much better for us to find out what we really need in a home by actual experiment for a year or two. You know everybody who builds one house for himself always wishes he could build another to correct the mistakes of the first."
"Yes, and when he has done it probably finds worse blunders in the second. Still, I'm open to conviction, and after our late architectural tour perhaps my house won't seem in comparison so totally depraved."
When they visited it, preparatory to setting up their household gods—Jack's bachelor arrangements being quite inadequate to the new order of things—Jack, with a flourish, threw the highly ornamental front door wide open. Jill walked solemnly in, and, looking neither to the right nor the left, went straight up stairs.
"Hello!" Jack called after her, "what are you going up stairs for?"
"I supposed you expected everybody to go to the second floor," said Jill, looking over the bannister, "or you wouldn't have set the stairs directly across the front entrance."
"I do, of course," Jack responded, following three steps at a time. "And now will you please signify your royal pleasure as to apartments?"
"Oh, yes! The first requisite is a room with at least one south window."
"Here it is. A southerly window and a cloudy sky—two windows, in fact. And look here: see what a glorious closet. It goes clear up to the ceiling."
"It isn't a closet at all; only a little cupboard. It wouldn't hold one-half of your clothes nor a tenth part of mine. And there's no fireplace in the room—not even a hole for a stovepipe."
"Furnace, my dear. We shall be warmed from the regions below. There's the register."
"I see. But where shall the bed stand? On these two sides it would come directly in front of a window; on this side there isn't room between the two doors; on that, there's the 'set bowl'—I hate 'set bowls'—and the furnace register in the floor."
"That's so. I never had any bed in this room. Try the dining-room chamber; that has a south window. The bed can stand on the north side and the dressing table over in the other corner."
"Yes, in the dark, with a window behind my back. Oh! Jack, why didn't you get a wife before you planned your house?"
"I did try."
"You did! You never mentioned it to me before. What is this little room for?"
"Why, nothing in particular. It came so, I suppose—part of the hall, you know; but it wouldn't be of any use in the hall, so I made a room of it. It will hold a cot bed if we should happen to have a house full of company."
"It will never be needed for that with three other guest rooms; but I see what can be done. You know I promised not to make any alterations; but destruction isn't alteration, and as this little room is beside the front chamber, with only the little cupboards between, a part of the partition between the rooms can be destroyed. There will be no need of a door; a portiere will be better, and I can use the small room for a dressing-room and closet. So that is nicely arranged; and while you are marking where the partition is to be cut away I will explore the first story."
Now, the stairs were built in a very common fashion, having a sharp turn at the top, which made the steps near the balustrade exceedingly steep and narrow. Jill's foot slipped on the top step and down she went, feet foremost, never stopping till she reached the hall floor below. Jack, hearing the commotion, ran to the rescue, caught his foot in the carpet and came tumbling after, with twice as much noise and not half as much grace. Happily the staircase was well padded under the carpet, and finding Jill unhurt as well as himself, Jack helped her to rise and coolly remarked:
"You certainly can't find any fault with the stairs, Jill, dear. If there had been one of those square landings midway it would have taken twice as long to come down. I—I had them made so on purpose. Will you walk into my parlor?"
They went in and sat down in easy-chairs.
"I suppose," said Jill, "that our native land contains about a million houses with stairs like these and just such halls—if people will persist in calling them 'halls,' when they are only little narrow, dark, uncomfortable entries. If we were going to make any alterations in this house—which we are not, only destructions—- I should take these out, cut them in two in the middle, double them up, straighten the crook at the top and shove them outside the house, letting the main roof drop down to cover them. Then I would make a large landing at the turn, large enough for a wide seat, a few book shelves and a pretty window. This could be of stained glass, unless the view outside is more interesting than the window itself. The merit of a stained-glass window," Jill observed, very wisely, "is that the sunlight makes a beautiful picture of it inside the house during the day, and the same thing, still more beautiful, is thrown out into the world by the evening lamps, and the darker the night the brighter the picture. After the stairs were moved out, the little hall, if joined by a wide doorway, to the room we are now in would become of some value. There is no grate in this room, and a chimney might be built in the outer wall, with a fireplace opposite the wide doorway. Then, taken all together, we should have a very pretty sitting-room. I shouldn't call that an alteration—should you, Jack?—only an addition."
"Certainly not. Tearing down partitions, taking out plumbing, building a few chimneys, moving stairways, and such little things, can't be called 'alterations'—oh, no."
"And the house will be worth so much more when you come to sell it."
"Of course. But why do you call this a 'sitting-room?' It wouldn't be possible to sell a house that has no parlor; besides this is marked 'parlor' on the plan."
"I prefer the spirit of the plan to the letter of it. This is the pleasantest room—almost the only pleasant room on this floor. It is sunny and convenient, it looks out upon the street and across the lawn, and whatever it is labeled it will be our common every-day sitting-room. For similar reasons we will take the chamber over it for our own room."
"What becomes of our hospitality if we keep the best for ourselves?"
"What becomes of our common sense if we make ourselves uncomfortable the year round in order to make a guest a little less uncomfortable over night. I try to love my neighbor as myself; I can't love him three hundred and sixty-five times as well. Now, if you are rested, we will go and see if the architect has come."
He had not arrived, but they found a ponderous package of plans from Aunt Melville, with an explanatory note, a letter from Cousin Bessie admonishing Jill that her new home ought to be "a perfect poem, pervaded and perfumed by a rare feeling of tender longing and homely aspiration," and another from her father's oldest sister.
"For fifty years," Aunt Jerusha wrote, "I have lived in what would now be called an old-fashioned house, though it was new enough when I came to it, and I always think of the Scripture saying when I hear about the many inventions that men have sought out and are putting into houses now-a-days. The danger is not so much from the inventions themselves as from what they lead to. They promise great things, but I've learned to be suspicious of anything or anybody that makes large promises. I've learned, too, that realities sometimes go by contraries as well as dreams. The poorest folks are often the richest, and the greatest saving often turns out to be the greatest waste. Air-tight stoves saved the wood-pile, but they gave us colds and headaches. So your uncle put them away and we went back to the fireplaces. Then came the hot-air furnaces, which seemed so much less trouble than open fires, but taking care of the open fires wasn't half so troublesome as taking care of sick folks; and the same thing we learned to our bitter cost of the plumbing pipes that creep around like venomous serpents and promise to save so many steps. Perhaps they do, but it seems to me that much of our vaunted labor-saving is at best only a transfer. We work all the harder at something else or compel others to work for us. When I began housekeeping I had no difficulty in taking care of my large house without any help, nor in caring for my family while it was small. Yet I hadn't a single modern invention or labor-saving machine, I have had a great many since and have tried a great many more. When I find one that helps in the work that must be done I am glad to keep it. If it merely does something new—something I had never done before—I keep the old way. Multiplying wants may be a means of grace to the half-civilized, but our danger lies in the other direction: we have too many wants already. And this is what I sat down to say to you, my dear child: Don't make housekeeping such a complex affair that you must give to it all your time and strength, leaving no place for the 'better part.' Don't fill your house with furniture too fine to be used, and don't try to have everything in the latest fashion. I see many beautiful things and read of many more, but nothing is half so beautiful to me as the things that were new fifty years ago and are still in daily use. Of planning houses I know but little. For one thing, I should say, have the kitchen and working departments as close at hand as possible. This will save many weary steps, whether you do your own work or leave it with servants, the best of whom need constant watching and encouragement, or they will not make life any easier or better worth living."
"Isn't this rather a solemn letter?" Jack inquired.
"Yes; it's a solemn subject."
"Shall you 'do your own work'?"
"Of course I shall. How can I help it?
'Each hath a work that no other can do;'
but just precisely what my own work will be I am not at present prepared to say."
"Is Aunt Melville as solemn as Aunt Jerusha?"
"Aunt Melville assures her dear niece that 'the last plans are absolutely beyond criticism: the rooms are large and elegant, the modern conveniences perfect, the kitchen and servants' quarters isolated from the rest of the house'—"
"That won't suit the other aunty."
"The porte cochere and side entrance most convenient and the front entrance sufficiently distinguished by the tower. I particularly like the porte cochere at the side. If none of your callers came on foot there would be no objection to having it at the front entrance, but it isn't pleasant to be compelled to walk up the carriage-way. As you see, this is a brick house, and I am persuaded you ought to build of bricks. It will cost ten or fifteen per cent. more—possibly twenty—but in building a permanent home you ought not to consider the cost for a moment.'"
"That's a comfortable doctrine, if everybody would live up to it," said Jack.
"Yes; and like a good many other comfortable doctrines, it contains too much truth to be rejected—not enough to be accepted. We must count the cost, but if we limit ourselves to a certain outlay, and positively refuse to go beyond that, we shall regret it as long as we live. We may leave some things unfinished, but whatever is done past alteration, either in size or quality, must be right, whatever it costs."
And herein Jill displayed her good sense. It is, indeed, a mistake to build a house beyond the possibility of paying for it, or of maintaining it without a constant struggle, but in building a permanent home there is more likely to be lasting regret through too close economy in the first outlay, than through extravagance—regret that can only be cured by an outlay far exceeding what the original cost would have been.
The architect came as the sun went down, and, after being duly warmed, fed and cheered, was informed by Jill that all she expected from him that evening was an explanation of the respective merits of wood and brick houses. Jack begged the privilege of taking notes, to keep himself awake, Jill begged the architect to be as brief as possible, and the architect begged for a small blackboard and a piece of chalk, that he might, in conveying his ideas, use the only one, true, natural and universal language which requires no grammar, dictionary or interpreter.
MANY FIRES MAKE SMALL DIVIDENDS.
There are two things belonging to modern civilization," the architect began, "that fill me with amazement. This morning, at the usual hour, I sat at my own breakfast table. During the day I have been reading and writing, eating, drinking and making merry with pleasant acquaintances, old and new. I have observed the architecture of a dozen cities and a hundred villages and have seen landscapes without number. I have been occupying an elegantly finished and furnished drawing-room all the time, with every possible comfort and convenience at hand, and now am sitting at your fireside, two hundred and fifty miles from home. I have just assured the girl I left behind me of my safe arrival, and have listened to her grateful reply. With my ten thousand companions going in the same direction I have met ten thousand others crossing and recrossing our path, every one of whom was as safe and comfortable as ourselves, every one of whom knew the hour and the minute at which he would reach his destination. To an observer above the clouds our pathways would appear more frail than the finest gossamer; and the most daring engineer that ever lived, seeing for the first time our mode of travel, would stake his reputation that we were rushing to inevitable destruction. Yet every foot of our way has been so guarded that not one of these swiftly-moving palaces has swerved from its track or been hindered on its course. This annihilation of space, with the human skill, vigilance and fidelity incidental to it, are more wonderful to me than any tales of magic, stranger than any fiction. I believe because I see; nevertheless it is incredible. My second amazement is that fire insurance companies should continue to live and thrive against such apparently fearful odds, for I see whole villages and cities composed of buildings that seem expressly designed to invite speedy combustion, and at the same time to resist all attempts to extinguish a fire once started in their complex interiors. Indeed, the most effective modes of treatment yet discovered for a burning building are drowning it with all its contents in a deluge of water or blowing it up with gunpowder. It is an open question which of the two methods is to be preferred.
"Let me show you how a wooden house is built. The sills and joists of the first floor are comparatively safe, because they are not boxed in with dry boards, and even with furnace and ash-pits in the cellar there would be little danger from a fire down below if it were not for the careful provision made for carrying it into the upper part of the structure. This provision, however, is most effectively made by means of the upright studs and furrings that stand all around the outside of the building and reach across it wherever a partition is needed. Accordingly, every wooden house has from one hundred to one thousand wooden flues of a highly inflammable character arranged expressly to carry fire from the bottom to the top, valiantly consuming themselves in the operation. Furthermore, they are frequently charged with shavings and splinters of wood, which, becoming dry as tinder, will respond at once to a spark from a crack in the chimney, an overheated stove or furnace-pipe, or a match in the hands of an inquisitive mouse. They are, likewise, so arranged that no water can be poured inside them till they fall apart and the house collapses, for they reach to the roof, whose sole duty is to keep out water, whether it comes from the clouds or from a hose-pipe, but which, for economical reasons, is made sufficiently open to allow the air to pass through it freely, thus insuring a good draught when the fire begins to burn. To complete the system and prevent the possibility of finding where the fire began, the spaces between the joists of the upper floors communicate with the vertical flues, and these highways and byways for rats and mice, for fire and smoke, for odors from the kitchen, noises from the nursery and dust from the furnace and coal-bin, are also strewn with builders' rubbish, which carries flame like stubble on a harvest-field.
"Brick houses, as usually built, are not much better, but that is not the fault of the bricks—they are tougher than good intentions; they have been burned once and fire agrees with them. In fact, there is no building material so thoroughly reliable, through thick and thin, in prosperity and in adversity, as good, honest, well-burned bricks. But the ordinary brick house is double—a house within a house—a wooden frame in a brick shell. Like logs in a coal-pit, the inner house is well protected from outside attacks, but the flames, once kindled within, will run about as freely as in a wooden building, and laugh at cold water, which, however abundantly it is poured out, can never reach the heart of the fire till its destructive work is accomplished. Thrown upon the outer walls, it runs down the bricks or clapboards; poured over the roof, it is carried promptly to the ground, as it ought to be; shot in through the windows, it runs down the plastering, washes off the paper, soaks the carpets, ruins the merchandise and spoils everything that water can spoil, while the fire itself roars behind the wainscot, climbs to the rafters and rages among the old papers, cobwebs and heirlooms in the attic till the roof falls in, the floors go down with a crash and an upward shower of sparks, and only the tottering walls, with their eyeless window sockets, or the ragged, blackened chimney's, remain."
"One road leads to fire and the other to combustion; that's plain enough," said Jack; "but where do the merits come in? I thought we were to learn the relative merits of bricks and wood."
"Wood has one conspicuous merit, a virtue that covers a multitude of sins—it is cheap; but let me first arrange the fire-escapes."
"By all means. Otherwise we shall be cremated before morning."
"If you understand my sketch you will see that but one thing is needful to retard the progress of hidden fire, even in a wooden building, long enough at least for one to go up the hill and fetch a pail of water. This remedy consists simply in choking the flues and stopping the draught, which can easily be done by filling in with bricks and mortar between all the studs of both outer walls and inner partitions at or near the level of each floor. A cut-off half way up is an additional safeguard. The horizontal passages between the floor-joists should also be closed in a similar manner, otherwise the smoke and sparks from a burning lath next the kitchen stove-pipe will come up through the cracks in the floor of the parlor, chamber, or around some remote fireplace, where the insurance agent will be assured 'there hadn't been a fire kindled for six months.' These occasional dampers are a partial remedy, and if carefully fitted in the right places will save many tons of coal and greatly diminish the chances of total destruction in case of fire. The complete remedy is to leave no spaces that can possibly be filled.
"I supposed air spaces were necessary for warmth and dryness," said Jill.
"So they are. But there are air spaces in a woolen blanket, in a brickbat and in common mortar, as well as in sawdust, ashes and powdered charcoal, quite enough to serve as non-conductors of heat and of moisture too, if properly protected. One of the best and most available materials at present known for this purpose is 'mineral wool,' a product of iron 'slag.' If the open spaces between the studs and rafters of a wooden building (or in a brick building between the furrings) are filled with this substance, or anything else equally good, if there is anything else—of course sawdust or other inflammable material would not answer except for an ice-house or a water-tank—'fire-bugs' would find it difficult to follow their profession with any success, and the insurance companies would build more elegant offices and declare larger dividends than ever before. Houses might be burned possibly, but the inmates would have ample time to fold their nightgowns, pack their trunks, take up the carpets and count the spoons before vacating the premises."
"How much will that sort of stuffing cost?"
"For a wooden dwelling house of medium size a few hundred dollars would cover the first outlay, and the saving in worry would be worth twice as much every year."
"Now to consider the relative merits of brick and wood, for I see Jack is going to sleep again: The chief excellence of wood has already been mentioned. It is cheap, so cheap that any man who can earn a dollar a day and live on fifty cents, may at the end of a year, have a house of his own in which he can live and begin to bring up a family in comfort and safety. He that builds of bricks may rejoice in the durability and strength of his house, in its security against fire and sudden changes of temperature, in economy of fuel in cold weather, of ice in warm weather, and of paint in all weathers; in the possibility of the highest degree of external beauty, and in the blessed consciousness that his real estate will not deteriorate on his hands or be a worn-out and worthless legacy to his children."
"You must wear peculiar spectacles if you can discover beauty in a square brick house!"
"Rectitude, of which a brick is the accepted type, certainly has a beauty of its own. But if a brick house is not beautiful—here again the fault is not, dear Jack, in the bricks; but in ourselves, our prejudices and our architects—other things being equal, it should be more beautiful than a wooden house, because the material employed is more appropriate for its use. (I should like to deliver an oration at this point, for upon this Golden Rule of utility hang all the law and the prophets of architectural beauty, but will defer it to a more fitting occasion.) There is, in truth, no limit to the grace of form, color and decoration possible with burned clay. As a marble statue is to a wooden image, so, for the outer walls of a building, is clay that has been moulded and baked, to the products of the saw-mill, the planing-mill, lathe and fret-saw."
"Oh, you mean terra cotta?"
"I mean clay that has been wrought into forms of use and beauty, and prepared by fire to endure almost to the end of time. It is most commonly found in plain rectangular blocks, but in accordance with the artistic spirit of the age, brains are now mixed with the sordid earth, and lasting beauty glows upon the rich, warm face of the strong brick walls."—
"Yea, verily, amen and amen! Beauty, eloquence and true poetry, bright gleams of prophetic fire, patriotism, piety and the music of the spheres. I can see them all in my mind's eye and hear them in my mind's ear. Jill, my dear, our house shall be bricks—excuse me, I mean brains—and mortar, from turret to foundation stone. Consider that settled, and if the meeting is unanimous we will now adjourn till to-morrow morning."
"One moment, if you please. Filling the spaces behind the lathing in a brick house with some fireproof and non-conducting material is a concession to usual modes of building. A more satisfactory construction still would be to build the wails of hollow bricks and with air spaces so disposed that neither wood furrings nor laths would be necessary. There is, moreover, no good reason why the inner surfaces of the main walls of a brick house and both sides of the partitions should not form the final finish of the rooms. Glazed bricks or tiles built into the walls, or secured to them after they are built, are vastly more satisfactory than a fragile and incongruous patchwork of wood, leather, metal, paper, paint and mortar, thrown together in some of the thousand and one fantastic fashions that spring up in a day, run their little course, and speedily return to the dust they have spent their short lives in collecting. I am afraid to dwell on this theme lest I should lie awake all night in a fever of futile protest."
"Pray don't run any risks. I move we now adjourn."
"Yes; but first let me ask one question," said Jill. "Would not the difference of cost between a house built in the ordinary combustible style and the same made fire-proof, or even 'slow-burning,' pay the cost of insurance at the usual rates many times over and leave a large margin besides?"
"Undoubtedly it would."
"Then, as an investment, what object is there in attempting to make buildings fireproof or even approximately so?"
"Excuse me. I thought you were going to ask only one question."
WHEN THE FLOODS BEAT AND THE RAINS DESCEND.
After the architect had retired to his room it occurred to him that he might have answered Jill's conundrum as to the profit of building fire-proof houses by reminding her that pecuniary loss is not the sole objection to being burned out of house and home whenever the fire fiend happens to crave a flaming sacrifice, in the daytime or in the night, in summer or in midwinter, in sickness or in health; that not only heir-looms, but hearthstones and door posts, endeared by long associations, have a value beyond the power of insurance companies to restore, and that protection against fire means also security against many other ills to which the dwellers in houses are liable, not to refer to the larger fact that there is no real wealth without permanence, while the destruction of anything useful in the world, wherever the loss may seem to fall, impoverishes the whole. Having settled this point to his own satisfaction, he sought his pillow in a comfortable frame of mind. Comfortable, but not wholly at rest, for no sooner did he close his eyes than the "fever of futile protest" asserted itself in turbulent visions of paper, paint and plastering. Dados danced around in carnival dress; wall decorations went waltzing up and down, changing in shape, size and color like the figures in a kaleidoscope; Chinese pagodas on painted paper dissolved into brazen sconces, and candelabra sat where no light would ever shine; glazed plaques turned into Panama hats and cotton umbrellas, the classic figures in the frieze began to chase the peacocks furiously across the ceilings, the storks hopped wildly around on their one available leg, draperies of every conceivable hue and texture, from spider webs to sole leather, shaking the dust from their folds, slipped uneasily about on their glittering rings, and showers of Japanese fans floated down like falling apple blossoms in the month of May. He seemed to see the Old Curiosity Shop, the uncanny room of Mr. Venus, a dozen foreign departments of the Centennial, ancient garrets and modern household art stores, all tumbled together in hopeless confusion, and over all an emerald, golden halo that grew more and more concentrated till it burst into gloom as one gigantic sunflower, which, suddenly changing into the full moon just rising above the top of a neighboring roof, put an end to his chaotic dreams.
Not willing to be moonstruck, even on the back of his head, he arose and went to the window to draw the curtain. There was a sort of curtainette at the top, opaque and immovable, serving simply to reduce the height of the window. At the sides there were gauzy draperies, too fancifully arranged to be rashly moved and too thin to serve the purpose of a curtain even against moonlight. He tried to close the inside shutters, but they clung to their boxes, refusing to stir without an order from the carpenter. At the risk of catching a cold or a fall, he opened the window and endeavored to bring the outside blinds together. One fold hung fast to the wall, the other he contrived to unloose, but the hook to hold it closed was wanting, and when he tried to fasten it open again the catch refused to catch, so he was compelled to shut the window and leave the swinging blind at the mercy of the wind. He then improvised a screen from a high-backed chair and an extra blanket, and again betook himself to bed. Stepping on a tack that had been left over when the floor matting was laid provoked certain exclamations calculated to exorcise the demon—or should I say alarm the angel?—of decorative art, and he was soon wrapped in the slumber of the just, undisturbed by esthetic visions.
After a time he became dimly conscious of a sense of alarm. At first, scarcely roused to understand the fear or its cause, he soon recognized a noise that filled his soul with terror—the stealthy sound of a midnight assassin; a faint rasping, intermittent and cautious, a sawing or filing the bolt of his door. He made a motion to spring up, upset a glass of water by his bedside and—frightened the rats from the particular hole they were trying to gnaw. In their sudden fright they dropped all pretense of secresy. They called each other aloud by name and scattered acorns, matches, butternuts and ears of corn in every direction, which rolled along the ceiling, fell down the partitions, knocked the mortar off the back of the laths and raised such a noisy commotion as ought to have roused the whole neighborhood. No one stirred, and the architect once more addressed himself to blessed sleep, feeling that morning must soon put an end to his tribulations. How long he slept he had no means of knowing. It was still dark when he awoke: dark but not still. A distant footfall tinkled on the matted floor, followed by another and another in rapid, measured succession. Could there be a cat or a dog in the room? He could see nothing. The moon was gone and the room was dark as Egypt. Possibly some animal escaped from a traveling menagerie had hidden in the chamber. He lay still and listened while the step—step—step—kept on without break or change. Presently he thought of ghosts, and as ghosts were the one thing he was not afraid of he turned over and went to sleep for good just as the village clock struck eleven.
In the morning when he awoke, it rained. The ghostly footfalls continued; in fact, they had considerably increased, but they were no longer ghostly. A dark spot on the ceiling directly over the portfolio of plans he had laid on the floor betrayed their source. Portfolio and contents were as well soaked as if the fire companies had been at them—all from a leak in the roof.
After breakfast, when Jill proposed to spend the time till it cleared off in looking over the plans he had brought, the architect was obliged to explain the disaster.
"It is just as well," said he. "I brought them because you asked me to bring them, not because I supposed there would be one among them that would suit you. But they are not wasted. These poor, dumb, dripping plans preach a most eloquent sermon, the practical application of which is only too evident."
"But how can you make a tight roof? There has always been a leak here when it rains with the wind in a certain quarter. We keep a pan under it all the time, but somebody forgot to empty it; so it ran over last night."
"You ought to see the house that I built," said Jack. "The wind may blow where it listeth and never a drop comes through the roof."
"Oh, Jack, what a story! Only yesterday you showed me where the ceiling was stained and the paper just ready to come off."
"That wasn't from rain water. It was from snow and ice water, which is a very different affair. We had peculiar weather last winter. I know a man who lost three thousand dollars' worth of frescoes in one night."
"It is indeed a different matter as regards the construction of the roof, but the water is wet all the same, and a roof is inexcusable that fails to keep all beneath it dry, however peculiar the weather may be. No, it is not difficult to make a tight roof with the aid of common sense and common faithfulness. The most vulnerable spots during a rain storm are beside the dormers and the chimneys, over the bay-window roofs and in the valleys, that is, wherever the plane surface and the uniform slope of the roof is broken. In guarding these it is not safe to assume that water never runs up hill; a strong wind will drive it up the slope of a roof under slates, shingles or flashings as easily as it drives up the high tide of Lincolnshire. It will cause the water pouring down the side of a chimney, a dormer window, or any other vertical wall, to run off in an oblique direction and into cracks that never thought of being exposed to falling rain. 'Valleys' fail to carry their own rivers when they are punctured by nails carelessly driven too far within their borders; when the rust that corrupts the metal of which they are commonly composed has eaten their substance from the under side perhaps, their weakness undiscovered till the torrent breaks through; when they become choked with leaves and dust and overflow their banks; when they are torn asunder by their efforts to accommodate themselves to changes of temperature, and when ice cakes come down from the steep roofs and break holes through them.
"The other danger is peculiar to cold climates, where the roof must protect not only from driving rain but from snow and ice in all their moods and tenses. When the higher peaks feel the warmth of the sun or the internal heat of the building, the lower slopes and valleys being without such influence, it sometimes happens that the rills will be set to running by the warmth of the upper portions, while the colder climate below will stop them in their course, building around the slate, shingles or tiles an impervious ice dam, from which the descending streams can find no outlet except by 'setting back' under the slates and running down inside. Eave spouts and conductors are especially liable to this climatic influence, for nothing is more common than to find them freezing in the shade while the roofs above are basking in the sun. As Jack observes, admitting water above an ice dam is a different kind of sin in a roof from that which caused the ruin of my plans last night, but it is no less unpardonable. The same treatment that will make a roof non-conducting of fire will, to some extent, overcome this danger, or a double boarding may be laid upon the rafters, with an air space between. This or the mineral wool packing will prevent the premature melting of snow from the internal heat. The only sure salvation for gutters is to take them down and lay them away in a cool, dry place. Thorough work, ample outlets and abundant room for an overflow on the outward side will make them reasonably safe. In general it is better to let the water fall to the ground, as directly as possible, and let the snow slide where it will, provided there is nothing below to be injured by an avalanche. A hundred-weight of warm snow or a five-pound icicle falling ten feet upon a slated roof or a conservatory skylight is sure to make a lasting impression."
"Isn't this discourse a little out of season?" said Jack. "We don't buy furs in July nor refrigerators in January. If you expect advice to be followed, you mustn't offer it too long beforehand. Now, as your plans haven't yet recovered from their bath, let us see if Jill's air-castles can be brought down to the region of human possibilities."
"I am not quite ready for that," said Jill. "First, let me show you the plans my old friend has sent me, and read you her description of them. Here are the plans and here is the letter:
"'Of all the plans Will has ever made'—her 'Will' is an architect, you know—'these seem to me most likely to suit you and Jack, although they are by no means, adapted to conventional, commonplace housekeepers. In the centre of the first floor the large hall, opening freely to the outside world, is a sort of common ground, hospitable and cheerful, where the stranger guest and the old friend meet; where the children play, where the entire household are free to come and go without formality. The furniture it contains is for use and comfort. It is never out of order, because it is subject to no formal rules. At the left of the hall is the real family home, more secluded and more significant of your own taste and feeling. Instead of many separate apartments for general family use, here are drawing-room, sitting-room, library and parlor, all in one. This is the domestic sanctuary, the essential family home into which outsiders come only by special invitation. From the central hall runs the staircase that leads to the still more personal and private apartments above, one of which belongs to each member of the family. At the right of the hall is the dining-room, near enough to make its contribution to physical comfort and enjoyment at the proper time, but easily excluded when its inferior service is not required.'
"I don't understand that," said Jill.
"I do," said Jack. "It means that the meat that perisheth ought not to be set above the feast of reason and flow of soul; that the dining-room ought to be convenient but subordinate, not the most conspicuously elegant part of the establishment, unless we keep a boarding-house and reckon eating the chief end of man. Where do you say the library is?"
"Included in the drawing-room. Probably the corner marked 'Boudoir' contains a writing desk with more or less books and other literary appliances. It has a fireplace of its own and portieres would give it complete seclusion."
"Where is the smoking-room?"
"I don't know. She didn't send the plans for the stable."
"How savage! Please go on with the letter."
"'The floors of the dining-room and hall are on the same level, but that of the drawing-room is one or two feet higher—'
"I don't like that at all. Should stumble forty times a day."
"'—which is typical of its higher social plane, makes a charming raised seat on the platform at the foot of the stairs, and gives a more picturesque effect than would be possible if all the rooms were on a par.'
"Can't help that. I shouldn't like it. I'd rather be a commonplace housekeeper."
"'The higher broad landing in the staircase, running quite across the hall, makes a sort of gallery with room for a few book-shelves, a lounging-seat in the window, a band of musicians on festival occasions, with perhaps a pretty view from the window.'
"If the landscape happens to fit the plan."
"'Under the lower portion, of the stairs there is a toilet room, and at the same end of the hall wide doors lead to the piazza. A long window also gives access to the same piazza from the drawing-room. In the second story the chambers have plenty of closets and dressing-rooms, and yet but few doors. Indeed, many of these may be omitted by using portieres between each chamber and its dressing-room. You will notice, too, that by locking one door on each story the servants' quarters can be entirely detached from the rest of the house.'
"Yes," said Jill, laying down the letter; "and that suggests another question: What do you think of a plan like this which provides no passage from the kitchen to the front part of the house except across the dining-room?"
"I should refer the question back to the housekeepers themselves; it is domestic rather than architectural. If the kitchen servant attends to the door bell, and is constantly sailing back and forth between the cooking-stove and the front door like a Fulton Ferry boat, the amount of travel would justify a special highway—even a suspension bridge. Likewise, when the side entrance for the boys and other careless members of the family is behind the dining-room, that apartment will become a noisy thoroughfare, unless there is a corridor passing around it. This is a common dilemma in planning the average house, and while a direct communication between the front and rear portions is always desirable, crossing one of the principal rooms is often the least of two evils. It seems to be so in this plan."
"Go on, Jill."
"There is but one more sentence about the plan: 'The outside of the house is severely plain, but you can easily make it more ornamental.'"
"That's true. Nothing is easier than to make things ornamental. The hard thing is to make them simply useful. Now if you want my candid opinion of this plan," Jack continued, "I should say it is first-rate if the front door looks toward the east: if there is a grand view of rivers and mountains toward the southwest; if the family live on the west piazza all the forenoon; if they board a moderate family of servants in the north end (which I notice is a few steps lower than the dining-room—for social reasons, I suppose)—if they keep up rather a 'tony' style of living in the south end; are not above condescending to men of low estate to the extent of receiving common people in the big hall, but holding themselves about two steps above the average human; and, finally, if and provided the butler's pantry is made as large again for a smoking-room, and the kitchen pantry made large enough to hold the butler. With these few remarks, I think we may lay this set of plans on the table."
THE WISDOM OF JILL IN THE KITCHEN.
"Perhaps Jack will remember," said Jill, as she prepared to explain her plans, "that we examined not long ago a large number of somewhat pretentious houses, but did not find one that was satisfactory, the defects being usually in what I should call the working department of the house. The large front rooms were often exceedingly charming, elegantly furnished and well arranged."
"For which reason," said Jack, "the family seemed to be religiously kept out of them unless they had on their company manners and their Sunday clothes, or wished to make themselves particularly miserable by having a wedding, a sewing society or an evening party."
"The rear boundary of the dining-room seemed like Mason and Dixon's line in the old times; once beyond it, we entered a region 'without law or ornament or order,' a realm of architectural incompetence, confusion and evil work—if it is fair to call the arrangements of the domestic part of a house an architectural matter."
"Certainly it is," Jack affirmed, "and it's my opinion that no architect ought to receive his diploma until he has served one year in a first-class family as cook, butler and maid-of-all-work."
"One would almost be inclined to think that such an experience, with another year at bridge building, had been with certain 'practical architects and builders' the entire course of study."
"It was plain enough," Jill continued, "that these houses were planned by men, who were not only ignorant of the details of housework but who held them in low esteem, as of no special importance. They evidently exhausted their room and their resources on what they are pleased to call the 'main' part of the house, leaving the kitchen and all its accessories to be fashioned out of the chips and fragments that remained. It would be a similar thing if a man should build a factory, fill it with machinery, furnish and equip the offices, warerooms and shipping docks, but leave no room for the engine that is to drive the whole or for the fuel that feeds the engine. When 'we women' practice domestic architecture, as we surely ought and shall,—"
"When it's fashionable."
"—we shall change all that. If there can be but two good rooms in a house it is better to have a kitchen and sitting-room than a dining-room and parlor. I propose to begin at the other end of the problem in planning our house. It may not suit anybody else, but if it suits Jack and I it will be a model home."
"That sentiment is a solid foundation to build upon," said the architect. "I wish it was more popular. Build to suit yourselves, not your neighbors."
"And now if you will walk into my kitchen, which is not up nor down a winding stair? but on the same level with the dining-room, you shall judge whether it can be made a stern reality or must always remain the ghostly wing of a castle in the air. The approach from outside is through the little entry at the farther corner, where 'the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker,' the grocer, the fish-man, the milk-man and the ice-man bring their offerings. The other entrance is by way of the lobby adjoining the main staircase hall. This lobby or 'garden entrance' is a sort of Mugby Junction, where we can take the cars for the cellar, for the second floor by the back stairs route, for the dining-room or for out of doors, and where we find refreshment in the way of a wash-basin and minor toilet conveniences. Under the main staircase there is also a large closet opening into this same lobby. My kitchen you see has windows at opposite sides, not only to admit plenty of light, for cleanliness is a child of light—"
"That's true," said Jack. "In a dark room it's hard to tell a dried blueberry from a dried—currant."
"Not only for light, but that the summer breezes may sweep through it when the windows are open, and, as far as possible, keep a river of fresh air rollings between the cooking range and the dining-room. It is long and narrow, that it may have ample wall space and yet keep the distance between the engine and machine shop, that is, the range with its appurtenances, and the packing-room—I mean the butler's pantry—as short as possible."
"I'm glad there's going to be a 'butler's pantry,' it sounds so stylish. I notice that among people who have accommodations for a 'butler' in their house plans, about one in a hundred keeps the genuine article. All the rest keep a waitress or a 'second girl.' Sometimes the cook, waitress, butler, chambermaid, valet and housekeeper are all combined in one tough and versatile handmaiden."
"Well, call it china closet, though it is really something more than that, or serving-room, or dining-room pantry—whatever you please. We shall keep two servants in the house, one of whom will wait on the table; consequently I do not want a door from this room-of-many-names to the kitchen. It is much easier to maintain the dignity and order that belong to our precious pottery, our blue and crackled ware, our fair and frail cut glass, if they are not exposed to frequent attacks from the kitchen side. There is, however, an ample sliding door or window in the partition, and a wide serving table before it, on which the cook will deposit the dinner as she takes it from the range. A part of the top of this table is of slate, and may be kept hot by steam or hot water from the range. With but one servant it would of course be necessary to make the route from the kitchen range to the dining-room table more direct."
"What if you had none?"
"If I had none, my kitchen, dining-room, store-room, china-closet, butler's pantry and all the blessed facilities for cooking, serving and removing the meals should be within a radius of ten feet. How any mortal woman with a soul above dress trimmings can be content to spend three hours in preparing meals to be eaten in thirty minutes passes my comprehension. When I 'do my own work,' as Aunt Jerusha says, there will be no extra steps, no extra dishes, no French cooking, no multiplying of 'courses.'"
"No cards, no cake, no style."
"Yes, indeed! The most distinguished and elegant style. Such style as is not possible except where all the household service is performed by the most devoted, the most thoughtful, the most intelligent, if I may say so—"
"Certainly the most intelligent, amiable, accomplished and altogether lovely member of the family. I agree to that."
"There will be no pretense of style—if that is what you mean, no vain endeavor to conceal poverty or ignorance, but a delightful Arcadian candor and simplicity that will leave the mistress of the house, who is also housekeeper, nurse, cook, dairymaid, butler, waitress, laundress, seamstress, governess and family physician, abundant time and strength for such other occupations and amusements as may be most congenial. It would be a delightful way of living, and I should not hesitate to try it if I felt certain that I had a soul above dress trimmings. I am not willing to be a household drudge, overwhelmed by the 'work that is never done;' therefore, to be on the safe side, we will keep two servants.
"The cooking range, whether of the portable or 'set' kind, will have a brick wall behind it and at each side, which, carried above, will form a sort of canopy to conduct into the chimney the superfluous heat in warm weather and the steam and smoke from cooking at all times. I suppose some housekeepers would object to separating the two pantries, but they have no common interests requiring close proximity. The kitchen pantry is a store-room and a kind of private laboratory, where the mysterious experiments are made that develop our taste for esthetic cooking and give us an experimental knowledge of dyspepsia. Its operations precede the work of the range to which it is a near neighbor, as it ought to be. It has also the merit of being in the cool northwest corner of the house, with small windows on two adjacent sides, which are better than a single window, for the air of a store-room or pantry cannot be changed too freely in warm weather.
"Do you see the closets at the end of this pantry? One is for ice, which is shoved in through a little door just above the sink where it is brought by the ice-man; the other is for a cold closet and is built in such a way as to get the full benefit of its cold-blooded neighbor. Don't forget, in making the plan, that the door through which the ice slides must be large enough to take in the largest cakes, and must be so arranged that after being washed at the sink they will slide easily without lifting or banging into their proper places inside."
"And let me suggest," said the architect, "that the waste-pipe that carries off the melted ice be allowed to run straight out of doors, without making the acquaintance of the sewer or any other drain-pipe."
"Please remember that then, as well as the door. The kitchen sink is at the west end of the room, between and under two windows, which must be at least three feet from the floor. It is near to the pantry door, to accommodate the dishes used in cooking; yet not so near that one cannot stand beside it without danger of being roasted or broiled; near to the cellar door, from whence come the Murphys and other vegetables to have their faces washed and their eyes put out. Of course there is a china sink in the china closet, to insure tender treatment for all the table ware, and I should like a sort of window or slide behind the sideboard opening through it. Sometimes it will be convenient for the waitress to arrange the articles to be used on the table within reach from the dining-room side, and save a special journey whenever a dish, or a spoon is changed."
"It strikes me," said Jack, "that when it comes to spoons you're drawing it pretty fine. I suppose these are modern improvements, but how much better will the dinners be than the dinners cooked in my kitchen? Two servants will do all the work for the same wages."
"Real labor-saving is a religious duty, like all other economy; and if we don't have better domestic service with better facilities for doing work the fault is our own."
"But I don't see that this kitchen is any better than mine."
"Of course you don't; you're a man; but for one thing, your china closet hasn't even a window of its own. How do you expect glasses to be made clean and silver bright in such a place? Now observe my plan: Not only is the kitchen light, but the entry where the ice comes in, the pantry where the food is prepared, the butler's pantry, the stairs to the cellar and to the second floor, and Mugby Junction, are all light. There isn't a dark corner on the premises, and consequently no excuse for uncleanness or accidents."
"Just think of the flies."
"Windows are easily darkened. But I am not quite ready to talk over these minor matters. The general plan is the first thing, and I think you will agree with me that it is well begun."
"According to Poor Richard, then, it is half done. So it's time for recess."
"Very well; way of change let us look at the plans of brother Ted's house in Kansas. Its situation is different from ours, as it stands on a high bluff in a bend of the Missouri, and the parlor looks over the water in three different directions, up and down and across the river. The piazza seems to be arranged to make the most of this situation, and Ted thinks it impossible to contrive a more charming arrangement for hall, parlor and dining-room. They use the parlor as a common sitting-room, and the hall still more commonly, especially in warm weather. Ted doesn't realize that half the charm of the house lies in its adaptation to the site."
"That ought to be the case with every country or suburban house."
"It certainly will not fit our lot, and it seems to me best suited for a summer home or for a warm climate."
Here Jack was called to his office, and Jill withdrew to attend to some household duties, first requesting the architect to redraw the plans so as to show accurately the construction and details.
"That is to say," said Jack, "while Jill makes a pudding for dinner and I write a business letter of three lines, you are to lay out in complete shape the plans for a house containing all the modern abominations and improvements, that will cost ten thousand dollars, occupy two years in building and last forever. That's a modest request."
"Not extravagant compared with the demands often made upon domestic architects, for it involves no downright contradictions. I am not asked to show how a house worth ten thousand dollars can be built for five, or to break the Golden Rule, or to change the multiplication table and the cardinal points of the compass."
BE HONEST AND KEEP WARM.
The architect went home to translate the instructions he had received into the language that builders understand. Jack and Jill established themselves in the house that Jack built. The proposed amendments were indefinitely postponed; Jill having consented to take the house temporarily as she had taken Jack permanently—for better or worse—only claiming her reserved right, in the case of the house, of privately finding all the fault she pleased. Even the staircase, so favorable to a swift descent, remained unchanged, and in their own room the bed stood squarely in the middle of the floor. Jack averred that this was intended when the house was planned, because the air is so much better in the centre of a room, and there is not so much danger of being struck by lightning.
One day there came a cold, gloomy rain on the wings of a raw east wind, and after Jack had gone to his office it occurred to Jill that a fire on the hearth in the parlor, which they used as a common sitting-room, would be exceedingly comfortable, but on removing a highly ornamental screen that served as a "fireboard," she found neither grate nor fireplace, only a blank wall plastered and papered. Her righteous wrath was kindled, not because she was compelled to get warm in some other way, but by the fraudulent character of the chimney-piece. "I can imagine nothing more absurdly impertinent," she declared to Jack when he came home, "than that huge marble mantel standing stupidly against the wall where there isn't even a chimney for a background. As a piece of furniture it is superfluous; as a wall decoration it is hideous; as a shelf it is preposterous; as a fireplace it is a downright lie. If our architect suggests anything of the kind he will be dismissed on the instant."
"Don't you think the room would look rather bare without a mantel? You know it's the most common thing in the world to have them like this. I can show you a hundred without going out of town."
"Common! It's worse than common; it is vulgar, it is atrocious, it is the sum of all villainies!" said Jill, her indignation rising with each succeeding epithet. "A fireplace is a sacred thing. To pretend to have one when you have not is like pretending to be pious when you know you are wicked; it is stealing the livery of a warm, gracious, kindly hospitality to serve you in making a cold, heartless pretense of welcome."
"I didn't mean to do anything wrong," Jack protested with exceeding meekness. "Such mantels were all the fashion when this house was built, and fashions in marble can't be changed as easily as fashions in paper flowers."
"There ought not to be 'fashions' in marble, but of course it was fashion. Nothing else than the blindest of all blind guides could have led people into anything so hopelessly silly and unprincipled. I shall never enjoy this room again," she continued, "knowing, as well I know, that yonder stately piece of sculpture is a whited sepulchre, a delusion and a snare. I shall feel that I ought to unmask it the moment a visitor comes in, lest I should be asked to make a fire on the hearth and be obliged to confess the depravity in our own household."
"Now, really, my dear, don't you think you are coming it rather strong, if I may be allowed the expression? Isn't it possible that your present views may be slightly tinged by the color of the east wind, so to speak?"
"Not in the least. You know perfectly well, Jack, that insincerity is the bane of domestic and social life; that hypocrisy is a child of the Evil One, and that vain and false pretensions are the fatal lures that lead us on to destruction. How can we respect ourselves or expect our friends to respect us if the most conspicuous thing in the house is a palpable fraud?"
"Very well, dear, I'll bring up a can of nitro-glycerine to-morrow and blow the whole establishment into the middle of futurity. Meanwhile, let us see if anything can be done to make it endurable a few hours longer."
Dropping on his knees in front of the fictitious fireplace, Jack pulled the paper from the wall, disclosing a sheet-iron stove-pipe receiver, set there for a time of need, and communicating in some mysterious way with a sooty smoke flue. Having found this, he telephoned to the stove store for a portable grate—that is to say, a Franklin stove with ornamental tiles in the face of it—and in less than an hour the room was radiant with the blaze of a hickory fire, while a hitherto unknown warmth came to the lifeless marble from its new neighbor. By sitting directly in front of it Jill discovered that in appearance the general effect was nearly as good as that of a genuine fireplace, the warmth diffused being decidedly greater.
"I'm sorry I lost my temper," said she, after they had sat a while in silence enjoying the ameliorating influence of the blaze, "but I do hate a humbug. We will let this stove stand here all summer to remind you that neither your house nor your wife is perfect, and to keep me warm when the east wind blows."
Jack's response to this magnanimous remark must be omitted, as it had no direct bearing upon house-building.
"When I went into the kitchen this morning to get warm," Jill observed later in the evening, "I found Bridget ironing; the stove was red-hot, the bath boiler was bubbling and shaking with the imprisoned steam, and the outside door was wide open. It struck me that there was heat enough going out of doors, not to mention the superheated air of the kitchen itself, to have made the whole house comfortable such days as this, if it could only be saved. Don't you think it would be possible to attach a pipe to some part of the cooking-range that would carry steam or hot water to the front of the house. We shouldn't want it when the furnace was running, nor in very warm weather, and at such times it could be turned off."
Jack thought it could be done, and expressed a willingness to be a roasted martyr occasionally if he could by that means make some use of the perennial fire in the kitchen, a fire that seemed to be the hottest when there was no demand for it.
"It's my conviction," said he, "that if the heat actually evolved from the fuel consumed by the average cook could be conserved on strictly scientific principles, it would warm the house comfortably the year round without any damage to the cooking, and with a saving of all the bother of stoves, fireplaces and furnaces." And his conviction was well founded, provided the house is not too large and the weather is not too cold. "Shall we try it in the new house?"
"No, not unless somebody invents a new patent low-pressure, automatic-cooking-range-warming-attachment before we are ready for it. We shall have fireplaces in every room—real ones—and steam radiators beside."
"What! in every room, those ugly, black, bronzy, oily, noisy, leaking, sizzling, snapping steam radiators that are always in the way and keep the air in the room so dry that everybody has catarrh, the doors won't latch, and the furniture falls to pieces? You know how the old heirloom mahogany chair collapsed under Madam Abigail at Mrs. Hunter's party—went to pieces in a twinkling like the one-horse shay—and all on account of the steam heat."