Frank took the bulky book off the table. It was Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. The open page was headed, ‘General Observations on the Common Hog,’ and underneath was a single large tear-drop. It had fallen upon a woodcut of the Common Hog, in spite of which Frank solemnly kissed it, and turned Maude’s trouble into laughter.
No, no, you can’t be, Frank. It says somewhere here that the happiness and comfort of the husband depend upon the housekeeping of the wife. Mrs. Beeton must have been the finest housekeeper in the world. Therefore, Mr. Beeton must have been the happiest and most comfortable man. But why should Mr. Beeton be happier and more comfortable than my Frank? From the hour I read that I determined that he shouldn’t be–and he won’t be.
How sweet it is to hear you say so! And the wonderful thing is that you have never seemed disappointed. I always expected that some day after marriage–not immediately, perhaps, but at the end of a week or so–you would suddenly give a start, like those poor people who are hypnotised, and you would say, “Why, I used to think that she was pretty! I used to think that she was sweet! How could I be so infatuated over a little, insignificant, ignorant, selfish, uninteresting–” O Frank, the neighbours will see you?
Frank read out aloud: ‘”The hog belongs to the order Mammalia, the genus sus scrofa, and the species pachydermata, or thick-skinned. Its generic characters are a long, flexible snout, forty-two teeth, cloven feet, furnished with four toes, and a tail, which is small, short, and twisted, while, in some varieties, this appendage is altogether wanting.” –But what on earth has all this to do with housekeeping?
That’s what _I_ want to know. It is so disheartening to have to remember such things. What does it matter if the hog HAS forty-two toes. And yet, if Mrs. Beeton knew it, one feels that one ought to know it also. If once I began to skip, there would be no end to it. But it really is such a splendid book in other ways. It doesn’t matter what you want, you will find it here. Take the index anywhere. Cream. If you want cream, it’s all there. Croup. If you want–I mean, if you don’t want croup, it will teach you how not to get it. Crumpets–all about them. Crullers–I’m sure you don’t know what a cruller is, Frank.