No one has left service, even now…One takes tea from a waiter in much the same way as one formerly took it from one’s housekeeper.
But the housekeeper receives in change a home for life, a family’s dignity to add to her own, keys to each room of the house, and someone to pour her own tea at five; God alone knows where waiters go at the end of the day. A housekeeper has one mistress, for good or for ill – even an indifferent mistress is still her mistress, to be managed or placated or pleased or outmaneuvered as best she can. All housekeepers are Mrs. Somebody, although they’re likelier to be single than not. One might well say she has eliminated the middleman and married the house directly.
The audio version of Hotel Dull, Food Indifferent’s second chapter: “Leave The Gate As You Found It,” read by the author. The text version can be found here. A new chapter, set during a different meal of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, will be published every Friday this summer.