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During the discussion between Mr. and Mrs. Butterfield in regard to the cost of living at Harvard College, and while Mr. Butterfield, who, probably, knows little or nothing of the rise in the cost of provisions in the vicinity of Memorial Hall, is racking his brains to reconcile the different estimates in the catalogue as to the cost of living, let us take a peep at Benjamin Emilius Butterfield's home in Saug Centre.
The house stands a little back from the street, with an intricately carved fence, painted white, between it and the sidewalk. The house is painted white also, to match the fence, or vice versa, and has green blinds, one or two of them with the lower hinge dislocated, which adds a pleasing variety to the task of closing them of a windy night.
On the first floor is the parlor, and the windows in this apartment are hung with white lace curtains, fitting symbols of that energetic unrest which pervades certain Western houses, for these curtains are kept in constant motion, bulging out into the room like white-waistcoated aldermen in summer, and driven against the windows in winter by drafts of half heated air from one of Hawkins.' "self-feeding, self-cleaning giant furnaces." This furnace is a source of great comfort and rest to the Butterfield family. I say rest advisedly, for "change" is "rest," and the infinite variety of changes of this furnace makes it almost equal to a summer vacation and shows conclusively that Plato's statement was made without regard to furnaces. There are registers in four of the rooms; in the parlor, in the dining-room, the parental bed chamber and in the "spare room."
I will add here, for the benefit of the uninitiated, that the "spare room" is a large square apartment on the first floor, and is kept solely for the use of visitors, such as members of Mrs. Butterfield's family, delegates to the conference - when the conference is held at Saug Centre - and an occasional minister from a neighboring town who may exchange with the Rev. C. Alexander Dingley, the present pastor of the M. E. Church at Saug Centre.
This room is furnished in imitation black walnut and is kept in the stiffest, most inhospitable good order. There are stiff white pillow-shams pinned on enormous pillows standing up endwise at the head of the bed, and each "sham" has two creases, so that the "sham" may be folded in four and laid on a chair when one goes to bed. A stiff white bed-cover (a wedding gift to Mrs. Butterfield from her mother) is on the bed, with three creases, one from end to end and two across, so that it too may be folded in a regulation number of folds and be laid on a chair with the "shams."
New, stiff towels hang on that most exasperatingly upsetable piece of furniture, the towel rack, with a large B worked on each. These towels absolutely refuse to absorb water, but have a pleasing accomplishment of standing up alone; the more pleasing, that it is neither required nor expected of a towel. There is always a fresh cake of soap in the soap-dish, and the stiffest and whitest of tidies on the chairs, the bureau, the wash-stand, and on every other piece of furniture in the room upon which a "tidy" can possibly be placed or pinned.
A portrait of Mrs. Butterfield and her younger brother, at the respective ages of ten and six, hangs over the mantel-piece. Mrs. Butterfield is represented in low neck and short sleeves, with one hand sliding from her brother's shoulder, and the other, abnormally developed, hanging almost to the hem of her skirt. Both figures look unsteady and unhappy, as though they had been trying to see which could hold its breath longest and were both about ready to give up.
It was after living two days in this apartment that the Rev. Jenkyns Phillpot told his wife that to know the Butterfields was a liberal education. Phillpot's great trouble at home is that he cannot keep his own wash-rag; if the children get into the bath-room before him in the morning, they invariably use his wash-rag, and the consequence is that Phillpot's heart leaps for joy whenever he visits strangers and has a wash-rag all to himself; and then Phillpot has been strongly impressed by the portrait of Mrs. Butterfield over the mantel-piece in the spare-room and had taken pains to speak of it in the hearing of Mrs. Butterfield, who had taken more than usual pains with her saleratus biscuits and coffee, and the Rev. Jenkyns Phillpot had been more than usually "thankful for what we are about to receive."
While the discussion of Benjamin's future is going on in Mrs. Butterfield's room, Benjamin himself is in the parlor reading a book entitled, "Notes on the Reiterated Amens of the Sons of God," published by subscription, and left as a parting gift by the Rev. Jenkyns Phillpot.
He had just come to a passage which he could not understand when he was called upstairs by Mrs. Butterfield, who was in a state of considerable excitement. Mr. Butterfield had run across another item in the catalogue, headed "admission," which had driven all thoughts of the cost of living out of the heads of both him and his wife. Benjamin was catechised about what he knew, and as that is a question readily answered only by members of a graduating class, he innocently admitted that he did not know what he did know or what he did not know. Mr. and Mrs. Butterfield were in despair, but retired happily to rest when Mr. Butterfield, aided by the larger experience of the Rev. C. Alexander Dingley, came to the conclusion that Benjamin could easily enter the Law School, and Mrs. Butterfield was appeased by the statement of the Rev. C. Alexander Dingley that he would, no doubt, soon be able to enter the Divinity School with the additional opportunities for culture offered by a residence at Harvard College.
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