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The Next-To-Nothing House | by Alice Van Leer Carrick



Sometimes, as I look back over the long years, I am glad that when we went to housekeeping we, as the Man with the Duster would say, "were inconveniently poor." Otherwise I know what we should have done: we should have hastened to build, and lived to regret it; we should have filled our house with furniture which, in later days, would have been a remission of sins just to look at - debased, ungainly sleigh-front bureaus, the lower part of highboys bought under the ingenuous impression that they were lowboys, and many plates of the too-ubiquitous willow-pattern. We might have been comfortable, but we certainly should n't have been beautiful, and truly there is no bliss in ignorance when it touches our own lives. And instead of all these misfortunes, we moved into a little modest white cottage befitting our modester income, and allowed its eighteenth-century loveliness to be our gradual education...

TitleThe Next-To-Nothing House
AuthorAlice Van Leer Carrick
PublisherThe Atlantic Monthly Press
Year1923
Copyright1922, The Atlantic Monthly Press
AmazonThe Next-to-Nothing House

To Grace Kimball, lacking whose wise and pleasant counsel my book would never have been written; to Betty and Bill who love my old furniture, and to Anne and Gene who don't; and to all those who have visited me, either in person or in prints, I dedicate "The Next-to-Nothing House."

-Prologue
Sometimes, as I look back over the long years, I am glad that when we went to housekeeping we, as the Man with the Duster would say, were inconveniently poor. Otherwise I know what we should have do...
-I. The Picture Post-Card House
Somewhat back from the village street it stands, this little, low eighteenth-century cottage of ours; white-walled, green-shuttered, peeping at you from behind a screen of lilac and syringa bushes and...
-The Picture Post-Card House. Continued
These chairs stand facing one another, each just beside one of the little built-in closet doors. Do you like my silhouettes hanging above them? I hope so, for I do extremely; and, let me tell you, I w...
-II. My Parlour
Sometimes I wonder if I ought to cut down my syringa bushes - or, at least, trim them. I should hate to, they're such big, blossoming things, laden with white flowers twice a year - once in fragrant J...
-My Parlour. Part 2
As a connoisseur's piece it is not remarkable - not nearly so fine as the tip-table beside it. This I especially like to talk about, not only because it really is the loveliest one of my acquaintance,...
-My Parlour. Part 3
And now, walking around the room, we have come to my greatest problem: my irrepressible radiator - an unbeautiful part of a most necessary heating system. At first, we lived with shy, self-effacing, a...
-My Parlour. Part 4
Maybe I am too boastful of my fireplace; but then, Franklin fire-frames are so rare, - not made at all nowadays, - and mine is a very good one. Besides, I did n't put it there; Franklin invented his f...
-III. The Parlour Bedroom
Straight from the parlour you step into the parlour bedroom, a small space that in reality was just cut off from the length of the old farm kitchen. Yet, frankly, I am very proud of it, for it is qu...
-The Parlour Bedroom. Continued
The armchair I bought, all done over, at a country dealer's, for the inconsiderable sum of six dollars and a half. A late form of Windsor, it has traits that hark back to earlier centuries. You notice...
-IV. The Old Farm Kitchen
I am not the spider, and you are not the fly; nor am I spinning you a web of deceit; but, since I have so many curious things to show you when you're there, won't you walk into our dining-room - the...
-The Old Farm Kitchen. Part 2
Logically, my friendly fireplace, as G------calls it, ought to be in the centre of the room; but in reality it's infinitely more effective where it is. The shelf is high and white and narrow, and th...
-The Old Farm Kitchen. Part 3
That card-table by the door is another heirloom; a piece, too, of which I can say again that it is one of the finest of the type I have ever seen. Most of these lyre-based tables - I do not include Ph...
-V. My Kitchen
If you had sat with me in my kitchen this afternoon, my warm yellow-brown kitchen with its gay braided rugs and its gayer red geraniums; sat there and rocked in the stenciled rocker, while my kettle h...
-My Kitchen. Continued
Don't think for a minute, however, that this red arrangement discounts kitchen usefulness, either; it does n't, for underneath is a covering of harmonizing oilcloth, so that the table may be used for ...
-VI. The Ell-Chamber
Really it is very much like a lustre plate, this little ell-chamber of mine. I mean, it has the same gay, whimsical brightness, and it is so cheerfully unpretentious, so pleasantly naive, that I can't...
-VII. The Hepplewhite Bedroom
Down the backstairs, through the kitchen and dining-room and parlour, out into the front hall again. That's the way we have to go, because my Hepple-white bedroom lies just across the hall from the pa...
-The Hepplewhite Bedroom. Part 2
At the left is a small maple light-stand, quite unadorned by marquetry, but with simple, slender lines; and above it hangs one of my most treasured possessions - an engraved portrait of Horace Wal-pol...
-The Hepplewhite Bedroom. Part 3
The powder stand has an interesting story; may I tell it to you? It once belonged to the lovely Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, the best-bred woman in England, in George the Fourth's opinion. It i...
-The Hepplewhite Bedroom. Part 4
And now that I have made the bed visible to you, described its outward signs, let me tell you of its inwardness, the effect its spiritual qualities have on various people. B------ insists that I recei...
-VIII. The Upper Hall And Bathroom
The steps are so high and the treads are so narrow! They always remind me of a Mother Goose jingle; and, though I never have had to carry anybody home in a little wheelbarrow, I'm always expecting to,...
-IX. "The Prettiest Room"
You see, I can call it that because it's a quotation - what the Littlest Daughter said when she first saw it; and since she, with her big sister, is joint owner of its charms, I for one shall not disp...
-"The Prettiest Room". Continued
The old man who sold it to me is dead now, but he lives in my memory, not only on account of this bed, but because of many other bargains. Because, too, of a certain whimsicality, which made conversat...
-X. The South Chamber
First of all, let me say that Daniel Webster was not born in this house; that his father did not build it; nor am I, to my great regret, in any way related to our most distinguished American statesman...
-The South Chamber. Continued
Next we come to the bed; to one of my difficulties, too, for my son had given me strict orders as to the masculine effect of the room. Well, of course, a bed of this kind simply had to have a valance,...
-Epilogue
At first, when I began to write these words, I looked round my parlour to see just which of my old and cherished pieces best could speak my words of farewell, the epilogue of The Next-to-Nothing Hous...









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