"That doesn't appear to be the attitude of all the gas companies," said Tom. "The exhibit at Madison Avenue and Forty-second Street is a wonderful demonstration of what gas can do."
"Almost too perfect a demonstration," remarked Jack. "When you come away you are so overwhelmed, that you want to buy stock in a gas company immediately. The contrivance that bowled me over was where you turn the hot water faucet upstairs, and in a couple of minutes, the gas heater having been started automatically, hot water comes pouring out."
"Provided the pilot light happens to be in working order," said Tom, "and everything is at concert pitch. I notice that where they want to light gas in chandeliers high above the floor, they have to call electricity to help, and even then often bungle the operation because pilot lights are such an uncertain quantity."
"The chief mission of gas nowadays," said Jack, "is to keep the electric men on the qui vive. First the gas men reduced the cost of illumination by the introduction of mantle lamps, and then the electric men brought forward and developed the tungsten lamp. Each trying to outdo the other, and the consumer gets the benefit."
"Not in territory where the gas and electric plants are owned by the same company," remarked Tom, cynically.
"Where do you keep your pots and pans?" asked Harriet. "I thought it was the fashion nowadays to have them all out in the open hanging on a rack over the kitchen table or in some very conspicuous place, so as to stamp the room with its culinary character."
"I think that's all right in a large house," answered Mary, "where the servants have some other room to entertain in, but here, with the butler's pantry on one side and the laundry on the other, the kitchen is the only sitting-room they have. All the pots and pans are in the pantry at the left of the water heater, each with its own particular hook or shelf, and all immaculately clean." She led the way and pressed the switch that controlled the pantry light.
"Splendid," said Harriet. "And it has a window that lights all but the corners. I should think the electric fixture would be more useful in the back than in the middle."
"It would," admitted Mary. "We are also disappointed in the lighting of our kitchen. Jack says that one big tungsten lamp in the center of the room, about two feet from the ceiling, with a flat creamy-opalescent shade, and a frosted tip on the bulb, would be much more effective than the present arrangement."
"Are you able to persuade your servants to lower the shades at night?" asked Tom. "We can't ours. They'd rather sit in the shadow-glare and let brightness all leap out of the windows than take the trouble to shut the light in."
"They don't understand what he means," commented Harriet. "They think he is joking when he tries to explain that window-shades of light color reflect the light back into the room."
"I do wish," said Mary, glad to turn the subject, "that we had bought a more elaborately fitted up kitchen table - one of those round underneath, with large compartments for flour and sugar, and smaller drawers and slides above."
"With top of marble or artificial stone I suppose," remarked Harriet.
"No," said Mary, "not that. White oilcloth tacked down all around is just as sanitary, if you renew it occasionally. The stone top tables with round drawers below cost $16.50, while the plain ones are only $10, and without the drawers only $7."
"Why not a kitchen cabinet?" asked Harriet.
"I did want a kitchen cabinet for $31," smiled Mary, "but Jack put his foot down.
Said they were all right in a flat or a cottage, but too fussy for a real house. But I did just love all the different compartments for sugar and spices, and the zinc-covered shelf that slides out. It was just like part of a doll house."
"You've hit it," said Jack. "That's just what most of these new-fangled contrivances for the kitchen are - mere playthings for amateur housekeepers. They're not made for actual use or real wear. They're just got up to sell. Why, Mary even wanted a Fleishbrett at $3.75 and - "
"Ting-a-ling-ling. Ting-a-ling-ling." Delia's alarm clock went off with a racket. "That means it's time for Delia to begin on dinner," said Mary. "Good-by, Delia," she said, stepping out on the porch. "We've enjoyed our little visit to Spotless Town." When she reentered, Delia followed her, wreathed in smiles.
As Jack and Mary sat with their guests on the front porch waiting for Tom's auto, Harriet remarked reflectively, "There is a great deal in what Jack says about doll furniture and furnishings. The shops are full of them. Made small and cheap to catch those who pride themselves on their skill in shopping. Of course, it is to the interest of the stores that advertise bargain sales, to encourage shopping and shoppers, and foster the idea that a woman can easily save much money and beat the dealers at their own game. That is why most American homes contain so much trash. There's no trash in Mr. Livingstone's kitchen at Newport."
"No, indeed," said Mary. "It has the splen-didest big table made for use, not show, with a kettle board on one end and a meat-chopping block on the other. And on the shelf under the table, canisters of sugar, flour, etc."
"It is one of the most efficient kitchens I have ever seen," said Jack, "but not well lighted. At half the expense - "
"Here is the car," said Harriet. "Goodby, dear," she added, kissing Mary as she spoke. "The luncheon was a fine testimonal to the merits of your kitchen, your Delia and yourself."