Before our housekeeper starts a-shopping she must lock up her zeal for economy lest it lead her away from the straight and narrow way of good taste into that broader path which leads to the bargain counter. She may as well make up her mind at once that desirable table linen is not cheap, the sorts offered at a very low price being neither economical nor desirable, and that a cheap cloth which cheapens all of its surroundings is dearly bought at any price. Occasionally the experienced shopper can pick up at a sale of odd-length or soiled damasks something which is really a good offering, particularly during the annual linen sale which falls in January. But as a rule beware of bargains! The fabric is liable to be a "second" with some imperfection, or to contain a thread of cotton which gives it a rough look when laundered, and there is generally a shortage in width - which suggests the advisability of measuring the table top before buying, for cloths come in different widths, and one which is too narrow looks outgrown and awkward and - stingy! The average table is about 4 feet across, and requires a cloth 2 yards square, though in buying by the yard it is safe to allow an extra quarter for straightening the edges and hemming. The cloth should hang at least a foot below the edge of the table, with an increase of half a yard in length for each additional table leaf. A cloth 2 yards square will seat four people; 2 by 2 1/2, six; 2 by 3, eight; 2 by 3 1/2, ten; and 2 by 4, twelve. A wider table calls for a half or a quarter of a yard more in the width of the cloth, at some little additional cost, as fewer cloths in extra widths are made or called for. Usually a good pattern runs through three qualities of table linen, with napkins in two sizes to match - 22-inch for breakfast and luncheon use, and 24-inch for dinner. These are the standard sizes most generally used, though napkins are to be had both larger and smaller. A napkin should be soft and pliable, and large enough to cover the knees well. Prices on all-linen bleached satin damask pattern cloths, with accompanying napkins, are about as appear in the list on the opposite page:

Cloths.

Good Quality.

Better.

Extra Good.

2 x 2

yards,

each

$2.00-$2.75

$3.50

$4.50-$5.25

2 x 2 1/2

"

"

2.50- 3.50

4.50

5.75- 6.75

2 x 3

"

"

3.00- 4.25

5.25

6.75- 8.00

2 x 3 1/2

"

"

3.50- 4.85

6.25

8.00- 9.25

2 x 4

"

"

4.00- 5.50

7.00

9.00- 10.75

2 1/4 x 2 1/4

"

"

2.90- 3.75

4.50

6.00- 7.75

2 1/2 x 2 1/2

"

"

4.25- 4.50

5.25

7.50- 8.75

2 1/2 x 3

"

"

5.00- 5.50

6.25

9.00- 10.50

2 1/2 x 3 1/2

"

"

6.25- 6.50

7.50

10.50- 12.25

2 1/2 x 4

"

"

7.00- ....

8.50

12.00- 14.00

2 1/2 x 4 1/2

"

"

........................

.......................

13.50- 14.75

2 1/2 x 5

"

"

........................

.......................

15.00- 17.50

2 3/4 x 2 3/4

"

"

........................

........................

11.00- 13.00

3 x 3

"

"

........................

........................

15.00- 16.00

86 x 90

inches,

"

3.50

86 x 108

"

"

4.25

86 x 126

"

"

5.00

86 x 144

"

"

5.75

Napkins.

22 x 22

inches,

dozen

$2.50-$3.00

$3.75

$5.00- $5.50

23 x 23

"

"

3.00 ....

5.25

7.00- 7.50

24 x 24

"

"

3.00- 3.75

........

25 x 25

"

"

3.50 ....

5.25

27 x 27

"

"

6.25- 7.50

......

The 3 X 3 yards cloth is called a banquet cloth, and is one for which the average housekeeper would have little use.

away. Since there are so many other expenses at this time the best way will probably be to buy all that will be needed for a year, and then add to it one or two cloths with their napkins each succeeding year. Three cloths of the right length for everyday use, and one long "family-gathering" cloth, with a dozen napkins to match each, will be a good start. If the special-occasion cloth seems to be too costly, two short cloths of duplicate pattern can be substituted for it, the centerpiece and a clever arrangement of decorations hiding the joining. If table linen is to be stored away and not used for some time after its purchase, the dressing which it contains must be thoroughly washed out, else the chemicals are liable to rot the fabric. It is advisable, too, to put not-to-be-used damask away rough-dry, otherwise it may crack in the folds. The use of colored table linens is in the worst possible taste, except on the servants' table. Those flaming ferocities known as "turkey-red" cloths, which seem to fairly fly at one, are not only inartistic but altogether too suggestive of economy in laundering to be appetizing table companions.