Those two friends to nightly comfort, a first-class spring and a hair mattress, are vastly important. If the still, small voice of economy whispers that other mattresses are "just as good," stifle it. The hair mattress is the only really sanitary one, since it can be washed and made over and plumped up times without number, and surely no other enjoys the distinction of descending from generation to generation, with the other family treasures. Hair mattresses cost from $10 up, according to the length of the hair, but a good one of full size cannot be had under $30. Felt mattresses, from $7.25 to $13.50, are next in desirability, the best of these, warranted not to cake, being preferable to the cheap hair mattress with short hair. Then come moss mattresses with cotton tops, $4.70 to $8; husk with cotton tops, $3.15 to $4; and excelsior, cotton-topped, $2 to $4. Mattresses in two unequal parts, the larger going at the head of the bed and the smaller at the foot, are more easily handled and turned than those in one piece. A slip of heavy white cotton cloth covering the mattress entire, is a great protection, and should be washed at stated intervals.
Box springs are luxuriously comfortable, an average spring, felt-topped, costing $17 - hair-topped, $18.50. Those topped with tow and moss are less expensive. There is only one objection to the box spring: when the bedbug once effects an entrance therein, the days of that spring are numbered, for there is no evicting him. Woven wire and coil springs run from $2.25 up, according to the number of coils, wires, and weight.
Mattress and pillows are covered to match, these days, in all sorts of charming colors and designs, if one cares to add a little to the cost. Over the mattress goes a quilted cotton pad, interlined with one thickness of cotton batting. Pads can be made at home, or purchased for $1.25, $1.50, or $1.75, according to the size of the bed. The unbleached cost 25 cents less. Some housekeepers prefer a flannel pad as being more porous, and therefore more easily aired. Each bed should have its own pair of white woolen blankets, an average pair costing about $5, but a really "worth-while" one is scarcely obtainable under $12 or $15. A little cotton mixed with the wool is not objectionable, as it prevents so much of the shrinkage to which wool is liable. Heavy and uncomfortable "comforts," which supply in weight what they lack in warmth, are neither desirable nor healthful. Folded across the foot of the bed should lie the extra covering for cold nights, either an eiderdown or less costly quilt, daintily covered with cheesecloth, silkolene, etc.
Two night pillows to a bed are the usual allowance. Good live-goose feather pillows sell for from $3 to $7, depending on the size, and should be provided with extra cotton slips, buttoning on, to protect the tick. The feather bolster has had its day. Its descendant, the bedroll of hair, pasteboard, or papier maché, is for ornament only, and is used as a finish at the head of the bed with fancy draperies or coverings, which it matches. Shams, too, are going out, with other things which are not what they seem. The thought of untidiness always underlies their freshness, and so we prefer to put the night pillows in the closet during the day and let the bedroll or the day pillows take their place. If there is a shortage of pillows, the night cases can be exchanged for pretty ruffled ones of lawn, muslin, dimity, or linen. If one still clings to shams, corresponding sheet shams should also be used.