Two Edwardian MaidsThat house is well ordered where each inmate knows what is expected of her, and lives up to these expectations. Then there is no creaking of the domestic machinery, and the comfort which the home should assure is attained. Each maid is engaged to further the comfort of the family in some particular line or lines, and, if her presence does not secure the end desired, there is no reason why she should be retained. In the great majority of homes where a waitress is employed, she is expected to render quite diversified services.

Left: Two Edwardian maids

Often the entire work of the household is performed by herself and one other maid. But in all households the chief duties of a waitress centre around the serving of the meals, and hold a certain kinship to this part of the household routine. In short, first of all the waitress is expected to render such service as will result in the serving of the meals in a neat and orderly manner, and, when circumstances permit, with due regard to the prevailing fashion of the day. The other duties that a waitress may be called upon to do vary with the style in which the house is conducted or with the number of employees in the household staff.

Often the special duties of chamber and parlor maid need to be performed by the waitress; and, though it may not seem so at first glance, the duties of a waitress are often much more onerous in houses where a large retinue of help is employed than where the entire work of the household is carried on by a cook and a waitress. In the latter case the diversity of the work tends to break up what is liable to become a tedious routine.

While the dining-room and pantry are the special domain of the waitress, still, when laundry work is done in the house, the whole care of the table linen from laundry to linen closet is often included in the work of a " second girl." So, also, when no man is employed about the house, and the work is divided with the cook, sweeping the front piazza, cleaning the matthereon, and polishing the brasses upon the door would naturally be done by the waitress, while the cook is attending to that part of the house that adjoins the kitchen.

Morning Dress for an Edwardian MaidIn many houses table decorating, care of cut flowers in various parts of the house, the making of salad dressings, and attendance to the calls at the street door are considered a part of the duties of a waitress. Then, too, as the waitress takes the place of a butler, carving and serving of wines are well worth her knowing.

Right: Morning dress for a maid.

Besides this house service a waitress may be called upon to perform such personal service as the habits of the family render needful, as perhaps to leave the juice of a lemon and a cup and pitcher of hot water at one room, at a certain hour in the morning, or a cup of hot coffee or tea or a bowl of gruel at another room. If no ladies' maid or nurse be kept, and the breakfast be very simple, it may prove more conducive to the comfort of the family if the waitress lay the breakfast-table the night beforehand, and thus be left free in the morning to assist in the toilet of an elderly woman or child. But such duties are generally spoken of, and their performance agreed upon, before contract for work and pay is entered into by the respective parties. In general, the duties of a waitress are of a comparatively light character. They call for neatness, despatch, accuracy, and tact.


The up-to-date waitress needs an eye quick to see and a hand deft to execute. She needs to be able to tell at a glance whether the window shades exclude the right quantity of sunlight or the open window admits the proper quantity of air. She needs to have an eye that never fails when an object is to be disposed in the centre of anything or two or more objects in exactly straight lines. Her first duty in regard to everything she touches is to " keep it straight." On all occasions she is to be neatly dressed and manicured, calm and unruffled; no matter how many duties claim her attention at one and the same time, she needs to be absolutely deliberate, self-poised, and unhurried.

A waitress needs to be quick and light of foot; thus youth and a trim figure, not too large, are the first requisites in one who wishes to make a success of the calling. It is needless to add that a quiet, unobtrusive manner-is absolutely essential. A waitress needs to possess a mind unwearied by detail and a willingness to cultivate nice ways of doing work.

In the morning the waitress may wear a light print dress, a plain, full-skirted white apron, white collar and cuffs. Before serving luncheon the print dress is changed for a light-weight black wool dress and a more dressy apron, and a black bow is added to the cap. Boots or slippers with soft soles and low flat heels, if any, enable the waitress to move about noiselessly.

afternoon dress for an Edwardian MaidLeft: Afternoon dress for a maid

The up-to-date waitress is not superficial; she knows full well that daintiness secured by cleanliness must be part and parcel of her own person as well as of the inanimate things which she handles. She will no more think of omitting her full morning bath than of sending the butter to the table on an unwashed dish.

She is surrounded with choice articles often of great value, of which she is the caretaker. She comes in close contact with people who are ultra-fastidious. Her position is a responsible one, and calls for dignified bearing. She needs to maintain her own self-respect and claim that of those whom she serves. To do this, she can ill afford to neglect any of the personal niceties classed as "minor moralities."

The daily bath and immaculate undergarments are at the foundation of these moralities. Cleanliness is next to godliness, and opportunity for cleanliness should be freely given and freely accepted.