How times have changed; eighty years ago, an ordinary cookery book had not only recipes and household hints, but advice on how to train a ‘maid’. The ‘maid’ might be a woman of fifty, but she would still be a ‘maid’ – a girl, in the eyes of her employer – or mistress as the woman who paid her wages was called… mistress, as if she owned her! …or maybe I’m putting a twenty-first century spin on it; the etymology of maid, from maiden, was originally an unmarried person and could be of either gender!
Back to training your maid:
When visitors are paying an afternoon call, explain that the maid must open the door wide to them. Nothing looks worse than merely opening a crack of the door and peeping through. If they have umbrellas, she should take them and put them in the stand, and then, throwing open the drawing-room door, announce the visitors in a clear voice.
If it is a formal At-Home day the maid should assist with the tea, bringing the cups of tea on a tray, together with the milk and sugar and handing the tea round to the visitors.
This leaves the mistress free to talk to them, and as each visitor is ready to go the hostess rings the bell, and the maid must be ready to open the front door and hand out the umbrellas.
I don’t suppose many of us have umbrella stands any more… or maybe we do? We don’t so umbrellas stand in a corner of the hall, unless they are wet, and then they go to the bathroom!