Monday, August 25, 2008

The House Footmen

All house servants who assist in waiting on the table come under the direction of the butler, and are known as footmen. One who never comes into the dining-room is known as a useful man. The duties of the footmen (and useful man) include cleaning the dining-room, pantry, lower hall, entrance vestibule, sidewalk, attending to the furnace, carrying coal to the kitchen, wood to all the open fireplaces in the house, cleaning the windows, cleaning brasses, cleaning all boots, carrying everything that is heavy, moving furniture for the parlor-maids to clean behind it, valeting all gentlemen, setting and waiting on table, attending the front door, telephoning and writing down messages, and—incessantly and ceaselessly, cleaning and polishing silver.

In a small house, the butler polishes silver, but in a very big house one of the footmen is silver specialist, and does nothing else. Nothing! If there is to be a party of any sort he puts on his livery and joins the others who line the hall and bring dishes to the table. But he does not assist in setting the table or washing dishes or in cleaning anything whatsoever—except silver.

The butler also usually answers the telephone—if not, it is answered by the first footman. The first footman is deputy butler.

The footmen also take turns in answering the door. In houses of great ceremony like those of the Worldlys' and the Gildings', there are always two footmen at the door if anyone is to be admitted. One to open the door and the other to conduct a guest into the drawing-room. But if formal company is expected, the butler himself is in the front hall with one or two footmen at the door.

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