Read CHAPTER XIV of The House that Jill Built after Jack's had proved a failure, free online book, by E. C. Gardner, on


By a tender but vigorous application of the remedies usual in such cases, Jack was speedily restored to his wonted equanimity, and Jill, laying Uncle Harry aside, took up the architect’s suggestions concerning the plumbing, which referred rather to its relations to the plan of the house than to the details of the work itself.

“A bath-room, with all the plumbing articles it usually contains, must possess at least three special characteristics. It must be easily warmed in cold weather, otherwise the annual bill for repairs will be greater than the cost of coal for the whole house; its walls, floors and ceilings must be impervious to sound. The music of murmuring brooks is delightful to our ears, so is the patter of the soft rain on the roof; but the splashing of water in a, bath-tub and the gurgling of unseen water-pipes are not pleasant accompaniments to a dinner-table conversation. Thirdly, it must be perfectly ventilated not the drainpipes merely, but the room itself in summer and in winter. Two of the above conditions can best be secured by arranging to have this important room placed in a detached or semi-detached wing; and here begin the compromises between convenience, cost and safety. It is convenient to have a bath-room attached to every chamber, and there is no doubt that this may be done with entire safety, provided you do not regard the cost. In your plan I have adopted the middle course. There is one bath-room for all the chambers of the second floor, not too remote but somewhat retired, and having no communication with any other room. It is ventilated by a large open flue carried up directly through the roof; it has also an outside window and inlets for fresh air near the floor. All the walls and partitions around it will be double and filled with mineral wool, and the floors will be deafened. The ’house side’ of the water-closet traps will have three-inch iron pipes running to the ventilating flue beside the kitchen-chimney, a flue that will always be warm, and therefore certain to give a strong upward draught at all times, which cannot be said of any other flue in the house, not even of the main drain, or soil-pipe, which passes up through the roof. It would be easy to keep other flues warmed in cold weather by steam-pipes, but in summer you will have no steam for heating purposes. A ‘circulation-pipe’ might be attached to a boiler on the kitchen range for this purpose, but in the present case such a contrivance would cost more than the iron pipe carried from the bath-room to the flue that is warmed by the kitchen fire. A good way to build this ventilating flue is to inclose the smoke-pipe from the range, which may be of iron or glazed earthen pipe, in a larger brick flue or chamber (Fi, keeping it in place by bars of iron laid into the masonry. The rising current of warm air around the heated smoke-pipe will be as constant and reliable as the trade winds. It will be well, indeed, if all your chimneys are made in a similar manner; that is, by enclosing hard-burned glazed pipe in a thin wall of bricks. Such chimneys will not only draw better than those made in the usual way, but there will be less danger from ‘defective flues.’ A four-inch wall of bricks between us and destruction by fire is a frail barrier, especially if the work is carelessly done or the mortar has crumbled from the joints. To build the chimneys with double or eight-inch walls makes them very large, more expensive, and still not as good as when they contain the smooth round flues. To leave an air-chamber beside or between them for ventilating (Fi, is better than to open directly into the smoke-flue, because it will not impair the draught for the fire, and there will be no danger of a sooty odor in the room when the circulation happens to be downward, as it will be occasionally. The outside chimney, if there is one, should have an extra air-chamber between the very outer wall and the back of the fireplace to save heat (Fi, a precaution that removes to a great extent the common objection to such chimneys. Whatever else you do, let these ’windpipes of good hospitalitie’ have all the room they need. I shall not willingly carry them off by any devious way to be hidden in an obscure corner or dark closet, nor yet to give them a more respectable and well-balanced position on the roof. Like the wild forest trees they shall grow straight up toward heaven from the spot where they are first planted. If we happen to want a window where the chimney stands in an outer wall we will make one between the flues, as one might build a hut in the huge branches of a mighty oak. It isn’t the best place for the window or the hut, but circumstances may justify it; as, for instance, when we must have the outlook in a certain direction, but cannot spare the wall-space for a window beside the chimney. The jambs beside a window so situated will be very wide, and you may, if you please, extend the view of the landscape indefinitely by setting two mirrors vis-a-vis in the opening at either side. This will also send the sunshine into the room after the sun has passed by the other windows on the same side of the house. It is rather a pretty fancy, too, when the outside view does not require a clear window, to set a picture in colored glass above the mantel, and the same thins: may be arranged in the sideboard, if it happens to stand against the outer wall. These are fancies, however, which lose their beauty and fitness unless they seem to have been spontaneously produced. There should be no apparent striving for effect.”

“I like the idea of setting mirrors in the deep window-jambs, whether they are in the chimney or out of it,” said Jill. “If I was obliged to live in a room where the sun never shone of its own accord, I would set a trap for it baited with large mirrors fixed on some sort of a windlass in a way to send the sunshine straight into my windows.”

“Capital! You could do that easily, and if you wanted a green-house on the north side it would only be necessary to set up a few looking-glasses to pour a blazing sun upon it all day long. You might need a little clockwork to keep them adjusted at the right angles, but Yankee invention ought to be equal to that. I have no doubt we shall see patent sunshine-distributors in the market very shortly if your idea gets abroad; in fact, I shouldn’t be surprised to hear that a company proposed to set up mammoth reflectors to keep the sun from setting at all until he drops into the Pacific Ocean.”

“Well, you may laugh at my invention; I shall surely try it when I am obliged to live in a house that does not get sunlight in the regular way. As for the stained glass picture over the chimney-piece, I should like it for the bright color and because the lamps would make it so charming from the street outside. I shall also want colored glass in the upper part of the bay windows. The architect says we can have it and still keep the lower panes clear and large. He sends some sketches by way of suggestion, and thinks we may use it in the lower part of some of the windows to conceal a window-seat or other furniture. I should prefer screens of some other kind in such places, keeping the stained glass up where it would show against the sky. He says this colored glass is not necessarily expensive; that it may be set in common wood-sash or in lead-sash, as we please, and that it will not affect the usual opening and closing of the windows. He advises plate-glass for the larger lights, if we can afford it, not because it gives the house a more elegant appearance, though that is not a wholly unworthy motive, but because a beautiful landscape is so much more beautiful when it can be plainly seen. The instinct that prompts us to throw the window wide open in order to get a more satisfactory view is an unanswerable argument in favor of large, clear lights of glass for windows intended for outlooks.”

“And here is an illustration right before us,” said Jack. “I am impelled by a powerful impulse to open the window and see if I can recognize the lady driving up the street. It wouldn’t be good manners, but I wish the window was plate-glass.”

To Jack’s astonishment, however, Jill threw open the window and waved her handkerchief in cordial salutation as Aunt Jerusha drove slowly up to the house. “Doing her own work” for half a century had not rendered her incapable of taking and enjoying a carriage ride of fifteen miles alone to visit her niece.

Like all wise people who are able to give advice, Aunt Jerusha offered none until it was asked, and then gave only in small doses. She had never seen the house that Jack built, but had heard much of it from the friends and relatives who had never underrated Jill’s obstinacy in refusing to accept it as a permanent home.

“I almost wonder at you, Jill, for being so set against it. I’m sure it’s a fine house and cost a good deal of money. There must be some drawback that doesn’t show. I hope It isn’t haunted.”

“That’s it, Aunt Jerusha; it’s haunted. Several uncomfortable demons have taken possession of it and Jill isn’t able to exorcise them. It was a great grief to me at first, and I made a bargain with Jill to keep still about them, but it is an open secret now and she may tell you everything.”

“Very well. I can easily explain the mystery. The mischief began with the evil spirits of Ignorance and Incompetence. The carpenter who planned the house knew nothing about our tastes or needs, and the builder was unable to make a comfortable flight of stairs, safe chimneys, smooth floors or tight windows. After these two came another pair, worse than the first Ostentation and Avarice. They tried to make a grand display and at the same time a large profit on the job. How can I exorcise such demons as these except by tearing down the house?”

“Couldn’t you sell it, dear? What seem demons to you might appear like angels of light to some one else,” said Aunt Jerusha.

“You are an angel of light to me, Aunt Jerusha,” said Jack. “But I might have known you would stand up for my house.”

“Aunt Jerusha, there isn’t a closet in the whole establishment,” said Jill, solemnly, knowing that defect to be an architectural sin which even her aunt’s broad charity would fail to cover.

“Oh, Jill! where have you laid your conscience? I can’t stay to hear my house abused. Please show Aunt Jerusha the pantry and the china-closet and I will flee to the office.”

“Why, yes, to be sure you have a very nice buttery and china-cupboard.”

“I meant good, generous closets for the chambers. Of course there’s a pantry, but I don’t think the arrangement of shelves, drawers and cupboards is very convenient.”

“It seems very liberal.”

“Yes, but would you advise me to have the pantry in the new house like it?”

“Well, no, dear; since you asked me, I wouldn’t. It is possible to have too many conveniences even in a pantry. It is a good plan to have a few cupboards to keep some things from the dust and others from the light, but most of our raw materials now-a-days come in tight boxes or cans, and I find them more handy standing on the shelves than shut up in drawers. I don’t suppose it would be so in your case, dear, but a drawer sometimes hides very slovenly habits. It is so easy to drop an untidy thing into a drawer and shove it out of sight. These large wooden boxes, all built in with their covers and handles, look nice and handy, but it’s hard to clean them out. I would rather have good wide shelves and light movable tin boxes like those used in the groceries. You could buy them, I suppose, but I had mine made at the tin-shop to fit the shelves. I can take them out and wash them any time, and they never get musty, as wooden boxes will, even with the best of care. But you mustn’t be biased by my old-fashioned notions.”

“I think they are very good notions if they are old-fashioned. If we have cupboards inside the pantry, drawers inside the cupboards, and boxes and cases inside the drawers, finding the spices is like opening a nest of. Chinese puzzles. A mechanic would never hide the tools in his workshop in that way.”

“How do you reach the upper shelves?”

“I never reach them, and all that room is wasted. It is worse than wasted. It is a reservoir for dust and cobwebs.”

“Wouldn’t it be well, dear, if all the upper part was made into cupboards for things seldom used?”

“Indeed it would. I think I will have the new pantry made something like this: low cupboards next to the floor, for things that; need to be shut up and yet must be handy; on the top of these, which will be not quite three feet high, a very wide shelf; over this several open shelves, as high as I can easily reach; and above the shelves, filling the space to the ceiling, short cupboards entirely around the room for cracked dishes that are too good to throw away, but are never used: for ice-cream freezers in the winter, and a great many more things that belong to the same category a sort of hospital for disabled or retired culinary utensils. Now we will look at the china closet, but we shall need the gas in order to see it in all its glory, and you can tell Jack it is lovely with a clear conscience.”

“I never speak without a clear conscience,” said Aunt Jerusha mildly.