The Idle Servant by Maes

DRUDGERY is a burden and housework day in and day out a bore. The hours are long. Rooms are cleaned, only to be cleaned again. Dishes are washed, only to be dirtied at the next meal. And so, in all ages, servants have sometimes slept at their work.

The ladies of Holland had their domestic problems too. You had to be snapping at servants constantly, watching them every minute, to get things done. It was easy for a Dutch housewife of the seventeenth century to see the humor of this unpretentious little drama. She would not be bitter about things like this. As a matter of fact, she seems quietly amused. Chatting in her parlor with her neighbor's wife, she might point to this painting, shrug her shoulders and say, "It is so hard these days, my dear friend, to keep a house running smoothly. I don't think our husbands appreciate what we must put up with to make them comfortable. But what is to be done to these lazy girls?"

Pictures like this were not made to be placed in museums or described at great length in encyclopedias. Men painted them to sell them. And if they amused people, people bought them and kept them in their homes. And saw them and were amused because-look! that very thing happened to me yesterday!

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