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The Extra Day

1. The Material
Judy, Tim, and Maria were just little children. It was impossible to say exactly what their ages
were, except that they were just the usual age, that Judy was the eldest, Maria the youngest,
and that Tim, accordingly, came in between the two.
Their father did his best for them; so did their mother; so did Aunt Emily, the latter's sister. It is
impossible to say very much about these three either, except that they were just Father, Mother,
and Aunt Emily. They were the Authorities-in-Chief, and they knew respectively everything there
was to be known about such remote and difficult subjects as London and Money; Food, Health
and Clothing; Conduct, Behaviour and Regulations, both general and particular. Into these three
departments of activity the children, without realising that they did so, classed them neatly. Aunt
Emily, besides the special duties assigned to her, was a living embodiment of No. While Father
allowed and permitted, while Mother wobbled and hesitated, Aunt Emily shook her head with
decision, and said distinctly No. She was too full of warnings, advice, and admonitions to get
about much. She wore gold glasses, and had an elastic, pointed nose. From the children's point
of view she must be classed as invalid. Somewhere, deep down inside them, they felt pity.
The trio loved them according to their just deserts; they grasped that the Authorities did their
best for them. This "best," moreover, was done in different ways. Father did it with love and
tenderness, that is, he spoilt them; Mother with tenderness and love, that is, she felt them part
of herself and did not like to hurt herself; Aunt Emily with affectionate and worthy desire to see
them improve, that is, she trained them. Therefore they adored their father, loved their mother,
and thought highly--from a distance preferably--of their aunt.
This was the outward and visible household that an ordinary person, say, a visitor who came to
lunch on Sunday after church, would have noticed. It was the upper layer; but there was an
under layer too. There was Thompson, the old pompous family butler; they trusted him because
he was silent and rarely smiled, winked at their mischief, pretended not to see them when he
caught them in his pantry, and never once betrayed them. There was Mrs. Horton, the fat and
hot-tempered family cook; they regarded her with excitement including dread, because she left
juicy cakes (still wet) upon the dresser, yet denied them the entry into her kitchen. Her first
name being Bridget, there was evidently an Irish strain in her, but there was probably a dash of
French as well, for she was an excellent cook and recipe was her master-word--she pronounced
it "recipee." There was Jackman, the nurse, a mixture of Mother and Aunt Emily; and there was
Weeden, the Head Gardener, an evasive and mysterious personality, who knew so much about
flowers and vegetables and weather that he was half animal, half bird, and scarcely a human
being at all--vaguely magnificent in a sombre way. His power in his own department was
unquestioned. He said little, but it "meant an awful lot"--most of which, perhaps, was not
intended.
These four constituted the under layer of the household, concealed from visitors, and living their
own lives apart behind the scenes. They were the Lesser Authorities.
 
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