Hello, Amy. How's everything going? The doctor feels the maid will get better? It will just take time? Well, that's good news. The family you live with in the 1800s is going to hire another maid? Well, that's good news, too.
And that sigh of yours is because ...
You're exhausted from helping out around the house so much?
Of course you need to help out. Why wouldn't you?
Oh, c'mon, now. What could you possibly be feeling overwhelmed about?
Afternoon Tea? The mistress of the house wants you to serve afternoon tea for the ladies she's invited over today?
Well, that doesn't sound too difficult to me. Let's see ...
Afternoon tea is simply a light meal held around 4pm or 5pm, a custom originating in England in the 1840s. It began with the wealthy class, but was soon adopted by the middle class as well.
It allows for socializing with one another, or meeting new people. Gossip is quite normal during afternoon tea, so I'm pretty sure you'll hear some.
Tea drinking made its way to Europe in the 1600s when routes from Asia were opened. It was only the wealthy who could afford this rich, fragrant tea, but when different types of tea soon became readily available, the cost lowered, allowing the middle class to join the custom as well.
It is said that Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford in England, (1783 - 1857) who was a great friend of Queen Victoria, was the one who initially devised the idea of afternoon tea. It filled in the gap between breakfast and the common late dinners of the time, when she and the queen were keen for a little "something" to relieve their hunger.
Also referred to as "low tea" because it is served on low coffee tables during what in the 19th century is considered to be the "low" point of the afternoon, the tea must be served with many bite-sized items that you will need to prepare.
I honestly can't hear you when you're whining.
Okay, here are some suggestions for you regarding the menu:
Tea (of course) with milk and sugar
Sandwiches (with the crusts cut off)
Scones served with jam
Pastries, cookies and cake
See? Doesn't sound terrible, right?
The lady of the house told you that a baker will be arriving shortly with a supply of freshly baked goods? Well, that will help you greatly. When you have completed making the sandwiches (sandwiches made with cucumber or honey would be good), simply cut them into finger-food sizes and serve them on the finest china the mistress has, along with her finest silverware. Don't forget the linen napkins.