For my current manuscript, I’m researching life on a Russian country estate. I already knew Russian landowners had an obscene number of household servants (think upwards of three or four hundred for one family), but today I came across an astounding bit of information about what some of the servants were used for:
…the overabundance of house serfs explains their extraordinarily specific responsibilities. More than one landowner had a man who was responsible solely for holding his pipe and giving it to him to smoke; one mistress kept maids who were each in charge of one particular garment; many retained special cooks for the annual duty of making pancakes at Shrovetide. This bewildering swarm (as foreigners perceived it) customarily occupied separate male and female servants’ wings and had their own kitchen or kitchens, cooking and laundry staff, and bathhouse.
After reading this, naturally I started thinking about which of my least favorite tasks I would like to have a servant to handle. There are so many possibilities. Maybe someone to towel off my dogs as they go in and out all day long, tracking leaves, grass, and mud into my house. Or someone to brush my daughter’s hair every morning as she whines and screams. Someone to fold and put away the laundry would be fabulous. Too many choices!
Please share! What one task would you most like to have a servant perform for you?
REFERENCE: Roosevelt, Priscilla. Life on the Russian Country Estate: A Social and Cultural History. Yale University, 1995.