As If I didn't have enough work to do! Now the Mistress has given me an extra job. She handed me two tiny beehive shapes, each the size of a good walnut. 'Empty them,' she says to me.
Well, I didn't see how that could be done and said as much.
'Use a button-hook,' she shouted and then gave me further instructions so this is what I have been doing, without knowing why.
Once the mess was removed, with the button hook, I had to melt some wax, add a little perfume and refill the beehives. Then I placed them in the larder to cool. Such a fiddly job. There is some talent in getting the wax to the right temperature so it's not too runny, yet not too solid either. I told you before how difficult the life of an upstairs made can be, didn't I?
Later when the hives were cold I carried them up to the Mistress's bedroom. And this is what made me giggle. I had dressed her hair and was about to button up her ball gown when she took the little brown beehives, decorated with tiny holes, and placed one in each armpit. Of course I had to ask what for.
She was in a good mood and here's what she said. 'As I dance and begin to glow the wax will melt and give off a perfume. You know that men and lice enjoy the scent of roses. It attracts both. The lice will run up my body, wriggle through the holes in these tiny objects and die a perfumed death as they become stuck in the wax.'
Oh, I did laugh. And then the Mistress joined me. Together we danced around the room and giggling, she whispered, 'By the time my beloved escorts me to the garden to embrace me his kisses will not be interrupted by me having to scratch.'
It was only after we had dried our tears of laughter that she told me the whole darned thing has to be repeated tomorrow. I have to dispose of waxy fleas with the button hook.
These flea catchers can be seen in a curio case at A La Ronde, twixt Exeter and Exmouth.