Illuminated initial A

At Caversham there was a very grand party,—as grand almost as a dinner party can be in the country. There were the Earl and Countess of Loddon and Lady Jane Pewet from Loddon Park, and the bishop and his wife, and the Hepworths. These, with the Carburys and the parson's family, and the people staying in the house, made twenty-four at the dinner table. As there were fourteen ladies and only ten men, the banquet can hardly be said to have been very well arranged. But those things cannot be done in the country with the exactness which the appliances of London make easy; and then the Longestaffes, though they were decidedly people of fashion, were not famous for their excellence in arranging such matters. If aught, however, was lacking in exactness, it was made up in grandeur. There were three powdered footmen, and in that part of the country Lady Pomona alone was served after this fashion; and there was a very heavy butler, whose appearance of itself was sufficient to give éclat to a family. The grand saloon in which nobody ever lived was thrown open, and sofas and chairs on which nobody ever sat were uncovered. It was not above once in the year that this kind of thing was done at Caversham; but when it was done, nothing was spared which could contribute to the magnificence of the fête. Lady Pomona and her two tall daughters standing up to receive the little Countess of Loddon and Lady Jane Pewet, who was the image of her mother on a somewhat smaller scale, while Madame Melmotte and Marie stood behind as though ashamed of themselves, was a sight to see. Then the Carburys came, and then Mrs. Yeld with the bishop. The grand room was soon fairly full; but nobody had a word to say. The bishop was generally a man of much conversation, and Lady Loddon, if she were well pleased with her listeners, could talk by the hour without ceasing. But on this occasion nobody could utter a word. Lord Loddon pottered about, making a feeble attempt, in which he was seconded by no one. Lord Alfred stood, stock-still, stroking his grey moustache [Chapter 20 — complete text of the chapter. Emphasis added]

Related material

Last modified 19 November 2019