Friday, November 13, 2009

When Dinner Is Announced

It is the duty of the butler to "count heads" so that he may know when the company has arrived. As soon as he has announced the last person, he notifies the cook. The cook being ready, the butler, having glanced into the dining-room to see that windows have been closed and the candles on the table lighted, enters the drawing-room, approaches the hostess, bows, and says quietly, "Dinner is served."

The host offers his arm to the lady of honor and leads the way to the dining-room. All the other gentlemen offer their arms to the ladies appointed to them, and follow the host, in an orderly procession, two and two; the only order of precedence is that the host and his partner lead, while the hostess and her partner come last. At all formal dinners, place cards being on the table, the hostess does not direct people where to sit. If there was no table diagram in the hall, the butler, standing just within the dining-room door, tells each gentleman as he approaches "Right" or "Left."

"R" or "L" is occasionally written on the lady's name card in the envelopes given to the gentlemen, or if it is such a big dinner that there are many separate tables, the tables are numbered with standing placards (as at a public dinner) and the table number written on each lady's name card.

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