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West coasts. The industrial and agricultural heartland

source:Battle-experiencededit:naturetime:2023-11-29 15:49:53

And now the day of the party had arrived. The bishop and his wife came down from town, only on the morning of the eventful day, as behoved such great people to do; but Mr Slope had toiled day and night to see that everything should be in right order. There had been much to do. No company had been seen in the palace since heaven knows when. New furniture had been required, new pots and pans, new cups and saucers, new dishes and plates. Mrs Proudie had first declared that she would condescend to nothing so vulgar as eating and drinking; but Mr Slope had talked, or rather written her out of economy!--bishops should be given to hospitality, and hospitality meant eating and drinking. So the supper was conceded; the guests, however, were to stand as they consumed it.

West coasts. The industrial and agricultural heartland

There were four rooms opening into each other on the first floor of the house, which were denominated the drawing-rooms, the reception-room, and Mrs Proudie's boudoir. In olden days one of these had been Bishop Grantly's bed-room, and another his common, sitting-room and study. The present bishop, however, had been moved down into a back parlour, and had been given to understand that he could very well receive his clergy in the dining-room, should they arrive in too large a flock to be admitted to his small sanctum. He had been unwilling to yield, but after a short debate had yielded.

West coasts. The industrial and agricultural heartland

Mrs Proudie's heart beat high as she inspected her suite of rooms. They were really very magnificent, or at least would be so by candlelight; and they had nevertheless been got up with commendable economy. Large rooms when full of people, and full of light look well, because they are large, and are full, and are light. Small rooms are those which require costly fittings and rich furniture. Mrs Proudie knew this, and made the most of it; she had therefore a huge gas lamp with a dozen burners hanging from each of the ceilings.

West coasts. The industrial and agricultural heartland

People were to arrive at ten, supper was to last from twelve to one, and at half-past one everybody was to be gone. Carriages were to come in at the gate in the town and depart at the gate outside. They were desired to take up at a quarter before one. It was managed excellently, and Mr Slope was invaluable.

At half-past nine the bishop and his wife and their three daughters entered the great reception-room, and very grand and very solemn they were. Mr Slope was down-stairs giving the last orders about the wine. He well understood that curates and country vicars with their belongings did not require so generous an article as the dignitaries of the close. There is a useful gradation in such things, and Marsala at 20s a dozen did very well for the exterior supplementary tables in the corner.

'Bishop,' said the lady, as his lordship sat himself down, 'don't sit on that sofa, if you please; it is to be kept separate for a lady.'

The bishop jumped up and seated himself on a cane-bottomed chair. 'A lady?' he inquired meekly; 'do you mean one particular lady, my dear?'

'Yes, bishop, one particular lady,' said his wife, disdaining to explain.

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