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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1886

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pieces chosen on these occasions should not be long ones, and a good break should be made between each song, solo or recitation for conversation, people going more to these entertainments to meet their friends and have a chat than for the sake of the music. Introductions are not the rule at "at homes," but they can be made when there is any necessity. The tea is not served in the drawing-room as at smaller " at homes," but at a buffet in the dining-room, where people go during the afternoon, or sometimes as they leave, to partake of the light refreshments provided.

Women-servants, or sometimes hired attendants, do all the work of pouring out tea or wine or handing sandwiches, etc., unless gentlemen bring refreshments for ladies to where they are seated. At the buffet, people may help themselves or be helped by gentlemen if there be not a sufficient number of attendants.

A weekly "At Home" tea is served upon small tables, the servant before bringing it in seeing that one is placed conveniently near his mistress, who generally dispenses the tea. No plates are given for a tea of this kind, and the servant or servants, after seeing that all is in readiness, leave the room, the gentlemen of the party doing all the waiting that is necessary.

The tea equipage is usually placed upon a silver salver, the hot water is in a small silver or china kettle on a stand, and the cups are small. Thin "bread and butter, cake, and sometimes fresh fruit are all the eatables given.

High tea.—In some houses it is a permanent institution, quite taking the place of late dinner, and to many it is a most enjoyable meal, young people preferring it to dinner, it being a movable feast that can be partaken of at hours which will not interfere with tennis, boating or other amusements, and but little formality is needed. At the usual high tea there are probably to be found one or two small hot dishes, cold chickens, or game, tongue or ham, salad, cakes of various kinds, sometimes cold fruit tarts, with cream or custard, and fresh fruit. Any supper dish, however, can be introduced, and much more elaborate meals be served, while sometimes the tea and coffee are relegated to the sideboard, and wine only, in the way of drink, put upon the table. In summer it is not unusual to have everything cold at a high tea.

At Family teas, cake, preserve, sardines, potted meats, buttered toast, tea cakes and fruit are often provided, in addition to the tea, coffee, and bread and butter. Watercress and radishes are nice accompaniments in summer.

The hours for family teas may vary in many households, but are generally governed by the time of the dinner that has preceded them, and the kind of supper partaken of afterwards. Where this is of a very light character, such as a glass of wine and a slice of cake, or the more homely glass of beer and bread and cheese, a 6 to 7 o'clock tea would not be late, and a few savouries or eggs would be needed in