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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/47

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25
THE MISTRESS

refreshments. A supper is also often provided at private parties; and this requires, on the part of the hostess, a great deal of attention and supervision. It usually takes place between the first and second parts of the dances arranged. Programmes of these dances are printed in various forms, and have pencils attached. The monogram of the hostess, or the name of the house, with the date of the party, frequently heads these programmes.

At Private Parties, a lady should not refuse the invitation of a gentleman to dance, unless she be previously engaged. The hostess must be supposed to have asked to her house only those persons whom she knows to be of good character, as well as fairly equal position; hence to decline the offer of any gentleman present would be a tacit reflection on the master and mistress of the house. It may be mentioned here that an introduction at balls or evening parties does not necessarily involve a subsequent acquaintanceship, no introduction, at these times, giving a gentleman a right afterwards to address a lady. She is consequently free next morning to pass her partner at a ball of the previous evening without the slightest recognition, if she prefers to do so.

Dancing.—The ball is generally opened by the lady of the house. Whilst the host will usually lead off the dance with the lady highest in rank of those present or the greatest stranger, it will be well for the hostess, even if she is an ardent and accomplished dancer, not to indulge in the art to an unlimited extent, as the duties of entertaining make considerable demands on her attention and time. A few dances will suffice to show that she shares in the pleasures of the evening.

The hostess and host, during the progress of a ball, will chat with their friends, and take care the ladies are furnished with seats, and that those who wish to dance are provided with partners. A gentle hint from the hostess that a lady lacks a partner during several dances, is certain not to be neglected by any gentleman. In this way the comfort and enjoyment of the guests can be promoted, and no lady will experience the sensation of being a wallflower throughout the evening. Beside her other cares, the mistress has frequently the added duties of a chaperon either of her own or some friend's daughters. Without making vexatious regulations, or preventing the enjoyment of her charges, she must be able to ensure their doing nothing that is either outré or in bad form. At a ball she will take special care that her charges always know where to find her, though no reasonable chaperon will expect a girl to be always with her.

Departure.—When any of the carriages are announced, or the time for the departure of the guests arrives, they should bid farewell to the hostess, without attracting the attention of the other guests to their departure. If this cannot be done, without creating too much bustle, it will be better for the visitors to retire quietly without taking their leave. Within a week of the entertainment, the hostess should receive from every guest a call, where possible, or cards expressing the gratifica-