same. Both were of huge dimensions; that on the outer side, one may say, on an egregious scale; but Mr Pomney declared that neither would be sufficient. To remedy this, an auxiliary banquet was prepared in the dining–room, and a subsidiary board was to be spread sub dio for the accommodation of the lower class of yokels on the Ullathorne property.

No one who has not had a hand in the preparation of such an affair can understand the manifold difficulties which Miss Thorne encountered in her project. Had she not been made throughout of the very finest whalebone, rivetted with the best Yorkshire steel, she must have sunk under them. Had not Mr Pomney felt how much was justly expected from a man who at one time carried the destinies of Europe in his boot, he would have given way; and his mistress, so deserted, must have perished among her poles and canvass.

In the first place there was a dreadful line to be drawn. Who was to dispose themselves within the ha–ha, and who without? To this the unthinking will give an off–hand answer, as they will to every ponderous question. Oh, the bishop and such like within the ha–ha; and Farmer Greenacre and such without. True, my unthinking friend; but who shall define these such–likes? It is in such definitions that the whole difficulty of society consists. To seat the bishop on an arm chair on the lawn and place Farmer Greenacre at the end of a long table in the paddock is easy enough; but where will you put Mrs Lookaloft, whose husband, though a tenant on the estate, hunts in a red coat, whose daughters go to a fashionable seminary in Barchester, who calls her farm house Rosebank, and who has a pianoforte in her drawing–room? The Misses Lookaloft, as they call themselves, won’t sit contented among the bumpkins. Mrs Lookaloft won’t squeeze her fine clothes on a bench and talk familiarly about cream and ducklings to good Mrs Greenacres. And yet Mrs Lookaloft is not fit companion and never has been the associate of the Thornes and the Grantlys. And if Mrs Lookaloft be admitted within the sanctum of fashionable life, if she be allowed with her three daughters to leap the ha–ha, why not the wives and daughters of other families also? Mrs Greenacre is at present well contented with the paddock, but she might cease to be so if she saw Mrs Lookaloft on the lawn. And thus poor Miss Thorne had a hard time of it.

And how was she to divide the guests between the marquee and the parlour? She had a countess coming, and Honourable John and an Honourable George, and a whole bevy of Ladies Amelia, Rosina, Margaretta &c; she had a leash of baronets with their baronesses; and, as we all know, a bishop. If she put them on the lawn, no one would go into the parlour; if she put them into the parlour, no one would go into the tent. She thought of keeping the old people in the house, and leaving the lawn to the lovers. She might as well have seated herself at once in a hornet’s nest. Mr Pomney knew better than this. ‘Bless your soul, Ma’am,’ said he, ‘there won’t be no old ladies; not one, barring yourself and old Mrs Chantantrum.’

Personally Miss Thorne accepted this distinction in her favour as a compliment to her good sense; but nevertheless she had no desire to be closeted on the coming occasion with Mrs Chantantrum. She gave up all idea of any arbitrary division of her guests, and determined if possible to put the bishop on the lawn and the countess in the house, to sprinkle the baronets, and thus divide the attractions. What to do with the Lookalofts even Mr Plomacy could not decide. They must take their chance. They had been specially told in the invitation that all the tenants had been invited; and they might probably have the good sense to stay away if they objected to mix with the rest of the tenantry.

Then Mr Plomacy declared his apprehension that the Honourable Johns and Honourable Georges would come in a sort of amphibious costume, half morning half evening, satin neckhandkerchiefs, frock coats, primrose gloves, and polished boots; and that being so dressed, they would decline riding at the quintain, or taking part in any of the athletic games which Miss Thorne had prepared with so much care. If the Lord Johns and Lord Georges didn’t ride at the quintain, Miss Thorne might be sure that nobody else would.

‘But,’ said she in dolorous voice, all but overcome by her cares; ‘it was specially signified that there were to be sports.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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