“We positioned the place cards, lettered in Lady Violet's finest hand, according to her carefully sketched seating plan. The importance of placement, Nancy advised, could not be overestimated. Indeed, according to her, the success or failure of a dinner party hinged entirely on the seating arrangement. Evidently Lady Violet's reputation as a "perfect" hostess, rather than merely a "good" one, resulted from her ability to first invite the right people and then seat them prudently, peppering the witty and entertaining amongst the dull but important.”
“Lord Ashbury had one of the first home telephone systems in England, a fact of which all who served in the house were immeasurably proud. The main receiver box was tucked away in Mr. Hamilton's pantry foyer so that he might, on such thrilling occasions as when it rang, access it directly and transfer the call upstairs. Despite this well-organized system, such occasions rarely arose, as regrettably few of Lord and Lady Ashbury's friends had telephones of their own. Nonetheless, the telephone was regarded with an almost religious awe, and visiting staff were always given reason to enter the foyer where they might observe at first hand the sacred object and, perforce, appreciate the superiority of the Riverton household.”
“The rain is on its way. My lower back is far more sensitive than any meteorologist's equipment and last night I lay awake, bone moaning to bone, whispering tales of long-ago litheness. I arched and bowed my stiff old frame: nuisance became frustration, frustration became boredom, and boredom became terror. Terror that the night would never end and I would be trapped forever in its long lonely tunnel.”
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