Guests' Talk During the Quarter of an Hour before Dinner What Guests May Talk About Talking to One's Dinner-Companion Guests' Duty to Host and Hostess The Dominant Note in Table-Talk General and Tête-
His assistants worked hard in back streets and trod the dusty byways, succoring the small fry, while he stepped on velvet carpets and cast his net for the larger fish. Was not Dives as well worth saving as Lazarus and better worth it for Rimmon's purposes! And surely he was a more agreeable dinner-companion.
"The person next to you must be bored by my conversation, for it is going into one of your ears and out of the other," said a talker rather testily to his inattentive dinner-companion whose absent-minded and tardy replies had been snapping the thread of the thought until it grew intolerable.
And it would be astonishing to find how soon the change is felt if we had no kindred changes to compare with it. To share lodgings with a brilliant dinner-companion, or to see your favorite politician in the Ministry, may bring about changes quite as rapid: in these cases too we begin by knowing little and believing much, and we sometimes end by inverting the quantities.
While one talks to one's dinner-companion in a low voice, however, it needs nice discrimination not to seem to talk under one's breath, or to say anything to a left-hand neighbor which would not be appropriate for a right-hand neighbor to hear.
A guest's first duty is to his dinner-companion, the person with whom, according to the prearranged plan of the hostess, he enters the dining-room and by whom he finds himself seated at table. His next duty is to his hosts. He has also an abstract conversational duty to his next nearest neighbor at table.
When she was presented in the drawing-room to the eminent man who was to take her in to dinner, her hostess opened the conversation by informing the noted guest that his new acquaintance, just that morning, had had conferred upon her the degree of doctor of philosophy, which was the reason she had been assigned as dinner-companion to so profound a man.
To one's dinner-companion, if he happens to be a familiar acquaintance, one can even forget to taboo dress, disease, and domestics. One might likewise, with discretion, set at liberty the usually forbidden talk of "shop," on condition that such intimate conversation is to one's dinner-companion alone and is not dragged into the general flights of the table-talk.
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