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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A New Novel, Part 58 Dinner Setting

Some more description and a transition to get you to dinner with Aksinya and Natalya.

They made their way out of the dormitory and through the corridor on the lower floor of the school. The elementary level girls stood in careful lines with their teachers ahead of them. The older girls stood in the halls and waited for the supper bells. They all carefully scrutinized Aksinya and Natalya as the two of them followed Frau Drescher and the Reverend Mother. Whispers followed in their wake. The corridor from the school ended in a door barred to the outside. On the left was a large double door with a rounded top that led into the convent. Just before six, the Reverend Mother opened the doors and nodded to the elderly sister inside. The sister picked up a small block bell and a matching mallet. She rang the quiet bell and began to move among the girls in the hall, and they began to file into the room.

The Reverend Mother and Frau Drescher led Aksinya and Natalya into the large dining room. There were at least twenty tables. The tables were round and each had ten chairs around them. They were covered with lace tablecloths and full silver place settings with cloth napkins. Maids and novice nuns stood at the sides of the room.

As I mentioned before, part of the importance of an education in this period is etiquette and decorum.  We will see this in great detail as we move in the world of 1918 in this novel.  We can see the setting for dinner at Sacré Coeur is very formal.  The uniforms are not completely formal, but they are uniforms and considered appropriate for dinner wear. 
I also showed you a little of the students and the school.  It's a typical convent school at the time.  The convent novices provide the labor and serve the meals.  There are maids as well--that indicates the number of novice nuns.  There are enough, but not enough to staff so large a dinner. 
You might also note, I intend to use the word luncheon for the midday meal and dinner or supper for the evening meal.  A supper is a less formal meal with the family and usually not in courses.  Dinner is a formal and long meal.  This was common at this time.  Today, we use the words interchangeably, they were not interchangeable in the near past.

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