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LORD MELBOURNE

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there was still time for a little more fun before dinner—a game of battledore and shuttlecockx) perhaps, a romp *) along the galleries with some children. Dinner came, and the ceremonial decidedly tightened. The gentleman of highest rank sat on the right hand of the Queen; on her left—it soon became an established rule—sat Lord Melbourne. After the ladies had left the dining-room, the gentlemen were not permitted to remain behind for very long; indeed, the short time allowed them for their wine-drinking formed the subject—so it was rumoured— of one of the few disputes between the Queen and her Prime Minister; but her determination carried the day, and from that moment after-dinner drunkenness began to go out of fashion. When the company was reassembled in the drawing-room the etiquette was stiff. For a few minutes the Queen spoke in turn to each one of her guests; and during these short uneasy colloquies the aridity3) of royalty was apt to become painfully evident. One night Mr. Greville, the Clerk of the Privy Council, was present; his turn soon came; the middle-aged, hard-faced viveur was addressed by his young hostess. 'Have you been riding to-day, Mr. Greville?' asked the Queen. 'No, Madam, I have not, 'replied Mr. Greville. 'It was a fine day,' continued the Queen. 'Yes ,Madam, a very fine day,' said Mr. Greville. 'It was rather cold, though, 'said the Queen. 'It was rather cold, Madam,' said Mr. Greville. 'Your sister, Lady Frances Egerton, rides, I think, doesn't she?' said the Queen. 'She does ride sometimes, Madam,' said Mr. Greville. There was a pause,

1. .The game of battledore and shuttlecock is a children's game. The battledore resembles a racket in tennis but it is made of parchment and much smaller; the shuttlecock is a cork stuck with feathers in various colours and taking the place of the ball in tennis.

2. to romp: to play, chasing each other and wrestling, exclusively said «f children.

3. aridity: dryness, emptiness.

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