So, you’re at a house party somewhere in the country (because, where else would you host a house party?) and it’s raining. It’s been raining for days. There’s no chance of a walk, a ride, a little shooting. No impulse to sit in the garden. You’re sitting around the drawing room gazing at the other guests and trying not to yawn. If your hostess has prepared for such an eventuality (and one might hope she would), she will be able to offer you a selection of indoor pastimes.
There is, of course, the inevitable card table. There were many types of games available to the Regency house party. And I’m sure the hostess would be able to provide fish (gaming tokens) so that you may gamble on the outcome.
Not into card games? Perhaps you’d like to do some needlework. Surely you brought yours with you. Or you can take up some that is undoubtedly provided for your sewing pleasure. Not into needlework? How about filigree (or quilling). You probably have to be better coordinated than I am to do this successfully. This is narrow strips of parchment, vellum, even paper, rolled in spirals and scrolls and edge-glued to a flat surface. These can present patterns formed by their exposed edges which remarkably resemble metal filigree. You can produce some pretty amazing things with this technique.
No doubt, the gentlemen are off in the billiard room, smoking and gossiping (although they’ll tell you they never gossip). Maybe you’d like to join them? It must be more interesting than needlework. Maybe they’ll teach you something you don’t know or let your try their cigar. It might be worth a visit.
Perhaps your host and hostess have arranged something special for this house party. Perhaps you and your fellow merry-makers are not sitting around yawning. Perhaps you’re rehearsing for the private theatrical to be staged later in the party. Is it Lover’s Vows as they were rehearsing in Mansfield Park before Sir Thomas came home and spoiled all the fun? Or something even more risque?
Of course, there will be dancing, there will be eating, there will be music. I’m sure Miss Bennington has a lovely voice and Mrs. Lesley is a virtuoso on the pianoforte. And if they’re not, they’ll perform for you anyway.
What would you be doing on a rainy day at the Earl’s estate? Billiards? Risque rehearsals? Or something quieter? Perhaps sneaking off to the library in search of a good book.