Great was the excitement and preparation going on among those invited to participate in the coming festivities. Of all the places in the county, Vellenaux was considered the most suitable for the purpose of a Fancy Dress Ball. There had not been anything of the kind within a circuit of fifty miles, for at least as many years. The grand old hall, with its banners and knightly armour of different periods, the magnificent apartments filled with curiously carved antique furniture, ancient mirrors and embroidered tapestries, all of which would harmonize with the costumes of those who would figure about for the nonce. Of course the characters to be assumed were to be kept a secret until they appeared in the ball room. Edith entered with enthusiasm into all the arrangements necessary on the occasion, and was materially assisted by the good taste and judgment of Arthur, to whom she turned for counsel when at fault as to the grouping of statuary or position of pictures, and the toute ensemble of the salle-a-manger.
The spacious old picture gallery with its Gothic windows of stained glass was fitted up as the dancing hall. The statuary armour, banners, and ancient weapons of past generations had been brought from the Hall and placed in different positions along the oak pannelled walls, while large bunches of dark green holly with the bright scarlet berries, peeping out here and there was hung between the antique pictures of brave Knights and fair Dames, ancestors of the Coleman family, that seemed to look down from their massive frames upon the fantastic scenes below. The oaken floor was covered with a cloth, figured to represent a tesselated pavement. At the upper end a dais had been erected, surmounted by an antique chair of state, with several others of the same description, but smaller on each side. The orchestra was in a small gallery that crossed the hall at the lower end, the whole brilliantly illuminated by three massive chandeliers, the adjoining apartments were arranged as refreshment and supper rooms.
The Ball was opened with a triple set of quadrilles. The top set, nearest to the dais or place of honour, was composed as follows: Sir Jasper as the fine old English gentleman in doublet and trunk hose, with Edith, looking very lovely, as the Lady Rowena; their vis a vis being Julia Barton, in the character of Mary Stuart, attended by Arthur, dressed as a Light Dragoon of the period. The side couples were, Kate Cotterell, bewitchingly pretty, in the costume of Rebecca the Jewess, assisted by Tom Barton as the famous Robin Hood. Emily Barton represented, with very good effect, Maid Marion, under the escort of young Snaffle of the Lancers, who rode over from the nearest Garrison Town to captivate some stray heart by personating Young Lochinvar. The other two sets, figuring in costumes as handsome as they were varied, were made up of the youth and beauty of the neighbourhood, with the exception of the bottom