So…let’s pay some calls. It’s 3:00 pm, the accepted time to begin to pay morning calls. Yes, morning calls—morning is loosely defined as the time after breakfast and before dinner. We’re suitably dressed, with that elegant new hat that just arrived yesterday from the milliner’s shop and spotless gloves and our ever-so-pretty carved mother-of-pearl and tortoise-shell card case with the cards engraved with our name in fine copperplate. The coachman awaits us with the carriage at the door, and the footman is ready to help us climb in and then take his place riding on the little platform at the back of the carriage…
…except that there are different types of calls. Which shall we make, and where? Let’s have a look at our options:
1. Acknowledgement calls: Lady Violet Hyacinth gave such a splendid dinner last night! We’ll call on her first; it’s only polite to pay a call on hostesses within three days of attending a party or ball given by them. If it had been a ball she gave, we’d just leave a card…but for a dinner or more intimate party, it’s proper to call in person.
2. Leaving cards: We were introduced to Lady A last night at Lady Hyacinth’s party. She seems very amusing, and it would be pleasant to get to know her better. We’ll stop at her house and give the footman one of our cards to leave with her…oh, yes, Papa said that knowing Lord A could be useful for his work on the army bill in Parliament…so we’ll send in two of his cards (one each for Lord A and Lady A) and one of ours. Some time in the next week or so Lady A will return the favor and leave cards for us. If she wants to be friendly, the card she sends up will have the corner bent over—that means she’s leaving the card in person, not just having servants leave the card as a friendly gesture. If we actually home, we’ll invite her in to pay an actual visit. If she doesn’t choose to pursue the acquaintanceship but still wishes to be cordial, the cards she sends up won’t have a bent corner.
3. Visiting during an "at home": Lady B is always "at home" to callers on Tuesdays between three and five. She’s a bit of a bore, but she is a distant cousin and one should keep up the connection. We’ll stop in for the proper fifteen minutes, make light, general conversation without removing hats or gloves or pelisses (and if Papa were with us, he'd keep his hat and umbrella), and leave.
4. Calling on best friends: It’s just past five and we’ve paid several different calls this afternoon—now it’s time to visit our dearest friends, for this hour is reserved for calling on close friends. We’ll catch up on gossip and news, and maybe darling Lucy will give us a cup of tea because we’re parched after all the smiling and chatting we've done elsewhere. Refreshments are not generally served to morning callers, but certainly to friends in need!