The guests began arriving shortly after seven at Seven Oaks, the aristocratic estate of the Van Dykes. The stately manor house had resided over these two thousand acres of countryside for over three hundred years and the number of generations those centuries contained. But quite possibly, this night would be THE night for which this estate had been waiting all these years.
The invitations had gone out three years ago to insure that the invited guests would be available for this night of nights. They had flown in from every nation and with the introduction of holographic transport, they came from every time. This Dinner Party had been named by the press as The Gathering of Greatness. And indeed the greatest minds and talents of all time would be assembled in the Grand Hall for a long, long evening of eternal conversations.
The hand-scribed place cards had been precisely set in the midst of the fine Wedgewood dinnerware, the Waterford crystal glassware, and the sterling silver service. The guests that have arrived in limousines and taxi-cabs, Bentley motorcars and even some in Hansom cabs, are announced as they enter by the rich and resonant voice of Lord Van Dyke's protocol oficer.
The massive oak table had been assembled by twenty craftsman, assembling the many ancient parts first crafted in the 18th century. The hall is lit by sea of chandeliers and the waxy scented rows of candles down the center of the tables. The string quartet is finishing the last of its repertoire while three hundred years of Van Dyke portraits peer down from their oil painted nobility upon these mere mortals who one by one find their appointed place.
Chimes are rung, once and then again. Lord and Lady Van Dyke take their place signaling that the Gathering of Greatness, the Feat of All That Is Famous must now find its well-mannered beginning.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Sir Thomas a Beckett, is asked to offer the word of grace. And then all are seated, ladies first, gentlemen thereafter.