Nice subtle reminder of the financial situation of the girls and their mother, here, with the quiet mention of Elinor's negotiating to sell some of their old jewels. Especially timely, as they're just coming back into contact with the Other Dashwoods.
A toothpick case with ivory, AND gold, AND pearls? Can we say "gaudy" ladies and gentlemen?
We get a bit of reinforcement here of the brother himself at least being not completely horrible, since he does seem glad to see his sisters and welcoming and all, although I also note that he's SO BUSY with doing things like taking his son to the zoo and all, which is interfering with his calling upon his sisters when he arrives in town. Also note that his first mention of Mrs. Jennings (and his wanting to meet her) is that she's "a woman of very good fortune." I'm also amused by his talking about how the Middletons are their relations and have a good fortune so OF COURSE they should be going out of their way to make things pleasant for his sisters/step-mother, when he has an even closer relationship and also a good fortune, and can't be bothered. (But I'm sure no one needed me to point that out!) No wonder Elinor is a bit ashamed of him.
It seems that Elinor's brother, like Mrs. Jennings, is attempting to ship (sorry montoya) Elinor and Brandon. We won't even go into his, uh, financial difficulties. *rolls eyes* Or his thoughts that of COURSE Mrs. Jennings will leave her wealth to Elinor and the others, rather than her own biological daughters. Although I think I have to be with the Other Dashwoods in that I think I'd rather have a nice greenhouse than a tangle of thorns on a hill, "picturesque" as the latter might be! (Although glancing over the passage again it looks like they're ditching some walnut trees as well, which isn't so nice.)
Elinor is a better woman than I, to be sincerely pitying Lucy on the occasion of the dinner. Or more of a doormat. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
And... wow, what a company. We've got a whole meeting of The Insipids. The two Miss Steeles (or Misses Steele?), Lady Middleton, Fanny and her mother, and to an extent Mr. Dashwood and some of the others. Good grief, that must be a lovely dinner. *shudder*
I must admit I'm enjoying seeing Edward squirm here, although it's a pity Elinor couldn't be left off the hook. It would be nice to see Lucy squirm too, but she seems to barely feel the awkwardness.
And we finally get to meet Edward's brother, Robert Ferrars the coxcomb. Or we already did earlier in the reading, but we didn't realize it at the time. He of the ivory AND gold AND pearls toothpick-case. Oy. What a family. His little screed on cottages reminds me a bit of Willoughby's earlier in the book, when he's talking about how he'd tear down Combe Magna and rebuild it in the shape of a cottage. Both men are, I would think, rather silly.
It's also a bit telling that Elinor is taken aback by the invitation from her sister to the Steeles to stay with her, since she can't imagine how it would be motivated by malice toward herself - but it IS actually motivated by that.
"When the ladies withdrew to the drawing-room": It was the habit of the day for everyone to dine together, then the ladies would go off into the drawing room (from "withdrawing room" for just this reason) to perhaps drink coffee or something else refreshing and make small talk, engage in female activities, or whatever, while the men sat around the table drinking brandy or some such, possibly smoking cigars, and talking about "male" topics (business, sport, or maybe even *gasp* more bawdy humor, which of course couldn't be mentioned in front of ladies). They'd then eventually drift over into the drawing-room to rejoin the ladies, at their own pace. More special guests would perhaps be invited to actually dine with the family, but other guests might also be invited just to join the group after dinner, at which point they'd just go straight to the drawing room, male or female.
Screens: My own original image of these were the large type screens that divide up a room or what have you, but these would actually be smaller things, often a screen raised to around sitting head height on a base (like this, moved around the room to cut off drafts or to reduce the heat and glare of an open fireplace.
Le schedule. Or El Schedule. Or Il Schedule. Or whatever language you like.