All the ladies got a little bag of favors to take home.

Actually, it was a rather heavy bag with an unusual array of gifts: a sewing kit, Granola Breakfast Bars, flower seeds, a Tiger's Milk candy bar, a bottle of Manischewitz grape wine, a coupon for a free car wash, hot pink nail polish, a coupon for 30 percent off on oriental carpets and perfume samples from Gloria Vanderbilt and Polo.

"Well, I really don't have any use for all of this," said a woman in a gold lame' silk dress visiting from New York. "Do you want mine?" Nine hundred business executives (who, for the most part, paid for the tables), Cabinet members and ambassadors filed into the Washington Hilton ballroom for the fourth annual Ambassadors Ball to Benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. They raised $200,000. The crowd was a little smaller than last year's, but appropriately enthusiastic. After all, it was the first charity ball of the season.

"I've been in shorts and jeans all summer," said Marilyn Lewis, wife of Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis. "It feels sort of good to have something near my ankles again."

Everyone wore even tans and kissed as though they knew each other. Table-hopping was at its finest. And every corporate table had its own ambassador--and if it was lucky, it got an administration official, too.

Except for Jordanian Ambassador Abdul Hadi Majali, ambassadors from the Mideast nations were conspicuously absent, with no apparent relationship to the events in Lebanon yesterday.

"It is a tragic thing," Majali said of Gemayel's death. "It is our hope that the violence will stop and this incident will bring good people together to talk peace again."

Secretary of State Shultz was honorary chairman of the event, as secretaries of state often are. He had nothing to say to reporters. But he did dance the first dance with his wife.

The band played "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," and the Secret Service looked on.