The Hand of Ethelberta
19. Ethelberta's Drawing-Room
Picotee's heart was fitfully glad. She was near the man who
had enlarged her capacity from girl's to woman's, a little note
or two of young feeling to a whole diapason; and though
nearness was perhaps not in itself a great reason for felicity
when viewed beside the complete realization of all that a
woman can desire in such circumstances, it was much in
comparison with the outer darkness of the previous time.
It became evident to all the family that some
misunderstanding had arisen between Ethelberta and Mr.
Julian. What Picotee hoped in the centre of her heart as to
the issue of the affair it would be too complex a thing to say.
If Christopher became cold towards her sister he would not
come to the house; if he continued to come it would really be
as Ethelberta's lover--altogether, a pretty game of perpetual
check for Picotee.
He did not make his appearance for several days. Picotee,
being a presentable girl, and decidedly finer-natured than
her sisters below stairs, was allowed to sit occasionally with
Ethelberta in the afternoon, when the teaching of the little
ones had been done for the day; and thus she had an
opportunity of observing Ethelberta's emotional condition
with reference to Christopher, which Picotee did with an
interest that the elder sister was very far from suspecting.
At first Ethelberta seemed blithe enough without him. One
more day went, and he did not come, and then her manner
was that of apathy. Another day passed, and from fanciful
elevations of the eyebrow, and long breathings, it became
apparent that Ethelberta had decidedly passed the
indifferent stage, and was getting seriously out of sorts about
him. Next morning she looked all hope. He did not come that
day either, and Ethelberta began to look pale with fear.
'Why don't you go out?' said Picotee timidly.