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The Hand of Ethelberta

23. Ethelberta's House (Continued)
Picotee was heard on the stairs: Ethelberta covered her
face.
'Is he waiting?' she said faintly, on finding that Picotee did
not begin to speak.
'No; he is gone,' said Picotee.
'Ah, why is that?' came quickly from under the handkerchief.
'He has forgotten me--that's what it is!'
'O no, he has not!' said Picotee, just as bitterly.
Ethelberta had far too much heroism to let much in this strain
escape her, though her sister was prepared to go any
lengths in the same. 'I suppose,' continued Ethelberta, in the
quiet way of one who had only a headache the matter with
her, 'that he remembered you after the meeting at
Anglebury?'
'Yes, he remembered me.'
'Did you tell me you had seen him before that time?'
'I had seen him at Sandbourne. I don't think I told you.'
'At whose house did you meet him?'
'At nobody's. I only saw him sometimes,' replied Picotee, in
great distress.
Ethelberta, though of all women most miserable, was
brimming with compassion for the throbbing girl so nearly
related to her, in whom she continually saw her own weak
points without the counterpoise of her strong ones. But it
was necessary to repress herself awhile: the intended ways
of her life were blocked and broken up by this jar of interests,
and she wanted time to ponder new plans. 'Picotee, I would
rather be alone now, if you don't mind,' she said. 'You need
not leave me any light; it makes my eyes ache, I think.'
Picotee left the room. But Ethelberta had not long been
alone and in darkness when somebody gently opened the
door, and entered without a candle.
 
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