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The Hand of Ethelberta

26. Ethelberta's Drawing-Room
While Ethelberta during the next few days was dismissing
that evening journey from her consideration, as an incident
altogether foreign to the organized course of her existence,
the hidden fruit thereof was rounding to maturity in a species
unforeseen.
Inferences unassailable as processes, are, nevertheless, to
be suspected, from the almost certain deficiency of
particulars on some side or other. The truth in relation to
Neigh's supposed frigidity was brought before her at the end
of the following week, when Dan and Sol had taken Picotee,
Cornelia, and the young children to Kew for the afternoon.
Early that morning, hours before it was necessary, there had
been such a chatter of preparation in the house as was
seldom heard there. Sunday hats and bonnets had been
retrimmed with such cunning that it would have taken a
milliner's apprentice at least to discover that any thread in
them was not quite new. There was an anxious peep
through the blind at the sky at daybreak by Georgina and
Myrtle, and the perplexity of these rural children was great at
the weather-signs of the town, where atmospheric effects
had nothing to do with clouds, and fair days and foul came
apparently quite by chance. Punctually at the hour appointed
two friendly human shadows descended across the kitchen
window, followed by Sol and Dan, much to the relief of the
children's apprehensions that they might forget the day.
The brothers were by this time acquiring something of the
airs and manners of London workmen; they were less
spontaneous and more comparative; less genial, but
smarter; in obedience to the usual law by which the emotion
that takes the form of humour in country workmen becomes
transmuted to irony among the same order in town. But the
fixed and dogged fidelity to one another under apparent
 
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