The Hand of Ethelberta
29. Ethelberta's Dressing-Room - Mr.
The dressing of Ethelberta for the dinner-party was an
undertaking into which Picotee threw her whole skill as
tirewoman. Her energies were brisker that day than they had
been at any time since the Julians first made preparations
for departure from town; for a letter had come to her from
Faith, telling of their arrival at the old cathedral city, which
was found to suit their inclinations and habits infinitely better
than London; and that she would like Picotee to visit them
there some day. Picotee felt, and so probably felt the writer
of the letter, that such a visit would not be very practicable
just now; but it was a pleasant idea, and for fastening
dreams upon was better than nothing.
Such musings were encouraged also by Ethelberta's
remarks as the dressing went on.
'We will have a change soon,' she said; 'we will go out of
town for a few days. It will do good in many ways. I am
getting so alarmed about the health of the children; their
faces are becoming so white and thin and pinched that an
old acquaintance would hardly know them; and they were so
plump when they came. You are looking as pale as a ghost,
and I daresay I am too. A week or two at Knollsea will see us
'O, how charming!' said Picotee gladly.
Knollsea was a village on the coast, not very far from
Melchester, the new home of Christopher; not very far, that
is to say, in the eye of a sweetheart; but seeing that there
was, as the crow flies, a stretch of thirty-five miles between
the two places, and that more than one-third the distance
was without a railway, an elderly gentleman might have