The Hand of Ethelberta
30. On The Housetop
'Picotee, are you asleep?' Ethelberta whispered softly at
dawn the next morning, by the half-opened door of her
'No, I keep waking, it is so warm.'
'So do I. Suppose we get up and see the sun rise. The east
is filling with flame.'
'Yes, I should like it,' said Picotee.
The restlessness which had brought Ethelberta hither in
slippers and dressing-gown at such an early hour owed its
origin to another cause than the warmth of the weather; but
of that she did not speak as yet. Picotee's room was an attic,
with windows in the roof--a chamber dismal enough at all
times, and very shadowy now. While Picotee was wrapping
up, Ethelberta placed a chair under the window, and
mounting upon this they stepped outside, and seated
themselves within the parapet.
The air was as clear and fresh as on a mountain side;
sparrows chattered, and birds of a species unsuspected at
later hours could be heard singing in the park hard by, while
here and there on ridges and flats a cat might be seen going
calmly home from the devilries of the night to resume the
amiabilities of the day.
'I am so sorry I was asleep when you reached home,' said
Picotee. 'I was so anxious to tell you something I heard of,
and to know what you did; but my eyes would shut, try as I
might, and then I tried no longer. Did you see me at all,
'Never once. I had an impression that you were there. I
fancied you were from father's carefully vacuous look
whenever I glanced at his face. But were you careful about
what you said, and did you see Menlove? I felt all the time