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The Hand of Ethelberta

34. The Hotel Beau Sejour And Spots Near It
The next day, much to Ethelberta's surprise, there was a letter for
her in her mother's up-hill hand. She neglected all the rest of its
contents for the following engrossing sentences:--
'Menlove has wormed everything out of poor Joey, we find, and
your father is much upset about it. She had another quarrel with
him, and then declared she would expose you and us to Mrs.
Doncastle and all your friends. I think that Menlove is the kind of
woman who will stick to her word, and the question for you to
consider is, how can you best face out any report of the truth which
she will spread, and contradict the lies that she will add to it? It
appears to me to be a dreadful thing, and so it will probably appear
to you. The worst part will be that your sisters and brothers are
your servants, and that your father is actually engaged in the house
where you dine. I am dreadful afraid that this will be considered a
fine joke for gossips, and will cause no end of laughs in society at
your expense. At any rate, should Menlove spread the report, it
would absolutely prevent people from attending your lectures next
season, for they would feel like dupes, and be angry with
theirselves, and you, and all of us.
'The only way out of the muddle that I can see for you is to put
some scheme of marrying into effect as soon as possible, and
before these things are known. Surely by this time, with all your
opportunities, you have been able to strike up an acquaintance with
some gentleman or other, so as to make a suitable match. You see,
my dear Berta, marriage is a thing which, once carried out, fixes
you more firm in a position than any personal brains can do; for as
you stand at present, every loose tooth, and ever'I should be
delighted to accompany you,' he rejoined, in a manner as capable
of explanation by his knowledge of her secret as was Ethelberta's
 
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