The Hand of Ethelberta
9.A Lady's Drawing-Rooms - Ethelberta's
It was a house on the north side of Hyde Park, between ten
and eleven in the evening, and several intelligent and
courteous people had assembled there to enjoy themselves
as far as it was possible to do so in a neutral way--all
carefully keeping every variety of feeling in a state of
solution, in spite of any attempt such feelings made from
time to time to crystallize on interesting subjects in hand.
'Neigh, who is that charming woman with her head built up in
a novel way even for hair architecture--the one with her back
towards us?' said a man whose coat fitted doubtfully to a
friend whose coat fitted well.
'Just going to ask for the same information,' said Mr. Neigh,
determining the very longest hair in his beard to an
infinitesimal nicety by drawing its lower portion through his
fingers. 'I have quite forgotten--cannot keep people's names
in my head at all; nor could my father either--nor any of my
family--a very odd thing. But my old friend Mrs. Napper
knows for certain.' And he turned to one of a small group of
middle-aged persons near, who, instead of skimming the
surface of things in general, like the rest of the company,
were going into the very depths of them.
'O--that is the celebrated Mrs. Petherwin, the woman who
makes rhymes and prints 'em,' said Mrs. Napper, in a
detached sentence, and then continued talking again to
those on the other side of her.
The two loungers went on with their observations of
Ethelberta's headdress, which, though not extraordinary or
eccentric, did certainly convey an idea of indefinable novelty.
Observers were sometimes half inclined to think that her
cuts and modes were acquired by some secret