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The Hand of Ethelberta

13. The Lodge (Continued) - The Copse
Behind
'This is indeed a surprise; I--am glad to see you!' Christopher
stammered, with a wire-drawn, radically different smile from
the one he had intended--a smile not without a tinge of
ghastliness.
'Yes--I am home for the holidays,' said the blushing maiden;
and, after a critical pause, she added, 'If you wish to speak
to my sister, she is in the plantation with the children.'
'O no--no, thank you--not necessary at all,' said Christopher,
in haste. 'I only wish for an interview with a lady called Mrs.
Petherwin.'
'Yes; Mrs Petherwin--my sister,' said Picotee. 'She is in the
plantation. That little path will take you to her in five minutes.'
The amazed Christopher persuaded himself that this
discovery was very delightful, and went on persuading so
long that at last he felt it to be so. Unable, like many other
people, to enjoy being satirized in words because of the
irritation it caused him as aimed- at victim, he sometimes
had philosophy enough to appreciate a satire of
circumstance, because nobody intended it. Pursuing the
path indicated, he found himself in a thicket of scrubby
undergrowth, which covered an area enclosed from the park
proper by a decaying fence. The boughs were so tangled
that he was obliged to screen his face with his hands, to
escape the risk of having his eyes filliped out by the twigs
that impeded his progress. Thus slowly advancing, his ear
caught, between the rustles, the tones of a voice in earnest
declamation; and, pushing round in that direction, he beheld
through some beech boughs an open space about ten yards
in diameter, floored at the bottom with deep beds of curled
old leaves, and cushions of furry moss. In the middle of this
 
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