The Hand of Ethelberta HTML version

15. An Inner Room At The Lodge
At the Lodge at this time a discussion of some importance
was in progress. The scene was Mrs. Chickerel's bedroom,
to which, unfortunately, she was confined by some spinal
complaint; and here she now appeared as an interesting
woman of five-and-forty, properly dressed as far as visible,
and propped up in a bed covered with a quilt which
presented a field of little squares in many tints, looking
altogether like a bird's-eye view of a market garden.
Mrs. Chickerel had been nurse in a nobleman's family until
her marriage, and after that she played the part of wife and
mother, upon the whole, affectionately and well. Among her
minor differences with her husband had been one about the
naming of the children; a matter that was at last
compromised by an agreement under which the choice of
the girls' names became her prerogative, and that of the
boys' her husband's, who limited his field of selection to strict
historical precedent as a set-off to Mrs. Chickerel's tendency
to stray into the regions of romance.
The only grown-up daughters at home, Ethelberta and
Picotee, with their brother Joey, were sitting near her; the
two youngest children, Georgina and Myrtle, who had been
strutting in and out of the room, and otherwise endeavouring
to walk, talk, and speak like the gentleman just gone away,
were packed off to bed. Emmeline, of that transitional age
which causes its exponent to look wistfully at the sitters
when romping and at the rompers when sitting, uncertain
whether her position in the household is that of child or
woman, was idling in a corner. The two absent brothers and
two absent sisters- -eldest members of the family--
completed the round ten whom Mrs. Chickerel with
thoughtless readiness had presented to a crowded world, to