The Hand of Ethelberta HTML version

18. Near Sandbourne - London Streets -
When this letter reached its destination the next morning,
Picotee, in her over-anxiety, could not bring herself to read it
in anybody's presence, and put it in her pocket till she was
on her walk across the moor. She still lived at the cottage out
of the town, though at some inconvenience to herself, in
order to teach at a small village night-school whilst still
carrying on her larger occupation of pupil-teacher in
So she walked and read, and was soon in tears. Moreover,
when she thought of what Ethelberta would have replied had
that keen sister known the wildness of her true reason in
wishing to go, she shuddered with misery. To wish to get
near a man only because he had been kind to her, and had
admired her pretty face, and had given her flowers, to
nourish a passion all the more because of its hopeless
impracticability, were things to dream of, not to tell. Picotee
was quite an unreasoning animal. Her sister arranged
situations for her, told her how to conduct herself in them,
how to make up anew, in unobtrusive shapes, the valuable
wearing apparel she sent from time to time--so as to provoke
neither exasperation in the little gentry, nor superciliousness
in the great. Ethelberta did everything for her, in short; and
Picotee obeyed orders with the abstracted ease of mind
which people show who have their thinking done for them,
and put out their troubles as they do their washing. She was
quite willing not to be clever herself, since it was
unnecessary while she had a much-admired sister, who was
clever enough for two people and to spare.
This arrangement, by which she gained an untroubled
existence in exchange for freedom of will, had worked very