The Hand of Ethelberta HTML version

25. The Royal Academy - The Farnfield
Ethelberta was a firm believer in the kindly effects of artistic
education upon the masses. She held that defilement of
mind often arose from ignorance of eye; and her
philanthropy being, by the simple force of her situation, of
that sort which lingers in the neighbourhood of home, she
concentrated her efforts in this kind upon Sol and Dan.
Accordingly, the Academy exhibition having now just
opened, she ordered the brothers to appear in their best
clothes at the entrance to Burlington House just after
noontide on the Saturday of the first week, this being the
only day and hour at which they could attend without 'losing
a half' and therefore it was necessary to put up with the
inconvenience of arriving at a crowded and enervating time.
When Ethelberta was set down in the quadrangle she
perceived the faithful pair, big as the Zamzummims of old
time, standing like sentinels in the particular corner that she
had named to them: for Sol and Dan would as soon have
attempted petty larceny as broken faith with their admired
lady-sister Ethelberta. They welcomed her with a painfully
lavish exhibition of large new gloves, and chests covered
with broad triangular areas of padded blue silk, occupying
the position that the shirt-front had occupied in earlier days,
and supposed to be lineally descended from the tie of a
The dress of their sister for to-day was exactly that of a
respectable workman's relative who had no particular
ambition in the matter of fashion--a black stuff gown, a plain
bonnet to match. A veil she wore for obvious reasons: her
face was getting well known in London, and it had already
appeared at the private view in an uncovered state, when it