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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 425 pages of information about The Hand of Ethelberta.

Returning across the grass by the way he had come, he was startled by the voices of two men from the road hard by.

‘Have ye zeed anybody?’

‘Not a soul.’

‘Shall we go across again?’

‘What’s the good? let’s home to supper.’

’My lord must have heard somebody, or ‘a wouldn’t have said it.’

’Perhaps he’s nervous now he’s living in the cottage again.  I thought that fancy was over.  Well, I’m glad ’tis a young wife he’s brought us.  She’ll have her routs and her rackets as well as the high-born ones, you’ll see, as soon as she gets used to the place.’

‘She must be a queer Christian to pick up with him.’

’Well, if she’ve charity ’tis enough for we poor men; her faith and hope may be as please God.  Now I be for on-along homeward.’

As soon as they had gone Christopher moved from his hiding, and, avoiding the gravel-walk, returned to his coachman, telling him to drive at once to Anglebury.

Julian was so impatient of the futility of his adventure that he wished to annihilate its existence.  On reaching Anglebury he determined to get on at once to Melchester, that the event of the night might be summarily ended; to be still in the neighbourhood was to be still engaged in it.  He reached home before midnight.

Walking into their house in a quiet street, as dissatisfied with himself as a man well could be who still retained health and an occupation, he found Faith sitting up as usual.  His news was simple:  the marriage had taken place before he could get there, and he had seen nothing of either ceremony or viscountess.  The remainder he reserved for a more convenient season.

Edith looked anxiously at him as he ate supper, smiling now and then.

‘Well, I am tired of this life,’ said Christopher.

‘So am I,’ said Faith.  ‘Ah, if we were only rich!’

‘Ah, yes.’

‘Or if we were not rich,’ she said, turning her eyes to the fire.  ’If we were only slightly provided for, it would be better than nothing.  How much would you be content with, Kit?’

‘As much as I could get.’

‘Would you be content with a thousand a year for both of us?’

‘I daresay I should,’ he murmured, breaking his bread.

‘Or five hundred for both?’

‘Or five hundred.’

‘Or even three hundred?’

’Bother three hundred.  Less than double the sum would not satisfy me.  We may as well imagine much as little.’

Faith’s countenance had fallen.  ‘O Kit,’ she said, ’you always disappoint me.’

‘I do.  How do I disappoint you this time?’

’By not caring for three hundred a year—­a hundred and fifty each—­when that is all I have to offer you.’

‘Faith!’ said he, looking up for the first time.  ’Ah—­of course!  Lucy’s will.  I had forgotten.’

’It is true, and I had prepared such a pleasant surprise for you, and now you don’t care!  Our cousin Lucy did leave us something after all.  I don’t understand the exact total sum, but it comes to a hundred and fifty a year each—­more than I expected, though not so much as you deserved.  Here’s the letter.  I have been dwelling upon it all day, and thinking what a pleasure it would be; and it is not after all!’

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