The Hand of Ethelberta eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 541 pages of information about The Hand of Ethelberta.

’Good gracious, Faith, I was only supposing.  The real thing is another matter altogether.  Well, the idea of Lucy’s will containing our names!  I am sure I would have gone to the funeral had I known.’

‘I wish it were a thousand.’

’O no—­it doesn’t matter at all.  But, certainly, three hundred for two is a tantalizing sum:  not enough to enable us to change our condition, and enough to make us dissatisfied with going on as we are.’

‘We must forget we have it, and let it increase.’

’It isn’t enough to increase much.  We may as well use it.  But how?  Take a bigger house—­what’s the use?  Give up the organ?—­then I shall be rather worse off than I am at present.  Positively, it is the most provoking amount anybody could have invented had they tried ever so long.  Poor Lucy, to do that, and not even to come near us when father died. . . . Ah, I know what we’ll do.  We’ll go abroad—­we’ll live in Italy.’


Two years and a half after the marriage of Ethelberta and the evening adventures which followed it, a man young in years, though considerably older in mood and expression, walked up to the ‘Red Lion’ Inn at Anglebury.  The anachronism sat not unbecomingly upon him, and the voice was precisely that of the Christopher Julian of heretofore.  His way of entering the inn and calling for a conveyance was more off-hand than formerly; he was much less afraid of the sound of his own voice now than when he had gone through the same performance on a certain chill evening the last time that he visited the spot.  He wanted to be taken to Knollsea to meet the steamer there, and was not coming back by the same vehicle.

It was a very different day from that of his previous journey along the same road; different in season; different in weather; and the humour of the observer differed yet more widely from its condition then than did the landscape from its former hues.  In due time they reached a commanding situation upon the road, from which were visible knots and plantations of trees on the Enckworth manor.  Christopher broke the silence.

‘Lord Mountclere is still alive and well, I am told?’

’O ay.  He’ll live to be a hundred.  Never such a change as has come over the man of late years.’


’O, ’tis my lady.  She’s a one to put up with!  Still, ’tis said here and there that marrying her was the best day’s work that he ever did in his life, although she’s got to be my lord and my lady both.’

‘Is she happy with him?’

’She is very sharp with the pore man—­about happy I don’t know.  He was a good-natured old man, for all his sins, and would sooner any day lay out money in new presents than pay it in old debts.  But ’tis altered now.  ’Tisn’t the same place.  Ah, in the old times I have seen the floor of the servants’ hall over the vamp of your boot in solid beer that we had poured aside from the horns because we couldn’t see straight enough to pour it in.  See?  No, we couldn’t see a hole in a ladder!  And now, even at Christmas or Whitsuntide, when a man, if ever he desires to be overcome with a drop, would naturally wish it to be, you can walk out of Enckworth as straight as you walked in.  All her doings.’

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The Hand of Ethelberta from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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