Samuel Butler: The Way of All Flesh

77. CHAPTER LXXVII (continued)

"And I," thought Ernest to himself again when the arrangement was concluded, "am the man who thought himself unlucky!"

I may as well say here all that need be said further about Ellen. For the next three years she used to call regularly at Mr Ottery's every Monday morning for her pound. She was always neatly dressed, and looked so quiet and pretty that no one would have suspected her antecedents. At first she wanted sometimes to anticipate, but after three or four ineffectual attempts--on each of which occasions she told a most pitiful story--she gave it up and took her money regularly without a word. Once she came with a bad black eye, "which a boy had throwed a stone and hit her by mistake"; but on the whole she looked pretty much the same at the end of the three years as she had done at the beginning. Then she explained that she was going to be married again. Mr Ottery saw her on this, and pointed out to her that she would very likely be again committing bigamy by doing so. "You may call it what you like," she replied, "but I am going off to America with Bill the butcher's man, and we hope Mr Pontifex won't be too hard on us and stop the allowance." Ernest was little likely to do this, so the pair went in peace. I believe it was Bill who had blacked her eye, and she liked him all the better for it.

From one or two little things I have been able to gather that the couple got on very well together, and that in Bill she has found a partner better suited to her than either John or Ernest. On his birthday Ernest generally receives an envelope with an American post-mark containing a book-marker with a flaunting text upon it, or a moral kettle-holder, or some other similar small token of recognition, but no letter. Of the children she has taken no notice.

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