I can't understand the meaning of the bold part. Please help.

The earl was obviously happy with the job she was doing, and he had decided not to summon the housekeeper from London, which she took as a great compliment; but, she thought apprehensively, there was yet time for that tiny slip, that fatal error, which would spoil everything: the dirty dinner plate, the overflowing sewer, the dead mouse in the bathtub. And the the earl would be angry.

Context -

She was appointed as housekeeper in place of regular housekeeper due to the fact that the regular housekeeper was ill. But the earl was happy with the work she was doing.

I really can't understand the two thing here -

  1. What is the meaning of the bold part? Does that mean "In spite of all these appreciation, there might be time when error might happen"?

  2. What is the meaning of "earl"? I have checked the dictionary, and I couldn't understand the hierarchy. Can anyone please explain it?

  • 2
    If you didn't understand the dictionary definition, did it occur to you to search the Internet for a website that explains the hierarchy?
    – user6951
    Nov 7, 2014 at 13:09

1 Answer 1

  1. Based on context, if the smallest thing went wrong, she would be in trouble. So far she hasn't made any error, but the time available for her to make an error is continuing, so there 'is still time, chance or opportunity' that she may in future. 'Yet' is interchangeable with 'still' in this context. I'd say it is slightly archaic & might not be so commonly-used in modern writing.

  2. From Wikipedia - "Earl comes from the Old English or Anglo-Saxon eorl, a military leader. The meaning may have been affected by the Old Norse jarl, meaning free-born warrior or nobleman, during the Danelaw, thus giving rise to the modern sense. Since there was no feminine Old English or Old Norse equivalent for the term, "Countess" is used (an Earl is analogous to the Continental count), from the Latin comes. Created circa 800–1000"

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