It’s easy to imagine that Wharton was aloof with the help — her biographer Hermione Lee says as much — but she relied on White for candor, discretion, and even for advice; their relationship was something more complex than master/servant. “For 49 years it was my privilege to serve her and protect her from household cares, that she could carry on her work in peace,” White wrote after she died.
According to the bookseller, Brad Verter of Carpe Librum, “Signed copies of Ethan Frome are very rare. In fact, we do not know of another, and there has never been one at auction, which is surprising given that this is her most highly sought work. The significance of this particular inscription is unparalleled.”
The price reflects that rarity, however; it is one that Wharton herself might have struggled to pay. Verter provides an extensive description here.