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As soon as the precise day for their journey was ascertained, Sophia sent Mrs. Cicely to Mr. Sackville, to give him information of the decision. And this she did without any attempt at secrecy : at once telling Mrs. Mortimer what she had done, and her motive for so doing.
Mrs. Cicely, however, came back in very low spirits, informing Sophia that Mr. Sackville was very ill, and, in consequence, confined to his bed.
Here was a new cause of trouble to Sophia: and the several days previous to her journey were, therefore, very unhappy ones to her; though she endeavoured to bring her mind to all that might happen.
At length, the dreaded morning came; and the sociable and the travelling-carriage were driven up to the door.
Sophia breakfasted in her own room, with Annette ; and Mrs. Doiley was in readiness to take the child, in case no message should be brought from Mr. Sackville. One only consolation at this time offered itself to Sophia: and that was, that her father, followed by his groom, had gone forward at daydawn, and would not be present to be irritated by the tears she could not repress.
At length, she was informed that the ladies were ready; and, giving a last sad look at the brown oak parlour, she proceeded into the great hall, followed by the sobbing child, whom Mrs. Doiley in vain attempted to hold back.
The ladies were already in the sociable, and Sophia was kissing her beloved Annette for the last time, when Mr. Sackville himself, having passed the carriages, entered at the great door, and approached the weeping pair. He looked exceedingly pale, and was evidently much dejected; but the joy which both Sophia and Annette expressed at beholding him brought back the colour to his cheeks.
“O! Mr. Sackville,” said Sophia, “are you, at length, come? and are you better?”. And then, scarcely knowing what she did, she extended her hand to him, adding, " I shall be happy now I have seen you again, and you appear so much recovered. To
hands I commend my little Annette. You will bear with her, and
will love her. You must indeed love her. She is worthy of your affection, and you can hardly conceive how dear she is to me."
“ If she is dear to you, beloved Miss Mortimer,” he said, “she must be so to me. She shall never know what it is to want a friend as long as I live.” he gently strove to draw the little girl from Sophia, he added, “0, could I but hope that you would sometimes think of us when far away, I should be the happiest of human beings."
Sophia said nothing; but the sad expression of her modest eye spoke more than words could have express
Mr. Sackville then led her to the carriage, but neither of them spoke. A new flood of tears gushed from the eyes of Sophia as she gave her parting look to Annette and Mr. Sackville; and then, covering her eyes with her handkerchief, she felt truly thankful that this scene had discovered no more to her step-mother and sisters than what they previously knew, and that, although they might charge her with folly, they could not condemn her for deceit.
The carriages now moved off, and in such a direction that the house and park continued in view for some time; and as Sophia looked back for the last time, she saw Mr. Sackville, at a considerable distance, conducting little Annette across that part of the open lawn which led them towards Fairfield. She heaved a deep sigh, wiped away the fast-flowing tears, and now, for the first time in her life, heartily acquiesced in Job's declaration, that Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards.
The journey to Bath was performed in three days, and the change of scene had a considerable effect in tranquillizing the mind of Sophia.
Mr. Mortimer had taken the precaution to secure a handsome house in the upper part of the city; and Sophia was exceedingly well pleased to have a small room appropriated to herself, with a light closet for her servant. “And now,” said Mrs. Cicely, (who was much pleased with this arrangement,) while she was attending Sophia, “ had we but our little Annette here, we might be tolerably happy."
Sophia sighed, and answered, “ Annette would be a great comfort; but this place can never be like our beloved home.'
Sophia had not, for some days past, been able to com
prehend the state of her father's feelings towards her, for he had dealt largely in a kind of enigmatical phraseology, to this purport—" Never mind, Sophy, my dear : when we get you among us in Bath, we shall put all things to rights; and then we shall forget all our odd ways, and be more like other people:" these expressions being either followed up by an oath, or some sporting term, to which Sophia could attach no meaning what
The truth is, that Mr. Mortimer admired his daughter very much, and loved her more; but there was a something in her character which made him uneasy, because he thought it too serious; and he feared that her simple, Christian state of mind might stand in the way of her advancing herself in marriage. He flattered himself, therefore, when she was removed from the place of her education, and introduced into a gay society, that her prejudices would give way without any trouble: he was, therefore, not a little surprised, when; on the morning after their arrival in Bath, the public balls being made the subject of discourse, Sophia, with much simplicity, asserted, that, as she did not know how to dance, she, of course, could have no share in these amusements.
This declaration seemed to startle the whole party, but especially Mr. Mortimer, who, having left the management of his daughter's education to Mrs. Fortescue, had never conceived it possible that she should have omitted an accomplishment which he considered so essential as that of dancing. He set down a dish of tea which, at that moment, he was just raising to his lips, and blamed Mrs. Fortescue for this negligence with a vehemence which made the tears start in the eyes of Sophia: she, however, said nothing, till her father asked his wife whether she thought it might not still be possible to repair this injury by procuring a dancing-master for Sophia.
Before Mrs. Mortimer could reply, Sophia calmly remarked, that she hoped her father would excuse what she was about to say, but that she thought it best at once to confess that it was impossible for her to partake of any of the amusements which are comm
monly followed in the world ; adding, that the principles in which she had been brought up were so entirely opposite to every thing
of the kind, that if she entered into any of them, it would be at the expence of subverting the whole system of her education.
This remark excited such general amazement throughout the party, that for a few moments no one spoke. At length, Mr. Mortimer, looking at her with smothered indignation, said, “Why, surely you do not mean to say that
you will not go wherever I and your mother choose that you
should ?' Sophia was silent, and looked down.
He repeated his question in coarser language, and a louder voice.
Sophia replied, " I know my duty to my earthly father, and I know that his authority is inferior only to that of my heavenly Father.”
Amazing assurance and that from you, Sophia ?” said Mr. Mortimer, his lip quivering with rage.
Sophia trembled, but made no answer.
He repeated her name several times over, and asked her if she did not mean to reply when spoken to. She looked up, and said, “ Sir!” Repeat to me,” he said, “
late bold assertion : repeat it, and then leave this house, and let me never see you more.”
Sophia still remained silent; and Mr. Mortimer breaking out with increasing violence, his lady interfered, endeavouring to soothe him and to reason with Sophia, who, however, she secretly hoped might prove unpersuadable : for she could, by no means, endure the idea of being obliged to carry with her into every society, one whose superior beauty and attractions could not fail of totally eclipsing the charms of her own daughters.
Sophia replied to her mother's reasonings with much temper and sweetness ; alleging, that the strict Christian principles in which she had been educated put it entirely out of her power to enter into any of the public pleasures of the world with satisfaction.
Mr. Mortimer, however, was not in a humour to bear these reasonings. He called his daughter a Methodist, and expressed a hope that Mrs. Fortescue might be already tasting the punishment of her hypocrisy.
On hearing this, Sophia, who, notwithstanding her assumed composure, had, no doubt, been violently agitated
during the whole debate, burst into a flood of tears, and sobbed so violently, that Miss Clifford, who pretty well knew all her mother's secret thoughts on this occasion, took her by the hand, and led her out into the next room, where she contrived to soothe and console her, and in some degree to restore her tranquillity; although, when left alone, Sophia could not, on reflection, discover whether her comforter approved or disapproved of what she had said to her father.
In the mean time, Mr. Mortimer had expressed himself with so much violence against his daughter for her obstinacy, and against poor Mrs. Fortescue for the methodistical and queer education which, he said, she had given her, that Mrs. Mortimer was obliged, in order to soothe him, to promise to take the matter on herself; and she expressed her assurance, that she should soon be able to bring the young lady to reason—this lady being well aware, from long experience, that it was always more easy to manage her husband by seeming to acquiesce in his opinions than by openly opposing them.
When Mr. Mortimer had received this assurance from his wife, he went out, and proceeded to the pump-room, in order to discover, from the book which is kept there, whom of his friends he was likely to meet with in Bath. The first person he met in the public room was Sir James Horton. Mr. Mortimer did not expect to see this gentleman, and was therefore the better pleased.
The baronet enquired after the ladies of the family, particularly mentioning Sophia.
At the sound of her name, Mr. Mortimer's anger was again aroused, and he gave Sir James an account of the contest he had had with her in the morning at breakfast.
“ Comical enough,” said the baronet ; “ but I do not know whether I don't like her the better for it. And I'll tell you what, Mr. Mortimer," added he, looking sagacious, “I don't know whether I am not half of Miss Sophia's opinion myself: for I really think that it would be almost as well if the young ladies in these days were not quite so fond of dancing in public, and those kind of things."
“And is that your real opinion?” said Mr. Morti
“Upon my word it is," replied Sir James; "and I'll