It happened soon after, that for an offence which was the cause of very great vexation to her brother, and was the occasion of his being for a time deprived of the friendship of Sir Henry and Lady Askham, two of Dr. Hammond’s nearest and most intimate neighbors, her father ordered Sophy, as a still further punishment, to be locked up in her own room till the Sunday following. This was on Friday, and Sophy had two days of solitude and imprisonment before her. The first day she passed very dismally, but yet not unprofitably, for she felt truly ashamed and sorry for her fault, and made many good resolutions of endeavoring to cure herself of her mischievous propensity. The second day she began to be somewhat more composed, and by degrees she was able to amuse herself with watching the people in the street, which was overlooked by the windows of her apartment, and she began, almost unconsciously to herself, to indulge in her old habit of trying to find out what everybody was doing, and in guessing where they were going.
She had not long been engaged in watching her neighbors before her curiosity was excited by the appearance of a servant on horseback, who rode up to the door, and, after giving a little three-cornered note to Dr. Hammond’s footman, rode off. The servant she knew to be Mrs. Arden’s, an intimate friend of her father, and the note she conjectured was an invitation to dinner, and the guessing what day the invitation was for, and who were to be the company, and whether she was included in the invitation, was occupying her busy fancy, when she saw her sister going out of the house with the three-cornered note in her hand, and cross the street to Mr. McNeal’s stocking shop, which was opposite. Almost immediately afterwards Mr. McNeal’s shopman came out of the shop, and, running down the street, was presently out of sight, but soon returned with Mr. McNeal himself. She saw Louisa reading the note to Mr. McNeal, and in a few minutes afterwards return home. Here was a matter of wonder and conjecture. Sophy forgot all her good resolutions, and absolutely wearied herself with her useless curiosity.
At length the term of her imprisonment was over, and Sophy was restored to the society of her family. At first she kept a tolerable guard over herself. Once she saw her father and sister whispering, and did not, though she longed much to do it, hold her breath that she might hear what they were saying. Another time she passed Charles’s door when it was ajar and the little study open, and she had so much self-command that she passed by without peeping in, and she began to think she was cured of her faults. But in reality this was far from being the case, and whenever she recollected Mrs. Arden’s mysterious note she felt her inquisitive propensities as strong as ever. Her eyes and ears were always on the alert, in hopes of obtaining some clue to the knowledge she coveted, and if Mrs, Arden’s or Mr. McNeal’s names were mentioned she listened with trembling anxiety in the hope of hearing some allusion to the note.