What Necessity Knows eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 574 pages of information about What Necessity Knows.
the scorn with which the patronage of a vulgar woman had that evening been discarded, and whether Eliza herself knew it or not, Sophia knew that this nicety of taste was due chiefly to her own influence.  The subtle flattery of this pleaded with her now on the girl’s behalf:  and perceiving that Alec Trenholme was not amenable to reason, she, like a good woman, condescended to coax him for reason’s sake.  To a woman the art of managing men is much like the art of skating or swimming, however long it may lie in disuse, the trick, once learnt, is there to command.  The milk, it seemed, must be taken down the cellar steps and poured into pans.  Then a draught of milk off the ice was given to him.  Then, it appeared, she must return to the pasture, and on their way she pointed out the flowers that she had planted, and let him break one that he admired.

When they reached the field Sophia proffered her request, which was, that he would leave his discovery in her hands for one day, for one day only, she pleaded.  She added that he might come to see her the next afternoon, and she would tell him what explanation Eliza had to give, and in what mood she would meet her unfortunate guardian.

And Sophia’s request was granted, granted with that whole-hearted allegiance and entire docility, with a tenderness of eye and lightsomeness of demeanour, that made her perceive that this young man had not been so obdurate as he appeared, and that her efforts to appease him had been out of proportion to what was required.

When he mounted his horse and rode off unmindful of the last pail of milk, for indeed his head was a little turned, Sophia was left standing by the pasture gate feeling unpleasantly conscious of her own handsome face and accomplished manner.  If she felt amused that he should show himself so susceptible, she also felt ashamed, she hardly knew why.  She remembered that in his eyes on a previous occasion which she had taken as a signal for alarm on her part, and wondered why she had not remembered it sooner.  The thing was done now:  she had petted and cajoled him, and she felt no doubt that masculine conceit would render him blind to her true motive.  Henceforth he would suppose that she encouraged his fancy.  Sophia, who liked to have all things her own way, felt disconcerted.


After tea Sophia took Blue and Red apart into their little bedroom.  An old cotton blind was pulled down to shield the low window from passers in the yard.  The pane was open and the blind flapped.  The room had little ornament and was unattractive.

“How could you write letters to that Mr. Harkness?” asked Sophia, trying to be patient.

“We didn’t—­exactly,” said Blue, “but how did you know?”

“At least—­we did,” said Red, “but only notes.  What have you heard, Sister Sophia?  Has he”—­anxiously—­“written to papa?”

“Written to papa!” repeated Sophia in scorn.  “What should he do that for?”

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What Necessity Knows from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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