Miss Bennett held the reins tight and gave her horse smart strokes of the whip. The spiritless animal took such driving passively, as it jogged down the quiet road by the enclosure of the New College.
Unconscious that her words were inconsistent with what she had so lately said, Mrs. Bennett complained again. “My nerves have received quite a shock; I am all in a tremble.” It was true; she was even wiping away genuine tears. “Oh, my dear, it’s a terribly low occupation. Oh, my dear, the things I have heard they do—the atrocities they commit!”
“I daresay what you heard was true,” retorted Miss Bennett, “but it does not follow that they are all alike.” Without perceiving clearly the extent of the fallacy, she felt called upon to oppose the generalisations of a superficial mind.
So they passed out of sight of Trenholme’s house. Inside he sat at his desk, plunged again in the work of writing business letters. We seldom realise in what way we give out the force that is within us, or in what proportion it flows into this act or that. Trenholme was under the impression that what he had done that afternoon had been done without effort? The effort, as he realised it, had come days and weeks before. Yet, as he worked through the hours that were left of that day’s light, he felt a weariness of body and mind that was almost equivalent to a desire for death.
Sophia Rexford stood and watched the last of the afternoon’s company as, some driving and some on foot, they passed in different directions along the level road. It was a very peaceful scene. The neighbourhood lay sunning itself in the last warmth of the summer, and the neighbours, to all appearance, were moving homeward in utmost tranquillity. Sophia was not at peace; she was holding stern rule over her mind, saying, “Be at peace; who hath disturbed thee?” This rule lasted not many minutes; then suddenly mutiny. “Good Heavens!” she cried within herself, “how indiscreet I have been, making friends with these men. Shall I never learn wisdom—I who have sought to direct others?” The recollections that came caused her, in the sting of mortified pride, to strike her hand with painful force against a chair near her. The bruise recalled her to calm. The chair she had struck was that large one in which Robert Trenholme had reclined. It aided her to ponder upon the man who had so lately been seen on its cushions, and, in truth, her pondering bewildered