“Well, what else?” Sophia laughed a little, and laid her cool hand on the girl’s hot one.
“I can’t be anything grand ever, and begin by being a servant, Miss Sophia. I say I’m not a servant, and I try not to act like one; but Mrs. Rexford, she’s tried hard to make me one. You wouldn’t like to be a servant, Miss Sophia?”
“You are very childish and foolish,” said Sophia. “If I had not been just as foolish about other things when I was your age I would laugh at you now. But I know it’s no use to tell you that the things you want will not make you happy, and that the things you don’t want would, because I know you will not believe it. I will do my best to help you to get what you want, so far as it is not wrong, if you will promise to tell me all your difficulties.”
“Will you help me? Why are you so kind?”
“Because—” said Sophia. Then she said no more.
Eliza showed herself cheered.
“You’re the only one I care to talk to, Miss Sophia. The others haven’t as much sense as you, have they?”
As these words were quietly put forth in the darkness, without a notion of impropriety, Sophia was struck with the fact that they coincided with her own estimate of the state of the case.
“Eliza, what are you talking of—not of my father and mother surely?”
“Why, yes. I think they’re good and kind, but I don’t think they’ve a deal of sense—do you?”
“My father is a wiser man than you can understand, Eliza; and—” Sophia broke off, she was fain to retreat; it was cold for one thing.
“Miss Sophia,” said Eliza, as she was getting to the door, “there’s one thing—you know that young man they were talking about to-night?”
“What of him?”
“Well, if he were to ask about me, you’d not tell him anything, would you? I’ve never told anybody but you about father, or any particulars. The others don’t know anything, and you won’t tell, will you?”
“I’ve told you I won’t take upon myself to speak of your affairs. What has that young man to do with it?”—with some severity.
“It’s only that he’s a traveller, and I feel so silly about every traveller, for fear they’d want me to go back to the clearin’.”
Sophia took the few necessary steps in the cold dark granary and reached her own room.
Sophia was sitting with Mrs. Rexford on the sofa that stood with its back to the dining-room window. The frame of the sofa was not turned, but fashioned with saw and knife and plane; not glued, but nailed together. Yet it did not lack for comfort; it was built oblong, large, and low; it was cushioned with sacking filled with loose hay plentifully mixed with Indian grass that gave forth a sweet perfume, and the whole was covered with a large neat pinafore of such light washing stuff as women wear about their work on summer days. Sophia and her step-mother were darning stockings. The homesickness of the household was rapidly subsiding, and to-day these two were not uncomfortable or unhappy. The rest of the family, some to work, some to play, and some to run errands, had been dismissed into the large outside.