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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 626 pages of information about The Young Step-Mother.

Albinia was right.  It was the worst agony poor Sophy had ever undergone.  She had been all this time ignorant that it was a cross fit, only imagining herself cruelly neglected and cast aside for the sake of Mrs. Ferrars; but the wakening time had either arrived, or had been brought by that reproach, and she beheld her conduct in the most abhorrent light.  After having desired to be pledged to her share of the covenant, and earnestly longed to bear the cross, to be sworn in as soldier and servant, to have put her neck under the yoke of her old master ere the cross had dried upon her brow, to have been meanly jealous, ungrateful, disrespectful, vindictive!! oh! misery, misery! hopeless misery!  She would take no word of comfort when Albinia tried to persuade her that it had been partly the reaction of a mind wrought up to an occasion very simple in its externals, and of a body fatigued by exertion; and then in warm-hearted candour professed that she herself had been thoughtless in neglecting Sophy for Winifred.  Still less comfort would she take in her father’s free forgiveness, and his sad entreaties that she would not treat these fits of low spirits as a crime, for they were not her fault, but that of her constitution.

’Then one can’t help being hateful and wicked!  Nothing is of any use!  I had rather you had told me I was mad!’ said poor Sophy.

She was so spent and exhausted with weeping, that she could not come down—­indeed, between grief and nervousness she would not eat; and Albinia found Mr. Kendal mournfully persuading her, when a stern command would have done more good.  Albinia spoke it:  ’Sophy, you have put your father to a great deal of pain already; if you are really grieving over it, you will not hurt him more by making yourself ill.’

The strong will came into action on the right side, and Sophy sat up, took what was offered, but what was she that they should care for her, when she had spoilt mamma’s pleasure?  Better go and be happy with Mrs. Ferrars.

Sophy’s next visitor came up with a manly tread, and she almost feared that she had made herself ill enough for the doctor; but it was Mr. Ferrars, with a kind face of pitying sympathy.

‘May I come to wish my godchild good-bye?’ he said.

Sophy did not speak, and he looked compassionately at the prone dejection of the whole figure, and the pale, sallow face, so piteously mournful.  He took her hand, and began to tell her of the godfather’s present, that he had brought her—­a little book of devotions intended for the time when she should be confirmed.  Sophy uttered a feeble ‘thank you,’ but a hopeless one.

‘Ah! you are feeling as if nothing would do you any good,’ said Mr. Ferrars.

‘Papa says so!’ she answered.

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