At the dear old wild Castle in Ireland she had been idolized by everyone, the servants had done her bidding, however extravagant and fanciful that bidding had been. She led her old father where she wished with silken reins. The dogs, the horses, even the cows and the calves, followed Bridget like so many faithful shadows. In short, this wild little girl was the beloved queen of the Castle. To cut her, or show her the smallest incivility, would have been nothing short of high treason."Shall I really—how unfortunate; but she doesn't look a bad-tempered woman, and what is there in wishing for fresh eggs? Stale eggs aren't wholesome."The eyes of every girl in the room were fixed eagerly on their mistress; they were all round with wonder, lips were slightly parted. The girls felt that a volcano had got into their midst, an explosion was imminent. This feeling of electricity in the air was very exciting; it stirred the somewhat languid pulses of the schoolgirls. Surely such an impulsive, such a daring, such an impertinent, and yet such a bewitching girl had never been heard of before. How sweet she looked in her white dress, how radiant was her smile. Those pearly white teeth of hers, those gleaming, glancing eyes, that soft voice that could utter such saucy words; oh! no wonder the school felt interested, and raised out of itself.
"I can't eat, Marshall," she said. "I'm treated shamefully, and the very nicest dinner wouldn't tempt me. You can take it away, for I can't possibly touch a morsel. Oh, dear! oh, dear! how I do wish I were at home again! What a horrid, horrid sort of place school is!"
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Miss Delicia was fussing in and out of the house, and picking fresh strawberries, and nodding to the girls she happened to meet with a kind of suppressed delight.
"My dears," said Mrs. Freeman, answering the looks on all faces, "your young companion's extraordinary conduct can only be explained by the fact that she has never been at school before. I am going out to the garden to speak to her. You girls will now go as usual to your separate schoolrooms and commence study."
"Oh, come at once!" said Violet, "there has been an accident, and Evelyn is hurt. Bridget is with her. Come, come at once!"
"And if she happens to fancy Bridget she won't mind[Pg 40] a word we say against her. She never does mind what anyone says. You know that, Janet."
The governess took it without a word, and opening it applied it to Evelyn's nostrils.