The common room to which she conducted Miss O'Hara was entirely for the use of the elder girls; the girls of the middle and the lower school had other[Pg 20] rooms to amuse themselves in. But this large, luxuriously furnished apartment was entirely given up to the sixth and fifth-form schoolgirls.
"I think you must mean Dorothy Collingwood," said Janet in her clear, cold English voice. "May I ask if you have ever been at school before, Miss O'Hara?"Ruth Bury was short and dark, but Janet May, her companion, was extremely slim and fair. She would have been a pretty girl but for the somewhat disagreeable expression of her face.
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"What does Janet mean?" Bridget would whisper to her nearest companion. "Is she saying something awfully clever? I'm sorry that I'm stupid—I don't quite catch her meaning.""Now, what shall I eat?" she said. "By the way, I hope there's a nice breakfast, I'm awfully hungry. Oh, eggs! I like eggs when they're very fresh. Mrs. Freeman, are these new laid? do you keep your own fowls? Father and I wouldn't touch eggs at the Castle unless we were quite sure that they were laid by Sally, Sukey, or dear old Heneypeney."
Bridget moved restlessly. She looked out of the window. The sun was shining brilliantly, and the grass under the big shady trees looked particularly inviting."I won't eat any dinner in this horrid room," she said; "I think I have been treated shamefully. If my dinner is sent to me I won't eat it."
The ages of these fifty girls ranged from seventeen to five, but from seventeen down to five on this special hot summer's evening one topic of conversation might have been heard on every tongue.
Mrs. Freeman could be austere as well as kind, and Mrs. Freeman was ten times more loved than Miss Delicia.
"I believe I am more frightened than hurt," said Miss Percival, struggling to sit up, and smiling at Mrs. Freeman, "I'm so awfully sorry that I've lost my[Pg 51] nerve. Where am I? what has happened? I only remember Caspar turning right round and looking at me, and some people shouting, and then the carriage went over, and I cannot recall anything more. But I don't think—no—I am sure I am not seriously hurt."