Bridget turned and looked at her companion in slow wonder. Janet's remark had the effect of absolutely silencing her; she ate her bacon, munched her toast, and drank off a cup of hot coffee in an amazingly short time, then she jumped up, and shook the crumbs of her meal on to the floor.She called Bridget's name, but the wind, which was rather high this morning, carried her voice away from the young girl, who was gayly flitting from one rosebush [Pg 30]to another, ruthlessly pulling the large, full-blown flowers with buds attached.
She looked at her friend with a cool, critical eye.
"I did not feel tired, Mrs. Freeman," replied the newcomer in an eager, irrepressible sort of voice. "You put me into my room and told me to go to bed, but I didn't want to go to bed. I have had my supper, thank you, so I don't want any more, but I have been dying with curiosity to see the girls. Are these they? Are these my schoolfellows? I never saw a schoolfellow before. They all look pretty much like other[Pg 13] people. How do you do, each and all of you? I'm Bridget O'Hara. May I sit near you, Mrs. Freeman?"
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"How solemnly you speak," said Bridget, tears [Pg 32]coming slowly up and filling her eyes. "Is that a sermon? It makes me feel as if someone were walking over my grave. Why do you say things of that sort? I'm superstitious, you know. I'm very easily impressed. You oughtn't to do it—you oughtn't to frighten a stranger when she has just come over to your hard, cold sort of country."
"You have disobeyed me. One of my strictest rules forbids the girls to leave the grounds without permission. You not only left the grounds contrary to my express order, but you took several of the little children of the school with you. It is against my orders to have the trees destroyed by breaking off branches. Knowing this, you willfully disobeyed me again, and you and your companions rushed down the road shouting wildly. What was the result? Evelyn Percival mercifully escaped serious injury, but my carriage was broken and my horse damaged. The mere money loss you have occasioned me, Bridget——""Well, Marshall is unhappy about her," replied Dorothy. "She said that Bridget would not touch her dinner. I don't exactly know what Mrs. Freeman means to do about her, but the poor girl is a prisoner in Miss Patience's dull little sitting room for the present.""Very well, if it must be so, but I shall be very miserable, and misery soon makes me ill."
"Oh, foolish do you call it?" A passing cloud swept over Bridget O'Hara's face. It quickly vanished, however; she jumped up with a little sigh.
"How can I possibly tell you, Miss O'Hara?" she replied. "You are a tall girl. Perhaps you are seventeen, although you look more."
What could it all mean? It really was most exciting.
Violet frowned all over her fair, small face, but Olive Moore, a sixth-form girl, was too powerful an individual to be lightly disregarded. She shrugged her shoulders therefore, and walked sulkily away.