"My dear Bridget!" exclaimed Mrs. Freeman, so surprised by the unexpected apparition that she was actually obliged to rise from her seat and come forward."Now, Biddy, go on, Biddy!" exclaimed the children. "We love ghost stories, so do tell us more about the candle."
"If she had any strength, she'd be ashamed of her ignorance," retorted Janet.
"Let's run down the road, then, and give her a welcome," said Bridget. "In Ireland we'd take the horses off the carriage, and draw her home ourselves. Of course, we can't do that, but we might go to meet her, waving branches of trees, and we might raise a hearty shout when we saw her coming. Come along, girls—what a lark! I'll show you how we do this sort of thing in old Ireland! Come! we'll cut down boughs as we go along. Come! be quick, be quick!"
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"You can please yourself about that," said Miss Patience, in her calmest voice. She left the room, closing the door behind her.
"It's all my fault, Mrs. Freeman," said Bridget O'Hara, looking up with a tear-stained face at her [Pg 50]governess. "I made the children come, and I made them cut the branches off the trees, and we ran, and shouted as we ran. I didn't think it would do any harm, it was all a joke, and to welcome her, for they said she was the queen, but no one is to blame in all the wide world but me.""But we are not allowed to cut the boughs, Bridget," said Katie.
"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."
"Sit down, Dorothy," cried Ruth, "we have kept your favorite armchair vacant for you. Now, then, to discuss the Fancy Fair in all its bearings. Is it not kind of Mrs. Freeman to consent to our having it? She says it is quite an unusual thing for girls like us to do, but in the cause of that poor little baby, and because we wish the Fancy Fair to be our break-up treat, she consents. The only stipulation she makes is that we arrange the whole programme without troubling her."
"Come, my dears," said Miss Patience to the girls[Pg 29] near her, "let us lose no more valuable time. Please don't scrape your chair in that atrocious way, Alice. Rose, what a poke! Susie, hold back your shoulders. Now, young ladies, come to the schoolroom quietly; quietly, if you please."
She did not attempt to rise to her feet, however, and Mrs. Freeman was far too much absorbed to take any further notice of her.
"I'm almost certain, Dolly, that she's to sleep in a room by herself, for I saw the Blue Room being got ready. I peeped in as we were going down to dinner, and I noticed such jolly new furniture—pale blue, and all to match. Oh, what is it, Olive? Now you've pinched my arm."