"Janet, I wish you would not speak in that bitter way."
"Don't shake me so, Vi, my honey; I'm coming to the exciting place—now then. Well, as I was going up the stairs all quite lonely, and by myself, never a soul within half a mile of me——"
A sense of disappointment was over them all, for the new girl upon whom their present thoughts were centered had not put in an appearance—nothing was said about her—Mrs. Freeman looked as tranquil as usual, Miss Patience as white and anxious, Miss Delicia as good-natured and downy.
Dorothy pulled an envelope out of her pocket. Olive searched into the recesses of hers to hunt up a lead pencil, and Janet continued to speak in her tranquil, round tones."Nothing in the world could be stupider than French poetry," she muttered. "How am I to get this into my head? What a nuisance Olive is with her stories—she[Pg 46] has disturbed my train of thoughts. Certainly, it's no affair of mine what that detestable wild Irish girl does. I shall always hate her, and whatever happens I can never get myself to tolerate Evelyn. Now, to get back to my poetry. I have determined to win this prize. I won't think of Evelyn and Bridget any more.""Miss Bridget O'Hara. She aint understood, and she's in punishment, pore dear; shut up in Miss Patience's dull parlor. Mrs. Freeman don't understand her. She aint the sort to be broke in, and if Mrs. Freeman thinks she'll do it, she's fine and mistook. The pore dear is that spirited she'd die afore she'd own herself wrong. Do you think, Miss Collingwood, as she'd touch a morsel of her dinner? No, that she wouldn't! Bite nor sup wouldn't pass her lips, although I tempted her with a lamb chop and them beautiful marrow peas, and asparagus and whipped cream and cherry tart. You can judge for yourself, miss, that a healthy young lady with a good, fine appetite must be bad when she refuses food of that sort!"
"Yes, in one minute, Janet! I don't know what I'm to do, Marshall," continued Dorothy. "I should not venture to speak to Mrs. Freeman on the subject; she would be very, very angry.""You deny that she's weak," repeated Janet. "I wonder what your idea of strength is, Olive."
"Hurrah! Hurrah! Long may she stay there! Now, do let us drop this tiresome subject. We have only ten minutes to ourselves before the rest of the committee arrive, and that point with regard to Evelyn Percival must be arranged. Come, Dorothy, let us race each other to the Lookout!"
"She's not at all impertinent," said Dorothy. "After all, Janet, servants are flesh and blood, like the rest of us, and this poor Marshall, although she's not the wisest of the wise, is a good-natured creature. What do you think she wanted?"
Marshall had to be comforted with this rather dubious speech, and Dorothy ran on to join Janet.
Her first impulse was to open the door of her prison and go boldly out.