"Yes, my dear, what is it?"
The Irish girl looked certainly pretty enough to win any number of susceptible small hearts at that moment. Her pale blue dress set off her graceful figure and fair complexion to the best advantage. Her mirthful, lovely eyes were raised to follow Dorothy as she disappeared into the house. Her lips were parted in a mischievous smile. She raised one hand to push back the rebellious locks of chestnut curls from her forehead.
"It is not the custom at school, my dear child, to make remarks about what we eat. We just take what is put before us. Here's a nice piece of bacon, dear, and some toast. Don't say anything more, I beg, or you will annoy Mrs. Freeman."Bridget's arms were flung impulsively round her governess's neck, and then one hand was tucked within the good lady's arm.
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Dorothy Collingwood ran after Mrs. Freeman.
"I do, my love. But your truest happiness is not secured by giving you your own way in everything."
"I've had enough," she said, nodding to Mrs. Freeman in her bright way. "I'm going out into the garden now, to pick some roses."
"My dear, you have been ill, which accounts for your nervousness. But in any case a person with the stoutest nerves may be pardoned for fainting if she is flung out of a carriage. I cannot imagine how you escaped as you have done."
The period at which this story begins was the middle of the summer term. There were no half-term holidays at the Court, but somehow the influence of holiday time had already got into the air. The young girls had tired themselves out with play, and the older ones lay about in hammocks, or strolled in twos or[Pg 2] threes up and down the wide gravel walk which separated the house from the gardens.
"Good gracious, why, that's weeks off! I can't live without flowers for weeks! Look here, Mrs. Freeman; is there not to be an exception made for me? Papa said, when I was coming here, that my happiness was to be the first thing considered. Don't you agree with him? Don't you wish me to be very, very happy?"