Mrs. Freeman could be austere as well as kind, and Mrs. Freeman was ten times more loved than Miss Delicia."No, my dear," replied the head mistress, in a rather icy voice, "I have never had the pleasure of visiting Ireland."Bridget's changeful face was now all glowing with excitement, eagerness, and hope. Her defiant attitude had vanished. As she looked full at Mrs. Freeman, her governess noticed for the first time that her eyelids were red, as if she had been crying. That, and a certain pathos in her voice, made the head mistress regard her in a new light.
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.
On this particular day the world ceases to speak in those gentle and submissive tones. With all its grays and its blacks turned full in view, it says: "You are only an atom; there are millions of other human beings to share my good things as well as my evil. After all, I am not your slave, but your mistress; I have made laws, and you have got to obey them. Up to the present I have treated you as a baby, but now I am going to show you what life really means."
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"Janet!"Alice, Violet, and several more of the little girls were running and tumbling up the grassy slope.[Pg 49] The moment they saw Mrs. Freeman they ran to her.Evelyn Percival was one of the few girls in the school who was privileged to have a room to herself. Her little room was prettily draped in white and pink. It was called the Pink Room, and adjoined the Blue Room, which was occupied by Bridget O'Hara.
Bridget could certainly not return home without money.Mrs. Freeman was very particular with regard to tidiness, and the condition of this very pretty room filled her with grave displeasure. The rules with regard to tidy rooms, neatly kept drawers, a place for everything and everything in its place, were most stringent at Mulberry Court, but up to the present rules mattered nothing at all to Bridget O'Hara.
"Did you speak?" asked Miss May in her coldest tones.
"I adore music; I play by ear all the old Irish jigs and the melodies. Oh, doesn't father cry when I play 'The Harp that once through Tara's Halls,' and 'She is far from the Land,' and 'The Minstrel Boy.' And oh, Mrs. Freeman, even you, though you are a bit old and stiff, could not help dancing if I strummed 'Garry Owen' for you."
"We haven't a moment to lose, Dorothy," she said, "I want to speak to you alone before the rest of the committee arrive. That point with regard to Evelyn Percival must be settled. Perhaps your communication can keep, Marshall."