"Well, well," interrupted Janet impatiently, "have your own way, Olive. Make that tiresome, disagreeable girl a female Hercules if you fancy, only cease to talk about her. That is all I have to beg."[Pg 21]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.
"How disagreeable! I can't live without flowers. I suppose papa will not expect me to stay if I don't like the place?"
"Yes, my dear, what is it?""It's a distinct insult," began Dolly. "I disapprove—I disapprove."
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Janet turned away, and Olive was obliged to look out for a fresh companion to attach herself to."Thanks!" she repeated again. "If I want your help I'll ask for it, Olive. I'm going into the house now, for I really must get on with my preparation."Miss Collingwood was turning away, when her mistress stretched out her hand and drew her back."Yes, poor old Dandy, who is so lame and so affectionate, and Mustard and Pepper, the dear little snappers, and Lemon. Poor darling, he is a trial; we have called him Lemon because he exactly resembles the juice of that fruit when it's most acrid and disagreeable. Lemon's temper is the acknowledged trial of our kennel, but he loves my father, and always paces up and down with him in the evening on the south walk. Then of course there's Bruin, he's an Irish deerhound, and the darling of my heart, and there's Pilate, the blind watchdog—oh! and Minerva. I think that's about all. We have fox hounds, of course, but they are not let out every day. I see my dear father now looking down at the lake, and talking to the dogs, and thinking of me. O Dolly, Dolly, I'm lonely, awfully lonely! Do pity me—do love me! O Dolly, my heart will break if no one loves me!"
Bridget wore a white muslin dress with a long train. Her silver girdle was clasped round her waist. She went deliberately up to a rose tree in full flower, and, picking two or three half-opened buds, put them in her girdle.For the first time there was a faint hesitation in her manner.
"Hurrah! Hurrah! Supper!" she cried. "Your committee must keep, Janet. Now for the satisfaction of rampant, raging curiosity. Dolly, will you race me to the house?"
A loud booming sound filled the air.
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 raised her brows the tenth of an inch. The faintest shadow of surprise crossed her sweet, happy face. Then she walked down the long room, nodding and smiling to the girls.