"Poor old dear! But wanting Biddy O'Hara to do a thing, and making her do it, are two very different matters. I'll go to bed when I'm tired—papa never expected me to go earlier at home. I declare I feel quite cheerful again now that I have got to know you, Dorothy. Janet is not at all to my taste, but you are. What a pretty name you have, and you have an awfully sweet expression—such a dear, loving kind of look in your eyes. Would you mind very much if I gave you a hug?""When will that be?"
"No one is nice to-day. There's the most ridiculous, unfair fuss being made about nothing. There isn't a single girl in the school who hasn't turned against me,[Pg 60] because of the accident last night to that stupid, plain Miss Percival. If I'd hurt her, or if she were ill, and in the least pain, I'd be as sorry as the rest of them; but she's not in the slightest pain; she's quite well. I can't understand all this fuss."
"I don't mean that, miss; I mean that perhaps you'd talk to Miss Bridget, and persuade her to do whatever Mrs. Freeman says is right. I don't know what that is, of course, but you has a very kind way, Miss Dorothy,[Pg 71] and ef you would speak to Miss O'Hara, maybe she'd listen to you."
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Mrs. Freeman went up to her, and took her hand. "My dear," she said, "I must make you feel my authority. I do this with great pain, for I know you have not had the advantage of the training which many of the girls who live here have received. I would treat you with kindness, Bridget, but you won't receive my kindness. Now I must be severe, but for your good. Until you promise to obey the rules of the school, you must not join your schoolfellows either at work or play. My sister Patience will allow you to sit with her in her sitting room, and your meals will be brought to you there. The length of your punishment rests with yourself, my dear."
"Oh, I'll come to that by and by; now about Miss O'Hara. Janet, I deny that she's weak."After that period she found her place to a certain extent, made some violent friends and some active enemies, was adored by the little girls, on whom she showered lollipops, kisses, and secrets, and was disliked more or less by every girl in the sixth and fifth form, Dorothy Collingwood excepted.
Uncharitable talk about others ceased when Evelyn drew near. Selfishness slunk away ashamed.
"I wish you'd go away, child!" said Janet in a decidedly cross tone. "What are all you small girls doing out and about at this hour? Surely it's time for you to be in bed. What can Miss Marshall be about not to have fetched you before now?"
"How do you do, all of you?" she said. "Well, Janet, good-morning"; she tapped Janet's indignant back with her firm, cool hand, and dropped into her place.
"No, I can't do that; we have to obey rules at school, and one of our strictest rules is that no girl is to leave her own bedroom without special permission."