Miss Collingwood was turning away, when her mistress stretched out her hand and drew her back."Now, do let us be sensible," said Janet, turning to her companions. "We have seen all that there is to be seen. However hard we guess we cannot solve the mystery. Either a new companion is coming among us, who, I have no doubt, will be as commonplace as commonplace can be, or Mrs. Freeman is receiving a young lady visitor. Supper will decide the point, and as that is not half an hour away I suppose we can exist for the present without worrying our brains any further."
"Only the head girl of the school," remarked Dolly in a soft tone. "But of course a person of not the smallest consequence. Well, Janet, what next?"
"Yes, Marshall," said Dorothy; she stopped. Janet stopped also, and gave Marshall a freezing glance.
Janet, accompanied by Olive and Ruth, was pacing slowly backward and forward under some shady trees. Her satellites were devoted to her, and Janet's slender figure was very erect, and her manner somewhat dictatorial. Dorothy Collingwood was not to be seen, she had evidently gone to join Evelyn upstairs. The girls of the middle school were preparing to exert themselves over more than one tennis match. The smaller children were going down to the shore.The common room to which she conducted Miss O'Hara was entirely for the use of the elder girls; the girls of the middle and the lower school had other[Pg 20] rooms to amuse themselves in. But this large, luxuriously furnished apartment was entirely given up to the sixth and fifth-form schoolgirls."Is she? I love her—she is a sweet darling! And you really want me to love you, Mrs. Freeman? Well, then, I will. Take a hug now—there, that's comfortable."
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"Hark! Stop talking!" said Mrs. Freeman."I shan't allow her to be persecuted," said Dorothy, with some firmness. "She's the most innocent creature I ever met in my life. Fancy a girl of her age, who has simply never had a rebuff, who has been petted, loved, made much of all her days, who looks at you with the absolute fearlessness of a baby, and talks out her mind as contentedly and frankly as a bird sings its song. I grant she's an anomaly, but I'm not going to be the one to teach her how cruel the world can be."
"No, Bridget, you cannot. You have been sent here to be under my care, and you must remain with me at least until the end of the term."
"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?"
Bridget slipped her hand into her pocket, and pulled out an exquisitely embossed vinaigrette.