Mrs. Freeman took her unwilling hand, led her into Miss Patience's dull little sitting room, which only[Pg 63] looked out upon the back yard, and, shutting the door behind her, left her to her own meditations."Yes, what a loud, metallic sound! We have such a dear old eight-day clock at the Castle; it's said to be quite a hundred years old, and I'm certain it's haunted. My dear Dolly, to hear that clock boom forth the hour at midnight would make the stoutest heart quail."
"Hate her?" said Janet; "there must be a certain strength about a girl to make you hate her. I've a contempt for Bridget, but I don't rouse myself to the exertion of hating."
"I can't help it, my dear; I'm honest, whatever I am.""Oh, don't I!" said Janet, stamping her small foot.
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"And so do I"—"And I"—cried both Ruth and Olive.
"Oh, what a wicked girl you are," said Mrs. Freeman, roused out of her customary gentle manner by the sight of Evelyn's motionless form. "I can't speak to you at this moment, Bridget O'Hara; go away, leave Evelyn to me. Evelyn, my darling, look at me, speak to me—say you are not hurt!""I want us to utilize our opportunities," said Janet. "We have a few minutes all to ourselves to discuss the[Pg 7] Fancy Fair, and we fritter it away on that tiresome new girl."
"Don't say 'good gracious,' Bridget; it's a very ugly way of expressing yourself. You have learnt something, haven't you?""No fruit, thank you. Oh, what a lovely ring you have on! It's a ruby, isn't it? My poor mother—she died when I was only three—had some splendid rubies—they are to be mine when I am grown up. Papa is keeping them for me in the County Bank. You always keep your valuables in the Bank in Ireland, you know—that's on account of the Land Leaguers."
She was not present, however, and did not, indeed, put in an appearance in the breakfast room until the meal was half over.