"Yes, Olive; I'm very busy. Do you want anything?""Yes, certainly. Let me introduce you to someone in particular. Janet May, come here, my dear.""Can't you, Bridget? I'm afraid I must make you understand that the fact of Evelyn being uninjured does not alter your conduct."
Bridget uttered a faint sigh.
"My attainments! Good gracious, I haven't any!"
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."Do let me speak, Marion," exclaimed little Violet Temple, coloring all over her round face in her excitement and interest. "You know I got the first glimpse of her. I did, you know I did. I was hiding under the laurel arch, and I saw her quite close. It's awfully unfair of anyone else to tell, isn't it, Dolly?"
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"Bridget O'Hara!" exclaimed Janet, "that incorrigible, unpleasant girl? Why did you waste your time listening to her?"
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.What a fuss everyone was making about that stupid Evelyn Percival. Here was the head mistress even quite in a fume because she was a minute or two late in putting in an appearance.
"Learnt something? I should rather think I have. You question me on dogs, their different breeds, and their complaints! Do you know, Mrs. Freeman, what's the best thing to do for a dog if he shows signs of distemper?""Command me?" said Bridget, her nostrils dilating.
"Please remember——" she began.
Uncharitable talk about others ceased when Evelyn drew near. Selfishness slunk away ashamed.
"You can watch the sea from your bed, my dear," she said, "and I will send Dorothy to sit with you after[Pg 55] morning school. Now I want to ask you if you can give any idea of how the accident occurred?"
"Miss Bridget O'Hara. She aint understood, and she's in punishment, pore dear; shut up in Miss Patience's dull parlor. Mrs. Freeman don't understand her. She aint the sort to be broke in, and if Mrs. Freeman thinks she'll do it, she's fine and mistook. The pore dear is that spirited she'd die afore she'd own herself wrong. Do you think, Miss Collingwood, as she'd touch a morsel of her dinner? No, that she wouldn't! Bite nor sup wouldn't pass her lips, although I tempted her with a lamb chop and them beautiful marrow peas, and asparagus and whipped cream and cherry tart. You can judge for yourself, miss, that a healthy young lady with a good, fine appetite must be bad when she refuses food of that sort!"
Such as it was, however, supper was a much-prized institution of Mulberry Court; only the fifth-form and sixth-form girls were allowed to partake of it. To sit up to supper, therefore, was a distinction intensely envied by the lower school. The plain fare sounded to them like honey and ambrosia. They were never tired of speculating as to what went on in the dining room on these occasions, and the idea of sitting up to supper was with some of the girls a more stimulating reason for being promoted to the fifth form than any other which could be offered.