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."I don't mean that sort of learning, Bridget. I mean what you acquire from books—grammar, French, music."The period at which this story begins was the middle of the summer term. There were no half-term holidays at the Court, but somehow the influence of holiday time had already got into the air. The young girls had tired themselves out with play, and the older ones lay about in hammocks, or strolled in twos or[Pg 2] threes up and down the wide gravel walk which separated the house from the gardens.
"We have lost her," said Olive, with a sigh.
"Don't shake me so, Vi, my honey; I'm coming to the exciting place—now then. Well, as I was going up the stairs all quite lonely, and by myself, never a soul within half a mile of me——""If she had any strength, she'd be ashamed of her ignorance," retorted Janet.Mrs. Freeman and Miss Patience had driven away in a very smart carriage with a pair of horses to meet her."But I'm all right to-day," said Evelyn, in her bright voice. "I don't feel any bad effects whatever from my accident. I can't think why I was so stupid as to faint, and give you a fright. I ought really to have more control over my nerves."
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Biddy turned, arrested in her gay flight from rosebush to rosebush.
"Yes, but at what?"
"After all, what does the Fancy Fair signify—I[Pg 5] mean—oh, don't be shocked, girls—I mean, what does it signify compared to a real living present interest? While we are discussing what is to take place in six weeks' time, Mrs. Freeman and Miss Patience are driving up the avenue with somebody else. Girls, the new inmate of Mulberry Court has begun to put in an appearance on the scene."