But this new girl was not following out any of the old precedents."O Dolly," they exclaimed, running up to their favorite, "she has come—we have seen her! She is very tall, and—and——""Not for over a month?""Bridget O'Hara!" exclaimed Janet, "that incorrigible, unpleasant girl? Why did you waste your time listening to her?"
"I can't share your sorrow," replied Janet. "If her punishment, whatever it is, deprives us of her charming society for a few days, it will be a boon to the entire school. I noticed that she was absent from dinner, and I will own I have not had a pleasanter meal for some time."
What would the new girl be like? Was she rich or poor, handsome or ugly, tall or short, dark or fair? Why did she come in the middle of the term, and why did Mrs. Freeman, and Miss Delicia, and Miss Patience make such a fuss about her?
"Oh, but I hate self-denial, and that dreadful motto—'No cross, no crown.' I'm like a butterfly—I can't live without sunshine. Papa agrees with me that sunshine is necessary for life.""I won't eat any dinner in this horrid room," she said; "I think I have been treated shamefully. If my dinner is sent to me I won't eat it.""I don't hear any sound whatever, Mrs. Freeman," she said, "but please don't be alarmed; Evelyn's train may have been late."
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"Don't you hear the clock?" exclaimed Dorothy, unconscious relief coming into her tones."Are you there, Janet?" said Mrs. Freeman. "Go into the house, and ask Miss Patience to follow me down the road. And see that someone goes for Dr. Hart. Alice, you can come back with me. The rest of the little girls are to go into the playroom, and to stay there until I come to them.""Yes, you will. You'll soon learn to control your tongue and to speak in a ladylike way.""She's not so bad at all," began Dorothy.
"Yes," continued Janet, "she met me half an hour ago, and told me to let you know, Dorothy, and you, Olive, and any other girls who happen to be specially interested, that we are to form our programme, and then ask her to give us an audience. She will look herself into all our plans, and tell us which can and cannot be carried into effect. The only other thing she stipulates is that we do not neglect our studies, and that we leave room in the happy day's proceedings for the distribution of the prizes.""O Janey," exclaimed two of the other girls in a breath, "a committee does sound so absurdly formal."
"Oh, how very funny—how—how unpleasant. Did you tell papa about that when he arranged to send me here?"
"I'd punish her very severely," said Miss Patience. "I am sure punishment is what she wants. She ought to be broken in."
"Oh, I declare, the little dear is huffed about something! Well, then, I'll tell. I'll be fifteen in exactly a month from now! What do you say to that? I'm well grown, am I not, Janet?"
On this particular day the world ceases to speak in those gentle and submissive tones. With all its grays and its blacks turned full in view, it says: "You are only an atom; there are millions of other human beings to share my good things as well as my evil. After all, I am not your slave, but your mistress; I have made laws, and you have got to obey them. Up to the present I have treated you as a baby, but now I am going to show you what life really means."