"O Dolly," they exclaimed, running up to their favorite, "she has come—we have seen her! She is very tall, and—and——"Miss Patience asked for a blessing on the meal just partaken of in a clear, emphatic voice, and the group of girls began to file out of the room.
"I cannot go, Bridget. Mrs. Freeman would not give me leave, and she would be only annoyed at my making such a foolish proposition."
[Pg 31]"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."
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"No, no—do forgive me!"
"It's all my fault, Mrs. Freeman," said Bridget O'Hara, looking up with a tear-stained face at her [Pg 50]governess. "I made the children come, and I made them cut the branches off the trees, and we ran, and shouted as we ran. I didn't think it would do any harm, it was all a joke, and to welcome her, for they said she was the queen, but no one is to blame in all the wide world but me."After that period she found her place to a certain extent, made some violent friends and some active enemies, was adored by the little girls, on whom she showered lollipops, kisses, and secrets, and was disliked more or less by every girl in the sixth and fifth form, Dorothy Collingwood excepted.She leant back, therefore, in her chair and reflected with a sad sort of pleasure on the sorrow which her father would feel when he learnt that she had almost died of hunger and exhaustion at this cruel school.
The children disappeared in as frantic haste to be off as they were a few minutes ago to arrive."It wasn't father, it was Aunt Kathleen. She chose my outfit in Paris. Oh, I do think it's lovely. I do feel that it's hard to be crushed on every point."
Olive had no inclination to join them. They had taken no notice of her, and she was not sufficiently fascinated by Bridget to run any risk for her sake. She knew that her present proceedings were wrong, but she was not at all brave enough to raise her voice in protest. She walked slowly back to the house, wondering whether she should go and tell Janet, or sink down lazily on a cozy seat and go on with a story book which was sticking out of her pocket.
"I don't think I shall like school," she said, "but I'll do anything you wish me to do, dearest Dorothy."
Marshall reappeared with the asparagus and cherry tart.
"That I was to take you round and introduce you to a few companions," continued Janet hastily. "Miss Collingwood, Miss O'Hara—Miss Moore, Miss O'Hara—Miss Bury, Miss O'Hara. Now I have done my duty. If you like to see the common room for yourself, you can go straight through this folding door, turn to your left, see a large room directly facing you; go into it, and you will find yourself in the common room. Now, good-night."