"I can't help it, my dear; I'm honest, whatever I am.""Faix, then, it does, honey. I'm all agog to see this lovely queen. Why has she been absent so long? Doesn't Mrs. Freeman require any lessons of the sweet creature? Oh, then, it's I that would like to be in her shoes, if that's the case."
The door was opened, and a neatly dressed servant of the name of Marshall entered, bearing a dinner tray.
"Please wait one moment, Mrs. Freeman."
"Let's run down the road, then, and give her a welcome," said Bridget. "In Ireland we'd take the horses off the carriage, and draw her home ourselves. Of course, we can't do that, but we might go to meet her, waving branches of trees, and we might raise a hearty shout when we saw her coming. Come along, girls—what a lark! I'll show you how we do this sort of thing in old Ireland! Come! we'll cut down boughs as we go along. Come! be quick, be quick!"
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She looked at her friend with a cool, critical eye.
"I don't think I shall like school," she said, "but I'll do anything you wish me to do, dearest Dorothy."
"And we are not allowed to go out of the grounds by ourselves," cried several other voices.
"Yes, my love, or she would not be returning."
"Now, how old am I?" she asked, stamping her arched foot. "Don't be shy, any of you. Begin at the[Pg 17] eldest, and guess right away. Now then, Miss Collingwood—you see, I know your name—the age of your humble servant, if you please."
After a little pause, during which neither mistress nor pupil spoke, the pupil raised her head.