"What does Janet mean?" Bridget would whisper to her nearest companion. "Is she saying something awfully clever? I'm sorry that I'm stupid—I don't quite catch her meaning.""And now," she said, turning to her two sisters, "the question of questions is this: what is to be done with Bridget O'Hara? Is she to continue at Mulberry Court after such a daring act of disobedience? Must the safety of the other scholars be sacrificed to her?"
"But Mrs. Freeman wants you to go to bed early to-night."
Her eyes were of that peculiar, very dark, very deep blue, which seems to be an Irish girl's special gift. Her eyelashes were thick and black, her complexion a fresh white and pink, her chestnut hair grew in thick, curly abundance all over her well-shaped head. Her beautifully cut lips wore a petulant but charming expression. There was a provocative, almost teasing, self-confidence about her, which to certain minds only added to her queer fascination.
"Hurrah! Hurrah! Long may she stay there! Now, do let us drop this tiresome subject. We have only ten minutes to ourselves before the rest of the committee arrive, and that point with regard to Evelyn Percival must be arranged. Come, Dorothy, let us race each other to the Lookout!""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."
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"Do, my love, and call to me if you do. I would not have that dear girl frightened for the world. I am more vexed than I can say with Hickman."Ruth clapped her hands."O Bridget!" exclaimed the little girls, starting back in affright.
She was in every sense of the word an untamed creature; she was like a wild bird who had just been caught and put into a cage.This morning Bridget had been practically "sent to Coventry." Even Dorothy was cold in her manner to her. The small children who had hung upon her words and followed her with delight the evening before, were now too frightened at the consequences of their own daring to come near her. Janet, Ruth, and Olive had shown their disapproval by marked avoidance and covert sneers. Bridget had done a very naughty act, and the school thought it well to show its displeasure.
"I must say one thing," replied Olive, "and then I will turn to a more congenial theme. I hope Evelyn Percival won't take Miss O'Hara's part. You know, Janet, what strong prejudices Evelyn has."
She looked at the merry group on the lawn, and a desire to join them, even though of course she knew she was in no sense one of them, came over her.
"Well, Marshall, I'll see what I can do. I must join Miss May now, for we have something important to decide, but I won't forget your words."
"Janet," said Mrs. Freeman, "will you oblige me by showing Miss O'Hara the schoolrooms and common rooms, and introducing her to one or two of her companions? Go, my dear," she continued, "but remember, Bridget, whether you are tired or not, I shall expect you to go to bed to-night at nine o'clock. It is half-past eight now, so you have half an hour to get acquainted with your schoolfellows."