In every sense of the word Bridget was unexpected. She had an extraordinary aptitude for arithmetic, and took a high place in the school on account of her mathematics. The word mathematics, however, she had never even heard before. She could gabble French as fluently as a native, but did not know a word of the grammar. She had a perfect ear for music, could sing like a bird, and play any air she once heard, but she could scarcely read music at all, and was refractory and troublesome when asked to learn notes."Sit down, Dorothy," cried Ruth, "we have kept your favorite armchair vacant for you. Now, then, to discuss the Fancy Fair in all its bearings. Is it not kind of Mrs. Freeman to consent to our having it? She says it is quite an unusual thing for girls like us to do, but in the cause of that poor little baby, and because we wish the Fancy Fair to be our break-up treat, she consents. The only stipulation she makes is that we arrange the whole programme without troubling her."Evelyn Percival was one of the few girls in the school who was privileged to have a room to herself. Her little room was prettily draped in white and pink. It was called the Pink Room, and adjoined the Blue Room, which was occupied by Bridget O'Hara.
Steps—several steps—were heard clattering up the stone stairs of the little tower, and two or three girls of the middle school, with roughly tossed heads and excited faces, burst upon the seclusion of the four sixth-form girls.
"How do you do, all of you?" she said. "Well, Janet, good-morning"; she tapped Janet's indignant back with her firm, cool hand, and dropped into her place.
"Are you coming, Dorothy?" called Janet May from the end of the passage.Bridget's movements were so fleet that the head mistress had no time to intercept her; there was a flash of a white dress disappearing through the open window, and that was all."I shan't allow her to be persecuted," said Dorothy, with some firmness. "She's the most innocent creature I ever met in my life. Fancy a girl of her age, who has simply never had a rebuff, who has been petted, loved, made much of all her days, who looks at you with the absolute fearlessness of a baby, and talks out her mind as contentedly and frankly as a bird sings its song. I grant she's an anomaly, but I'm not going to be the one to teach her how cruel the world can be."
"I don't hear any sound whatever, Mrs. Freeman," she said, "but please don't be alarmed; Evelyn's train may have been late."
Bridget wore a white muslin dress with a long train. Her silver girdle was clasped round her waist. She went deliberately up to a rose tree in full flower, and, picking two or three half-opened buds, put them in her girdle."You can watch the sea from your bed, my dear," she said, "and I will send Dorothy to sit with you after[Pg 55] morning school. Now I want to ask you if you can give any idea of how the accident occurred?"
[Pg 59]"My conduct? What have I done?"
There are some jealous people who dislike the beautiful because they are beautiful, the good because they are good. Girls with this special character are to be found in every school. Janet May was one of them, but perhaps in the whole of Mulberry Court she was the only person who at this juncture cordially disliked Evelyn Percival.