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?There was a plaintive note in the girl's voice, a wistful expression in her eyes, which went straight to Dorothy's kind heart.Mrs. Freeman was very particular with regard to tidiness, and the condition of this very pretty room filled her with grave displeasure. The rules with regard to tidy rooms, neatly kept drawers, a place for everything and everything in its place, were most stringent at Mulberry Court, but up to the present rules mattered nothing at all to Bridget O'Hara.
"Hadn't they got leave to come to meet me?"
"I'd punish her very severely," said Miss Patience. "I am sure punishment is what she wants. She ought to be broken in."
A fashionable watering-place called Eastcliff was situated about a mile from Mulberry Court, the old-fashioned house, with the old-world gardens, where the schoolgirls lived. There were about fifty of them in all, and they had to confess that although Mulberry Court was undoubtedly school, yet those who lived in the house and played in the gardens, and had merry games and races on the seashore, enjoyed a specially good time which they would be glad to think of by and by."Thank God for that, my darling," said Mrs. Freeman. She put her arm round the young girl, kissed her tenderly, and drew her away from Bridget.
The period at which this story begins was the middle of the summer term. There were no half-term holidays at the Court, but somehow the influence of holiday time had already got into the air. The young girls had tired themselves out with play, and the older ones lay about in hammocks, or strolled in twos or[Pg 2] threes up and down the wide gravel walk which separated the house from the gardens."You have a perfect mania for those children, Dorothy," exclaimed Olive. "I call it an impertinence on their parts to worry themselves about sixth-form girls. What's the matter, Janet? Why that contraction of your angel brow?""What?" said Katie, her eyes growing big with fascination and alarm.
"No, Bridget, you cannot. You have been sent here to be under my care, and you must remain with me at least until the end of the term."
"Now, what shall I eat?" she said. "By the way, I hope there's a nice breakfast, I'm awfully hungry. Oh, eggs! I like eggs when they're very fresh. Mrs. Freeman, are these new laid? do you keep your own fowls? Father and I wouldn't touch eggs at the Castle unless we were quite sure that they were laid by Sally, Sukey, or dear old Heneypeney."
"What?" said Katie, her eyes growing big with fascination and alarm.
Mrs. Freeman left her pupil's room, and went downstairs.