"I have some more things to say. I must get you, Bridget, before you leave this room, to make a promise."A slight additional color came into Miss Percival's cheeks.It really was too absurd. Janet could not help fidgeting almost audibly.
"My dear, I must tell you that I am a little anxious. Hickman took that shying horse, Caspar, to bring Evelyn home. I intended Miss Molly to have been sent for her. Dear Evelyn is still so nervous after her bad illness that I would not for the world have her startled in any way. And really, Caspar gets worse and worse. What is the matter, Janet? You have started now."
[Pg 39]What a fuss everyone was making about that stupid Evelyn Percival. Here was the head mistress even quite in a fume because she was a minute or two late in putting in an appearance."I think I understand you, Dorothy," said Mrs. Freeman. "Kiss me!"
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"Cross-patch!" murmured Violet, turning her back on Janet. "Come, Marion; come, Pauline, we won't tell her any more. We'll tell you, Dolly, of course, but we won't tell Janet. Come, Marion, let's go.""I can't share your sorrow," replied Janet. "If her punishment, whatever it is, deprives us of her charming society for a few days, it will be a boon to the entire school. I noticed that she was absent from dinner, and I will own I have not had a pleasanter meal for some time."She gave Bridget a great deal of sympathy, adjured her to eat, shook her head over her, and having gained a promise that a pair of long suède gloves should be added to the ribbons and Venetian beads, went away,[Pg 69] having quite made up her mind to take Bridget's part through thick and thin.
CHAPTER IV. THE QUEEN OF THE SCHOOL.Bridget stood and watched her. Olive kept a little apart, and the smaller girls clustered close together, watching their new friend's face with interest and admiration."And if she happens to fancy Bridget she won't mind[Pg 40] a word we say against her. She never does mind what anyone says. You know that, Janet."
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.
"I don't know how I can, Mrs. Freeman. I said at once, when I came to school and saw what kind of place it was, that I wouldn't obey the rules. They were so tiresome and silly; I didn't see the use of them."
"But Mrs. Freeman wants you to go to bed early to-night."
"Shall I really—how unfortunate; but she doesn't look a bad-tempered woman, and what is there in wishing for fresh eggs? Stale eggs aren't wholesome."