"After all, what does the Fancy Fair signify—I[Pg 5] mean—oh, don't be shocked, girls—I mean, what does it signify compared to a real living present interest? While we are discussing what is to take place in six weeks' time, Mrs. Freeman and Miss Patience are driving up the avenue with somebody else. Girls, the new inmate of Mulberry Court has begun to put in an appearance on the scene.""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."
Notwithstanding these various criticisms, the carriage with its occupants calmly pursued its way, and was presently lost to view in the courtyard at the side of the house.
"You deny that she's weak," repeated Janet. "I wonder what your idea of strength is, Olive."
All the other girls in the school tried to be good when Evelyn was by, not because she would reproach them, but because she had a certain way about her which made goodness so attractive that they were forced to follow it.Bridget, her hat hanging on her arm, defiance very marked on her brow, came suddenly into view. She was alone, and Mrs. Freeman noticed that Janet and her two companions stopped to look at her as if they rather enjoyed the spectacle. They paused for a moment, stared rudely, then turned their backs on Miss O'Hara.
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"I'd punish her very severely," said Miss Patience. "I am sure punishment is what she wants. She ought to be broken in.""Yes, Olive; I'm very busy. Do you want anything?"A titter ran down the table at these remarks; Mrs. Freeman bent to pick up her pocket handkerchief, and Miss Delicia, rushing to Bridget's side, began to whisper vigorously in her ear.
Dorothy was beginning to whisper to her companion that all their excitement was safe to end in smoke, when the door at the farther end of the dining hall was softly pushed open, and a head of luxuriant nut-brown curling hair was popped in. Two roguish dark blue eyes looked down the long room—they greeted with an eager sort of delighted welcome each fresh girl face, and then the entire person of a tall, showily dressed girl entered.
"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?"
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'm very busy, Olive; I wish you'd go away!"