"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."Bridget was a fortnight at the school, and had more or less shaken down into her place, when the evening arrived on which Miss Percival was to return."I think you must mean Dorothy Collingwood," said Janet in her clear, cold English voice. "May I ask if you have ever been at school before, Miss O'Hara?"
She used this tongue most frequently on Bridget O'Hara, but for the first time she was met by a wondering, puzzled, good-humored, and non-comprehending gaze.
But this new girl was not following out any of the old precedents.
"I must have a cupboard like that," said Biddy. "Why, it's perfectly delicious!""Oh, you darling, what do minutes signify when one loves? There, Dolly, I have fallen in love with you, and that's the fact. You shall come and stay with me at the Castle in the summer, and I'll teach you to fire a gun and to land a salmon. Oh, my dear, what larks we'll have together! I'm so glad you're taking me round this house, instead of that stiff Janet.""Only to tell you that that pet of yours, Bridget O'Hara, is likely to get herself into a nice scrape. She has run down the road with a number of the small fry to meet Evelyn. They are taking boughs of trees with them, and are going to shout, or do something extraordinary, when they see her arriving. Janet, what's the matter? How queer you look!"A loud booming sound filled the air.
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"I did not feel tired, Mrs. Freeman," replied the newcomer in an eager, irrepressible sort of voice. "You put me into my room and told me to go to bed, but I didn't want to go to bed. I have had my supper, thank you, so I don't want any more, but I have been dying with curiosity to see the girls. Are these they? Are these my schoolfellows? I never saw a schoolfellow before. They all look pretty much like other[Pg 13] people. How do you do, each and all of you? I'm Bridget O'Hara. May I sit near you, Mrs. Freeman?"
Other new girls had arrived, and only the faintest rumors had got out about them beforehand.
Janet ran out of the room. Her heart was beating hard and fast. Should she tell Mrs. Freeman what Olive had just confided to her, that Bridget and a number of the smaller children of the school had rushed down the road to meet Evelyn, carrying boughs in their hands, and doubtless shouting loudly in their glee?"Now, my dear child, will you come into the house with me? I ought to be in the schoolroom now."
In about ten minutes' time Bridget came into the room without knocking. Her hat was still swinging on her arm; there was a wild-rose color on her cheeks; her eyes had a certain excited, untamed gleam in them.
"I can't help it, my dear; I'm honest, whatever I am."
"Now, let's go on," said Janet, in her calm tones. "Let us try and settle something before the supper bell rings. We must have a committee, that goes without saying. Suppose we four girls form it."
"Oh, what a wicked girl you are," said Mrs. Freeman, roused out of her customary gentle manner by the sight of Evelyn's motionless form. "I can't speak to you at this moment, Bridget O'Hara; go away, leave Evelyn to me. Evelyn, my darling, look at me, speak to me—say you are not hurt!"