Janet was there, busily preparing her French lesson for M. le Comte. She was a very ambitious girl, and was determined to carry off as many prizes as possible at the coming midsummer examinations. She scarcely raised her eyes when Olive appeared."I can't eat anything, Marshall," said Bridget, shaking her head. "You are kind; I see by your face that you are very kind. When I'm let out of this horrid prison I'll give you some blue ribbon that I have upstairs, and a string of Venetian beads. I dare say you're fond of finery."
"It's all my fault, Mrs. Freeman," said Bridget O'Hara, looking up with a tear-stained face at her [Pg 50]governess. "I made the children come, and I made them cut the branches off the trees, and we ran, and shouted as we ran. I didn't think it would do any harm, it was all a joke, and to welcome her, for they said she was the queen, but no one is to blame in all the wide world but me."
"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.
"Yes, Bridget, very nice—go and take your place, my dear. There, beside Janet May. Another morning I hope you will be in time for prayers. Of course, we make all allowances the first day. Take your place directly, breakfast is half over."
As she cut the blossoms off, she flung them into her white skirt, which she had raised in front for the purpose. Now, as she ran to meet Mrs. Freeman, the skirt tumbled down, and the roses—red, white, and crimson—fell on the ground at her feet."But your father cannot pay for your disobedience—for the bad example you have set the little children, for the pain and anxiety you have given me."
The summer sounds came in to her, for the window of her dull room was open, the birds were twittering in the trees, innumerable doves were cooing; there was the gentle, soft whisper of the breeze, the cackling of motherly hens, the lowing of cows, and, far away beyond and over them, the insistent, ceaseless whisper of the gentle waves on the shore.
"Oh, how very funny—how—how unpleasant. Did you tell papa about that when he arranged to send me here?"
"Earn it—how? Do you mean pay extra for it? Oh, that can be easily managed—I'll write to papa at once. He has heaps of money, even though he is Irish, and he can deny me nothing. He's paying lots more for me than most of the girls' fathers pay for them. That's why I have a room to myself, and why I am to have riding lessons, and a whole heap of things. But I mean to share all my little comforts with you, you darling. Oh, if the cupboard is to be bought, I'll soon have one. Now let us sit in this cosy, deep seat in the window, and put our arms round one another and talk." The great clock in the stable struck nine.