[Pg 61]"I'd make it up if I was you, miss," she said."Oh, good gracious me! don't call me Miss O'Hara. I'm Biddy to my friends—Biddy O'Hara, at your service—great fun, too, I can tell you. You ask my father what he thinks of me. Poor old gentleman, I expect he's crying like anything this minute without his Biddy to coddle him. He said I wanted polishing, and so he sent me here. I have never been in England before, and I don't at all know if I will like it. By the way, what's your name? I didn't quite catch it."
"And there's such a fuss made about her, too," interrupted Olive. "A carriage and pair sent to meet her, forsooth, and a separate room for the darling to sleep in. It was good-natured of you to stay with her, Dolly;[Pg 25] I assure you Ruth, and Janet, and I could not have borne another moment of her society."
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."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."Janet turned away, and a moment later reached the door of the schoolroom, where she was joined by Olive and Ruth. "Come," she said to them, and the three girls disappeared, only too glad to vent their feelings in the passage outside the schoolroom. Dorothy Collingwood lingered behind her companions. "Never mind," she said to Biddy, "it is rude of Janet to leave you, but she is sometimes a little erratic in her movements. It is a way our Janey has, and of course no one is silly enough to mind her."She burst into sudden frantic weeping.
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The girls were leaving the dining room while these thoughts were flashing through Marshall's mind. Dorothy and Janet May were walking side by side.
"Hate her?" said Janet; "there must be a certain strength about a girl to make you hate her. I've a contempt for Bridget, but I don't rouse myself to the exertion of hating.""Did you want me, Mrs. Freeman?" she said, in her lazy, rich, somewhat impertinent voice."Now, my dear child, will you come into the house with me? I ought to be in the schoolroom now.""He'll be sorry he sent me; he'll be sorry he listened to Aunt Kathleen," she said to herself.
A couple of maids had been seen carrying a new trunk upstairs, or old Piper had been discovered crawling down the avenue with his shaky cab, and shakier horse, and then the new girl had appeared at tea-time and been formally introduced, and if she were shy had got over it as best she could, and had soon discovered her place in class, and there was an end of the matter.
"Will you have some fruit?" she said coldly, laying[Pg 14] a restraining hand as she spoke on the girl's beflowered and embroidered dress.
"Good gracious, why, that's weeks off! I can't live without flowers for weeks! Look here, Mrs. Freeman; is there not to be an exception made for me? Papa said, when I was coming here, that my happiness was to be the first thing considered. Don't you agree with him? Don't you wish me to be very, very happy?"
"I don't suppose that Evelyn Percival is to rule the school. She is away at present, and we can't wait on her will and pleasure. Let's form our committee, and do without her."