"Well, Dolly, have you got rid of that horrible incubus of a girl at last? What a trial she will be in the school! She's the most ill-bred creature I ever met in my life. What can Mrs. Freeman mean by taking her in? Of course, she cannot even pretend to be a lady.""I did not specially mention the flowers, my dear. There are many rules in full force at Mulberry Court, and the pupils are expected to obey them all.""Well, dear, you are not to blame. I shall take you to Eastcliff this afternoon, and order some plain dresses to be made up for you."
Her first impulse was to open the door of her prison and go boldly out.
"Nonsense, Janet, you know you're one of the best French scholars in the school. You won't get out of answering my question by that flimsy excuse. Don't you hate Miss O'Hara?"She was in every sense of the word an untamed creature; she was like a wild bird who had just been caught and put into a cage.
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"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!"
"Well, dear, well! half a mile is a figure of speech. That's a way we have in Ireland—we figure of speech everything; it's much more graphic. Now, to go on. I was running up the stairs with my candle, and the wind rushing after me like mad, and the Castle rocking as if it were in an agony, when—— What do you think happened?""Please wait one moment, Mrs. Freeman.""Why did you speak so sharply to her, Olive?" exclaimed Dorothy. "After all, her curiosity is but natural—I must even own that I share it myself."
Ruth and Olive slept in the back part of the room. They had a cubicle each, of course, but they had not Dorothy's taste, and their little bedrooms had a dowdy effect beside hers.
After a little pause, during which neither mistress nor pupil spoke, the pupil raised her head.
She was not a specially clever girl, nevertheless she was now, in virtue of her seniority, and a certain painstaking determination, which made her capable of mastering her studies, at the head of the school.
"I believe I am more frightened than hurt," said Miss Percival, struggling to sit up, and smiling at Mrs. Freeman, "I'm so awfully sorry that I've lost my[Pg 51] nerve. Where am I? what has happened? I only remember Caspar turning right round and looking at me, and some people shouting, and then the carriage went over, and I cannot recall anything more. But I don't think—no—I am sure I am not seriously hurt."
While Janet was speaking, Dorothy, who had refused to seat herself in the armchair assigned to her, and whose clear, bright blue eyes were roving eagerly all over the beautiful summer landscape, exclaimed in an eager voice: