"Love me," she pleaded; "do love me, for I love you."Mrs. Freeman spoke calmly, but there was a look about her face which gave Janet a very queer sensation. The schoolmistress took Alice's hand, and walked as quickly as she could to the scene of the accident.The smaller girls chatted volubly about the matter, and little Violet Temple, aged ten, and of course one of the small girls, so far forgot herself as to run up to[Pg 3] Dorothy Collingwood, clasp her hand affectionately round the tall girl's arm, and whisper in her impetuous, eager way:"How can I possibly tell you, Miss O'Hara?" she replied. "You are a tall girl. Perhaps you are seventeen, although you look more."
She ran lightly down the grassy slope, and touched Dorothy on her arm.
Violet frowned all over her fair, small face, but Olive Moore, a sixth-form girl, was too powerful an individual to be lightly disregarded. She shrugged her shoulders therefore, and walked sulkily away.
"We are each of us allowed a certain freedom here," said Dorothy. "You see these panels? It is a great promotion to possess a panel. All the girls who are allowed to have the use of this room cannot have one, but the best of us can. Now behold! Open sesame! Shut your eyes for a minute—you can open them again when I tell you. Now—you may look now."
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Should she run away altogether? Should she walk to Eastcliff and take the next train to London, and then, trusting to chance, and to the kindness of strangers, endeavor to find her way back to the dear and loving shores of the old country, and so back again to the beloved home?
CHAPTER II. THE NEW GIRL.A flash of self-pity filled her eyes, but there was some consolation in reflecting on the fact that no one could force her to eat against her will.
"Yes," continued Janet, "she met me half an hour ago, and told me to let you know, Dorothy, and you, Olive, and any other girls who happen to be specially interested, that we are to form our programme, and then ask her to give us an audience. She will look herself into all our plans, and tell us which can and cannot be carried into effect. The only other thing she stipulates is that we do not neglect our studies, and that we leave room in the happy day's proceedings for the distribution of the prizes."
She gave Bridget a great deal of sympathy, adjured her to eat, shook her head over her, and having gained a promise that a pair of long suède gloves should be added to the ribbons and Venetian beads, went away,[Pg 69] having quite made up her mind to take Bridget's part through thick and thin.
"This is my panel," said Dorothy, "and these are my own special pet things. I bring out my favorite chair when I want to use it, or to offer it to a guest; I put it back when I have done with it. See these shelves, they hold my afternoon tea set, my books, my paint box, my workbasket, my photographic album—in short, all my dearest treasures."