"What is it, my dear?" The head mistress drew herself slightly up, and looked in some surprise at her pupil.Dorothy, Bridget, and a number of the girls of the lower school were walking up and down a broad road which led to the shore. They were talking and laughing. The smaller girls were dancing and running about in their eagerness. Some very funny proposal had undoubtedly been made, and much explosive mirth was the result.
"It's most mournful to see her, poor dear!" she muttered. "She's fat and strong and hearty, but I know by the shape of her mouth that she's that obstinate she won't touch any food, and she won't give in to obey Mrs. Freeman, not if it's ever so. I do pity her, poor dear, and it aint only for the sake of the things she gives me. Now let me see, aint there anyone I can speak to about her? Oh, there's Miss Dorothy Collingwood, she aint quite so 'aughty as the other young ladies; I think I will try her, and see ef she couldn't bring the poor dear to see reason."
"No, it was that wild Irish girl's doing. I really don't know what to do with her.""I think I understand you, Dorothy," said Mrs. Freeman. "Kiss me!""My dears," said Mrs. Freeman, answering the looks on all faces, "your young companion's extraordinary conduct can only be explained by the fact that she has never been at school before. I am going out to the garden to speak to her. You girls will now go as usual to your separate schoolrooms and commence study."
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After two or three applications the injured girl stirred faintly, a shade of color came into her cheeks, and she opened her eyes.Bridget could certainly not return home without money.
The eyes of every girl in the room were fixed eagerly on their mistress; they were all round with wonder, lips were slightly parted. The girls felt that a volcano had got into their midst, an explosion was imminent. This feeling of electricity in the air was very exciting; it stirred the somewhat languid pulses of the schoolgirls. Surely such an impulsive, such a daring, such an impertinent, and yet such a bewitching girl had never been heard of before. How sweet she looked in her white dress, how radiant was her smile. Those pearly white teeth of hers, those gleaming, glancing eyes, that soft voice that could utter such saucy words; oh! no wonder the school felt interested, and raised out of itself.
"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.
A titter ran down the table at these remarks; Mrs. Freeman bent to pick up her pocket handkerchief, and Miss Delicia, rushing to Bridget's side, began to whisper vigorously in her ear.