"No one is nice to-day. There's the most ridiculous, unfair fuss being made about nothing. There isn't a single girl in the school who hasn't turned against me,[Pg 60] because of the accident last night to that stupid, plain Miss Percival. If I'd hurt her, or if she were ill, and in the least pain, I'd be as sorry as the rest of them; but she's not in the slightest pain; she's quite well. I can't understand all this fuss."Mrs. Freeman went up to her, and took her hand. "My dear," she said, "I must make you feel my authority. I do this with great pain, for I know you have not had the advantage of the training which many of the girls who live here have received. I would treat you with kindness, Bridget, but you won't receive my kindness. Now I must be severe, but for your good. Until you promise to obey the rules of the school, you must not join your schoolfellows either at work or play. My sister Patience will allow you to sit with her in her sitting room, and your meals will be brought to you there. The length of your punishment rests with yourself, my dear."She ran lightly down the grassy slope, and touched Dorothy on her arm.
"And what's the darling's name?" asked Bridget.
"Do, my love, and call to me if you do. I would not have that dear girl frightened for the world. I am more vexed than I can say with Hickman.""She has been ill, Biddy," said Violet. "Evelyn has been ill, but she is better now; she's coming back to-night. We are all glad, for we all love her."
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"Spare me, my dear. I really am in too great a hurry to hear a list of your wardrobe. Is it possible that your father sent you to school with all that heap of finery, and nothing sensible to wear?"
"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."
"So it is, Bridget. But you will permit me, an old woman compared to you, to point out a fact—the self-denying people are the happy ones, the selfish are the miserable. Take your own way now in your youth, sip each pleasure as it comes, turn from the disagreeables, trample on those who happen to be in your way, as you did on that rosebud just now, and you will lay up misery for yourself in the future. You will be a very wretched woman when you reach my age."
"If I had only some smelling salts," she began.
"Janet," said Mrs. Freeman, "will you oblige me by showing Miss O'Hara the schoolrooms and common rooms, and introducing her to one or two of her companions? Go, my dear," she continued, "but remember, Bridget, whether you are tired or not, I shall expect you to go to bed to-night at nine o'clock. It is half-past eight now, so you have half an hour to get acquainted with your schoolfellows."
"Faix, then, it does, honey. I'm all agog to see this lovely queen. Why has she been absent so long? Doesn't Mrs. Freeman require any lessons of the sweet creature? Oh, then, it's I that would like to be in her shoes, if that's the case."