"Look, dear," said the governess. "What is that distant speck? I am so terribly near-sighted that I cannot make out whether it is a carriage or cart of some sort."She used this tongue most frequently on Bridget O'Hara, but for the first time she was met by a wondering, puzzled, good-humored, and non-comprehending gaze.Bridget was a fortnight at the school, and had more or less shaken down into her place, when the evening arrived on which Miss Percival was to return.
"I don't think I ever felt my temper more irritated," murmured the good lady under her breath. "Why did I undertake an Irish girl, and one who had never been from home before? Well, the deed is done now, and I must not show impatience, however I may feel it. Bridget, my dear! Bridget O'Hara! Do you hear me?"
"How can I possibly guess?"
[Pg 38]"Oh, what a wicked girl you are," said Mrs. Freeman, roused out of her customary gentle manner by the sight of Evelyn's motionless form. "I can't speak to you at this moment, Bridget O'Hara; go away, leave Evelyn to me. Evelyn, my darling, look at me, speak to me—say you are not hurt!"Dorothy pulled an envelope out of her pocket. Olive searched into the recesses of hers to hunt up a lead pencil, and Janet continued to speak in her tranquil, round tones.
A loud booming sound filled the air.
"Pain and anxiety! I like that! You are just angry with me—that's about all!""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."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."Oh, goodness—no, I mustn't—mercy! nor that either; oh, I—I say, Mrs. Freeman, don't let the new dresses be frumpy, or I'll break my heart. I do so adore looking at myself in a lovely dress."
Bridget felt a wild desire to rush after Miss Patience, and defying all punishment and all commands, appear as usual in the dining room."I shan't allow her to be persecuted," said Dorothy, with some firmness. "She's the most innocent creature I ever met in my life. Fancy a girl of her age, who has simply never had a rebuff, who has been petted, loved, made much of all her days, who looks at you with the absolute fearlessness of a baby, and talks out her mind as contentedly and frankly as a bird sings its song. I grant she's an anomaly, but I'm not going to be the one to teach her how cruel the world can be."