But plain as Evelyn undoubtedly was, no one who knew her long ever remarked about her appearance, or gave a second thought to the fact that she could lay small claim to physical beauty.Notwithstanding her vehement words, some decided pangs of hunger seized her as she saw the tempting food, She remembered, however, that in the old novels heroines in distress had never any appetite, and she resolved to die rather than touch food while she was treated in so disgraceful a manner.Bridget's arms were flung impulsively round her governess's neck, and then one hand was tucked within the good lady's arm.
Bridget was sitting in the middle of the dusty road with a girl's head on her lap. The girl's figure was stretched out flat and motionless; her hat was off, and Bridget was pushing back some waves of fair hair from her temples.
"I don't believe she's a new schoolgirl at all," cried Ruth; "she's just a visitor come to stay for a day or two with Mrs. Freeman. No schoolgirl that ever[Pg 6] breathed would dare to present such a young lady, grown-up appearance. There, girls, don't let's waste any more time over her; let's turn our attention to the much more important matter of the Fancy Fair.""Nonsense, Evelyn. They disobeyed my most stringent orders. Are they not to be blamed for that?"The room was something like a drawing room, with many easy-chairs and tables. Plenty of light streamed in from the lofty windows, and fell upon knickknacks and brackets, on flowers in pots—in short, on the many little possessions which each individual girl had brought to decorate her favorite room.All the other girls in the school tried to be good when Evelyn was by, not because she would reproach them, but because she had a certain way about her which made goodness so attractive that they were forced to follow it.
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She saw the wild landscape, the steep gravel path[Pg 26] which overhung the lake, the old squire with his white hair, and tall but slightly bent figure, pacing up and down, smoking his pipe and surrounded by his dogs. Dorothy fancied how, on most summer evenings, Bridget, impetuous, eager, and beautiful, walked by his side. She wondered how he had brought himself to part with her. She gave a little sigh as she shut the picture away from her mind, and as she laid her head on her pillow, she resolved to be very kind to the new girl.[Pg 66]"Am I ever hard to my pupils, my love?"
"No, miss, that it can't," said Marshall, who felt as she expressed it afterward, "that royled by Miss May's 'aughty ways." "I won't keep Miss Collingwood any time, miss, ef you'll be pleased to walk on.""No, Bridget, you are to stay here; your dinner will be brought to you." Bridget flushed crimson.
The governess took it without a word, and opening it applied it to Evelyn's nostrils.
"But, my dear child, our hearts are not cold. I assure you, Bridget, I am most anxious to win your love, and so also is Dorothy Collingwood."
"Can't you, Bridget? I'm afraid I must make you understand that the fact of Evelyn being uninjured does not alter your conduct."