"I hate school," she said. "I want to go back to the Castle. Can I go to-day?""Bridget, my dear, before you come into the schoolroom I must request that you go upstairs and change your dress.""You remain here, Bridget," she repeated, "until you have promised to obey the rules of the school. No longer and no shorter will be your term of punishment. It remains altogether with yourself how soon you are liberated."
"Oh, good gra——! I mean, mercy Moses!"
When she said this a quick change flitted over Janet's face. She bit her lips, and, after a very brief pause, said in a voice of would-be indifference:
The common room to which she conducted Miss O'Hara was entirely for the use of the elder girls; the girls of the middle and the lower school had other[Pg 20] rooms to amuse themselves in. But this large, luxuriously furnished apartment was entirely given up to the sixth and fifth-form schoolgirls."It will be awfully unfair if you are, for I could pose you finely on my subjects. What's the first thing to do for a dog who shows symptoms of hydrophobia? How do you land a salmon? What keeps a gun from kicking? How does a dear old daddy like his pipe filled with tobacco? What is the best way to keep your seat when you ride bare-backed, and the horse runs away?[Pg 34] Ha, ha, I thought I'd pose you. I could have a very jolly school of my own, if I tried."
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"Janet May. This is the schoolroom where the[Pg 16] sixth form girls do their lessons. We have a desk each, of course. That room inside there is for the fifth form. I wonder which you will belong to? How old are you?"Bridget stood by the window, but she heard none of these soothing sounds. Her spoilt, childish heart was in the most open state of rebellion and revolt.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."I don't hear any sound whatever, Mrs. Freeman," she said, "but please don't be alarmed; Evelyn's train may have been late."
"Well, I never!" exclaimed Dorothy, after a pause. "I don't suppose Mrs. Freeman will allow that style of wardrobe long. See, girls, do see, how her long blue ribbons stream in the breeze; and her hat! it is absolutely covered with roses—I'm convinced they are roses. Oh, what would I not give for an opera glass to enable me to take a nearer view. Whoever that young person is, she intends to take the shine out of us. Why, she is dressed as if she had just come from a garden party."[Pg 56]
After that period she found her place to a certain extent, made some violent friends and some active enemies, was adored by the little girls, on whom she showered lollipops, kisses, and secrets, and was disliked more or less by every girl in the sixth and fifth form, Dorothy Collingwood excepted.
"Oh, never mind about bed—I'm not the least sleepy."
There was a plaintive note in the girl's voice, a wistful expression in her eyes, which went straight to Dorothy's kind heart.