Ruth clapped her hands.
"Earn it—how? Do you mean pay extra for it? Oh, that can be easily managed—I'll write to papa at once. He has heaps of money, even though he is Irish, and he can deny me nothing. He's paying lots more for me than most of the girls' fathers pay for them. That's why I have a room to myself, and why I am to have riding lessons, and a whole heap of things. But I mean to share all my little comforts with you, you darling. Oh, if the cupboard is to be bought, I'll soon have one. Now let us sit in this cosy, deep seat in the window, and put our arms round one another and talk." The great clock in the stable struck nine.
"Are you going to be cross when you find I don't know your sort of things?""No, not very. The younger girls were fond of me, and Dorothy Collingwood was nice."
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Miss Percival's accident, and Bridget O'Hara's share in it, were the subjects of conversation not only that night, but the next morning.
As Dorothy and her companions walked through the wide, cool entrance hall, and turned down the stone passage which led to the supper room, they were quite conscious of the fact that some of the naughtiest and most adventurous imps of the lower[Pg 11] school were hovering round, hanging over banisters or hiding behind doors. A suppressed giggle of laughter proceeded so plainly from the back of one of the doors, that Dorothy could not resist stretching back her hand as she passed, and giving a playful tap on the panels with her knuckles. The suppressed laughter became dangerously audible when she did this, so in mercy she was forced to take no further notice."And what's the darling's name?" asked Bridget."My dear Bridget!" exclaimed Mrs. Freeman, so surprised by the unexpected apparition that she was actually obliged to rise from her seat and come forward.
She stood for a minute or two, then walked slowly back to the window, out of which her schoolmistress leaned."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."
"Oh, but I hate self-denial, and that dreadful motto—'No cross, no crown.' I'm like a butterfly—I can't live without sunshine. Papa agrees with me that sunshine is necessary for life."
"But you look queer. Are you frightened about anything?"
"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."
The girls entered the wide, long dining hall and immediately took their places at the table.