Breakfast was at eight o'clock at Mulberry Court. The girls always assembled a quarter of an hour before breakfast in the little chapel for prayers. They were all especially punctual this morning, for they wanted to get a good peep at Miss O'Hara."It's a distinct insult," began Dolly. "I disapprove—I disapprove."Bridget slipped her hand into her pocket, and pulled out an exquisitely embossed vinaigrette.
"I don't know how I can, Mrs. Freeman. I said at once, when I came to school and saw what kind of place it was, that I wouldn't obey the rules. They were so tiresome and silly; I didn't see the use of them."
She was a dependable girl—clever up to a certain point, nice to those with whom she agreed, [Pg 37]affectionate to the people who did not specially prize her affection.Other new girls had arrived, and only the faintest rumors had got out about them beforehand.
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"I don't mean that, miss; I mean that perhaps you'd talk to Miss Bridget, and persuade her to do whatever Mrs. Freeman says is right. I don't know what that is, of course, but you has a very kind way, Miss Dorothy,[Pg 71] and ef you would speak to Miss O'Hara, maybe she'd listen to you.""Oh, if you take it up in that way," said Olive; but her words had a faint sound about them—she was a girl who was easily impressed either for good or evil."Yes; does not a mistress always command her pupils?"
The child's words were almost incoherent. Alice, who was not quite so excitable, began to pour out a queer story."This is the very plainest dress I possess, Mrs. Freeman; I pulled a lot out of my trunk this morning to look at them. There was a sky-blue delaine with coffee lace, and a pink surah, and——"
"Lost whom?" answered Janet in her tart voice.
"Oh, my!" exclaimed Miss O'Hara, "that's nothing. Goodness gracious me! what would you think of thirty or forty miles on an Irish jaunting car, all in one day, Mrs. Freeman? That's the sort of thing to make the back ache. Bump, bump, you go. You catch on to the sides of the car for bare life, and as likely as not you're pitched out into a bog two or three times before you get home. Papa and I have often taken our thirty to forty miles' jaunt a day. I can tell you, I have been stiff after those rides. Did you ever ride on a jaunting car, Mrs. Freeman?"
"How can I possibly tell you, Miss O'Hara?" she replied. "You are a tall girl. Perhaps you are seventeen, although you look more."