By this time the preparations for the Fancy Fair were in active progress. Janet May had obtained her own wish with regard to the Committee, each member of which was allowed to choose a band of workers under herself, to make articles for the coming sale."Miss Collingwood," said Marshall, in a timid whisper, "might I say a word to you, miss?"
Janet was forced to comply, and Dorothy exclaimed eagerly:
"I think you must mean Dorothy Collingwood," said Janet in her clear, cold English voice. "May I ask if you have ever been at school before, Miss O'Hara?""This is my panel," said Dorothy, "and these are my own special pet things. I bring out my favorite chair when I want to use it, or to offer it to a guest; I put it back when I have done with it. See these shelves, they hold my afternoon tea set, my books, my paint box, my workbasket, my photographic album—in short, all my dearest treasures.""Nonsense, Evelyn. They disobeyed my most stringent orders. Are they not to be blamed for that?"
"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."For some reason her companions, both old and young in the school, had taken upon themselves to cut her.Bridget, her hat hanging on her arm, defiance very marked on her brow, came suddenly into view. She was alone, and Mrs. Freeman noticed that Janet and her two companions stopped to look at her as if they rather enjoyed the spectacle. They paused for a moment, stared rudely, then turned their backs on Miss O'Hara.
"You were not miserable yesterday."
"But your father cannot pay for your disobedience—for the bad example you have set the little children, for the pain and anxiety you have given me."
"Now, how old am I?" she asked, stamping her arched foot. "Don't be shy, any of you. Begin at the[Pg 17] eldest, and guess right away. Now then, Miss Collingwood—you see, I know your name—the age of your humble servant, if you please."