"Oh, lor, miss, you're too good, but there's that bell again; I must run this minute.""Yes, certainly. Let me introduce you to someone in particular. Janet May, come here, my dear."Steps—several steps—were heard clattering up the stone stairs of the little tower, and two or three girls of the middle school, with roughly tossed heads and excited faces, burst upon the seclusion of the four sixth-form girls.
"I'm afraid I have some unpleasant things to talk about, Miss O'Hara," she said. "But, before I begin, I must distinctly request you to remember that you are a young girl in the presence of the lady who has been appointed by your father to guide, direct, and command you."
"I don't believe you'll ever drive her," said Miss Delicia. "I know that sort of character. It's only hardened when it's driven.""You have a perfect mania for those children, Dorothy," exclaimed Olive. "I call it an impertinence on their parts to worry themselves about sixth-form girls. What's the matter, Janet? Why that contraction of your angel brow?"
"I must say one thing," replied Olive, "and then I will turn to a more congenial theme. I hope Evelyn Percival won't take Miss O'Hara's part. You know, Janet, what strong prejudices Evelyn has."
Evelyn Percival, the head girl of the school, was now between seventeen and eighteen years of age. She was a rather pale, rather plain girl; her forehead was broad and low, which gave indications of thoughtfulness more than originality; her wide open gray eyes had a singularly sweet expression; they were surrounded by dark eyelashes, and were the best features in a face which otherwise might have appeared almost insignificant."No fruit, thank you. Oh, what a lovely ring you have on! It's a ruby, isn't it? My poor mother—she died when I was only three—had some splendid rubies—they are to be mine when I am grown up. Papa is keeping them for me in the County Bank. You always keep your valuables in the Bank in Ireland, you know—that's on account of the Land Leaguers."Although the booming sound of the great gong filled the air, the supper to which the head girls of the school were now going was a very simple affair. It consisted of milk placed in great jugs at intervals down the long table, of fruit both cooked and uncooked, and large plates of bread and butter.A titter ran down the table at these remarks; Mrs. Freeman bent to pick up her pocket handkerchief, and Miss Delicia, rushing to Bridget's side, began to whisper vigorously in her ear.
"Lost whom?" answered Janet in her tart voice.[Pg 64]
She had not passed a pleasant morning, however, and this plan scarcely commended itself to her.
She burst into sudden frantic weeping.