It is not an easy matter to break in a wild colt, and this was the process which had now to take place with regard to the new girl, whose eccentricities and daring, whose curious mixture of ignorance and knowledge, of affectionate sympathy and careless levity, made her at once the adored and detested of her companions.
"Oh, well; it's all right for you to be here, I suppose," said Dorothy. "What were you saying, Bridget? I didn't catch that last sentence of yours."
"Bridget, you are talking a great deal of nonsense," said Dorothy, "and I for one am not going to listen to you. We are much too sensible to believe in ghost stories here, and there is no use in your trying to frighten us. Good-by, all of you; I am off to the house!"
Mrs. Freeman sighed as she said these words.
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"Oh, I'll come to that by and by; now about Miss O'Hara. Janet, I deny that she's weak."
The carriage lay smashed a couple of hundred yards from the gates of the avenue.She saw the wild landscape, the steep gravel path[Pg 26] which overhung the lake, the old squire with his white hair, and tall but slightly bent figure, pacing up and down, smoking his pipe and surrounded by his dogs. Dorothy fancied how, on most summer evenings, Bridget, impetuous, eager, and beautiful, walked by his side. She wondered how he had brought himself to part with her. She gave a little sigh as she shut the picture away from her mind, and as she laid her head on her pillow, she resolved to be very kind to the new girl.
Her eyes were of that peculiar, very dark, very deep blue, which seems to be an Irish girl's special gift. Her eyelashes were thick and black, her complexion a fresh white and pink, her chestnut hair grew in thick, curly abundance all over her well-shaped head. Her beautifully cut lips wore a petulant but charming expression. There was a provocative, almost teasing, self-confidence about her, which to certain minds only added to her queer fascination."Well, my dear, you must play it for me some evening, but we don't allow strumming at the Court."
"Yes, Bridget, very nice—go and take your place, my dear. There, beside Janet May. Another morning I hope you will be in time for prayers. Of course, we make all allowances the first day. Take your place directly, breakfast is half over."
"No. You are to take off that unsuitable afternoon costume you are now wearing, and put on a neat print dress for your morning work."
The girls were leaving the dining room while these thoughts were flashing through Marshall's mind. Dorothy and Janet May were walking side by side.
"I believe I am more frightened than hurt," said Miss Percival, struggling to sit up, and smiling at Mrs. Freeman, "I'm so awfully sorry that I've lost my[Pg 51] nerve. Where am I? what has happened? I only remember Caspar turning right round and looking at me, and some people shouting, and then the carriage went over, and I cannot recall anything more. But I don't think—no—I am sure I am not seriously hurt."