The girls took their places at the table—grace was said, and the meal began."Well, let's settle to business now," said Ruth; "I'm sure I'm more than willing. Who has got a pencil and paper?"
In consequence she was popular, with that mild sort of popularity which is bestowed upon the people who are all patience and have no faculty for inspiring fear.
"It's a distinct insult," began Dolly. "I disapprove—I disapprove.""It is more than a pity, Bridget," said her governess in a severe tone. "I am sorry to have to open your eyes, my dear child; but in picking any of my roses you have taken an unwarrantable liberty."
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"Oh, never mind about bed—I'm not the least sleepy."
"You were not miserable yesterday."The common room to which she conducted Miss O'Hara was entirely for the use of the elder girls; the girls of the middle and the lower school had other[Pg 20] rooms to amuse themselves in. But this large, luxuriously furnished apartment was entirely given up to the sixth and fifth-form schoolgirls.
When the servant answered her summons, she desired her to ask Miss O'Hara to come to her immediately.She went downstairs and entered her own private sitting room. It was now half-past eleven o'clock, and morning school was over. The weather was too hot for regular walks, and the girls were disporting themselves according to their own will and pleasure on the lawns and in the beautiful grounds which surrounded the school.
"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."
"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."
The summer sounds came in to her, for the window of her dull room was open, the birds were twittering in the trees, innumerable doves were cooing; there was the gentle, soft whisper of the breeze, the cackling of motherly hens, the lowing of cows, and, far away beyond and over them, the insistent, ceaseless whisper of the gentle waves on the shore.
An audible titter was heard down the table, and Mrs. Freeman turned somewhat red.