"How solemnly you speak," said Bridget, tears [Pg 32]coming slowly up and filling her eyes. "Is that a sermon? It makes me feel as if someone were walking over my grave. Why do you say things of that sort? I'm superstitious, you know. I'm very easily impressed. You oughtn't to do it—you oughtn't to frighten a stranger when she has just come over to your hard, cold sort of country.""Poor girl!" said Evelyn, a wistful expression coming into her eyes.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.
"So it is, Bridget. But you will permit me, an old woman compared to you, to point out a fact—the self-denying people are the happy ones, the selfish are the miserable. Take your own way now in your youth, sip each pleasure as it comes, turn from the disagreeables, trample on those who happen to be in your way, as you did on that rosebud just now, and you will lay up misery for yourself in the future. You will be a very wretched woman when you reach my age."
Dorothy Collingwood ran after Mrs. Freeman.Mrs. Freeman took her unwilling hand, led her into Miss Patience's dull little sitting room, which only[Pg 63] looked out upon the back yard, and, shutting the door behind her, left her to her own meditations.Dorothy shared the same bedroom as Ruth and Olive. Each girl, however, had a compartment to herself, railed in by white dimity curtains, which she could draw or not as she pleased. Dorothy's compartment was the best in the room; it contained a large window looking out over the flower garden, and commanding a good view of the sea. She was very particular about her pretty cubicle, and kept it fresh with flowers, which stood in brackets against the walls.
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"That's as bad as the other expression, Bridget."
Janet turned away, and a moment later reached the door of the schoolroom, where she was joined by Olive and Ruth. "Come," she said to them, and the three girls disappeared, only too glad to vent their feelings in the passage outside the schoolroom. Dorothy Collingwood lingered behind her companions. "Never mind," she said to Biddy, "it is rude of Janet to leave you, but she is sometimes a little erratic in her movements. It is a way our Janey has, and of course no one is silly enough to mind her."
"Miss Collingwood," said Marshall, in a timid whisper, "might I say a word to you, miss?"
"There, thank Heaven, I haven't killed her!" exclaimed Bridget.
"I can't share your sorrow," replied Janet. "If her punishment, whatever it is, deprives us of her charming society for a few days, it will be a boon to the entire school. I noticed that she was absent from dinner, and I will own I have not had a pleasanter meal for some time."
"I can't eat, Marshall," she said. "I'm treated shamefully, and the very nicest dinner wouldn't tempt me. You can take it away, for I can't possibly touch a morsel. Oh, dear! oh, dear! how I do wish I were at home again! What a horrid, horrid sort of place school is!"