Miss Patience asked for a blessing on the meal just partaken of in a clear, emphatic voice, and the group of girls began to file out of the room."Well, well," interrupted Janet impatiently, "have your own way, Olive. Make that tiresome, disagreeable girl a female Hercules if you fancy, only cease to talk about her. That is all I have to beg."
"She has been ill, Biddy," said Violet. "Evelyn has been ill, but she is better now; she's coming back to-night. We are all glad, for we all love her."
When she said this a quick change flitted over Janet's face. She bit her lips, and, after a very brief pause, said in a voice of would-be indifference:For the first time there was a faint hesitation in her manner.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.A sense of disappointment was over them all, for the new girl upon whom their present thoughts were centered had not put in an appearance—nothing was said about her—Mrs. Freeman looked as tranquil as usual, Miss Patience as white and anxious, Miss Delicia as good-natured and downy.
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"We are not by ourselves when we are together," replied Bridget. "Come along, girls, don't be such little despicable cowards! I'll square it with Mrs.[Pg 44] Freeman. You trust me. Mrs. Freeman will forgive us everything when the queen is coming back. Now, do let's be quick, we haven't a minute to lose!"
"Oh, good gra——! I mean, mercy Moses!"Dorothy turned with her companion; they walked along the wide gravel sweep, then entered a narrow path which wound gradually up-hill. They soon reached a rural tower, which was called by the girls "The Lookout," mounted some steep steps, and found[Pg 4] themselves standing on a little platform, where two other girls were waiting to receive them.
"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.""I can't eat anything, Marshall," said Bridget, shaking her head. "You are kind; I see by your face that you are very kind. When I'm let out of this horrid prison I'll give you some blue ribbon that I have upstairs, and a string of Venetian beads. I dare say you're fond of finery.""And so do I"—"And I"—cried both Ruth and Olive.