"It's all my fault, Mrs. Freeman," said Bridget O'Hara, looking up with a tear-stained face at her [Pg 50]governess. "I made the children come, and I made them cut the branches off the trees, and we ran, and shouted as we ran. I didn't think it would do any harm, it was all a joke, and to welcome her, for they said she was the queen, but no one is to blame in all the wide world but me.""You have disobeyed me. One of my strictest rules forbids the girls to leave the grounds without permission. You not only left the grounds contrary to my express order, but you took several of the little children of the school with you. It is against my orders to have the trees destroyed by breaking off branches. Knowing this, you willfully disobeyed me again, and you and your companions rushed down the road shouting wildly. What was the result? Evelyn Percival mercifully escaped serious injury, but my carriage was broken and my horse damaged. The mere money loss you have occasioned me, Bridget——"
"How can I possibly tell you, Miss O'Hara?" she replied. "You are a tall girl. Perhaps you are seventeen, although you look more."Mrs. Freeman and Miss Patience had driven away in a very smart carriage with a pair of horses to meet her.
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"And you also dislike poor Bridget? I can't imagine why you take such strong prejudices."
CHAPTER III. RIBBONS AND ROSES."You were not miserable yesterday."
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.[Pg 43]"I did not feel tired, Mrs. Freeman," replied the newcomer in an eager, irrepressible sort of voice. "You put me into my room and told me to go to bed, but I didn't want to go to bed. I have had my supper, thank you, so I don't want any more, but I have been dying with curiosity to see the girls. Are these they? Are these my schoolfellows? I never saw a schoolfellow before. They all look pretty much like other[Pg 13] people. How do you do, each and all of you? I'm Bridget O'Hara. May I sit near you, Mrs. Freeman?"
It was in some such fashion that the world spoke to Bridget O'Hara on this special summer's morning.
"And now," she said, turning to her two sisters, "the question of questions is this: what is to be done with Bridget O'Hara? Is she to continue at Mulberry Court after such a daring act of disobedience? Must the safety of the other scholars be sacrificed to her?"