Olive looked at her steadily."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.""I certainly want you, Bridget. I am not in the habit of sending for my pupils if I don't wish to speak to them."
"I'm very sorry, Marshall," said Dorothy, "but Miss O'Hara has really been very naughty. You have heard, of course, of the carriage accident, and how nearly Miss Percival was hurt. It's kind of you to plead for Miss O'Hara, but she really does deserve rather severe punishment, and Mrs. Freeman is most kind, as well as just. I don't really see how I can interfere."
"Don't shake me so, Vi, my honey; I'm coming to the exciting place—now then. Well, as I was going up the stairs all quite lonely, and by myself, never a soul within half a mile of me——"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.She was in every sense of the word an untamed creature; she was like a wild bird who had just been caught and put into a cage.
"Thanks!" she repeated again. "If I want your help I'll ask for it, Olive. I'm going into the house now, for I really must get on with my preparation."
"I ought not to speak," said Dorothy, turning very red, "but if you are going to be hard on Bridget——""Am I ever hard to my pupils, my love?"
"We'll all be delighted to have her again, of course," said Olive. "And is she really quite well, Miss Delicia?"Mrs. Freeman could see them as she sat in her sitting room.Miss Patience had a thin voice, and her words fell like tiny drops of ice on the girl's excited hearts. They followed their teachers with a certain sense of flatness, and with very little desire to attend to French verbs and German exercises.
"Well, let's settle to business now," said Ruth; "I'm sure I'm more than willing. Who has got a pencil and paper?"