"You deny that she's weak," repeated Janet. "I wonder what your idea of strength is, Olive."While Janet was speaking, Dorothy, who had refused to seat herself in the armchair assigned to her, and whose clear, bright blue eyes were roving eagerly all over the beautiful summer landscape, exclaimed in an eager voice:"Yes; you have got to earn it first, however," replied Miss Collingwood, slipping back the pale green panel with a dexterous movement."It is not the custom at school, my dear child, to make remarks about what we eat. We just take what is put before us. Here's a nice piece of bacon, dear, and some toast. Don't say anything more, I beg, or you will annoy Mrs. Freeman."
"He'll be sorry he sent me; he'll be sorry he listened to Aunt Kathleen," she said to herself.
Janet, accompanied by Olive and Ruth, was pacing slowly backward and forward under some shady trees. Her satellites were devoted to her, and Janet's slender figure was very erect, and her manner somewhat dictatorial. Dorothy Collingwood was not to be seen, she had evidently gone to join Evelyn upstairs. The girls of the middle school were preparing to exert themselves over more than one tennis match. The smaller children were going down to the shore.Mrs. Freeman could not help uttering a faint, inward sigh."Yes, Janet, she's pretty and she's rich, and she's destitute of fear. She is quite certain to have her own party in the school. I repeat," continued Olive, "that there is no weakness in Bridget. I grant that she is about the most irritating creature I know, but weak she is not."
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"You can please yourself about that," said Miss Patience, in her calmest voice. She left the room, closing the door behind her.All that could possibly happen would be a little fright for Evelyn, and a larger measure of disgrace for Bridget. And why should Janet interfere? Why should she tell tales of her schoolfellows? Her story would be misinterpreted by that faction of the girls who already had made Bridget their idol.Evelyn Percival, the head girl of the school, was now between seventeen and eighteen years of age. She was a rather pale, rather plain girl; her forehead was broad and low, which gave indications of thoughtfulness more than originality; her wide open gray eyes had a singularly sweet expression; they were surrounded by dark eyelashes, and were the best features in a face which otherwise might have appeared almost insignificant."I won't eat any dinner in this horrid room," she said; "I think I have been treated shamefully. If my dinner is sent to me I won't eat it."
"Well, I never!" exclaimed Dorothy, after a pause. "I don't suppose Mrs. Freeman will allow that style of wardrobe long. See, girls, do see, how her long blue ribbons stream in the breeze; and her hat! it is absolutely covered with roses—I'm convinced they are roses. Oh, what would I not give for an opera glass to enable me to take a nearer view. Whoever that young person is, she intends to take the shine out of us. Why, she is dressed as if she had just come from a garden party."
From where they stood they obtained a very distinct although somewhat bird's-eye view of the winding avenue and quickly approaching carriage. Mrs. Freeman's tall and familiar figure was too well known to be worthy, in that supreme moment, of even a passing comment. Miss Patience looked as angular and as like herself as ever; but a girl, who sat facing the two ladies—a girl who wore a large shady hat, and whose light dress and gay ribbons fluttered in the summer breeze—upon this girl the eyes of the four watchers in the "Lookout" tower were fixed with devouring curiosity.
Janet bent her fair face again over the open page; a faint flush had risen in each of her cheeks.