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."Are you coming, Dorothy?" called Janet May from the end of the passage."My name is Ruth," replied the girl so addressed, "and I can't guess ages. Come, Olive, let us find our French lessons and go."
After a little pause, during which neither mistress nor pupil spoke, the pupil raised her head.
In consequence she was popular, with that mild sort of popularity which is bestowed upon the people who are all patience and have no faculty for inspiring fear."I want us to utilize our opportunities," said Janet. "We have a few minutes all to ourselves to discuss the[Pg 7] Fancy Fair, and we fritter it away on that tiresome new girl."It was in some such fashion that the world spoke to Bridget O'Hara on this special summer's morning.
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Uncharitable talk about others ceased when Evelyn drew near. Selfishness slunk away ashamed.
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."I don't agree with you," answered Olive. "Strength shows itself in many forms. Miss O'Hara is pretty.""Well," said Janet, "what did that impertinent servant want? I hope you showed her her place, Dorothy? The idea of her presuming to stop us when we were so busy!"
"I don't know how I can, Mrs. Freeman. I said at once, when I came to school and saw what kind of place it was, that I wouldn't obey the rules. They were so tiresome and silly; I didn't see the use of them.""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."
"As to disliking Miss O'Hara, it's more a case of despising; she's beneath my dislike."