She looked at her friend with a cool, critical eye."Now, how old am I?" she asked, stamping her arched foot. "Don't be shy, any of you. Begin at the[Pg 17] eldest, and guess right away. Now then, Miss Collingwood—you see, I know your name—the age of your humble servant, if you please."
"It will be awfully unfair if you are, for I could pose you finely on my subjects. What's the first thing to do for a dog who shows symptoms of hydrophobia? How do you land a salmon? What keeps a gun from kicking? How does a dear old daddy like his pipe filled with tobacco? What is the best way to keep your seat when you ride bare-backed, and the horse runs away?[Pg 34] Ha, ha, I thought I'd pose you. I could have a very jolly school of my own, if I tried."
"I hate school," she said. "I want to go back to the Castle. Can I go to-day?"
"Learnt something? I should rather think I have. You question me on dogs, their different breeds, and their complaints! Do you know, Mrs. Freeman, what's the best thing to do for a dog if he shows signs of distemper?"
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"Lost whom?" answered Janet in her tart voice."I must break you in gradually, dear," she said. "As this is your first day at school you need not do any lessons, but you must come with me presently to the schoolroom in order that I may find out something about your attainments."
But this new girl was not following out any of the old precedents.Bridget turned and looked at her companion in slow wonder. Janet's remark had the effect of absolutely silencing her; she ate her bacon, munched her toast, and drank off a cup of hot coffee in an amazingly short time, then she jumped up, and shook the crumbs of her meal on to the floor.
"Oh, miss, it's that poor dear young lady."
"Oh, papa'll pay that! Don't you fret about that, Mrs. Freeman; the dear old dad will settle it. He quite loves writing checks!"