Mrs. Freeman always presided at the head of the board, Miss Patience invariably sat at the foot, Miss Delicia wandered about restlessly, helping the girls to milk and fruit, patting her favorites on their backs, bending down to inquire tenderly how this girl's headache was, and if another had come off conqueror in her tennis match. No girl in the school minded or feared Miss Delicia in the least. Unlike her two sisters, who were tall and thin, she was a little body with a round face, rosy cheeks, hair very much crimped, and eyes a good deal creased with constant laughter. No one had ever seen Miss Delicia the least bit cross or the least bit annoyed with anyone. She was invariably known to weep with the sorrowful, and laugh with the gay—she was a great coddler and physicker—thought petting far better than punishment, and play much more necessary for young girls than lessons.Miss Delicia was fussing in and out of the house, and picking fresh strawberries, and nodding to the girls she happened to meet with a kind of suppressed delight."Command me?" said Bridget, her nostrils dilating.
"Let's run down the road, then, and give her a welcome," said Bridget. "In Ireland we'd take the horses off the carriage, and draw her home ourselves. Of course, we can't do that, but we might go to meet her, waving branches of trees, and we might raise a hearty shout when we saw her coming. Come along, girls—what a lark! I'll show you how we do this sort of thing in old Ireland! Come! we'll cut down boughs as we go along. Come! be quick, be quick!"
"No!" said Bridget. "She says they aren't good for you, so you shan't have them. Let's think of some more fun. Who's that new girl, who, you say, is going to arrive to-night?"
"And what's the darling's name?" asked Bridget.
Bridget's movements were so fleet that the head mistress had no time to intercept her; there was a flash of a white dress disappearing through the open window, and that was all."Well, Marshall is unhappy about her," replied Dorothy. "She said that Bridget would not touch her dinner. I don't exactly know what Mrs. Freeman means to do about her, but the poor girl is a prisoner in Miss Patience's dull little sitting room for the present."
"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."Janet was the heart and soul of everything. She was a girl with a great deal of independence of character; she was not destitute of ambition—she was remarkable for common sense—she was sharp in her manner, downright in her words, and capable, painstaking, and energetic in all she did.
"Come now, Janet," she said, "confession is good for the soul—own—now do own that you cordially hate the new girl, Bridget O'Hara."
"If I had only some smelling salts," she began.
"I can't eat anything, Marshall," said Bridget, shaking her head. "You are kind; I see by your face that you are very kind. When I'm let out of this horrid prison I'll give you some blue ribbon that I have upstairs, and a string of Venetian beads. I dare say you're fond of finery."