"Now, Biddy, go on, Biddy!" exclaimed the children. "We love ghost stories, so do tell us more about the candle.""I'm very busy, Olive; I wish you'd go away!""That I was to take you round and introduce you to a few companions," continued Janet hastily. "Miss Collingwood, Miss O'Hara—Miss Moore, Miss O'Hara—Miss Bury, Miss O'Hara. Now I have done my duty. If you like to see the common room for yourself, you can go straight through this folding door, turn to your left, see a large room directly facing you; go into it, and you will find yourself in the common room. Now, good-night."
"Dolly, I will clap my hands over your rosebud lips[Pg 22] if you utter another word. Come, and let us sit in this deep window-seat and be happy. Would you like to know what papa is doing at the Castle now?"
"We are not by ourselves when we are together," replied Bridget. "Come along, girls, don't be such little despicable cowards! I'll square it with Mrs.[Pg 44] Freeman. You trust me. Mrs. Freeman will forgive us everything when the queen is coming back. Now, do let's be quick, we haven't a minute to lose!"Janet bent her fair face again over the open page; a faint flush had risen in each of her cheeks.
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"But why will you dislike our dear Evelyn?"
"I believe I am more frightened than hurt," said Miss Percival, struggling to sit up, and smiling at Mrs. Freeman, "I'm so awfully sorry that I've lost my[Pg 51] nerve. Where am I? what has happened? I only remember Caspar turning right round and looking at me, and some people shouting, and then the carriage went over, and I cannot recall anything more. But I don't think—no—I am sure I am not seriously hurt."The summer sounds came in to her, for the window of her dull room was open, the birds were twittering in the trees, innumerable doves were cooing; there was the gentle, soft whisper of the breeze, the cackling of motherly hens, the lowing of cows, and, far away beyond and over them, the insistent, ceaseless whisper of the gentle waves on the shore.
Mrs. Freeman could scarcely restrain her impatience.
"I don't think I ever felt my temper more irritated," murmured the good lady under her breath. "Why did I undertake an Irish girl, and one who had never been from home before? Well, the deed is done now, and I must not show impatience, however I may feel it. Bridget, my dear! Bridget O'Hara! Do you hear me?"
She stood wavering with her own conscience. Caspar was nervous, but he was not vicious.
"I wish you'd go away, child!" said Janet in a decidedly cross tone. "What are all you small girls doing out and about at this hour? Surely it's time for you to be in bed. What can Miss Marshall be about not to have fetched you before now?"