"I shall do nothing to-night," said Mrs. Freeman. "But to-morrow, after morning school, I must speak to Bridget. Her conduct during that interview will more or less decide what steps I must take."
The school stood on the side of a hill, which faced downward to the sea. Its aspect was south, and it was sheltered from the east and west winds by a thick plantation of young trees, which looked green and fresh in the spring, and were beginning already to afford a delightful shade in hot weather.
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.Dorothy was beginning to whisper to her companion that all their excitement was safe to end in smoke, when the door at the farther end of the dining hall was softly pushed open, and a head of luxuriant nut-brown curling hair was popped in. Two roguish dark blue eyes looked down the long room—they greeted with an eager sort of delighted welcome each fresh girl face, and then the entire person of a tall, showily dressed girl entered."Well, it's a very fine sort of place, as free and easy as you please; lots of fishing in the lakes and in the rivers. I'm very fond of my gun, too. Can you handle a gun, Mrs. Freeman? It kicks rather, if you can't manage it."Bridget O'Hara's clear blue eyes were opened a little, wider apart.
"Hate her?" said Janet; "there must be a certain strength about a girl to make you hate her. I've a contempt for Bridget, but I don't rouse myself to the exertion of hating."
"It's all my fault, Mrs. Freeman," said Bridget O'Hara, looking up with a tear-stained face at her [Pg 50]governess. "I made the children come, and I made them cut the branches off the trees, and we ran, and shouted as we ran. I didn't think it would do any harm, it was all a joke, and to welcome her, for they said she was the queen, but no one is to blame in all the wide world but me."When the servant answered her summons, she desired her to ask Miss O'Hara to come to her immediately."Oh, goodness—no, I mustn't—mercy! nor that either; oh, I—I say, Mrs. Freeman, don't let the new dresses be frumpy, or I'll break my heart. I do so adore looking at myself in a lovely dress."
"Why, Dorothy Collingwood; she has gone over to the ranks of the enemy.""It is more than a pity, Bridget," said her governess in a severe tone. "I am sorry to have to open your eyes, my dear child; but in picking any of my roses you have taken an unwarrantable liberty."
She was coming at mid-term, which in itself was rather exceptional.
A story book, belonging to the school library, happened to be lying on a chair close to her own. She took it up, opened it, and began to read. The tale was sufficiently interesting to cause her to forget her troubles.