"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.""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?"
"I must have a cupboard like that," said Biddy. "Why, it's perfectly delicious!"
[Pg 41]"I've had enough," she said, nodding to Mrs. Freeman in her bright way. "I'm going out into the garden now, to pick some roses."
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"Oh, my!" exclaimed Miss O'Hara, "that's nothing. Goodness gracious me! what would you think of thirty or forty miles on an Irish jaunting car, all in one day, Mrs. Freeman? That's the sort of thing to make the back ache. Bump, bump, you go. You catch on to the sides of the car for bare life, and as likely as not you're pitched out into a bog two or three times before you get home. Papa and I have often taken our thirty to forty miles' jaunt a day. I can tell you, I have been stiff after those rides. Did you ever ride on a jaunting car, Mrs. Freeman?"
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."You have a perfect mania for those children, Dorothy," exclaimed Olive. "I call it an impertinence on their parts to worry themselves about sixth-form girls. What's the matter, Janet? Why that contraction of your angel brow?"The child's words were almost incoherent. Alice, who was not quite so excitable, began to pour out a queer story.
Bridget felt a wild desire to rush after Miss Patience, and defying all punishment and all commands, appear as usual in the dining room.
On this particular day the world ceases to speak in those gentle and submissive tones. With all its grays and its blacks turned full in view, it says: "You are only an atom; there are millions of other human beings to share my good things as well as my evil. After all, I am not your slave, but your mistress; I have made laws, and you have got to obey them. Up to the present I have treated you as a baby, but now I am going to show you what life really means."
Mrs. Freeman could scarcely restrain her impatience.