"It is delightful to have you back again," said Mrs. Freeman, bending over her pupil and kissing her. "And really, Evelyn, you look almost well. Oh, my dear child, what a fright I got about you last night."
"Nonsense, Evelyn. They disobeyed my most stringent orders. Are they not to be blamed for that?"
She never came into a room without exercising in a silent, unobtrusive, very gentle way, a marked effect for good.The common room to which she conducted Miss O'Hara was entirely for the use of the elder girls; the girls of the middle and the lower school had other[Pg 20] rooms to amuse themselves in. But this large, luxuriously furnished apartment was entirely given up to the sixth and fifth-form schoolgirls.
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Miss Delicia hurried on, intent on some housewifely mission, and Olive entering the house went down a long stone passage which led to the sixth form schoolroom."And if she happens to fancy Bridget she won't mind[Pg 40] a word we say against her. She never does mind what anyone says. You know that, Janet.""Come, my dears," said Miss Patience to the girls[Pg 29] near her, "let us lose no more valuable time. Please don't scrape your chair in that atrocious way, Alice. Rose, what a poke! Susie, hold back your shoulders. Now, young ladies, come to the schoolroom quietly; quietly, if you please."
All this time Miss Percival, the head girl of the school, was absent. She had been ill, and had gone home for a short change. She did not return until Bridget had been at the Court a fortnight."I think you must mean Dorothy Collingwood," said Janet in her clear, cold English voice. "May I ask if you have ever been at school before, Miss O'Hara?"
From where they stood they obtained a very distinct although somewhat bird's-eye view of the winding avenue and quickly approaching carriage. Mrs. Freeman's tall and familiar figure was too well known to be worthy, in that supreme moment, of even a passing comment. Miss Patience looked as angular and as like herself as ever; but a girl, who sat facing the two ladies—a girl who wore a large shady hat, and whose light dress and gay ribbons fluttered in the summer breeze—upon this girl the eyes of the four watchers in the "Lookout" tower were fixed with devouring curiosity.
A flash of self-pity filled her eyes, but there was some consolation in reflecting on the fact that no one could force her to eat against her will.
Miss O'Hara stooped carelessly to pick it up. "Poor little bud!" she said, laying it on her hand. "But there are such a lot of you—such a lot! Still, it seems a pity to crush your sweetness out."