"My name is Ruth," replied the girl so addressed, "and I can't guess ages. Come, Olive, let us find our French lessons and go.""No one is nice to-day. There's the most ridiculous, unfair fuss being made about nothing. There isn't a single girl in the school who hasn't turned against me,[Pg 60] because of the accident last night to that stupid, plain Miss Percival. If I'd hurt her, or if she were ill, and in the least pain, I'd be as sorry as the rest of them; but she's not in the slightest pain; she's quite well. I can't understand all this fuss.""What is it, my dear?" The head mistress drew herself slightly up, and looked in some surprise at her pupil.
Something, however, she could not tell what, restrained her from doing this. She sank back again in her chair; angry tears rose to her bright eyes, and burning spots appeared in her round cheeks.
"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."
"Now, what shall I eat?" she said. "By the way, I hope there's a nice breakfast, I'm awfully hungry. Oh, eggs! I like eggs when they're very fresh. Mrs. Freeman, are these new laid? do you keep your own fowls? Father and I wouldn't touch eggs at the Castle unless we were quite sure that they were laid by Sally, Sukey, or dear old Heneypeney.""I don't hear any sound whatever, Mrs. Freeman," she said, "but please don't be alarmed; Evelyn's train may have been late."
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After that period she found her place to a certain extent, made some violent friends and some active enemies, was adored by the little girls, on whom she showered lollipops, kisses, and secrets, and was disliked more or less by every girl in the sixth and fifth form, Dorothy Collingwood excepted.
"You can please yourself about that," said Miss Patience, in her calmest voice. She left the room, closing the door behind her.Mrs. Freeman could be austere as well as kind, and Mrs. Freeman was ten times more loved than Miss Delicia.
What could it all mean? It really was most exciting.
Olive Moore belonged to the toadying faction in the school. Toadies, however, can be useful, and Janet was by no means above making use of Olive in case of need.
Bridget was evidently not blessed with the bump of order. Valuable rings and bracelets lay, some on the mantelpiece, some on the dressing table; ribbons, scarfs, handkerchiefs, littered the chairs, the chest of drawers, and even the bed. A stray stocking poked its foot obtrusively out of one of the over-packed drawers of the wardrobe. Photographs of friends and of scenery lay face downward on the mantelpiece, and kept company with Bridget's brushes and combs in her dressing-table drawer.
"No, not very. The younger girls were fond of me, and Dorothy Collingwood was nice."
By and by doubtless the poor bird would be taught to develop his notes into something richer and rarer than nature had made them, but the process would be painful. Bridget was like the bird, and she was beating her poor little wings now against her cage.