[Pg 59]"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."Her first impulse was to open the door of her prison and go boldly out.
"Yes, certainly. Let me introduce you to someone in particular. Janet May, come here, my dear."
She looked at her friend with a cool, critical eye.
"Are you there, Janet?" said Mrs. Freeman. "Go into the house, and ask Miss Patience to follow me down the road. And see that someone goes for Dr. Hart. Alice, you can come back with me. The rest of the little girls are to go into the playroom, and to stay there until I come to them.""Love me," she pleaded; "do love me, for I love you."
Mrs. Freeman went up to her, and took her hand. "My dear," she said, "I must make you feel my authority. I do this with great pain, for I know you have not had the advantage of the training which many of the girls who live here have received. I would treat you with kindness, Bridget, but you won't receive my kindness. Now I must be severe, but for your good. Until you promise to obey the rules of the school, you must not join your schoolfellows either at work or play. My sister Patience will allow you to sit with her in her sitting room, and your meals will be brought to you there. The length of your punishment rests with yourself, my dear."
"I must break you in gradually, dear," she said. "As this is your first day at school you need not do any lessons, but you must come with me presently to the schoolroom in order that I may find out something about your attainments.""My dears," said Mrs. Freeman, answering the looks on all faces, "your young companion's extraordinary conduct can only be explained by the fact that she has never been at school before. I am going out to the garden to speak to her. You girls will now go as usual to your separate schoolrooms and commence study."
"Now, Biddy, go on, Biddy!" exclaimed the children. "We love ghost stories, so do tell us more about the candle."
"I am sorry for you also, my dear. I earnestly desire that you should be a good girl, for the girl is the mother of the woman, and a good girl makes that admirable and priceless treasure—a good woman by and by."
"New girl!" exclaimed Katie, "why, she's about the very oldest girl in the school—the oldest and the nicest. She's the head of the school. We call her our queen. She's not like you, Biddy, of course; but she's very nice—awfully nice!"
She looked at the merry group on the lawn, and a desire to join them, even though of course she knew she was in no sense one of them, came over her.