Miss Percival's accident, and Bridget O'Hara's share in it, were the subjects of conversation not only that night, but the next morning."Oh, good gracious me! don't call me Miss O'Hara. I'm Biddy to my friends—Biddy O'Hara, at your service—great fun, too, I can tell you. You ask my father what he thinks of me. Poor old gentleman, I expect he's crying like anything this minute without his Biddy to coddle him. He said I wanted polishing, and so he sent me here. I have never been in England before, and I don't at all know if I will like it. By the way, what's your name? I didn't quite catch it."Mrs. Freeman spoke calmly, but there was a look about her face which gave Janet a very queer sensation. The schoolmistress took Alice's hand, and walked as quickly as she could to the scene of the accident.
In consequence she was popular, with that mild sort of popularity which is bestowed upon the people who are all patience and have no faculty for inspiring fear.Mrs. Freeman could be austere as well as kind, and Mrs. Freeman was ten times more loved than Miss Delicia.Janet turned away, and Olive was obliged to look out for a fresh companion to attach herself to.
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"I did not feel tired, Mrs. Freeman," replied the newcomer in an eager, irrepressible sort of voice. "You put me into my room and told me to go to bed, but I didn't want to go to bed. I have had my supper, thank you, so I don't want any more, but I have been dying with curiosity to see the girls. Are these they? Are these my schoolfellows? I never saw a schoolfellow before. They all look pretty much like other[Pg 13] people. How do you do, each and all of you? I'm Bridget O'Hara. May I sit near you, Mrs. Freeman?"Marshall had to be comforted with this rather dubious speech, and Dorothy ran on to join Janet.
"Oh, my dear, ought you not to be asleep?" exclaimed Miss Patience in thin, anxious tones from the other end of the board, while Miss Delicia ran up to the girl and took one of her dimpled white hands in hers.Bridget felt a wild desire to rush after Miss Patience, and defying all punishment and all commands, appear as usual in the dining room.Mrs. Freeman went over and drew back the curtains.
"O Janey," exclaimed two of the other girls in a breath, "a committee does sound so absurdly formal."
"Janet," said Mrs. Freeman, "come here for a [Pg 47]moment. I want you to use your young eyes. Do you see any carriage coming down the hill?"