"My attainments! Good gracious, I haven't any!"A titter ran down the table at these remarks; Mrs. Freeman bent to pick up her pocket handkerchief, and Miss Delicia, rushing to Bridget's side, began to whisper vigorously in her ear.She never came into a room without exercising in a silent, unobtrusive, very gentle way, a marked effect for good.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.
Caspar was a sensitive horse; even Janet, who had[Pg 48] no physical fear about her, disliked the way he started, and shied sometimes at his own shadow. It was scarcely likely that he would bear the shock which all those excited children would give him.
"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.
These remarks usually turned the tables against Janet May, but they also had another effect. She began to be sparing of her sharp, unkind words in Bridget's hearing. This, however, did not prevent her hating the new girl with the most cordial hatred she had ever yet bestowed upon anyone."I was going up the staircase," continued Bridget. "I held a lighted candle in my hand. It was an awful night—you should have heard the wind howling. We keep some special windbags of our own at the Castle, and when we open the strings of one, why—well, there is a hurricane, that's all."
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"I must have a cupboard like that," said Biddy. "Why, it's perfectly delicious!"
[Pg 66]"Let me go," said the head mistress.Her eyes were of that peculiar, very dark, very deep blue, which seems to be an Irish girl's special gift. Her eyelashes were thick and black, her complexion a fresh white and pink, her chestnut hair grew in thick, curly abundance all over her well-shaped head. Her beautifully cut lips wore a petulant but charming expression. There was a provocative, almost teasing, self-confidence about her, which to certain minds only added to her queer fascination."Change my dress! Now I really don't understand you. Am I to come down in my dressing-gown?"
"Very well, if it must be so, but I shall be very miserable, and misery soon makes me ill."What a fuss everyone was making about that stupid Evelyn Percival. Here was the head mistress even quite in a fume because she was a minute or two late in putting in an appearance.
Bridget's face turned very white. She looked wildly toward the door, then at the window.
What would the new girl be like? Was she rich or poor, handsome or ugly, tall or short, dark or fair? Why did she come in the middle of the term, and why did Mrs. Freeman, and Miss Delicia, and Miss Patience make such a fuss about her?