"Oh, you darling, what do minutes signify when one loves? There, Dolly, I have fallen in love with you, and that's the fact. You shall come and stay with me at the Castle in the summer, and I'll teach you to fire a gun and to land a salmon. Oh, my dear, what larks we'll have together! I'm so glad you're taking me round this house, instead of that stiff Janet.""Thanks!" she repeated again. "If I want your help I'll ask for it, Olive. I'm going into the house now, for I really must get on with my preparation."
"But, my dear child, our hearts are not cold. I assure you, Bridget, I am most anxious to win your love, and so also is Dorothy Collingwood."
When Mrs. Freeman told Bridget to go away and leave her, the Irish girl stopped playing with the tendrils of hair on Evelyn's forehead, and looked at her governess with a blank expression stealing over her face."Oh! hurrah, hurrah, hurrah! What will my dear dad say when I tell him that? Biddy O'Hara seventeen! Don't I wish I were! Oh, the lovely balls I'd be going to if those were my years! Now, another guess. It's your turn now—you, little brown one there—I haven't caught your name, darling. Is it Anne or Mary? Most girls are called either Anne or Mary.""I adore music; I play by ear all the old Irish jigs and the melodies. Oh, doesn't father cry when I play 'The Harp that once through Tara's Halls,' and 'She is far from the Land,' and 'The Minstrel Boy.' And oh, Mrs. Freeman, even you, though you are a bit old and stiff, could not help dancing if I strummed 'Garry Owen' for you."
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"Let's run down the road, then, and give her a welcome," said Bridget. "In Ireland we'd take the horses off the carriage, and draw her home ourselves. Of course, we can't do that, but we might go to meet her, waving branches of trees, and we might raise a hearty shout when we saw her coming. Come along, girls—what a lark! I'll show you how we do this sort of thing in old Ireland! Come! we'll cut down boughs as we go along. Come! be quick, be quick!"
Mrs. Freeman could see them as she sat in her sitting room."Oh, don't I!" said Janet, stamping her small foot.
"It's all my fault, Mrs. Freeman," said Bridget O'Hara, looking up with a tear-stained face at her [Pg 50]governess. "I made the children come, and I made them cut the branches off the trees, and we ran, and shouted as we ran. I didn't think it would do any harm, it was all a joke, and to welcome her, for they said she was the queen, but no one is to blame in all the wide world but me."
"Sit there, Miss O'Hara, please," said Mrs. Freeman. She tried to suppress a smile, which was difficult. "Girls," she said, addressing the fifth and sixth forms, "girls, this young lady is your new schoolfellow—her name is Bridget O'Hara. I meant to introduce her to you formally to-morrow, but she has taken the matter into her own hands. I am glad you are not tired, Miss O'Hara, for you have had a very long journey."
"Yes, Olive; I'm very busy. Do you want anything?"
In all her life Bridget had never been cut before.