"Yes; you have got to earn it first, however," replied Miss Collingwood, slipping back the pale green panel with a dexterous movement."I cannot go, Bridget. Mrs. Freeman would not give me leave, and she would be only annoyed at my making such a foolish proposition."
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."I must say one thing," replied Olive, "and then I will turn to a more congenial theme. I hope Evelyn Percival won't take Miss O'Hara's part. You know, Janet, what strong prejudices Evelyn has."
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"May I go with the others?" asked Miss O'Hara.She burst into sudden frantic weeping.She scrutinized Olive's face now, a slightly satirical expression hovering round her somewhat thin lips.Dorothy was beginning to whisper to her companion that all their excitement was safe to end in smoke, when the door at the farther end of the dining hall was softly pushed open, and a head of luxuriant nut-brown curling hair was popped in. Two roguish dark blue eyes looked down the long room—they greeted with an eager sort of delighted welcome each fresh girl face, and then the entire person of a tall, showily dressed girl entered.
"Now, how old would you think? Just you give a guess. Let me stand in front of you, so that you can take a squint at me. Now, then—oh, I say, stop a minute, I see some more girls coming in. Come along, girls, and help Miss May to guess my age. Now, then, now then, I wonder who'll be right? How you do all stare! I feel uncommonly as if I'd like to dance the Irish jig!"Bridget opened her eyes wide, and started at the transformation scene which had taken place during the brief moment she had remained in darkness. The room was painted a pale, cool green. The walls were divided into several panels. One of these had now absolutely disappeared, and in its place was a deep recess, which went far enough back into the wall to contain shelves, and had even space sufficient for a chair or two, a sewing machine, and one or two other sacred possessions.
"Well, she's in trouble now," said Dorothy, with a sigh. "I think you are very much mistaken in her, Janet; she's a very original, clever, amusing girl. I find her tiresome at times, and I admit that she's dreadfully naughty, but it's the sort of naughtiness which comes from simply not knowing. The accident last night might have been a dreadful one, and Bridget certainly deserves the punishment she has got; all the same;—I'm very sorry for her."
As Dorothy and her companions walked through the wide, cool entrance hall, and turned down the stone passage which led to the supper room, they were quite conscious of the fact that some of the naughtiest and most adventurous imps of the lower[Pg 11] school were hovering round, hanging over banisters or hiding behind doors. A suppressed giggle of laughter proceeded so plainly from the back of one of the doors, that Dorothy could not resist stretching back her hand as she passed, and giving a playful tap on the panels with her knuckles. The suppressed laughter became dangerously audible when she did this, so in mercy she was forced to take no further notice.