"I don't hear any sound whatever, Mrs. Freeman," she said, "but please don't be alarmed; Evelyn's train may have been late."
"No, no; what nonsense you talk! What is there to be frightened about? Do go; I can't learn this difficult French poetry while you keep staring at me!"
Janet, accompanied by Olive and Ruth, was pacing slowly backward and forward under some shady trees. Her satellites were devoted to her, and Janet's slender figure was very erect, and her manner somewhat dictatorial. Dorothy Collingwood was not to be seen, she had evidently gone to join Evelyn upstairs. The girls of the middle school were preparing to exert themselves over more than one tennis match. The smaller children were going down to the shore.
"I can't help it, my dear; I'm honest, whatever I am."She used this tongue most frequently on Bridget O'Hara, but for the first time she was met by a wondering, puzzled, good-humored, and non-comprehending gaze.[Pg 39]
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"I can't share your sorrow," replied Janet. "If her punishment, whatever it is, deprives us of her charming society for a few days, it will be a boon to the entire school. I noticed that she was absent from dinner, and I will own I have not had a pleasanter meal for some time."
"Is she? I love her—she is a sweet darling! And you really want me to love you, Mrs. Freeman? Well, then, I will. Take a hug now—there, that's comfortable."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.
Miss O'Hara stooped carelessly to pick it up. "Poor little bud!" she said, laying it on her hand. "But there are such a lot of you—such a lot! Still, it seems a pity to crush your sweetness out.""Pain and anxiety! I like that! You are just angry with me—that's about all!"Should she run away altogether? Should she walk to Eastcliff and take the next train to London, and then, trusting to chance, and to the kindness of strangers, endeavor to find her way back to the dear and loving shores of the old country, and so back again to the beloved home?
"I don't mind your kissing me, Bridget, only does not it seem a little soon—I have not known you many minutes yet?"