"Oh, come at once!" said Violet, "there has been an accident, and Evelyn is hurt. Bridget is with her. Come, come at once!"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?"Poor girl!" said Evelyn, a wistful expression coming into her eyes.
In all her life Bridget had never been cut before.
"No!" said Bridget. "She says they aren't good for you, so you shan't have them. Let's think of some more fun. Who's that new girl, who, you say, is going to arrive to-night?"
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"I don't think I ought to listen to you, Bridget."
[Pg 59]"Let me go," said the head mistress.
"No fruit, thank you. Oh, what a lovely ring you have on! It's a ruby, isn't it? My poor mother—she died when I was only three—had some splendid rubies—they are to be mine when I am grown up. Papa is keeping them for me in the County Bank. You always keep your valuables in the Bank in Ireland, you know—that's on account of the Land Leaguers."
She saw the wild landscape, the steep gravel path[Pg 26] which overhung the lake, the old squire with his white hair, and tall but slightly bent figure, pacing up and down, smoking his pipe and surrounded by his dogs. Dorothy fancied how, on most summer evenings, Bridget, impetuous, eager, and beautiful, walked by his side. She wondered how he had brought himself to part with her. She gave a little sigh as she shut the picture away from her mind, and as she laid her head on her pillow, she resolved to be very kind to the new girl.
"How do you do, Mrs. Freeman?" said Bridget. "I'm afraid I'm a little late; I overslept myself, and then I could not find the right belt for this dress—it ought to be pale blue to match the ribbons, ought it not? But as I could not lay my hand on it, I have put on this silver girdle instead. Look at it, is it not pretty? It is real solid silver, I assure you; Uncle Jack brought it me from Syria, and the workmanship is supposed to be very curious. It's a trifle heavy, of course, but it keeps my dress nice and tight, don't you think so?"
"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."