[Pg 18]"Well, well," interrupted Janet impatiently, "have your own way, Olive. Make that tiresome, disagreeable girl a female Hercules if you fancy, only cease to talk about her. That is all I have to beg.""Well, if I must go, and if you really wish it. Come with me to my room, Dorothy. O Dolly, if you would sleep with me to-night!"
Mrs. Freeman took her unwilling hand, led her into Miss Patience's dull little sitting room, which only[Pg 63] looked out upon the back yard, and, shutting the door behind her, left her to her own meditations.
From where they stood they obtained a very distinct although somewhat bird's-eye view of the winding avenue and quickly approaching carriage. Mrs. Freeman's tall and familiar figure was too well known to be worthy, in that supreme moment, of even a passing comment. Miss Patience looked as angular and as like herself as ever; but a girl, who sat facing the two ladies—a girl who wore a large shady hat, and whose light dress and gay ribbons fluttered in the summer breeze—upon this girl the eyes of the four watchers in the "Lookout" tower were fixed with devouring curiosity."When will that be?"
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The girls entered the wide, long dining hall and immediately took their places at the table.
"After all, what does the Fancy Fair signify—I[Pg 5] mean—oh, don't be shocked, girls—I mean, what does it signify compared to a real living present interest? While we are discussing what is to take place in six weeks' time, Mrs. Freeman and Miss Patience are driving up the avenue with somebody else. Girls, the new inmate of Mulberry Court has begun to put in an appearance on the scene."She looked at the merry group on the lawn, and a desire to join them, even though of course she knew she was in no sense one of them, came over her.
"Run back to your companions this minute, miss," said Olive Moore. "You're getting to be a perfect tittle-tattle, Violet. There, I'm not angry, child, but you must learn not to talk about everything you see.""I think you must mean Dorothy Collingwood," said Janet in her clear, cold English voice. "May I ask if you have ever been at school before, Miss O'Hara?"
"Yes, you ought. I'm going to give you a lovely description. Papa has had his dinner, and he's pacing up and down on the walk which hangs over the lake. He is smoking a meerschaum pipe, and the dogs are with him."
Dorothy went into her own little cubicle, drew her white dimity walls tight, and, standing before the window, looked out at the summer landscape.
The girls took their places at the table—grace was said, and the meal began.