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Mrs. Merriman and Lucy were standing at the white gates of Sunnyside, waiting for the arrival of the girls. Mrs. Merriman had soft brown hair, soft brown eyes to match, and a kindly, gentle face. Lucy was somewhat prim, very neat in her person, with thick fair hair which she wore in two long plaits far below her waist, a face full of intensity and determination, and a slightly set and formal way of speaking.
To this proposition Rosamund was forced to submit. Indeed, she was not sorry at the prospect of a little rest, for she was beginning to feel very acutely her adventures of the previous night. Lady Jane wrote the telegram, ordered a carriage to be sent round, and drove into the village, a small place, which contained, however, a telegraph office, about a mile and a half away. Before she went she conducted her young guest to a beautiful bedroom on the first floor, which she said she would give her not only for a bedroom but also as part sitting-room. It was furnished in a style that Rosamund, well off as her parents were, had never seen before. The room was full of quaint and beautiful things, and there was a bookcase of delightful books¡ªKingsley's, Miss Yonge's, and many other favorite authors.
By almost sleight-of-hand Irene suited the deed to the word, for a cold frog of enormous size suddenly began to crawl along Rosamund's neck. Rosamund suppressed a shudder, for she would not for the world show the girl that she loathed frogs; but she took the creature and laid it gently on the ground.
"My dear, you have been sent to me to be trained as I would train my own child¡ªto be trained in this little simple school, to be educated in mind and body, not to be thrown into contact with a girl who is in no way fit to know you. At present, Rosamund, you are under masters and governors, and have, according to scriptural precepts, to obey them. By-and-by your time of emancipation will come, and you will owe allegiance only to God and those whom you love, my dear; but until that time comes it seems to me scarcely fit or advisable that you should have anything to do with Irene. I told Lady Jane so this evening."
"I want us all to go," she said. "I have got a plan in my head. You will let us, won't you?¡ªIrene, you and I will choose what supper we will take, after tea is over. And now, will you kindly pass me the plum-jam¡ªyes, and the butter too?"
"She said nothing in particular, really. How nice that field looks, with all that grass growing up so green after the haymaking."
"Of course, Miss Frost would be the right person," said Lucy, suddenly raising her voice, for it seemed to her that she saw the very opportunity she wished for in this unexpected absence of Rosamund.
"Oh, there were a lot of reasons. Jane Denton, who is my greatest friend¡ªalthough I don't know why I am so fond of her¡ªwas coming here, and her mother knew Mrs. Merriman, and mother hates ordinary schools, and she thought this would just do. And then all of a sudden she remembered that you lived near, although she did not say anything to me about that, or you may be sure I should have been quite interested. I am so glad to see you, Lady Jane! And, please, when am I to be introduced to Irene?"