Discipline prevailed: in five minutes the confused throng was resolved
into order, and comparative silence quelled the Babel clamour of tongues.
The upper teachers now punctually resumed their posts: but still, all
seemed to wait. Ranged on benches down the sides of the room, the eighty
girls sat motionless and erect; a quaint assemblage they appeared, all
with plain locks combed from their faces, not a curl visible; in brown
dresses, made high and surrounded by a narrow tucker about the throat,
with little pockets of holland (shaped something like a Highlander's
purse) tied in front of their frocks, and destined to serve the purpose
of a work-bag: all, too, wearing woollen stockings and country-made
shoes, fastened with brass buckles. Above twenty of those clad in this
costume were full-grown girls, or rather young women; it suited them ill,
and gave an air of oddity even to the prettiest.
I was still looking at them, and also at intervals examining the
teachers--none of whom precisely pleased me; for the stout one was a
little coarse, the dark one not a little fierce, the foreigner harsh and
grotesque, and Miss Miller, poor thing! looked purple, weather-beaten,
and over-worked--when, as my eye wandered from face to face, the whole
school rose simultaneously, as if moved by a common spring.