Miss Polly Harrington entered her kitchen a little hurriedly this June morning.
Nancy, washing dishes at the sink, looked up in surprise. Nancy had been working in Miss Polly's kitchen for two months only, but she knew already that her mistress did not usually hurry.
«Yes, madam,» Nancy answered cheerfully, wiping the pitcher in her hand.
«Nancy,» Miss Polly's voice was very stern now, «when I'm talking to you, I want you to stop your work and listen to what I have to say.»
Nancy flushed and set the pitcher down at once, with the cloth still about it, thereby nearly tipping it over.
«Yes, madam; I will, madam,» she stammered, turning hastily. «I was only keeping on with my work because you told me this morning to hurry with my dishes.»
Her mistress frowned.
«That will do, Nancy. I did not ask for explanations. I asked for your attention.»
«Yes, madam.» Nancy stifled the sigh. She was wondering if ever in any way she could please this woman. Nancy had never «worked out» before; but her sick mother, suddenly widowed and left with three younger children besides Nancy herself, had forced the girl into doing something to support them. Nancy had been so pleased when she found a place in the kitchen of the great house on the hill. She knew Miss Polly Harrington only as the mistress of the old Harrington homestead, and one of the wealthiest residents of the town. That was two months before. Now she knew Miss Polly as a stern, severe — faced woman who frowned if a knife clattered to the floor, or if a door banged, but who never thought to smile even when knives and doors were still.
«When you've finished your morning work, Nancy,» Miss Polly was saying now, «you may clear the little room in the attic, and make up the bed. Sweep the room and clean it, of course, after you clear out the trunks and boxes. My niece, Miss Pollyanna Whittier, is coming to live with me. She is eleven years old, and will sleep in that room.»
«A little girl is coming here, Miss Harrington? Oh, won't that be nice!» cried Nancy, thinking of the sunshine her own little sisters made in their home.
«Nice? Well, that isn't exactly the word I would use,» rejoined Miss Polly, stiffly. «However, I intend to make the best of it, of course. I am a good woman, I hope; and I know my duty.»
Nancy coloured hotly.
«Of course, madam; it was only that I thought a little girl here might brighten things up for you,» she faltered.
«Thank you,» rejoined the lady, dryly. «I can't say, however, that I see any need for that.»
«But, of course, you'd want her, your sister's child,» ventured Nancy, vaguely feeling that somehow she must prepare a welcome for this lonely little stranger.
Miss Polly lifted her chin haughtily.
«Well, really, Nancy, just because I happened to have a sister who was silly enough to marry and bring unnecessary children into a world that was already full enough, I don't think I should want to take the care of them myself. However, as I said before, I hope I know my duty. See that you clean the corners, Nancy,» she finished sharply, as she left the room.
«Yes, madam,» sighed Nancy.
In her own room, Miss Polly took out once more the letter which she had received two days before from the faraway Western town, and which had been an unpleasant surprise to her. The letter was addressed to Miss Polly Harrington, Beldingsville, Vermont; and it read as follows:
Dear Madam: — I regret to inform you that the Rev. John Whittier died two weeks ago, leaving one child, a girl eleven years old. He left practically nothing else but a few books; for, as you know, he was the pastor of this small mission church, and had a very meagre salary.
I believe he was your deceased sister's husband, but he gave me to understand the families were not on the best of terms. He thought, however, that for your sister's sake you might wish to take the child and bring her up among her own people in the East. Hence I am writing to you.
The little girl will be ready to start by the time you get this letter; and if you can take her, we would appreciate it very much if you would write that she might come at once. There is a man and his wife here who are going East very soon, and they would take her with them to Boston, and put her on the Beldingsville train. Of course you would be notified what day and train to expect Pollyanna on.
Hoping to hear favourably from you soon, I remain,
Jeremiah O. White
With a frown Miss Polly folded the letter and tucked it into its envelope. She had answered it the day before, and she had said she would take the child, of course. She hoped she knew her duty well enough, no matter how disagreeable the task was.
Her thoughts went back to her sister, Jennie, who had been this child's mother, and to the time when Jennie, as a girl of twenty, had insisted upon marrying the young minister, in spite of her family's remonstrance. There had been a man of wealth who had wanted her — and the family had much preferred him to the minister; but Jennie had not. The man of wealth had more years, as well as more money, to his credit, while the minister had only a young head full of ideals and enthusiasm, and a heart full of love. Jennie had preferred him — quite naturally, perhaps; so she had married the minister, and had gone south with him.
The break had come then. Miss Polly remembered it well, though she had been a girl of fifteen at the time. The family had learnt that Jennie had named her last baby «Pollyanna» for her two sisters, Polly and Anna — the other babies had all died. This had been the last time that Jennie had written; and a few years later there had come the news of her death, told in a short, but heart — broken little note from the minister himself.
Miss Polly was forty now, and quite alone in the world. Father, mother, sisters — all were dead. For years, now, she had been the sole mistress of the house and of the thousands left her by her father. There were people who had openly pitied her lonely life, and who had urged her to have some friend or companion to live with her; but she had not welcomed either their sympathy or their advice. She was not lonely, she said. She liked being by herself. She preferred quiet. But now -
Miss Polly was glad, of course, that she was a good woman, and that she not only knew her duty, but had sufficient strength of character to perform it. But — POLLYANNA! — what a ridiculous name!
In the little attic room Nancy swept and scrubbed vigorously, paying particular attention to the corners. The vigor she put into her work was a relief to her feelings — Nancy, in spite of her frightened submission to her mistress, was no saint.
«I — just — wish — I could — dig — out the corners — of — her — soul!» she muttered jerkily, punctuating her words with murderous jabs of her pointed cleaning-stick.
When her task was finished, she looked about the bare little room in plain disgust.
«Well, it's done — my part, anyhow,» she sighed. «There is no dirt here. Poor little soul! — a pretty place this is to put a homesick, lonesome child into!» she finished, going out and closing the door with a bang.
In the garden that afternoon, Nancy found a few minutes to talk to Old Tom, who had pulled the weeds and shovelled the paths about the place for uncounted years.
«Mr. Tom,» began Nancy, throwing a quick glance over her shoulder to make sure she was unobserved; «did you know a little girl was coming here to live with Miss Polly?»
The man's jaw fell, and then a tender light came into his faded eyes.
«Why, Nancy, it must be Miss Jennie's little girl,» he muttered.
«Who was Miss Jennie?»
«She was an angel straight out of Heaven,» breathed the man. «She was twenty when she married and went away from here many years ago. Her babies all died, I heard, except the last one; and that must be the one who is coming.»
«She's eleven years old and she's going to sleep in the attic!» scolded Nancy, with another glance over her shoulder toward the house behind her.
Old Tom frowned. The next moment a curious smile curved his lips.
«I'm wondering what Miss Polly will do with a child in the house,» he said.
«Humph! Well, I'm wondering what a child will do with Miss Polly in the house!» snapped Nancy.
The old man laughed.
«I'm afraid you aren't fond of Miss Polly,» he grinned. «I guess maybe you didn't know about Miss Polly's love affair. The fellow is living today right in this town.»
«Who is he?»
«I can't tell you that.» In Tom's dim blue eyes there was the loyal servant's honest pride in the family he has served and loved for long years.
«But it doesn't seem possible — her and a lover,» still maintained Nancy.
«You didn't know Miss Polly as I did,» Tom argued. «She used to be handsome — and she would be now, if she'd let herself be. And she isn't old, Nancy.»
«Nancy!» called a sharp voice.
«Y-yes, madam,» stammered Nancy and hurried toward the house.
In due time the telegram announced that Pollyanna would arrive in Beldingsville the next day at four o'clock. Miss Polly read the telegram, frowned, and then climbed the stairs to the attic room. She still frowned as she looked about her.
The room contained a small bed, neatly made, two straight — backed chairs, a washstand, a bureau — without any mirror — and a small table. There were no curtains at the windows, no pictures on the wall. All day the sun had been pouring down upon the roof, and the little room was like an oven for heat. As there were no screens, the windows had not been raised.
«Nancy,» Miss Polly said a few minutes later, at the kitchen door, «I have ordered screens, but until they come I expect you to see that the windows remain closed. My niece will arrive tomorrow at four o'clock. I want you to meet her at the station. Timothy will take the open buggy and drive you over. The telegram says 'light hair, red-checked gingham dress, and straw hat.' That is all I know, but I think it is sufficient.»
The next afternoon Timothy and Nancy drove off in the open buggy to meet the expected guest. Timothy was Old Tom's son. He was a good-natured youth, and a good-looking one, as well. Nancy's stay at the house had been short, but the two were already good friends.
It was not long before Nancy saw Pollyanna at the station — the slender little girl in the red-checked gingham with two fat braids of flaxen hair hanging down her back. Beneath the straw hat, an eager, freckled little face turned to the right and to the left, plainly searching for someone.
Nancy knew the child at once, but for some time she couldn't control her shaking knees sufficiently to go to her. The little girl was standing quite by herself when Nancy finally approached her.
«Are you Miss Pollyanna?» she faltered. The next moment she found herself half smothered in the clasp of two little arms.
«Oh, I'm so glad to see you,» cried an eager voice in her ear. «Of course I'm Pollyanna, and I'm so glad you came to meet me! I hoped you would.»
«You did?» stammered Nancy, vaguely wondering how Pollyanna could possibly have known her.
«Oh, yes; and I've been wondering all the way here what you looked like,» cried the little girl, dancing on her toes.
Nancy was relieved to see Timothy coming up.
«This is Timothy. Maybe you have a trunk,» she stammered.
«Yes, I have,» nodded Pollyanna, importantly. «I've got a brand-new one. The Ladies' Aid bought it for me — and wasn't it lovely of them, when they wanted the carpet? I've got a little thing here in my bag that they said was a check, and that I must give it to you before I could get my trunk,» she finished, producing the check after much fumbling in the bag she carried.
The three were off at last, with Pollyanna's trunk in behind, and Pollyanna herself snugly seated between Nancy and Timothy.
«Is it far? I hope it is, I love to ride,» sighed Pollyanna, as the wheels began to turn. «Of course, if it isn't far, I wouldn't mind, though, because I'll be glad to get there all the sooner, you know. What a pretty street! I knew it was going to be pretty; father told me — »
She stopped with a little choking breath. Nancy, looking at her apprehensively, saw that her small chin was quivering, and that her eyes were full of tears. In a moment, however, she hurried on, with a brave lifting of her head.
«Father told me all about it. He remembered. And I ought to have explained before why I'm not in black. They said you'd think it was queer. But there weren't any black things in the last missionary barrel, only a lady's velvet basque which wasn't suitable for me at all. Part of the Ladies' Aid wanted to buy me a black dress and hat, but the other part thought the money ought to be spent on the red carpet for the church.»
Pollyanna paused for breath, and Nancy managed to stammer:
«Well, I'm sure it'll be all right.»
«I'm glad you feel that way,» nodded Pollyanna. «Of course, it would have been a good deal harder to be glad in black — »
«Glad!» gasped Nancy in surprise.
«Yes, that father's gone to Heaven to be with mother and the rest of us, you know. He said I must be glad. But it's been pretty hard to do it, even in red gingham, because I couldn't help feeling I ought to have him, specially as mother and the rest have God and all the angels, while I didn't have anybody but the Ladies' Aid. But now I'm sure it'll be easier because I've got you, Aunt Polly. I'm so glad I've got you!»
Nancy's sympathy for the poor little forlornness beside her turned suddenly into shocked terror.
«Oh, but you've made an awful mistake, d-dear,» she faltered. «I'm only Nancy. I'm not your Aunt Polly, at all! I'm Nancy, the hired girl.»
«But there is an Aunt Polly?» demanded the child, anxiously.
«You bet your life there is,» cut in Timothy.
Pollyanna relaxed visibly.
«Oh, that's all right, then. And I'm glad, after all, that she didn't come to meet me; because now I've got her still coming, and I've got you besides. I'm so interested in her,» sighed Pollyanna. «I didn't know I had her for ever so long. Then father told me. He said she lived in a lovely big house on top of the hill. Is my Aunt Polly rich, Nancy?»
«I'm so glad. It must be perfectly lovely to have lots of money. I never knew anyone who had much money, only the Whites — they're rich. They have carpets in every room and ice cream on Sundays. Does Aunt Polly have ice cream on Sundays?»
«No, Miss. Your aunt doesn't like ice cream, I guess. I never saw it on her table.»
Pollyanna's face fell.
«Oh, doesn't she? I'm so sorry! Anyhow, I can be glad about that, because the ice cream you don't eat can't make your stomach ache. Maybe Aunt Polly has got the carpets, though.»
«Yes, she's got the carpets in almost every room,» answered Nancy, frowning suddenly at the thought of that bare little attic room where there was no carpet.
«Oh, I'm so glad,» exulted Pollyanna. «I love carpets. We didn't have any, only two little rugs that came in a missionary barrel, and one of those had ink spots on it. My! Isn't this a perfectly beautiful house?» she broke off, as they turned into the wide driveway.
Timothy unloaded the trunk and Nancy led Pollyanna up the broad steps.
Miss Polly Harrington did not rise to meet her niece. She looked up from her book, as Nancy and the little girl appeared in the sitting room doorway, and held out a hand, coldly.
«How do you do, Pollyanna?» She had no chance to say more. Pollyanna flung herself into her aunt's scandalized, unyielding lap. «Oh, Aunt Polly, I am so glad that you let me come to live with you,» she was sobbing. «You don't know how perfectly lovely it is to have you and Nancy and all this after you've had just the Ladies' Aid!»
«Very likely,» replied Miss Polly, stiffly, trying to unclasp the small, clinging fingers. Turning her frowning eyes on Nancy in the doorway, she said: «Nancy, you may go. Now, Pollyanna, please, stand in a proper manner. I don't know yet what you look like.»
Pollyanna drew back at once, laughing a little hysterically.
«I'm not very much to look at, anyway, on account of the freckles. Oh, and I ought to explain about the red gingham. I told Nancy how father said — »
«Well, never mind now what your father said,» interrupted Miss Polly, crisply. «You had a trunk, I presume?»
«Oh, yes, indeed, Aunt Polly. I've got a beautiful trunk that the Ladies' Aid gave me. I haven't got so very much in it — of my own, I mean. The barrels haven't had many clothes for little girls in them lately. You see, father — »
«Pollyanna,» interrupted her aunt again, sharply, «there is one thing that must be understood right away at once — I do not want you to keep talking of your father to me. Now we will go upstairs to your room. Your trunk is already there, I presume.»
Without speaking, Pollyanna turned and followed her aunt from the room. Her eyes were brimming with tears, but her chin was bravely high.
«After all, I reckon I'm glad she doesn't want me to talk about father,» Pollyanna was thinking. «It'll be easier, maybe, if I don't talk about him. Probably, that is why she told me not to talk about him.» And Pollyanna, convinced of her aunt's «kindness,» blinked off the tears and looked eagerly about her.
She was on the stairway now. Just ahead, her aunt's black silk skirt rustled luxuriously. Behind her an open door allowed a glimpse of soft — tinted rugs and satin — covered chairs. Beneath her feet a marvellous carpet was like green moss. On every side the gilt of picture frames or the glint of sunlight through lace curtains flashed in her eyes. «Oh, Aunt Polly,» breathed the little girl, rapturously; «what a perfectly lovely house! How awfully glad you must be you're so rich!»
«Pollyanna!» exclaimed her aunt, turning sharply about as she reached the head of the stairs. «I'm surprised at you — making a speech like that to me! I am not sinfully proud of any gift the Lord has seen fit to bestow upon me!»
Miss Polly turned and walked down the hall toward the attic stairway door. Pollyanna's small feet pattered behind her aunt. Her big blue eyes tried to look in all directions at once, so that no thing of beauty or interest in this wonderful house might be passed unseen. Then, abruptly, her aunt opened a door and ascended another stairway.
There was little to be seen here. It was hot and stifling, too. Unconsciously Pollyanna lifted her head higher — it seemed so hard to breathe. Then she saw that her aunt had thrown open a door at the right.
«There, Pollyanna, here is your room, and your trunk is here, I see. Have you got your key?»
Pollyanna nodded dumbly. Her eyes were a little wide and frightened.
Her aunt frowned.
«When I ask a question, Pollyanna, you should answer aloud not merely with your head.»
«Yes, Aunt Polly.»
«Thank you; that's better. I believe you have everything that you need here,» she added, glancing at the well — filled towel rack and water pitcher. «I will send Nancy up to help you unpack. Supper is at six o'clock,» she finished, as she left the room and swept downstairs.
For a moment Pollyanna stood quite still, looking after her. Then she turned her wide eyes to the bare wall, the bare floor, and the bare windows. She looked at the little trunk that had stood not so long before in her own little room in the faraway Western home. The next moment she stumbled blindly toward it and fell on her knees at its side, covering her face with her hands.
Nancy found her there when she came up a few minutes later.
«There, there, you poor lamb,» she crooned, dropping to the floor and drawing the little girl into her arms.
Pollyanna shook her head.
«But I'm bad and wicked, Nancy,» she sobbed. «I just can't make myself understand that God and the angels needed my father more than I did.»
«There, there, child, let's have your key and we'll get inside this trunk and take out your dresses in no time,» said Nancy.
Pollyanna produced the key.
«There aren't very many there, anyway,» she faltered.
«Then they're all the sooner unpacked,» declared Nancy.
Pollyanna gave a sudden radiant smile.
«That's so! I can be glad of that, can't I?» she cried.
«Why, of course,» she answered a little uncertainly.
Nancy's capable hands made short work of unpacking the books, the patched undergarments, and the few pitifully unattractive dresses. Pollyanna, smiling bravely now, flew about, hanging the dresses in the closet, stacking the books on the table, and putting away the undergarments in the bureau drawers.
«I'm sure it's going to be a very nice room. Don't you think so?» she mumbled, after a while. «And I can be glad there isn't any looking-glass here, too, because I can't see my freckles.»
Nancy made a sudden queer little sound with her mouth, but when Pollyanna turned, her head was in the trunk. At one of the windows, a few minutes later, Pollyanna gave a glad cry and clapped her hands joyously.
«Oh, Nancy, I hadn't seen this before,» she breathed. «Look at those trees and the houses and that lovely church spire, and the river shining just like silver. Oh, I'm so glad now she let me have this room!»
To Pollyanna's surprise and dismay, Nancy burst into tears. Pollyanna hurriedly crossed to her side.
«Why, Nancy, what is it?» she cried. «This wasn't your room, was it?»
«My room!» exclaimed Nancy, hotly, choking back the tears. «You are a little angel straight from Heaven!»
Then Nancy sprang to her feet, dashed out of the room, and went clattering down the stairs.
Left alone, Pollyanna went back to the beautiful view from the window. After a time she touched the sash tentatively. She could endure the stifling heat no longer. To her joy the sash moved under her fingers. The next moment the window was wide open, and Pollyanna was leaning far out, drinking in the fresh, sweet air.
She ran then to the other window. That, too, soon flew up under her eager hands, and she made a wonderful discovery — against this window a huge tree flung great branches. To Pollyanna they looked like arms outstretched, inviting her. The next moment she climbed nimbly to the window ledge. From there it was an easy matter to step to the nearest tree-branch. Then, clinging like a monkey, she swung herself from limb to limb until the lowest branch was reached. The drop to the ground was a little fearsome. She took it, however, swinging from her strong little arms, and landing on all fours in the soft grass. Then she picked herself up and looked eagerly about her.
She was at the back of the house. Before her there was a garden in which a bent old man was working. Beyond the garden a little path through an open field led up a steep hill, at the top of which a pine tree stood on guard beside the huge rock. To Pollyanna, at the moment, there seemed to be just one place in the world worth being in — the top of that big rock.
Fifteen minutes later the great clock in the hallway of the Harrington homestead struck six. At precisely the last stroke Nancy sounded the bell for supper.
One, two, three minutes passed. Miss Polly frowned and tapped the floor with her slipper.
«Nancy,» she said, «my niece is late. I told her what time supper was, and now she will have to suffer the consequences. She should learn to be punctual. When she comes down she may have bread and milk in the kitchen.»
At the earliest possible moment after supper, Nancy crept up the back stairs and to the attic room.
«The poor lamb has just cried herself to sleep,» she was muttering, as she softly pushed open the door. The next moment she gave a frightened cry. «Where are you? Where have you gone?» she panted, looking in the closet, under the bed, and even in the trunk. Then she flew downstairs and out to Old Tom in the garden.
«Mr. Tom, that blessed child's gone,» she wailed. «She's vanished right up into Heaven where she came from, poor lamb!»
The old man straightened up.
«Gone? Heaven?» he repeated stupidly, looking at the brilliant sunset sky. He stared a moment intently, then turned with a slow grin. «Well, Nancy, she tried to get as high as she could,» he agreed, pointing with a crooked finger to where, sharply outlined against the reddening sky, a slender figure was poised on top of a huge rock.
«Well, if the mistress asks, tell her I've gone for a stroll,» said Nancy over her shoulder, as she sped toward the path that led through the open field.
«Miss Pollyanna, what a scare you gave me!» panted Nancy, hurrying up to the big rock, down which Pollyanna had just regretfully slid.
«Scare? Oh, I'm so sorry; but you mustn't, really, ever get scared about me, Nancy. I always come back all right.»
«But I didn't even know you had gone,» cried Nancy, tucking the little girl's hand under her arm and hurrying her down the hill. «I didn't see you go, and nobody did. I guess you flew right up through the roof.»
Pollyanna skipped gleefully.
«I came down the tree, outside my window.»
«My stars and stockings!» gasped Nancy. «I'd like to know what your aunt would say to that!» she stammered. «But we'd better hurry. I've got to get the dishes done, you know. And you must be hungry, too. I'm afraid you'll have to have bread and milk in the kitchen with me. Your aunt didn't like it, because you didn't come down to supper, you know.»
«But I couldn't. I was up here»
«Yes; but she didn't know that, you see!» observed Nancy, dryly. «I'm sorry about the bread and milk.»
«Oh, I'm not. I'm glad.»
«Why, I like bread and milk, and I'd like to eat with you. I don't see any trouble about being glad about that.»
«You don't seem to see any trouble being glad about everything,» retorted Nancy, meaning Pollyanna's brave attempts to like the bare little attic room.
Pollyanna laughed softly.
«Well, that's the game, you know, anyway.»
«Yes; the 'just being glad' game. Father told it to me, and it's lovely. We've played it always, ever since I was a little girl. We began it on some crutches that came in a missionary barrel.»
«Yes. You see I had wanted a doll, and father had written them so. When the barrel came, the lady wrote that no dolls had come in, but the little crutches had. So she sent them along as they might come in handy for some child. And that's when we began it.»
«Well, I must say I can't see any game about that,» declared Nancy, almost irritably.
«Oh, the game was to find something about everything to be glad about no matter what it was,» explained Pollyanna, earnestly. «And we began right then, on the crutches.»
«Well, goodness me! I can't see anything to be glad about getting a pair of crutches when you wanted a doll!»
Pollyanna clapped her hands.
«I couldn't see it, either, Nancy, at first,» she said, with honesty. «Father had to tell it to me. Just be glad because you don't need them! You see it's easy when you know how!» cried Pollyanna, triumphantly.
«Well, it is so queer!» breathed Nancy, regarding Pollyanna with almost fearful eyes.
«Oh, but it isn't queer, it's lovely,» maintained Pollyanna enthusiastically. «And we've played it ever since. Only sometimes it's too hard — like when your father goes to Heaven, and there isn't anybody but a Ladies' Aid left.»
«Yes, or when you're put in a little room at the top of the house with nothing in it,» growled Nancy.
«That was hard, at first,» she admitted, «especially when I felt so lonesome. I just didn't feel like playing the game, anyway. Then I happened to think how I hated to see my freckles in the looking-glass, and I saw that lovely picture out the window, too. Then I knew I had found the things to be glad about.»
Nancy tried to swallow the lump in her throat.
«Usually it doesn't take so long,» sighed Pollyanna. «I've got so used to playing it. It's a lovely game. Father and I used to like it so much,» she faltered. «I suppose, though, it'll be a little harder now, as long as I haven't anybody to play it with. Maybe Aunt Polly will play it, though,» she added, as an afterthought.
«My stars! Her!» breathed Nancy, behind her teeth. Then, aloud, she said doggedly: «Miss Pollyanna, I can't say that I know how, but I'll play it with you!»
«Oh, Nancy!» exulted Pollyanna, giving her a rapturous hug. «That'll be splendid! Won't we have fun?»
«Maybe,» conceded Nancy, in open doubt. «You mustn't count too much on me, but I'm going to make a most awful try on this game,» she finished, as they entered the kitchen together.
Pollyanna ate her bread and milk with good appetite. Then, at Nancy's suggestion, she went into the sitting room, where her aunt sat reading. Miss Polly looked up coldly.
«Have you had your supper, Pollyanna?»
«Yes, Aunt Polly.»
«I'm very sorry, Pollyanna, to have been obliged so soon to send you into the kitchen to eat bread and milk.»
«But I was glad you did it, Aunt Polly. I like bread and milk, and Nancy, too. You mustn't feel bad about that.»
Aunt Polly sat suddenly a little more erect in her chair.
«Pollyanna, it's quite time you were in bed. You have had a hard day, and tomorrow we must go over your clothing to see what it is necessary to get for you. Nancy will give you a candle. Breakfast will be at half-past seven. Good night.»
Quite as a matter of course, Pollyanna came straight to her aunt and gave her an affectionate hug.
«I've had such a beautiful time, so far,» she sighed happily. «I know I'm going to love living with you. Good night,» she said cheerfully, as she ran from the room.
«Well, what an extraordinary child!» thought Miss Polly. Then she frowned. «She's 'glad' I punished her, and I 'mustn't feel bad about it,' and she's going to 'love to live' with me!»
Fifteen minutes later, in the attic room, a lonely little girl sobbed into the pillow:
«I know, father-among-the-angels, I'm not playing the game now; but I don't believe even you could find anything to be glad about sleeping all alone here in the dark. If only I were near Nancy or Aunt Polly, it would be easier!»
It was nearly seven o'clock when Pollyanna awoke that first day after her arrival. Her windows faced the south and the west, so she could not see the sun yet; but she could see the blue morning sky, and she knew that the day promised to be fine.
The little room was cooler now, and the air was fresh and sweet. Outside, the birds were twittering joyously, and Pollyanna flew to the window to talk to them. She saw then that her aunt was already down in the garden among the rosebushes.
Pollyanna sped down the attic stairs, through the hall, down the next flight, then through the front door and around to the garden.
Aunt Polly, with the bent old man, was leaning over a rosebush when Pollyanna flung herself upon her.
«Oh, Aunt Polly, I am glad this morning just to be alive!»
«Pollyanna!» remonstrated the lady, sternly, pulling herself as erect as she could with a weight of ninety pounds hanging about her neck. «Is this the usual way you say good morning?»
The little girl dropped to her toes, and danced lightly up and down.
«No, only when I love somebody so I just can't help it! I saw you from my window, Aunt Polly, and you looked so good I just had to come down and hug you!»
The bent old man turned his back suddenly. Miss Polly attempted a frown without her usual success.
«Thomas, that will do for this morning. I think you understand about those rosebushes,» she said stiffly. Then she turned and walked rapidly away.
A bell sounded from the house. The next moment Nancy flew out of the back door.
«Miss Pollyanna, that bell means breakfast,» she panted, pulling the little girl to the house.
Breakfast, for the first five minutes, was a silent meal; then Miss Polly noticed two flies over the table, and said sternly:
«Nancy, where did those flies come from?»
«I don't know, madam. There wasn't one in the kitchen.»
«I reckon maybe they're my flies, Aunt Polly,» observed Pollyanna, amiably.
«Yours!» gasped Miss Polly. «What do you mean? Where did they come from?»
«Why, Aunt Polly, they came through the windows.»
«You mean you raised those windows without any screens?»
«Why, yes. There weren't any screens there, Aunt Polly.»
«Nancy,» said Miss Polly, sharply, «go at once to Miss Pollyanna's room and shut the windows. Shut the doors, also.»
To her niece she said:
«Pollyanna, I have ordered screens for those windows. I knew, of course, that it was my duty to do that. But it seems to me that you have quite forgotten your duty.»
«My duty?» Pollyanna's eyes were wide with wonder.
«Certainly. I know it is warm, but I consider it your duty to keep your windows closed till those screens come. Flies are not only unclean and annoying, but very dangerous to health. After breakfast I will give you a little booklet on this matter to read.»
«To read? Oh, thank you, Aunt Polly. I love to read!»
Miss Polly drew in her breath audibly, then she shut her lips together hard. Pollyanna, seeing her stern face, frowned a little thoughtfully.
«Of course I'm sorry about the duty I forgot, Aunt Polly,» she apologized timidly.
«I won't raise the windows again.»
Her aunt made no reply. She did not speak until the meal was over. Then she rose, went to the bookcase in the sitting room, took out a small paper booklet, and crossed the room to her niece's side.
«Pollyanna, I want you to go to your room at once and read it. I will be up in half an hour to look over your things.»
Pollyanna looked at the illustration of a fly's head, many times magnified, and cried joyously:
«Oh, thank you, Aunt Polly!» The next moment she skipped merrily from the room.
Half an hour later when Miss Polly climbed those stairs and entered Pollyanna's room, she was greeted with a burst of eager enthusiasm.
«Oh, Aunt Polly, I'm so glad you gave me that book to read! Why, I didn't imagine flies could carry such a lot of things on their feet, and — »
«That will do,» remarked Aunt Polly, with dignity. «Pollyanna, you may bring out your clothes now, and I will look them over.»
With visible reluctance Pollyanna put down the booklet and turned toward the closet.
«I'm afraid you'll think they're shameful,» she sighed. «But there were mostly things for boys and older folks in the last two or three barrels. Did you ever have a missionary barrel, Aunt Polly?»
At her aunt's look of shocked anger, Pollyanna corrected herself at once.
«Why, no, of course you didn't, Aunt Polly! Rich folks never have to have them. But sometimes I forget that you are rich — up here in this room, you know.»
Miss Polly's lips parted indignantly, but no words came. Pollyanna, plainly unaware that she had said something unpleasant, went on talking.
«Well, my father and — »
Just in time Pollyanna remembered that she was not to talk of her father to her aunt. She dived into her closet then, hurriedly, and brought out all the poor little dresses in both her arms.
«They aren't nice, at all,» she choked, «but they're all I've got.»
With the tips of her fingers Miss Polly turned over the garments, and then she frowned at the patched undergarments in the bureau drawers.
«I've got the best ones on,» confessed Pollyanna, anxiously. «The Ladies' Aid bought me one set all whole.»
Miss Polly did not seem to hear.
«You have been to school, of course, Pollyanna?»
«Oh, yes, Aunt Polly. Besides, I was taught at home, too.»
«In the fall you will enter school here, of course. Meanwhile, I suppose I ought to hear you read aloud half an hour each day.»
«I love to read; but if you don't want to hear me, I'd be just glad to read to myself — truly, Aunt Polly.»
«Have you studied music?»
«Not much. I learned to play the piano a little. Miss Gray — she plays for church — taught me.»
«I think it is my duty to see that you are properly instructed in at least the rudiments of music. You sew, of course.»
«Yes, Aunt Polly,» Pollyanna sighed. «The Ladies' Aid taught me that.»
«Well, now, Pollyanna, I'll teach you sewing myself, of course. You do not know how to cook, I presume.»
«They were just beginning to teach me that this summer, but I hadn't got far.»
Miss Polly paused in thought for a minute, and then went on slowly:
«At nine o'clock every morning you will read aloud one half-hour to me. Wednesday and Saturday forenoons, after half-past nine, you will spend with Nancy in the kitchen, learning to cook. Other mornings you will sew with me. That will leave the afternoons for your music. I'll get a teacher for you,» she finished decisively, as she arose from her chair.
Pollyanna cried out in dismay.
«Oh, but Aunt Polly, you haven't left me any time at all just to — to live.»
«To live! What do you mean? You are living all the time!»
«Oh, of course I'll be breathing while doing those things, Aunt Polly, but I won't be living. You breathe all the time you're asleep, but you aren't living. I mean doing the things you want to do: playing outdoors, reading, climbing hills, talking to Mr. Tom in the garden, and Nancy, and finding out all about the houses and the people and everything everywhere all through the streets I came through yesterday. That's what I call living, Aunt Polly. Just breathing isn't living!»
Miss Polly lifted her head irritably.
«Pollyanna, you will be allowed a proper amount of playtime, of course. But if I am willing to do my duty and give you proper care and instruction, you ought to be willing to do yours and see that that care and instruction are not ungratefully wasted.»
Pollyanna looked shocked.
«Oh, Aunt Polly, I can't be ungrateful to you! Why, I love you; you're my aunt!»
«Very well,» nodded Miss Polly, as she turned toward the door. Then she stopped and added: «Oh, I forgot to tell you, Pollyanna. Timothy will drive us into town at half-past one this afternoon. Not one of your garments is fit for my niece to wear.»
In the hot little attic room Pollyanna dropped herself onto one of the straight-backed chairs. To her, existence loomed ahead one mid less round of duty.
«There isn't anything to be glad about, that I can see,» she said aloud; «unless it's to be glad when the duty's done!»
Fitting Pollyanna with a new wardrobe proved to be more or less of an exciting experience for all concerned.
The shopping expedition took them the entire afternoon. Then came supper and a delightful talk with Old Tom in the garden, and another with Nancy on the back porch, after the dishes were done, and while Aunt Polly was paying a visit to a neighbour.
Old Tom told Pollyanna wonderful things of her mother, that made her very happy indeed; and Nancy told her all about the little farm six miles away where her own dear mother and her dear siblings lived.
«And they've got lovely names, too,» sighed Nancy. «They're 'Algernon,' and 'Florabelle' and 'Estelle.' I just hate 'Nancy'!»
«Oh, Nancy, why?»
«Because it isn't pretty like the others. You see, I was the first baby, and mother hadn't begun to read so many stories with the pretty names in them, then.»
«But I love 'Nancy,' just because it's you,» declared Pollyanna. «Well, anyhow, you can be glad it isn't, say, 'Hephzibah'.»
Nancy's gloomy face relaxed into a broad smile.
«My, I guess I am glad — » She stopped short and turned her amazed eyes on the little girl. «Miss Pollyanna, were you playing that game about my being glad I wasn't named 'Hephzibah'?»
Pollyanna frowned; then she laughed.
«Why, Nancy, that's so! I was playing the game but I did it without thinking, I reckon. You see, you get so used to looking for something to be glad about, you know. And there is always something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.»
«Well, m-maybe,» said Nancy, with open doubt.
At half-past eight Pollyanna went up to bed. The screens had not yet come, and the little room was like an oven. With longing eyes Pollyanna looked at the two fast-closed windows but she did not raise them. She undressed, folded her clothes neatly, said her prayers, blew out her candle and climbed into bed.
She did not know how long she lay in sleepless misery, tossing from side to side of the hot little bed. Finally she slipped out of bed, felt her way across the room and opened the door.
Out in the main attic all was velvet blackness, but there was a silver path across the floor from the window. Pollyanna drew a quick breath and pattered straight to the window.
She hoped that this window might have a screen, but it did not. Outside, however, there was a wide world of fairy-like beauty, and there was fresh, sweet air that would feel so good to hot cheeks and hands!
As she stepped nearer and peered out, she saw, only a little way below the window, the wide, flat tin roof of Miss Polly's sun parlour built over the porte-cochere. If only she were out there right now!
Suddenly Pollyanna remembered that she had seen near this attic window a row of long white bags hanging from nails. Nancy had said that they contained the winter clothing, put away for the summer. A little fearfully now, Pollyanna felt her way to these bags, selected a nice fat soft one (it contained Miss Polly's sealskin coat) for a bed; and a thinner one for a pillow, and still another for a covering. Thus equipped, Pollyanna pattered to the moonlit window again, raised the sash, stuffed her burden through to the roof below, then let herself down after it, closing the window carefully behind her — Pollyanna had not forgotten those flies with the marvellous feet that carried things.
How deliciously cool it was! The roof was so broad and flat that she had no fear of falling off. With a sigh of content, Pollyanna curled herself up on the sealskin-coat mattress, arranged one bag for a pillow and the other for a covering, and settled herself to sleep.
«I'm so glad now that the screens didn't come,» she murmured, «or else I couldn't have had this!»
Downstairs in Miss Polly's room next the sun parlour, Miss Polly herself was telephoning in a shaking voice to Timothy:
«Come up quick, you and your father! Bring lanterns. Somebody is on the roof of the sun parlour. He can get right into the house through the window in the attic. I have locked the attic door down here — but hurry, be quick!»
Some time later, Pollyanna, just dropping off to sleep, was startled by a lantern flash, and a trio of amazed voices. She opened her eyes and found Timothy at the top of a ladder near her, Old Tom just getting through the window, and her aunt peering out at her from behind him.
«Pollyanna, what does this mean?» cried Aunt Polly then.
Pollyanna blinked her sleepy eyes and sat up.
«Why, Mr. Tom, Aunt Polly!» she stammered. «Don't look so scared! I was so hot in there. But I shut the window, Aunt Polly, so the flies couldn't carry those germs in.»
Timothy disappeared suddenly down the ladder. Old Tom handed his lantern to Miss Polly and followed his son. Miss Polly bit her lip hard until the men were gone; then she said sternly:
«Pollyanna, hand those things to me at once and come in here. For the rest of the night you are to sleep in my bed with me. The screens will be here tomorrow, but until then I consider it my duty to keep you by my side.»
Pollyanna drew in her breath.
«With you? In your bed?» she cried happily. «Oh, Aunt Polly, how kind of you! My! I am so glad now those screens didn't come!»
There was no reply. Miss Polly, to tell the truth, felt curiously helpless. For the third time since Pollyanna's arrival, Miss Polly punished Pollyanna, and for the third time her punishment was taken as a special reward of merit.
It was not long before life at the Harrington homestead settled into something like order, though not exactly the order that Miss Polly had at first established. Pollyanna sewed, read aloud, and studied cooking in the kitchen. But she did not give to any of these things quite so much time as it had first been planned. She had more time, also, to «just live,» for almost all of every afternoon from two until six o'clock was hers to do with as she liked.
It is a question, perhaps, whether all this leisure time was given to the child as a relief to Pollyanna from work or as a relief to Aunt Polly from Pollyanna. Certainly, the reading and sewing lessons found her at their conclusion each day somewhat dazed and wholly exhausted.
Nancy, in the kitchen, was neither dazed nor exhausted. Wednesdays and Saturdays came to be red-letter days to her.
There were no children in the immediate neighbourhood of the Harrington homestead for Pollyanna to play with. This, however, did not seem to disturb Pollyanna in the least.
«Oh, no, I don't mind it at all,» she explained to Nancy. «I'm happy just to walk around and see the streets and the houses and watch the people. I just love people. Don't you, Nancy?»
«Well, I can't say I do — all of them,» retorted Nancy, tersely.
Almost every afternoon Pollyanna begged for «an errand to run,» so that she might be off for a walk; and it was on these walks that she frequently met the Man. To herself Pollyanna always called him «the Man,» even if she met a dozen other men the same day.
The Man often wore a long black coat and a high silk hat. His face was shaven and rather pale, and his hair was gray. He walked erect, and rather rapidly, and he was always alone, which made Pollyanna sorry for him. One day she spoke to him.
«How do you do, sir? Isn't this a nice day?» she addressed him cheerily, as she approached him.
The man threw a hurried glance about him, and then stopped uncertainly.
«Did you speak to me?» he asked in a sharp voice.
«Yes, sir,» beamed Pollyanna. «I say, it's a nice day, isn't it?»
«Eh? Oh! Humph!» he grunted and strode on again.
The next day she saw him again.
«It isn't quite so nice as yesterday, but it's pretty nice,» she said cheerfully.
«Eh? Oh! Humph!» grunted the man as before.
When for the third time Pollyanna addressed him in the same manner, the man stopped abruptly.
«Now, child, who are you? Why are you speaking to me every day?»
«I'm Pollyanna Whittier, and I thought you looked lonesome. I'm so glad you stopped. Now we're introduced — only I don't know your name yet.»
«Well, what a — » The man did not finish his sentence, but strode on faster than ever.
Pollyanna looked after him with disappointment.
«Maybe he didn't understand, but that was only half an introduction. I don't know his name, yet,» she murmured.
On Tuesday Pollyanna was carrying calf's-foot jelly to Mrs. Snow. Miss Polly Harrington always sent something to Mrs. Snow once a week. She said that it was her duty, as Mrs. Snow was poor, sick, and a member of her church.
A pale-faced, tired-looking young girl answered the knock at the door.
«How do you do?» began Pollyanna politely. «I'm from Miss Polly Harrington, and I'd like to see Mrs. Snow, please.»
«Well, you're the first one that ever 'liked' to see her,» muttered the girl under her breath; but Pollyanna did not hear this.
In the sick room, after the girl had ushered her in and closed the door, Pollyanna blinked a little before she could accustom her eyes to the gloom. Then she saw a woman half-sitting up in the bed across the room. Pollyanna advanced at once.
«How do you do, Mrs. Snow? Aunt Polly says she hopes you are comfortable today, and she's sent you some calf's-foot jelly.»
«Dear me! Jelly?» murmured a fretful voice. «Of course I'm very much obliged, but I was hoping it would be lamb broth today. Well, who are you?»
«I'm Pollyanna Whittier, Miss Polly Harrington's niece, and I've come to live with her. That's why I'm here with the jelly this morning.» All through the first part of this sentence, the sick woman had sat interestedly erect; but at the reference to the jelly she fell back on her pillow listlessly.
«Very well, thank you. Your aunt is very kind, of course, but my appetite isn't very good this morning, and I wanted lamb-» She stopped suddenly, and then went on with an abrupt change of subject. «I never slept a wink last night — not a wink!»
«O dear, I wish I didn't,» sighed Pollyanna, placing the jelly on the little table and seating herself comfortably in the nearest chair. «We lose such a lot of time just sleeping! Don't you think so?»
«Lose time — sleeping!» exclaimed the sick woman.
«Yes, when we might be just living, you know.»
Once again the woman pulled herself erect in her bed.
«Well, you are an amazing child!» she cried. «Now go to that window and pull up the curtain. I'd like to know what you look like!»
«O dear! Then you'll see my freckles,» Pollyanna sighed, as she went to the window. «I was so glad it was dark and you couldn't see them. There! Now you can — oh!» she broke off excitedly, as she turned back to the bed. «I'm so glad you wanted to see me, because now I can see you! You are so pretty!»
«Me! Pretty!» scoffed the woman, bitterly.
«Oh, but your eyes are so big and dark, and your hair's all dark, too, and curly,» said Pollyanna. «I love black curls. And you've got two little red spots in your cheeks. Why, Mrs. Snow, you are pretty! I think you should look at yourself in the glass.»
«The glass!» snapped the sick woman, falling back on her pillow. «Yes, well, I don't look much in the mirror — and you wouldn't, if you were flat on your back as I am!»
«Why, no, of course not,» agreed Pollyanna, sympathetically. «But let me show you,» she exclaimed, skipping over to the bureau and picking up a small hand-glass.
On the way back to the bed she stopped, eyeing the sick woman with a critical gaze.
«May I fix your hair, please?»
«Why, I suppose so, if you want to,» permitted Mrs. Snow, grudgingly; «but it won't stay, you know.»
«Oh, thank you. I love to fix people's hair,» exclaimed Pollyanna, carefully laying down the hand-glass and reaching for a comb.
For five minutes Pollyanna worked swiftly and deftly.
Meanwhile the sick woman, frowning and scoffing at the whole procedure, was, in spite of herself, beginning to tingle with a feeling near to excitement.
«There!» panted Pollyanna, hastily plucking a pink from a vase nearby and tucking it into the dark hair where it would give the best effect. «Now I reckon we're ready to be looked at!» And she held out the mirror in triumph.
«Humph!» grunted the sick woman, eyeing her reflection severely. «I like red pinks better than pink ones; but then, it'll fade, anyhow, before night, so what's the difference!»
«But I think you should be glad they fade,» laughed Pollyanna, «because then you can have the fun of getting some more. I just love your hair fluffed out like that,» she finished with a satisfied gaze. «Don't you?»
«Hm-m; maybe. Still it won't last, as I am tossing back and forth on the pillow.»
«Of course not — and I'm glad,» nodded Pollyanna, cheerfully, «because then I can fix it again. Anyhow, I think you'd be glad it's black because black shows up so much nicer on a pillow than yellow hair like mine does. I love black hair! I'd be so glad if I only had it,» sighed Pollyanna.
Mrs. Snow dropped the mirror and turned irritably.
«Well, you wouldn't if you were me. You wouldn't be glad for black hair or anything else if you had to lie here all day as I do!»
Pollyanna bent her brows in a thoughtful frown.
«Well, it would be hard to do it then, wouldn't it?» she mused aloud.
«Be glad about things.»
«Be glad about things when you're sick in bed all your days? Well, I'd say it would,» retorted Mrs. Snow. «If you don't think so, just tell me something to be glad about!»
To Mrs. Snow's unbounded amazement, Pollyanna sprang to her feet and clapped her hands.
«Oh, that'll be hard, won't it? I've got to go now, but I'll think and think all the way home; and maybe the next time I come I can tell it to you. Goodbye. I've had a lovely time! Goodbye,» she said, as she tripped through the doorway.
«Well, what does she mean by that?» thought Mrs. Snow, staring after her visitor. Then she turned her head and picked up the mirror, eyeing her reflection critically.
«That little thing has got a knack with hair,» she muttered under her breath. «I didn't know it could look so pretty. But then, what's the use?» she sighed, dropping the little glass into the bedclothes, and rolling her head on the pillow fretfully.
A little later, when Milly, Mrs. Snow's daughter, came in, the mirror still lay among the bedclothes though it had been carefully hidden from sight.
«Why, mother, the curtain is up!» cried Milly, dividing her amazed stare between the window and the pink in her mother's hair.
«Well, what if it is?» snapped the sick woman. «I needn't stay in the dark all my life, if I am sick, need I?»
«Why, no, of course not,» said Milly, in hasty conciliation, as she reached for the medicine bottle. «Well, you know very well that I've tried to get you to have a lighter room for ages and you wouldn't.»
There was no reply to this. Mrs. Snow was picking at the lace on her nightgown. At last she spoke fretfully.
«I think somebody might give me a new nightdress instead of lamb broth, for a change!»
«Why — mother!»
No wonder Milly gasped aloud with bewilderment. In the drawer behind her at that moment there were two new nightdresses that Milly for months had been vainly asking her mother to wear.
It rained the next time Pollyanna saw the Man. She greeted him, however, with a bright smile.
«It isn't so nice today, is it?» she said. «I'm glad it doesn't rain always, anyhow!»
The man did not even turn his head. Pollyanna decided that of course he did not hear her. The next time she spoke up louder. She thought it particularly necessary to do this, anyway, for the Man was striding along with his hands behind his back and his eyes on the ground.
Pollyanna was on a morning errand today.
«How do you do?» she chirped. «I'm so glad it isn't yesterday, aren't you?»
The man stopped abruptly. There was an angry scowl on his face.
«Now, little girl, let's settle this thing right now, once and for all,» he began testily. «I've got something besides the weather to think of. I don't know whether the sun shines or not.»
Pollyanna beamed joyously.
«That's why I told you — so you would notice it, you know — that the sun shines, and all that. I knew you'd be glad if you only stopped to think of it!»
The man started forward again, but after the second step he turned back, still frowning.
«Why don't you find someone your own age to talk to?»
«I'd like to, sir, but there aren't any. Still, I don't mind it very much. I like old folks just as well, maybe better, sometimes. You see, I'm sure you're much nicer than you look!»
The man made a queer noise in his throat. Then he turned and strode on as before.
The next time Pollyanna met the Man, his eyes were gazing straight into hers, with a quizzical directness that made his face look really pleasant.
«Good afternoon,» he greeted her a little stiffly. «Perhaps I'd better say right away that I know the sun is shining today.»
«But you don't have to tell me,» nodded Pollyanna, brightly. «I knew you knew it just as soon as I saw you. I saw it in your eyes, you know, and in your smile.»
«Humph!» grunted the man, as he passed on.
The Man always spoke to Pollyanna after this, and frequently he spoke first, though usually he said little but «good afternoon.» Even that, however, was a great surprise to Nancy, who chanced to be with Pollyanna one day when the greeting was given.
«Goodness! Do you know who he is?» demanded Nancy.
Pollyanna frowned and shook her head.
«I reckon he forgot to tell me one day. You see, I did my part of the introducing, but he didn't.»
Nancy's eyes widened.
«But he never speaks to anybody, child, except when he just have to, for business, and all that. He's John Pendleton. He lives all by himself in the big house on Pendleton Hill. He won't even have anyone to cook for him. He comes down to the hotel for his meals three times a day. Sally Miner, who waits on him, says he hardly opens his lips enough to tell what he wants to eat. She often has to guess it and it's always has to be something cheap!»
Pollyanna nodded sympathetically.
«I know. You have to look for cheap things when you're poor, hither and I took meals out a lot. We usually had beans and fish halls. We used to say how glad we were we liked beans, especially when we were looking at the roast turkey that was sixty cents. Does Mr. Pendleton like beans?»
«Why, Miss Pollyanna, he isn't poor. He's got loads of money from his father. There is nobody in town as rich as he is. He doesn't spend his money, he's saving it. He doesn't speak to anyone; and he lives all alone in a great big lovely house all full of grand things, they say. Some say he's crazy, and everybody says he's mysterious. Sometimes he travels, and it's always in heathen countries — Egypt and Asia and the Desert of Sahara, you know.»
«Oh, a missionary,» nodded Pollyanna.
«Well, I didn't say that, Miss Pollyanna. When he comes back he writes books — queer books, they say, about some gimcrack he's found in those heathen countries. But he never wants to spend money here.»
«Of course not — he's saving it for the heathen,» declared Pollyanna. «Now I'm even gladder that he speaks to me.»
The next time Pollyanna went to see Mrs. Snow, she found that lady in a darkened room again.
«It's the little girl from Miss Polly's, mother,» announced Milly, in a tired manner; then Pollyanna found herself alone with the invalid.
«Oh, is it you?» asked a fretful voice from the bed. «I remember you. Anybody would remember you, I guess, if they saw you once. I wish you had come yesterday.»
The woman stirred restlessly and turned her eyes toward the basket.
«Well, what is it?»
«Guess! What do you want?»
The sick woman frowned.
«Why, I don't want anything,» she sighed. «After all, they all taste alike!»
«This won't. Guess! If you wanted something, what would it be?»
The woman hesitated. She did not realize it herself. Obviously, however, she had to say something. This extraordinary child was waiting.
«Well, of course, there's lamb broth — »
«I've got it!» cried Pollyanna.
«But that's what I didn't want,» sighed the sick woman. «It was chicken I wanted.»
«Oh, I've got that, too,» chuckled Pollyanna.
The woman turned in amazement.
«Both of them?» she demanded.
«Yes, and some calf's-foot jelly,» triumphed Pollyanna. «You should have what you wanted for once. Oh, of course, there's only a little of each — but there's some of all of them! I'm so glad you want chicken,» she went on contentedly, as she lifted the three little bowls from her basket.
There was no reply. The sick woman seemed to be trying mentally to find something she had lost.
«There! I'll leave them all,» announced Pollyanna, as she arranged the three bowls in a row on the table. «How do you do today?» she finished in polite inquiry.
«Very poorly, thank you,» murmured Mrs. Snow, falling back into her usual listless attitude. «Nellie Higgins next door has begun music lessons, and her practising drives me nearly wild. She was at it all the morning — every minute!»
Polly nodded sympathetically and then suddenly clapped her hands.
«There! I almost forgot; but I've thought it up, Mrs. Snow what you can be glad about.»
«Glad about! What do you mean?»
«Why, you asked me to tell you something to be glad about — glad, even though you have to lie here abed all day.»
«Oh!» scoffed the woman. «Yes, I remember that; but I didn't suppose you were in earnest.»
«Oh, yes, I was,» nodded Pollyanna, triumphantly; «and I found It, too. But it was hard. I couldn't think of anything for a while. Then I got it.»
«Did you, really? Well, what is it?» Mrs. Snow's voice was sarcastically polite.
Pollyanna drew a long breath.
«I thought how glad you could be that other folks weren't like you — all sick in bed like this, you know,» she announced impressively.
Mrs. Snow stared. Her eyes were angry.
«Well, really!» she said then, in an unagreeable tone of voice.
«And now I'll tell you about the game,» proposed Pollyanna. «It'll be just lovely for you to play — it'll be so hard. And there's so much more fun when it is hard! You see, it's like this.» And she began to tell of the missionary barrel, the crutches, and the doll that did not come.
The story was just finished when Milly appeared at the door.
«Your aunt wants you, Miss Pollyanna,» she said. «She telephoned and said you have to hurry because you've got some practising to make up before dark.»
Pollyanna rose reluctantly.
«All right,» she sighed. «I'll hurry.» Suddenly she laughed. «I suppose I ought to be glad I've got legs to hurry with.»
Mrs. Snow's eyes were closed. But Milly, whose eyes were wide open with surprise, saw that there were tears on the wasted cheeks.
«Goodbye,» said Pollyanna over her shoulder, as she reached the door. «I'm awfully sorry about the hair — I wanted to do it. But maybe I can next time!»
One by one the July days passed. To Pollyanna, they were happy days, indeed. She often told her aunt how very happy they were and her aunt would usually reply, wearily:
«Very well, Pollyanna. I am pleased, of course, that they are happy; but I hope that they are profitable, as well.»
«What is being pro-fi-ta-ble?»
«Why, it's just being profitable — having profit, Pollyanna. What an extraordinary child you are!»
«Then just being glad isn't pro-fi-ta-ble?» questioned Pollyanna,' a little anxiously.
«O dear! Then you wouldn't like it, of course. Now I'm afraid you won't play the game, Aunt Polly.»
«Game? What game?»
«Why, that father — » Pollyanna clapped her hand to her lips. «N-nothing,» she stammered. Miss Polly frowned.
«That will do for this morning, Pollyanna,» she said tersely. And the sewing lesson was over.
In the afternoon Pollyanna, coming down from her attic room, met her aunt on the stairway.
«Why, Aunt Polly, how lovely!» she cried. «You were coming up to see me! Come right in. I love company,» she finished, running up the stairs and throwing her door wide open.
Miss Polly had not intended to call on her niece. She had just planned to look for a white wool shawl in the chest near the window. But to her great surprise, she found herself not in the main attic before the chest, but in Pollyanna's little room sitting in one of the straight-backed chairs.
«I love company,» said Pollyanna, «especially since I've had this room, all mine, you know. Oh, of course, I always had a room, but it was a hired room, and hired rooms aren't half as nice as owned ones, are they? And of course now I just love this room, even if it hasn't got the carpets and curtains and pictures -» With a painful blush Pollyanna stopped short.
«What's that, Pollyanna?»
«N-nothing, Aunt Polly, truly. I didn't mean to say it.»
«Probably not,» returned Miss Polly, coldly; «but you said it, so lot's have the rest of it.»
Pollyanna blushed painfully.
«It was only because I had always wanted them and hadn't had them, I suppose. I shouldn't have wanted them — pretty things, I mean; but, truly, Aunt Polly, I was glad that the bureau didn't have a looking-glass, because it didn't show my freckles; and there co