«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.