«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.