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.