pollyanna chapter 9


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.»


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