As the days of waiting passed, one by one, it did indeed, seem that Aunt Polly was doing everything (but that) that she could do to please her niece.

“I wouldn’t ’a’ believed it—you couldn’t ’a’ made me believe it,” Nancy said to Old Tom one morning. “There don’t seem ter be a minute in the day that Miss Polly ain’t jest hangin’ ’round waitin’ ter do somethin’ for that blessed lamb if ’tain’t more than ter let in the cat—an’ her what wouldn’t let Fluff nor Buff upstairs for love nor money a week ago; an’ now she lets ’em tumble all over the bed jest ’cause it pleases Miss Pollyanna!

“An’ when she ain’t doin’ nothin’ else, she’s movin’ them little glass danglers ’round ter diff’rent winders in the room so the sun’ll make the ‘rainbows dance,’ as that blessed child calls it. She’s sent Timothy down ter Cobb’s greenhouse three times for fresh flowers—an’ that besides all the posies fetched in ter her, too. An’ the other day, if I didn’t find her sittin’ ’fore the bed with the nurse actually doin’ her hair, an’ Miss Pollyanna lookin’ on an’ bossin’ from the bed, her eyes all shinin’ an’ happy. An’ I declare ter goodness, if Miss Polly hain’t wore her hair like that every day now—jest ter please that blessed child!”

Old Tom chuckled.

“Well, it strikes me Miss Polly herself ain’t lookin’ none the worse—for wearin’ them ’ere curls ’round her forehead,” he observed dryly.

“ ’Course she ain’t,” retorted Nancy, indignantly. “She looks like folks, now. She’s actually almost—”

“Keerful, now, Nancy!” interrupted the old man, with a slow grin. “You know what you said when I told ye she was handsome once.”

Nancy shrugged her shoulders.

“Oh, she ain’t handsome, of course; but I will own up she don’t look like the same woman, what with the ribbons an’ lace jiggers Miss Pollyanna makes her wear ’round her neck.”

“I told ye so,” nodded the man. “I told ye she wa’n’t—old.”

Nancy laughed.

“Well, I’ll own up she hain’t got quite so good an imitation of it—as she did have, ’fore Miss Pollyanna come. Say, Mr. Tom, who was her a lover? I hain’t found that out, yet; I hain’t, I hain’t!”

“Hain’t ye?” asked the old man, with an odd look on his face. “Well, I guess ye won’t then from me.”

“Oh, Mr. Tom, come on, now,” wheedled the girl. “Ye see, there ain’t many folks here that I can ask.”

“Maybe not. But there’s one, anyhow, that ain’t answerin’,” grinned Old Tom. Then, abruptly, the light died from his eyes. “How is she, ter-day—the little gal?”

Nancy shook her head. Her face, too, had sobered.

“Just the same, Mr. Tom. There ain’t no special diff’rence, as I can see—or anybody, I guess. She jest lays there an’ sleeps an’ talks some, an’ tries ter smile an’ be ‘glad’ ’cause the sun sets or the moon rises, or some other such thing, till it’s enough ter make yer heart break with achin’.”

“I know; it’s the ‘game’—bless her sweet heart!” nodded Old Tom, blinking a little.

“She told you, then, too, about that ’ere—game?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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