Phronsie turned, and threw herself into Polly's protecting arms, who gathered her up, and sitting down in the depths of the chair, comforted her as only she could. "What is it?" she asked of Joel, who was nervously begging Phronsie not to cry; "now, tell me all that's happened." "I was a-nailing," began Joel; "oh dear! don't cry, Phronsie! do stop her, Polly." "Go on," said Polly, hoarsely.
"We must wait till the very last thing, so they will look as fresh as possible." Polly stopped short. In her impetuous way she had forgotten this important point. "Oh, I never thought of that," she said. "Well, anyhow, we can make the boxes." "I don't believe we can do those either," returned Molly, further dampening Polly's ardor.
But I didn't think he could break loose from his cage. I'm thinkin' the door was ajar." "Well, we're much obliged to you and to Polly. Oh, just think if you hadn't reasoned it out, Ted, we never would have known the truth! You see, Joe thought the earring was one of Polly's own belongings, so, of course, he never would have paid any attention to it." "That I wouldn't, Miss.
On the evening of that day, about ten o'clock, he chanced to be in Oxford Street, and as he turned southward it occurred to him that he would so far act upon Polly's invitation as to walk down the Avenue and glance at the house where she lived. He did so, and it surprised him to see that she had taken up her abode in so mean-looking a place; he was not aware, of course, that.
Had she gone up a step or two of the mountain she so longed to climb? Did she hear the words of her mother's favorite song, and was a Guide the Guide holding her childish hand? The hour of the long day passed somehow. If there was calm in Polly's room, and despair more or less in poor Flower's, the rest of the house was kept in a state of constant excitement.
But the father had never for a moment allowed himself to conceive that therefore the thing was at an end, and had instructed Polly that she was not to look upon it in that light. He regarded his young customer as absolutely bound to him, and would not acknowledge to himself that such obligation could be annulled by Polly's girlish folly.
Slim heard him. "Who's in that wagon?" he cried, moving toward it. "Show Low asleep?" "No. Buddy," said Polly, thinking she might as well confess the deception first as last, and using the childish nickname of her lover in order to soften Slim's anger against him. "Nobody," repeated Slim, not fully convinced that he was mistaken, but stopping in deference to Polly's apparent denial.
"Trotty, see what I've brought you!" was Polly's cheery greeting. The little four-year-old turned slightly, with a wavering smile. She was a strange wisp of a girl, and Polly was not in the least disappointed when she made no answer, only watched the fingers that were untying the bright ribbon. "Now what do you s'pose?" smiled Polly, staying the cover a moment to make the gift of more effect.
"No, no," cried Polly, getting out of her chair, "I didn't mean so, indeed I didn't, Mr. Loughead. Oh! what have I said? I think you have done beautifully. How could you help things when you were not here? Oh! Mr. Loughead, I do hope you will forgive me. I have only made matters worse, I'm afraid," and poor Polly's face drooped. Jack Loughead turned with a sudden gesture.
But as he sat and pondered the lengthy chain of circumstance Polly's share in it, John's, his own, even the part played by incorporeal things he brought up short against the word "decision". He might flatter himself by imagining he had been free to decide; in reality nothing was further from the truth.