Oh, then the tight knot in the little unwanted girl’s heart was loosened indeed! It all gave way at once, and Elizabeth Ann burst suddenly into hot tears—yes, I know I said I would not tell you any more about her crying; but these tears were very different from any she had ever shed before. And they were the last, too, for a long, long time.
Aunt Abigail said, “Well, well!” and moving over in bed took the little weeping girl into her arms. She did not say another word then, but she put her soft, withered old cheek close against Elizabeth Ann’s, till the sobs began to grow less, and then she said: “I hear your kitty crying outside the door. Shall I let her in? I expect she’d like to sleep with you. I guess there’s room for three of us.”
She got out of bed as she spoke and walked across the room to the door. The floor shook under her great bulk, and the peak of her nightcap made a long, grotesque shadow. But as she came back with the kitten in her arms Elizabeth Ann saw nothing funny in her looks. She gave Eleanor to the little girl and got into bed again. “There, now, I guess we’re ready for the night,” she said. “You put the kitty on the other side of you so she won’t fall out of bed.”
She blew the light out and moved over a little closer to Elizabeth. Ann, who immediately was enveloped in that delicious warmth. The kitten curled up under the little girl’s chin. Between her and the terrors of the dark room loomed the rampart of Aunt Abigail’s great body.
Elizabeth Ann drew a long, long breath ... and when she opened her eyes the sun was shining in at the window.
A SHORT MORNING
Aunt Abigail was gone, Eleanor was gone. The room was quite empty except for the bright sunshine pouring in through the small-paned windows. Elizabeth Ann stretched and yawned and looked about her. What funny wall-paper it was—so old-fashioned looking! The picture was of a blue river and a brown mill, with green willow-trees over it, and a man with sacks on his horse’s back stood in front of the mill. This picture was repeated a great many times, all over the paper; and in the corner, where it hadn’t come out even, they had had to cut it right down the middle of the horse. It was very curious-looking. She stared at it a long time, waiting for somebody to tell her when to get up. At home Aunt Frances always told her, and helped her get dressed. But here nobody came. She discovered that the heat came from a hole in the floor near the bed, which opened down into the room below. From it came a warm breath of baking bread and a muffled thump once in a while.