Pollyanna drew in her breath.
«With you? In your bed?» she cried happily. «Oh, Aunt Polly, how kind of you! My! I am so glad now those screens didn’t come!»
There was no reply. Miss Polly, to tell the truth, felt curiously helpless. For the third time since Pollyanna’s arrival, Miss Polly punished Pollyanna, and for the third time her punishment was taken as a special reward of merit.
It was not long before life at the Harrington homestead settled into something like order, though not exactly the order that Miss Polly had at first established. Pollyanna sewed, read aloud, and studied cooking in the kitchen. But she did not give to any of these things quite so much time as it had first been planned. She had more time, also, to «just live,» for almost all of every afternoon from two until six o’clock was hers to do with as she liked.
It is a question, perhaps, whether all this leisure time was given to the child as a relief to Pollyanna from work or as a relief to Aunt Polly from Pollyanna. Certainly, the reading and sewing lessons found her at their conclusion each day somewhat dazed and wholly exhausted.
Nancy, in the kitchen, was neither dazed nor exhausted. Wednesdays and Saturdays came to be red-letter days to her.
There were no children in the immediate neighbourhood of the Harrington homestead for Pollyanna to play with. This, however, did not seem to disturb Pollyanna in the least.
«Oh, no, I don’t mind it at all,» she explained to Nancy. «I’m happy just to walk around and see the streets and the houses and watch the people. I just love people. Don’t you, Nancy?»
«Well, I can’t say I do — all of them,» retorted Nancy, tersely.
Almost every afternoon Pollyanna begged for «an errand to run,» so that she might be off for a walk; and it was on these walks that she frequently met the Man. To herself Pollyanna always called him «the Man,» even if she met a dozen other men the same day.
The Man often wore a long black coat and a high silk hat. His face was shaven and rather pale, and his hair was gray. He walked erect, and rather rapidly, and he was always alone, which made Pollyanna sorry for him. One day she spoke to him.
«How do you do, sir? Isn’t this a nice day?» she addressed him cheerily, as she approached him.
The man threw a hurried glance about him, and then stopped uncertainly.
«Did you speak to me?» he asked in a sharp voice.
«Yes, sir,» beamed Pollyanna. «I say, it’s a nice day, isn’t it?»
«Eh? Oh! Humph!» he grunted and strode on again.
The next day she saw him again.
«It isn’t quite so nice as yesterday, but it’s pretty nice,» she said cheerfully.
«Eh? Oh! Humph!» grunted the man as before.
When for the third time Pollyanna addressed him in the same manner, the man stopped abruptly.
«Now, child, who are you? Why are you speaking to me every day?»
«I’m Pollyanna Whittier, and I thought you looked lonesome. I’m so glad you stopped. Now we’re introduced — only I don’t know your name yet.»
«Well, what a — » The man did not finish his sentence, but strode on faster than ever.
Pollyanna looked after him with disappointment.
«Maybe he didn’t understand, but that was only half an introduction. I don’t know his name, yet,» she murmured.
On Tuesday Pollyanna was carrying calf’s-foot jelly to Mrs. Snow. Miss Polly Harrington always sent something to Mrs. Snow once a week. She said that it was her duty, as Mrs. Snow was poor, sick, and a member of her church.
A pale-faced, tired-looking young girl answered the knock at the door.
«How do you do?» began Pollyanna politely. «I’m from Miss Polly Harrington, and I’d like to see Mrs. Snow, please.»
«Well, you’re the first one that ever ‘liked’ to see her,» muttered the girl under her breath; but Pollyanna did not hear this.
In the sick room, after the girl had ushered her in and closed the door, Pollyanna blinked a little before she could accustom her eyes to the gloom. Then she saw a woman half-sitting up in the bed across the room. Pollyanna advanced at once.
«How do you do, Mrs. Snow? Aunt Polly says she hopes you are comfortable today, and she’s sent you some calf’s-foot jelly.»
«Dear me! Jelly?» murmured a fretful voice. «Of course I’m very much obliged, but I was hoping it would be lamb broth today. Well, who are you?»
«I’m Pollyanna Whittier, Miss Polly Harrington’s niece, and I’ve come to live with her. That’s why I’m here with the jelly this morning.» All through the first part of this sentence, the sick woman had sat interestedly erect; but at the reference to the jelly she fell back on her pillow listlessly.
«Very well, thank you. Your aunt is very kind, of course, but my appetite isn’t very good this morning, and I wanted lamb-» She stopped suddenly, and then went on with an abrupt change of subject. «I never slept a wink last night — not a wink!»
«O dear, I wish I didn’t,» sighed Pollyanna, placing the jelly on the little table and seating herself comfortably in the nearest chair. «We lose such a lot of time just sleeping! Don’t you think so?»