It rained the next time Pollyanna saw the Man. She greeted him, however, with a bright smile.
«It isn’t so nice today, is it?» she said. «I’m glad it doesn’t rain always, anyhow!»
The man did not even turn his head. Pollyanna decided that of course he did not hear her. The next time she spoke up louder. She thought it particularly necessary to do this, anyway, for the Man was striding along with his hands behind his back and his eyes on the ground.
Pollyanna was on a morning errand today.
«How do you do?» she chirped. «I’m so glad it isn’t yesterday, aren’t you?»
The man stopped abruptly. There was an angry scowl on his face.
«Now, little girl, let’s settle this thing right now, once and for all,» he began testily. «I’ve got something besides the weather to think of. I don’t know whether the sun shines or not.»
Pollyanna beamed joyously.
«That’s why I told you — so you would notice it, you know — that the sun shines, and all that. I knew you’d be glad if you only stopped to think of it!»
The man started forward again, but after the second step he turned back, still frowning.
«Why don’t you find someone your own age to talk to?»
«I’d like to, sir, but there aren’t any. Still, I don’t mind it very much. I like old folks just as well, maybe better, sometimes. You see, I’m sure you’re much nicer than you look!»
The man made a queer noise in his throat. Then he turned and strode on as before.
The next time Pollyanna met the Man, his eyes were gazing straight into hers, with a quizzical directness that made his face look really pleasant.
«Good afternoon,» he greeted her a little stiffly. «Perhaps I’d better say right away that I know the sun is shining today.»
«But you don’t have to tell me,» nodded Pollyanna, brightly. «I knew you knew it just as soon as I saw you. I saw it in your eyes, you know, and in your smile.»
«Humph!» grunted the man, as he passed on.
The Man always spoke to Pollyanna after this, and frequently he spoke first, though usually he said little but «good afternoon.» Even that, however, was a great surprise to Nancy, who chanced to be with Pollyanna one day when the greeting was given.
«Goodness! Do you know who he is?» demanded Nancy.
Pollyanna frowned and shook her head.
«I reckon he forgot to tell me one day. You see, I did my part of the introducing, but he didn’t.»
Nancy’s eyes widened.
«But he never speaks to anybody, child, except when he just have to, for business, and all that. He’s John Pendleton. He lives all by himself in the big house on Pendleton Hill. He won’t even have anyone to cook for him. He comes down to the hotel for his meals three times a day. Sally Miner, who waits on him, says he hardly opens his lips enough to tell what he wants to eat. She often has to guess it and it’s always has to be something cheap!»
Pollyanna nodded sympathetically.
«I know. You have to look for cheap things when you’re poor, hither and I took meals out a lot. We usually had beans and fish halls. We used to say how glad we were we liked beans, especially when we were looking at the roast turkey that was sixty cents. Does Mr. Pendleton like beans?»
«Why, Miss Pollyanna, he isn’t poor. He’s got loads of money from his father. There is nobody in town as rich as he is. He doesn’t spend his money, he’s saving it. He doesn’t speak to anyone; and he lives all alone in a great big lovely house all full of grand things, they say. Some say he’s crazy, and everybody says he’s mysterious. Sometimes he travels, and it’s always in heathen countries — Egypt and Asia and the Desert of Sahara, you know.»
«Oh, a missionary,» nodded Pollyanna.
«Well, I didn’t say that, Miss Pollyanna. When he comes back he writes books — queer books, they say, about some gimcrack he’s found in those heathen countries. But he never wants to spend money here.»
«Of course not — he’s saving it for the heathen,» declared Pollyanna. «Now I’m even gladder that he speaks to me.»
The next time Pollyanna went to see Mrs. Snow, she found that lady in a darkened room again.
«It’s the little girl from Miss Polly’s, mother,» announced Milly, in a tired manner; then Pollyanna found herself alone with the invalid.
«Oh, is it you?» asked a fretful voice from the bed. «I remember you. Anybody would remember you, I guess, if they saw you once. I wish you had come yesterday.»
The woman stirred restlessly and turned her eyes toward the basket.
«Well, what is it?»
«Guess! What do you want?»
The sick woman frowned.
«Why, I don’t want anything,» she sighed. «After all, they all taste alike!»
«This won’t. Guess! If you wanted something, what would it be?»
The woman hesitated. She did not realize it herself. Obviously, however, she had to say something. This extraordinary child was waiting.
«Well, of course, there’s lamb broth — »
«I’ve got it!» cried Pollyanna.
«But that’s what I didn’t want,» sighed the sick woman. «It was chicken I wanted.»
«Oh, I’ve got that, too,» chuckled Pollyanna.