August brought several surprises and some changes, none of which, however, were really a surprise to Nancy. Since Pollyanna’s arrival, Nancy had come to look for surprises and changes.
First there was the kitten.
Pollyanna found the kitten mewing pitifully some distance down the road. When systematic questioning of the neighbours failed to find anyone who owned it, Pollyanna brought it home at once, as a matter of course.
«And I was glad I didn’t find anyone who owned it, too,» she told her aunt in happy confidence; «because I wanted to bring it home. I love kitties. I knew you’d be glad to let it live here.» Miss Polly looked at the forlorn little gray bunch of misery in Pollyanna’s arms, and shivered: Miss Polly did not care for cats — not even pretty, healthy, clean ones.
«Pollyanna! What a dirty little beast! And it’s sick, I’m sure, and all mangy!»
«I know it, poor little thing,» said Pollyanna, tenderly, looking into the little creature’s frightened eyes. «And it’s all trembly, too, it’s so scared. You see it doesn’t know yet that we’re going to keep it, of course.»
Miss Polly opened her lips and tried to speak; but in vain. The curious helpless feeling that she had experienced so often since Pollyanna’s arrival, had her now fast in its grip.
«Of course I knew,» hurried on Pollyanna, gratefully, «that you wouldn’t let a dear little lonesome kitty go hunting for a home when you’d just taken me in. I knew you’d feel that way,» she nodded happily, as she ran from the room.
«But, Pollyanna,» remonstrated Miss Polly. «I don’t -»
But Pollyanna was already halfway to the kitchen, calling:
«Nancy, just see this dear little kitty that Aunt Polly is going to bring up along with me!» In the sitting room, Aunt Polly, who abhorred cats, fell back in her chair with a gasp of dismay, powerless to remonstrate.
The next day it was a dog, even dirtier and more forlorn, perhaps, than the kitten was. And again Miss Polly, to her amazement, found herself figuring as a kind protector and an angel of mercy. Pollyanna so unhesitatingly thrust this role upon her that the woman, who abhorred dogs even more than cats, found herself as before, powerless to remonstrate.
When, in less than a week, however, Pollyanna brought home a small, ragged boy, and confidently claimed the same protection for him, Miss Polly had something to say.
It happened as follows.
On a pleasant Thursday morning Pollyanna was taking calf’s-foot jelly again to Mrs. Snow. They were the best of friends now. Their friendship had started from the third visit Pollyanna had made, the one after she had told Mrs. Snow of the game. Mrs. Snow herself was playing the game now, with Pollyanna. To be sure, she was not playing it very well — she had been sorry for everything for so long, that it was not easy to be glad for anything now. But under Pollyanna’s cheery instructions and merry laughter at her mistakes, she was learning fast.
Pollyanna was thinking of this when suddenly she saw a boy.
He was sitting by the roadside, whittling half-heartedly at a small stick.
«Hullo,» smiled Pollyanna, engagingly.
The boy glanced up, but he looked away again, at once.
«Hullo yourself,» he mumbled, and began to whittle again at his stick, with the dull, broken-bladed knife in his hand.
Pollyanna hesitated, and then dropped herself comfortably down on the grass near him.
«My name’s Pollyanna Whittier,» she began pleasantly. «What’s yours?»
«Jimmy Bean,» the boy grunted with ungracious indifference.
«Good! Now we’re introduced. I live at Miss Polly Harrington’s house. Where do you live?»
«Nowhere! Why, everybody lives somewhere!» asserted Pollyanna.
«Well, I don’t — just now. I’m hunting up a new place.»
«Oh! Where is it?»
The boy regarded her with scornful eyes.
«Silly! I wouldn’t be hunting for it if I knew!»
Pollyanna tossed her head a little. This was not a nice boy, and she did not like to be called «silly.» Still, he was somebody of her age. «Where did you live before?» she asked.
«Well, I’m tired of your questions!» sighed the boy impatiently.
«I have to ask them,» retorted Pollyanna calmly, «or else I couldn’t find out a thing about you. If you could talk more, I wouldn’t talk so much.»
The boy gave a short laugh. His face looked a little pleasanter when he spoke this time.
«All right then. I’m Jimmy Bean, and I’m ten years old. Last year my dad died and I came to live at the Orphans’ Home; but they’ve got so many kids that there isn’t much room for me. They don’t want me, so I’ve quit. I’m going to live somewhere else, but I haven’t found the place yet. I’d like a home — just a common one, you know, with a mother in it, instead of a Matron. I’ve tried four houses, but they didn’t want me though I said I would work, of course.» The boy’s voice had broken a little over the last two sentences.
«O dear! I know just how you feel, because after my father died, too, there wasn’t anybody but the Ladies’ Aid for me, until Aunt Polly said she’d take -» Pollyanna stopped abruptly.