Pollyanna had not turned her steps toward home when she left the chapel. She had turned them, instead, toward Pendleton Hill. It had been a hard day, and Pollyanna was sure that nothing would do her so much good as a walk through the green quiet of Pendleton Woods. Up Pendleton Hill she climbed steadily, despite the warm sun on her back.
It was beautiful in the Pendleton Woods, as Pollyanna knew by experience. But today it seemed even more delightful than ever.
Suddenly Pollyanna lifted her head and listened. A dog had barked some distance ahead. A moment later he came dashing toward her, still barking.
«Hullo, doggie — hullo!» Pollyanna snapped her fingers at the dog and looked expectantly down the path. She had seen the dog once before. He had been then with the Man, Mr. John Pendleton. She was looking now, hoping to see him, but he did not appear. Then she turned her attention toward the dog, who was acting strangely. He was still barking — giving little short, sharp yelps, as if of alarm. He was running back and forth, too, in the path ahead. Soon they reached a side path, and down this the little dog flew, whining and barking.
«That isn’t the way home,» laughed Pollyanna, still keeping to the main path.
The little dog seemed frantic now. He ran back and forth, between Pollyanna and the side path, barking and whining pitifully. Every movement of his little body, and every glance from his beseeching brown eyes were eloquent with appeal — so eloquent that at last Pollyanna understood, turned, and followed him.
The little dog dashed madly straight ahead, and it was not long before Pollyanna came upon the reason for it all: a man was lying motionless at the foot of a steep mass of rock a few yards from the side path.
A twig cracked sharply under Pollyanna’s foot, and the man turned his head. With a cry of dismay Pollyanna ran to his side.
«Mr. Pendleton! Oh, are you hurt?»
«Hurt? Oh, no! I’m just having a rest in the sunshine,» snapped the man irritably.
Pollyanna caught her breath with a little gasp.
The man smiled grimly.
«There, there, child, I beg your pardon; it’s only this confounded leg of mine. Now listen.» He paused, and with some difficulty reached his hand into his trousers pocket and brought out a bunch of keys. «My house is straight through the path there, about five minutes’ walk. This key will admit you to the side door under the porte-cochere. Do you know what a porte-cochere is?»
«Oh, yes, sir. Auntie has one with a sun parlour over it.»
«Oh! Well, when you get into the house, go straight through the vestibule and hall to the door at the end. On the big, flat-topped desk in the middle of the room you’ll find a telephone. Do you know how to use a telephone?»
«Oh, yes, sir!»
«Look up Dr. Thomas Chilton’s number on the card you’ll find somewhere around there. You know what a telephone card is, I suppose!»
«Oh, yes, sir!»
«Tell Dr. Chilton that John Pendleton is at the foot of the Eagle Hill in Pendleton Woods with a broken leg, and to come at once with a stretcher and two men. He’ll know what to do besides that. Tell him to come by the path from the house.»
«A broken leg? Oh, Mr. Pendleton, how awful!» shuddered Pollyanna. «But I’m so glad I came! Can’t I do -»
«Yes, you can! Will you go and do what I ask and stop talking,» moaned the man, faintly. And, with a little sobbing cry, Pollyanna went.
It was not long before she came in sight of the house. She had seen it before, though never so near as this. She was almost frightened now at the massiveness of the great pile of gray stone with its pillared verandas and its imposing entrance. Pausing only a moment, however, she sped across the big neglected lawn and around the house to the side door under the porte-cochere. Her fingers, stiff from their tight clutch upon the keys, were unskillful in their efforts to turn the bolt in the lock; but at last the heavy, carved door swung slowly back on its hinges.
Pollyanna caught her breath. In spite of her feeling of haste, she paused a moment and looked fearfully through the vestibule to the wide, sombre hall beyond. This was John Pendleton’s house; the house of mystery; the house into which no one but its master entered. Yet Pollyanna was expected to enter alone these fearsome rooms, and telephone the doctor.
With a little cry Pollyanna ran through the hall to the door at the end and opened it.
The room was large and sombre like the hall; but through the west window the sun threw a long shaft of gold across the floor, gleamed on the brass andirons in the fireplace, and touched the nickel of the telephone on the great desk in the middle of the room. Pollyanna hurriedly tiptoed to this desk.
The telephone card was not on its hook; it was on the floor. But Pollyanna found it, and ran her shaking forefinger down through the C’s to «Chilton.» Soon she had Dr. Chilton himself at the other end of the wires, and was delivering her message and answering the doctor’s terse questions. Then she hung up the receiver and drew a long breath of relief.