Soon Pollyanna was back in the woods at the man’s side.
«Well, what is the trouble? Couldn’t you get in?» he demanded.
«Why, of course I could,» she answered. «And the doctor will be right up just as soon as possible with the men and things. He said he knew just where you were, so I didn’t stay to show him. I wanted to be with you.»
«Did you?» smiled the man, grimly. «Well, I think you might find pleasanter companions.»
«Do you mean — because you’re so cross?»
«Thanks for your frankness. Yes.»
Pollyanna laughed softly.
«But you’re only cross outside. You aren’t cross inside a bit!»
«How do you know that?» asked the man, trying to change the position of his head without moving the rest of his body.
«Oh, lots of ways; like the way you act with the dog,» she said, pointing to his hand that rested on the dog’s head near him. «It’s funny how dogs and cats know the insides of folks better than other folks do, isn’t it? Now, I’m going to hold your head,» she finished abruptly.
The man winced several times and groaned softly but in the end he found Pollyanna’s lap a very nice substitute for the rocky hollow in which his head had lain before.
«Well, that is better,» he murmured faintly.
He did not speak again for some time. Pollyanna, watching his face, wondered if he was asleep. He looked as if his lips were shut to keep back moans of pain. Pollyanna herself almost cried aloud as she looked at his great, strong body lying there so helpless. Minute by minute the time passed. The sun dropped lower in the west and the shadows grew deeper under the trees. Pollyanna sat still and didn’t seem to breathe.
At last the dog pricked up his ears and gave a short, sharp bark. The next moment Pollyanna heard voices, and very soon she saw three men carrying a stretcher.
A smooth-shaven, kind-eyed man whom Pollyanna knew by sight as «Dr. Chilton» advanced cheerily.
«Well, my little lady, are you playing nurse?»
«Oh, no, sir,» smiled Pollyanna. «I’ve only held his head. I haven’t given him any medicine. But I’m glad I was here.»
«So am I,» nodded the doctor, as he turned his attention to the injured man.
Pollyanna was a little late for supper because of the accident to John Pendleton but she escaped without reproof.
Nancy met her at the door.
«Well, I am glad you’ve come home,» she sighed in obvious relief. «It’s half-past six!»
«I know it,» admitted Pollyanna anxiously; «but I’m not to blame. And I don’t think even Aunt Polly will say I am, either.»
«She won’t have any chance,» retorted Nancy, with huge satisfaction. «She’s gone. Her cousin died suddenly in Boston, and she had to go. She won’t be back for three days. Now I’m glad we’ll be keeping house together, just you and me, all that time!»
Pollyanna looked shocked.
«Glad! Oh, Nancy, when it’s a funeral?»
«Oh, but it isn’t the funeral I am glad for, Miss Pollyanna. It’s -» Nancy stopped abruptly. A shrewd twinkle came into her eyes. «Why, Miss Pollyanna, isn’t it you who taught me to play the game?» she reproached her gravely.
Pollyanna frowned and argued with a shake of her head:
«There are some things that should not be played the game on — and I’m sure a funeral is one of them. There’s nothing in a funeral to be glad about.»
Then she began to tell her about the accident; and in a moment Nancy, open-mouthed, was listening.
The next afternoon, Pollyanna met Jimmy Bean at the appointed place according to agreement. As was to be expected, of course, Jimmy showed keen disappointment that the Ladies’ Aid preferred a little India boy to himself.
«Well, maybe it is natural,» he sighed. «Of course things you don’t know about are always nicer than things you do, same as the potato on the other side of the plate is always the biggest. But wouldn’t it be just great, now, if only somebody over in India wanted me?»
Pollyanna clapped her hands.
«Why, of course! I’ll write to my Ladies’ Aiders about you. They aren’t over in India; they’re only out West but that’s awful far away, just the same.»
Jimmy’s face brightened.
«Do you think they would take me?» he asked.
«Of course they would! Don’t they take little boys in India to bring up? I reckon you’re far enough away to make a report, all right. You wait. I’ll write to Mrs. White. No, I’ll write to Mrs. Jones. Mrs. White has got the most money, but Mrs. Jones gives the most. I reckon some of the Aiders will take you.»
«All right, but don’t forget to say I’ll work for my board and keep,» put in Jimmy. «I’m not a beggar, and business is business, even with Ladies’ Aiders, I think.»
«Of course,» nodded Pollyanna emphatically. «They’ll take you, I’m sure you’re far enough away for that.»
It was about a week after the accident in Pendleton Woods that Pollyanna said to her aunt one morning:
«Aunt Polly, please, would you mind if I took Mrs. Snow’s calf’s-foot jelly this week to someone else? I’m sure Mrs. Snow wouldn’t mind it this once.»
«Dear me, Pollyanna, what are you up to now?» sighed her aunt.