pollyanna chapter 20


The great gray mansion looked very different to Pollyanna when she made her second visit to the house of Mr. John Pendleton. Windows were open, an elderly woman was hanging out clothes in the back yard, and the doctor’s gig stood under the porte-cochere.

Pollyanna went to the side door and rang the bell. A familiar-looking small dog greeted her before the woman who had been hanging out the clothes opened the door.

«I’ve brought some calf’s-foot jelly for Mr. Pendleton,» smiled Pollyanna.

«Thank you,» said the woman, reaching for the bowl in the little girl’s hand. «Who shall I say sent it?»

The doctor, coming into the hall at that moment, heard the woman’s words and saw the disappointed look on Pollyanna’s face. He stepped quickly forward.

«Ah! Some calf’s-foot jelly?» he asked warmly. «That will be fine! Maybe you’d like to see our patient?»

«Oh, yes, sir,» beamed Pollyanna; and the woman, in obedience to a nod from the doctor, led the way down the hall at once, though with great surprise on her face.

Behind the doctor, a young man (a trained nurse from the nearest city) gave a disturbed exclamation.

«But, Doctor, didn’t Mr. Pendleton give orders not to admit anyone?»

«Oh, yes,» nodded the doctor, calmly. «But I’m giving orders now. I’ll take the risk.» Then he added: «You don’t know, of course; but that little girl is better than a bottle of tonic. That’s why I sent her in.»

«Who is she?»

«She’s the niece of one of our best known residents. Her name is Pollyanna Whittier.»

«And what are the special ingredients of this wonder — working tonic of hers?»

The doctor shook his head.

«I don’t know. As far as I can understand, it is an overwhelming, unquenchable gladness for everything that has happened or is going to happen. At any rate, ‘just being glad’ is the essence of most of her quaint speeches. I wish I could prescribe her — and buy her — as I would a box of pills,» he laughed.

Pollyanna, meanwhile, in accordance with the doctor’s orders, was going to John Pendleton’s rooms.

Soon Pollyanna found herself in a sumptuously furnished bedroom while the maid was saying in a frightened voice:

«If you please, sir, here’s a little girl with some jelly. The doctor said I was to bring her in.»

The next moment Pollyanna found herself alone with a very cross-looking man lying flat on his back in bed.

«Now, didn’t I say -» began an angry voice. «Oh, it’s you!» it broke off, as Pollyanna advanced toward the bed.

«Yes, sir,» smiled Pollyanna. «Oh, I’m so glad they let me in! You see, at first the lady almost took my jelly, and I was so afraid I wasn’t going to see you at all. Then the doctor came, and he said I might.»

The man’s lips twitched into a smile; but all he said was «Humph!»

«And I’ve brought you some calf’s-foot jelly,» resumed Pollyanna. «I hope you like it.»

«Never ate it.»

For a brief instant Pollyanna’s face showed disappointment; but it cleared as she set the bowl of jelly down.

«Didn’t you? Well, if you didn’t, then you can’t know you don’t like it, anyhow, can you? So I think I’m glad you haven’t, after all. Now, if you knew -»

«Well, there’s one thing I know all right, and that is that I’m flat on my back right here this minute, and that I’m going to stay here — till doomsday, I guess.»

Pollyanna looked shocked.

«Oh, no! It couldn’t be till doomsday, you know, unless it should come quicker than we think it will — oh, of course, I know the Bible says it may come quicker than we think, but I don’t think it will — that is, of course I believe the Bible, but -»

John Pendleton laughed aloud suddenly. The nurse, coming in at that moment, heard the laugh, and beat a hurried retreat. He looked like a frightened cook who hastily shuts the oven door to prevent cold air from spoiling a half — done cake.

The little girl laughed, too.

«What I mean is, that broken legs don’t last like lifelong invalids, same as Mrs. Snow has got. So yours won’t last till doomsday at all. I think you could be glad of that.»

«Oh, I am,» retorted the man grimly.

«And you can be glad it wasn’t two.»

«Of course! So fortunate,» sniffed the man; «looking at it from this standpoint, I suppose I might be glad I wasn’t a centipede and didn’t break fifty!»

Pollyanna chuckled.

«Oh, I know what a centipede is; they’ve got lots of legs. And you can be glad -»

«Oh, of course,» interrupted the man, sharply, all the old bitterness coming back to his voice; «I can be glad, too, for all the rest, I suppose — the nurse, and the doctor, and that confounded woman in the kitchen!»

«Why, yes, sir — only think how bad it would be if you didn’t have them!»

«Yes, because I am lying here like this!» retorted the man, testily. «And yet you expect me to say I’m glad because of a fool woman who disarranges the whole house and calls it ‘regulating,’ and a man who helps her in it, and calls it ‘nursing,’ to say nothing of the doctor — and the whole bunch of them expecting me to pay them for it, and pay them well, too!»


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