pollyanna chapter 21


Pollyanna frowned sympathetically.

«Yes, I know. It is too bad. I mean the money — when you’ve been saving it, too, all this time.»

«Look here, child, what are you talking about?»

Pollyanna smiled radiantly.

«About your money, you know — denying yourself, and saving it for the heathen. You see, I found out about it. Nancy told me.»

The man’s jaw dropped.

«Nancy told you I was saving money for the — Well, may I inquire who Nancy is?»

«Our Nancy. She works for Aunt Polly. Miss Polly Harrington. I live with her.»

The man made a sudden movement.

«Miss Polly Harrington!» he breathed. «You live with her!»

«Yes; I’m her niece. She’s taken me to bring up,» faltered Pollyanna, in a low voice. «My mother was her sister. And after father went to be with her and the rest of us in Heaven, there wasn’t any one left for me down here but the Ladies’ Aid; so she took me.»

The man did not answer, and closed his eyes. His face was very white — so white that Pollyanna was frightened. She rose uncertainly to her feet.

«Maybe I’d better go now,» she proposed. «I hope you’ll like the jelly.»

The man turned his head suddenly, and opened his eyes.

«So you are Miss Polly Harrington’s niece,» he said gently.

«Yes, sir,» she murmured. «I suppose you know her.»

John Pendleton’s lips curved in an odd smile.

«Oh, yes; I know her.» He hesitated, and then went on, still with that curious smile. «But you don’t mean that it was Miss Polly Harrington who sent that jelly to me?»

Pollyanna looked distressed.

«N-no, sir: she didn’t. She said I must be very sure not to let you think she did send it. But I -»

«I thought as much,» said the man, turning away his head. And Pollyanna, still more distressed, tiptoed from the room.

Under the porte-cochere she found the doctor waiting in his gig. The nurse stood on the steps.

«Well, Miss Pollyanna, may I have the pleasure of seeing you home?» asked the doctor smilingly.

«Thank you, sir. I just love to ride,» beamed Pollyanna, as he reached out his hand to help her in.

«Do you?» smiled the doctor, nodding his head in farewell to the young man on the steps. «Well, as far as I can judge, there are a lot of things you love to do,» he added, as they drove away.

Pollyanna laughed.

«Why, I don’t know. I reckon perhaps there are,» she admitted. «I like to do almost everything that’s living. Of course, I don’t like the other things very much — sewing, and reading out loud, and all that. They aren’t living.»

«No? What are they, then?» «Aunt Polly says they’re learning to live,» sighed Pollyanna, with a rueful smile.

«Does she? Well, I think she might say just that.»

«Yes,» responded Pollyanna. «But I don’t see it that way at all. I don’t think you have to learn how to live. I didn’t, anyhow.»

The doctor drew a long sigh.

«After all, I’m afraid some of us do have to, little girl,» he said. Then, for a time he was silent. Pollyanna, stealing a glance at his face, felt a bit sorry for him. He looked so sad.

«Dr. Chilton,» she said in a timid voice, «I think being a doctor is the very gladdest kind of a business.»

The doctor turned in surprise.

«Gladdest! I see so much suffering always, everywhere I go!» he cried.

She nodded.

«I know; but you’re helping it, don’t you see? And of course you’re glad to help it! And so that makes you the gladdest of any of us, all the time.»

«God bless you, little girl,» doctor said unsteadily. Then, with the bright smile his patients knew and loved so well, he added: «And I’m thinking, after all, that it was the doctor, quite as much as his patients, that needed a draft of that tonic!»

His words puzzled Pollyanna very much, but then a chipmunk, running across the road, drove the whole matter from her mind.

The doctor left Pollyanna at her own door, smiled at Nancy, who was sweeping off the front porch, then drove rapidly away.

Pollyanna found her aunt in the sitting room.

«Who was that man — the one who drove into the yard, Pollyanna?» questioned the lady a little sharply.

«Why, Aunt Polly, that was Dr. Chilton! Don’t you know him?»

«Dr. Chilton! What was he doing here?»

«He drove me home. Oh, and I gave the jelly to Mr. Pendleton, and -»

Miss Polly lifted her head quickly.

«Pollyanna, he did not think I sent it?» «Oh, no, Aunt Polly. I told him you didn’t.»

Suddenly Miss Polly grew pink.

«You told him I didn’t!»

Pollyanna opened wide her eyes at the remonstrative dismay in her aunt’s voice.

«Why, Aunt Polly, you said to!»

Aunt Polly sighed.

«I said, Pollyanna, that you should be very sure that he did not think I sent it! — which is a very different matter from telling him outright that I did not send it.» And she turned discontentedly away.

«Dear me! Well, I don’t see the difference,» sighed Pollyanna.

On a rainy day about a week after Pollyanna’s visit to Mr. John Pendleton Miss Polly was driven by Timothy to an early afternoon committee meeting of the Ladies’ Aid Society. When she returned at three o’clock, her cheeks were pink, and her hair, blown by the damp wind, had fluffed into curls.


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