Pollyanna had never before seen her aunt look like this.
«Oh! Why, Aunt Polly, you’ve got them, too,» she cried rapturously, dancing round and round her aunt.
«Got what, you impossible child?»
Pollyanna was still revolving round and round her aunt.
«And I never knew you had them!» she cried, pulling out with eager fingers the straight locks above her ears.
«Pollyanna, what does all this mean?» demanded Aunt Polly, hurriedly removing her hat, and trying to smooth back her disordered hair.
«No, please, Aunt Polly! Don’t smooth them out! I’m talking about those darling little black curls. Oh, Aunt Polly, they’re so pretty!»
«Nonsense! What do you mean, Pollyanna, by going to the Ladies’ Aid the other day in that absurd fashion about that beggar boy?»
«But it isn’t nonsense,» urged Pollyanna, answering only the first of her aunt’s remarks. «You don’t know how pretty you look with your hair like that.
«Pollyanna, you did not answer my question. Why did you go to the Ladies’ Aid in that absurd fashion? When the ladies told me this afternoon how you came to them, I was so ashamed!»
At that moment Miss Polly caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She saw a face — not young, it is true — but just now alight with excitement and surprise. The cheeks were pink, the eyes sparkled. The hair, dark, and still damp from the outdoor air, lay in loose waves about the forehead and curved back over the ears in wonderful lines, with soft little curls here and there.
For one dazed moment Miss Polly looked at herself, and at her surroundings; then she gave a low cry and fled to her room. Pollyanna, following the direction of her aunt’s last dismayed gaze, saw, through the open windows, the horse and gig turning into the driveway. She recognized at once the man who held the reins.
«Dr. Chilton, Dr. Chilton! Did you want to see me? I’m here.»
«Yes,» smiled the doctor, a little gravely. «Will you come down, please? Mr. John Pendleton would like to see you today, so I drove down after you. Will you come? I’ll call for you and bring you back before six o’clock.»
«I’d love to!» exclaimed Pollyanna. «Let me ask Aunt Polly.»
In a few moments she returned, hat in hand, but with rather a sober face.
«Didn’t your aunt want you to go?» asked the doctor, a little diffidently, as they drove away.
«Y-yes,» sighed Pollyanna. «She wanted me to go too much, I’m afraid. I reckon she meant she didn’t want me there. You see, she said: ‘Yes, yes, run along, run along! I wish you’d gone before.'»
The doctor smiled — but with his lips only. His eyes were very grave. For some time he said nothing; then, a little hesitatingly, he asked:
«Wasn’t it your aunt I saw with you a few minutes ago in the window?»
Pollyanna drew a long breath.
«Yes. Don’t you think she looked just lovely?»
For a moment the doctor did not answer. When he spoke, his voice was so low Pollyanna could hardly hear the words.
«Yes, Pollyanna, I think she looked just lovely.»
«Do you? I’m so glad! I’ll tell her,» nodded the little girl, contentedly.
To her surprise the doctor gave a sudden exclamation.
«Never! Pollyanna, I’m afraid I have to ask you not to tell her that.»
«Why, Dr. Chilton! Why not? I thought you’d be glad -»
«But she might not be,» cut in the doctor.
Pollyanna considered this for a moment.
«That’s so — maybe she wouldn’t,» she sighed.
The doctor said nothing. He did not speak again until they came up to the great stone house in which John Pendleton lay with a broken leg.