Pollyanna had no doubts now that John Pendleton was her Aunt Polly’s one-time lover; and with all the strength of her loving, loyal heart, she wished she could in some way bring happiness into their miserably lonely lives.
She talked to Mr. Pendleton about her aunt; and he listened, sometimes politely, sometimes irritably, often with a quizzical smile on his usually stern lips. She talked to her aunt about Mr. Pendleton. As a rule, however, Miss Polly would not listen long. She always found something else to talk about. She frequently did that, however, when Pollyanna was talking of others — of Dr. Chilton, for instance. Aunt Polly seemed particularly bitter against Dr. Chilton, as Pollyanna found out one day when a hard cold shut her up in the house.
«If you are not better by night, I’ll send for the doctor,» Aunt Polly said.
«Will you? Then I’m going to be worse,» smiled Pollyanna. «I’d love to see Dr. Chilton!»
«Dr. Chilton is not our family physician,» Miss Polly said sternly. «I will send for Dr. Warren if you are worse.»
Pollyanna did not grow worse, however, and Dr. Warren was not summoned.
It was toward the end of August that Pollyanna, making an curly morning call on John Pendleton, found the flaming band of blue and gold and green edged with red and violet lying across his pillow. She stopped short in awed delight.
«Why, Mr. Pendleton, a real rainbow came in to pay you a visit!» she exclaimed, clapping her hands together softly. «Oh, how pretty it is! But how did it get in?»
The man laughed a little grimly: John Pendleton was particularly out of sorts with the world this morning.
«Well, I suppose it ‘got in’ through the bevelled edge of that glass thermometer in the window,» he said wearily.
«Oh, but it’s so pretty, Mr. Pendleton! And does just the sun do that?» breathed Pollyanna with her fascinated eyes on the brilliant band of colours across the pillow.
The man laughed. He was watching Pollyanna’s rapt face a little curiously. Suddenly a new thought came to him. He touched the bell at his side and asked the maid to bring him one of the big brass candle-sticks from the mantel in the drawing room.
When the maid returned, a musical tinkling entered the room with her as she advanced toward the bed. It came from the prism pendants encircling the old-fashioned candelabrum in her hand.
«Thank you. Now get a string and fasten it to the window there straight across it from side to side,» directed the man. «Thank you,» he said, when she had carried out his directions, and turned his smiling eyes toward Pollyanna.
«Bring me the candlestick now, please, Pollyanna.»
With both hands she brought it; and in a moment he was slipping off the pendants, one by one, until a dozen of them lay, side by side, on the bed. «Now, my dear, hook them to the string fixed across the window.»
When her task was finished, Pollyanna stepped back with a low cry of delight.
The bedroom had become a fairyland. There were bits of dancing red and green, violet and orange, gold and blue everywhere. The wall, the floor, and the furniture, — even the bed itself, were aflame with shimmering bits of colour.
«Oh, how lovely!» breathed Pollyanna. «The sun himself is trying to play the game now!» she cried, forgetting for the moment that Mr. Pendleton could not know what she was talking about. «Oh, I forgot, you don’t know about the game.»
«Well, tell me about it, then.»
And this time Pollyanna told him the whole thing from the very first — from the crutches that should have been a doll.
«And that’s all,» she sighed, when she had finished. «Now you know why I said the sun was trying to play that game.»
For a moment there was silence. Then a low voice from the bed said unsteadily:
«I think that the finest prism of all is you, Pollyanna.»
There were tears in the man’s eyes.
«Oh, but I don’t show beautiful red and green and purple when the sun shines through me, Mr. Pendleton! I’m afraid, the sun doesn’t make anything but freckles out of me. Aunt Polly says so!»
The man laughed a little, and the laugh sounded almost like a sob.