Pollyanna entered school in September. Preliminary examinations showed that she was well advanced for a girl of her years, and she was soon a happy member of a class of girls and boys her own age.
School, in some ways, was a surprise to Pollyanna; and Pollyanna, certainly, in many ways, was very much of a surprise to school. They were soon on the best of terms, however, and to her aunt Pollyanna confessed that going to school was living, after all though she had had some doubts before.
In spite of her delight in her new work, Pollyanna did not forget her old friends. True, she could not give them quite so much time now, of course. Perhaps John Pendleton was the most dissatisfied of them all.
One Saturday afternoon he spoke to her about it.
«Pollyanna, would you like to come and live with me?» he asked, a little impatiently. «I don’t see anything of you, nowadays.»
«I thought you didn’t like to have folks around,» she said.
«Oh, but that was before you taught me to play that wonderful game of yours. Will you come?»
Pollyanna looked distressed.
«Why, Mr. Pendleton, I can’t, you know I can’t. Why, I’m Aunt Polly’s!»
«Perhaps she would let you come to me. Would you come if she did?»
Pollyanna frowned in deep thought.
«But Aunt Polly has been so good to me,» she began slowly; «and she took me when I didn’t have anybody left but the Ladies’ Aid, and -»
«Pollyanna, many years ago I loved somebody very much. I hoped to bring her, some day, to this house. I imagined how happy we could be together in our home all the long years to come. But I didn’t bring her here. Never mind why. And ever since then this great gray pile of stone has been a house but never a home. It takes a woman’s hand and heart, or a child’s presence, to make a home, Pollyanna. Now will you come, my dear?»
Pollyanna sprang to her feet.
«Mr. Pendleton, you mean that you wish you had had that woman’s hand and heart all this time?»
«Why, y-yes, Pollyanna.»
«Oh, I’m so glad! Then it’s all right,» sighed the little girl. «Now you can take us both, and everything will be lovely.»
«Take you both?» repeated the man, dazedly.
«Well, of course, Aunt Polly isn’t won over, yet; but I’m sure she will be if you tell it to her just as you did to me.» A look of actual terror showed in the man’s eyes.
«Aunt Polly! Here!»
Pollyanna’s eyes widened a little.
«Would you rather go there?» she asked. «Of course, her house isn’t quite so pretty, but it’s nearer -»
«Pollyanna, what are you talking about?» asked the man.
«Why, about where we’re going to live, of course,» rejoined Pollyanna, in obvious surprise. «You said it was here that you had wanted Aunt Polly’s hand and heart all these years to make a home, and -»
An inarticulate cry came from the man’s throat. He raised his hand and began to speak; but the next moment he dropped his hand at his side.
«The doctor, sir,» said the maid in the doorway.
Pollyanna rose at once.
John Pendleton turned to her feverishly.
«Pollyanna, for Heaven’s sake, say nothing of what I asked you yet,» he begged, in a low voice. Pollyanna nodded and dimpled into a sunny smile.
«Why, what’s up?» demanded the doctor, a minute later, taking his patient’s galloping pulse.
A whimsical smile trembled on John Pendleton’s lips.
«Overdose of your tonic, I guess,» he laughed, as he noted the doctor’s eyes following Pollyanna’s little figure down the driveway.
Sunday mornings Pollyanna usually attended church and Sunday school. On the way home from Sunday school Dr. Chilton overtook her in his gig, and brought his horse to a stop.
«Will you let me drive you home, Pollyanna?» he asked. «I was just driving out to your place to tell you,» he went on, as Pollyanna settled herself at his side, «that Mr. Pendleton sent a special request for you to go to see him this afternoon. He says it’s very important. But I’m not sure I’ll let you, because you seemed more upsetting than soothing yesterday, young lady.»
«Oh, it wasn’t me, truly. It was Aunt Polly.»
The doctor turned with a quick start.
«Your aunt!» he exclaimed.
«Yes. He said not to mention it; but he wouldn’t mind your knowing, of course. He meant not to mention it to her.»
«Yes; Aunt Polly. And, of course he wants to tell her himself — they are lovers!»
«Yes,» nodded Pollyanna, happily. «I didn’t know it till Nancy told me. She said Aunt Polly had a lover years ago, and they quarrelled. She didn’t know who it was at first. But we’ve found out now. It’s Mr. Pendleton.»
The doctor relaxed suddenly.
«Oh! I didn’t know,» he said quietly.
«Yes; and I’m so glad now. Mr. Pendleton asked me to come and live with him, but of course I wouldn’t leave Aunt Polly like that after she had been so good to me. He wants to make up their quarrel, so everything will be all right now, and Aunt Polly and I will both go to live there, or else he’ll come to live with us. Of course Aunt Polly doesn’t know yet, and we haven’t got everything settled; so I suppose that is why he wanted to see me this afternoon, sure.»