Those days of waiting were not easy. The nurse tried to look cheerful, but her eyes were troubled. The doctor was openly nervous and impatient. Miss Polly said little; but even the waves of hair about her face, and the laces at her throat, could not hide the fact that she was growing thin and pale. Pollyanna petted the dog, smoothed the cat’s sleek head, admired the flowers and ate the fruits and jellies that were sent in to her; and returned innumerable cheery answers to the many messages of love and inquiry that were brought to her bedside. But she, too, grew pale and thin; and the nervous activity of the poor little hands and arms only emphasized the pitiful motionlessness of the once active little feet and legs now lying so sorrowfully quiet under the blankets.
As to the «glad game» — Pollyanna told Nancy how glad she was going to be when she could go to school again, go to see Mrs. Snow, go to call on Mr. Pendleton, and go to ride with Dr. Chilton. She didn’t seem to realize that all this «gladness» was in the future, not the present. Nancy cried about it, when she was alone.
Dr. Mead, the specialist, came a week later. He was a tall, broad-shouldered man with kind gray eyes, and a cheerful smile. Pollyanna liked him at once, and told him so.
«You look quite a lot like my doctor, you see,» she added engagingly.
«Your doctor?» Dr. Mead glanced in evident surprise at Dr. Warren, talking with the nurse a few feet away. Dr. Warren was a small, brown-eyed man with a pointed brown beard.
«Oh, that isn’t my doctor,» smiled Pollyanna. «Dr. Warren is Aunt Polly’s doctor. My doctor is Dr. Chilton. You see, I wanted Dr. Chilton all the time, but Aunt Polly wanted you. She said you knew more than Dr. Chilton about broken legs like mine. And of course if you do, I can be glad for that. Do you?»
A swift something crossed the doctor’s face that Pollyanna could not translate.
«Only time can tell that, little girl,» he said gently; then he turned a grave face toward Dr. Warren, who had just come to the bedside.
Everyone said afterward that it was the cat that did it. Certainly, if Fluffy had not poked an insistent paw and nose against Pollyanna’s unlatched door, the door would not have swung noiselessly open; and if the door had not been open, Pollyanna would not have heard her aunt’s words.
In the hall the two doctors, the nurse, and Miss Polly stood talking. In Pollyanna’s room Fluffy had just jumped to the bed with a little purring «meow» when through the open door Aunt Polly’s agonized exclamation sounded clearly and sharply.
«Not that! Doctor, not that! You don’t mean — the child — will never walk again!»
It was all confusion then. First, from the bedroom Pollyanna’s terrified «Aunt Polly! Aunt Polly!» came. Then Miss Polly, seeing the open door and realizing that her words had been heard, gave a low little moan and, for the first time in her life, fainted dead away.
The nurse, with a choking «She heard!» stumbled toward the open door. The two doctors stayed with Miss Polly. Dr. Mead had to stay — he had caught Miss Polly as she fell. Dr. Warren stood by, helplessly. Pollyanna cried out again sharply and the nurse closed the door.
In Pollyanna’s room, the nurse had found a purring gray cat on the bed vainly trying to attract the attention of a white-faced, wild-eyed little girl.
«Miss Hunt, please, I want Aunt Polly. I want her right away, quick, please!»
The nurse closed the door and came forward hurriedly. Her face was very pale.
«She can’t come just this minute, dear. What is it? Can’t I help you?»
«But I want to know what she said. Did you hear her? I want Aunt Polly — she said something. I want her to tell me it isn’t true!»
The nurse tried to speak, but no words came. Something in her face sent an added terror to Pollyanna’s eyes.
«Miss Hunt, it is true! Oh, it isn’t true! You don’t mean I can’t ever walk again?»
«There, there, dear — don’t, don’t!» choked the nurse. «Perhaps he didn’t know. Perhaps he was mistaken. There are lots of things that could happen, you know.»
«But Aunt Polly said he knew more than anybody else about broken legs like mine!»
«Yes, I know, dear; but all doctors make mistakes sometimes. Just don’t think any more about it now — please don’t, dear.»
Pollyanna flung out her arms wildly.
«But I can’t help thinking about it,» she sobbed. «Why, Miss Hunt, how am I going to school, or to see Mr. Pendleton, or Mrs. Snow, or anybody?» She caught her breath and sobbed wildly for a moment. Suddenly she stopped and looked up, a new terror in her eyes. «Why, Miss Hunt, if I can’t walk, how am I going to be glad for anything?»
Miss Hunt did not know the «glad game» but she knew that her patient had to be quieted at once. In spite of her own perturbation and heartache, her hands had not been idle, and she stood now at the bedside with the quieting powder ready.
«There, there, dear, just take this,» she soothed; «and we’ll see what can be done then. Things aren’t half as bad as they seem, dear, lots of times, you know.»
Obediently Pollyanna took the medicine, and sipped the water from the glass in Miss Hunt’s hand.
«I know; that sounds like things father used to say,» faltered Pollyanna, blinking off the tears. «He said there was always something about everything that might be worse; but I reckon he’d never just heard he couldn’t ever walk again. I don’t see how there can be anything about that, that could be worse — do you?»
Miss Hunt did not reply. She could not trust herself to speak.