«Glad for crutches!» Miss Polly choked back a sob — she thought of the helpless little legs on the bed upstairs.
«Yes, madam. He told her she could be glad because she didn’t need them.»
«Oh-h!» cried Miss Polly.
«And after that he made a regular game of it — finding something in everything to be glad about. And they called it the ‘just being glad’ game. That’s the game, madam. She’s played it ever since.»
«But, how -» Miss Polly came to a helpless pause.
«She’s made me glad, too,» maintained Nancy, «on such a lot of things — little things, and big things; and it’s made them so much easier. For instance, I don’t mind ‘Nancy’ for a name half as much since she told me I could be glad it wasn’t ‘Hephzibah.’ She’s actually made me glad for Monday mornings that I used to hate so much.»
«Glad — for Monday mornings!»
«I know it sounds nutty, madam. But let me tell you. That blessed lamb found out I hated Monday mornings awfully; and she told me one day: ‘Well, anyhow, Nancy, I think you could be gladder on Monday morning than on any other day in the week, because it would be a whole week before you’d have another one!’ And it helped, madam. It made me laugh, anyhow, every time I thought of it; and laughing helps, you know — it does, it does!»
«But why hasn’t she told me about the game?» faltered Miss Polly. «Why has she made such a mystery of it, when I asked her?»
«I beg your pardon, madam, you told her not to speak of her father; so she couldn’t tell you. It was her father’s game, you see.»
Miss Polly bit her lip.
«She wanted to tell you,» continued Nancy, a little unsteadily. «She wanted somebody to play it with, you know. That’s why I began it, so she could have someone to play with.»
«And these others?» Miss Polly’s voice shook now.
«Oh, almost everybody knows it now, I guess. She was always so smiling and pleasant to everyone, and so glad herself all the time, that they couldn’t help knowing it, anyhow. Now that she’s hurt, everybody feels so bad — especially when they heard how bad she feels because she can’t find anything to be glad about. So they’ve been coming every day to tell her how glad she’s made them, hoping that it will help her. You see, she’s always wanted everybody to play the game with her.»
«Well, I know somebody who’ll play it now,» choked Miss Polly, as she turned and sped through the kitchen doorway.
Behind her, Nancy stood staring in amazement.
A little later, in Pollyanna’s room, the nurse left Miss Polly and Pollyanna alone together.
«And you’ve had still another visitor today, my dear,» announced Miss Polly in a voice she vainly tried to steady. «Do you remember Mrs. Payson?»
«Mrs. Payson? She lives on the way to Mr. Pendleton’s, and she’s got the prettiest little girl three years old and a boy of almost five. She’s awfully nice, and so is her husband — only they don’t seem to know how nice each other is. Sometimes they fight — I mean, they don’t quite agree. But she says she’s going to get a divorce. What is a divorce, Aunt Polly? I’m afraid it isn’t very nice, because she didn’t look happy when she talked about it.»
«But they are going to stay together, dear,» evaded Aunt Polly, hurriedly.
«Oh, I’m so glad! Then they’ll be there when I go up to see — O dear!» broke off the little girl, miserably. «Aunt Polly, why can’t I remember that my legs don’t go anymore, and that I will never go up to see Mr. Pendleton again?»
«There, there, don’t,» choked her aunt. «Perhaps you’ll drive up there sometime. But listen! I haven’t told you, yet, all that Mrs. Payson said. She wanted me to tell you that they were going to stay together and to play the game, just as you wanted them to.»
Pollyanna smiled through tears.
«Did they, really? Oh, I am glad of that!»
«Yes, she said she hoped you would be. That’s why she told you, to make you glad, Pollyanna.»
Pollyanna looked up quickly.
«Why, Aunt Polly, you spoke just as if you knew — do you know about the game, Aunt Polly?»
«Yes, dear.» Miss Polly forced her voice to be cheerful. «Nancy told me. I think it’s a beautiful game. I’m going to play it now with you.»
«Oh, Aunt Polly, I’m so glad! You see, I’ve really wanted you all the time.»
Miss Polly caught her breath. It was even harder this time to keep her voice steady; but she did it.
«Yes, dear; and there are all those others, too. Why, Pollyanna, I think the whole town is playing that game now with you! And the whole town is wonderfully happier — and all because of one little girl who taught the people a new game, and how to play it.»
Pollyanna clapped her hands.
«Oh, I’m so glad!» she cried. Then, suddenly, a wonderful light illuminated her face. «Why, Aunt Polly, there is something I can be glad about, after all. I can be glad I’ve had my legs, anyway — or else I couldn’t have done that!»