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- Pollyanna Grows Up - 30/47 -
"But they ought to be told, and you ought to tell--" Pendleton stopped short with so queer an expression on his face that Pollyanna looked at him in surprise.
"Why, Jimmy, what is it?"
"Oh, nothing. I was only thinking," he answered, puckering his lips. "Here I am urging you to do the very thing I was afraid you WOULD do before I saw you, you know. That is, I was afraid before I saw you, that--that--" He floundered into a helpless pause, looking very red indeed.
"Well, Jimmy Pendleton," bridled the girl, "you needn't think you can stop there, sir. Now just what do you mean by all that, please?"
"Oh, er--n-nothing, much."
"I'm waiting," murmured Pollyanna. Voice and manner were calm and confident, though the eyes twinkled mischievously.
The young fellow hesitated, glanced at her smiling face, and capitulated.
"Oh, well, have it your own way," he shrugged. "It's only that I was worrying--a little--about that game, for fear you WOULD talk it just as you used to, you know, and--" But a merry peal of laughter interrupted him.
"There, what did I tell you? Even you were worried, it seems, lest I should be at twenty just what I was at ten!"
"N-no, I didn't mean--Pollyanna, honestly, I thought--of course I knew--" But Pollyanna only put her hands to her ears and went off into another peal of laughter.
It was toward the latter part of June that the letter came to Pollyanna from Della Wetherby.
"I am writing to ask you a favor," Miss Wetherby wrote. "I am hoping you can tell me of some quiet private family in Beldingsville that will be willing to take my sister to board for the summer. There would be three of them, Mrs. Carew, her secretary, and her adopted son, Jamie. (You remember Jamie, don't you?) They do not like to go to an ordinary hotel or boarding house. My sister is very tired, and the doctor has advised her to go into the country for a complete rest and change. He suggested Vermont or New Hampshire. We immediately thought of Beldingsville and you; and we wondered if you couldn't recommend just the right place to us. I told Ruth I would write you. They would like to go right away, early in July, if possible. Would it be asking too much to request you to let us know as soon as you conveniently can if you do know of a place? Please address me here. My sister is with us here at the Sanatorium for a few weeks' treatment.
"Hoping for a favorable reply, I am,
"Most cordially yours,
For the first few minutes after the letter was finished, Pollyanna sat with frowning brow, mentally searching the homes of Beldingsville for a possible boarding house for her old friends. Then a sudden something gave her thoughts a new turn, and with a joyous exclamation she hurried to her aunt in the living-room.
"Auntie, auntie," she panted; "I've got just the loveliest idea. I told you something would happen, and that I'd develop that wonderful talent sometime. Well, I have. I have right now. Listen! I've had a letter from Miss Wetherby, Mrs. Carew's sister--where I stayed that winter in Boston, you know--and they want to come into the country to board for the summer, and Miss Wetherby's written to see if I didn't know a place for them. They don't want a hotel or an ordinary boarding house, you see. And at first I didn't know of one; but now I do. I do, Aunt Polly! Just guess where 'tis."
"Dear me, child," ejaculated Mrs. Chilton, "how you do run on! I should think you were a dozen years old instead of a woman grown. Now what are you talking about?"
"About a boarding place for Mrs. Carew and Jamie. I've found it," babbled Pollyanna.
"Indeed! Well, what of it? Of what possible interest can that be to me, child?" murmured Mrs. Chilton, drearily.
"Because it's HERE. I'm going to have them here, auntie."
"Pollyanna!" Mrs. Chilton was sitting erect in horror.
"Now, auntie, please don't say no--please don't," begged Pollyanna, eagerly. "Don't you see? This is my chance, the chance I've been waiting for; and it's just dropped right into my hands. We can do it lovely. We have plenty of room, and you know I CAN cook and keep house. And now there'd be money in it, for they'd pay well, I know; and they'd love to come, I'm sure. There'd be three of them--there's a secretary with them."
"But, Pollyanna, I can't! Turn this house into a boarding house?--the Harrington homestead a common boarding house? Oh, Pollyanna, I can't, I can't!"
"But it wouldn't be a common boarding house, dear. 'Twill be an uncommon one. Besides, they're our friends. It would be like having our friends come to see us; only they'd be PAYING guests, so meanwhile we'd be earning money--money that we NEED, auntie, money that we need," she emphasized significantly.
A spasm of hurt pride crossed Polly Chilton's face. With a low moan she fell back in her chair.
"But how could you do it?" she asked at last, faintly. "You couldn't do the work part alone, child!"
"Oh, no, of course not," chirped Pollyanna. (Pollyanna was on sure ground now. She knew her point was won.) "But I could do the cooking and the overseeing, and I'm sure I could get one of Nancy's younger sisters to help about the rest. Mrs. Durgin would do the laundry part just as she does now."
"But, Pollyanna, I'm not well at all--you know I'm not. I couldn't do much."
"Of course not. There's no reason why you should," scorned Pollyanna, loftily. "Oh, auntie, won't it be splendid? Why, it seems too good to be true--money just dropped into my hands like that!"
"Dropped into your hands, indeed! You still have some things to learn in this world, Pollyanna, and one is that summer boarders don't drop money into anybody's hands without looking very sharply to it that they get ample return. By the time you fetch and carry and bake and brew until you are ready to sink, and by the time you nearly kill yourself trying to serve everything to order from fresh-laid eggs to the weather, you will believe what I tell you."
"All right, I'll remember," laughed Pollyanna. "But I'm not doing any worrying now; and I'm going to hurry and write Miss Wetherby at once so I can give it to Jimmy Bean to mail when he comes out this afternoon."
Mrs. Chilton stirred restlessly.
"Pollyanna, I do wish you'd call that young man by his proper name. That 'Bean' gives me the shivers. His name is 'Pendleton' now, as I understand it."
"So it is," agreed Pollyanna, "but I do forget it half the time. I even call him that to his face, sometimes, and of course that's dreadful, when he really is adopted, and all. But you see I'm so excited," she finished, as she danced from the room.
She had the letter all ready for Jimmy when he called at four o'clock. She was still quivering--with excitement, and she lost no time in telling her visitor what it was all about.
"And I'm crazy to see them, besides," she cried, when she had told him of her plans. "I've never seen either of them since that winter. You know I told you--didn't I tell you?--about Jamie."
"Oh, yes, you told me." There was a touch of constraint in the young man's voice.
"Well, isn't it splendid, if they can come?"
"Why, I don't know as I should call it exactly splendid," he parried.
"Not splendid that I've got such a chance to help Aunt Polly out, for even this little while? Why, Jimmy, of course it's splendid."
"Well, it strikes me that it's going to be rather HARD--for you," bridled Jimmy, with more than a shade of irritation.
"Yes, of course, in some ways. But I shall be so glad for the money coming in that I'll think of that all the time. You see," she sighed, "how mercenary I am, Jimmy."
For a long minute there was no reply; then, a little abruptly, the young man asked:
"Let's see, how old is this Jamie now?"
Pollyanna glanced up with a merry smile.
"Oh, I remember--you never did like his name, 'Jamie,'" she twinkled. "Never mind; he's adopted now, legally, I believe, and has taken the name of Carew. So you can call him that."
"But that isn't telling me how old he is," reminded Jimmy, stiffly.
"Nobody knows, exactly, I suppose. You know he couldn't tell; but I imagine he's about your age. I wonder how he is now. I've asked all about it in this letter, anyway."
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