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- Pollyanna Grows Up - 4/47 -
old, dear friends of my wife and myself; and what touches them touches us. As ever yours, CHARLIE."
The letter finished, there was a long silence, so long a silence that the doctor uttered a quiet, "Well, Polly?"
Still there was silence. The doctor, watching his wife's face closely, saw that the usually firm lips and chin were trembling. He waited then quietly until his wife spoke.
"How soon--do you think--they'll expect her?" she asked at last.
In spite of himself Dr. Chilton gave a slight start.
"You--mean--that you WILL let her go?" he cried.
His wife turned indignantly.
"Why, Thomas Chilton, what a question! Do you suppose, after a letter like that, I could do anything BUT let her go? Besides, didn't Dr. Ames HIMSELF ask us to? Do you think, after what that man has done for Pollyanna, that I'd refuse him ANYTHING--no matter what it was?"
"Dear, dear! I hope, now, that the doctor won't take it into his head to ask for--for YOU, my love," murmured the husband-of-a-year, with a whimsical smile. But his wife only gave him a deservedly scornful glance, and said:
"You may write Dr. Ames that we'll send Pollyanna; and ask him to tell Miss Wetherby to give us full instructions. It must be sometime before the tenth of next month, of course, for you sail then; and I want to see the child properly established myself before I leave, naturally."
"When will you tell Pollyanna?"
"What will you tell her?"
"I don't know--exactly; but not any more than I can't help, certainly. Whatever happens, Thomas, we don't want to spoil Pollyanna; and no child could help being spoiled if she once got it into her head that she was a sort of--of--"
"Of medicine bottle with a label of full instructions for taking?" interpolated the doctor, with a smile.
"Yes," sighed Mrs. Chilton. "It's her unconsciousness that saves the whole thing. YOU know that, dear."
"Yes, I know," nodded the man.
"She knows, of course, that you and I, and half the town are playing the game with her, and that we--we are wonderfully happier because we ARE playing it." Mrs. Chilton's voice shook a little, then went on more steadily." But if, consciously, she should begin to be anything but her own natural, sunny, happy little self, playing the game that her father taught her, she would be--just what that nurse said she sounded like--'impossible.' So, whatever I tell her, I sha'n't tell her that she's going down to Mrs. Carew's to cheer her up," concluded Mrs. Chilton, rising to her feet with decision, and putting away her work.
"Which is where I think you're wise," approved the doctor.
Pollyanna was told the next day; and this was the manner of it.
"My dear," began her aunt, when the two were alone together that morning, "how would you like to spend next winter in Boston?"
"No; I have decided to go with your uncle to Germany. But Mrs. Carew, a dear friend of Dr. Ames, has asked you to come and stay with her for the winter, and I think I shall let you go."
Pollyanna's face fell.
"But in Boston I won't have Jimmy, or Mr. Pendleton, or Mrs. Snow, or anybody that I know, Aunt Polly."
"No, dear; but you didn't have them when you came here--till you found them."
Pollyanna gave a sudden smile.
"Why, Aunt Polly, so I didn't! And that means that down to Boston there are some Jimmys and Mr. Pendletons and Mrs. Snows waiting for me that I don't know, doesn't it?"
"Then I can be glad of that. I believe now, Aunt Polly, you know how to play the game better than I do. I never thought of the folks down there waiting for me to know them. And there's such a lot of 'em, too! I saw some of them when I was there two years ago with Mrs. Gray. We were there two whole hours, you know, on my way here from out West.
"There was a man in the station--a perfectly lovely man who told me where to get a drink of water. Do you suppose he's there now? I'd like to know him. And there was a nice lady with a little girl. They live in Boston. They said they did. The little girl's name was Susie Smith. Perhaps I could get to know them. Do you suppose I could? And there was a boy, and another lady with a baby--only they lived in Honolulu, so probably I couldn't find them there now. But there'd be Mrs. Carew, anyway. Who is Mrs. Carew, Aunt Polly? Is she a relation?"
"Dear me, Pollyanna!" exclaimed Mrs. Chilton, half-laughingly, half-despairingly. "How do you expect anybody to keep up with your tongue, much less your thoughts, when they skip to Honolulu and back again in two seconds! No, Mrs. Carew isn't any relation to us. She's Miss Della Wetherby's sister. Do you remember Miss Wetherby at the Sanatorium?"
Pollyanna clapped her hands.
"HER sister? Miss Wetherby's sister? Oh, then she'll be lovely, I know. Miss Wetherby was. I loved Miss Wetherby. She had little smile-wrinkles all around her eyes and mouth, and she knew the NICEST stories. I only had her two months, though, because she only got there a little while before I came away. At first I was sorry that I hadn't had her ALL the time, but afterwards I was glad; for you see if I HAD had her all the time, it would have been harder to say good-by than 'twas when I'd only had her a little while. And now it'll seem as if I had her again, 'cause I'm going to have her sister."
Mrs. Chilton drew in her breath and bit her lip.
"But, Pollyanna, dear, you must not expect that they'll be quite alike," she ventured.
"Why, they're SISTERS, Aunt Polly," argued the little girl, her eyes widening; "and I thought sisters were always alike. We had two sets of 'em in the Ladies' Aiders. One set was twins, and THEY were so alike you couldn't tell which was Mrs. Peck and which was Mrs. Jones, until a wart grew on Mrs. Jones's nose, then of course we could, because we looked for the wart the first thing. And that's what I told her one day when she was complaining that people called her Mrs. Peck, and I said if they'd only look for the wart as I did, they'd know right off. But she acted real cross--I mean displeased, and I'm afraid she didn't like it--though I don't see why; for I should have thought she'd been glad there was something they could be told apart by, 'specially as she was the president, and didn't like it when folks didn't ACT as if she was the president--best seats and introductions and special attentions at church suppers, you know. But she didn't, and afterwards I heard Mrs. White tell Mrs. Rawson that Mrs. Jones had done everything she could think of to get rid of that wart, even to trying to put salt on a bird's tail. But I don't see how THAT could do any good. Aunt Polly, DOES putting salt on a bird's tail help the warts on people's noses?"
"Of course not, child! How you do run on, Pollyanna, especially if you get started on those Ladies' Aiders!"
"Do I, Aunt Polly?" asked the little girl, ruefully. "And does it plague you? I don't mean to plague you, honestly, Aunt Polly. And, anyway, if I do plague you about those Ladies' Aiders, you can be kind o' glad, for if I'm thinking of the Aiders, I'm sure to be thinking how glad I am that I don't belong to them any longer, but have got an aunt all my own. You can be glad of that, can't you, Aunt Polly?"
"Yes, yes, dear, of course I can, of course I can," laughed Mrs. Chilton, rising to leave the room, and feeling suddenly very guilty that she was conscious sometimes of a little of her old irritation against Pollyanna's perpetual gladness.
During the next few days, while letters concerning Pollyanna's winter stay in Boston were flying back and forth, Pollyanna herself was preparing for that stay by a series of farewell visits to her Beldingsville friends.
Everybody in the little Vermont village knew Pollyanna now, and almost everybody was playing the game with her. The few who were not, were not refraining because of ignorance of what the glad game was. So to one house after another Pollyanna carried the news now that she was going down to Boston to spend the winter; and loudly rose the clamor of regret and remonstrance, all the way from Nancy in Aunt Polly's own kitchen to the great house on the hill where lived John Pendleton.
Nancy did not hesitate to say--to every one except her mistress--that SHE considered this Boston trip all foolishness, and that for her part she would have been glad to take Miss Pollyanna home with her to the Corners, she would, she would; and then Mrs. Polly could have gone to Germany all she wanted to.
On the hill John Pendleton said practically the same thing, only he did not hesitate to say it to Mrs. Chilton herself. As for Jimmy, the twelve-year-old boy whom John Pendleton had taken into his home because Pollyanna wanted him to, and whom he had now adopted--because he wanted to himself--as for Jimmy, Jimmy was indignant, and he was not slow to show it.
"But you've just come," he reproached Pollyanna, in the tone of voice a small boy is apt to use when he wants to hide the fact that he has a heart.
"Why, I've been here ever since the last of March. Besides, it isn't as if I was going to stay. It's only for this winter."
"I don't care. You've just been away for a whole year, 'most, and if
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