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转:Pollyanna CHAPTER X & XI  

2009-09-20 12:59:04|  分类: Reading notes |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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CHAPTER X. A SURPRISE FOR MRS. SNOW

The next time Pollyanna went to see Mrs. Snow, she found that lady, as at first, in a darkened room.

"It's the little girl from Miss Polly's, mother," announced Milly, in a tired manner; then Pollyanna found herself alone with the invalid.

"Oh, it's you, is it?" asked a fretful voice from the bed. "I remember you. ANYbody'd remember you, I guess, if they saw you once. I wish you had come yesterday. I WANTED you yesterday."

"Did you? Well, I'm glad 'tisn't any farther away from yesterday than to-day is, then," laughed Pollyanna, advancing cheerily into the room, and setting her basket carefully down on a chair. "My! but aren't you dark here, though? I can't see you a bit," she cried, unhesitatingly crossing to the window and pulling up the shade. "I want to see if you've fixed your hair like I did—oh, you haven't! But, never mind; I'm glad you haven't, after all, 'cause maybe you'll let me do it—later. But now I want you to see what I've brought you."

The woman stirred restlessly.

"Just as if how it looks would make any difference in how it tastes," she scoffed—but she turned her eyes toward the basket. "Well, what is it?"

"Guess! What do you want?" Pollyanna had skipped back to the basket. Her face was alight. The sick woman frowned.

"Why, I don't WANT anything, as I know of," she sighed. "After all, they all taste alike!"

Pollyanna chuckled.

"This won't. Guess! If you DID want something, what would it be?"

The woman hesitated. She did not realize it herself, but she had so long been accustomed to wanting what she did not have, that to state off-hand what she DID want seemed impossible—until she knew what she had. Obviously, however, she must say something. This extraordinary child was waiting.

"Well, of course, there's lamb broth—"

"I've got it!" crowed Pollyanna.

"But that's what I DIDN'T want," sighed the sick woman, sure now of what her stomach craved. "It was chicken I wanted."

"Oh, I've got that, too," chuckled Pollyanna.

The woman turned in amazement.

"Both of them?" she demanded.

"Yes—and calf's-foot jelly," triumphed Pollyanna. "I was just bound you should have what you wanted for once; so Nancy and I fixed it. Oh, of course, there's only a little of each—but there's some of all of 'em! I'm so glad you did want chicken," she went on contentedly, as she lifted the three little bowls from her basket. "You see, I got to thinking on the way here—what if you should say tripe, or onions, or something like that, that I didn't have! Wouldn't it have been a shame—when I'd tried so hard?" she laughed merrily.

There was no reply. The sick woman seemed to be trying—mentally to find something she had lost.

"There! I'm to leave them all," announced Pollyanna, as she arranged the three bowls in a row on the table. "Like enough it'll be lamb broth you want to-morrow. How do you do to-day?" she finished in polite inquiry.

"Very poorly, thank you," murmured Mrs. Snow, falling back into her usual listless attitude. "I lost my nap this morning. Nellie Higgins next door has begun music lessons, and her practising drives me nearly wild. She was at it all the morning—every minute! I'm sure, I don't know what I shall do!"

Polly nodded sympathetically.

"I know. It IS awful! Mrs. White had it once—one of my Ladies' Aiders, you know. She had rheumatic fever, too, at the same time, so she couldn't thrash 'round. She said 'twould have been easier if she could have. Can you?"

"Can I—what?"

"Thrash 'round—move, you know, so as to change your position when the music gets too hard to stand."

Mrs. Snow stared a little.

"Why, of course I can move—anywhere—in bed," she rejoined a little irritably.

"Well, you can be glad of that, then, anyhow, can't you?" nodded Pollyanna. "Mrs. White couldn't. You can't thrash when you have rheumatic fever—though you want to something awful, Mrs. White says. She told me afterwards she reckoned she'd have gone raving crazy if it hadn't been for Mr. White's sister's ears—being deaf, so."

"Sister's—EARS! What do you mean?"

Pollyanna laughed.

"Well, I reckon I didn't tell it all, and I forgot you didn't know Mrs. White. You see, Miss White was deaf—awfully deaf; and she came to visit 'em and to help take care of Mrs. White and the house. Well, they had such an awful time making her understand ANYTHING, that after that, every time the piano commenced to play across the street, Mrs. White felt so glad she COULD hear it, that she didn't mind so much that she DID hear it, 'cause she couldn't help thinking how awful 'twould be if she was deaf and couldn't hear anything, like her husband's sister. You see, she was playing the game, too. I'd told her about it."

"The—game?"

Pollyanna clapped her hands.

"There! I 'most forgot; but I've thought it up, Mrs. Snow—what you can be glad about."

"GLAD about! What do you mean?"

"Why, I told you I would. Don't you remember? You asked me to tell you something to be glad about—glad, you know, even though you did have to lie here abed all day."

"Oh!" scoffed the woman. "THAT? Yes, I remember that; but I didn't suppose you were in earnest any more than I was."

"Oh, yes, I was," nodded Pollyanna, triumphantly; "and I found it, too. But 'TWAS hard. It's all the more fun, though, always, when 'tis hard. And I will own up, honest to true, that I couldn't think of anything for a while. Then I got it."

"Did you, really? Well, what is it?" Mrs. Snow's voice was sarcastically polite.

Pollyanna drew a long breath.

"I thought—how glad you could be—that other folks weren't like you—all sick in bed like this, you know," she announced impressively. Mrs. Snow stared. Her eyes were angry.

"Well, really!" she ejaculated then, in not quite an agreeable tone of voice.

"And now I'll tell you the game," proposed Pollyanna, blithely confident. "It'll be just lovely for you to play—it'll be so hard. And there's so much more fun when it is hard! You see, it's like this." And she began to tell of the missionary barrel, the crutches, and the doll that did not come.

The story was just finished when Milly appeared at the door.

"Your aunt is wanting you, Miss Pollyanna," she said with dreary listlessness. "She telephoned down to the Harlows' across the way. She says you're to hurry—that you've got some practising to make up before dark."

Pollyanna rose reluctantly.

"All right," she sighed. "I'll hurry." Suddenly she laughed. "I suppose I ought to be glad I've got legs to hurry with, hadn't I, Mrs. Snow?"

There was no answer. Mrs. Snow's eyes were closed. But Milly, whose eyes were wide open with surprise, saw that there were tears on the wasted cheeks.

"Good-by," flung Pollyanna over her shoulder, as she reached the door. "I'm awfully sorry about the hair—I wanted to do it. But maybe I can next time!"

One by one the July days passed. To Pollyanna, they were happy days, indeed. She often told her aunt, joyously, how very happy they were. Whereupon her aunt would usually reply, wearily:

"Very well, Pollyanna. I am gratified, of course, that they are happy; but I trust that they are profitable, as well—otherwise I should have failed signally in my duty."

Generally Pollyanna would answer this with a hug and a kiss—a proceeding that was still always most disconcerting to Miss Polly; but one day she spoke. It was during the sewing hour.

"Do you mean that it wouldn't be enough then, Aunt Polly, that they should be just happy days?" she asked wistfully.

"That is what I mean, Pollyanna."

"They must be pro-fi-ta-ble as well?"

"Certainly."

"What is being pro-fi-ta-ble?"

"Why, it—it's just being profitable—having profit, something to show for it, Pollyanna. What an extraordinary child you are!"

"Then just being glad isn't pro-fi-ta-ble?" questioned Pollyanna, a little anxiously.

"Certainly not."

"O dear! Then you wouldn't like it, of course. I'm afraid, now, you won't ever play the game, Aunt Polly."

"Game? What game?"

"Why, that father—" Pollyanna clapped her hand to her lips. "N-nothing," she stammered. Miss Polly frowned.

"That will do for this morning, Pollyanna," she said tersely. And the sewing lesson was over.

It was that afternoon that Pollyanna, coming down from her attic room, met her aunt on the stairway.

"Why, Aunt Polly, how perfectly lovely!" she cried. "You were coming up to see me! Come right in. I love company," she finished, scampering up the stairs and throwing her door wide open.

Now Miss Polly had not been intending to call on her niece. She had been planning to look for a certain white wool shawl in the cedar chest near the east window. But to her unbounded surprise now, she found herself, not in the main attic before the cedar chest, but in Pollyanna's little room sitting in one of the straight-backed chairs—so many, many times since Pollyanna came, Miss Polly had found herself like this, doing some utterly unexpected, surprising thing, quite unlike the thing she had set out to do!

"I love company," said Pollyanna, again, flitting about as if she were dispensing the hospitality of a palace; "specially since I've had this room, all mine, you know. Oh, of course, I had a room, always, but 'twas a hired room, and hired rooms aren't half as nice as owned ones, are they? And of course I do own this one, don't I?"

"Why, y-yes, Pollyanna," murmured Miss Polly, vaguely wondering why she did not get up at once and go to look for that shawl.

"And of course NOW I just love this room, even if it hasn't got the carpets and curtains and pictures that I'd been want—" With a painful blush Pollyanna stopped short. She was plunging into an entirely different sentence when her aunt interrupted her sharply.

"What's that, Pollyanna?"

"N-nothing, Aunt Polly, truly. I didn't mean to say it."

"Probably not," returned Miss Polly, coldly; "but you did say it, so suppose we have the rest of it."

"But it wasn't anything only that I'd been kind of planning on pretty carpets and lace curtains and things, you know. But, of course—"

"PLANNING on them!" interrupted Miss Polly, sharply.

Pollyanna blushed still more painfully.

"I ought not to have, of course, Aunt Polly," she apologized. "It was only because I'd always wanted them and hadn't had them, I suppose. Oh, we'd had two rugs in the barrels, but they were little, you know, and one had ink spots, and the other holes; and there never were only those two pictures; the one fath—I mean the good one we sold, and the bad one that broke. Of course if it hadn't been for all that I shouldn't have wanted them, so—pretty things, I mean; and I shouldn't have got to planning all through the hall that first day how pretty mine would be here, and—and But, truly, Aunt Polly, it wasn't but just a minute—I mean, a few minutes—before I was being glad that the bureau DIDN'T have a looking-glass, because it didn't show my freckles; and there couldn't be a nicer picture than the one out my window there; and you've been so good to me, that—"

Miss Polly rose suddenly to her feet. Her face was very red.

"That will do, Pollyanna," she said stiffly.

"You have said quite enough, I'm sure." The next minute she had swept down the stairs—and not until she reached the first floor did it suddenly occur to her that she had gone up into the attic to find a white wool shawl in the cedar chest near the east window.

Less than twenty-four hours later, Miss Polly said to Nancy, crisply:

"Nancy, you may move Miss Pollyanna's things down-stairs this morning to the room directly beneath. I have decided to have my niece sleep there for the present."

"Yes, ma'am," said Nancy aloud.

"O glory!" said Nancy to herself.

To Pollyanna, a minute later, she cried joyously:

"And won't ye jest be listenin' ter this, Miss Pollyanna. You're ter sleep down-stairs in the room straight under this. You are—you are!"

Pollyanna actually grew white.

"You mean—why, Nancy, not really—really and truly?"

"I guess you'll think it's really and truly," prophesied Nancy, exultingly, nodding her head to Pollyanna over the armful of dresses she had taken from the closet. "I'm told ter take down yer things, and I'm goin' ter take 'em, too, 'fore she gets a chance ter change her mind."

Pollyanna did not stop to hear the end of this sentence. At the imminent risk of being dashed headlong, she was flying down-stairs, two steps at a time.

Bang went two doors and a chair before Pollyanna at last reached her goal—Aunt Polly.

"Oh, Aunt Polly, Aunt Polly, did you mean it, really? Why, that room's got EVERYTHING—the carpet and curtains and three pictures, besides the one outdoors, too, 'cause the windows look the same way. Oh, Aunt Polly!"

"Very well, Pollyanna. I am gratified that you like the change, of course; but if you think so much of all those things, I trust you will take proper care of them; that's all. Pollyanna, please pick up that chair; and you have banged two doors in the last half-minute." Miss Polly spoke sternly, all the more sternly because, for some inexplicable reason, she felt inclined to cry—and Miss Polly was not used to feeling inclined to cry.

Pollyanna picked up the chair.

"Yes'm; I know I banged 'em—those doors," she admitted cheerfully. "You see I'd just found out about the room, and I reckon you'd have banged doors if—" Pollyanna stopped short and eyed her aunt with new interest. "Aunt Polly, DID you ever bang doors?"

"I hope—not, Pollyanna!" Miss Polly's voice was properly shocked.

"Why, Aunt Polly, what a shame!" Pollyanna's face expressed only concerned sympathy.

"A shame!" repeated Aunt Polly, too dazed to say more.

"Why, yes. You see, if you'd felt like banging doors you'd have banged 'em, of course; and if you didn't, that must have meant that you weren't ever glad over anything—or you would have banged 'em. You couldn't have helped it. And I'm so sorry you weren't ever glad over anything!"

"PollyANna!" gasped the lady; but Pollyanna was gone, and only the distant bang of the attic-stairway door answered for her. Pollyanna had gone to help Nancy bring down "her things."

Miss Polly, in the sitting room, felt vaguely disturbed;—but then, of course she HAD been glad—over some things!





CHAPTER XI. INTRODUCING JIMMY

August came. August brought several surprises and some changes—none of which, however, were really a surprise to Nancy. Nancy, since Pollyanna's arrival, had come to look for surprises and changes.

First there was the kitten.

Pollyanna found the kitten mewing pitifully some distance down the road. When systematic questioning of the neighbors failed to find any one who claimed it, Pollyanna brought it home at once, as a matter of course.

"And I was glad I didn't find any one who owned it, too," she told her aunt in happy confidence; "'cause I wanted to bring it home all the time. I love kitties. I knew you'd be glad to let it live here."

Miss Polly looked at the forlorn little gray bunch of neglected misery in Pollyanna's arms, and shivered: Miss Polly did not care for cats—not even pretty, healthy, clean ones.

"Ugh! Pollyanna! What a dirty little beast! And it's sick, I'm sure, and all mangy and fleay."

"I know it, poor little thing," crooned Pollyanna, tenderly, looking into the little creature's frightened eyes. "And it's all trembly, too, it's so scared. You see it doesn't know, yet, that we're going to keep it, of course."

"No—nor anybody else," retorted Miss Polly, with meaning emphasis.

"Oh, yes, they do," nodded Pollyanna, entirely misunderstanding her aunt's words. "I told everybody we should keep it, if I didn't find where it belonged. I knew you'd be glad to have it—poor little lonesome thing!"

Miss Polly opened her lips and tried to speak; but in vain. The curious helpless feeling that had been hers so often since Pollyanna's arrival, had her now fast in its grip.

"Of course I knew," hurried on Pollyanna, gratefully, "that you wouldn't let a dear little lonesome kitty go hunting for a home when you'd just taken ME in; and I said so to Mrs. Ford when she asked if you'd let me keep it. Why, I had the Ladies' Aid, you know, and kitty didn't have anybody. I knew you'd feel that way," she nodded happily, as she ran from the room.

"But, Pollyanna, Pollyanna," remonstrated Miss Polly. "I don't—" But Pollyanna was already halfway to the kitchen, calling:

"Nancy, Nancy, just see this dear little kitty that Aunt Polly is going to bring up along with me!" And Aunt Polly, in the sitting room—who abhorred cats—fell back in her chair with a gasp of dismay, powerless to remonstrate.

The next day it was a dog, even dirtier and more forlorn, perhaps, than was the kitten; and again Miss Polly, to her dumfounded amazement, found herself figuring as a kind protector and an angel of mercy—a role that Pollyanna so unhesitatingly thrust upon her as a matter of course, that the woman—who abhorred dogs even more than she did cats, if possible—found herself as before, powerless to remonstrate.

When, in less than a week, however, Pollyanna brought home a small, ragged boy, and confidently claimed the same protection for him, Miss Polly did have something to say. It happened after this wise.

On a pleasant Thursday morning Pollyanna had been taking calf's-foot jelly again to Mrs. Snow. Mrs. Snow and Pollyanna were the best of friends now. Their friendship had started from the third visit Pollyanna had made, the one after she had told Mrs. Snow of the game. Mrs. Snow herself was playing the game now, with Pollyanna. To be sure, she was not playing it very well—she had been sorry for everything for so long, that it was not easy to be glad for anything now. But under Pollyanna's cheery instructions and merry laughter at her mistakes, she was learning fast. To-day, even, to Pollyanna's huge delight, she had said that she was glad Pollyanna brought calf's-foot jelly, because that was just what she had been wanting—she did not know that Milly, at the front door, had told Pollyanna that the minister's wife had already that day sent over a great bowlful of that same kind of jelly.

Pollyanna was thinking of this now when suddenly she saw the boy.

The boy was sitting in a disconsolate little heap by the roadside, whittling half-heartedly at a small stick.

"Hullo," smiled Pollyanna, engagingly.

The boy glanced up, but he looked away again, at once.

"Hullo yourself," he mumbled.

Pollyanna laughed.

"Now you don't look as if you'd be glad even for calf's-foot jelly," she chuckled, stopping before him.

The boy stirred restlessly, gave her a surprised look, and began to whittle again at his stick, with the dull, broken-bladed knife in his hand.

Pollyanna hesitated, then dropped herself comfortably down on the grass near him. In spite of Pollyanna's brave assertion that she was "used to Ladies' Aiders," and "didn't mind," she had sighed at times for some companion of her own age. Hence her determination to make the most of this one.

"My name's Pollyanna Whittier," she began pleasantly. "What's yours?"

Again the boy stirred restlessly. He even almost got to his feet. But he settled back.

"Jimmy Bean," he grunted with ungracious indifference.

"Good! Now we're introduced. I'm glad you did your part—some folks don't, you know. I live at Miss Polly Harrington's house. Where do you live?"

"Nowhere."

"Nowhere! Why, you can't do that—everybody lives somewhere," asserted Pollyanna.

"Well, I don't—just now. I'm huntin' up a new place."

"Oh! Where is it?"

The boy regarded her with scornful eyes.

"Silly! As if I'd be a-huntin' for it—if I knew!"

Pollyanna tossed her head a little. This was not a nice boy, and she did not like to be called "silly." Still, he was somebody besides—old folks. "Where did you live—before?" she queried.

"Well, if you ain't the beat'em for askin' questions!" sighed the boy impatiently.

"I have to be," retorted Pollyanna calmly, "else I couldn't find out a thing about you. If you'd talk more I wouldn't talk so much."

The boy gave a short laugh. It was a sheepish laugh, and not quite a willing one; but his face looked a little pleasanter when he spoke this time.

"All right then—here goes! I'm Jimmy Bean, and I'm ten years old goin' on eleven. I come last year ter live at the Orphans' Home; but they've got so many kids there ain't much room for me, an' I wa'n't never wanted, anyhow, I don't believe. So I've quit. I'm goin' ter live somewheres else—but I hain't found the place, yet. I'd LIKE a home—jest a common one, ye know, with a mother in it, instead of a Matron. If ye has a home, ye has folks; an' I hain't had folks since—dad died. So I'm a-huntin' now. I've tried four houses, but—they didn't want me—though I said I expected ter work, 'course. There! Is that all you want ter know?" The boy's voice had broken a little over the last two sentences.

"Why, what a shame!" sympathized Pollyanna. "And didn't there anybody want you? O dear! I know just how you feel, because after—after my father died, too, there wasn't anybody but the Ladies' Aid for me, until Aunt Polly said she'd take—" Pollyanna stopped abruptly. The dawning of a wonderful idea began to show in her face.

"Oh, I know just the place for you," she cried. "Aunt Polly'll take you—I know she will! Didn't she take me? And didn't she take Fluffy and Buffy, when they didn't have any one to love them, or any place to go?—and they're only cats and dogs. Oh, come, I know Aunt Polly'll take you! You don't know how good and kind she is!"

Jimmy Bean's thin little face brightened.

"Honest Injun? Would she, now? I'd work, ye know, an' I'm real strong!" He bared a small, bony arm.

"Of course she would! Why, my Aunt Polly is the nicest lady in the world—now that my mama has gone to be a Heaven angel. And there's rooms—heaps of 'em," she continued, springing to her feet, and tugging at his arm. "It's an awful big house. Maybe, though," she added a little anxiously, as they hurried on, "maybe you'll have to sleep in the attic room. I did, at first. But there's screens there now, so 'twon't be so hot, and the flies can't get in, either, to bring in the germ-things on their feet. Did you know about that? It's perfectly lovely! Maybe she'll let you read the book if you're good—I mean, if you're bad. And you've got freckles, too,"—with a critical glance—"so you'll be glad there isn't any looking-glass; and the outdoor picture is nicer than any wall-one could be, so you won't mind sleeping in that room at all, I'm sure," panted Pollyanna, finding suddenly that she needed the rest of her breath for purposes other than talking.

"Gorry!" exclaimed Jimmy Bean tersely and uncomprehendingly, but admiringly. Then he added: "I shouldn't think anybody who could talk like that, runnin', would need ter ask no questions ter fill up time with!"

Pollyanna laughed.

"Well, anyhow, you can be glad of that," she retorted; "for when I'm talking, YOU don't have to!"

When the house was reached, Pollyanna unhesitatingly piloted her companion straight into the presence of her amazed aunt.

"Oh, Aunt Polly," she triumphed, "just look a-here! I've got something ever so much nicer, even, than Fluffy and Buffy for you to bring up. It's a real live boy. He won't mind a bit sleeping in the attic, at first, you know, and he says he'll work; but I shall need him the most of the time to play with, I reckon."

Miss Polly grew white, then very red. She did not quite understand; but she thought she understood enough.

"Pollyanna, what does this mean? Who is this dirty little boy? Where did you find him?" she demanded sharply.

The "dirty little boy" fell back a step and looked toward the door. Pollyanna laughed merrily.

"There, if I didn't forget to tell you his name! I'm as bad as the Man. And he is dirty, too, isn't he?—I mean, the boy is—just like Fluffy and Buffy were when you took them in. But I reckon he'll improve all right by washing, just as they did, and—Oh, I 'most forgot again," she broke off with a laugh. "This is Jimmy Bean, Aunt Polly."

"Well, what is he doing here?"

"Why, Aunt Polly, I just told you!" Pollyanna's eyes were wide with surprise. "He's for you. I brought him home—so he could live here, you know. He wants a home and folks. I told him how good you were to me, and to Fluffy and Buffy, and that I knew you would be to him, because of course he's even nicer than cats and dogs."

Miss Polly dropped back in her chair and raised a shaking hand to her throat. The old helplessness was threatening once more to overcome her. With a visible struggle, however, Miss Polly pulled herself suddenly erect.

"That will do, Pollyanna. This is a little the most absurd thing you've done yet. As if tramp cats and mangy dogs weren't bad enough but you must needs bring home ragged little beggars from the street, who—"

There was a sudden stir from the boy. His eyes flashed and his chin came up. With two strides of his sturdy little legs he confronted Miss Polly fearlessly.

"I ain't a beggar, marm, an' I don't want nothin' o' you. I was cal'latin' ter work, of course, fur my board an' keep. I wouldn't have come ter your old house, anyhow, if this 'ere girl hadn't 'a' made me, a-tellin' me how you was so good an' kind that you'd be jest dyin' ter take me in. So, there!" And he wheeled about and stalked from the room with a dignity that would have been absurd had it not been so pitiful.

"Oh, Aunt Polly," choked Pollyanna. "Why, I thought you'd be GLAD to have him here! I'm sure, I should think you'd be glad—"

Miss Polly raised her hand with a peremptory gesture of silence. Miss Polly's nerves had snapped at last. The "good and kind" of the boy's words were still ringing in her ears, and the old helplessness was almost upon her, she knew. Yet she rallied her forces with the last atom of her will power.

"Pollyanna," she cried sharply, "WILL you stop using that everlasting word 'glad'! It's 'glad'—'glad'—'glad' from morning till night until I think I shall grow wild!"

From sheer amazement Pollyanna's jaw dropped.

"Why, Aunt Polly," she breathed, "I should think you'd be glad to have me gl—Oh!" she broke off, clapping her hand to her lips and hurrying blindly from the room.

Before the boy had reached the end of the driveway, Pollyanna overtook him.

"Boy! Boy! Jimmy Bean, I want you to know how—how sorry I am," she panted, catching him with a detaining hand.

"Sorry nothin'! I ain't blamin' you," retorted the boy, sullenly. "But I ain't no beggar!" he added, with sudden spirit.

"Of course you aren't! But you mustn't blame auntie," appealed Pollyanna. "Probably I didn't do the introducing right, anyhow; and I reckon I didn't tell her much who you were. She is good and kind, really—she's always been; but I probably didn't explain it right. I do wish I could find some place for you, though!"

The boy shrugged his shoulders and half turned away.

"Never mind. I guess I can find one myself. I ain't no beggar, you know."

Pollyanna was frowning thoughtfully. Of a sudden she turned, her face illumined.

"Say, I'll tell you what I WILL do! The Ladies' Aid meets this afternoon. I heard Aunt Polly say so. I'll lay your case before them. That's what father always did, when he wanted anything—educating the heathen and new carpets, you know."

The boy turned fiercely.

"Well, I ain't a heathen or a new carpet. Besides—what is a Ladies' Aid?"

Pollyanna stared in shocked disapproval.

"Why, Jimmy Bean, wherever have you been brought up?—not to know what a Ladies' Aid is!"

"Oh, all right—if you ain't tellin'," grunted the boy, turning and beginning to walk away indifferently.

Pollyanna sprang to his side at once.

"It's—it's—why, it's just a lot of ladies that meet and sew and give suppers and raise money and—and talk; that's what a Ladies' Aid is. They're awfully kind—that is, most of mine was, back home. I haven't seen this one here, but they're always good, I reckon. I'm going to tell them about you this afternoon."

Again the boy turned fiercely.

"Not much you will! Maybe you think I'm goin' ter stand 'round an' hear a whole LOT o' women call me a beggar, instead of jest ONE! Not much!"

"Oh, but you wouldn't be there," argued Pollyanna, quickly. "I'd go alone, of course, and tell them."

"You would?"

"Yes; and I'd tell it better this time," hurried on Pollyanna, quick to see the signs of relenting in the boy's face. "And there'd be some of 'em, I know, that would be glad to give you a home."

"I'd work—don't forget ter say that," cautioned the boy.

"Of course not," promised Pollyanna, happily, sure now that her point was gained. "Then I'll let you know to-morrow."

"Where?"

"By the road—where I found you to-day; near Mrs. Snow's house."

"All right. I'll be there." The boy paused before he went on slowly: "Maybe I'd better go back, then, for ter-night, ter the Home. You see I hain't no other place ter stay; and—and I didn't leave till this mornin'. I slipped out. I didn't tell 'em I wasn't comin' back, else they'd pretend I couldn't come—though I'm thinkin' they won't do no worryin' when I don't show up sometime. They ain't like FOLKS, ye know. They don't CARE!"

"I know," nodded Pollyanna, with understanding eyes. "But I'm sure, when I see you to-morrow, I'll have just a common home and folks that do care all ready for you. Good-by!" she called brightly, as she turned back toward the house.

In the sitting-room window at that moment, Miss Polly, who had been watching the two children, followed with sombre eyes the boy until a bend of the road hid him from sight. Then she sighed, turned, and walked listlesly up-stairs—and Miss Polly did not usually move listlessly. In her ears still was the boy's scornful "you was so good and kind." In her heart was a curious sense of desolation—as of something lost.

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