The first few days at Beldingsville were not easy either for Mrs. Chilton o_or Pollyanna. They were days of adjustment; and days of adjustment are seldo_asy.
From travel and excitement it was not easy to put one's mind to th_onsideration of the price of butter and the delinquencies of the butcher.
From having all one's time for one's own, it was not easy to find always th_ext task clamoring to be done. Friends and neighbors called, too, an_lthough Pollyanna welcomed them with glad cordiality, Mrs. Chilton, whe_ossible, excused herself; and always she said bitterly to Pollyanna:
"Curiosity, I suppose, to see how Polly Harrington likes being poor."
Of the doctor Mrs. Chilton seldom spoke, yet Pollyanna knew very well tha_lmost never was he absent from her thoughts; and that more than half he_aciturnity was but her usual cloak for a deeper emotion which she did no_are to show.
Jimmy Pendleton Pollyanna saw several times during that first month. He cam_irst with John Pendleton for a somewhat stiff and ceremonious call—not tha_t was either stiff or ceremonious until after Aunt Polly came into the room; then it was both. For some reason Aunt Polly had not excused herself on thi_ccasion. After that Jimmy had come by himself, once with flowers, once with _ook for Aunt Polly, twice with no excuse at all. Pollyanna welcomed him wit_rank pleasure always. Aunt Polly, after that first time, did not see him a_ll.
To the most of their friends and acquaintances Pollyanna said little about th_hange in their circumstances. To Jimmy, however, she talked freely, an_lways her constant cry was: "If only I could do something to bring in som_oney!"
"I'm getting to be the most mercenary little creature you ever saw," sh_aughed dolefully. "I've got so I measure everything with a dollar bill, and _ctually think in quarters and dimes. You see, Aunt Polly does feel so poor!"
"It's a shame!" stormed Jimmy.
"I know it. But, honestly, I think she feels a little poorer than she need_o—she's brooded over it so. But I do wish I could help!"
Jimmy looked down at the wistful, eager face with its luminous eyes, and hi_wn eyes softened.
"What do you WANT to do—if you could do it?" he asked.
"Oh, I want to cook and keep house," smiled Pollyanna, with a pensive sigh. "_ust love to beat eggs and sugar, and hear the soda gurgle its little tune i_he cup of sour milk. I'm happy if I've got a day's baking before me. Bu_here isn't any money in that—except in somebody else's kitchen, of course.
And I—I don't exactly love it well enough for that!"
"I should say not!" ejaculated the young fellow.
Once more he glanced down at the expressive face so near him. This time _ueer look came to the corners of his mouth. He pursed his lips, then spoke, _low red mounting to his forehead.
"Well, of course you might—marry. Have you thought of that—Miss Pollyanna?"
Pollyanna gave a merry laugh. Voice and manner were unmistakably those of _irl quite untouched by even the most far-reaching of Cupid's darts.
"Oh, no, I shall never marry," she said blithely. "In the first place I'm no_retty, you know; and in the second place, I'm going to live with Aunt Poll_nd take care of her."
"Not pretty, eh?" smiled Pendleton, quizzically. "Did it ever—er—occur to yo_hat there might be a difference of opinion on that, Pollyanna?"
Pollyanna shook her head.
"There couldn't be. I've got a mirror, you see," she objected, with a merr_lance.
It sounded like coquetry. In any other girl it would have been coquetry, Pendleton decided. But, looking into the face before him now, Pendleton kne_hat it was not coquetry. He knew, too, suddenly, why Pollyanna had seemed s_ifferent from any girl he had ever known. Something of her old literal way o_ooking at things still clung to her.
"Why aren't you pretty?" he asked.
Even as he uttered the question, and sure as he was of his estimate o_ollyanna's character, Pendleton quite held his breath at his temerity. H_ould not help thinking of how quickly any other girl he knew would hav_esented that implied acceptance of her claim to no beauty. But Pollyanna'_irst words showed him that even this lurking fear of his was quit_roundless.
"Why, I just am not," she laughed, a little ruefully. "I wasn't made that way.
Maybe you don't remember, but long ago, when I was a little girl, it alway_eemed to me that one of the nicest things Heaven was going to give me when _ot there was black curls."
"And is that your chief desire now?"
"N-no, maybe not," hesitated Pollyanna. "But I still think I'd like them.
Besides, my eyelashes aren't long enough, and my nose isn't Grecian, or Roman, or any of those delightfully desirable ones that belong to a 'type.' It's jus_OSE. And my face is too long, or too short, I've forgotten which; but _easured it once with one of those 'correct-for-beauty' tests, and it wasn'_ight, anyhow. And they said the width of the face should be equal to fiv_yes, and the width of the eyes equal to—to something else. I've forgotte_hat, too—only that mine wasn't."
"What a lugubrious picture!" laughed Pendleton. Then, with his gaze admiringl_egarding the girl's animated face and expressive eyes, he asked:
"Did you ever look in the mirror when you were talking, Pollyanna?"
"Why, no, of course not!"
"Well, you'd better try it sometime."
"What a funny idea! Imagine my doing it," laughed the girl. "What shall I say?
Like this? 'Now, you, Pollyanna, what if your eyelashes aren't long, and you_ose is just a nose, be glad you've got SOME eyelashes and SOME nose!'"
Pendleton joined in her laugh, but an odd expression came to his face.
"Then you still play—the game," he said, a little diffidently.
Pollyanna turned soft eyes of wonder full upon him.
"Why, of course! Why, Jimmy, I don't believe I could have lived—the last si_onths—if it hadn't been for that blessed game." Her voice shook a little.
"I haven't heard you say much about it," he commented.
She changed color.
"I know. I think I'm afraid—of saying too much—to outsiders, who don't care, you know. It wouldn't sound quite the same from me now, at twenty, as it di_hen I was ten. I realize that, of course. Folks don't like to be preached at, you know," she finished with a whimsical smile.
"I know," nodded the young fellow gravely. "But I wonder sometimes, Pollyanna, if you really understand yourself what that game is, and what it has done fo_hose who are playing it."
"I know—what it has done for myself." Her voice was low, and her eyes wer_urned away.
"You see, it really WORKS, if you play it," he mused aloud, after a shor_ilence. "Somebody said once that it would revolutionize the world i_verybody would really play it. And I believe it would."
"Yes; but some folks don't want to be revolutionized," smiled Pollyanna. "_an across a man in Germany last year. He had lost his money, and was in har_uck generally. Dear, dear, but he was gloomy! Somebody in my presence trie_o cheer him up one day by saying, 'Come, come, things might be worse, yo_now!' Dear, dear, but you should have heard that man then!
"'If there is anything on earth that makes me mad clear through,' he snarled,
'it is to be told that things might be worse, and to be thankful for what I'v_ot left. These people who go around with an everlasting grin on their face_aroling forth that they are thankful that they can breathe, or eat, or walk, or lie down, I have no use for. I don't WANT to breathe, or eat, or walk, o_ie down—if things are as they are now with me. And when I'm told that I ough_o be thankful for some such tommyrot as that, it makes me just want to go ou_nd shoot somebody!' Imagine what I'D have gotten if I'd have introduced th_lad game to that man!" laughed Pollyanna.
"I don't care. He needed it," answered Jimmy.
"Of course he did—but he wouldn't have thanked me for giving it to him."
"I suppose not. But, listen! As he was, under his present philosophy an_cheme of living, he made himself and everybody else wretched, didn't he?
Well, just suppose he was playing the game. While he was trying to hunt u_omething to be glad about in everything that had happened to him, he COULDN'_e at the same time grumbling and growling about how bad things were; so tha_uch would be gained. He'd be a whole lot easier to live with, both fo_imself and for his friends. Meanwhile, just thinking of the doughnut instea_f the hole couldn't make things any worse for him, and it might make thing_etter; for it wouldn't give him such a gone feeling in the pit of hi_tomach, and his digestion would be better. I tell you, troubles are poo_hings to hug. They've got too many prickers."
Pollyanna smiled appreciatively.
"That makes me think of what I told a poor old lady once. She was one of m_adies' Aiders out West, and was one of the kind of people that really ENJOY_eing miserable and telling over her causes for unhappiness. I was perhaps te_ears old, and was trying to teach her the game. I reckon I wasn't having ver_ood success, and evidently I at last dimly realized the reason, for I said t_er triumphantly: 'Well, anyhow, you can be glad you've got such a lot o_hings to make you miserable, for you love to be miserable so well!'"
"Well, if that wasn't a good one on her," chuckled Jimmy.
Pollyanna raised her eyebrows.
"I'm afraid she didn't enjoy it any more than the man in Germany would have i_'d told him the same thing."
"But they ought to be told, and you ought to tell—" Pendleton stopped shor_ith so queer an expression on his face that Pollyanna looked at him i_urprise.
"Why, Jimmy, what is it?"
"Oh, nothing. I was only thinking," he answered, puckering his lips. "Here _m 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 floundere_nto a helpless pause, looking very red indeed.
"Well, Jimmy Pendleton," bridled the girl, "you needn't think you can sto_here, 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 wa_orrying—a little—about that game, for fear you WOULD talk it just as you use_o, 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 b_t twenty just what I was at ten!"
"N-no, I didn't mean—Pollyanna, honestly, I thought—of course I knew—" Bu_ollyanna only put her hands to her ears and went off into another peal o_aughter.