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Chapter 19 TWO LETTERS

  • It was toward the latter part of June that the letter came to Pollyanna fro_ella Wetherby.
  • "I am writing to ask you a favor," Miss Wetherby wrote. "I am hoping you ca_ell me of some quiet private family in Beldingsville that will be willing t_ake 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'_ou?) They do not like to go to an ordinary hotel or boarding house. My siste_s very tired, and the doctor has advised her to go into the country for _omplete rest and change. He suggested Vermont or New Hampshire. W_mmediately thought of Beldingsville and you; and we wondered if you couldn'_ecommend just the right place to us. I told Ruth I would write you. The_ould like to go right away, early in July, if possible. Would it be askin_oo much to request you to let us know as soon as you conveniently can if yo_o know of a place? Please address me here. My sister is with us here at th_anatorium for a few weeks' treatment.
  • "Hoping for a favorable reply, I am,
  • "Most cordially yours,
  • "DELLA WETHERBY."
  • For the first few minutes after the letter was finished, Pollyanna sat wit_rowning brow, mentally searching the homes of Beldingsville for a possibl_oarding house for her old friends. Then a sudden something gave her thought_ new turn, and with a joyous exclamation she hurried to her aunt in th_iving-room.
  • "Auntie, auntie," she panted; "I've got just the loveliest idea. I told yo_omething 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 the_ant to come into the country to board for the summer, and Miss Wetherby'_ritten to see if I didn't know a place for them. They don't want a hotel o_n ordinary boarding house, you see. And at first I didn't know of one; bu_ow I do. I do, Aunt Polly! Just guess where 'tis."
  • "Dear me, child," ejaculated Mrs. Chilton, "how you do run on! I should thin_ou were a dozen years old instead of a woman grown. Now what are you talkin_bout?"
  • "About a boarding place for Mrs. Carew and Jamie. I've found it," babble_ollyanna.
  • "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'_ust 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, fo_hey'd pay well, I know; and they'd love to come, I'm sure. There'd be thre_f them—there's a secretary with them."
  • "But, Pollyanna, I can't! Turn this house into a boarding house?—th_arrington homestead a common boarding house? Oh, Pollyanna, I can't, _an'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 se_s; only they'd be PAYING guests, so meanwhile we'd be earning money—mone_hat 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 fel_ack in her chair.
  • "But how could you do it?" she asked at last, faintly. "You couldn't do th_ork 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 th_est. 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—mone_ust dropped into my hands like that!"
  • "Dropped into your hands, indeed! You still have some things to learn in thi_orld, Pollyanna, and one is that summer boarders don't drop money int_nybody'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 orde_rom 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 worryin_ow; and I'm going to hurry and write Miss Wetherby at once so I can give i_o 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 cal_im that to his face, sometimes, and of course that's dreadful, when he reall_s adopted, and all. But you see I'm so excited," she finished, as she dance_rom the room.
  • She had the letter all ready for Jimmy when he called at four o'clock. She wa_till quivering—with excitement, and she lost no time in telling her visito_hat it was all about.
  • "And I'm crazy to see them, besides," she cried, when she had told him of he_lans. "I've never seen either of them since that winter. You know I tol_ou—didn't I tell you?—about Jamie."
  • "Oh, yes, you told me." There was a touch of constraint in the young man'_oice.
  • "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 eve_his little while? Why, Jimmy, of course it's splendid."
  • "Well, it strikes me that it's going to be rather HARD—for you," bridle_immy, with more than a shade of irritation.
  • "Yes, of course, in some ways. But I shall be so glad for the money coming i_hat I'll think of that all the time. You see," she sighed, "how mercenary _m, Jimmy."
  • For a long minute there was no reply; then, a little abruptly, the young ma_sked:
  • "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. "Neve_ind; 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 imagin_e's about your age. I wonder how he is now. I've asked all about it in thi_etter, anyway."
  • "Oh, you have!" Pendleton looked down at the letter in his hand and flipped i_ little spitefully. He was thinking that he would like to drop it, to tear i_p, to give it to somebody, to throw it away, to do anything with it—but mai_t.
  • Jimmy knew perfectly well that he was jealous, that he always had been jealou_f this youth with the name so like and yet so unlike his own. Not that he wa_n love with Pollyanna, he assured himself wrathfully. He was not that, o_ourse. It was just that he did not care to have this strange youth with th_issy name come to Beldingsville and be always around to spoil all their goo_imes. He almost said as much to Pollyanna, but something stayed the words o_is lips; and after a time he took his leave, carrying the letter with him.
  • That Jimmy did not drop the letter, tear it up, give it to anybody, or thro_t away was evidenced a few days later, for Pollyanna received a prompt an_elighted reply from Miss Wetherby; and when Jimmy came next time he heard i_ead—or rather he heard part of it, for Pollyanna prefaced the reading b_aying:
  • "Of course the first part is just where she says how glad they are to come, and all that. I won't read that. But the rest I thought you'd like to hear, because you've heard me talk so much about them. Besides, you'll know the_ourself pretty soon, of course. I'm depending a whole lot on you, Jimmy, t_elp me make it pleasant for them."
  • "Oh, are you!"
  • "Now don't be sarcastic, just because you don't like Jamie's name," reprove_ollyanna, with mock severity. "You'll like HIM, I'm sure, when you know him; and you'll LOVE Mrs. Carew."
  • "Will I, indeed?" retorted Jimmy huffily. "Well, that IS a serious prospect.
  • Let us hope, if I do, the lady will be so gracious as to reciprocate."
  • "Of course," dimpled Pollyanna. "Now listen, and I'll read to you about her.
  • This letter is from her sister, Della—Miss Wetherby, you know, at th_anatorium."
  • "All right. Go ahead!" directed Jimmy, with a somewhat too evident attempt a_olite interest. And Pollyanna, still smiling mischievously, began to read.
  • "You ask me to tell you everything about everybody. That is a larg_ommission, but I'll do the best I can. To begin with, I think you'll find m_ister quite changed. The new interests that have come into her life durin_he last six years have done wonders for her. Just now she is a bit thin an_ired from overwork, but a good rest will soon remedy that, and you'll see ho_oung and blooming and happy she looks. Please notice I said HAPPY. That won'_ean so much to you as it does to me, of course, for you were too young t_ealize quite how unhappy she was when you first knew her that winter i_oston. Life was such a dreary, hopeless thing to her then; and now it is s_ull of interest and joy.
  • "First she has Jamie, and when you see them together you won't need to be tol_hat he is to her. To be sure, we are no nearer knowing whether he is the REA_amie, or not, but my sister loves him like an own son now, and has legall_dopted him, as I presume you know.
  • "Then she has her girls. Do you remember Sadie Dean, the salesgirl? Well, fro_etting interested in her, and trying to help her to a happier living, m_ister has broadened her efforts little by little, until she has scores o_irls now who regard her as their own best and particular good angel. She ha_tarted a Home for Working Girls along new lines. Half a dozen wealthy an_nfluential men and women are associated with her, of course, but she is hea_nd shoulders of the whole thing, and never hesitates to give HERSELF to eac_nd every one of the girls. You can imagine what that means in nerve strain.
  • Her chief support and right-hand man is her secretary, this same Sadie Dean.
  • You'll find HER changed, too, yet she is the same old Sadie.
  • "As for Jamie—poor Jamie! The great sorrow of his life is that he knows now h_an never walk. For a time we all had hopes. He was here at the Sanatoriu_nder Dr. Ames for a year, and he improved to such an extent that he can g_ow with crutches. But the poor boy will always be a cripple—so far as hi_eet are concerned, but never as regards anything else. Someway, after yo_now Jamie, you seldom think of him as a cripple, his SOUL is so free. I can'_xplain it, but you'll know what I mean when you see him; and he has retained, to a marvelous degree, his old boyish enthusiasm and joy of living. There i_ust one thing—and only one, I believe—that would utterly quench that brigh_pirit and cast him into utter despair; and that is to find that he is no_amie Kent, our nephew. So long has he brooded over this, and so ardently ha_e wished it, that he has come actually to believe that he IS the real Jamie; but if he isn't, I hope he will never find it out."
  • "There, that's all she says about them," announced Pollyanna, folding up th_losely-written sheets in her hands. "But isn't that interesting?"
  • "Indeed it is!" There was a ring of genuineness in Jimmy's voice now. Jimm_as thinking suddenly of what his own good legs meant to him. He even, for th_oment, was willing that this poor crippled youth should have a PART o_ollyanna's thoughts and attentions, if he were not so presuming as to clai_oo much of them, of course! "By George! it is tough for the poor chap, and n_istake."
  • "Tough! You don't know anything about it, Jimmy Bean," choked Pollyanna; "bu_I_ do. _I_ couldn't walk once. _I_ KNOW!"
  • "Yes, of course, of course," frowned the youth, moving restively in his seat.
  • Jimmy, looking into Pollyanna's sympathetic face and brimming eyes wa_uddenly not so sure, after all, that he WAS willing to have this Jamie com_o town—if just to THINK of him made Pollyanna look like that!