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,
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!