The few intervening days before the expected arrival of "those dreadfu_eople," as Aunt Polly termed her niece's paying guests, were busy ones indee_or Pollyanna—but they were happy ones, too, as Pollyanna refused to be weary, or discouraged, or dismayed, no matter how puzzling were the daily problem_he had to meet.
Summoning Nancy, and Nancy's younger sister, Betty, to her aid, Pollyann_ystematically went through the house, room by room, and arranged for th_omfort and convenience of her expected boarders. Mrs. Chilton could do bu_ittle to assist. In the first place she was not well. In the second place he_ental attitude toward the whole idea was not conducive to aid or comfort, fo_t her side stalked always the Harrington pride of name and race, and on he_ips was the constant moan:
"Oh, Pollyanna, Pollyanna, to think of the Harrington homestead ever coming t_his!"
"It isn't, dearie," Pollyanna at last soothed laughingly. "It's the Carew_hat are COMING TO THE HARRINGTON HOMESTEAD!"
But Mrs. Chilton was not to be so lightly diverted, and responded only with _cornful glance and a deeper sigh, so Pollyanna was forced to leave her t_ravel alone her road of determined gloom.
Upon the appointed day, Pollyanna with Timothy (who owned the Harringto_orses now) went to the station to meet the afternoon train. Up to this hou_here had been nothing but confidence and joyous anticipation in Pollyanna'_eart. But with the whistle of the engine there came to her a veritable pani_f doubt, shyness, and dismay. She realized suddenly what she, Pollyanna, almost alone and unaided, was about to do. She remembered Mrs. Carew's wealth, position, and fastidious tastes. She recollected, too, that this would be _ew, tall, young-man Jamie, quite unlike the boy she had known.
For one awful moment she thought only of getting away—somewhere, anywhere.
"Timothy, I—I feel sick. I'm not well. I—tell 'em—er—not to come," sh_altered, poising as if for flight.
"Ma'am!" exclaimed the startled Timothy.
One glance into Timothy's amazed face was enough. Pollyanna laughed and thre_ack her shoulders alertly.
"Nothing. Never mind! I didn't mean it, of course, Timothy. Quick—see! They'r_lmost here," she panted. And Pollyanna hurried forward, quite herself onc_ore.
She knew them at once. Even had there been any doubt in her mind, the crutche_n the hands of the tall, brown-eyed young man would have piloted her straigh_o her goal.
There were a brief few minutes of eager handclasps and incoheren_xclamations, then, somehow, she found herself in the carriage with Mrs. Care_t her side, and Jamie and Sadie Dean in front. She had a chance, then, fo_he first time, really to see her friends, and to note the changes the si_ears had wrought.
In regard to Mrs. Carew, her first feeling was one of surprise. She ha_orgotten that Mrs. Carew was so lovely. She had forgotten that the eyelashe_ere so long, that the eyes they shaded were so beautiful. She even caugh_erself thinking enviously of how exactly that perfect face must tally, figur_y figure, with that dread beauty-test-table. But more than anything else sh_ejoiced in the absence of the old fretful lines of gloom and bitterness.
Then she turned to Jamie. Here again she was surprised, and for much the sam_eason. Jamie, too, had grown handsome. To herself Pollyanna declared that h_as really distinguished looking. His dark eyes, rather pale face, and dark, waving hair she thought most attractive. Then she caught a glimpse of th_rutches at his side, and a spasm of aching sympathy contracted her throat.
From Jamie Pollyanna turned to Sadie Dean.
Sadie, so far as features went, looked much as she had when Pollyanna firs_aw her in the Public Garden; but Pollyanna did not need a second glance t_now that Sadie, so far as hair, dress, temper, speech, and disposition wer_oncerned, was a very different Sadie indeed.
Then Jamie spoke.
"How good you were to let us come," he said to Pollyanna. "Do you know what _hought of when you wrote that we could come?"
"Why, n-no, of course not," stammered Pollyanna. Pollyanna was still seein_he crutches at Jamie's side, and her throat was still tightened from tha_ching sympathy.
"Well, I thought of the little maid in the Public Garden with her bag o_eanuts for Sir Lancelot and Lady Guinevere, and I knew that you were jus_utting us in their places, for if you had a bag of peanuts, and we had none, you wouldn't be happy till you'd shared it with us."
"A bag of peanuts, indeed!" laughed Pollyanna.
"Oh, of course in this case, your bag of peanuts happened to be airy countr_ooms, and cow's milk, and real eggs from a real hen's nest," returned Jami_himsically; "but it amounts to the same thing. And maybe I'd better war_ou—you remember how greedy Sir Lancelot was;—well—" He paused meaningly.
"All right, I'll take the risk," dimpled Pollyanna, thinking how glad she wa_hat Aunt Polly was not present to hear her worst predictions so nearl_ulfilled thus early. "Poor Sir Lancelot! I wonder if anybody feeds him now, or if he's there at all."
"Well, if he's there, he's fed," interposed Mrs. Carew, merrily. "Thi_idiculous boy still goes down there at least once a week with his pocket_ulging with peanuts and I don't know what all. He can be traced any time b_he trail of small grains he leaves behind him; and half the time, when _rder my cereal for breakfast it isn't forthcoming, because, forsooth, 'Maste_amie has fed it to the pigeons, ma'am!'"
"Yes, but let me tell you," plunged in Jamie, enthusiastically. And the nex_inute Pollyanna found herself listening with all the old fascination to _tory of a couple of squirrels in a sunlit garden. Later she saw what Dell_etherby had meant in her letter, for when the house was reached, it came as _istinct shock to her to see Jamie pick up his crutches and swing himself ou_f the carriage with their aid. She knew then that already in ten shor_inutes he had made her forget that he was lame.
To Pollyanna's great relief that first dreaded meeting between Aunt Polly an_he Carew party passed off much better than she had feared. The newcomers wer_o frankly delighted with the old house and everything in it, that it was a_tter impossibility for the mistress and owner of it all to continue her stif_ttitude of disapproving resignation to their presence. Besides, as wa_lainly evident before an hour had passed, the personal charm and magnetism o_amie had pierced even Aunt Polly's armor of distrust; and Pollyanna knew tha_t least one of her own most dreaded problems was a problem no longer, fo_lready Aunt Polly was beginning to play the stately, yet gracious hostess t_hese, her guests.
Notwithstanding her relief at Aunt Polly's change of attitude, however, Pollyanna did not find that all was smooth sailing, by any means. There wa_ork, and plenty of it, that must be done. Nancy's sister, Betty, was pleasan_nd willing, but she was not Nancy, as Pollyanna soon found. She neede_raining, and training took time. Pollyanna worried, too, for fear everythin_hould not be quite right. To Pollyanna, those days, a dusty chair was a crim_nd a fallen cake a tragedy.
Gradually, however, after incessant arguments and pleadings on the part o_rs. Carew and Jamie, Pollyanna came to take her tasks more easily, and t_ealize that the real crime and tragedy in her friends' eyes was, not th_usty chair nor the fallen cake, but the frown of worry and anxiety on her ow_ace.
"Just as if it wasn't enough for you to LET us come," Jamie declared, "withou_ust killing yourself with work to get us something to eat."
"Besides, we ought not to eat so much, anyway," Mrs. Carew laughed, "or els_e shall get 'digestion,' as one of my girls calls it when her food disagree_ith her."
It was wonderful, after all, how easily the three new members of the famil_itted into the daily life. Before twenty-four hours had passed, Mrs. Care_ad gotten Mrs. Chilton to asking really interested questions about the ne_ome for Working Girls, and Sadie Dean and Jamie were quarreling over th_hance to help with the pea-shelling or the flower-picking.
The Carews had been at the Harrington homestead nearly a week when one evenin_ohn Pendleton and Jimmy called. Pollyanna had been hoping they would com_oon. She had, indeed, urged it very strongly before the Carews came. She mad_he introductions now with visible pride.
"You are such good friends of mine, I want you to know each other, and be goo_riends together," she explained.
That Jimmy and Mr. Pendleton should be clearly impressed with the charm an_eauty of Mrs. Carew did not surprise Pollyanna in the least; but the loo_hat came into Mrs. Carew's face at sight of Jimmy did surprise her very much.
It was almost a look of recognition.
"Why, Mr. Pendleton, haven't I met you before?" Mrs. Carew cried.
Jimmy's frank eyes met Mrs. Carew's gaze squarely, admiringly.
"I think not," he smiled back at her. "I'm sure I never have met you. I shoul_ave remembered it—if _I_ had met YOU," he bowed.
So unmistakable was his significant emphasis that everybody laughed, and Joh_endleton chuckled:
"Well done, son—for a youth of your tender years. I couldn't have done half s_ell myself."
Mrs. Carew flushed slightly and joined in the laugh.
"No, but really," she urged; "joking aside, there certainly is a strangel_amiliar something in your face. I think I must have SEEN you somewhere, if _aven't actually met you."
"And maybe you have," cried Pollyanna, "in Boston. Jimmy goes to Tech ther_inters, you know. Jimmy's going to build bridges and dams, you see—when h_rows up, I mean," she finished with a merry glance at the big six-foot fello_till standing before Mrs. Carew.
Everybody laughed again—that is, everybody but Jamie; and only Sadie Dea_oticed that Jamie, instead of laughing, closed his eyes as if at the sight o_omething that hurt. And only Sadie Dean knew how—and why—the subject was s_uickly changed, for it was Sadie herself who changed it. It was Sadie, too, who, when the opportunity came, saw to it that books and flowers and beast_nd birds—things that Jamie knew and understood—were talked about as well a_ams and bridges which (as Sadie knew), Jamie could never build. That Sadi_id all this, however, was not realized by anybody, least of all by Jamie, th_ne who most of all was concerned.
When the call was over and the Pendletons had gone, Mrs. Carew referred agai_o the curiously haunting feeling that somewhere she had seen young Pendleto_efore.
"I have, I know I have—somewhere," she declared musingly. "Of course it ma_ave been in Boston; but—" She let the sentence remain unfinished; then, afte_ minute she added: "He's a fine young fellow, anyway. I like him."
"I'm so glad! I do, too," nodded Pollyanna. "I've always liked Jimmy."
"You've known him some time, then?" queried Jamie, a little wistfully.
"Oh, yes. I knew him years ago when I was a little girl, you know. He wa_immy Bean then."
"Jimmy BEAN! Why, isn't he Mr. Pendleton's son?" asked Mrs. Carew, i_urprise.
"No, only by adoption."
"Adoption!" exclaimed Jamie. "Then HE isn't a real son any more than I am."
There was a curious note of almost joy in the lad's voice.
"No. Mr. Pendleton hasn't any children. He never married. He—he was going to, once, but he—he didn't." Pollyanna blushed and spoke with sudden diffidence.
Pollyanna had never forgotten that it was her mother who, in the long ago, ha_aid no to this same John Pendleton, and who had thus been responsible for th_an's long, lonely years of bachelorhood.
Mrs. Carew and Jamie, however, being unaware of this, and seeing now only th_lush on Pollyanna's cheek and the diffidence in her manner, drew suddenly th_ame conclusion.
"Is it possible," they asked themselves, "that this man, John Pendleton, eve_ad a love affair with Pollyanna, child that she is?"
Naturally they did not say this aloud; so, naturally, there was no answe_ossible. Naturally, too, perhaps, the thought, though unspoken, was still no_orgotten, but was tucked away in a corner of their minds for futur_eference—if need arose.