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Chapter 26 JOHN PENDLETON

  • It was just a week before Christmas that Pollyanna sent her story (now neatl_ypewritten) in for the contest. The prize-winners would not be announce_ntil April, the magazine notice said, so Pollyanna settled herself for th_ong wait with characteristic, philosophical patience.
  • "I don't know, anyhow, but I'm glad 'tis so long," she told herself, "for al_inter I can have the fun of thinking it may be the first one instead of on_f the others, that I'll get. I might just as well think I'm going to get it, then if I do get it, I won't have been unhappy any. While if I don't get it—_on't have had all these weeks of unhappiness beforehand, anyway; and I can b_lad for one of the smaller ones, then." That she might not get any prize wa_ot in Pollyanna's calculations at all. The story, so beautifully typed b_illy Snow, looked almost as good as printed already—to Pollyanna.
  • Christmas was not a happy time at the Harrington homestead that year, in spit_f Pollyanna's strenuous efforts to make it so. Aunt Polly refused absolutel_o allow any sort of celebration of the day, and made her attitude s_nmistakably plain that Pollyanna could not give even the simplest o_resents.
  • Christmas evening John Pendleton called. Mrs. Chilton excused herself, bu_ollyanna, utterly worn out from a long day with her aunt, welcomed hi_oyously. But even here she found a fly in the amber of her content; for Joh_endleton had brought with him a letter from Jimmy, and the letter was full o_othing but the plans he and Mrs. Carew were making for a wonderful Christma_elebration at the Home for Working Girls: and Pollyanna, ashamed though sh_as to own it to herself, was not in a mood to hear about Christma_elebrations just then—least of all, Jimmy's.
  • John Pendleton, however, was not ready to let the subject drop, even when th_etter had been read.
  • "Great doings—those!" he exclaimed, as he folded the letter.
  • "Yes, indeed; fine!" murmured Pollyanna, trying to speak with due enthusiasm.
  • "And it's to-night, too, isn't it? I'd like to drop in on them about now."
  • "Yes," murmured Pollyanna again, with still more careful enthusiasm.
  • "Mrs. Carew knew what she was about when she got Jimmy to help her, I fancy,"
  • chuckled the man. "But I'm wondering how Jimmy likes it—playing Santa Claus t_alf a hundred young women at once!"
  • "Why, he finds it delightful, of course!" Pollyanna lifted her chin ever s_lightly.
  • "Maybe. Still, it's a little different from learning to build bridges, yo_ust confess."
  • "Oh, yes."
  • "But I'll risk Jimmy, and I'll risk wagering that those girls never had _etter time than he'll give them to-night, too."
  • "Y-yes, of course," stammered Pollyanna, trying to keep the hate_remulousness out of her voice, and trying very hard NOT to compare her ow_reary evening in Beldingsville with nobody but John Pendleton to that o_hose fifty girls in Boston—with Jimmy.
  • There was a brief pause, during which John Pendleton gazed dreamily at th_ancing fire on the hearth.
  • "She's a wonderful woman—Mrs. Carew is," he said at last.
  • "She is, indeed!" This time the enthusiasm in Pollyanna's voice was all pur_old.
  • "Jimmy's written me before something of what she's done for those girls," wen_n the man, still gazing into the fire. "In just the last letter before thi_e wrote a lot about it, and about her. He said he always admired her, bu_ever so much as now, when he can see what she really is."
  • "She's a dear—that's what Mrs. Carew is," declared Pollyanna, warmly. "She's _ear in every way, and I love her."
  • John Pendleton stirred suddenly. He turned to Pollyanna with an oddl_himsical look in his eyes.
  • "I know you do, my dear. For that matter, there may be others, too—that lov_er."
  • Pollyanna's heart skipped a beat. A sudden thought came to her with stunning, blinding force. JIMMY! Could John Pendleton be meaning that Jimmy cared THA_AY—for Mrs. Carew?
  • "You mean—?" she faltered. She could not finish.
  • With a nervous twitch peculiar to him, John Pendleton got to his feet.
  • "I mean—the girls, of course," he answered lightly, still with that whimsica_mile. "Don't you suppose those fifty girls—love her 'most to death?"
  • Pollyanna said "yes, of course," and murmured something else appropriate, i_nswer to John Pendleton's next remark. But her thoughts were in a tumult, an_he let the man do most of the talking for the rest of the evening.
  • Nor did John Pendleton seem averse to this. Restlessly he took a turn or tw_bout the room, then sat down in his old place. And when he spoke, it was o_is old subject, Mrs. Carew.
  • "Queer—about that Jamie of hers, isn't it? I wonder if he IS her nephew."
  • As Pollyanna did not answer, the man went on, after a moment's silence.
  • "He's a fine fellow, anyway. I like him. There's something fine and genuin_bout him. She's bound up in him. That's plain to be seen, whether he's reall_er kin or not."
  • There was—another pause, then, in a slightly altered voice, John Pendleto_aid:
  • "Still it's queer, too, when you come to think of it, that she never—marrie_gain. She is certainly now—a very beautiful woman. Don't you think so?"
  • "Yes—yes, indeed she is," plunged in Pollyanna, with precipitate haste; "a—_ery beautiful woman."
  • There was a little break at the last in Pollyanna's voice. Pollyanna, jus_hen, had caught sight of her own face in the mirror opposite—and Pollyanna t_erself was never "a very beautiful woman."
  • On and on rambled John Pendleton, musingly, contentedly, his eyes on the fire.
  • Whether he was answered or not seemed not to disturb him. Whether he was eve_istened to or not, he seemed hardly to know. He wanted, apparently, only t_alk; but at last he got to his feet reluctantly and said good-night.
  • For a weary half-hour Pollyanna had been longing for him to go, that she migh_e alone; but after he had gone she wished he were back. She had foun_uddenly that she did not want to be alone—with her thoughts.
  • It was wonderfully clear to Pollyanna now. There was no doubt of it. Jimm_ared for Mrs. Carew. That was why he was so moody and restless after sh_eft. That was why he had come so seldom to see her, Pollyanna, his ol_riend. That was why—
  • Countless little circumstances of the past summer flocked to Pollyanna'_emory now, mute witnesses that would not be denied.
  • And why should he not care for her? Mrs. Carew was certainly beautiful an_harming. True, she was older than Jimmy; but young men had married women fa_lder than she, many times. And if they loved each other—
  • Pollyanna cried herself to sleep that night.
  • In the morning, bravely she tried to face the thing. She even tried, with _earful smile, to put it to the test of the glad game. She was reminded the_f something Nancy had said to her years before: "If there IS a set o' folk_n the world that wouldn't have no use for that 'ere glad game o' your'n, it'_e a pair o' quarrellin' lovers!"
  • "Not that we're 'quarrelling,' or even 'lovers,'" thought Pollyann_lushingly; "but just the same I can be glad HE'S glad, and glad SHE'S glad, too, only—" Even to herself Pollyanna could not finish this sentence.
  • Being so sure now that Jimmy and Mrs. Carew cared for each other, Pollyann_ecame peculiarly sensitive to everything that tended to strengthen tha_elief. And being ever on the watch for it, she found it, as was to b_xpected. First in Mrs. Carew's letters.
  • "I am seeing a lot of your friend, young Pendleton," Mrs. Carew wrote one day;
  • "and I'm liking him more and more. I do wish, however—just for curiosity'_ake—that I could trace to its source that elusive feeling that I've seen hi_efore somewhere."
  • Frequently, after this, she mentioned him casually; and, to Pollyanna, in th_ery casualness of these references lay their sharpest sting; for it showed s_nmistakably that Jimmy and Jimmy's presence were now to Mrs. Carew a matte_f course. From other sources, too, Pollyanna found fuel for the fire of he_uspicions. More and more frequently John Pendleton "dropped in" with hi_tories of Jimmy, and of what Jimmy was doing; and always here there wa_ention of Mrs. Carew. Poor Pollyanna wondered, indeed, sometimes, if Joh_endleton could not talk of anything—but Mrs. Carew and Jimmy, so constantl_as one or the other of those names on his lips.
  • There were Sadie Dean's letters, too, and they told of Jimmy, and of what h_as doing to help Mrs. Carew. Even Jamie, who wrote occasionally, had his mit_o add, for he wrote one evening:
  • "It's ten o'clock. I'm sitting here alone waiting for Mrs. Carew to come home.
  • She and Pendleton have been to one of their usual socials down to the Home."
  • From Jimmy himself Pollyanna heard very rarely; and for that she told hersel_ournfully that she COULD be GLAD.
  • "For if he can't write about ANYTHING but Mrs. Carew and those girls, I'm gla_e doesn't write very often!" she sighed.