Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
Chapter XIV. Just a Matter of Jelly
Pollyanna was a little late for supper on the night of the accident to John Pendleton; but, as it happened, she escaped without reproof.
Nancy met her at the door.
"Well, if I ain't glad ter be settin' my two eyes on you," she sighed in obvious relief. "It's half-past six!"
"I know it," admitted Pollyanna anxiously; "but I'm not to blame--truly I'm not. And I don't think even Aunt Polly will say I am, either."
"She won't have the chance," retorted Nancy, with huge satisfaction. "She's gone."
"Gone!" gasped Pollyanna. "You don't mean that I've driven her away?" Through Pollyanna's mind at the moment trooped remorseful memories of the morning with its unwanted boy, cat, and dog, and its unwelcome "glad" and forbidden "father that would spring to her forgetful little tongue. Oh, I didn't drive her away?"
"Not much you did," scoff ed Nancy. "Her cousin died suddenly down to Boston, and she had ter go. She had one o' them yeller telegram letters after you went away this afternoon, and she won't be back for three days. Now I guess we're glad all right. We'll be keepin' house tergether, jest you and me, all that time. We will, we will!"
Pollyanna looked shocked.
"Glad! Oh, Nancy, when it's a funeral?"
"Oh, but 'twa'n't the funeral I was glad for, Miss Pollyanna. It was--" Nancy stopped abruptly. A shrewd twinkle came into her eyes. "Why, Miss Pollyanna, as if it wa'n't yerself that was teachin' me ter play the game," she reproached her gravely.
Pollyanna puckered her forehead into a troubled frown.
"I can't help it, Nancy," she argued with a shake of her head. "It must be that there are some things that 'tisn't right to play the game on--and I'm sure funerals is one of them. There's nothing in a funeral to be glad about."
"We can be glad 'tain't our'n," she observed demurely. But Pollyanna did not hear. She had begun to tell of the accident; and in a moment Nancy, open-mouthed, was listening.
At the appointed place the next afternoon, Pollyanna met Jimmy Bean according to agreement. As was to be expected, of course, Jimmy showed keen disappointment that the Ladies' Aid preferred a little India boy to himself.
"Well, maybe 'tis natural," he sighed. "Of course things you don't know about are always nicer'n things you do, same as the pertater on 'tother side of the plate is always the biggest. But I wish I looked that way ter somebody 'way off. Wouldn't it be jest great, now, if only somebody over in India wanted me?"
Pollyanna clapped her hands.
"Why, of course! That's the very thing, Jimmy! I'll write to my Ladies' Aiders about you. They aren't over in India; they're only out West--but that's awful far away, just the same. I reckon you'd think so if you'd come all the way here as I did!"
Jimmy's face brightened.
"Do you think they would--truly--take me?" he asked.
"Of course they would! Don't they take little boys in India to bring up? Well, they can just play you are the little India boy this time. I reckon you're far enough away to make a report, all right. You wait. I'll write 'em. I'll write Mrs. White. No, I'll write Mrs. Jones. Mrs. White has got the most money, but Mrs. Jones gives the most--which is kind of funny, isn't it?--when you think of it. But I reckon some of the Aiders will take you."
"All right--but don't furgit ter say I'll work fur my board an' keep," put in Jimmy. "I ain't no beggar, an' biz'ness is biz'ness, even with Ladies' Aiders, I'm thinkin'." He hesitated, then added: "An' I s'pose I better stay where I be fur a spell yet--till you hear."
"Of course," nodded Pollyanna emphatically. "Then I'll know just where to find you. And they'll take you--I'm sure you're far enough away for that. Didn't Aunt Polly take--Say!" she broke off, suddenly, "Do you suppose I was Aunt Polly's little girl from India?"
"Well, if you ain't the queerest kid," grinned Jimmy, as he turned away.
It was about a week after the accident in Pendleton Woods that Pollyanna said to her aunt one morning:
"Aunt Polly, please would you mind very much if I took Mrs. Snow's calf's-foot jelly this week to some one else? I'm sure Mrs. Snow wouldn't--this once."
"Dear me, Pollyanna, what are you up to now? sighed her aunt. "You are the most extraordinary child!"
Pollyanna frowned a little anxiously.
"Aunt Polly, please, what is extraordinary? If you're extraordinary you can't be ordinary, can you?"
"You certainly can not."
"Oh, that's all right, then. I'm glad I'm extraordinary," sighed Pollyanna, her face clearing. "You see, Mrs. White used to say Mrs. Rawson was a very ordinary woman--and she disliked Mrs. Rawson something awful. They were always fight--I mean, father had--that is, I mean, we had more trouble keeping peace between them than we did between any of the rest of the Aiders," corrected Pollyanna, a little breathless from her efforts to steer between the Scylla of her father's past commands in regard to speaking of church quarrels, and the Charybdis of her aunt's present commands in regard to speaking of her father.
"Yes, yes; well, never mind," interposed Aunt Polly, a trifle impatiently. "You do run on so, Pollyanna, and no matter what we're talking about you always bring up at those Ladies' Aiders!"
"Yes'm," smiled Pollyanna, cheerfully, "I reckon I do, maybe. But you see they used to bring me up, and--"
"That will do, Pollyanna," interrupted a cold voice. "Now what is it about this jelly?"
"Nothing, Aunt Polly, truly, that you would mind, I'm sure. You let me take jelly to her, so I thought you would to him--this once. You see, broken legs aren't like--like lifelong invalids, so his won't last forever as Mrs. Snow's does, and she can have all the rest of the things after just once or twice."
" 'Him'? 'He'? 'Broken leg'? What are you talking about, Pollyanna?"
Pollyanna stared; then her face relaxed.
"Oh, I forgot. I reckon you didn't know. You see, it happened while you were gone. It was the very day you went that I found him in the woods, you know; and I had to unlock his house and telephone for the men and the doctor, and hold his head, and everything. And of course then I came away and haven't seen him since. But when Nancy made the jelly for Mrs. Snow this week I thought how nice it would be if I could take it to him instead of her, just this once. Aunt Polly, may I?"
"Yes, yes, I suppose so," acquiesced Miss Polly, a little wearily. "Who did you say he was?"
"The Man. I mean, Mr. John Pendleton."
Miss Polly almost sprang from her chair.
"Yes. Nancy told me his name. Maybe you know him."
Miss Polly did not answer this. Instead she asked:
"Do you know him?
"Oh, yes. He always speaks and smiles--now. He's only cross outside, you know. I'll go and get the jelly. Nancy had it 'most fixed when I came in," finished Pollyanna, already halfway across the room.
"Pollyanna, wait! Miss Polly's voice was suddenly very stern. I've changed my mind. I would prefer that Mrs. Snow had that jelly to-day--as usual. That is all. You may go now."
Pollyanna's face fell.
"Oh, but Aunt Polly, hers will last. She can always be sick and have things, you know; but his is just a broken leg, and legs don't last--I mean, broken ones. He's had it a whole week now."
"Yes, I remember. I heard Mr. John Pendleton had met with an accident," said Miss Polly, a little stiffly; "but--I do not care to be sending jelly to John Pendleton, Pollyanna."
"I know, he is cross--outside," admitted Pollyanna, sadly, "so I suppose you don't like him. But I wouldn't say 'twas you sent it. I'd say 'twas me. I like him. I'd be glad to send him jelly."
Miss Polly began to shake her head again. Then, suddenly, she stopped, and asked in a curiously quiet voice:
"Does he know who you--are, Pollyanna?"
The little girl sighed.
"I reckon not. I told him my name, once, but he never calls me it--never."
"Does he know where you--live?"
"Oh, no. I never told him that."
"Then he doesn't know you're my--niece?"
"I don't think so."
For a moment there was silence. Miss Polly was looking at Pollyanna with eyes that did not seem to see her at all. The little girl, shifting impatiently from one small foot to the other, sighed audibly. Then Miss Polly roused herself with a start.
"Very well, Pollyanna," she said at last , still in that queer voice, so unlike her own; "you may you may take the jelly to Mr. Pendleton as your own gift. But understand: I do not send it. Be very sure that he does not think I do!"
"Yes'm--no'm--thank you, Aunt Polly," exulted Pollyanna, as she flew through the door.