Chapter IX. Plans and Plottings
 

On the way home Pollyanna made joyous plans. To-morrow, in some way or other, Mrs. Carew must be persuaded to go with her for a walk in the Public Garden. Just how this was to be brought about Pollyanna did not know; but brought about it must be.

To tell Mrs. Carew plainly that she had found Jamie, and wanted her to go to see him, was out of the question. There was, of course, a bare chance that this might not be her Jamie; and if it were not, and if she had thus raised in Mrs. Carew false hopes, the result might be disastrous. Pollyanna knew, from what Mary had told her, that twice already Mrs. Carew had been made very ill by the great disappointment of following alluring clues that had led to some boy very different from her dead sister's son. So Pollyanna knew that she could not tell Mrs. Carew why she wanted her to go to walk to-morrow in the Public Garden. But there would be a way, declared Pollyanna to herself as she happily hurried homeward.

Fate, however, as it happened, once more intervened in the shape of a heavy rainstorm; and Pollyanna did not have to more than look out of doors the next morning to realize that there would be no Public Garden stroll that day. Worse yet, neither the next day nor the next saw the clouds dispelled; and Pollyanna spent all three afternoons wandering from window to window, peering up into the sky, and anxiously demanding of every one: "don't you think it looks a little like clearing up?"

So unusual was this behavior on the part of the cheery little girl, and so irritating was the constant questioning, that at last Mrs. Carew lost her patience.

"For pity's sake, child, what is the trouble?" she cried. "I never knew you to fret so about the weather. Where's that wonderful glad game of yours to-day?"

Pollyanna reddened and looked abashed.

"Dear me, I reckon maybe I did forget the game this time," she admitted. "And of course there is something about it I can be glad for, if I'll only hunt for it. I can be glad that--that it will have to stop raining sometime 'cause God said he wouldn't send another flood. But you see, I did so want it to be pleasant to-day."

"Why, especially?"

"Oh, I--I just wanted to go to walk in the Public Garden." Pollyanna was trying hard to speak unconcernedly. "I--I thought maybe you'd like to go with me, too." Outwardly Pollyanna was nonchalance itself. Inwardly, however, she was aquiver with excitement and suspense.

"I go to walk in the Public Garden?" queried Mrs. Carew, with brows slightly uplifted. "Thank you, no, I'm afraid not," she smiled.

"Oh, but you--you wouldn't refuse!" faltered Pollyanna, in quick panic.

"I have refused."

Pollyanna swallowed convulsively. She had grown really pale.

"But, Mrs. Carew, please, please don't say you won't go, when it gets pleasant," she begged. "You see, for a--a special reason I wanted you to go--with me--just this once."

Mrs. Carew frowned. She opened her lips to make the "no" more decisive; but something in Pollyanna's pleading eyes must have changed the words, for when they came they were a reluctant acquiescence.

"Well, well, child, have your own way. But if I promise to go, you must promise not to go near the window for an hour, and not to ask again to-day if I think it's going to clear up."

"Yes'm, I will--I mean, I won't," palpitated Pollyanna. Then, as a pale shaft of light that was almost a sunbeam, came aslant through the window, she cried joyously: "But you do think it is going to--Oh!" she broke off in dismay, and ran from the room.

Unmistakably it "cleared up" the next morning. But, though the sun shone brightly, there was a sharp chill in the air, and by afternoon, when Pollyanna came home from school, there was a brisk wind. In spite of protests, however, she insisted that it was a beautiful day out, and that she should be perfectly miserable if Mrs. Carew would not come for a walk in the Public Garden. And Mrs. Carew went, though still protesting.

As might have been expected, it was a fruitless journey. Together the impatient woman and the anxious-eyed little girl hurried shiveringly up one path and down another. (Pollyanna, not finding the boy in his accustomed place, was making frantic search in every nook and corner of the Garden. To Pollyanna it seemed that she could not have it so. Here she was in the Garden, and here with her was Mrs. Carew; but not anywhere to be found was Jamie--and yet not one word could she say to Mrs. Carew.) At last, thoroughly chilled and exasperated, Mrs. Carew insisted on going home; and despairingly Pollyanna went.

Sorry days came to Pollyanna then. What to her was perilously near a second deluge--but according to Mrs. Carew was merely "the usual fall rains"--brought a series of damp, foggy, cold, cheerless days, filled with either a dreary drizzle of rain, or, worse yet, a steady downpour. If perchance occasionally there came a day of sunshine, Pollyanna always flew to the Garden; but in vain. Jamie was never there. It was the middle of November now, and even the Garden itself was full of dreariness. The trees were bare, the benches almost empty, and not one boat was on the little pond. True, the squirrels and pigeons were there, and the sparrows were as pert as ever, but to feed them was almost more of a sorrow than a joy, for every saucy switch of Sir Lancelot's feathery tail but brought bitter memories of the lad who had given him his name--and who was not there.

"And to think I didn't find out where he lived!" mourned Pollyanna to herself over and over again, as the days passed. "And he was Jamie--I just know he was Jamie. And now I'll have to wait and wait till spring comes, and it's warm enough for him to come here again. And then, maybe, I sha'n't be coming here by that time. O dear, O dear--and he was Jamie, I know he was Jamie!"

Then, one dreary afternoon, the unexpected happened. Pollyanna, passing through the upper hallway heard angry voices in the hall below, one of which she recognized as being Mary's, while the other--the other--

The other voice was saying:

"Not on yer life! It's nix on the beggin' business. Do yer get me? I wants ter see the kid, Pollyanna. I got a message for her from--from Sir James. Now beat it, will ye, and trot out the kid, if ye don't mind."

With a glad little cry Pollyanna turned and fairly flew down the stairway.

"Oh, I'm here, I'm here, I'm right here!" she panted, stumbling forward. "What is it? Did Jamie send you?"

In her excitement she had almost flung herself with outstretched arms upon the boy when Mary intercepted a shocked, restraining hand.

"Miss Pollyanna, Miss Pollyanna, do you mean to say you know this--this beggar boy?"

The boy flushed angrily; but before he could speak Pollyanna interposed valiant championship.

"He isn't a beggar boy. He belongs to one of my very best friends. Besides, he's the one that found me and brought me home that time I was lost." Then to the boy she turned with impetuous questioning. "What is it? Did Jamie send you?"

"Sure he did. He hit the hay a month ago, and he hain't been up since."

"He hit--what?" puzzled Pollyanna.

"Hit the hay--went ter bed. He's sick, I mean, and he wants ter see ye. Will ye come?"

"Sick? Oh, I'm so sorry!" grieved Pollyanna. "Of course I'll come. I'll go get my hat and coat right away."

"Miss Pollyanna!" gasped Mary in stern disapproval. "As if Mrs. Carew would let you go--anywhere with a strange boy like this!"

"But he isn't a strange boy," objected Pollyanna. "I've known him ever so long, and I must go. I--"

"What in the world is the meaning of this?" demanded Mrs. Carew icily from the drawing-room doorway. "Pollyanna, who is this boy, and what is he doing here?"

Pollyanna turned with a quick cry.

"Oh, Mrs. Carew, you'll let me go, won't you?"

"Go where?"

"To see my brother, ma'am," cut in the boy hurriedly, and with an obvious effort to be very polite. "He's sort of off his feed, ye know, and he wouldn't give me no peace till I come up--after her," with an awkward gesture toward Pollyanna. "He thinks a sight an' all of her."

"I may go, mayn't I?" pleaded Pollyanna.

Mrs. Carew frowned.

"Go with this boy--you? Certainly not, Pollyanna! I wonder you are wild enough to think of it for a moment."

"Oh, but I want you to come, too," began Pollyanna.

"I? Absurd, child! That is impossible. You may give this boy here a little money, if you like, but--"

"Thank ye, ma'am, but I didn't come for money," resented the boy, his eyes flashing. "I come for--her."

"Yes, and Mrs. Carew, it's Jerry--Jerry Murphy, the boy that found me when I was lost, and brought me home," appealed Pollyanna. "Now won't you let me go?"

Mrs. Carew shook her head.

"It is out of the question, Pollyanna."

"But he says Ja-- --the other boy is sick, and wants me!"

"I can't help that."

"And I know him real well, Mrs. Carew. I do, truly. He reads books--lovely books, all full of knights and lords and ladies, and he feeds the birds and squirrels and gives 'em names, and everything. And he can't walk, and he doesn't have enough to eat, lots of days," panted Pollyanna; "and he's been playing my glad game for a year, and didn't know it. And he plays it ever and ever so much better than I do. And I've hunted and hunted for him, ever and ever so many days. Honest and truly, Mrs. Carew, I've just got to see him," almost sobbed Pollyanna. "I can't lose him again!"

An angry color flamed into Mrs. Carew's cheeks.

"Pollyanna, this is sheer nonsense. I am surprised. I am amazed at you for insisting upon doing something you know I disapprove of. I can not allow you to go with this boy. Now please let me hear no more about it."

A new expression came to Pollyanna's face. With a look half-terrified, half-exalted, she lifted her chin and squarely faced Mrs. Carew. Tremulously, but determinedly, she spoke.

"Then I'll have to tell you. I didn't mean to--till I was sure. I wanted you to see him first. But now I've got to tell. I can't lose him again. I think, Mrs. Carew, he's--Jamie."

"Jamie! Not--my--Jamie!" Mrs. Carew's face had grown very white.

"Yes."

"Impossible!"

"I know; but, please, his name is Jamie, and he doesn't know the other one. His father died when he was six years old, and he can't remember his mother. He's twelve years old, he thinks. These folks took him in when his father died, and his father was queer, and didn't tell folks his name, and--"

But Mrs. Carew had stopped her with a gesture. Mrs. Carew was even whiter than before, but her eyes burned with a sudden fire.

"We'll go at once," she said. "Mary, tell Perkins to have the car here as soon as possible. Pollyanna, get your hat and coat. Boy, wait here, please. We'll be ready to go with you immediately." The next minute she had hurried up-stairs.

In the hall the boy drew a long breath.

"Gee whiz!" he muttered softly. "If we ain't goin' ter go in a buzz-wagon! Some class ter that! Gorry! what'll Sir James say?"