Pollyanna

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CHAPTER1

I. MISS POLLY Miss Polly Harrington entered h er kitchen a little hurriedly this June mor ning. Miss Polly did not usually make hurried movements; she specially prided herself on her repose of manner. But to-day she was hurrying? actually hurrying. Nancy, washing dishes at the sink, looked up in surprise. Na ncy had been working in Miss Polly ?s kitchen only two months, but already she knew that he r mistress did not usually hurry. ?Nancy!? ?Yes, ma?am.? Nancy answered cheerfully, but she still continued wiping the pitcher in her hand. ?Nancy,??Miss Polly?s voice was very stern now? ?when I?m talking to you, I wish you to stop your work and listen to what I have to say.? Nancy flushed miserably. She set the pitcher down at once, with the cloth still about it, thereby n early tipping it over?which did not add to her co mposure. ?Yes, ma?am; I will, ma?am,? she stammered, ri ghting the pitcher, and turning hastily. ?I was only keepin? on 3 of 294 Pollyann a with my work ?cause y ou specially told me this mornin? ter hurry with my dishes, ye know.? Her mistress frowned. ?That will d o, Nancy. I did not ask for explanations. I asked for your attention. ? ?Yes, ma?am.? Nancy stifled a sigh. She was wondering if ever in a ny way she could please this woman. Nancy had never ?worked out? before; but a sick mother suddenly widowed and left with three younger children besides Nancy herself, had force d the girl into doing something toward their support, and she had been so pleased when she found a place in the kitch en of the great house on the hill?Nancy had come from ?T he Corners,? six miles away, and she knew Miss Polly Harrington only as the mistress of the old Harrington home stead, and one of the wealthiest r esidents of the town. That wa s tw o mon ths before. She knew Miss Polly now as a stern, se vere-faced woman who frowned if a knife clatte red to the floor, or if a door banged?but who never thought to smile even when knives and doors were still. ?When you?ve finished your morning work, Nancy,? Miss Polly was saying n ow, ?you may clear the little room at the head of the stairs in the attic, and make up the cot 4 of 294 Pollyann a bed. Sweep the room and clean it, of course, after you clear out the trunks and boxes.? ?Yes, ma?am. And where shall I put the things, please, that I take out?? ?In the front attic.? Miss Polly hesitated, then went on: ?I suppose I may as well tell you now, Nancy. My niece, Miss Pollyanna Whittier, is coming to live with me. She is eleven years old, and will sleep in that room.? ?A little girl?coming here, Miss Harrington? Oh, won?t that b e nice!? cried Nancy, thi nking of the sunshine her own little sisters made in the ho me at ?The Corners.? ?Nice? Well, that isn? t exactly the word I should use,? rejoined Miss Polly, stiffly. ?However, I intend to make the best of it, of co urse. I am a good woman, I hope; and I know my duty.? Nancy colored hotly. ?Of course, ma?am; it w as only that I thought a little girl here might?might bright en things up for you,? she faltered. ?Thank you,? rejoined the lady, d ryly. ?I can?t say, however, th at I see any immediate need for that.? ?But, of course, you?you?d want her, your sister?s child,? ventured Nancy, vaguely feeling that somehow she must prepare a welcome for this lonely little stranger. 5 of 294 Pollyann a Miss Polly lifted her chin haughtily. ?Well, really, Nancy, just because I happened to have a sister who was silly enough to marry and bring unnecessary children into a world that was already quite full enough, I can?t see how I should particularly WANT to have the care of th em myself. However, as I sai d before, I hope I know my du ty. See that you clean the corners, Na ncy,? she finished sharply, as she left the room. ?Yes, ma?am,? sighed Nancy, picking up the half-dried pitcher?no w so cold it must be rinsed again. In her own room, Mi ss Polly took o ut on ce mor e the letter which she had received two days before from the far-away Western town, and which had been so unpleasant a surprise to her. The letter was addressed to Miss Polly Harrington, Beldingsville, Vermont; and it read as follows: ?Dear Madam:?I regret to inform you that the Rev. John W hitti er died two weeks ago, leaving one child, a girl eleven years old. He left practically nothing else save a few books; for, as you d oubtless know, he was the pastor of this small mission chur ch, and had a very meagre salary. ?I believe he was your dece ased siste r?s husba nd, but he gave me to understand the families were not on the best of terms. He thought, howe ver, that for your sister?s sake you 6 of 294 Pollyann a might wish to take the child and br ing her up among her own people in the East. Hence I am writing to you. ?The little girl will be all ready to start by the time you get this letter; and if you can take her, we would appreciate it very much if you woul d write that she might come at once, as there is a man and his wife here who are going East v ery soon, and they would take her with them to Boston, and put he r on the Beldingsville train. Of course you would be notified w hat d ay and train to expect Pollyanna on. Pollyanna ?Hoping to hear favorably from you soon, I remain, ?Respectfully yours, ?Jeremiah O. W hite.? With a frown Miss Polly folded the letter and tucked it into its envelope. She ha d answered i t the day before, and she had said she would take the child, of course. She HOPED she knew her duty well enough for that!? disagreeable as the task would be. As she sat now, with the le tter in her hand s, her thoughts we nt back to her sister, Jennie, who had been this child?s mother, and to the time when Jennie, as a girl of twenty, had insi sted upon marrying the young minister, in spite of her family?s remon strances. There had been a man of weal th who had wanted her?and the family had much preferred him to the minister; but Jennie had not. 7 of 294 Pollyann a The man of wealth had more years, as well as more money, to his credit, while the minister had only a young head full of youth?s ideals and enthusiasm, and a heart full of love. Jennie had preferred these?quite naturally, perhaps; so she had married the minister, and had gone south with him as a home missionary?s wife. The break had come then. Miss Polly remembered it well, though she had been but a girl of fifteen, the youngest, at the ti me. The family had had littl e more to do with the missionary?s wife. To be sure, Jennie herself had written, for a time , and had named her last baby ?Pollyanna? for her two sisters, Polly and Anna? the other babies had all died. This had b een th e last time that Jennie had written; and in a few years there had come the news of her death, told in a short, but heart-broken little note from the minister himself, date d at a little town in the West. Meanwhile, time had not stood still for the occupants of the great house on the hill. Miss Polly, looking out at the far-reaching valley below, thought of the changes those twenty -five years had brought to her. She was forty now, and quite alone in the world. Father, mother, sisters?all were d ead. For years, now, she had been sole mistress of the house and of the thousand s 8 of 294 Pollyann a left her by her father. There were p eople who had openly pitied her lonely life, and who had urged her to have some friend or companion to live with her; but she had not welcomed either their sympathy or their advice. She was not lonely, she said. She like d being by herself. She preferred quiet. But now? Miss Polly rose with fr owni ng face and closel y-shut lips. She was glad, of course, that she was a good woman, and that she not only k new her duty, but had sufficient strength of character to perform it. But? POLLYANNA!?what a ridiculous name! 9 of 294 Pollyann a
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