JIMMY TAKES THE HELM
"It's Jimmy Bean. He wants ter see ye, ma'am," announced Nancy in the doorway.
"Me?" rejoined Miss Polly, plainly surprised. "Are you sure he did not mean Miss Pollyanna? He may see her a few minutes to-day, if he likes."
"Yes'm. I told him. But he said it was you he wanted."
"Very well, I'll come down." And Miss Polly arose from her chair a little wearily.
In the sitting room she found waiting for her a round-eyed, flushed-faced boy, who began to speak at once.
"Ma'am, I s'pose it's dreadful—what I'm doin', an' what I'm sayin'; but I can't help it. It's for Pollyanna, and I'd walk over hot coals for her, or face you, or—or anythin' like that, any time. An' I think you would, too, if you thought there was a chance for her ter walk again. An' so that's why I come ter tell ye that as long as it's only pride an' et—et-somethin' that's keepin' Pollyanna from walkin', why I knew you would ask Dr. Chilton here if you understood—"
"Wh-at?" interrupted Miss Polly, the look of stupefaction on her face changing to one of angry indignation.
Jimmy sighed despairingly.
"There, I didn't mean ter make ye mad. That's why I begun by tellin' ye about her walkin' again. I thought you'd listen ter that."
"Jimmy, what are you talking about?"
Jimmy sighed again.
"That's what I'm tryin' ter tell ye."
"Well, then tell me. But begin at the beginning, and be sure I understand each thing as you go. Don't plunge into the middle of it as you did before—and mix everything all up!"
Jimmy wet his lips determinedly.
"Well, ter begin with, Dr. Chilton come ter see Mr. Pendleton, an' they talked in the library. Do you understand that?"
"Yes, Jimmy." Miss Polly's voice was rather faint.
"Well, the window was open, and I was weedin' the flower-bed under it; an' I heard 'em talk."
"Oh, Jimmy! Listening?"
"'Twa'n't about me, an' 'twa'n't sneak listenin'," bridled Jimmy. "And I'm glad I listened. You will be when I tell ye. Why, it may make Pollyanna—walk!"
"Jimmy, what do you mean?" Miss Polly was leaning forward eagerly.
"There, I told ye so," nodded Jimmy, contentedly. "Well, Dr. Chilton knows some doctor somewhere that can cure Pollyanna, he thinks—make her walk, ye know; but he can't tell sure till he sees her. And he wants ter see her somethin' awful, but he told Mr. Pendleton that you wouldn't let him."
Miss Polly's face turned very red.
"But, Jimmy, I—I can't—I couldn't! That is, I didn't know!" Miss Polly was twisting her fingers together helplessly.
"Yes, an' that's what I come ter tell ye, so you would know," asserted Jimmy, eagerly. "They said that for some reason—I didn't rightly catch what—you wouldn't let Dr. Chilton come, an' you told Dr. Warren so; an' Dr. Chilton couldn't come himself, without you asked him, on account of pride an' professional et—et—well, et-somethin', anyway. An' they was wishin' somebody could make you understand, only they didn't know who could; an' I was outside the winder, an' I says ter myself right away, 'By Jinks, I'll do it!' An' I come—an' have I made ye understand?"
"Yes; but Jimmy, about that doctor," implored Miss Polly, feverishly. "Who was he? What did he do? Are they sure he could make Pollyanna walk?"
"I don't know who he was. They didn't say. Dr. Chilton knows him, an' he's just cured somebody just like her, Dr. Chilton thinks. Anyhow, they didn't seem ter be doin' no worryin' about him. 'Twas you they was worryin' about, 'cause you wouldn't let Dr. Chilton see her. An' say—you will let him come, won't you?—now you understand?"
Miss Polly turned her head from side to side. Her breath was coming in little uneven, rapid gasps. Jimmy, watching her with anxious eyes, thought she was going to cry. But she did not cry. After a minute she said brokenly:
"Yes—I'll let—Dr. Chilton—see her. Now run home, Jimmy—quick! I've got to speak to Dr. Warren. He's up-stairs now. I saw him drive in a few minutes ago."
A little later Dr. Warren was surprised to meet an agitated, flushed-faced Miss Polly in the hall. He was still more surprised to hear the lady say, a little breathlessly:
"Dr. Warren, you asked me once to allow Dr. Chilton to be called in consultation, and—I refused. Since then I have reconsidered. I very much desire that you should call in Dr. Chilton. Will you not ask him at once—please? Thank you."