Read CHAPTER II of Polly and the Princess, free online book, by Emma C. Dowd, on


When Russell Holiday and his wife named their only child June, they planned to make her life one long summer holiday. For eighteen years success went hand in hand with their desire; then an unfortunate marriage plunged the joyous girl into bleak November. She grew to hate her happy name. But with the passing of the man she called husband much of the bitterness vanished, and she began to plan for others.

“I want this Home to be as beautiful as money can make it and as full of joy as a June holiday,” she told her approving lawyer. “There must be no age limit. It shall welcome as freely the woman of forty as her mother or her grandmother. I will gather in the needy of any sect or race, the oppressed, the disabled, the sorrowful, and the lonely, and as much as can be give to them the freedom and happiness of a delightful home.”

In just one week from the day the ground was broken for the big building, a drunken chauffeur drove the donor and her lawyer to their death, and the institution was continued in a totally different way from that intended by the two who could make no protest.

To be sure, it stood at last, in gray granite magnificence, on the crest of Edgewood Hill, a palace without and within; but to those for whom it was built had never come, through the years of its being, a single June holiday.

It was this that some of the residents were discussing, as they crocheted, knitted, or embroidered in Miss Major’s room on a dull May morning.

“Too bad June Holiday couldn’t have lived just a little longer!” Mrs. Bonnyman sighed.

“What would she say if she knew how her wishes were ignored!” Miss Castlevaine shook her head.

“Regular prison house!” snapped Mrs. Crump.

“Well, I’m glad to be here if I do have to obey rules,” confessed a meek little woman with grayish, sandy hair. “It’s a lovely place, and there has to be rules where there’s so many.”

“There don’t have to be hair-crimping rules, Mrs. Prindle huh!”

As the curly-headed maker of the hated law walked across the lawn. Miss Castlevaine sent her an annihilating glance.

“Is that Miss Sniffen?” queried Miss Mullaly, adjusting her eyeglasses.

Miss Castlevaine nodded.

The others watched the tall, straight figure, on its way to the vegetable garden.

“She has the expression of a basilisk I saw the picture of the other day.” spoke up Mrs. Dick.

“What kind of an expression was that?” inquired Mrs. Winslow Teed. “I saw a stuffed basilisk in a London museum when I was abroad, but I can’t seem to recollect its expression.”

“Look at her!” laughed Mrs. Dick. “She has it to perfection.”

Miss Crilly’s giggle preceded her words.

“She’s like a beanpole with its good clothes on, ain’t she? But, then, I think Miss Sniffen is real nice sometimes,” she amended.

“So are basilisks and beanpoles in their proper places,” retorted Miss Major; “but they don’t belong in the June Holiday Home.”

“Are her rules so awful?” inquired Miss Mullaly anxiously.

“I don’t like them very,” answered the little Swedish widow.

“Mis’ Adlerfeld puts it politely.” laughed Miss Crilly. “I’ll tell you what they are, they are like the little girl in the rhyme with a difference,

’When they’re bad, they’re very, very bad,
And when they’re good, they’re horrid!’”

“I heard you couldn’t have any company except one afternoon a week,” resumed Miss Mullaly, after the laughing had ceased, “not anybody at all.”

“Sure!” returned Miss Crilly. “Wednesday afternoon, from three to five, is the only time you can entertain your best feller.”

“Why, Polly Dudley was here Thursday morning!”

“Now you’ve got me!” admitted Miss Crilly. “She’s a privileged character. She runs over any blessed minute she wants to.”

“And she brings her friends with her,” added Miss Castlevaine, “David Collins and his greataunt’s daughter, Leonora Jocelyn, Patricia Illingworth, and Chris Morrow, and that girl they call Lilith, besides the Stickney boys up in Foxford huh!”

“She must be pretty bold, when it’s against the rule,” observed Miss Mullaly.

“No,” dissented Mrs. Albright, “it isn’t boldness. Polly runs in as naturally as a kitten. The rest don’t come so very often. I shouldn’t say they’d let ’em; but they do.”

“There’s never any favoritism in the June Holiday Home never!” Mrs. Crump’s brown poplin bristled with sarcasm.

“Maybe it’s on Miss Sterling’s account,” interposed Mrs. Albright. “She thinks so much of Polly, perhaps they hope it’ll help to bring her out of this sooner.”

“Don’t you believe it!” Miss Castlevaine’s head nodded out the words with emphasis. “Dr. Dudley’s a good one to curry favor with.”

“Is Miss Sterling a relative of his?” asked Miss Mullaly.

“No. Haven’t you heard how they got acquainted? Quite a pretty little story.” Mrs. Albright settled herself comfortably in the rocker and adjusted the cushion at her back.

The others, who were familiar with the facts, moved closer together and nearer the window, both to facilitate their needles and their tongues.

“It was the day after Miss Sterling came, along in September,” the story-teller began, “and she was up in her room feeling pretty lonesome you know how it is.”

Miss Mullaly nodded with a sudden droop of her lips.

“She stood there looking out of the window toward the back of the new hospital, it was building then, and she saw a little girl climbing an apple tree. She watched her go higher and higher, after a big, bright red apple that was away up on a top branch. Miss Sterling says she went so fast that she fairly held her breath, expecting to see her slip; but she didn’t, she’s so sure-footed, and it would have been all right if she hadn’t ventured on a rotten branch. When she stepped out on that and reached up one hand to pick the apple, the branch broke, and down she went and lay in a little heap under the tree.

“Well, Miss Sterling said she felt as if she must fly right out of that window and go pick her up. But it didn’t take her many minutes to run down the stairs and out the front door she didn’t stop to ask permission and over across lots to Polly. She was in a dead faint, but in a minute she came to, and Miss Sterling ran up to the house and got Dr. Dudley and his wife, and they carried her in, and Miss Sterling went too. The Doctor couldn’t find that Polly was hurt at all, only bruised a little you see, the branches had broken her fall, and she was all around again in a few days. Miss Sterling was pretty well upset by it, so that the Doctor came home with her, and she had to go to bed, same as Polly did! It made quite a stir here.

“Ever since then Polly has run in and out, any time of day, just as I hear she does at the hospital. She’s that kind of a girl, never makes any trouble, and so nothing is said.”

“I guess I shall break lots of the rules before I know what they are.”

“You’ll learn ’em soon enough, don’t you worry! There’s a long list; but you’ll get used to ’em after a while we have to. There’s nothing like getting used to things. It’s a great help.”