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


“You’re a great deal better, aren’t you, Miss Nita?” Polly was saying.

Miss Sterling gave a smiling nod across the bed. She and Polly were putting on the covers.

“I think you’ve been growing stronger since the picnic. Maybe it was the outdoors. Father says there’s nothing like it for nerves. I wish we could have another, now your ankle is all well; but it is too late for to-day. Why can’t we go to walk, you and Mrs. Adlerfeld and Mrs. Albright and I? I know a lovely road out Brookside Avenue way.”

“Well,” agreed Miss Sterling, “if it isn’t too far. I feel equal to a good deal this morning.”

“Oh, that’s jolly! We needn’t go any farther than we choose, you know. I’ll bring a lunch, so it will seem like a little picnic things taste so much better out of doors. Isn’t it lovely that you are stronger! Did you tell Mr. Randolph that you’re better?”

“Why, no, dear, of course not! It was just a note of thanks.”

“What if it was! You could have said that! He’ll want to know!”

“I think he’ll be able to survive the omission.” Miss Sterling patted the pillow into shape and smiled over it.

“Oh, I saw him yesterday!” Polly broke out. “I forgot to tell you!”

The other waited, an expectant smile fluttering about her pretty lips.

“Blanche Puddicombe was riding with him. He had his roadster. I don’t see what he takes her around so much for. She isn’t a bit pretty.”

“Probably she is agreeable.” Miss Sterling laid down the blanket she had folded and crossed the room.

“I don’t see how she can be with such a mother,” Polly went on. “She fusses herself up a good deal the same way. She hasn’t a mite of taste. I saw her downtown shopping the other day with a sport skirt, very wide scarlet stripes, and a dress hat trimmed with a single pink rose the most delicate pink and a light blue feather! Oh, yes, and a crepe-de-chine waist of pale green!”

An amused chuckle sounded from the window, where Miss Sterling was straightening the curtains.

“You ought to have seen her! Her hair is black as my shoe, and she wears it waved right down over her ears you wouldn’t know she had any ears! Queer, Mr. Randolph should want her riding round with him so much! You’d think he would have more sense, wouldn’t you?”

“She has money and youth!” was the emphasized reply, in a cold, hard tone. “Money and youth make everything harmonize even sport skirts and dress hats!”

“She doesn’t begin to look as young as you do. She looks more than thirty, and you don’t!”

“Polly Dudley!”

“Father says so, anyway!”

“I thank your father for the nattering compliment; but I think he must be needing glasses.”

“No, he doesn’t need glasses!” retorted Polly. “His eyes are first-rate. Dear me! Is it eleven o’clock? I must go home! Let’s start early by two, can you?”

“Oh, I don’t believe I’ll go this afternoon!” The voice sounded weary.

“Why, Miss Nita! you said you would!”

“I know, but I wasn’t tired then. I guess I’ll have to put it off a day or two.”

“You haven’t done anything to tire you! You’ll never get well if you don’t go more!” cried Polly plaintively. “And we won’t go a step farther than you like. We needn’t ask anybody else, if you’d rather not we can go all by ourselves.” Polly waited anxiously.

Miss Sterling shook her head with a little sigh. “You go with the others to-day. I don’t feel as if I could.”

Polly finally went off, her face downcast. Coaxings had availed nothing.