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


“Oh, here you are!” cried Polly from the doorway, just beyond Mrs. Bonnyman.

“Been looking for me?” Miss Sterling smiled,

“Everywhere!” Polly dropped beside her friend. “No, Mrs. Bonnyman, don’t get a chair for me! I like this! Besides, I’m not going to stay. It’s too lovely outside to be cooped up in the house. Why can’t we all go to walk?”

“Oh, that’s the ticket!” Miss Crilly jumped up. “I’ll have to change my togs first will you wait for me?”

Polly nodded and smiled, as Miss Crilly skipped off.

“Will you all go?”

Miss Sterling rose.

“You will, Miss Nita?” Polly clung to her hand.

“Yes, but not with this dress on.”

“I bid many thanks to you,” said Mrs. Adlerfeld quaintly; “I shall like to go very.” Having made sure of the others, Polly ran off to make her invitation general, stopping at various doors on her way downstairs.

“Shall we go two by two, like a boarding-school?” giggled Miss Crilly, as the little party left the Home grounds.

“Let’s go any old way!” Then, glancing beyond Miss Crilly, Polly gave a glad cry, “David and Leonora!” and flew to meet the two who were just at the hospital entrance.

“Will you come to walk with us?” she invited, “Or I’ll stay if you’d rather.”

They declared that they would much prefer the walk, and Polly was soon making the introductions where they were needed. Many of the ladies were well acquainted with Polly’s friends.

David at once appropriated his old-time chum, and Leonora skipped over to Miss Sterling.

“Ther’ ’s so many of us we ought to march abreast, clear across the street, as they do in processions!” Miss Crilly was in high spirits..

The road Polly had chosen led through an avenue of old elms and thence out into the wide country. Past the city milepost, not far distant from the Home, a little brook purled along, overswept by willows.

“Isn’t this beautiful!” cried Miss Major. “And here are raspberries oh!”

The party broke ranks and scattered among the bushes, eager for the fruit that was just in its prime.

“Do you suppose they belong to anybody?” queried Mrs. Prindle, a bit anxiously.

“If they do they don’t love ’em a whole lot,” Miss Crilly returned. “See those! They are so ripe they almost fall to pieces lookin’ at ’em! But they’re sweet as sugar!” She plumped them into her mouth.

Soon they strolled forward by two’s and three’s, but long before the young folks and a few others had begun to be tired, several were lagging behind. Miss Twining among them.

“Are you coming back this way, Polly?” she called.

“Why, I thought we wouldn’t. What’s the matter?”

“Used up,” she smiled.

“Oh, I’m so sorry! I’ve gone too far, haven’t I? You sit down somewhere and rest, and I’ll stay with you. The others can go on, if they like.”

“Guess I’ll wait, too.” Miss Sterling dropped wearily to the grass.

Mrs. Adlerfeld, Miss Lily, Mrs. Albright, and Miss Castlevaine lined themselves beside her.

“I don’t know what possessed me to come on such a long walk!” fretted Miss Castlevaine.

“Why, I never thought that anybody could be tired!” said Polly contritely. “Why didn’t you speak sooner?”

“Oh, we’ll be all right by the time you get back!” laughed Mrs. Albright. “Now run along, every one of you! Shoo! Shoo!” She waved her skirts toward them.

It took a good deal of urging, however, to induce Polly to leave Miss Sterling. Finally she ran off with David, calling back that she wouldn’t be gone long.

The afternoon slipped away, and the air grew cooler. The exhausted ones gathered strength and now and then rambled about a little, wondering why the others did not return. They watched longingly the point of road where the party had disappeared, even Miss Lily peered vainly into the empty distance.

Miss Castlevaine looked at her watch for the twentieth time. “It is a quarter past five!” she frowned. “Where can they be!”

“We may as well sit down while we wait,” laughed Mrs. Albright. “Wandering round in a circle won’t bring them any quicker.” She lowered herself plumply beside Miss Sterling.

“Now don’t you go to worrying!” she said. “They haven’t been eaten up by bears or carried off by hawks. Probably they are having so good a time they have forgotten to come back.”

The sun dropped lower and lower. The wayside shadows thickened. A robin on the top-most branch of a locust sang a solo.

“There they are!” cried Miss Castlevaine.

The others looked eagerly down the road.

The thud of hoofs came out of the hush.

“Oh, it’s only a team!” was the disappointed contradiction. “I saw the dust and thought they were coming.”

The buggy whirled up, the driver lifted his hat with a smiling bow and was gone.

“Mr. Randolph and Miss Puddicombe!” commented Miss Castlevaine. “Who was he bowing to? Not me!”

“I have met him,” responded Mrs. Albright.

“Oh! Maybe it was you, then. But he was looking at Miss Sterling!”

“She knows him, too, and so does Mrs. Adlerfeld.”

“Oh!” repeated Miss Castlevaine. “I see him riding with that Miss Puddicombe a good deal lately. Guess she’s trying to catch him.”

“They are coming now for certain!” exclaimed Mrs. Albright.

Away in the distance the returning party could be discerned. Soon there was a waving of eager hands. The forward ones started on a race.

“It’s Miss Crilly and the children!” Mrs. Albright laughed. “Isn’t she game!”

Polly and David were ahead.

“Are you tired out waiting?” called Polly.

“Have you been to Buckline?” twinkled Mrs. Albright.

“Almost!” answered David.

“We’ve had such a time!” laughed Polly.

“Time!” burst in Miss Crilly. “We’d been goners, sure, if we hadn’t jumped like fleas! My! You oughter seen Miss Mullaly if she didn’t go hand-springin’ over that wall!”

“But what was it?” cried Mrs. Albright.

“A cow!” “An ugly old cow!” “She went bellowin’ like Sancho Panza set loose!”

“Did she chase you? What did you do?”

“She was coming for us, and we jumped over the wall! We were on our way home,” explained Polly.

“And David wanted to go and drive her off, so we could get by,” put in Leonora; “but I held on to him!”

“I could have done it as well as that man,” insisted David, looking somewhat disgusted at the lack of faith in his ability.

“He ’most got away from us!” laughed Miss Crilly. “We all had to grab him!”

“Did the cow’s owner come?” Miss Castlevaine queried.

“We don’t know who it was,” answered Polly. “We were hiding behind some bushes the other side of the wall.”

“Such a combobbery as that cow cut up! My! I thought she’d knock the man into slivers!” said Miss Crilly.

“But she didn’t!” observed David.

“No,” said Polly, “he drove her off finally.”

“And we beat it!” giggled Miss Crilly.

“We thought you would wonder what had become of us,” smiled Leonora.

“We did,” agreed Mrs. Albright, “and somebody else will be wondering that same thing, if we don’t march home about as fast as we can!”

Polly’s cool and charming sweetness was all that saved the party from Miss Sniffen’s very apparent displeasure, the tardy ones agreed. Supper had been served at least five minutes before they filed into the dining-room; but their astonishing appetites, which gave a relish even to soggy corncake and watery tea, almost counterbalanced any fears for their future walks with Polly.

Juanita Sterling sat down wearily in her own room. “I wish I had stayed at home!” she sighed.