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


“Father,” Polly began thoughtfully, “I’ve been thinking you remember I told you about our walk the other day and how tired Miss Nita and some of the other ladies were before I even thought of such a thing ” Polly stopped questioningly.

“I remember,” smiled Dr. Dudley.

“So don’t you think it would be nice until they grow stronger, you know for them to ride instead of walk?”

“Very nice, indeed. Do you want me to take them?”

“I wish you could,” laughed Polly, “but I know you don’t have time. I happened to think, though, why couldn’t we have the car some morning, while you are busy in the hospital? Evan could drive for us.”

“A very good plan,” the Doctor nodded musingly. “You wish to go with them, I take it.”

“Yes, I think I’d better. I know, one more could go if I didn’t; but I guess they’d be more lively with me along than if they went with just Evan.”

“If I were going I should certainly want you, too,” twinkled the doctor.

“Oh, dear! We don’t have as many good rides together as we used to, do we?” Polly bent down from the arm of Dr. Dudley’s chair where she was sitting and cuddled her cheek against his.

“No,” he replied, “we’ll have to borrow an hour some day and run away.”

“Wouldn’t that be fun! Oh, let’s!”

“I think we’ll do it, then I can get re-acquainted with you.”

Polly chuckled. “As if you didn’t know me clear through, from head-top to toe-tip!”

“I feel quite like a stranger lately. I come in here and ask, ‘Where’s Polly?’ and your mother says, ‘She is over at the Home,’ or, ‘She’s gone to walk with Miss Sterling.’ When I see Miss Sterling I shall tell her what I think of it.”

“You might tell me,” suggested Polly demurely, “and then I can repeat it to Miss Nita.”

“I prefer to say my say to her,” the Doctor replied with no hint of a smile. “You might not say it strong enough.”

A wee chuckle escaped Polly. “What are you going to tell her?” she coaxed.

“That she can’t have my girl so much without paying for her.”

“Oh,” laughed Polly. “Miss Nita doesn’t have any money.”

“It would be of no use in this case. Do you suppose you can be paid for in money?”

“Oh, you dearest, funniest man! I wish you could see Miss Nita more you wouldn’t wonder I like to go there. She is so lovable.”

“I do not doubt it. How is she now better?”

“Ever so much better! She doesn’t say anything lately about wanting to die. I wish she had nice things to eat I don’t see how she stands sour bread and so much corned beef and mackerel and sausages.”

Doctor Dudley shook his head musingly. “It is too bad a magnificent building, and wretched household management.”

“I wonder why they keep Miss Sniffen,” Polly said.

“Probably she is agreeable to the trustees, and nobody calls their attention to anything wrong.”

“Yes, I’ve seen her when some of the officers came. She is as smiley as a goose! I hate her smile; it looks as if she didn’t mean it.”

“She is evidently not the woman for the place. I am sorry.” The Doctor glanced at his watch and rose abruptly.

“Got to go?”

“I ought to have gone earlier.”

“Oh, dear! I wish other folks didn’t need you all the time!” mourned Polly.

He stepped back and kissed her. “That is the penalty of more money,” he smiled.

“More fame, you mean!” she retorted and heard a little chuckle as he passed out the door.

Polly did not plan long without acting, and within an hour she was on her long walk to Colonel Gresham’s, to talk over her scheme with Leonora and David.

She found Mrs. Gresham just starting to meet a train.

“I’m so sorry I can’t stay,” she told Polly, “and Leonora and David are not at home! But the Colonel is out in the stable. He will be delighted to see you. I’ll call him.” She turned to a bell button.

“Oh, no, please!” interrupted Polly. “I’d rather go there. I haven’t seen Lone Star for an age!”

“You’ll find them chatting together, as usual,” laughed the little lady, and Polly skipped off as soon as Mrs. Gresham had driven away.

“Good afternoon, Miss Dudley.” The Colonel extended his hand.

“Seems to me you’re pretty formal,” smiled Polly.

Colonel Gresham laughed, a gentle, mellow laugh, quite in harmony with the happy-lined face and the graying hair.

“I wish I had a chair to offer you,” he said, looking about him, as if expecting one to pop into sight. “I suppose I’m indebted to David and Leonora for this visit.”

“No, Colonel Gresham, I came to see you especially this time. I was going to ask them what they thought of a little plan I have; but they are not necessary and you are!”

“Ah! a plan? I wait on your pleasure!” The Colonel bowed with mock gravity.

“Thank you!” chuckled Polly. “Perhaps you won’t when you know about it. But I want to see Lone Star first oh, he’s just as beautiful as he ever was!” She patted the neck of the handsome creature and stroked his nose.

The horse whinnied at the attention and eyed her with seeming delight.

“I believe he remembers me, and I haven’t spoken to him for oh, how long is it?”

“My memory cannot extend so far.” Colonel Gresham was evidently in a whimsical humor this afternoon.

Lone Star was made happy with more caresses and a full measure of oats, and then the Colonel and Polly walked slowly up to the house.

“When Polly unfolded her plan in regard to the Home ladies Colonel Gresham’s face lighted with interest.

“You can have two of my cars,” he said, “on one condition no, two that I may drive the big one and that you will sit on the front seat beside me.”

“Oh, it won’t be a bit hard for me to say yes to that!” Polly smiled. “I should like it! Let me see, five and four are nine, and four makes thirteen why, they can all go or all that are well enough! Won’t that be lovely!”

“‘Lovelicious,’ I think!” The Colonel looked demurely down at Polly.

“How much I used to say that!” Polly laughed. “Well, I truly think this will be three cars! Won’t they be surprised! But we must squeeze in Leonora and David somewhere! Probably the ladies wouldn’t all care to go, anyway. You are so good to let them have the cars I never thought of two or that you could go with us! I can’t thank you half enough!”

Before Polly went home a ride was arranged for the next morning, and her heart skipped joyfully all the long way, thinking how happy Miss Nita and the rest would be.

Directly after luncheon she ran over to the Home.

“You look glad about something,” Miss Sterling told her.

“You will be when you know,” chuckled Polly. “What do you think! you’re going to ride with Colonel Gresham to-morrow morning!”

“With Colonel Gresham! He hasn’t invited me!” Miss Sterling’s knitting dropped into her lap.

“I have or I’m going to! Oh, it will be lovely!” Polly’s brown eyes shone. “Colonel Gresham is going to let us have his two biggest cars, and he will drive the seven-passenger one. Then father says we may have ours with Evan to drive, and we’re going to take as many of the ladies as we can and have a beautiful ride! What do you think of that?”

“It’s overwhelming! Catch me if I drop!” The gray-blue eyes were dancing.

Polly squeezed her ecstatically. “I want you in the car with me, and now let’s see how many can go and which ones to ask.”

It was a pleasant task, though really a little puzzling, for there were sixteen ladies of the Home, and only ten or eleven were to be counted among the weaklings. Nobody must be offended and nobody must feel hurt. So with David and Leonora, it was a hard matter, after all, to decide on the invitation list. Miss Sterling, however, was a wonderful assistant. Polly was sure she could never have disposed things so happily if it had not been for her wise Miss Nita.