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


Oh, Miss Nita! What do you think?” Polly burst into the room full of excitement. “Chris has gone!”

“Gone? Where?”

“To Australia!”

“Not alone?”

“Oh, no! His father is with him. We never knew he was coming till there he was! For a minute Chris hardly knew him! Isn’t that queer? But he didn’t look like himself. His hair is cut close to his head! What do you suppose he did it for? It isn’t becoming! But, oh, you ought to have seen Chris! He jumped right into his father’s arms and cried and cried and cried! Mr. Morrow cried, too, almost as hard as Chris! We had a pretty exciting time!”

“When was it?” put in Miss Sterling.

“This noon. Mother did finally persuade him to stay to dinner he wasn’t going to! I don’t see why he was in such a hurry to get away! Oh, I shall miss that boy awfully! He is always just so never cross or pouty, or anything. Sometimes he has been pretty blue I suppose thinking of his father and wondering why he didn’t come. It has been almost two years! It won’t seem a bit natural without Chris. I shall have to come over here and bother you more than ever.” Polly sighed a bit sorrowfully and dropped on a hassock at Miss Sterling’s feet.

“You know you couldn’t come too often, my dear.”

“I feel sometimes as if I were a nuisance,” laughed Polly. “I guess Miss Sniffen thinks so. She looks at me so queer when she meets me in the hall.”

“It is only her way. She can’t have anything against you.”

Polly shook her head doubtfully; then she smiled. “I did kind of pacify her the other night when we were late from our walk, didn’t I? I was afraid I couldn’t, but I wasn’t going to let her know it!”

“It was funny the way she came round,” Miss Sterling agreed.

“That makes me think,” Polly broke out, “when are we going to have another walk?”

“I don’t know,” sighed the other. “Walking is such an effort! I get so tired I can’t sleep.”

“That’s too bad!” mourned Polly. “But don’t you think it’s because you stay in the house so much? If you went oftener maybe you’d get used to it and it wouldn’t tire you.”

“Perhaps. I don’t know.”

“We were planning, only yesterday, Chris and I, to start a walking club and now he’s gone! But I suppose the rest of us can have it,” Polly went on. “We thought we’d ask David and Leonora and Patricia, she and her mother are just home from the shore, and Doodles and Blue and all of you folks here.”

“All the ladies?”

Polly nodded.

“They’re not all equal to it. You forget how old some of them are.”

“Anyway, they aren’t too old to be asked!” laughed Polly.

“No, and it is a good idea. Sometimes a club will have a stronger pull on anybody than just an incidental invitation.”

“That’s what we thought dear, dear, it’s too bad Chris had to go!”

“I’m sorry, but I imagine he is happy enough to be with his father.”

“Yes! He looked like another boy after his father came. Well, we’ll have to do without him.”

“How can Doodles and Blue be in? They live eighteen or twenty miles away.”

“Oh, they can come down by trolley, or we can go up there,” replied Polly easily.

Miss Sterling laughed. “You forget that we haven’t any money for trolley fares.”

“I never thought! They’ll have to come here, then. Anyway, they’ve got to belong! Doodles is the sweetest boy! I used to wonder if he would change any when he was able to run and play I didn’t know but he’d get to be coarser, you know; but he is just the same. Blue is nice, only he is more like other boys Doodles isn’t!”

“Miss Lily has been telling me of how he Went to sing to her. She just idolizes him.”

“I know she does. The other day when I was up to see her she couldn’t talk of anybody else. There isn’t much doubt but that she will join the club if she can see Doodles oftener.”

“She seems to be fairly strong; her trouble is only with her eyes.”

“I guess it will do her eyes good to go outdoors more. I wanted to call it the ‘Hiking Club’; but Chris was afraid the name would frighten some of them they’d think a ‘hike’ meant more than just a walk.”

“Mrs. Post is quite lame yet, and Mrs. Grace is having rheumatism. They couldn’t go at present. Miss Twining’s heart bothers her. She said she shouldn’t dare attempt so long a walk again.”

“As the one the other day? That wasn’t long for a well person.”

“But most of us are not well if we were we shouldn’t be here.”

“I’ll ask them all, anyway!” Polly insisted. “Can’t we have our first meeting here in your room, Miss Nita?”

“Certainly. When is it to be?”

“I think to-day would be a good time about two o’clock. It isn’t very pleasant out, raw and chilly. I’ll go round and invite them now. Will you come, too?”

“No, I’ll sit here and read. You run along and get your hikers, and then come back and tell me about it.”