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

VICTOR VON DALIN

For several days the weather was showery, not very pleasant for walking, and Polly stayed away from the June Holiday Home.

“What will Miss Nita think!” she mourned. “Miss Sniffen has probably forgotten by this time that she sent me home. Wouldn’t it do for me to go over for just a little while this fore-noon, while the officers are all busy?”

“I think you had better wait until Saturday,” her mother decided.

So Polly sighed and ran off to write a little note to her beloved friend. It was warm in her own room, and she carried paper and pencil out to her favorite seat on the veranda.

She was there when a man came up the front steps, a white-haired man. He walked with a firm, quick step, and when he saw her he came over to where she sat. He took off his hat with a courteous bow.

“May I ask,” he said in a low, pleasant voice, “if you know a lady in the June Holiday Home named Adlerfeld, Mrs. Elise Adlerfeld?”

“Oh, yes, sir! I know her very well; that is, I know Mrs. Adlerfeld. I am not sure that her name is Elise.”

“Her husband’s name was Hans Adlerfeld.”

“I don’t know anything about him,” Polly replied; “but there’s only one Mrs. Adlerfeld there. She is a dear! I love her!”

The man’s face flushed with pleasure. “Then you may, perhaps, help me. I have sought her these two years, and only now have I found her! I went to the door, and the lady told me I could not see her till next Wednesday! I cannot stay. I must go back to New York, and I must see her before I go. I begged the door-keeper to allow me to speak with my friend for only a short moment; but she would not. She said it was not visitor’s day. Then I thought perhaps a neighbor might help me. So I come to you. I ask you, is there any way I can get inside to her, or she can get out to me? I beg of you, my dear young lady, will you help me? I must see her to-day! I cannot stay even till to-morrow!”

“That is just like Miss Sniffen” declared Polly. “She is the superintendent. She will never let anybody in except on Wednesday afternoon. It is a shame’ I don’t know ” She hesitated. “Perhaps mother will let me go over and tell her. Please take this chair, sir. Mother will see you about it; she will know better than I what to do.”

“Tell her, if you please, that it is Victor von Dalin, an old friend of Mrs. Adlerfeld’s, in Sweden, who desires to see her.”

“Oh! are you really from Sweden?” beamed Polly. “How delighted she will be!”

“I have not been in Sweden these two years; but I knew her well when we lived there, a long time ago.”

Polly ran off, full of excitement. How pleased the dear little woman would be! To think Miss Sniffen should refuse him entrance! She explained the matter to her mother.

“I will go right down,” said Mrs. Dudley. “We must find some way to bring them together without arousing suspicion.”

It was finally decided that Polly should go over to the Home and up to Miss Sterling’s room, as usual, leaving Miss Sterling to see Mrs. Adlerfeld and to give her Mrs. Dudley’s invitation to spend the rest of the day at her house.

Happily, Miss Sniffen was not in sight as Polly made her quick way to the third floor.

“You dear child! Then you’re not sick! I was afraid you were.”

Miss Sterling held her at arm’s length, to make sure of her health.

“Sick? Not a bit!” laughed Polly. “Mother thought I’d better not come until Miss Sniffen had had a chance to forget she sent me home that’s all! I wasn’t coming till to-morrow, but something happened the loveliest thing!”

“What?”

“Come, sit down, and I’ll tell you!”

“I can’t imagine what it is!”

“No, you can’t! You couldn’t guess if you had a year to do it in! The nicest man has come from New York to see Mrs. Adlerfeld, and they wouldn’t let him in here! Wasn’t that mean! So he came over to our house, to ask if we knew her and could help him out. He used to know Mrs. Adlerfeld in Sweden, and he’s bound to see her! Oh, he’s so lovable! His hair is as white! But he doesn’t look old. Can’t you come over pretty soon and see him? Though I don’t know as you’d better. That might give it away to have two come! Mother wants you to tell Mrs. Adlerfeld that she would like to have her spend the day with us. Make her come just as quick as she can. You can tell her that it is Mr. Victor von Dalin that is there isn’t that a sweet name? Oh, I do hope she will come! He’ll have a fit if she doesn’t! Wasn’t Miss Sniffen horrible the other day? When we were having such a good time! I must go no, I guess I’ll wait till you’ve been up and found out. Then I can tell him.”

Polly waited and waited, wondering, after five minutes, why Miss Sterling did not come back.

“Dear me!” she thought anxiously, “I hope Mrs. Adlerfeld hasn’t fainted or anything!”

The time dragged slowly away. Ten o’clock went by. Polly wandered restlessly around the room. She took up a book, but could not read. Once she started to go down the hall to find out; then she concluded she had better not. She looked out of the window, but could think of nothing but the worrying fact of Miss Nita’s prolonged absence.

At last she heard her light step in the corridor. She sprang to the door.

“What in the world

Miss Sterling motioned for silence, and they hurried to the further side of the room.

“I knew you’d be frantic,” she began; “but I couldn’t help it. Just before I reached Mrs. Adlerfeld’s room I heard Mrs. Nobbs’s voice in there, so I stopped at Mrs. Albright’s. I knew it would be all right to tell her, they are so intimate. She is pleased as we are. But it did seem as if Mrs. Nobbs never would go! Oh, the dear woman is so excited that I don’t know whether she will get dressed straight or not! Mrs. Albright is helping her. His coming has upset her completely. But it is a happy up-setting! You can see that! I am so glad!”

“Will she come right over?”

“If they’ll let her. I presume they will.”

“If they don’t, I’ll make a fuss!” threatened Polly. “I’ll go after Mr. Randolph.”

Miss Sterling laughed. “You won’t have to do that.”

“You haven’t ever found out what he wanted to talk with you about over the wire, have you?” Polly asked.

“No, and I never shall.” Miss Sterling’s lips took a sorrowful droop.

“You will, too! I’ll ask him myself some day!”

“No, no, you mustn’t!”

“You’ll see!” Polly laughed and said a soft “Good-bye!”

Miss Sterling motioned her back.

“Be sure to come over to-morrow morning and tell me all about it!” she whispered.

Polly returned earlier. She appeared at four o’clock.

“I couldn’t wait another minute!” she said. “The two dears are sitting out on the veranda, up in the corner where the vines hide them from the street, and their heads are close together and they are talking earnestly in that queer lingo that nobody else understands! Oh, they are having the loveliest time! They were at our house to luncheon, both of them, and they’re going to stay to dinner! He will take the 7.30 train for New York. We’ve all enjoyed it so much! Father and he just took to each other. You ought to have heard them talk! I believe he knows every book that ever was written! We had such fun! Father and mother never saw Mrs. Adlerfeld very much, and they think she is just charming. They used to go to school together in Sweden. His wife died three years ago, and he has a son and daughter, both married. The daughter lives in Stockholm and the son in Newark. Mr. Von Dalin is librarian in one of the big libraries oh, I wish you could see him! Dear me, I must run back, for they may want something!”

Without doubt Polly was extraordinarily excited.