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


“Next Tuesday is Miss Lily’s birthday!” Polly made the announcement in lowered tones.

“How old is she?” asked Miss Sterling.

“I don’t know. Doodles told me when he was down the last time. You know he wrote out her application, and I suppose he had to give the date. He said wouldn’t it be nice if we could celebrate it.”

“But how? Celebrations and June Holiday Home are not on speaking terms.”

“Well, Doodles proposed that we all come up to his house, and his mother would make a birthday cake. But we shouldn’t let them do it all. Mother would furnish the salad and some of the other things. Then, I don’t doubt Patricia would help, and Leonora and David.”

“I wish I could.” Miss Sterling shook her head sadly.

“Now, Miss Nita, don’t you feel that way! If you do, I’ll give it all up!”

“But I may be sorry, mayn’t I, that I can’t help anything along?”

“No; because you do help along. It isn’t just money and cake and such things.”

“I like cake!” She smiled whimsically.

“Oh, why don’t I bring you some! We had a lovely raspberry layer cake when Mr. Von Dalin was here, and I never thought to bring over a mite! Mother says I am growing careless, and I’m afraid she’s right!”

“Dear child! I don’t want you to bring me cake! I said that only in fun.”

“You shall have some, all the same! Isn’t the table here any better?”

Miss Sterling wrinkled her face into an answer. “The last cook is the worst we’ve had yet.”

“Too bad! Colonel Gresham said he was going to see Mr. Randolph about things; but I dare say he has forgotten it.”

“I hope he won’t think I’ve been complaining to you.” Miss Sterling looked alarmed.

“No, I cautioned him. Probably he will never think of it again.”

“I rather hope he won’t. My fear of the Powers is amounting almost to terror.”

“Oh, Miss Nita, don’t be afraid! That will make you go back! You mustn’t have a bit of fear!”

Miss Sterling laughed softly. “Well,” she yielded “let’s talk about the birthday celebration.”

“You haven’t stopped being afraid.” Polly scanned the other with keen eyes. “But never mind, we’ll go ahead with the plans. I love to plan! Don’t you?”

“I like it too well; but I’ve seen so many of my projects burst into nothing all in a minute that I’ve been trying lately to content myself with everyday happenings.”

“I’m sorry you’ve had so much trouble, Miss Nita,” said Polly plaintively.

The little woman smiled. “I ought not to have said that. I’m better, you know! How are we to get up to Foxford?”

“Oh, in automobiles! Didn’t I tell you? Colonel Gresham will let us have two, and Mrs. Illingworth one, and father ours. I don’t know how many will go from here, but there’ll be David and Leonora and Patricia and me, besides the Colonel and the chauffeurs. You don’t think but that Miss Sniffen will let them all go, do you?” Polly added anxiously.

“Perhaps.” Miss Sterling mused over it. “I can’t tell; I’ve lost the map of Miss Sniffen’s mind.”

“Did you ever have it?” laughed Polly.

“I think once I had a facsimile of it.”

Polly chuckled. Then she shook her head doubtfully. “I wish Miss Sniffen wasn’t Miss Sniffen,” she mused vaguely. Suddenly she brightened. “Why can’t we tell Mr. Randolph about it and ask him to ask Miss Sniffen?” She waited eagerly for the answer. It was not quick to come.

Miss Sterling bent her head in thought, while the color fluttered on her cheeks.

“I’m afraid it wouldn’t be best,” she said finally with a deep breath. “He might

“Oh, bother!” Polly broke in; “I was so sure that was a brilliant thought of mine! And now you turn it down just like any common idea!”

“My dear child, it isn’t that the idea is not brilliant, but it seems to me it would be would be just a little out of place!”

“It wouldn’t be a single bit!” insisted Polly. “Isn’t he the president of the Home?”

“Yes; but he isn’t in this, and wouldn’t it look as if we were ignoring Miss Sniffen?”

“Maybe it would,” assented Polly submissively. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

“You have said nothing to Miss Lily about it?”

“Oh, no!” Polly replied. “We’ve only talked it over at home and with the Greshams.”

“I suppose I’ll have to parley with the Powers,” smiled Miss Sterling ruefully.

“I don’t want to!” Polly frowned. She thought a moment, tapping her teeth with her thumb. “Oh, I know!” she burst out joyously. “You can’t object to this! Colonel Gresham’s the one to do it because he’s going, too. He’ll drive his big car. I thought it wouldn’t do to have father, for she’d think I got him to do it. But Colonel Gresham would win anybody if he tried.”

Miss Sterling nodded approvingly.

“Aren’t you glad I thought of it?”

“It looks the best thing.”

“It is! Guess I’ll go and ask the folks now! Will you come?”

“No, thank you! Run on alone you’ll do it best without any assistance.”

Polly laughed happily. She was too excited to insist on even Miss
Nita’s company.

It was a good hour before she returned, having been rapturously welcomed upstairs and down and kept as long as possible.

“Everybody is delighted with the idea!” Polly dropped to the hassock at Miss Sterling’s knee. “They’re all going if they can! except Mrs. Post and Mrs. Prindle. Mrs. Post has had a pull-back and she can’t walk at all, and Mrs. Prindle’s cold is worse. I think the rest will just fill the cars.”

She counted up, and found seats and occupants to agree.

“I’m wondering whether to have Mrs. Adlerfeld or Miss Lily sit with Colonel Gresham which would you?” Polly was all alight with her planning.

“The Colonel would enjoy Mrs. Adlerfeld best. Miss Lily would be too shy to say anything.”

“So she would! I only thought of her because she’s the birthday girl. Oh! You can’t imagine how surprised she was I thought she’d better know it right away, and not try to be secret about it.”

Miss Sterling smiled assent.

“She looked as if she were going to cry,” Polly went on; “but then I said something funny, and she laughed. I could see she was wonderfully pleased that Doodles should propose it. I’m glad he did, for I guess she doesn’t have very much to make her happy.

“Oh, I forgot! What do you think Mrs. Adlerfeld calls it? I happened to say we thought it was so nice it came when the moon was full, and she said, ’Thank you, I shall be so glad and happy to go! I am very fond about moonshine nights!’ Isn’t that just lovely? I’m going to call it a ‘moonshine’ party! It is ever so much prettier than ‘moonlight.’ Won’t Colonel Gresham be pleased to have Mrs. Adlerfeld sit with him!”