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


Polly happened to answer the doorbell when David rang.

“Hallo, David!” she said brightly.

His face was troubled.

“Is your father at home?”

“Why, yes, that is, he is in the hospital somewhere. Who is sick?”

“Aunt Juliet, and she won’t have anybody but Dr. Dudley. We’ve been trying to get him by telephone, and finally they thought I’d better come up. Otto brought me, and he’ll take the Doctor back.”

“Oh, the hospital telephones are out of commission, so they’re using ours about all the time. Sit down, and I’ll find him.”

From ward to ward went Polly, following the Doctor. She caught him at last on the upper floor, and he drove off with Colonel Gresham’s man.

“Stay a while, can’t you, David?” invited Polly. “You’ll have to walk home anyway, and there’s no need of your hurrying.”

“They may want me,” he hesitated, fingering his cap.

“No, they won’t! There are plenty to take care of Mrs. Gresham. I haven’t seen you in an age.”

David’s face reddened. “I’ve been pretty busy,” he faltered in excuse.

Polly ignored his embarrassment. “I am sorry for Mrs. Gresham. She’s not very sick, is she?”

“I’m afraid she is. She was in terrible pain when I left home.”

“I guess father’ll fix her up all right,” said Polly comfortably.

David smiled. Polly’s faith in her father was a standing joke among her friends.

“Oh, you may laugh!” she cried. “It doesn’t disturb me a mite. He pulled you out of a tight place once.”

“Yes, he did,” agreed the boy. “I presume I have about as much faith in him as you have.”

They talked for a while in commonplaces. David seemed interested in nothing. He grew restless and once or twice said something about going home. Still he stayed. Finally he got up. Then suddenly he sat down and with a visible effort said huskily, “I suppose you think I’m a brute!”

“Oh, no, David!” returned Polly quietly; “but I think you’re a little bit foolish.”

His cheeks flushed angrily. “Oh, foolish, is it! Pray, what have I done?”

“M m, not so very much, except to ignore me, when we’ve always been such good friends.”

“It’s your own fault!” David’s temper was getting the mastery. “Going round with another boy and not paying me any attention at all!”

“Don’t let’s quarrel, David! I suppose you mean Doodles, and it does seem so silly for you to be jealous of that little boy!”

“You played all his accompaniments, and you didn’t play for me,” said David in an aggrieved tone.

“He asked me, and you didn’t. You know he hasn’t had a piano very long and can’t play as you can. But I would have gladly played for you if I had known you wanted me.”

The boy said nothing, and Polly resumed.

“You act as if I belonged to you and mustn’t look at another boy.”

“You do belong to me!” he declared.

“Since when?” laughed Polly.

“Since the first day I saw you,” replied David doggedly.

“Oh!” she smiled. “I never knew it! But I don’t make a fuss because you call on Patricia or go round with Leonora.”

“Of course you don’t! You wouldn’t mind if I went with forty girls! You don’t care a rap for me.” His face was gloomy.

“Oh, David! what do you want me to do? hang round you all the time and say, ’David, I love you! David, it’s true! David, I’ll love you all my life through’?”

“Go on!” he said fiercely, “make all the fun you like! It is fun to you, but with me it’s life or death!”


“You know I never cared for any other girl! You know you are my world! And yet you deliberately make fun of me!”

Polly’s dimples vanished. “No, David, I am not making fun of you, but only of your foolishness

“Oh, yes, I suppose it’s foolish for me to love you as I do when you don’t care a straw

“Wait! wait!” she interrupted. “I don’t mean that at all, and you know it! But for a great, tall fellow like you to be so unreasonably jealous of a little ten-year-old does seem absurd. I love Doodles, of course; everybody does. But, David, you ought to know that’s all there is to it.”

“He says he’s going to marry you!”

Polly laughed outright. “I never heard anything about it before, so I guess I wouldn’t let it worry me, David.” She chuckled. “Whatever made him say that! He’s a funny little chap!”

“Will you marry me?” David asked abruptly.

Polly’s dimples came and went. “Do you mean right off?” she queried soberly. “I rather want to go to school a little longer.”

“There you are again!” he grumbled. “You can’t take anything in earnest! I may as well go home!”

“But, David, the idea of asking me such a question! And I only thirteen! Can’t you see how silly it is?”

“No, I can’t! It’s the only way to make sure of you! Some other fellow will get ahead of me!”

“No other fellow has yet, David.” Polly’s voice was sweet and serious.

“Do you mean that,” he asked, “honestly?”

“Of course. You know I have always liked you better than any other boy!”

“You like me, but you love Doodles,” he mused.

Polly laughed softly. “Oh, dear!” she sighed, “will nothing satisfy you? Well, then,” she was blushing almost to tears, “I love you, David! I I think it’s mean for you to make me say it! I love you better than any other boy I ever saw!” She flung the last words at him with a show of vexation that David could not withstand.

He grinned.

“And now you laugh at me!” She sprang up and started past him; but he caught her in his arms.

“Polly! Polly! Dear Polly!” he said tenderly. “Forgive me! I am a pig! But to tell me I was mean and that you loved me all in the same breath! Now say I’m contemptible or anything! I’ll agree to it!”

“Well, you ought to you are!” she half sobbed, half laughed. Her face was hidden on his shoulder.

Suddenly she threw up her head and started back. “Let me go!” she whispered. “It is ridiculous to stand here like this.” She pulled away from him and retreated to her chair.

“I don’t see why we can’t be engaged,” said David. “Promise that you’ll marry me, Polly!”

“Oh!” she cried, “I thirteen, and you just fifteen! What a pair of ninnies we should be! David, if you want to keep me, you must let me go free! I shall be sixteen when I’m through high school, and there’ll be four years of college. Then perhaps ! Time enough for that sort of thing after we’re twenty!”

David looked at her with smiling eyes, yet he said, “I’m afraid I shan’t feel very sure of you.”

“You’re a funny David!” laughed Polly. “I say, let’s forget all this, and just be a boy and girl having a good time!”

“Forget that we love each other, Polly?”

“No, no! but take that for granted, and let it drop!”

“I guess you’ll have to teach me how,” David laughed.

“All right! Come sing me that song I saw you buying at the music store the other day!”

When David left the house, he stopped on the threshold to finish what he was saying. Then, suddenly, he caught Polly’s hands, pressed a kiss squarely on her lips, and sped away.

“David Collins!” she cried.

But David was already down the steps. He looked back with a radiant bow.