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


Miss Twining was worse. Dr. Gunnip had been called late in the afternoon. It was now nearly six o’clock, and the third-floor corner room was discussing the situation.

“I guess you’d better see Mr. Randolph to-morrow,” Mrs. Albright was saying.

“Why not make it this evening?” returned Polly. “She may not live till morning!” Tears were in her voice.

“No, the Doctor didn’t think she’d give out right away; he said she might last a good while.”

“Little he knows about it!” scorned Polly.

“Well, he said it right up and down!” put in Miss Crilly.

“It is too bad!” Polly drew a long, sighing breath. “I don’t believe she’d have had any heart trouble at all, if Miss Sniffen hadn’t made this fuss!”

“The excitement has no doubt aggravated it,” commented Mrs. Albright.

“Is that all Dr. Gunnip said, that she had heart disease?” queried Polly.

“He didn’t stay long enough to say anything!” sputtered Miss Crilly. “He walked in and walked out I wish I’d timed him!”

“You’d have had to look in a hurry,” remarked Mrs. Albright quietly.

“Guess he’s like a doctor my mother used to tell about,” observed Miss Crilly. “You had to catch hold of his coat-tails if you wanted to ask him a question. And he never would have consultation, no matter how sick anybody was. He said, one could play on a fiddle better than two.”

A quick little smile ran round the group; but nobody laughed. The present question was too serious.

“Miss Twining didn’t tell me much,” resumed Mrs. Albright. “The Doctor had just gone, and I was in a fidget for fear Miss Sniffen would come back. But I could see that he had upset her completely. I don’t think, from what she did say, that he gave her any particulars. He said she had got to be extremely careful. She feels as if it was about over with her.”

“I wish father could see her,” fretted Polly. “He wouldn’t frighten her so, even if he did have to tell her that her heart was in bad shape! I hate Dr. Gunnip worse than ever! Did he leave her any medicine?”

“Oh, yes! I saw two little piles of tablets on the table.”

“Likely as not they’ll make her worse!” Polly got up. “I’m going to see Mr. Randolph to-night!” she announced determinedly.

“No, no!” objected Mrs. Albright. “Wait until morning! It would only excite her more to have another doctor now. She’d think she was in a worse condition than she is.”

“I’d wait if I were you,” agreed Miss Sterling. “I think it will be better all round.”

“Well,” yielded Polly reluctantly, and sat down again.

“What you going to tell him, anyway?” questioned Miss Crilly a bit anxiously.

“Why everything!” Polly’s hands flew apart with expressive gesture.

“I’m afraid he won’t want to interfere.”

“He isn’t a fool!” retorted Polly. “And when I’ve told him all I’m going to tell him, if he doesn’t interfere if he isn’t aching to interfere he will be one!”

Miss Crilly giggled. “You’re the greatest!” she said admiringly.

The next morning Polly awoke with the vague consciousness that something of importance was at hand. Then she remembered. To-day she was to see Mr. Randolph!

During breakfast the matter was discussed.

“You seem suddenly to have become a woman of affairs,” playfully remarked Dr. Dudley.

“There isn’t anybody else to do things,” said Polly plaintively. “Miss Crilly wouldn’t amount to anything if she went. She’d get scared first thing and make a regular fizzle of it. Mrs. Albright has pluck enough in some ways; but she couldn’t be hired to see Mr. Randolph. Of course, Miss Nita’d do it all right; but she just won’t! And somebody must!”

“It is full time,” the Doctor agreed; “but it looks a big load for your shoulders.”

“Oh, I don’t mind this!” Polly said brightly. “It was hard, going to Mr. Parcell’s; but this is different, you know.”

“Decidedly different.”

Polly glanced up from under her eyelashes. She knew what he thought of her visit to the minister’s, and now she sighed a little in remembrance of his fatherly comments.

“Of course, Mr. Randolph will be surprised shocked, I guess; but he isn’t to blame, and he’s a lovely man to talk to. I think I’m going to enjoy it.”

Mrs. Dudley caught the twinkle in her husband’s eyes, and laughed.

“What have I said out of the way now?” Polly laid down her fork.

“Nothing,” her father answered gravely.

“I don’t see why mother was laughing, then.” She glanced from one to the other.

They sipped their coffee in silence, but the girl detected a lingering bit of a smile on her mother’s lips.

As soon as she had put her room in trim for the day, Polly ran over to the Home for a final talk with Miss Sterling before making her appointment with Mr. Randolph.

She found both Mrs. Albright and Miss Crilly in the corner room. A little excitement was in the air.

“Have you heard?” asked Miss Crilly.

Polly’s eyes went frightened.

“No what?” she said weakly.

“Don’t be scared, child! It is nothing!” Mrs. Albright put an arm around her. “It is only that Mr. Randolph is sick.”

“O-o-h!” mourned Polly.

“It’s in the morning paper,” added Miss Crilly. “It says, ‘seriously ill.’”

“Yet he may not be,” interposed Miss Sterling. “The papers seldom get it right.”

“It is too bad!” Polly sat down. “Our paper was late,” she explained, “and father didn’t have time to read it, he was called off from breakfast, and I was thinking so much about going that I forgot the paper. Is that all it says?”

“Yes. It doesn’t tell what the matter is.”

“Now we shall have to wait!” said Polly dismally. “How is Miss Twining?”

“A little brighter, I think,” answered Mrs. Albright.

“Dear me! I hope Mr. Randolph won’t die!” Miss Crilly’s face was despairing. “There isn’t another one we’d dare tell!”

“No,” agreed Polly, “he’s the only man we can trust. We can’t do a single thing till he gets well.”