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


Early the next morning Juanita Sterling was awakened by a heavy thud. Where was it? It came again. She sprang out of bed, threw a robe around her, and ran over to the window.

Some distance below appeared a grinning face. A man was coming up a ladder.

“Don’t be scared, ma’am! I’m only going to put on the loop. Isn’t this the room where the ’phone’s to be?”

“Why I don’t know,” she hesitated.

“It’s to go in Miss Sterling’s room.”

“Who ordered it?”

“Nelson Randolph of the Paper Company.”

“Oh, yes!” she cried, “that’s all right.”

“Where will you have it? On this side?”

“I guess so ” She looked around. “Yes, here’ll be a good place.”

“All right, ma’am! Another man ’ll be up to do the wiring. I’m only putt’n’ on the loop. Orders were to rush it through that’s why I’m so early.” He grinned. “Hope I haven’t disturbed you, ma’am.”

She assured him that she was not in the least disturbed. She drew down the shades and turned back to the room. It was not yet six o’clock.

A telephone of her very own! Delightful possibilities loomed before her through all her dressing. No more dreading of stormy days when she would be shut in the house; no more fears to torture her in the wakeful hours of the night. Help and protection would be hers at call! And she could talk with Polly! She wanted to dance for very joy. And only two days ago her heart was aching! She felt as if it would never ache again.

At breakfast she heard many surmises regarding the strange noises about the building, before the workmen on the L were there. She decided to keep silent unless she were asked. It would be known early enough.

The electrician had come and gone, leaving on a table by the window the little instrument which seemed to its happy possessor to be almost alive. She stood looking at it and wondering how soon it would be in working order, when Mrs. Albright came in.

At once she saw the telephone, and stared in astonishment.

Miss Sterling laughed. “No more midnight troubles!”

“I am so surprised I don’t know what to say.” The visitor sat down.

“It isn’t usable yet,” Miss Sterling told her. “The man said he had to do some wiring in the cellar, make connections, and so on.”

“Won’t it be lovely for you!” cried Mrs. Albright.

“For all of us,” amended the other. “I want the ladies to feel that it belongs to them as well as to me, and to come and use it whenever they wish.”

“That is good of you! I’m sure it is needed badly enough. Isn’t it nice that Miss Crilly is doing so well?”

“Yes, I’m glad as can be! I felt she would come out all right, but it is better to know it.”

“She owes her life to you. I never should have dared to brave Miss Sniffen’s anger, as you did.”

“I guess I shouldn’t have dared, if I hadn’t known there was somebody ready to stand by me in case of need.”

“That must have helped. Miss Sterling, I couldn’t keep from hearing what you told Miss Crilly last night.”

“I supposed you would; in fact, I meant you should hear.”

“Well, I am so glad! You don’t know how glad! Only I can’t bear the thought of losing you.”

“Don’t begin to worry yet! I shall not go at present.”

“Well, I wish you all possible joy, and I feel sure you’ll have it with such a good man. My married life was short, only one year, but it was packed full of happiness. I have had the memory of that all these years.”

“Was it sudden?”

“Like that!” She snapped her fingers. “We were in New York on a pleasure trip!” She smiled sadly. “A runaway horse struck him down he was gone in an instant!”

Tears sprang to the eyes of the listener.

“Now I ought not to have told you!” Mrs. Albright said regretfully.

“Yes, you ought! I am glad you did! I knew you had had sorrow; but I didn’t know just what it was.”

“Death isn’t the worst thing that can happen,” she smiled. “I try to think only of the happiness I’ve had, instead of the rest. And, my dear, I cannot wish you any greater joy than I had as long as Jack was with me.”

“It must be good to have that to remember. Sometimes

“Ting! ting! Ting! ting!”

“Why! I wonder ” Miss Sterling ran over to the telephone.

“Hallo!” she called.

“Good-morning, Juanita!”

“Oh, Mr. Randolph! Good-morning!”

“My name is Nelson.”

She laughed softly. “Good-morning Nelson!”

“Thank you! It is pleasant to hear you say it.”

“I didn’t know the wire was usable yet.”

“I told them to call me up as soon as it was in working order.”

“It was such a surprise! I can’t tell you what a joy it is to me!”

“I couldn’t think of a better way out of the difficulty.”

“It is the best of anything.”

“I shall feel safer about you. Are you alone?”

“Yes, I am now. Mrs. Albright was here when you called; but I see she has slipped away.”

“It is delightful to be able to talk with you at any time. You cannot realize what you are to me!”

She smiled into the mouth-piece. “You think, then, that a woman is incapable of the same feeling?”

“Oh, no, not incapable, but I thought that, perhaps

“You think I don’t feel quite as you do is that it?”

“Yes. I don’t see how it is possible!”

“I am glad you think it is my heart that’s at fault, instead of my brain.”

“No, no, not at fault! I can’t explain here. I’ll wait till I see you.”

“Oh, let’s finish it up right now! This is a private wire, isn’t it?”


“We’ll go ahead, then. What makes you think I don’t feel as I ought?”

“I didn’t say just that! You’re all right, anyway!”

“Thank you! But why do you think I don’t feel as you feel?”

“Well, in the first place, there is no reason why you should.”

“Isn’t there? And in the second place?”

“Why, you you weren’t anxious to go to ride with me!”

“How do you know? Miss Sniffen got the invitations, not I!”

“I gave you one, face to face!”

“0-h, up in the pasture!”

“Yes. You offered no reason for your refusal.”

“I couldn’t! I supposed that you were engaged to Miss Puddicombe.”

“And you were afraid she wouldn’t like it?”

“You are not a good guesser. I think I didn’t consider her very much,” with a little laugh.

“Then you thought I ought not to ask you?”

“Don’t ever enter a guessing contest you wouldn’t win!”

“I suppose not,” meekly. “Can’t you help me out?”

The red in her cheeks crept up to her hair, she frowned a little. “I I could not give you the real reason, Mr. Randolph, and I didn’t want to lie!” She ran ahead hurriedly. “I was trying to forget, and

“Wait a minute! A train is going through the cut, and I didn’t hear that last....Now go on, please.”

“I don’t want to! It was bad enough to say it once!”

“You need not repeat, then. Though I should like to hear.”

“I said I had been trying

“Just a minute! Somebody is knocking.”

She sighed. She had a mind to run away she hated the telephone!


No answer.

“Princess, are you there?”

“Yes,” faintly.

“Sorry I had to keep you waiting. Now I am all ears!”

“I wish you weren’t!”

“Never mind, then! Let it go till I see you this afternoon.”

“Mercy! no! I said I oh, I’m not going to tell you! You can guess it out for yourself.”

“Perhaps I can’t.”

“Never mind! You won’t miss much. Good-bye!”

“Wait a minute! Juanita!”


“I’ll be there about three, but I’d better call you up before I start. I’m sorry you won’t tell me.”

“It doesn’t need to be told. Anybody could guess!”

“I can’t see any clue.”

She laughed. “I’m the clue! Good-bye.”