The Game and its Players

It was not long after John Pendleton’s second visit that Milly Snow called one afternoon. Milly Snow had never before been to the Harrington homestead. She blushed and looked very embarrassed when Miss Polly entered the room.

“I—I came to inquire for the little girl,” she stammered.

“You are very kind. She is about the same. How is your mother?” rejoined Miss Polly, wearily.

“That is what I came to tell you—that is, to ask you to tell Miss Pollyanna,” hurried on the girl, breathlessly and incoherently. “We think it’s—so awful—so perfectly awful that the little thing can’t ever walk again; and after all she’s done for us, too—for mother, you know, teaching her to play the game, and all that. And when we heard how now she couldn’t play it herself—poor little dear! I’m sure I don’t see how she can, either, in her condition!—but when we remembered all the things she’d said to us, we thought if she could only know what she had done for us, that it would help, you know, in her own case, about the game, because she could be glad—that is, a little glad—” Milly stopped helplessly, and seemed to be waiting for Miss Polly to speak.

Miss Polly had sat politely listening, but with a puzzled questioning in her eyes. Only about half of what had been said, had she understood. She was thinking now that she always had known that Milly Snow was “queer,” but she had not supposed she was crazy. In no other way, however, could she account for this incoherent, illogical, unmeaning rush of words. When the pause came she filled it with a quiet:

“I don’t think I quite understand, Milly. Just what is it that you want me to tell my niece?”

“Yes, that’s it; I want you to tell her,” answered the girl, feverishly. “Make her see what she’s done for us. Of course she’s seen some things, because she’s been there, and she’s known mother is different; but I want her to know how different she is—and me, too. I’m different. I’ve been trying to play it—the game—a little.”

Miss Polly frowned. She would have asked what Milly meant by this “game,” but there was no opportunity. Milly was rushing on again with nervous volubility.

“You know nothing was ever right before—for mother. She was always wanting ’em different. And, really, I don’t know as one could blame her much—under the circumstances. But now she lets me keep the shades up, and she takes interest in things—how she looks, and her nightdress, and all that. And she’s actually begun to knit little things—reins and baby blankets for fairs and hospitals. And she’s so interested, and so glad to think she can do it!—and that was all Miss Pollyanna’s doings, you know, ’cause she told mother she could be glad she’d got her hands and arms, anyway; and that made mother wonder right away why she didn’t do something with her hands and arms. And so she began to do something—to knit, you know. And you can’t think what a different room it is now, what with the red and blue and yellow worsteds, and the prisms in the window that she gave her—why, it actually makes you feel better just to go in there now; and before I used to dread it awfully, it was so dark and gloomy, and mother was so—so unhappy, you know.

“And so we want you to please tell Miss Pollyanna that we understand it’s all because of her. And please say we’re so glad we know her, that we thought, maybe if she knew it, it would make her a little glad that she knew us. And—and that’s all,” sighed Milly, rising hurriedly to her feet. “You’ll tell her?”

“Why, of course,” murmured Miss Polly, wondering just how much of this remarkable discourse she could remember to tell.

These visits of John Pendleton and Milly Snow were only the first of many; and always there were the messages—the messages which were in some ways so curious that they caused Miss Polly more and more to puzzle over them.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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