One day there was the little Widow Benton. Miss Polly knew her well, though they had never called upon each other. By reputation she knew her as the saddest little woman in townone who was always in black. Today, however, Mrs. Benton wore a knot of pale blue at the throat, though there were tears in her eyes. She spoke of her grief and horror at the accident; then she asked diffidently if she might see Pollyanna.
Miss Polly shook her head.
I am sorry, but she sees no one yet. A little laterperhaps.
Mrs. Benton wiped her eyes, rose, and turned to go. But after she had almost reached the hall door she came back hurriedly.
Miss Harrington, perhaps, youd give hera message, she stammered.
Certainly, Mrs. Benton; I shall be very glad to.
Still the little woman hesitated; then she spoke.
Will you tell her, please, thatthat Ive put on this, she said, just touching the blue bow at her throat. Then, at Miss Pollys ill-concealed look of surprise, she added: The little girl has been trying for so long to make me wearsome color, that I thought shed beglad to know Id begun. She said that Freddy would be so glad to see it, if I would. You know Freddys all I have now. The others have all Mrs. Benton shook her head and turned away. If youll just tell Pollyannashell understand. And the door closed after her.
A little later, that same day, there was the other widowat least, she wore widows garments. Miss Polly did not know her at all. She wondered vaguely how Pollyanna could have known her. The lady gave her name as Mrs. Tarbell.
Im a stranger to you, of course, she began at once. But Im not a stranger to your little niece, Pollyanna. Ive been at the hotel all summer, and every day Ive had to take long walks for my health. It was on these walks that Ive met your nieceshes such a dear little girl! I wish I could make you understand what shes been to me. I was very sad when I came up here; and her bright face and cheery ways reminded me ofmy own little girl that I lost years ago. I was so shocked to hear of the accident; and then when I learned that the poor child would never walk again, and that she was so unhappy because she couldnt be glad any longerthe dear child!I just had to come to you.
You are very kind, murmured Miss Polly.
But it is you who are to be kind, demurred the other. II want you to give her a message from me. Will you?
Will you just tell her, then, that Mrs. Tarbell is glad now. Yes, I know it sounds odd, and you dont understand. Butif youll pardon me Id rather not explain. Sad lines came to the ladys mouth, and the smile left her eyes. Your niece will know just what I mean; and I felt that I must tellher. Thank you; and pardon me, please, for any seeming rudeness in my call, she begged, as she took her leave.
Thoroughly mystified now, Miss Polly hurried upstairs to Pollyannas room.
Pollyanna, do you know a Mrs. Tarbell?
Oh, yes. I love Mrs. Tarbell. Shes sick, and awfully sad; and shes at the hotel, and takes long walks. We go together. I meanwe used to. Pollyannas voice broke, and two big tears rolled down her cheeks.
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