Адаптация текста, упражнения, комментарии и словарь А. А. Вертягиной
© Вертягина А. А.
© Пилипюк Д.
© ООО «Издательство АСТ», 2017
Miss Polly Harrington entered her kitchen a little hurriedly this June morning. Nancy, who was washing dishes at the sink, looked up in surprise.
“Yes, ma’am.” Nancy answered cheerfully, but she still continued to wipe a pitcher in her hand.
“Nancy, when I’m talking to you, I wish you to stop your work and listen to what I say.”
Nancy flushed. She set the pitcher down at once.
“Yes, ma’am.” Nancy said. She was wondering if she could ever please this woman. Nancy had never worked for anybody before; but her mother was a widow with three younger children besides Nancy herself. So she was very pleased when she found a place in the kitchen of the great house on the hill. Nancy came from “The Corners,” six miles away, and she knew Miss Polly Harrington only as the mistress of the old Harrington homestead. That was two months before. She knew Miss Polly now as a stern woman who frowned if a knife clattered to the floor, or if a door banged.
“Finish your morning work, Nancy,” Miss Polly said, “and clear the little room in the attic and make up the cot bed. Sweep the room and clean it, of course, after you clear out boxes.”
Miss Polly hesitated, then went on: “I suppose I may as well tell you now, Nancy. My niece, Miss Pollyanna Whittier, will soon live with me. She is eleven years old, and she will sleep in that room.”
“A little girl will soon be here, Miss Harrington? Oh, won’t that be nice!” cried Nancy.
“Nice? Well, that isn’t exactly the word I should use,” said Miss Polly, stiffly. “However, I am a good woman, I hope; and I know my duty.”
“Don’t forget to clean the corners, Nancy,” she finished sharply, as she left the room.
“Yes, ma’am,” sighed Nancy.
In her own room, Miss Polly took out once more the letter which she had received two days before. The letter was addressed to Miss Polly Harrington, Beldingsville, Vermont; and it read as follows:
“Dear Madam: – I regret to inform you that the Rev. John Whittier died two weeks ago, leaving one child, a girl eleven years old.
“I know he was your sister’s husband, but he gave me to understand the families were not on the best of terms. He thought, however, that you might wish to take the child and bring her up. Hence I am writing to you.
“Hoping to hear favorably from you soon, I remain,
“Jeremiah O. White.”
Miss Polly answered the letter the day before, and she had said she would take the child, of course.
As she sat now, with the letter in her hands, her thoughts went back to her sister, Jennie, Pollianna’s mother, and to the time when Jennie, as a girl of twenty, married the young minister and went south with him. The family had little more to do with the missionary’s wife.
In one of her letters Jennie wrote about Pollyanna, her last baby, the other babies had all died. She named her “Pollyanna” for her two sisters, Polly and Anna.
A few years later they received the news of her death, told in a short, but heart-broken little note from the minister himself.
Miss Polly, looking out at the valley below, thought of the changes those twenty-five years had brought to her. She was forty now, and quite alone in the world. Father, mother, sisters – all were dead. She was mistress of the house and of the thousands left to her by her father. There were people who pitied her lonely life.
Miss Polly rose with frowning face. She was glad, of course, that she was a good woman, and that she not only knew her duty, but had strength of character to perform it. But – POLLYANNA! – what a ridiculous name!
In the garden that afternoon, Nancy found a few minutes in which to interview Old Tom, the gardener.
“Mr. Tom, do you know that a little girl will soon come here to live with Miss Polly?”
“A – what?” demanded the old man.
“A little girl – to live with Miss Polly. She told me so herself,” said Nancy. “It’s her niece; and she’s eleven years old.”
The man’s jaw fell.
“Oh, it must be Miss Jennie’s little girl!”
“Who was Miss Jennie?”
“She was an angel,” breathed the man; “but the old master and mistress knew her as their oldest daughter. She was twenty when she married and went away from here long years ago. Her babies all died, I heard, except the last one; and that must be her.”
“And she’s going to sleep in the attic – more shame to HER!” scolded Nancy.
Old Tom smiled.
“I wonder what Miss Polly will do with a child in the house,” he said.
“Well, I wonder what a child will do with Miss Polly in the house!” snapped Nancy.
The old man laughed.
“I’m afraid you aren’t fond of Miss Polly,” he grinned.
“As if ever anybody could be fond of her!” scorned Nancy.
“I guess maybe you didn’t know about Miss Polly’s love affair,” he said slowly.
“Love affair – HER! No!”
“You didn’t know Miss Polly as I did,” he said. “She used to be real handsome – and she would be now, if she’d let herself be.”
“Handsome! Miss Polly!”
“Yes, she is different now, I know. It begun then – at the time of the trouble with her lover,” nodded Old Tom; “and she is bitter and prickly to deal with.”
“Nancy!” called a sharp voice.
“Y-yes, ma’am,” stammered Nancy; and hurried toward the house.
“Nancy,” Miss Polly said, “my niece will arrive tomorrow at four o’clock. You must meet her at the station. Timothy will take the open buggy and drive you over. The telegram says ‘light hair, red-checked gingham dress, and straw hat.’ That is all I know.”
Promptly at twenty minutes to four the next afternoon Timothy and Nancy drove off in the open buggy to meet the expected guest. Timothy was Old Tom’s son. He was a good-natured youth, and a good-looking one, as well. The two were already good friends.
When they got to the station, Nancy hurried to a point where she could best watch the passengers. Over and over in her mind Nancy was saying it “light hair, red-checked dress, straw hat.” Over and over again she was wondering just what sort of child this Pollyanna was.
At last they saw her – the slender little girl in the red-checked gingham with two fat braids of flaxen hair hanging down her back. Beneath the straw hat, an eager, freckled little face turned to the right and to the left, searching for some one.
“Are you Miss Pollyanna?” Nancy faltered.
“Oh, I’m so glad, GLAD, GLAD to see you,” cried an eager voice in her ear. “Of course I’m Pollyanna, and I’m so glad you came to meet me! I hoped you would.”
“You did?” stammered Nancy.
“Oh, yes!” cried the little girl. “And I’m glad you look just like you do look.”
Timothy came up.
“This is Timothy. Maybe you have a trunk,” she stammered.
“Yes, I have,” nodded Pollyanna, importantly. “I’ve got a brand-new one. The Ladies’ Aid bought it for me.”
The three were off at last, with Pollyanna’s trunk in behind, and Pollyanna herself snugly ensconced between Nancy and Timothy. During the whole process of getting started, the little girl kept up an uninterrupted stream of comments and questions.
“There! Isn’t this lovely? Is it far? I hope it is – I love to ride,” sighed Pollyanna. What a pretty street! I knew it was going to be pretty; father told me – ”
She stopped with a little choking breath. Nancy saw that her small chin was quivering, and that her eyes were full of tears. In a moment, however, she hurried on, with a brave lifting of her head.
“Father has gone to Heaven to be with mother and the rest of us, you know. He said I must be glad. But it’s pretty hard to, because I need him, as mother and the rest have God and all the angels, while I don’t have anybody but the Ladies’ Aid. But now I’m sure it’ll be easier because I’ve got you, Aunt Polly. I’m so glad I’ve got you!”
“Oh, but – but you’ve made an awful mistake, dear,” she faltered. “I’m only Nancy. I’m not your Aunt Polly!”
“You – you AREN’T?” stammered the little girl.
“No. I’m only Nancy. I never thought you’re taking me for her.”
Timothy chuckled softly.
“But who ARE you?” asked Pollyanna.
“I’m Nancy, the hired girl. I do all the work except the washing and ironing.”
“But there IS an Aunt Polly?” demanded the child, anxiously.
“You bet your life there is,” cut in Timothy.
Pollyanna relaxed visibly.
“Oh, that’s all right, then.” There was a moment’s silence, then she went on brightly: “And do you know? I’m glad, after all, that she didn’t come to meet me; because now I’ve got you besides.”
“I–I was thinking about Miss Polly,” faltered Nancy.
Pollyanna sighed contentedly.
“I was, too. I’m so interested in her. You know she’s all the aunt I’ve got, and I didn’t know I had her for ever so long. Then father told me. He said she lived in a lovely great big house “on top of a hill.”
“She does. You can see it now,” said Nancy. “It’s that big white one with the green blinds.”
“Oh, how pretty! – and what a lot of trees and grass all around it! I never saw such a lot of green grass. Is my Aunt Polly rich, Nancy?”
“I’m so glad. It must be perfectly lovely to have lots of money. Does Aunt Polly have ice-cream Sundays?”
“No, Miss. Your aunt doesn’t like ice-cream.”
Pollyanna’s face fell.
“Oh, doesn’t she? I’m so sorry! Maybe Aunt Polly has got the carpets, though.”
“Yes, she’s got the carpets.”
“In every room?”
“Well, in almost every room,” answered Nancy, thinking about the attic room where there was no carpet.
“Oh, I’m so glad,” exulted Pollyanna. “I love carpets. And Mrs. White had pictures, too, perfectly beautiful ones of roses and little girls kneeling and a kitty and some lambs and a lion. Don’t you just love pictures?”
“I don’t know,” answered Nancy.
“I do. But we didn’t have any pictures. My! but isn’t this a perfectly beautiful house?” she broke off.
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