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24. CHAPTER XXIV. JOHN PENDLETON (continued)
"LOVE." Miss Polly remembered suddenly why SHE had taken this child in the first place--and with the recollection came the remembrance of Pollyanna's own words uttered that very morning: "I love to be called 'dear' by folks that belong to you!" And it was this love-hungry little girl that had been offered the stored-up affection of twenty-five years:--and she was old enough to be tempted by love! With a sinking heart Miss Polly realized that. With a sinking heart, too, she realized something else: the dreariness of her own future now without Pollyanna.
"Well?" she said. And the man, recognizing the self-control that vibrated through the harshness of the tone, smiled sadly.
"She would not come," he answered.
"She would not leave you. She said you had been so good to her. She wanted to stay with you--and she said she THOUGHT you wanted her to stay," he finished, as he pulled himself to his feet.
He did not look toward Miss Polly. He turned his face resolutely toward the door. But instantly he heard a swift step at his side, and found a shaking hand thrust toward him.
"When the specialist comes, and I know anything--definite about Pollyanna, I will let you hear from me," said a trembling voice. "Good-by--and thank you for coming. Pollyanna will be pleased."
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