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An Old-Fashioned Girl

"You 're a good little soul, to remember poor mum, said Tom, with an approving nod.
"Well, she was so pleased with the grapes you brought her, I thought I 'd try something,
and maybe she 'd say 'Thank you, darling,' to me too. Do you think she will?" whispered
Maud, with the wistful look so often seen on her little plain face.
"See if she don't;" and to Maud's great surprise Tom did n't laugh at her project.
"Good night, dear; take care of yourself, and keep your muffler round your mouth going
over the bridge, or you 'll be as hoarse as a crow to-morrow," said Polly, as she kissed
her brother, who returned it without looking as if he thought it "girl's nonsense" Then the
three piled into the sleigh and drove off, leave Polly nodding on the doorstep.
Maud found the drive altogether too short, but was consoled by the promise of a longer
one if the sleighing lasted till next Saturday: and when Tom ran up to bid his mother
good-by, and give her a hint about Maud's gift, she stayed below to say, at the last
minute, in unconscious imitation of Polly.
"Good night; take care of yourself, my dear."
Tom laughed, and was about to pinch the much enduring little nose; but, as if the words
reminded him of something, he gave her a kiss instead, a piece of forbearance which
almost took Maud's breath away with surprise and gratification.
It was rather a silent drive, for Will obediently kept his muffler up, and Tom fell into a
brown study.
He was not much given to reflection, but occasionally indulged when something gave
him a turn in that direction, and at such times he was as sober and sincere as could be
desired. Any one might have lectured him for an hour without doing as much good as
that little call and the chat that grew out of it, for, though nothing very wise or witty was
said, many things were suggested, and every one knows that persuasive influences are
better than any amount of moralizing. Neither Polly nor Will tried to do anything of the
sort, and that was the charm of it. Nobody likes to be talked to, but nobody can resist
the eloquence of unconscious preaching. With all his thoughtlessness, Tom was quick
to see and feel these things, and was not spoilt enough yet to laugh at them. The sight
of Will and Polly's simple affection for one another reminded him of a neglected duty so
pleasantly, that he could not forget it. Talking of early days made him wish he could go
back and start again, doing better. Grandma's name recalled the tender memory that
always did him good, and the thought that Polly trusted her dearest brother to his care
stirred up a manful desire to deserve the confidence. Tortures would n't have drawn a
word of all this from him, but it had its effect, for boys don't leave their hearts and
consciences behind them when they enter college, and little things of this sort do much
to keep both from being damaged by the four years' scrimmage which begins the battle
of life for most of them.
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