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An Old-Fashioned Girl

14. Nipped In The Bud
ON the evening of Fan's visit, Polly sat down before her fire with a resolute and
thoughtful aspect. She pulled her hair down, turned her skirt back, put her feet on the
fender, and took Puttel into her lap, all of which arrangements signified that something
very important had got to be thought over and settled. Polly did not soliloquize aloud, as
heroines on the stage and in books have a way of doing, but the conversation she held
with herself was very much like this: "I 'm afraid there is something in it. I 've tried to
think it 's nothing but vanity or imagination, yet I can't help seeing a difference, and
feeling as if I ought not to pretend that I don't. I know it 's considered proper for girls to
shut their eyes and let things come to a crisis no matter how much mischief is done. But
I don't think it 's doing as we 'd be done by, and it seems a great deal more honest to
show a man that you don't love him before he has entirely lost his heart. The girls
laughed at me when I said so, and they declared that it would be a very improper thing
to do, but I 've observed that they don't hesitate to snub 'ineligible parties,' as they call
poor, very young, or unpopular men. It 's all right then, but when a nice person comes it
's part of the fun to let him go on to the very end, whether the girls care for him or not.
The more proposals, the more credit. Fan says Trix always asks when she comes home
after the summer excursions, 'How many birds have you bagged?' as if men were
partridges. What wicked creatures we are! some of us at least. I wonder why such a
love of conquest was put into us? Mother says a great deal of it is owing to bad
education nowadays, but some girls seem born for the express purpose of making
trouble and would manage to do it if they lived in a howling wilderness. I 'm afraid I 've
got a spice of it, and if I had the chance, should be as bad as any of them. I 've tried it
and liked it, and maybe this is the consequence of that night's fun."
Here Polly leaned back and looked up at the little mirror over the chimney-piece, which
was hung so that it reflected the faces of those about the fire. In it Polly saw a pair of
telltale eyes looking out from a tangle of bright brown hair, cheeks that flushed and
dimpled suddenly as the fresh mouth smiled with an expression of conscious power,
half proud, half ashamed, and as pretty to see as the coquettish gesture with which she
smoothed back her curls and flourished a white hand. For a minute she regarded the
pleasant picture while visions of girlish romances and triumphs danced through her
head, then she shook her hair all over her face and pushed her chair out of range of the
mirror, saying, with a droll mixture of self-reproach and self-approval in her tone; "Oh,
Puttel, Puttel, what a fool I am!"
Puss appeared to endorse the sentiment by a loud purr and a graceful wave of her tail,
and Polly returned to the subject from which these little vanities had beguiled her.
"Just suppose it is true, that he does ask me, and I say yes! What a stir it would make,
and what fun it would be to see the faces of the girls when it came out! They all think a
great deal of him because he is so hard to please, and almost any of them would feel
immensely flattered if he liked them, whether they chose to marry him or not. Trix has
tried for years to fascinate him, and he can't bear her, and I 'm so glad! What a spiteful