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An Old-Fashioned Girl

15. Breakers Ahead 
GOING into the Shaws' one evening, Polly found Maud sitting on the stairs, with a
troubled face.
"Oh, Polly, I 'm so glad you 've come!" cried the little girl, running to hug her.
"What's the matter, deary?"
"I don't know; something dreadful must have happened, for mamma and Fan are crying
together upstairs, papa is shut up in the library, and Tom is raging round like a bear, in
the dining-room."
"I guess it is n't anything very bad. Perhaps mamma is sicker than usual, or papa
worried about business, or Tom in some new scrape. Don't look so frightened, Maudie,
but come into the parlor and see what I 've got for you," said Polly, feeling that there
was trouble of some sort in the air, but trying to cheer the child, for her little face was full
of a sorrowful anxiety, that went to Polly's heart.
"I don't think I can like anything till I know what the matter is," answered Maud. "It 's
something horrid, I 'm sure, for when papa came home, he went up to mamma's room,
and talked ever so long, and mamma cried very loud, and when I tried to go in, Fan
would n't let me, and she looked scared and strange. I wanted to go to papa when he
came down, but the door was locked, and he said, 'Not now, my little girl,' and then I sat
here waiting to see what would happen, and Tom came home. But when I ran to tell
him, he said, 'Go away, and don't bother,' and just took me by the shoulders and put me
out. Oh, dear! everything is so queer and horrid, I don't know what to do."
Maud began to cry, and Polly sat down on the stairs beside her, trying to comfort her,
while her own thoughts were full of a vague fear. All at once the dining-room door
opened, and Tom's head appeared. A single glance showed Polly that something was
the matter, for the care and elegance which usually marked his appearance were
entirely wanting. His tie was under one ear, his hair in a toss, the cherished moustache
had a neglected air, and his face an expression both excited, ashamed, and distressed;
even his voice betrayed disturbance, for instead of the affable greeting he usually
bestowed upon the young lady, he seemed to have fallen back into the bluff tone of his
boyish days, and all he said was, "Hullo, Polly."
"How do you do?" answered Polly.
"I 'm in a devil of a mess, thank you; send that chicken up stairs, and come in and hear
about it." he said, as if he had been longing to tell some one, and welcomed prudent
Polly as a special providence.
 
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