An Old-Fashioned Girl
16. A Dress Parade
THE weeks that followed taught the Shaws, as many other families have been taught,
how rapidly riches take to themselves wings and fly away, when they once begin to go.
Mr. Shaw carried out his plans with an energy and patience that worked wonders, and
touched the hearts of his hardest creditors. The big house was given up as soon as
possible and the little house taken; being made comfortable with the furniture Madam
left there when she went to live with her son. The old-fashioned things had been let with
the house, and now seemed almost like a gift from Grandma, doubly precious in these
troublous times. At the auction, several persons tried to show the family that, though
they had lost their fortune, friends still remained, for one bid in Fanny's piano, and sent it
to her; another secured certain luxurious articles for Mrs. Shaw's comfort; and a third
saved such of Mr. Shaw's books as he valued most, for he had kept his word and given
up everything, with the most punctilious integrity. So the little house was not bare, but
made pleasant to their eyes by these waifs from the wreck, brought them by the tide of
sympathy and good-will which soon set in. Everybody who knew them hastened to call,
many from a real regard, but more from mere curiosity to "see how they took it." This
was one of the hardest things they had to bear, and Tom used strong language more
than once, when some fine lady came to condole, and went away to gossip. Polly's
hopes of Mrs. Shaw were disappointed, for misfortune did not have a bracing effect.
She took to her bed at once, received her friends in tears and a point-lace cap, and
cheered her family by plaintively inquiring when she was to be taken to the almshouse.
This was hard for Fanny; but after an interval of despair, she came to the conclusion
that under the circumstances it was the best thing her mother could have done, and with
something of her father's energy, Fanny shouldered the new burden, feeling that at last
necessity had given her what she had long needed, something to do.
The poor girl knew as much of household affairs as Snip; but pride and the resolution
"to stand by Father," kept up her courage, and she worked away with feverish activity at
whatever task came first till, just as strength and heart were about to fail, order began to
emerge from chaos and the vision of a home made happy and comfortable by her skill
and care came to repay and sustain her.
Maud, being relieved from the fear of back-door beggary, soon became reconciled to
bankruptcy; thought it rather a good joke, on the whole, for children like novelty, and
don't care much for Mrs. Grundy. She regarded the new abode as a baby house on a
large scale, where she was allowed to play her part in the most satisfactory manner.
From the moment when, on taking possession of the coveted room, she opened the
doors of the three-cornered closet, and found a little kettle just like Polly's, standing
there, she felt that a good time was coming for her and fell to dusting furniture, washing
cups, and making toast, the happiest, fussiest little housewife in the city. For Maud
inherited the notable gifts of her grandmother, and would have made a capital farmer's
daughter, in spite of her city breeding.