An Old-Fashioned Girl
Polly came and went through all these changes, faithful, helpful, and as cheery as she
could be when her friends were in trouble. The parts seemed reversed now, and it was
Polly who gave, Fanny who received; for where everything seemed strange and new to
Fan, Polly was quite at home, and every one of the unfashionable domestic
accomplishments now came into play, to the comfort of the Shaws, and the great
satisfaction of Polly. She could not do enough to prove her gratitude for former favors,
and went toiling and moiling about, feeling that the hardest, most disagreeable tasks
were her especial duty. In the moving nothing suited her better than to trot up and down,
lugging heavy things, to pound her fingers black and blue nailing carpets and curtains,
and the day she nearly broke her neck tumbling down the cellar stairs, in her eagerness
to see that Mrs. Shaw's wine was rightly stored, she felt that she was only paying her
debts, and told Tom she liked it, when he picked her up looking as grimy as a chimney-
"You can turn your hand to anything, you clever girl, so do come and give me some
advice, for I am in the depths of despair," said Fanny when the "maid-of-all-work" as
Polly called herself, found a leisure hour.
"What is it? Moths in the furs, a smoky chimney, or small-pox next door?" asked Polly,
as they entered Fan's room, where Maud was trying on old bonnets before the looking-
"Actually I have nothing to wear," began Fan impressively; "I 've been too busy to think
or care till now, but here it is nearly May and I have hardly a decent rag to my back.
Usually, you know, I just go to Mrs. O'Grady and tell her what I want; she makes my
spring wardrobe, Papa pays the bill, and there I am. Now I 've looked into the matter,
and I declare to you, Polly, I 'm frightened to see how much it costs to dress me."
"Not so much as some girls I know," said Polly encouragingly.
"Perhaps not, for I have a conscience, and taste is economy sometimes; but really,
Polly, I have n't the heart to ask Papa for a cent just now, and yet I must have clothes.
You are such a genius for planning and working wonders, that I throw myself upon you
and ask, 'How shall I make a spring wardrobe out of nothing?' "
"Let me see the 'nothing' before I advise. Bring out every rag you 've got, and we 'll see
what can be done," said Polly, looking as if she enjoyed the prospect, for she had a
great deal of that feminine faculty which we call "knack," and much practice had
Fanny brought out her "rags" and was astonished to see how many she had, for chair,
sofa, bed, and bureau were covered, and still Maud, who was burrowing in the closets,
kept crying, "Here 's another."
"There 's a discouraging heap of rubbish for you!" said Fan, as she added a faded
muslin to the last pile.