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An Old-Fashioned Girl

"Dear, dear! how old and bent poor father does look. I hope he won't forget to order my
sweetbread," sighed Mrs. Shaw one day, as she watched her husband slowly going
down the street.
Tom, who stood by her, idly spinning the curtain tassel, followed the familiar figure with
his eye, and seeing how gray the hair had grown, how careworn the florid face, and how
like a weary old man his once strong, handsome father walked, he was smitten by a
new pang of self-reproach, and with his usual impetuosity set about repairing the
omission as soon as he discovered it.
"I 'll see to your sweetbread, mum. Good-by, back to dinner," and with a hasty kiss, Tom
was off.
He did n't know exactly what he meant to do, but it had suddenly come over him, that he
was hiding from the storm, and letting his father meet it alone; for the old man went to
his office every day with the regularity of a machine, that would go its usual round until it
stopped, while the young man stayed at home with the women, and let his mother
comfort him.
"He has a right to be ashamed of me, but I act as if I was ashamed of him; dare say
people think so. I 'll show them that I ain't; yes, by the powers, I will!" and Tom drew on
his gloves with the air of a man about to meet and conquer an enemy.
"Have an arm, sir? If you don't mind I 'll walk down with you. Little commission for
mother, nice day, is n't it?"
Tom rather broke down at the end of his speech, for the look of pleased surprise with
which his father greeted him, the alacrity with which he accepted and leaned on the
strong arm offered him, proved that the daily walks had been solitary and doubtless sad
ones. I think Mr. Shaw understood the real meaning of that little act of respect, and felt
better for the hopeful change it seemed to foretell. But he took it quietly, and leaving his
face to speak for him, merely said, "Thanky, Tom; yes, mother will enjoy her dinner
twice as much if you order it."
Then they began to talk business with all their might, as if they feared that some trace of
sentiment might disgrace their masculine dignity. But it made no difference whether they
discussed lawsuits or love, mortgages or mothers, the feeling was all right and they
knew it, so Mr. Shaw walked straighter than usual, and Tom felt that he was in his
proper place again. The walk was not without its trials, however; for while it did Tom's
heart good to see the cordial respect paid to his father, it tried his patience sorely to see
also inquisitive or disapproving glances fixed upon himself when hats were lifted to his
father, and to hear the hearty "Good day, Mr. Shaw," drop into a cool or careless, "That
's the son; it 's hard on him. Wild fellow, do him good."
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