An Old-Fashioned Girl HTML version
air about him, suggestive of a stirring, out-of-door life, with people who kept their eyes
wide open, and were not very particular what they did with their arms and legs. The
rough-and-ready travelling suit, stout boots, brown face, and manly beard, changed him
so much, that Polly could find scarcely a trace of elegant Tom Shaw in the hearty-
looking young man who stood with one foot on a chair, while he talked business to his
father in a sensible way, which delighted the old gentleman. Polly liked the change
immensely, and sat listening to the state of Western trade with as much interest as if it
had been the most thrilling romance, for, as he talked, Tom kept looking at her with a
nod or a smile so like old times, that for a little while, she forgot Maria Bailey, and was in
By and by Fanny came flying in, and gave Tom a greater surprise than his had been.
He had not the least suspicion of what had been going on at home, for Fan had said to
herself, with girlish malice, "If he don't choose to tell me his secrets, I 'm not going to tell
mine," and had said nothing about Sydney, except an occasional allusion to his being
often there, and very kind. Therefore, when she announced her engagement, Tom
looked so staggered for a minute, that Fan thought he did n't like it; but after the first
surprise passed, he showed such an affectionate satisfaction, that she was both
touched and flattered.
"What do you think of this performance?" asked Tom, wheeling round to Polly, who still
sat by Mrs. Shaw, in the shadow of the bed-curtains.
"I like it very much," she said in such a hearty tone, that Tom could not doubt the
genuineness of her pleasure.
"Glad of that. Hope you 'll be as well pleased with another engagement that 's coming
out before long"; and with an odd laugh, Tom carried Sydney off to his den, leaving the
girls to telegraph to one another the awful message, "It is Maria Bailey."
How she managed to get through that evening, Polly never knew, yet it was not a long
one, for at eight o'clock she slipped out of the room, meaning to run home alone, and
not compel any one to serve as escort. But she did not succeed, for as she stood
warming her rubbers at the dining-room fire, wondering pensively as she did so if Maria
Bailey had small feet, and if Tom ever put her rubbers on for her, the little overshoes
were taken out of her hands, and Tom's voice said, reproachfully, "Did you really mean
to run away, and not let me go home with you?"
"I 'm not afraid; I did n't want to take you away," began Polly, secretly hoping that she
did n't look too pleased.
"But I like to be taken away. Why, it 's a whole year since I went home with you; do you
remember that?" said Tom, flapping the rubbers about without any signs of haste.
"Does it seem long?"