An Old-Fashioned Girl HTML version

3. Polly's Troubles
POLLY soon found that she was in a new world, a world where the manners and
customs were so different from the simple ways at home, that she felt like a stranger in
a strange land, and often wished that she had not come. In the first place, she had
nothing to do but lounge and gossip, read novels, parade the streets, and dress; and
before a week was gone, she was as heartily sick of all this, as a healthy person would
be who attempted to live on confectionery. Fanny liked it, because she was used to it,
and had never known anything better; but Polly had, and often felt like a little wood-bird
shut up in a gilded cage. Nevertheless, she was much impressed by the luxuries all
about her, enjoyed them, wished she owned them, and wondered why the Shaws were
not a happier family. She was not wise enough to know where the trouble lay; she did
not attempt to say which of the two lives was the right one; she only knew which she
liked best, and supposed it was merely another of her "old-fashioned" ways.
Fanny's friends did not interest her much; she was rather afraid of them, they seemed
so much older and wiser than herself, even those younger in years. They talked about
things of which she knew nothing and when Fanny tried to explain, she did n't find them
interesting; indeed, some of them rather shocked and puzzled her; so the girls let her
alone, being civil when they met, but evidently feeling that she was too "odd" to belong
to their set. Then she turned to Maud for companionship, for her own little sister was
excellent company, and Polly loved her dearly. But Miss Maud was much absorbed in
her own affairs, for she belonged to a "set" also; and these mites of five and six had
their "musicals," their parties, receptions, and promenades, as well as their elders; and,
the chief idea of their little lives seemed to be to ape the fashionable follies they should
have been too innocent to understand. Maud had her tiny card-case, and paid calls,
"like mamma and Fan"; her box of dainty gloves, her jewel-drawer, her crimping-pins, as
fine and fanciful a wardrobe as a Paris doll, and a French maid to dress her. Polly could
n't get on with her at first, for Maud did n't seem like a child, and often corrected Polly in
her conversation and manners, though little mademoiselle's own were anything but
perfect. Now and then, when Maud felt poorly, or had a "fwactious" turn, for she had
"nerves" as well as mamma, she would go to Polly to "be amoosed," for her gentle ways
and kind forbearance soothed the little fine lady better than anything else. Polly enjoyed
these times, and told stories, played games, or went out walking, just as Maud liked,
slowly and surely winning the child's heart, and relieving the whole house of the young
tyrant who ruled it.
Tom soon got over staring at Polly, and at first did not take much notice of her, for, in his
opinion, "girls did n't amount to much, anyway"; and, considering, the style of girl he
knew most about, Polly quite agreed with him. He occasionally refreshed himself by
teasing her, to see how she 'd stand it, and caused Polly much anguish of spirit, for she
never knew where he would take her next. He bounced out at her from behind doors,
booed at her in dark entries, clutched her feet as she went up stairs, startled her by
shrill whistles right in her ear, or sudden tweaks of the hair as he passed her in the
street; and as sure as there was company to dinner, he fixed his round eyes on her, and
never took them off till she was reduced to a piteous state of confusion and distress.