An Old-Fashioned Girl HTML version

She used to beg him not to plague her; but he said he did it for her good; she was too
shy, and needed toughening like the other girls. In vain she protested that she did n't
want to be like the other girls in that respect; he only laughed in her face, stuck his red
hair straight up all over his head, and glared at her, till she fled in dismay.
Yet Polly rather liked Tom, for she soon saw that he was neglected, hustled out of the
way, and left to get on pretty much by himself. She often wondered why his mother did
n't pet him as she did the girls; why his father ordered him about as if he was a born
rebel, and took so little interest in his only son. Fanny considered him a bear, and was
ashamed of him; but never tried to polish him up a bit; and Maud and he lived together
like a cat and dog who did not belong to a "happy family." Grandma was the only one
who stood by poor old Tom; and Polly more than once discovered him doing something
kind for Madam, and seeming very much ashamed when it was found out. He was n't
respectful at all; he called her "the old lady," and told her he "would n't be fussed over";
but when anything was the matter, he always went to "the old lady," and was very
grateful for the "fussing." Polly liked him for this, and often wanted to speak of it; but she
had a feeling that it would n't do, for in praising their affection, she was reproaching
others with neglect; so she held her tongue, and thought about it all the more. Grandma
was rather neglected, too, and perhaps that is the reason why Tom and she were such
good friends. She was even more old-fashioned than Polly; but people did n't seem to
mind it so much in her, as her day was supposed to be over, and nothing was expected
of her but to keep out of everybody's way, and to be handsomely dressed when she
appeared "before people." Grandma led a quiet, solitary life in her own rooms, full of old
furniture, pictures, books, and relics of a past for which no one cared but herself. Her
son went up every evening for a little call, was very kind to her, and saw that she
wanted nothing money could buy; but he was a busy man, so intent on getting rich that
he had no time to enjoy what he already possessed. Madam never complained,
interfered, or suggested; but there was a sad sort of quietude about her, a wistful look in
her faded eyes, as if she wanted something which money could not buy, and when
children were near, she hovered about them, evidently longing to cuddle and caress
them as only grandmothers can. Polly felt this; and as she missed the home-petting,
gladly showed that she liked to see the quiet old face brighten, as she entered the
solitary room, where few children came, except the phantoms of little sons and
daughters, who, to the motherly heart that loved them, never faded or grew up. Polly
wished the children would be kinder to grandma; but it was not for her to tell them so,
although it troubled her a good deal, and she could only try to make up for it by being as
dutiful and affectionate as if their grandma was her own.
Another thing that disturbed Polly was the want of exercise. To dress up and parade
certain streets for an hour every day, to stand talking in doorways, or drive out in a fine
carriage, was not the sort of exercise she liked, and Fan would take no other. Indeed,
she was so shocked, when Polly, one day, proposed a run down the mall, that her friend
never dared suggest such a thing again. At home, Polly ran and rode, coasted and
skated, jumped rope and raked hay, worked in her garden and rowed her boat; so no
wonder she longed for something more lively than a daily promenade with a flock of
giddy girls, who tilted along in high-heeled boots, and costumes which made Polly