An Old-Fashioned Girl - Louisa May Alcott - ebook
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Do you ever feel like you are tied up in our times? Worrying too much about cell phones, fashions, and the latest whatever’s? This book can set you straight. It gives you a peace of mind and fills you with simple pleasures. Polly Milton is a fourteen-year-old country girl raised on old-fashioned values and invited to Boston for an extended stay with her friend, Fanny Shaw. Quite the unlikely friendship since Fanny, despite being only two years older, is no longer just a girl, not poor, and not old-fashioned. Little does Polly know the breakers which lie ahead: flounces and frizzles and the height of fashion, girls who consider flirtation the true purpose of schooling, and one particularly beastly red-headed boy who insists on plaguing his sister’s country friend. Will Polly ever learn to be like the other girls? And does she even want to? A timeless story by the author of beloved favorite „Little Women”.

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Contents

Preface

CHAPTER I. POLLY ARRIVES

CHAPTER II. NEW FASHIONS

CHAPTER III. POLLY'S TROUBLES

CHAPTER IV. LITTLE THINGS

CHAPTER V. SCRAPES

CHAPTER VI. GRANDMA

CHAPTER VII. GOOD-BY

CHAPTER VIII. SIX YEARS AFTERWARD

CHAPTER IX. LESSONS

CHAPTER X. BROTHERS AND SISTERS

CHAPTER XI. NEEDLES AND TONGUES

CHAPTER XII. FORBIDDEN FRUIT

CHAPTER XIII. THE SUNNY SIDE

CHAPTER XIV. NIPPED IN THE BUD

CHAPTER XV. BREAKERS AHEAD

CHAPTER XVI. A DRESS PARADE

CHAPTER XVII. PLAYING GRANDMOTHER

CHAPTER XVIII. THE WOMAN WHO DID NOT DARE

CHAPTER XIX. TOM'S SUCCESS

Preface

AS a preface is the only place where an author can with propriety explain a purpose or apologize for shortcomings, I venture to avail myself of the privilege to make a statement for the benefit of my readers.

As the first part of “An Old-Fashioned Girl” was written in 1869, the demand for a sequel, in beseeching little letters that made refusal impossible, rendered it necessary to carry my heroine boldly forward some six or seven years into the future. The domestic nature of the story makes this audacious proceeding possible; while the lively fancies of my young readers will supply all deficiencies, and overlook all discrepancies.

This explanation will, I trust, relieve those well-regulated minds, who cannot conceive of such literary lawlessness, from the bewilderment which they suffered when the same experiment was tried in a former book.

The “Old-Fashioned Girl” is not intended as a perfect model, but as a possible improvement upon [Page] the Girl of the Period, who seems sorrowfully ignorant or ashamed of the good old fashions which make woman truly beautiful and honored, and, through her, render home what it should be,-a happy place, where parents and children, brothers and sisters, learn to love and know and help one another.

If the history of Polly’s girlish experiences suggests a hint or insinuates a lesson, I shall feel that, in spite of many obstacles, I have not entirely neglected my duty toward the little men and women, for whom it is an honor and a pleasure to write, since in them I have always found my kindest patrons, gentlest critics, warmest friends.

L. M. A.

CHAPTER I. POLLY ARRIVES

“IT’S time to go to the station, Tom.”

“Come on, then.”

“Oh, I’m not going; it’s too wet. Should n’t have a crimp left if I went out such a day as this; and I want to look nice when Polly comes.”

“You don’t expect me to go and bring home a strange girl alone, do you?” And Tom looked as much alarmed as if his sister had proposed to him to escort the wild woman of Australia.

“Of course I do. It’s your place to go and get her; and if you was n’t a bear, you’d like it.”

“Well, I call that mean! I supposed I’d got to go; but you said you’d go, too. Catch me bothering about your friends another time! No, sir!” And Tom rose from the sofa with an air of indignant resolution, the impressive effect of which was somewhat damaged by a tousled head, and the hunched appearance of his garments generally.

“Now, don’t be cross; and I’ll get mamma to let you have that horrid Ned Miller, that you are so fond of, come and make you a visit after Polly’s gone,” said Fanny, hoping to soothe his ruffled feelings.

“How long is she going to stay?” demanded Tom, making his toilet by a promiscuous shake.

“A month or two, maybe. She’s ever so nice; and I shall keep her as long as she’s happy.”

“She won’t stay long then, if I can help it,” muttered Tom, who regarded girls as a very unnecessary portion of creation. Boys of fourteen are apt to think so, and perhaps it is a wise arrangement; for, being fond of turning somersaults, they have an opportunity of indulging in a good one, metaphorically speaking, when, three or four years later, they become the abject slaves of “those bothering girls.”

“Look here! how am I going to know the creature? I never saw her, and she never saw me. You’ll have to come too, Fan,” he added, pausing on his way to the door, arrested by the awful idea that he might have to address several strange girls before he got the right one.

“You’ll find her easy enough; she’ll probably be standing round looking for us. I dare say she’ll know you, though I’m not there, because I’ve described you to her.”

“Guess she won’t, then;” and Tom gave a hasty smooth to his curly pate and a glance at the mirror, feeling sure that his sister had n’t done him justice. Sisters never do, as “we fellows” know too well.

“Do go along, or you’ll be too late; and then, what will Polly think of me?” cried Fanny, with the impatient poke which is peculiarly aggravating to masculine dignity.

“She’ll think you cared more about your frizzles than your friends, and she’ll be about right, too.”

Feeling that he said rather a neat and cutting thing, Tom sauntered leisurely away, perfectly conscious that it was late, but bent on not being hurried while in sight, though he ran himself off his legs to make up for it afterward.

“If I was the President, I’d make a law to shut up all boys till they were grown; for they certainly are the most provoking toads in the world,” said Fanny, as she watched the slouchy figure of her brother strolling down the street. She might have changed her mind, however, if she had followed him, for as soon as he turned the corner, his whole aspect altered; his hands came out of his pockets, he stopped whistling, buttoned his jacket, gave his cap a pull, and went off at a great pace.

The train was just in when he reached the station, panting like a race-horse, and as red as a lobster with the wind and the run.

“Suppose she’ll wear a top-knot and a thingumbob, like every one else; and however shall I know her? Too bad of Fan to make me come alone!” thought Tom, as he stood watching the crowd stream through the depot, and feeling rather daunted at the array of young ladies who passed. As none of them seemed looking for any one, he did not accost them, but eyed each new batch with the air of a martyr. “That’s her,” he said to himself, as he presently caught sight of a girl in gorgeous array, standing with her hands folded, and a very small hat perched on the top of a very large “chig-non,” as Tom pronounced it. “I suppose I’ve got to speak to her, so here goes;” and, nerving himself to the task, Tom slowly approached the damsel, who looked as if the wind had blown her clothes into rags, such a flapping of sashes, scallops, ruffles, curls, and feathers was there.

“I say, if you please, is your name Polly Milton?” meekly asked Tom, pausing before the breezy stranger.

“No, it is n’t,” answered the young lady, with a cool stare that utterly quenched him.

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