Six Years Afterwards

“What do you think Polly is going to do this winter?” exclaimed Fanny, looking up from the letter she had been eagerly reading.

“Going to deliver lectures on Woman’s Rights,” said the young gentleman who was carefully examining his luxuriant crop of decidedly auburn hair, as he lounged with both elbows on the chimney-piece.

“Going to set her cap for some young minister, and marry him in the spring,” added Mrs. Shaw, whose mind ran a good deal upon match-making just now.

“I think she is going to stay at home, and do all the work, ’cause servants cost so much; it would be just like her,” observed Maud, who could pronounce the letter R now.

“It’s my opinion she is going to open a school, or something of that sort, to help those brothers of hers along,” said Mr. Shaw, who had put down his paper at the sound of Polly’s name.

“Everyone of you wrong, though papa comes nearest the truth,” cried Fanny; “she is going to give music lessons, and support herself, so that Will may go to college. He is the studious one, and Polly is very proud of him. Ned, the other brother, has a business talent, and don’t care for books, so he has gone out West, and will make his own way anywhere. Polly says she isn’t needed at home now, the family is so small, and Kitty can take her place nicely; so she is actually going to earn her own living, and hand over her share of the family income to Will. What a martyr that girl does make of herself!” and Fanny looked as solemn as if Polly had proposed some awful self-sacrifice.

“She is a sensible, brave-hearted girl, and I respect her for doing it,” said Mr. Shaw, emphatically. “One never knows what may happen, and it does no harm for young people to learn to be independent.”

“If she is as pretty as she was last time I saw her, she’ll get pupils fast enough. I wouldn’t mind taking lessons myself,” was the gracious observation of Shaw, Jnr., as he turned from the mirror, with the soothing certainty that his objectionable hair actually was growing darker.

“She wouldn’t take you at any price,” said Fanny, remembering Polly’s look of disappointment and disapproval when she came on her last visit and found him an unmistakable dandy.

“You just wait and see,” was the placid reply.

“If Polly does carry out her plan, I wish Maud to take lessons of her; Fanny can do as she likes, but it would please me very much to have one of my girls sing as Polly sings. It suits old people better than your opera things, and mother used to enjoy it so much.”

As he spoke, Mr. Shaw’s eye turned toward the corner of the fire where grandma used to sit. The easy chair was empty now, the kind old face was gone, and nothing but a very tender memory remained.

“I’d like to learn, papa, and Polly is a splendid teacher, I know; she’s always so patient, and makes everything so pleasant. I do hope she will get scholars enough to begin right away,” said Maud.

“When is she coming?” asked Mrs. Shaw, quite willing to help Polly, but privately resolving that Maud should be finished off by the most fashionable master in the city.

“She doesn’t say. She thanks me for asking her here, as usual, but says she shall go right to work, and had better begin with her own little room at once. Won’t it seem strange to have Polly in town, and yet not with us?”

“We’ll get her somehow. The little room will cost something, and she can stay with us just as well as not, even if she does teach. Tell her I say so,” said Mr. Shaw.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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