Grandma, too, was glad to find willing hands and feet to serve her; and Polly passed many happy hours in the quaint rooms, learning all sorts of pretty arts, and listening to pleasant chat, never dreaming how much sunshine she brought to the solitary old lady.
Tom was Pollys rock ahead for a long time, because he was always breaking out in a new place, and one never knew where to have him. He tormented, yet amused her; was kind one day and a bear the next; at times she fancied he was never going to be bad again, and the next thing she knew, he was deep in mischief, and hooted at the idea of repentance and reformation. Polly gave him up as a hard case; but was so in the habit of helping anyone who seemed in trouble, that she was good to him simply because she couldnt help it.
Whats the matter? Is your lesson too hard for you? she asked, one evening, as a groan made her look across the table to where Tom sat scowling over a pile of dilapidated books, with his hands in his hair, as if his head was in danger of flying asunder with the tremendous effort he was making. Hard! Guess it is. What in thunder do I care about the old Carthaginians? Regulus wasnt bad; but Im sick of him! And Tom dealt Harknesss Latin Reader a thump, which expressed his feelings better than words.
I like Latin, and used to get on well when I studied it with Jimmy. Perhaps I can help you a little bit, said Polly, as Tom wiped his hot face and refreshed himself with a peanut.
You? Pooh! girls Latin dont amount to much, anyway, was the grateful reply.
But Polly was used to him now, and nothing daunted, took a look at the grimy page in the middle of which Tom had stuck. She read it so well, that the young gentleman stopped munching to regard her with respectful astonishment, and when she stopped, he said suspiciously, You are a sly one, Polly, to study up so you can show off before me. But it wont do, maam; turn over a dozen pages, and try again.
Polly obeyed, and did even better than before, saying, as she looked up, with a laugh, Ive been through the whole book; so you wont catch me that way, Tom.
I say, how came you to know such a lot? asked Tom, much impressed.
I studied with Jimmy, and kept up with him, for father let us be together in all our lessons. It was so nice, and we learned so fast!
Tell about Jimmy. Hes your brother, isnt he?
Yes; but hes dead, you know. Ill tell about him some other time; you ought to study now, and perhaps I can help you, said Polly, with a little quiver of the lips.
Shouldnt wonder if you could. And Tom spread the book between them with a grave and business-like air, for he felt that Polly had got the better of him, and it behoved him to do his best for the honour of his sex. He went at the lesson with a will, and soon floundered out of his difficulties, for Polly gave him a lift here and there, and they went on swimmingly, till they came to some rules to be learned. Polly had forgotten them so they both committed them to memory;Tom, with hands in his pockets, rocked to and fro, muttering rapidly, while Polly twisted the little curl on her forehead and stared at the wall, gabbling with all her might.
Done! cried Tom, presently.
Done! echoed Polly; and then they heard each other recite till both were perfect.
Thats pretty good fun, said Tom, joyfully, tossing poor Harkness away, and feeling that the pleasant excitement of companionship could lend a charm even to Latin Grammar.
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