Polly Arrives by Louisa M. Alcott

THE train was just in when Tom 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 how ever 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 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 isn’t,” answered the young lady, with a cool stare that utterly quenched him.

“Where in thunder is she?” growled Tom, walking off in high dudgeon. The quick tap of feet behind him made him turn in time to see a fresh-faced little girl running down the long station, and looking as if she rather liked it. As she smiled, and waved her bag at him, he stopped and waited for her, saying to himself, “Hullo! I wonder if that’s Polly?”

Up came the little girl, with her hand out, and a half-shy, half-merry look in her blue eyes, as she said, inquiringly, “This is Tom, isn’t it?”

“Yes. How did you know?” and Tom got over the ordeal of hand-shaking without thinking of it, he was so surprised.

“Oh, Fan told me you’d got curly hair and a funny nose, and kept whistling, and wore a gray cap pulled over your eyes; so I knew you directly.” And Polly nodded at him in the most friendly manner, having politely refrained from calling the hair “red,” the nose “a pug,” and the cap “old.”

“Where are your trunks?” asked Tom, as he was reminded of his duty by her handing him the bag, which he had not offered to take.

“Father told me not to wait for any one, else I’d lose my chance of a hack; so I gave my check to a man, and there he is with my trunk;” and Polly walked off after her one modest piece of baggage, followed by Tom, who felt a trifle depressed by his own remissness in polite attentions.

Polly introduces herself to Tom

“THIS IS TOM, ISN’T IT?”