Polly is Fanny, Maudie and Tom's poor "cousin" (actually no real relation) who stays with them during the summer as kids. They have a close relationship and good natured Polly teaches the other naughty children the right and wrong way to behave.
Eight years later, she returns to their town as a teacher, working to support her family. She realises she is in love with Tom, but while she was away, he gets engaged to Trixie, a girl he doesn't love but he is too proud to break it off. Polly is heartbroken but hides her heartache. Even though she is very poor, she makes the best of every situation and always does the right thing by Fanny, Maudie and Tom.
Fanny is in love too with Mr Sydney but he has a crush on the good-humoured Polly. Once Polly is aware of this, even though she loves his attention, she breaks Mr Sydney's attraction so that Fanny may get a chance to marry him. Of course, Mr Sydney does fall for Fanny and the two get engaged.
After the family become bankrupted, Tom moves out West to make his fortune and rumour from letters show that he is in love with the lady he is boarding with.
However, on his return, Polly finds out this is untrue when he proposes marriage to her.
They all live happily ever after!
This report prepared by Louisa Eggleton
Polly and Fan have been best friends by mail for a long time. Polly lives in the country and Fan lives in the city. Polly comes and visits Fan, to stay with her for a little while. She meets Fans whole family, Tom, her brother, Maud, her sister, Mr. And Mrs. Shaw, and grandma. Everything is strange in Fans life and many things are not as they should be. The family does not love each other, Fan is constantly disobeying her dad by going out with a boy that her dad said not to, she is flirting at afternoon recitals, and at the shows, girls are wearing jockey outfits. Polly does not like it there, but she takes an instant liking to grandma and Mr. Shaw. She brings happiness to the family by doing things that are considered old fashion like playing with dolls. When it is time for her to go home, the whole family is sad.
Six years later, Polly comes back to work as a music teacher to help her brother go to college. She finds that she is an outcast because she has to work, but a nice lady gives her a room for free, and she starts to help the lady with her work. The lady works to help women be strong, and through Polly's connection with Polly, she raises much money to help the poor and hungry. One day she makes a mistake and goes to a play with Fan and Tom, it just so happens the Mr. Sydney, an old friend is their, and she finds herself flirting with him, just for fun, but he thinks of it as more. To make matters worse, Fan likes Mr. Sydney. Polly doesn't love Mr. Sydney, but she doesn't want to hurt him. She also doesn't want to end her friendship with Fan. She doesn't know what to do and to make matters worse, she loves Tom, but thinks he doesn't love her. She wonders if she will ever be able to undo her mistake.
This report prepared by Cloud City
Polly Milton, a girl from the country, goes to live with her significantly wealthier aunt, uncle, and two cousins in the city. In the first half of the novel, the saintly Polly imparts morals on her two somewhat spoiled cousins. Tom and his younger sister Fanny are basically good kids who have been overindulged by their parents and are now en route to becoming full-fledged brats. Polly, with her gently delivered lessons, saves them from this fate.
The second half, published separately, takes place six years later, when Polly is twenty-two, and a poor music instructor. One night, Polly gives in to her Fanny's pleas and borrows some finery for a night at the opera. Polly unconsciously wins the affection of Mr. Sydney, the man Fanny had hoped desperately to have for herself. Romantic chaos ensues as this drama plays out and Polly falls in love with her cousin, Tom.
This report prepared by Katy Pape