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CHAPTER ONE CHAPTER TWO CHAPTER THREE CHAPTER FOUR CHAPTER FIVE CHAPTER SIX CHAPTER SEVEN CHAPTER EIGHT CHAPTER NINE CHAPTER TEN CHAPTER ELEVEN CHAPTER TWELVE CHAPTER THIRTEEN CHAPTER FOURTEEN CHAPTER FIFTEEN CHAPTER SIXTEEN CHAPTER SEVENTEEN CHAPTER EIGHTEEN CHAPTER NINETEEN CHAPTER TWENTY CHAPTER TWENTY CHAPTER TWENTY CHAPTER TWENTY CHAPTER TWENTY CHAPTER TWENTY CHAPTER TWENTY CHAPTER TWENTY CHAPTER TWENTY CHAPTER TWENTY CHAPTER THIRTY CHAPTER THIRTY CHAPTER THIRTY CHAPTER THIRTY CHAPTER THIRTY CHAPTER THIRTY CHAPTER THIRTY CHAPTER THIRTY CHAPTER THIRTY CHAPTER THIRTY

LITTLE WOMEN CHAPTER FORTY CHAPTER FORTY CHAPTER FORTY CHAPTER FORTY CHAPTER FORTY CHAPTER FORTY CHAPTER FORTY CHAPTER FORTY

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LITTLE WOMEN
by Louisa May Alcott

CHAPTER ONE

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CHAPTER ONE
PLAYING PILGRIMS "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug. "It's so dreadful to be poor!" sighed Meg, looking down at her old dress. "I don't think it's fair for some girls to have plenty of pretty things, and other girls nothing at all," added little Amy, with an injured sniff. "We've got Father and Mother, and each other," said Beth contentedly from her corner. The four young faces on which the firelight shone brightened at the cheerful words, but darkened again as Jo said sadly, "We haven't got Father, and shall not have him for a long time." She didn't say "perhaps never," but each silently added it, thinking of Father far away, where the fighting was. Nobody spoke for a minute; then Meg said in an altered tone, "You know the reason Mother proposed not having any presents this Christmas was because it is going to be a hard winter for everyone; and she thinks we ought not to spend money for pleasure, when our men are suffering so in the army. We can't do much, but we can make our little sacrifices, and ought to do it gladly. But I am afraid I don't," and Meg shook her head, as she thought regretfully of all the pretty things she wanted. "But I don't think the little we should spend would do any good. We've each got a dollar, and the army wouldn't be much helped by our giving that. I agree not to expect anything from Mother or you, but I do want to buy Undine and Sintran for myself. I've wanted it so long," said Jo, who was a bookworm. "I planned to spend mine in new music," said Beth, with a little sigh, which no one heard but the hearth brush and kettle-holder. "I shall get a nice box of Faber's drawing pencils; I really need them," said Amy decidedly. "Mother didn't say anything about our money, and she won't wish us to give up everything. Let's each buy what we want, and have a little fun; I'm sure we work hard enough to earn it," cried Jo, examining the heels of her shoes in a gentlemanly manner. "I know I do--teaching those tiresome children nearly all day, when I'm longing to enjoy myself at home," began Meg, in the complaining tone again. "You don't have half such a hard time as I do," said Jo. "How would you like to be shut up for hours with a nervous, fussy old lady, who keeps you trotting, is never satisfied, and worries you till you're ready to fly out the window or cry?" "It's naughty to fret, but I do think washing dishes and keeping things tidy is the worst work in the world. It makes me cross, and my hands get so stiff, I can't practice well at all." And Beth looked at her rough hands with a sigh that any one could hear that time. "I don't believe any of you suffer as I do," cried Amy, "for you don't have to go to school with impertinent girls, who plague you if you don't know your lessons, and laugh at your dresses, and label your father if he isn't rich, and insult you when your nose isn't nice." "If you mean libel, I'd say so, and not talk about labels, as if Papa was a pickle bottle," advised Jo, laughing.

CHAPTER ONE "I know what I mean, and you needn't be statirical about it. It's proper to use good words, and improve your vocabilary," returned Amy, with dignity. "Don't peck at one another, children. Don't you wish we had the money Papa lost when we were little, Jo? Dear me! How happy and good we'd be, if we had no worries!" said Meg, who could remember better times.

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"You said the other day you thought we were a deal happier than the King children, for they were fighting and fretting all the time, in spite of their money." "So I did, Beth. Well, I think we are. For though we do have to work, we make fun of ourselves, and are a pretty jolly set, as Jo would say." "Jo does use such slang words!" observed Amy, with a reproving look at the long figure stretched on the rug. Jo immediately sat up, put her hands in her pockets, and began to whistle. "Don't, Jo. It's so boyish!" "That's why I do it." "I detest rude, unladylike girls!" "I hate affected, niminy-piminy chits!" "Birds in their little nests agree," sang Beth, the peacemaker, with such a funny face that both sharp voices softened to a laugh, and the "pecking" ended for that time. "Really, girls, you are both to be blamed," said Meg, beginning to lecture in her elder-sisterly fashion. "You are old enough to leave off boyish tricks, and to behave better, Josephine. It didn't matter so much when you were a little girl, but now you are so tall, and turn up your hair, you should remember that you are a young lady." "I'm not! And if turning up my hair makes me one, I'll wear it in two tails till I'm twenty," cried Jo, pulling off her net, and shaking down a chestnut mane. "I hate to think I've got to grow up, and be Miss March, and wear long gowns, and look as prim as a China Aster! It's bad enough to be a girl, anyway, when I like boy's games and work and manners! I can't get over my disappointment in not being a boy. And it's worse than ever now, for I'm dying to go and fight with Papa. And I can only stay home and knit, like a poky old woman!" And Jo shook the blue army sock till the needles rattled like castanets, and her ball bounded across the room. "Poor Jo! It's too bad, but it can't be helped. So you must try to be contented with making your name boyish, and playing brother to us girls," said Beth, stroking the rough head with a hand that all the dish washing and dusting in the world could not make ungentle in its touch. "As for you, Amy," continued Meg, "you are altogether to particular and prim. Your airs are funny now, but you'll grow up an affected little goose, if you don't take care. I like your nice manners and refined ways of speaking, when you don't try to be elegant. But your absurd words are as bad as Jo's slang." "If Jo is a tomboy and Amy a goose, what am I, please?" asked Beth, ready to share the lecture. "You're a dear, and nothing else," answered Meg warmly, and no one contradicted her, for the 'Mouse' was the pet of the family.

CHAPTER ONE As young readers like to know 'how people look', we will take this moment to give them a little sketch of the four sisters, who sat knitting away in the twilight, while the December snow fell quietly without, and the fire crackled cheerfully within. It was a comfortable room, though the carpet was faded and the furniture very plain, for a good picture or two hung on the walls, books filled the recesses, chrysanthemums and Christmas roses bloomed in the windows, and a pleasant atmosphere of home peace pervaded it.

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Margaret, the eldest of the four, was sixteen, and very pretty, being plump and fair, with large eyes, plenty of soft brown hair, a sweet mouth, and white hands, of which she was rather vain. Fifteen- year-old Jo was very tall, thin, and brown, and reminded one of a colt, for she never seemed to know what to do with her long limbs, which were very much in her way. She had a decided mouth, a comical nose, and sharp, gray eyes, which appeared to see everything, and were by turns fierce, funny, or thoughtful. Her long, thick hair was her one beauty, but it was usually bundled into a net, to be out of her way. Round shoulders had Jo, big hands and feet, a flyaway look to her clothes, and the uncomfortable appearance of a girl who was rapidly shooting up into a woman and didn't like it. Elizabeth, or Beth, as everyone called her, was a rosy, smooth- haired, bright-eyed girl of thirteen, with a shy manner, a timid voice, and a peaceful expression which was seldom disturbed. Her father called her 'Little Miss Tranquility', and the name suited her excellently, for she seemed to live in a happy world of her own, only venturing out to meet the few whom she trusted and loved. Amy, though the youngest, was a most important person, in her own opinion at least. A regular snow maiden, with blue eyes, and yellow hair curling on her shoulders, pale and slender, and always carrying herself like a young lady mindful of her manners. What the characters of the four sisters were we will leave to be found out. The clock struck six and, having swept up the hearth, Beth put a pair of slippers down to warm. Somehow the sight of the old shoes had a good effect upon the girls, for Mother was coming, and everyone brightened to welcome her. Meg stopped lecturing, and lighted the lamp, Amy got out of the easy chair without being asked, and Jo forgot how tired she was as she sat up to hold the slippers nearer to the blaze. "They are quite worn out. Marmee must have a new pair." "I thought I'd get her some with my dollar," said Beth. "No, I shall!" cried Amy. "I'm the oldest," began Meg, but Jo cut in with a decided, "I'm the man of the family now Papa is away, and I shall provide the slippers, for he told me to take special care of Mother while he was gone." "I'll tell you what we'll do," said Beth, "let's each get her something for Christmas, and not get anything for ourselves." "That's like you, dear! What will we get?" exclaimed Jo. Everyone thought soberly for a minute, then Meg announced, as if the idea was suggested by the sight of her own pretty hands, "I shall give her a nice pair of gloves." "Army shoes, best to be had," cried Jo. "Some handkerchiefs, all hemmed," said Beth. "I'll get a little bottle of cologne. She likes it, and it won't cost much, so I'll have some left to buy my pencils," added Amy. "How will we give the things?" asked Meg.

CHAPTER ONE

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"Put them on the table, and bring her in and see her open the bundles. Don't you remember how we used to do on our birthdays?" answered Jo. "I used to be so frightened when it was my turn to sit in the chair with the crown on, and see you all come marching round to give the presents, with a kiss. I liked the things and the kisses, but it was dreadful to have you sit looking at me while I opened the bundles," said Beth, who was toasting her face and the bread for tea at the same time. "Let Marmee think we are getting things for ourselves, and then surprise her. We must go shopping tomorrow afternoon, Meg. There is so much to do about the play for Christmas night," said Jo, marching up and down, with her hands behind her back, and her nose in the air. "I don't mean to act any more after this time. I'm getting too old for such things," observed Meg, who was as much a child as ever about 'dressing-up' frolics. "You won't stop, I know, as long as you can trail round in a white gown with your hair down, and wear gold-paper jewelry. You are the best actress we've got, and there'll be an end of everything if you quit the boards," said Jo. "We ought to rehearse tonight. Come here, Amy, and do the fainting scene, for you are as stiff as a poker in that." "I can't help it. I never saw anyone faint, and I don't choose to make myself all black and blue, tumbling flat as you do. If I can go down easily, I'll drop. If I can't, I shall fall into a chair and be graceful. I don't care if Hugo does come at me with a pistol," returned Amy, who was not gifted with dramatic power, but was chosen because she was small enough to be borne out shrieking by the villain of the piece. "Do it this way. Clasp your hands so, and stagger across the room, crying frantically, 'Roderigo! Save me! Save me!'" and away went Jo, with a melodramatic scream which was truly thrilling. Amy followed, but she poked her hands out stiffly before her, and jerked herself along as if she went by machinery, and her "Ow!" was more suggestive of pins being run into her than of fear and anguish. Jo gave a despairing groan, and Meg laughed outright, while Beth let her bread burn as she watched the fun with interest. "It's no use! Do the best you can when the time comes, and if the audience laughs, don't blame me. Come on, Meg." Then things went smoothly, for Don Pedro defied the world in a speech of two pages without a single break. Hagar, the witch, chanted an awful incantation over her kettleful of simmering toads, with weird effect. Roderigo rent his chains asunder manfully, and Hugo died in agonies of remorse and arsenic, with a wild, "Ha! Ha!" "It's the best we've had yet," said Meg, as the dead villain sat up and rubbed his elbows. "I don't see how you can write and act such splendid things, Jo. You're a regular Shakespeare!" exclaimed Beth, who firmly believed that her sisters were gifted with wonderful genius in all things. "Not quite," replied Jo modestly. "I do think The Witches Curse, an Operatic Tragedy is rather a nice thing, but I'd like to try Macbeth, if we only had a trapdoor for Banquo. I always wanted to do the killing part. 'Is that a dagger that I see before me?" muttered Jo, rolling her eyes and clutching at the air, as she had seen a famous tragedian do. "No, it's the toasting fork, with Mother's shoe on it instead of the bread. Beth's stage-struck!" cried Meg, and the rehearsal ended in a general burst of laughter.

till the others were ready." A quick. Jo brought wood and set chairs. you look tired to death. Meg and Amy perched on either arm of the chair. and an especial message to you girls. unless he is sick. with a particularly happy face. As they gathered about the table. and only at the end did the writer's heart over-flow with fatherly love and longing for the ." said Mrs. a vivan--what's its name? Or a nurse. over-turning." While making these maternal inquiries Mrs. bright smile went round like a streak of sunshine. baby. her warm slippers on. trying to make things comfortable. "Hurry and get done! Don't stop to quirk your little finger and simper over your plate. each in her own way. March got her wet things off. and thinks he shall get through the cold season better than we feared. and Jo leaning on the back. Beth? How is your cold." They all drew to the fire." sighed Amy. and not strong enough for a soldier. Mother in the big chair with Beth at her feet. "It must be very disagreeable to sleep in a tent. marches. on the carpet in her haste to get at the treat. and military news. The girls flew about. preparing to enjoy the happiest hour of her busy day.CHAPTER ONE "Glad to find you so merry. Very few letters were written in those hard times that were not touching. "When will he come home. "I've got a treat for you after supper. March. In this one little was said of the hardships endured. drew Amy to her lap. especially those which fathers sent home. Beth ate no more. dropping. She was not elegantly dressed. He sends all sorts of loving wishes for Christmas. patting her pocket as if she had got a treasure there. and the girls thought the gray cloak and unfashionable bonnet covered the most splendid mother in the world. "I think it was so splendid in Father to go as chaplain when he was too old to be drafted. He is well. quiet and busy. "Not for many months. Now come and hear the letter. the dangers faced. hopeful letter. Mrs. so I could be near him and help him." cried Jo. getting the boxes ready to go tomorrow. or the homesickness conquered. a nice long letter. and drink out of a tin mug. Meg? Jo. "A letter! A letter! Three cheers for Father!" 7 "Yes. and we won't ask for him back a minute sooner than he can be spared." said a cheery voice at the door. Beth trotted to and fro between parlor kitchen. with a groan. that I didn't come home to dinner. dearies. and actors and audience turned to welcome a tall. full of lively descriptions of camp life. and eat all sorts of bad-tasting things. as she sat with her hands folded. how have you got on today? There was so much to do. March said. Come and kiss me. but a noble-looking woman. Amy. He will stay and do his work faithfully as long as he can. Marmee?" asked Beth. Meg arranged the tea table. but crept away to sit in her shadowy corner and brood over the delight to come. my girls. while Amy gave directions to everyone." exclaimed Jo. and clattering everything she touched. with a little quiver in her voice. "Don't I wish I could go as a drummer. butter side down. regardless of the biscuit she held. dear. Has anyone called. motherly lady with a 'can I help you' look about her which was truly delightful." said Meg warmly. and sitting down in the easy chair. crying. choking on her tea and dropping her bread. Beth clapped her hands. where no one would see any sign of emotion if the letter should happen to be touching. "Well. and Jo tossed up her napkin. It was a cheerful.

where you had all the lovely things you could collect to make a Celestial City. not in play." "What fun it was. but nobody did. which was the City of Destruction. fight their bosom enemies bravely. give you hats and sticks and rolls of paper. but do my duty here instead of wanting to be somewhere else. 8 Mrs. "I liked the place where the bundles fell off and tumbled downstairs." said Meg." said Amy." said Jo. and passing through the valley where the hob-goblins were. March broke the silence that followed Jo's words. Mine is dishes and dusters. and conquer themselves so beautifully that when I come back to them I may be fonder and prouder than ever of my little women. because it is a play we are playing all the time in one way or another. while she resolved in her quiet little soul to be all that Father hoped to find her when the year brought round the happy coming home. so that these hard days need not be wasted. fighting Apollyon. who was a very literal young lady. and envying girls with nice pianos." said her mother. Beth said nothing. thinking that keeping her temper at home was a much harder task than facing a rebel or two down South. except Beth. and always liked the cake and milk we had up at the top. suppose you begin again. I'd rather like to play it over again. and let you travel through the house from the cellar. up. Mother? Where are our bundles?" asked Amy. If I wasn't too old for such things." Everybody sniffed when they came to that part." cried Meg. my little pilgrims. I know they will remember all I said to them." "We all will. "I am a selfish girl! But I'll truly try to be better. "Each of you told what your burden was just now. pray for them by night. losing no time in doing the duty that lay nearest her. except that I was afraid of the cellar and the dark entry. but wiped away her tears with the blue army sock and began to knit with all her might. who began to talk of renouncing childish things at the mature age of twelve. my dear. so he mayn't be disappointed in me by-and-by." "Really. and the longing for goodness and happiness is the guide that leads us through many troubles and mistakes to the peace which is a true Celestial City. by saying in her cheery voice. I rather think she hasn't got any. especially going by the lions." said Jo. "Give them all of my dear love and a kiss. Jo wasn't ashamed of the great tear that dropped off the end of her nose. and being afraid of people. to the housetop. "Do you remember how you used to play Pilgrims Progress when you were little things? Nothing delighted you more than to have me tie my piece bags on your backs for burdens. but remind them that while we wait we may all work. and Amy never minded the rumpling of her curls as she hid her face on her mother's shoulder and sobbed out. "I don't remember much about it. "Yes.CHAPTER ONE little girls at home. for it would have hurt . but won't any more. up. 'a little woman' and not be rough and wild. and see how far on you can get before Father comes home. Our burdens are here. will do their duty faithfully. if I can help it. that they will be loving children to you." "I'll try and be what he loves to call me." Beth's bundle was such a funny one that everybody wanted to laugh. I have. A year seems very long to wait before I see them. "We never are too old for this. and find my best comfort in their affection at all times. Tell them I think of them by day. Now. but in earnest. our road is before us. "I think too much of my looks and hate to work.

and it had become a household custom. We ought to have our roll of directions." replied Mrs. Meg had a voice like a flute. What shall we do about that?" asked Jo. and she and her mother led the little choir. . and Mother came and pulled us out as Help did in the book. but she had a way of softly touching the yellow keys and making a pleasant accompaniment to the simple songs they sang. "It is only another name for trying to be good. They had always done this from the time they could lisp.." 9 "We were in the Slough of Despond tonight. They talked over the new plan while old Hannah cleared the table. for though we do want to be good. like Christian. and calling the quarters Europe. and Jo wandered through the airs at her own sweet will. 'ittle 'tar. as usual. The first sound in the morning was her voice as she went about the house singing like a lark." said Meg thoughtfully. At nine they stopped work. "Let us do it.. always coming out at the wrong place with a croak or a quaver that spoiled the most pensive tune. March. and the story may help us. "Look under your pillows Christmas morning. No one but Beth could get much music out of the old piano. for the mother was a born singer. It was uninteresting sewing. crinkle. for the girls never grew too old for that familiar lullaby. Amy chirped like a cricket. but tonight no one grumbled. and sang. then out came the four little work baskets. Africa.CHAPTER ONE her feelings very much. and America. and the last sound at night was the same cheery sound. it's hard work and we forget. before they went to bed. Asia. They adopted Jo's plan of dividing the long seams into four parts. and in that way got on capitally. Crinkle. and the needles flew as the girls made sheets for Aunt March. and you will find your guidebook. and don't do our best. delighted with the fancy which lent a little romance to the very dull task of doing her duty. especially when they talked about the different countries as they stitched their way through them.

" replied Jo. looking proudly at the somewhat uneven letters which had cost her such labor. and obeyed her because her advice was so gently given. dancing about the room to take the first stiffness off the new army slippers.covered book appeared. when her little sock fell down because it was crammed so full of goodies. and for a moment she felt as much disappointed as she did long ago. Margaret had a sweet and pious nature. but since Father went away and all this war trouble unsettled us." whispered Beth. especially Jo." replied Hannah. so fry your cakes. and have everything ready." Then she opened her new book and began to read. Amy. "Girls. the other blue." said Meg. clothes and firin'. as the little flask did not appear. and Jo felt that it was a true guidebook for any pilgrim going on a long journey. She knew it very well. leaning cheek to cheek." said Amy. but I shall keep my book on the table here and read a little every morning as soon as I wake. Then she remembered her mother's promise and. looking from the tumbled head beside her to the two little night-capped ones in the room beyond. and then the rooms were very still while the pages were softly turned. She woke Meg with a "Merry Christmas. very much impressed by the pretty books and her sisters. read also. In spite of her small vanities. There never was such a woman for givin' away vittles and drink. Presently Beth and Amy woke to rummage and find their little books also. "How good Meg is! Come. for I know it will do me good and help me through the day. Jo put her arm round her and. "I'm glad mine is blue. or some such notion. and went off with it to put a ribbon on it. A green. and the winter sunshine crept in to touch the bright heads and serious faces with a Christmas greeting.CHAPTER TWO 10 CHAPTER TWO A MERRY CHRISTMAS Jo was the first to wake in the gray dawn of Christmas morning. while the east grew rosy with the coming day. drew out a little crimson-covered book. Some poor creeter came a-beggin'. slipping her hand under her pillow. where is Amy's bottle of cologne?" she added. half an hour later. "She will be back soon. we have neglected many things. and I marked them all myself. "She took it out a minute ago. "Mother wants us to read and love and mind these books. I think. and your ma went straight off to see what was needed. and we must begin at once. "Where is Mother?" asked Meg. don't they? Hannah washed and ironed them for me. looking over the presents which were collected in a basket and kept under the sofa. which made their one present very precious in their eyes. . for it was that beautiful old story of the best life ever lived. I'll help you with the hard words. and they'll explain things if we don't understand. example. with the quiet expression so seldom seen on her restless face. who had lived with the family since Meg was born. who loved her very tenderly. "How nice my handkerchiefs look. one dove-colored. You can do as you please. ready to be produced at the proper time. as she and Jo ran down to thank her for their gifts. "Why. let's do as they do. No stockings hung at the fireplace." said Meg seriously. and a few words written by their mother. "Goodness only knows." and bade her see what was under her pillow. and all sat looking at and talking about them. We used to be faithful about it. with the same picture inside." said Beth. and was considered by them all more as a friend than a servant. which unconsciously influenced her sisters.

with a frown for Jo and a smile for Beth. for no one can ever mistake now. eager for breakfast. and no one laughed at the queer party. and the procession set out. "I thought you'd do it. But I want to say one word before we sit down. "I shall take the cream and the muffings. for Jo exclaimed impetuously." added Amy." they all cried in chorus. quite sensible too. Fortunately it was early." said Mrs. "Isn't that right? I thought it was better to do it so. My girls. and mean to every day." They were soon ready." As she spoke. for mine is the handsomest now. Jo! I didn't mean anyone should know till the time came. by her hood and cloak. March'. and I'm so glad.. while Beth ran to the window. will you give them your breakfast as a Christmas present?" They were all unusually hungry. Marmee! Many of them! Thank you for our books. Amy came in hastily. "You shall all go and help me. "Merry Christmas. Hide the basket. Six children are huddled into one bed to keep from freezing. that lazy Amy had been out so early. I know. so few people saw them. March. We read some. as a door slammed and steps sounded in the hall.CHAPTER TWO 11 "Bless the child! She's gone and put 'Mother' on them instead of 'M. quick!" cried Jo." said Beth. It will please her very much. and hope you will keep on. and picked her finest rose to ornament the stately bottle. so I ran round the corner and changed it the minute I was up. Meg was already covering the buckwheats. I only meant to change the little bottle for a big one. and they went through back streets. Amy showed the handsome flask which replaced the cheap one. little daughters! I'm glad you began at once. "It's all right. and the girls to the table. "I'm so glad you came before we began!" "May I go and help carry the things to the poor little children?" asked Beth eagerly. only a minute. and I don't want anyone to use these but Marmee. and the oldest boy came to tell me they were suffering hunger and cold. after reading and talking about being good this morning. and make it up at dinnertime. "Don't laugh at me. having waited nearly an hour. and I'm truly trying not to be selfish any more. dear. looking troubled. taking one up. and a very pretty idea.M. smiling as if satisfied. Not far away from here lies a poor woman with a little newborn baby." Another bang of the street door sent the basket under the sofa. surprised to see. and what are you hiding behind you?" asked Meg. and piling the bread into one big plate. and looked so earnest and humble in her little effort to forget herself that Meg hugged her on the spot. heroically giving up the article she most liked. . How funny!" cried Jo. "There's Mother." said Meg. and when we come back we will have bread and milk for breakfast. and for a minute no one spoke. "Merry Christmas. and Jo pronounced her 'a trump'. There is nothing to eat over there. "You see I felt ashamed of my present. and I gave all my money to get it. "Where have you been. because Meg's initials are M. for they have no fire. and looked rather abashed when she saw her sisters all waiting for her.

"Funny angels in hoods and mittens. And when they went away. Amy threw open the door. The slippers went on at once. and then all fell to work. laughing. and set them to laughing." said Meg. Amy! Three cheers for Marmee!" cried Jo. made a fire. and a group of pale. Being still too young to go often to the theater. In a few minutes it really did seem as if kind spirits had been at work there. glittering with tin spangles from a pickle factory. and the tall vase of red roses. a new handkerchief was slipped into her pocket. hungry children cuddled under one old quilt. and stopped up the broken panes with old hats and her own cloak. and armor covered with the same useful diamond shaped bits left in sheets when the lids of preserve pots were cut out. crying for joy. The girls had never been called angel children before. These boots. the girls put their wits to work. and thought it very agreeable. and Meg enacted escort with great dignity. mein Gott! It is good angels come to us!" said the poor woman. "Ach. No gentleman were admitted. and not rich enough to afford any great outlay for private performances. "She's coming! Strike up. wailing baby. Mrs. bare. pasteboard guitars." said Jo. miserable room it was. made whatever they needed. gave quite an elegant air to the table. who knew a lady who knew an actor. gorgeous robes of old cotton. with broken windows. Hannah. prancing about while Meg went to conduct Mother to the seat of honor. so sweet to remember long afterward. leaving comfort behind. well scented with Amy's cologne. while she dressed the little baby as tenderly as if it had been her own. an old . antique lamps made of old-fashioned butter boats covered with silver paper. and fed them like so many hungry birds. and the nice gloves were pronounced a perfect fit. as they set out their presents while their mother was upstairs collecting clothes for the poor Hummels. Mrs. trying to keep warm. That was a very happy breakfast. Not a very splendid show. "That's loving our neighbor better than ourselves.CHAPTER TWO 12 A poor. The girls meantime spread the table. loving fashion which makes these home festivals so pleasant at the time. white chrysanthemums. and smiled with her eyes full as she examined her presents and read the little notes which accompanied them. and I like it. and trying to understand the funny broken English. no fire. though they didn't get any of it. in the simple. March gave the mother tea and gruel. so Jo played male parts to her heart's content and took immense satisfaction in a pair of russet leather boots given her by a friend. "Das ist gut!" "Die Engel-kinder!" cried the poor things as they ate and warmed their purple hands at the comfortable blaze. March was both surprised and touched. ragged bedclothes. The morning charities and ceremonies took so much time that the rest of the day was devoted to preparations for the evening festivities. Very clever were some of their productions. The big chamber was the scene of many innocent revels. and trailing vines. set the children round the fire. especially Jo. but there was a great deal of love done up in the few little bundles. talking. and necessity being the mother of invention. Beth played her gayest march. There was a good deal of laughing and kissing and explaining. Beth! Open the door. a sick mother. which stood in the middle. and comforted her with promises of help. I think there were not in all the city four merrier people than the hungry little girls who gave away their breakfasts and contented themselves with bread and milk on Christmas morning. who had carried wood. How the big eyes stared and the blue lips smiled as the girls went in. who had been considered a 'Sancho' ever since she was born. the rose was fastened in her bosom.

Hugo demanded a potion to make Zara adore him. After pacing to and fro in much agitation. it sang. Airy sprite. singing of his hatred for Roderigo. she had cursed him. the spirit vanished. and intends to thwart his plans. lonely. and sat before the blue and yellow chintz curtains in a most flattering state of expectancy. a red and black robe. Then came . and a slashed doublet once used by an artist for some picture. not a lovely one. black beard. his love for Zara. "A gloomy wood. Charms and potions canst thou brew? Bring me here. with gray horsehair hanging about her face. and be revenged on him. bureaus for walls. he stole to the cavern and ordered Hagar to come forth with a commanding. then Hugo. Zara replied and. and an occasional giggle from Amy. promised both. and behind the white curtain appeared Zara in a lovely blue and silver dress. was represented by a few shrubs in pots. and the boots. a staff. and his pleasing resolution to kill the one and win the other. red cloak. no one murmured at the delay. having croaked a reply. he struck his forehead.. he sang a serenade in melting tones. A tower rose to the ceiling. The smallness of the company made it necessary for the two principal actors to take several parts apiece. whisking in and out of various costumes. from thy home. A moment was allowed for the first thrill to subside. were very impressive. and then at the back of the cave appeared a little figure in cloudy white. It was excellent drill for their memories. were Jo's chief treasures and appeared on all occasions. From my airy home. He came in gorgeous array. Or its power will vanish soon! And dropping a small. The fragrant philter which I need. and the boots. and the operatic tragedy began. Afar in the silver moon. A good deal of hammering went on before the curtain rose again. Having warbled his thanks and put the potions in his boots. with glittering wings. Another chant from Hagar produced another apparition. and one to destroy Roderigo. I bid thee come! Born of roses." according to the one playbill. with an occasional shout when his feelings overcame him. There was a good deal of rustling and whispering behind the curtain. a harmless amusement. of course. waiting for Roderigo.. and managing the stage besides. and the audience reposed and ate candy while discussing the merits of the play. mysterious cloak. It was truly superb. consented to fly. tossed a dark bottle at Hugo and disappeared with a mocking laugh. Waving a wand. a slouching hat. golden hair. and a cave in the distance. halfway up appeared a window with a lamp burning in it. Spirit. Make it sweet and swift and strong. chestnut lovelocks. after a musical dialogue. Kneeling at the foot of the tower. stalked in with a clanking sword at his side. The stage was dark and the glow of the furnace had a fine effect. a guitar. and cabalistic signs upon her cloak. the curtains flew apart. Bowing with the air of one accustomed to public praise. for with a bang an ugly black imp appeared and. Hagar. Take the magic spell. and a garland of roses on its head. "What ho. hither.CHAPTER TWO 13 foil. answer now my song! A soft strain of music sounded. and burst out in a wild strain. a dozen girls piled onto the bed which was the dress circle. in a fine dramatic melody. Hither I come. and in it was a small furnace in full blast. And use it well. especially as real steam issued from the kettle when the witch took off the cover. but when it became evident what a masterpiece of stage carpentery had been got up. green baize on the floor. the villain. who was apt to get hysterical in the excitement of the moment. On christmas night. Hugo departed. with a black pot on it and an old witch bending over it. and proceeded to call up the spirit who would bring the love philter. Presently a bell sounded. gilded bottle at the witch's feet. The gruff tones of Hugo's voice. and the audience applauded the moment he paused for breath. with plumed cap. with elfin speed. and they certainly deserved some credit for the hard work they did in learning three or four different parts. or spent in less profitable society. minion! I need thee!" Out came Meg. a trifle of lamp smoke. Then the curtain fell. and Hagar informed the audience that as he had killed a few of her friends in times past. fed on dew. This cave was made with a clothes horse for a roof. and employed many hours which otherwise would have been idle. Hither.

and invited Zara to descend. Act third was the castle hall. A stout little retainer came in with chains and led them away. threw up one end. Ferdinando. He consents without a murmur. pink and white. all join in a joyful chorus. Tumultuous applause followed but received an unexpected check. 14 A universal shriek arose as the russet boots waved wildly from the wreck and a golden head emerged. Act fourth displayed the despairing Roderigo on the point of stabbing himself because he has been told that Zara has deserted him. He wishes her to go into a convent. with a hasty aside. Act fifth opened with a stormy scene between Zara and Don Pedro. which unlocks the door. She hears him coming and hides.. and after a touching appeal. "Don't laugh! Act as if it was all right!" and. the tower tottered. and all were taken out unhurt. They shout and gesticulate tremendously but cannot agree. sees him put the potions into two cups of wine and bid the timid little servant. The bag is opened. for the cot bed. informing him that Zara is true but in danger. carries them away. Roderigo produced a rope ladder. the 'minion'. and would the ladies walk down to supper. and here Hagar appeared. and was about to leap gracefully down when "Alas! Alas for Zara!" she forgot her train. with five steps to it.. A key is thrown in. Just as the dagger is at his heart. looking very much frightened and evidently forgetting the speech he ought to have made. and after a good deal of clutching and stamping. though many were speechless with laughter. and with great propriety appeared. ordering Roderigo up. when the timid servant enters with a letter and a bag from Hagar. Timidly she crept from her lattice. and Rodrigo is about to bear away the exhausted Zara. It was like Marmee to get up a little treat for them. and Hagar changes the cups for two others which are harmless. There was ice cream. drinks it. Though decidedly shaken by the fall from the tower upon him. and when they saw the table. Don Pedro refuses. Don Pedro. suddenly shut up and extinguished the enthusiastic audience. put her hand on Roderigo's shoulder. banished him from the kingdom with wrath and scorn. and Hagar puts back the cup which holds the poison meant for Roderigo. having come to free the lovers and finish Hugo. but she won't hear of it. and in a spasm of rapture he tears off his chains and rushes away to find and rescue his lady love. and tell them I shall come anon. who has mysteriously disappeared. rushed in." The servant takes Hugo aside to tell him something. The latter informs the party that she bequeaths untold wealth to the young pair and an awful doom to Don Pedro. This entirely softens the stern sire. leading Hagar. He was called before the curtain. This was a truly thrilling scene. Roderigo and Don Pedro flew to the rescue. This dauntless example fired Zara. loses his wits. and several quarts of tin money shower down upon the stage till it is quite glorified with the glitter. and he can save her if he will. and the curtain falls upon the lovers kneeling to receive Don Pedro's blessing in attitudes of the most romantic grace. they looked at one another in rapturous amazement. actually two dishes of it. leaned forward. She also defied her sire. whose singing was considered more wonderful than all the rest of the performance put together. fell with a crash. and cake and . with "Mrs. getting thirsty after a long warble. but anything so fine as this was unheard of since the departed days of plenty. the cruel sire. falls flat and dies. March's compliments. dragged out his daughter. and buried the unhappy lovers in the ruins. Roderigo defied the old gentleman and refused to stir. "Bear them to the captives in their cells. because he is not rich. though some persons might have thought that the sudden tumbling down of a quantity of long red hair rather marred the effect of the villain's death. The excitement had hardly subsided when Hannah appeared. is about to faint when Roderigo dashes in and demands her hand.CHAPTER TWO the grand effect of the play." This was a surprise even to the actors. It caught in the window. exclaiming. and he ordered them both to the deepest dungeons of the castle. "I told you so! I told you so!" With wonderful presence of mind. a lovely song is sung under his window. if he doesn't make them happy. Hugo. while Hagar informs him what she has done in a song of exquisite power and melody. on which the dress circle was built.

CHAPTER TWO

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fruit and distracting french bonbons and, in the middle of the table, four great bouquets of hot house flowers. It quite took their breath away, and they stared first at the table and then at their mother, who looked as if she enjoyed it immensely. "Is it fairies?" asked Amy. "Santa Claus," said Beth. "Mother did it." And Meg smiled her sweetest, in spite of her gray beard and white eyebrows. "Aunt March had a good fit and sent the supper," cried Jo, with a sudden inspiration. "All wrong. Old Mr. Laurence sent it," replied Mrs. March. "The Laurence boy's grandfather! What in the world put such a thing into his head? We don't know him!" exclaimed Meg. "Hannah told one of his servants about your breakfast party. He is an odd old gentleman, but that pleased him. He knew my father years ago, and he sent me a polite note this afternoon, saying he hoped I would allow him to express his friendly feeling toward my children by sending them a few trifles in honor of the day. I could not refuse, and so you have a little feast at night to make up for the bread-and-milk breakfast." "That boy put it into his head, I know he did! He's a capital fellow, and I wish we could get acquainted. He looks as if he'd like to know us but he's bashful, and Meg is so prim she won't let me speak to him when we pass," said Jo, as the plates went round, and the ice began to melt out of sight, with ohs and ahs of satisfaction. "You mean the people who live in the big house next door, don't you?" asked one of the girls. "My mother knows old Mr. Laurence, but says he's very proud and doesn't like to mix with his neighbors. He keeps his grandson shut up, when he isn't riding or walking with his tutor, and makes him study very hard. We invited him to our party, but he didn't come. Mother says he's very nice, though he never speaks to us girls." "Our cat ran away once, and he brought her back, and we talked over the fence, and were getting on capitally, all about cricket, and so on, when he saw Meg coming, and walked off. I mean to know him some day, for he needs fun, I'm sure he does," said Jo decidedly. "I like his manners, and he looks like a little gentleman, so I've no objection to your knowing him, if a proper opportunity comes. He brought the flowers himself, and I should have asked him in, if I had been sure what was going on upstairs. He looked so wistful as he went away, hearing the frolic and evidently having none of his own." "It's a mercy you didn't, Mother!" laughed Jo, looking at her boots. "But we'll have another play sometime that he can see. Perhaps he'll help act. Wouldn't that be jolly?" "I never had such a fine bouquet before! How pretty it is!" And Meg examined her flowers with great interest. "They are lovely. But Beth's roses are sweeter to me," said Mrs. March, smelling the half-dead posy in her belt. Beth nestled up to her, and whispered softly, "I wish I could send my bunch to Father. I'm afraid he isn't having such a merry Christmas as we are."

CHAPTER THREE

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CHAPTER THREE
THE LAURENCE BOY "Jo! Jo! Where are you?" cried Meg at the foot of the garret stairs. "Here!" answered a husky voice from above, and, running up, Meg found her sister eating apples and crying over the Heir of Redclyffe, wrapped up in a comforter on an old three-legged sofa by the sunny window. This was Jo's favorite refuge, and here she loved to retire with half a dozen russets and a nice book, to enjoy the quiet and the society of a pet rat who lived near by and didn't mind her a particle. As Meg appeared, Scrabble whisked into his hole. Jo shook the tears off her cheeks and waited to hear the news. "Such fun! Only see! A regular note of invitation from Mrs. Gardiner for tomorrow night!" cried Meg, waving the precious paper and then proceeding to read it with girlish delight. "'Mrs. Gardiner would be happy to see Miss March and Miss Josephine at a little dance on New Year's Eve.' Marmee is willing we should go, now what shall we wear?" "What's the use of asking that, when you know we shall wear our poplins, because we haven't got anything else?" answered Jo with her mouth full. "If I only had a silk!" sighed Meg. "Mother says I may when I'm eighteen perhaps, but two years is an everlasting time to wait." "I'm sure our pops look like silk, and they are nice enough for us. Yours is as good as new, but I forgot the burn and the tear in mine. Whatever shall I do? The burn shows badly, and I can't take any out." "You must sit still all you can and keep your back out of sight. The front is all right. I shall have a new ribbon for my hair, and Marmee will lend me her little pearl pin, and my new slippers are lovely, and my gloves will do, though they aren't as nice as I'd like." "Mine are spoiled with lemonade, and I can't get any new ones, so I shall have to go without," said Jo, who never troubled herself much about dress. "You must have gloves, or I won't go," cried Meg decidedly. "Gloves are more important than anything else. You can't dance without them, and if you don't I should be so mortified." "Then I'll stay still. I don't care much for company dancing. It's no fun to go sailing round. I like to fly about and cut capers." "You can't ask Mother for new ones, they are so expensive, and you are so careless. She said when you spoiled the others that she shouldn't get you any more this winter. Can't you make them do?" "I can hold them crumpled up in my hand, so no one will know how stained they are. That's all I can do. No! I'll tell you how we can manage, each wear one good one and carry a bad one. Don't you see?" "Your hands are bigger than mine, and you will stretch my glove dreadfully," began Meg, whose gloves were a tender point with her. "Then I'll go without. I don't care what people say!" cried Jo, taking up her book.

CHAPTER THREE "You may have it, you may! Only don't stain it, and do behave nicely. Don't put your hands behind you, or stare, or say 'Christopher Columbus!' will you?" "Don't worry about me. I'll be as prim as I can and not get into any scrapes, if I can help it. Now go and answer your note, and let me finish this splendid story." So Meg went away to 'accept with thanks', look over her dress, and sing blithely as she did up her one real lace frill, while Jo finished her story, her four apples, and had a game of romps with Scrabble.

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On New Year's Eve the parlor was deserted, for the two younger girls played dressing maids and the two elder were absorbed in the all-important business of 'getting ready for the party'. Simple as the toilets were, there was a great deal of running up and down, laughing and talking, and at one time a strong smell of burned hair pervaded the house. Meg wanted a few curls about her face, and Jo undertook to pinch the papered locks with a pair of hot tongs. "Ought they to smoke like that?" asked Beth from her perch on the bed. "It's the dampness drying," replied Jo. "What a queer smell! It's like burned feathers," observed Amy, smoothing her own pretty curls with a superior air. "There, now I'll take off the papers and you'll see a cloud of little ringlets," said Jo, putting down the tongs. She did take off the papers, but no cloud of ringlets appeared, for the hair came with the papers, and the horrified hairdresser laid a row of little scorched bundles on the bureau before her victim. "Oh, oh, oh! What have you done? I'm spoiled! I can't go! My hair, oh, my hair!" wailed Meg, looking with despair at the uneven frizzle on her forehead. "Just my luck! You shouldn't have asked me to do it. I always spoil everything. I'm so sorry, but the tongs were too hot, and so I've made a mess," groaned poor Jo, regarding the little black pancakes with tears of regret. "It isn't spoiled. Just frizzle it, and tie your ribbon so the ends come on your forehead a bit, and it will look like the last fashion. I've seen many girls do it so," said Amy consolingly. "Serves me right for trying to be fine. I wish I'd let my hair alone," cried Meg petulantly. "So do I, it was so smooth and pretty. But it will soon grow out again," said Beth, coming to kiss and comfort the shorn sheep. After various lesser mishaps, Meg was finished at last, and by the united exertions of the entire family Jo's hair was got up and her dress on. They looked very well in their simple suits, Meg's in silvery drab, with a blue velvet snood, lace frills, and the pearl pin. Jo in maroon, with a stiff, gentlemanly linen collar, and a white chrysanthemum or two for her only ornament. Each put on one nice light glove, and carried one soiled one, and all pronounced the effect "quite easy and fine". Meg's high-heeled slippers were very tight and hurt her, though she would not own it, and Jo's nineteen hairpins all seemed stuck straight into her head, which was not exactly comfortable, but, dear me, let us be elegant or die. "Have a good time, dearies!" said Mrs. March, as the sisters went daintily down the walk. "Don't eat much supper, and come away at eleven when I send Hannah for you." As the gate clashed behind them, a voice

CHAPTER THREE cried from a window... "Girls, girls! Have you you both got nice pocket handkerchiefs?" "Yes, yes, spandy nice, and Meg has cologne on hers," cried Jo, adding with a laugh as they went on, "I do believe Marmee would ask that if we were all running away from an earthquake."

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"It is one of her aristocratic tastes, and quite proper, for a real lady is always known by neat boots, gloves, and handkerchief," replied Meg, who had a good many little 'aristocratic tastes' of her own. "Now don't forget to keep the bad breadth out of sight, Jo. Is my sash right? And does my hair look very bad?" said Meg, as she turned from the glass in Mrs. Gardiner's dressing room after a prolonged prink. "I know I shall forget. If you see me doing anything wrong, just remind me by a wink, will you?" returned Jo, giving her collar a twitch and her head a hasty brush. "No, winking isn't ladylike. I'll lift my eyebrows if any thing is wrong, and nod if you are all right. Now hold your shoulder straight, and take short steps, and don't shake hands if you are introduced to anyone. It isn't the thing." "How do you learn all the proper ways? I never can. Isn't that music gay?" Down they went, feeling a trifle timid, for they seldom went to parties, and informal as this little gathering was, it was an event to them. Mrs. Gardiner, a stately old lady, greeted them kindly and handed them over to the eldest of her six daughters. Meg knew Sallie and was at her ease very soon, but Jo, who didn't care much for girls or girlish gossip, stood about, with her back carefully against the wall, and felt as much out of place as a colt in a flower garden. Half a dozen jovial lads were talking about skates in another part of the room, and she longed to go and join them, for skating was one of the joys of her life. She telegraphed her wish to Meg, but the eyebrows went up so alarmingly that she dared not stir. No one came to talk to her, and one by one the group dwindled away till she was left alone. She could not roam about and amuse herself, for the burned breadth would show, so she stared at people rather forlornly till the dancing began. Meg was asked at once, and the tight slippers tripped about so briskly that none would have guessed the pain their wearer suffered smilingly. Jo saw a big red headed youth approaching her corner, and fearing he meant to engage her, she slipped into a curtained recess, intending to peep and enjoy herself in peace. Unfortunately, another bashful person had chosen the same refuge, for, as the curtain fell behind her, she found herself face to face with the 'Laurence boy'. "Dear me, I didn't know anyone was here!" stammered Jo, preparing to back out as speedily as she had bounced in. But the boy laughed and said pleasantly, though he looked a little startled, "Don't mind me, stay if you like." "Shan't I disturb you?" "Not a bit. I only came here because I don't know many people and felt rather strange at first, you know." "So did I. Don't go away, please, unless you'd rather." The boy sat down again and looked at his pumps, till Jo said, trying to be polite and easy, "I think I've had the pleasure of seeing you before. You live near us, don't you?" "Next door." And he looked up and laughed outright, for Jo's prim manner was rather funny when he

CHAPTER THREE remembered how they had chatted about cricket when he brought the cat home.

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That put Jo at her ease and she laughed too, as she said, in her heartiest way, "We did have such a good time over your nice Christmas present." "Grandpa sent it." "But you put it into his head, didn't you, now?" "How is your cat, Miss March?" asked the boy, trying to look sober while his black eyes shone with fun. "Nicely, thank you, Mr. Laurence. But I am not Miss March, I'm only Jo," returned the young lady. "I'm not Mr. Laurence, I'm only Laurie." "Laurie Laurence, what an odd name." "My first name is Theodore, but I don't like it, for the fellows called me Dora, so I made them say Laurie instead." "I hate my name, too, so sentimental! I wish every one would say Jo instead of Josephine. How did you make the boys stop calling you Dora?" "I thrashed 'em." "I can't thrash Aunt March, so I suppose I shall have to bear it." And Jo resigned herself with a sigh. "Don't you like to dance, Miss Jo?" asked Laurie, looking as if he thought the name suited her. "I like it well enough if there is plenty of room, and everyone is lively. In a place like this I'm sure to upset something, tread on people's toes, or do something dreadful, so I keep out of mischief and let Meg sail about. Don't you dance?" "Sometimes. You see I've been abroad a good many years, and haven't been into company enough yet to know how you do things here." "Abroad!" cried Jo. "Oh, tell me about it! I love dearly to hear people describe their travels." Laurie didn't seem to know where to begin, but Jo's eager questions soon set him going, and he told her how he had been at school in Vevay, where the boys never wore hats and had a fleet of boats on the lake, and for holiday fun went on walking trips about Switzerland with their teachers. "Don't I wish I'd been there!" cried Jo. "Did you go to Paris?" "We spent last winter there." "Can you talk French?" "We were not allowed to speak anything else at Vevay." "Do say some! I can read it, but can't pronounce."

CHAPTER THREE "Quel nom a cette jeune demoiselle en les pantoufles jolis?" "How nicely you do it! Let me see... you said, 'Who is the young lady in the pretty slippers', didn't you?" "Oui, mademoiselle." "It's my sister Margaret, and you knew it was! Do you think she is pretty?" "Yes, she makes me think of the German girls, she looks so fresh and quiet, and dances like a lady."

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Jo quite glowed with pleasure at this boyish praise of her sister, and stored it up to repeat to Meg. Both peeped and critisized and chatted till they felt like old acquaintances. Laurie's bashfulness soon wore off, for Jo's gentlemanly demeanor amused and set him at his ease, and Jo was her merry self again, because her dress was forgotten and nobody lifted their eyebrows at her. She liked the 'Laurence boy' better than ever and took several good looks at him, so that she might describe him to the girls, for they had no brothers, very few male cousins, and boys were almost unknown creatures to them. "Curly black hair, brown skin, big black eyes, handsome nose, fine teeth, small hands and feet, taller than I am, very polite, for a boy, and altogether jolly. Wonder how old he is?" It was on the tip of Jo's tongue to ask, but she checked herself in time and, with unusual tact, tried to find out in a round-about way. "I suppose you are going to college soon? I see you pegging away at your books, no, I mean studying hard." And Jo blushed at the dreadful 'pegging' which had escaped her. Laurie smiled but didn't seem shocked, and answered with a shrug. "Not for a year or two. I won't go before seventeen, anyway." "Aren't you but fifteen?" asked Jo, looking at the tall lad, whom she had imagined seventeen already. "Sixteen, next month." "How I wish I was going to college! You don't look as if you liked it." "I hate it! Nothing but grinding or skylarking. And I don't like the way fellows do either, in this country." "What do you like?" "To live in Italy, and to enjoy myself in my own way." Jo wanted very much to ask what his own way was, but his black brows looked rather threatening as he knit them, so she changed the subject by saying, as her foot kept time, "That's a splendid polka! Why don't you go and try it?" "If you will come too," he answered, with a gallant little bow. "I can't, for I told Meg I wouldn't, because..." There Jo stopped, and looked undecided whether to tell or to laugh. "Because, what?"

Gardiner was taking a little private refreshment. and dark as Egypt." "I'll ask Laurie. and bring me some coffee. or stay here all night. indeed! It's past nine. rocking to and fro in pain. what a blunderbuss I am!" exclaimed Jo. The hall was empty. with a full cup in one hand and a plate of ice in the other. which delighted Jo. "Never mind that. which she found after going into a china closet. I'll stay with you." she said. I'm sorry." "I'll go. When the music stopped. she secured the coffee. pearl-colored ones her partner wore. and Jo reluctantly followed her into a side room. and no one will see us." But Laurie didn't laugh. and though it's nicely mended.CHAPTER THREE "You won't tell?" "Never!" 21 "Well. She beckoned. looking relieved as the idea occurred to her. Sallie has some girls staying with her. I dare say I can't get one at all." "No. It is funny. Please come." "They are going out to supper now. and opening the door of a room where old Mr. Get me my rubbers. There's a long hall out there. softly rubbing the poor ankle as she spoke." Jo thanked him and gladly went. I'm so tired I can't stir. I can hardly stand. I can't dance anymore. "I can't have a carriage without its costing ever so much. and we can dance grandly. I'll rest till Hannah comes. I'd rather. "Can I help you?" said a friendly voice. He only looked down a minute. and I don't know how I'm ever going to get home. . That stupid high heel turned and gave me a sad wrench." "No. "I knew you'd hurt your feet with those silly shoes. except get a carriage." said Jo. and taught her the German step. And there was Laurie. You may laugh. I can't stop here. for the house is full. if you want to. and Meg told me to keep still so no one would see it. with rubbers well hidden. I'll tell you how we can manage. and so I burn my frocks. being full of swing and spring. and the expression of his face puzzled Jo when he said very gently. and then do the best I can. wishing she had two neat gloves when she saw the nice. dear. and looking pale. thereby making the front of her dress as bad as the back." So Meg reclined. and Laurie was in the midst of an account of a students' festival at Heidelberg when Meg appeared in search of her sister. watch for Hannah and tell me the minute she comes. finishing Meg's glove by scrubbing her gown with it. and Jo went blundering away to the dining room. But I don't see what you can do. and put these slippers with our things. and I scorched this one. and no one to send. run along. no! Don't ask or tell anyone. it shows. for Laurie danced well. "Oh. but as soon as supper is over. and it's a long way to the stable. "I've sprained my ankle. and they had a grand polka. which she immediately spilled." answered Jo. where she found her on a sofa. "Mercy. Making a dart at the table. dear. I know. I have a bad trick of standing before the fire. holding her foot. It aches so. He will go. they sat down on the stairs to get their breath. for most people come in their own.

glancing dismally from the stained skirt to the coffee-colored glove. "I always go early. asked if he could get her a carriage. "Tell about the party! Tell about the party!" . and the girls talked over their party in freedom. Laurie went on the box so Meg could keep her foot up. if Mother only lets me go. Meg forgot her foot and rose so quickly that she was forced to catch hold of Jo." answered Meg. Slipping out.. two little nightcaps bobbed up. she ran down and. "It's so early! You can't mean to go yet?" began Jo. and was so obliging that even particular Meg pronounced him a 'nice boy'. I do. Hannah hated rain as much as a cat does so she made no trouble. rumpling up her hair. that's all. when Hannah appeared." 22 Jo led the way. Annie Moffat. and it will be perfectly splendid. very! His hair is auburn. "Yes." That settled it. "I had a capital time. Was he nice?" "Oh. feeling very festive and elegant. looking relieved but hesitating to accept the offer. Laurie and I couldn't help laughing. with an exclamation of pain. and he was very polite." "He looked like a grasshopper in a fit when he did the new step. and were in the midst of a quiet game of Buzz. May I take it to your sister?" "Oh. I don't offer to take it myself. It's all on my way. "Hush! Don't say anything. and by the time she had finished they were at home. not red. cheering up at the thought. and asked me to come and spend a week with her when Sallie does. It happened to be a hired waiter who knew nothing about the neighborhood and Jo was looking round for help when Laurie. finding a servant.. They had a merry time over the bonbons and mottoes. Meg cried. adding aloud. truly! Please let me take you home. but it was very rude. but the instant their door creaked. Did you?" asked Jo. "I saw you dancing with the red headed man I ran away from. "Too bad! I was looking for someone to give this to. with two or three other young people who had strayed in. and two sleepy but eager voices cried out. What were you about all that time." and limped upstairs to put her things on. took a fancy to me. and as if used to waiting on ladies. Sallie's friend. and I had a delicious redowa with him. brought a second installment of coffee and ice for Jo. came up and offered his grandfather's carriage. She is going in the spring when the opera comes." answered Jo. Did you hear us?" "No. and someone shook me. which had just come for him. who had heard what she said. thank you! I'll show you where she is. till she decided to take things into her own hands. and here I am in a nice state. who is very tired. and telling him of Meg's mishap. for I should only get into another scrape if I did. till I hurt myself. Jo gratefully accepted and rushed up to bring down the rest of the party. hidden away there?" Jo told her adventures. and Jo was at her wits' end. and making herself comfortable. they say. you know. Laurie drew up a little table. "It's nothing. and they rolled away in the luxurious close carriage. I turned my foot a little. hoping to disturb no one. he said. Hannah scolded. and it rains.CHAPTER THREE "I was trying to get something for Meg." she whispered. With many thanks. they said good night and crept in.

" said Meg. as Jo bound up her foot with arnica and brushed her hair. old gowns.CHAPTER THREE 23 With what Meg called 'a great want of manners' Jo had saved some bonbons for the little girls. and they soon subsided. . "I declare. to come home from the party in a carriage and sit in my dressing gown with a maid to wait on me. in spite of our burned hair. one glove apiece and tight slippers that sprain our ankles when we are silly enough to wear them." And I think Jo was quite right. it really seems like being a fine young lady. "I don't believe fine young ladies enjoy themselves a bit more than we do. after hearing the most thrilling events of the evening.

and you drive me distracted with your worry. Jo laughed.CHAPTER FOUR 24 CHAPTER FOUR BURDENS "Oh. or get so light that I shan't mind her. and get old and ugly and sour. Meg scolded. "I wish it was Christmas or New Year's all the time. It's like other people. if you don't keep these horrid cats down cellar I'll have them drowned." This idea tickled Jo's fancy and put her in good spirits. and wasn't at all agreeable at breakfast time. and I always envy girls who do such things. for her burden. consisting of four spoiled children. which must go at once." cried Mrs." said Meg. "I shall have to toil and moil all my days. I'm so fond of luxury. and not work." exclaimed Meg angrily as she tried to get rid of the kitten which had scrambled up her back and stuck like a burr just out of reach. Beth implored. "You're the crossest person in it!" returned Amy. with only little bits of fun now and then. and read and rest. wearing an injured look. and sat down upon her hat. and go to parties. trying to comfort herself with the cat and three kittens." sighed Meg the morning after the party. for now the holidays were over. girls. She had not heart enough even to make herself pretty as usual by putting on a blue neck ribbon and dressing her hair in the most becoming way. but Meg didn't brighten. "Well. shutting her drawer with a jerk. March. But it does seem so nice to have little suppers and bouquets. Everyone seemed rather out of sorts and inclined to croak. It's a shame!" So Meg went down. March was very busy trying to finish a letter. because I'm poor and can't enjoy my life as other girls do. for being up late didn't suit her. and Hannah had the grumps. losing her temper when she had upset an inkstand. and Amy wailed because she couldn't remember how much nine times twelve was. so don't let us grumble but shoulder our bundles and trudge along as cheerfully as Marmee does. Amy was fretting because her lessons were not learned. broken both boot lacings. when no one sees me but those cross midgets. "We shouldn't enjoy ourselves half so much as we do now. seemed heavier than ever. yawning dismally. trying to decide which of two shabby gowns was the least shabby. and no one cares whether I'm pretty or not?" she muttered. Jo would whistle and make a great racket getting ready. . you know. Mrs. do be quiet one minute! I must get this off by the early mail. but I suppose when I've learned to carry her without complaining. dear. "Beth. and drive home. the week of merrymaking did not fit her for going on easily with the task she never liked. washing out the sum that was all wrong with the tears that had fallen on her slate. "Girls. Wouldn't it be fun?" answered Jo. crossing out the third spoiled sentence in her letter. I'm sure Aunt March is a regular Old Man of the Sea to me. Beth had a headache and lay on the sofa. she will tumble off. "There never was such a cross family!" cried Jo. "Where's the use of looking nice. we can't have it. how hard it does seem to take up our packs and go on. and she couldn't find her rubbers.

I can always find something funny to keep me up. and posies. She found it harder to bear than the others because she could remember a time when home was beautiful. but come home jolly. and independence." replied Meg from the depths of the veil in which she had shrouded herself like a nun sick of the world. and both fell to work with the hearty good will which in spite of all obstacles is sure to succeed at last." "How ridiculous you are. but it was very natural that the young girl should long for pretty things. Margaret found a place as nursery governess and felt rich with her small salary. and the girls called them 'muffs'. there's a dear. laid two hot turnovers on the table. accomplishments. feeling that the pilgrims were not setting out as they ought to do. and a happy life. the two oldest girls begged to be allowed to do something toward their own support. who stalked in. for the . March lost his property in trying to help an unfortunate friend. we should be in a nice state. it would serve us right. The poor things got no other lunch and were seldom home before two. but I am neither a rascal nor a wretch and I don't choose to be called so. each hugging her little warm turnover. "If Marmee shook her fist instead of kissing her hand to us. and wave her hand to them. "Cuddle your cats and get over your headache. At the Kings' she daily saw all she wanted. for the walk was long and bleak. taking a remorseful satisfaction in the snowy walk and bitter wind. Goodbye. Hannah never forgot to make them." Jo gave her sister an encouraging pat on the shoulder as they parted for the day. Jo!" But Meg laughed at the nonsense and felt better in spite of herself. Poor dear. their parents consented. catching her hat as it took a leap off her head preparatory to flying away altogether. Meg!" And Jo tramped away. Believing that they could not begin too early to cultivate energy. and decidedly cross today because you can't sit in the lap of luxury all the time. Bethy. for whatever their mood might be. for their mother was always at the window to nod and smile. We are a set of rascals this morning. and each trying to be cheerful in spite of wintry weather. for more ungrateful wretches than we are were never seen. Marmee. and her chief trouble was poverty. "Call yourself any names you like." "You're a blighted being. and you shall revel in carriages and ice cream and high-heeled slippers.CHAPTER FOUR 25 There was a momentary lull." replied Jo. "Lucky for you I am. and the unsatisfied desires of pleasure-loving youth. gay friends. When Mr. "I like good strong words that mean something. and want of any kind unknown. just wait till I make my fortune. for they had no others and found the hot pies very comforting to their hands on cold mornings. for if I put on crushed airs and tried to be dismal. As she said. Thank goodness. "Don't use such dreadful expressions. Somehow it seemed as if they couldn't have got through the day without that. life full of ease and pleasure. but we'll come home regular angels. the last glimpse of that motherly face was sure to affect them like sunshine. and stalked out again. no matter how busy or grumpy she might be. she was 'fond of luxury'. as you do. industry. She tried not to be envious or discontented." cried Jo. at least. hard work. and red-headed boys to dance with. Don't croak any more. They always looked back before turning the corner. These turnovers were an institution. Now then. each going a different way. broken by Hannah.

and Meg caught frequent glimpses of dainty ball dresses and bouquets. for as sure as she had just reached the heart of the story. and saw money lavished on trifles which would have been so precious to her. but happening to meet Jo at a friend's. and buy her cards of gingerbread whenever he met her in the street. for when her sisters outgrew these idols. and her mother was called to devote her skill and energy to Soldiers' Aid Societies." The old lady wouldn't speak to them for a time. but a sense of injustice made her feel bitter toward everyone sometimes. The moment Aunt March took her nap. or was busy with company. for her little world was peopled with imaginary friends. travels. but she accepted the place since nothing better appeared and. and she was by nature a busy bee. for Beth was a child still and loved her pets as well as ever.. and pictures like a regular bookworm. the cozy chairs. with the busts staring down from the tall bookcases. heard lively gossip about theaters. and the thought that she was doing something to support herself made her happy in spite of the perpetual "Josy-phine!" Beth was too bashful to go to school. I suspect that the real attraction was a large library of fine books. but Aunt March always cleared up quickly. Jo hurried to this quiet place. But the training she received at Aunt March's was just what she needed. not lonely nor idle. and was much offended because her offer was declined. wash the poodle. found her greatest affliction in the fact that she couldn't read. The childless old lady had offered to adopt one of the girls when the troubles came. and restless spirit were always getting her into scrapes. for in her heart she rather liked the peppery old lady. dusty room. and merrymakings of all kinds. and she did her lessons at home with her father. What it was. concerts. and her life was a series of ups and downs. and meanwhile. There was an occasional tempest. all were outcasts till Beth took them in. Jo remembered the kind old gentleman. Not one whole or handsome one among them. But. and once Jo marched home. Rich or poor. and best of all. sharp tongue. a shrill voice called. but she suffered so much that it was given up. quiet days she spent. Poor Meg seldom complained. the globes. There were six dolls to be taken up and dressed every morning. but the unworldly Marches only said. who was lame and needed an active person to wait upon her. but left it for time to tell her. A quick temper. and helped Hannah keep home neat and comfortable for the workers. devoured poetry. she had no idea as yet. run. the wilderness of books in which she could wander where she liked.CHAPTER FOUR 26 children's older sisters were just out. and curling herself up in the easy chair. Beth went faithfully on by herself and did the best she could. never thinking of any reward but to be loved. Jo's ambition was to do something very splendid. they passed to her because Amy would have nothing old or ugly. declaring she couldn't bear it longer. Even when he went away. to every one's surprise. for she had not yet learned to know how rich she was in the blessings which alone can make life happy. we will keep together and be happy in one another. It had been tried. and she proposed to take her for a companion. who used to let her build railroads and bridges with his big dictionaries. sleighing parties. Beth cherished them all the more tenderly . which was left to dust and spiders since Uncle March died. it did not last long. or read Belsham's Essays by the hour together. and sent for her to come back again with such urgency that she could not refuse. romance. or the most perilous adventure of her traveler. and ride as much as she liked. The dim. tell her stories about queer pictures in his Latin books. something in her comical face and blunt manners struck the old lady's fancy. "Josy-phine! Josy-phine!" and she had to leave her paradise to wind yarn. She was a housewifely little creature. like all happiness. made the library a region of bliss to her. Jo happened to suit Aunt March. Long. Other friends told the Marches that they had lost all chance of being remembered in the rich old lady's will. the sweetest verse of a song. "We can't give up our girls for a dozen fortunes. history. which were both comic and pathetic.. got on remarkably well with her irascible relative. This did not suit Jo at all.

One forlorn fragment of dollanity had belonged to Jo and. I think it would have touched their hearts. Nobody did. nursed and caressed with an affection which never failed. and managed to escape reprimands by being a model of deportment. but Amy felt deeply the want of a Grecian nose. If anybody had asked Amy what the greatest trial of her life was. because she couldn't take music lessons and have a fine piano. sunshiny presence vanishes." as her sisters called her. My dear. designing fairies. and fussy aprons that did not fit. no harsh words or blows were ever given them. She had to wear her cousin's clothes. She got through her lessons as well as she could. however. hidden under her coat.CHAPTER FOUR 27 for that very reason. when she was all alone. and Amy suffered deeply at having to wear a red instead of a blue bonnet. being good-tempered and possessing the happy art of pleasing without effort. it's really dreadful. took it out to breathe fresh air. even while they laughed. well made. and nobody saw Beth wipe the tears off the yellow keys." which was very touching. crochet. Everything was good. for besides her drawing. but Amy's artistic eyes were much afflicted. however. "is that Mother doesn't take tucks in my dresses whenever I'm naughty. and not being an angel but a very human little girl. and living for others so cheerfully that no one sees the sacrifices till the little cricket on the hearth stops chirping. She loved music so dearly. or illustrating stories with queer specimens of art. she tied on a neat little cap. Now Florence's mama hadn't a particle of taste." There are many Beths in the world. no neglect ever saddened the heart of the most repulsive. and practiced away so patiently at the jingling old instrument. She sang like a little lark about her work. and the sweet. If anyone had known the care lavished on that dolly. she hid these deficiencies by folding it in a blanket and devoting her best bed to this chronic invalid. from which dreary poorhouse it was rescued by Beth and taken to her refuge. sitting in corners till needed. I fell that I can . and as both arms and legs were gone. It was not big nor red. when her school dress was a dull purple with yellow dots and no trimming. having led a tempestuous life. and little worn. and she can't come to school. No one minded it but herself. like poor 'Petrea's'. When I think of this deggerredation. and drew whole sheets of handsome ones to console herself. "My nose. my poor dear. One thing. "Little Raphael. so were her accomplishments." she said to Meg. never was too tired for Marmee and the girls. No pins were ever stuck into their cotton vitals. rather quenched the vanities. and set up a hospital for infirm dolls. she could play twelve tunes. "My only comfort. shy and quiet. for everyone petted her. the blank pages of her atlas were used to copy maps on. She brought it bits of bouquets. Her teachers complained that instead of doing her sums she covered her slate with animals. and it was doing its best to grow. and her small vanities and selfishnesses were growing nicely. had a decided talent for drawing. especially this winter. as Maria Parks's mother does. leaving silence and shadow behind. and caricatures of the most ludicrous description came fluttering out of all her books at unlucky moments. she read to it. unbecoming gowns. it was only rather flat. with tears in her eyes." When she was a baby." Beth had her troubles as well as the others. if I'm good. and her long words were considered 'perfectly elegant' by the girls. "I know I'll get my music some time. and read French without mispronouncing more than two-thirds of the words. tried so hard to learn. and all the pinching in the world could not give it an aristocratic point. "When Papa was rich we did so-and-so. and was never so happy as when copying flowers. and day after day said hopefully to herself. she often 'wept a little weep' as Jo said. and Amy insisted that the fall had ruined her nose forever. for sometimes she is so bad her frock is up to her knees. Jo had accidently dropped her into the coal hod. "I hope you'll have a good night. she would have answered at once. She was a great favorite with her mates. Amy was in a fair way to be spoiled. that wouldn't keep in tune. but all were fed and clothed. She had a plaintive way of saying. was left a wreck in the rag bag. Having no top to its head. she sang it lullabies and never went to bed without kissing its dirty face and whispering tenderly. that it did seem as if someone (not to hint Aunt March) ought to help her. Her little airs and graces were much admired.

with a monstrous nose and a hump. in her short way. as they sat sewing together that evening. To Jo alone did the shy child tell her thoughts. Aunt woke up and. and droning away as I always do. and read away. and when I ran back after my gloves this afternoon. King talking very loud. and the words. as I got the best of it. I whipped the Vicar of Wakefield out of my pocket. and told me to sit and think them over while she just 'lost' herself for a moment. At the Kings' today I found everybody in a flurry. "Susie Perkins came to school today with a lovely red carnelian ring. The two older girls were a great deal to one another. though she only said. I gave such a gape that she asked me what I meant by opening my mouth wide enough to take the whole book in at once. "Then she gave me a long lecture on my sins. and put their sisters in the places of discarded dolls with the maternal instinct of little women. ma'am. of course. and don't be impertinent." added Jo. so I shouldn't see how red and swollen their eyes were. which had dropped out of her hands. trying not to be saucy. and said. but I felt so sorry for them and was rather glad I hadn't any wild brothers to do wicked things and disgrace the family. so the minute her cap began to bob like a top-heavy dahlia. "I was reading that everlasting Belsham. who dearly loved to tell stories. Well. so hard at the Vicar that she didn't hear me laugh as I danced a jig in the hall because of the good time coming. Davis." "I wish I could. in spite of her money. King crying and Mr. and Papa had sent him away. and Grace and Ellen turned away their faces when they passed me. It isn't funny. and say meekly. like Jo's story. gave me a sharp look through her specs. as if her experience of life had been a deep one. and she liked it. I wanted it dreadfully. 'Young ladies. and by some strange attraction of opposites Jo was gentle Beth's. no! But she let old Belsham rest. "'I don't understand what it's all about." said I. and then I take out some nice book." 28 Meg was Amy's confidant and monitor. she drew a picture of Mr." "Did she own she liked it?" asked Meg. 'Finish the chapter." "I think being disgraced in school is a great deal tryinger than anything bad boys can do. I actually made myself sleepy." began Jo." said Amy. being more good-natured after her nap. I heard Mrs. I didn't ask any questions. "I had a queer time with Aunt today." said Meg." said Meg. She never finds herself very soon. "Has anybody got anything to tell? It's been such a dismal day I'm really dying for some amusement. I'd just got to where they all tumbled into the water when I forgot and laughed out loud. told me to read a bit and show what frivolous work I preferred to the worthy and instructive Belsham.CHAPTER FOUR bear even my flat nose and purple gown with yellow skyrockets on it. "That reminds me. bless you.. with one eye on him and one on Aunt. 'playing mother' they called it.'" "Back I went. miss'. and made the Primroses as interesting as ever I could. "that I've got something to tell. and over her big harum-scarum sister Beth unconsciously exercised more influence than anyone in the family. Shan't I stop now?'" "She caught up her knitting. but each took one of the younger sisters into her keeping and watched over her in her own way. but I thought about it a good deal as I came home. there she was. child. and one of the children said that her oldest brother had done something dreadful. I'll tell you about it. What a pleasant life she might have if only she chose! I don't envy her much.. I think. "Oh. and before she began to nod. for after all rich people have about as many worries as poor ones. and wished I was her with all my might. shaking her head. I did my very best. and be done with it. 'I'm afraid it tires you. and. and read like fury till she wakes up. my eye is upon you!' coming out . Once I was wicked enough to stop in a thrilling place. for Aunt soon drops off. Go back and begin it.

to say good-by to him. ma'am. a good many comforts . and give 'em free. and had been disappointed of a day's work. A poor woman came in with a pail and a mop. ma'am. March smiled and began at once. As I ain't. one is a prisoner. while he gave four without grudging them." "'You have done a great deal for your country." When they had laughed at Beth's story. and knew how to please them. She was so glad and surprised she took it right into her arms. I didn't envy her then. and asked Mr." said Jo. I never. holding the slate so everyone could see. if they are real and not too preachy. "Laugh? Not one! They sat still as mice." "Tell another story. and Susie cried quarts. feeling respect now. they asked their mother for one. Cutter was in a hurry and said 'No'. so happy! Wasn't it good of him? Oh. and seemed so glad to give his all." "Yes. and hoping Mr. but two were killed. hugging the big. who is very sick in a Washington hospital. never should have got over such a agonizing mortification.CHAPTER FOUR 29 of his mouth in a balloon thing. Mr. who relished the scrape. so happy thinking of my blessings. when Mr. He told her to 'go along and cook it'. putting Jo's topsy-turvy basket in order as she talked. He sat down near me. for the note he brought was not to me. Laurence was in the fish shop. and his last son was waiting. "I saw something I liked this morning." And Amy went on with her work. that I made him a nice bundle. but I kept on worrying till an old man came in with an order for some clothes.' he answered quietly. and I'm going to the other. I know she did. "'Have you sons in the army?' I asked. after a minute's silence. if I was any use. who had enough to eat and drink and wear. for I felt that millions of carnelian rings wouldn't have made me happy after that. what do you think he did? He took her by the ear--the ear! Just fancy how horrid!--and led her to the recitation platform. Cutter the fishman. She was parrylized with fright. Cutter if he would let her do some scrubbing for a bit of fish. she did look so funny. and made her stand there half an hour." "'Not a mite more than I ought. if anything happened to him. but he didn't see me. slippery fish. Mr. sir. for she had told stories to this little audience for many years. "When I went to get some oysters for Hannah.'" "He spoke so cheerfully. I felt very anxious about Father. and he was busy with Mr. instead of pity. like this. rather crossly." said Beth. I like to think about them afterward. Mother. I'd given one man and thought it too much. Mrs. and I began to talk to him. she said soberly. looking hungry and sorry. one with a moral to it. because she hadn't any dinner for her children. and after a moments thought. and I meant to tell it at dinner. so she was going away. but she went. It was not a wise thing to do. Laurence's bed in heaven would be 'aisy'. for I kept behind the fish barrel. and oh. gave him some money. in the proud consciousness of virtue and the successful utterance of two long words in a breath. that I was ashamed of myself." "Didn't the girls laugh at the picture?" asked Jo. perhaps! I felt so rich. I give my boys.' I said. looked so sincere. We were laughing over it when all of a sudden his eye was on us. but I forgot. I'd go myself. for he looked poor and tired and anxious. "As I sat cutting out blue flannel jackets today at the rooms. I had all my girls to comfort me at home. and thought how lonely and helpless we should be. Laurence hooked up a big fish with the crooked end of his cane and held it out to her. and he ordered Susie to bring up her slate. and she hurried off. I had four. and thanked him heartily for the lesson he had taught me. "Once upon a time. there were four girls. miles away. and thanked him over and over.

"We needed that lesson." "Now.) "Being sensible girls. that even carnelian rings were not so valuable as good behavior. and began to sew diligently. with her youth. 'If only we had this.' or 'If we could only do that." said Beth thoughtfully. "I like that kind of sermon. they decided to try her advice. you just say to us. for I've had warning from Susie's downfall. putting the needles straight on Jo's cushion. If we do so. health. and give us a sermon instead of a romance!" cried Meg. but changed her mind. disagreeable as it was to help get dinner. So they asked an old woman what spell they could use to make them happy. as old Chloe did in Uncle Tom. she was a great deal happier. Marmee. kind friends and parents who loved them dearly. and we won't forget it. One discovered that money couldn't keep shame and sorrow out of rich people's houses. chillen!' 'Tink ob yer marcies!'" added Jo." (Here the listeners stole sly looks at one another. though she took it to heart as much as any of them. and how many things they actually could do. 'When you feel discontented. "I don't complain near as much as the others do. though she was poor. for the life of her. think over your blessings. to enjoy the blessings already possessed. who could not. lest they should be taken away entirely. as if about to speak.' quite forgetting how much they already had. So they agreed to stop complaining. a third that. but they did not keep them very well. it was harder still to go begging for it and the fourth. instead of increased. feeble old lady who couldn't enjoy her comforts. and good spirits. . and be grateful.CHAPTER FOUR 30 and pleasures. and I shall be more careful than ever now." said Amy morally. help getting a morsel of fun out of the little sermon. and yet they were not contented. and she said. than a certain fretful.) "These girls were anxious to be good and made many excellent resolutions. and were constantly saying.'" (Here Jo looked up quickly. and try to deserve them. It's the sort Father used to tell us. and soon were surprised to see how well off they were. seeing that the story was not done yet. 'Tink ob yer marcies. that is very cunning of you to turn our own stories against us. and I believe they were never disappointed or sorry that they took the old woman's advice. another that.

looking wistfully down into their garden. I like adventures. or somebody young and lively. Yet it seemed a lonely. Since the party. and keeps him shut up all alone. and Jo began to dig paths with great energy. and nothing human visible but a curly black head leaning on a thin hand at the upper window. for no children frolicked on the lawn. where Beth and Amy were snow-balling one another. She saw Mr. and then sallied out to dig her way down to the hedge. Jo resolved to try what could be done. and not being a pussycat. I've a great mind to go over and tell the old gentleman so!" The idea amused Jo. servants out of sight. "Going out for exercise. "Poor boy! All alone and sick this dismal day. brown house. as her sister came tramping through the hall. the garden separated the Marches' house from that of Mr. All quiet. It's a shame! I'll toss up a snowball and make him look out. which then surrounded it. she had been more eager than ever. On one side was an old. old sack. and with her broom she soon swept a path all round the garden. Now. and to know the Laurence boy. but he had not been seen lately. He needs a party of jolly boys to play with. no motherly face ever smiled at the windows. A low hedge parted the two estates. where she paused and took a survey. if he only knew how to begin." thought Jo.. with a broom in one hand and a shovel in the other. which was still countrylike. . who looked as if he would like to be known.. and flourished her broom as she called out. "There he is. and then say a kind word to him. plainly betokening every sort of comfort and luxury. when she one day spied a brown face at an upper window. To Jo's lively fancy. this fine house seemed a kind of enchanted palace. and I'm going to find some. looking rather bare and shabby. in rubber boots. and Jo began to think he had gone away. I don't like to doze by the fire. The snow was light. Jo?" asked Meg one snowy afternoon. full of splendors and delights which no one enjoyed. and hood. from the big coach house and well-kept grounds to the conservatory and the glimpses of lovely things one caught between the rich curtains. and few people went in and out. On the other side was a stately stone mansion. Lawrence drive off." Meg went back to toast her feet and read Ivanhoe. curtains down at the lower windows. who liked to do daring things and was always scandalizing Meg by her queer performances. and I advise you to stay warm and dry by the fire. showing a face which lost its listless look in a minute. and the head turned at once. lifeless sort of house. "That boy is suffering for society and fun. And when the snowy afternoon came. as the big eyes brightened and the mouth began to smile." answered Jo with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. and quiet streets. robbed of the vines that in summer covered its walls and the flowers. "His grandpa does not know what's good for him. Laurence. The plan of 'going over' was not forgotten. "I should think two long walks this morning would have been enough! It's cold and dull out." she said to herself. and had planned many ways of making friends with him. She had long wanted to behold these hidden glories. "Never take advice! Can't keep still all day. with groves and lawns. Both stood in a suburb of the city. Jo nodded and laughed." Up went a handful of soft snow. except the old gentleman and his grandson. for Beth to walk in when the sun came out and the invalid dolls needed air. as I do.CHAPTER FIVE 31 CHAPTER FIVE BEING NEIGHBORLY "What in the world are you going to do now." said Meg with a shiver. large gardens.

wondering what they would all say to her. she was so anxious to do something. like a good boy. and grew sociable at once." With that. They won't let me. I've had a bad cold. thank you. it's Miss Jo. and wait till I come. bag and baggage. March said. and did honor to the coming guest by brushing his curly pate. "Here I am. "So I do! Will you come. but I'll come. as Jo uncovered the dish. then laughed and stopped." It so happened that Beth's funny loan was just the thing. looking rosy and quite at her ease.looking servant came running up to announce a young lady. Boys make such a row. but my books don't interest him." "Don't know any. and Beth thought her cats would be comforting. "All right. Meg wanted me to bring some of her blanc mange. What do you amuse yourself with?" "Nothing." "You know us. and been shut up a week. but I couldn't refuse. Laurie'.." "Don't you read?" "Not much." "Have someone come and see you then." he said. with a covered dish in one hand and Beth's three kittens in the other. was anything but neat. and a surprised. for in laughing over the kits.. Shut the window.CHAPTER FIVE "How do you do? Are you sick?" Laurie opened the window. show her up." began Jo. "That looks too pretty to eat. asking for 'Mr. and croaked out as hoarsely as a raven. please?" cried Laurie. "Mother sent her love. who appeared. It's dull as tombs up here. Laurie was in a flutter of excitement at the idea of having company. for as Mrs." "There isn't anyone I'd like to see. which in spite of half a dozen servants. Laurie forgot his bashfulness. smiling with pleasure. "Better. I'll go ask her. and showed the blanc . I knew you'd laugh at them." she said briskly. and I hate to ask Brooke all the time." "I'm sorry." said Laurie. than a decided voice. if Mother will let me. and trying to tidy up the room. putting on a fresh color. 32 "I'm not quiet and nice. he was 'a little gentleman'." "Isn't there some nice girl who'd read and amuse you? Girls are quiet and like to play nurse. Presently there came a loud ring. and my head is weak." "Can't somebody read to you?" "Grandpa does sometimes. going to the door of his little parlor to meet Jo. she makes it very nicely. Jo shouldered her broom and marched into the house. and was glad if I could do anything for you. and flew about to get ready.

"We'll never draw that curtain any more. Jo had whisked things into place and given quite a different air to the room. I just wish." answered Laurie. you see I often hear you calling to one another. Beth says I never know when to stop. and your sofa turned from the light... who stays at home good deal and sometimes goes out with a little basket?" asked Laurie with interest. I can't help looking over at your house. and when she beckoned him to his sofa. I beg your pardon for being so rude.. and Amy would dance." "No. and a regular good one she is. I'll talk all day if you'll only set me going. saying gratefully. Now please take the big chair and let me do something to amuse my company. hungry look in his eyes went straight to Jo's warm heart. but the maids are lazy. It's so simple you can eat it.. for. "How kind you are! Yes. Shall I read aloud?" and Jo looked affectionately toward some inviting books near by. and it looks so sweet behind the flowers. as she laughed and talked. "Thank you! I've read all those. Mother is so splendid. Her face was very friendly and her sharp voice unusually gentle as she said. and feeling how rich she was in home and happiness. so--and the things made straight on the mantelpiece. Laurie watched her in respectful silence." "The pretty one is Meg. surrounded by a garland of green leaves. and the scarlet flowers of Amy's pet geranium. Meg and I would make you laugh over our funny . She had been so simply taught that there was no nonsense in her head. Laurie was sick and lonely. too. 33 "It isn't anything. you're fixed. I'd rather talk. for it only needs to have the hearth brushed. and being soft.CHAPTER FIVE mange. she gladly tried to share it with him. it's like looking at a picture to see the fire. "Why. Tell the girl to put it away for your tea. Now then. "Not a bit. you'd come over and see us." "I'll right it up in two minutes. and I don't know how to make them mind. it will slip down without hurting your sore throat. she'd do you heaps of good. and if you don't mind. "Yes. I can't help watching it. but answered frankly. and I give you leave to look as much as you like. and the curly-haired one is Amy. so--and the books put here. he sat down with a sigh of satisfaction. Her face is right opposite. you know. though. and when I'm alone up here. It worries me though." "Is Beth the rosy one. instead of peeping. I came to amuse you. but sometimes you forget to put down the curtain at the window where the flowers are." And Laurie poked the fire to hide a little twitching of the lips that he could not control. and at fifteen she was as innocent and frank as any child. The solitary. And when the lamps are lighted. and Beth would sing to you if I begged her to. I believe?" "How did you find that out?" Laurie colored up. and the pillows plumped up a bit." And so he was. you always seem to be having such good times. that's what it wanted. that's Beth. and the bottles there. and you all around the table with your mother. She's my girl. What a cozy room this is!" "It might be if it was kept nice. I haven't got any mother. only they all felt kindly and wanted to show it.

You ought to make an effort and go visiting everywhere you are asked. We haven't been here a great while. with a toss of the head." returned Jo. after a little pause. Mr. It won't last long if you keep going. during which he stared at the fire and Jo looked about her. Wouldn't your grandpa let you?" 34 "I think he would. we are neighbors. and doesn't mind much what happens outside. too." Laurie turned red again." he said.CHAPTER FIVE stage properties. getting up. if your mother asked him. Brooke. for there was so much good will in Jo it was impossible not to take her blunt speeches as kindly as they were meant. I go to wait on my great-aunt. though he privately thought she would have good reason to be a trifle afraid of the old gentleman. Jo liked his good breeding. but wasn't offended at being accused of bashfulness. only he's afraid I might be a bother to strangers. and looked uncomfortable." began Laurie. looking at her with much admiration. her fat poodle. and I have no one to go about with me. he shut it again. red and shining with merriment. Grandpa lives among his books. their hopes and fears for Father. brightening more and more. and we'd have jolly times. so I just stop at home and get on as I can. changing the subject. and I've been trying to do it this ever so long. please. if she met him in some of his ." "You see. then you'll have plenty of friends. all about their plays and plans. the boy lay back and laughed till the tears ran down his cheeks. and the library where she reveled. how Poll had tweaked his wig off to his great dismay. I mean. doesn't stay here. "I'm not afraid of anything. and to Jo's delight. Jo did 'tell on'. Grandfather is out. cross old soul she is. but remembering just in time that it wasn't manners to make too many inquiries into people's affairs." "That's bad. come down and see ours. so she gave him a lively description of the fidgety old lady. she found that Laurie loved them as well as she did. and when she told about the prim old gentleman who came once to woo Aunt March. We want to know you. well pleased. and a maid popped her head in to see what was the matter. so you needn't be afraid. you know. "I don't believe you are!" exclaimed the boy. and a dear." answered Jo. my tutor. and the most interesting events of the little world in which the sisters lived. pretty much. and you needn't think you'd be a bother. "Oh! That does me no end of good. "Don't go to school. Laurie opened his mouth to ask another question. He's very kind. though he does not look so. I'm a businessman--girl. Much elated with her success. Tell on. taking his face out of the sofa cushion." said Laurie. "If you like them so much. and pleasant places to go to. and he lets me do what I like. but we have got acquainted with all our neighbors but you. you know. "Do you like your school?" asked the boy. Never mind being bashful. and didn't mind having a laugh at Aunt March. "We are not strangers. Then they got to talking about books. the parrot that talked Spanish. Laurie enjoyed that immensely. and in the middle of a fine speech. and had read even more than herself.

sinking into the depth of a velour chair and gazing about her with an air of intense satisfaction. what if it is? You are not afraid of anything." "Thank you. she said decidedly. so she resolved to stay and get out of the scrape as she could.CHAPTER FIVE moods. but that was cowardly. a bell rang. and there were pictures and statues. you know. letting Jo stop to examine whatever struck her fancy. and there was a sly twinkle in them. exclaiming with alarm. "The doctor to see you. Laurence. "A fellow can't live on books. ma'am. shaking his head as he perched on a table opposite. and Jo flew up. hey?" "Not much. sir. She was standing before a fine portrait of the old gentleman when the door opened again. and without turning. stood old Mr. And so. and ever so much obliged. I'm happy as a cricket here. I couldn't bear to stop. and I don't think you're any the worse for it. The gruff voice was gruffer than ever. "Don't mind me. Laurie led the way from room to room." and the maid beckoned as she spoke. and he looks as if he had a tremendous will of his own. Laurie went away. which lessened her fear a good deal. but I don't know why I should be. and queer tables. and his guest amused herself in her own way." said Laurie. composing herself. For a minute a wild desire to run away possessed her. as the old gentleman said abruptly." ." "And you don't think me as handsome as your grandfather?" "Not quite." she added impressively. though his mouth is grim. "Theodore Laurence. Marmee said I might come. for he's got kind eyes. to her great dismay." said Jo." said Laurie gratefully. He isn't as handsome as my grandfather." said Laurie." answered Jo. but I like him. and distracting little cabinets full of coins and curiosities. and bronzes. and the girls would laugh at her. It was so pleasant. Poor Jo blushed till she couldn't blush any redder. under the bushy eyebrows. "I'm a great deal better for it. "What richness!" sighed Jo. "I'm sure now that I shouldn't be afraid of him. sir. as she always did when especially delighted. were kinder even than the painted ones." "And I've got a tremendous will. where she clapped her hands and pranced. looking wicked. and best of all. It was lined with books. a great open fireplace with quaint tiles all round it. 35 The atmosphere of the whole house being summerlike. and Sleepy Hollow chairs. and her heart began to beat uncomfortably fast as she thought what she had said. "Mercy me! It's your grandpa!" "Well. you ought to be the happiest boy in the world. though she kept her eyes on the door. at last they came to the library. sir. "Would you mind if I left you for a minute? I suppose I must see him. have I?" "I only said I thought so. after the dreadful pause. A second look showed her that the living eyes. and there. "So you're not afraid of me." returned the boy. Before he could more. I'm only afraid you are very tired of talking to me." said a gruff voice behind her. "I think I am a little bit afraid of him.

sir. "You've got your grandfather's spirit. and the change in his grandson did not escape him. sir. light. sir. as Jo gave him a triumphant little glance. putting his finger under her chin. "Hey! Why. How is the poor woman?" "Doing nicely. "I didn't know you'd come. and. He was a fine man. as Laurie came running downstairs and brought up with a start of surprise at the astounding sight of Jo arm in arm with his redoubtable grandfather." And Jo was quite comfortable after that. and she seemed to understand the boy . in whom her mother had interested richer friends than they were. sir. while her eyes danced with fun as she imagined herself telling the story at home." said Jo eagerly. what the dickens has come to the fellow?" said the old gentleman. but what is better. and life in the boy's face now. blunt ways suited him. as he looked and listened. as she was marched away. sir. "That's evident. for her odd. "Just her father's way of doing good. sharply put. my dear. I shall come and see your mother some fine day. vivacity in his manner. and young folks would do him good perhaps. Come down and go on being neighborly. talking very fast. "What have you been doing to this boy of mine. "Only trying to be neighborly. hey?" was the next question. Tell her so. tut.CHAPTER FIVE "But you like me in spite of it?" "Yes. "Tut." "Shouldn't ask you. He liked Jo. The old gentleman did not say much as he drank his four cups of tea. There's the tea bell. turned up her face. for it suited her exactly. the lad is lonely. for we don't forget the splendid Christmas present you sent us." And Mr." 36 That answer pleased the old gentleman. by the way you racket downstairs." And off went Jo. "You think he needs cheering up a bit. and genuine merriment in his laugh. and behave like a gentleman. examined it gravely. sir. who soon chatted away like old friends. "What would Meg say to this?" thought Jo. but we should be glad to help if we could. if you haven't his face. I do. and let it go." "Thank you. which nearly produced an explosion of laughter from Jo." And having pulled the boy's hair by way of a caress. Laurence." And Jo told how her visit came about. he seems a little lonely. sir. "She's right. but he watched the young people. he was a brave and an honest one. do you?" "Yes. and I was proud to be his friend." thought Mr." he began. There was color. as she told all about the Hummels. we have it early on the boy's account. Mr. sir." "If you'd like to have me. We are only girls. Come to your tea. He gave a short laugh. while Laurie went through a series of comic evolutions behind their backs. tut! That was the boy's affair. Laurence offered her his arm with old-fashioned courtesy. if I didn't. Laurence walked on. saying with a nod. shook hands with her. I'll see what these little girls can do for him.

she would not have got on at all. Take care of yourself. His music isn't bad. "No. I hope?" "If you promise to come and see us after you are well." "Good night. When they rose she proposed to go. Then he tied them up. saying." They found Mr. the soft light. and it's only a step. and the wonderful vines and trees that hung about her. but Laurie said he had something more to show her. "Sometimes. as I can't. which had been lighted for her benefit. won't you?" "Yes. She wished Beth could hear him. John is going home with you. Laurence standing before the fire in the great drawing room. it was me. "Do you play?" she asked. for such people always made her shy and awkward." So Laurie played and Jo listened. Good night. but she did not say so. "Please give these to your mother." He shook hands kindly. Too stupid to learn. I want to hear it. Doctor Jo. Too many sugarplums are not good for him. but looked as if something did not please him. young lady. only praised him till he was quite abashed. He doesn't like to hear me play." he answered modestly. as she went up and down the walks. while her new friend cut the finest flowers till his hands were full. Jo asked Laurie if she had said something amiss. that will do. so I can tell Beth. but Jo's attention was entirely absorbed by a grand piano. the damp sweet air. and made a good impression. but I love music dearly. Going? well. and tell her I like the medicine she sent me very much. I'm much obliged to you. It seemed quite fairylike to Jo. she was so herself. But finding them free and easy. When they got into the hall. for he played remarkably well and didn't put on any airs. Her respect and regard for the 'Laurence' boy increased very much. 37 If the Laurences had been what Jo called 'prim and poky'. He shook his head. and his grandfather came to his rescue.CHAPTER FIVE almost as well as if she had been one herself. "That will do." "I will. turning to Laurie with a respectful expression. but you will come again. enjoying the blooming walls on either side. "Please do now. and I hope you'll come again." "Won't you first?" "Don't know how. with her nose luxuriously buried in heliotrope and tea roses. I am not a young lady." "No need of that. Laurie!" . and took her away to the conservatory. My respects to your mother. which stood open. but I hope he will do as well in more important things." "Why not?" "I'll tell you some day. with the happy look Jo liked to see.

" observed Amy. Italians are always nice. of course." "Did he?" And Jo opened her eyes as if it had never occurred to her before. with the air of a young lady who knew all about the matter. married an Italian lady. and I dare say his grandfather fears that he may want to be a musician. mayn't he. and not plague his life out sending him to college. his skill reminds him of the woman he did not like. when he hates to go. "Mother. who is very proud. and up the steep hill by trying. I suppose. Beth sighed for the grand piano. your little friend is very welcome. March wanted to talk of her father with the old man who had not forgotten him. Beth?" "I was thinking about our 'Pilgrim's Progress'. "I think they are great nonsense. and then his grandfather took him home. and I won't have any sentimental stuff about compliments and such rubbish. I fancy the boy. the family felt inclined to go visiting in a body. Meg longed to walk in the conservatory." "He meant the blanc mange. That was a nice little speech about the medicine Mother sent him." "That's why he has such handsome black eyes and pretty manners. for each found something very attractive in the big house on the other side of the hedge. good night!" 38 When all the afternoon's adventures had been told. and I hope Meg will remember that children should be children as long as they can." "Dear me. how romantic!" exclaimed Meg. "What do you know about his eyes and his manners? You never spoke to him. "What do you say. Jo. The lady was good and lovely and accomplished." "How stupid you are. I suppose." ." cried Jo. child! He meant you. Laurie comes naturally by his love of music. "I am not sure. which displeased the old man.CHAPTER FIVE "Good night. who was a little sentimental. and that maybe the house over there. and never saw his son after he married. Jo. and I'm not in my teens yet. full of splendid things." said Meg." said Meg. is going to be our Palace Beautiful. "How we got out of the Slough and through the Wicket Gate by resolving to be good." answered Beth. who was of an inquiring disposition. hardly." "I don't call myself a child. and so he 'glowered' as Jo said. a musician. "Let him be a musician if he wants to. At any rate. and I'll thank you not to be silly and spoil my fun. Laurence like to have Laurie play?" asked Jo. why didn't Mr. who had not heard a word. but he did not like her. Marmee?" "Yes. Mrs. is not very strong. who was not sentimental. Laurie's father. which makes him so careful. "I saw him at the party. but I think it was because his son. and Amy was eager to see the fine pictures and statues. They both died when Laurie was a little child. We'll all be good to him because he hasn't got any mother. for he is like his mother. and the old man is afraid of losing him. "How silly!" said Jo. "I never saw such a girl! You don't know a compliment when you get it. and what you tell shows that he knows how to behave. Laurie's a nice boy and I like him. and he may come over and see us. who was born in Italy.

39 .CHAPTER FIVE "We have got to get by the lions first. as if she rather liked the prospect." said Jo.

just to keep it in tune." said the old gentleman. you know. ma'am?" . But. to be sure. All sorts of pleasant things happened about that time. At the back of his chair she stopped and stood listening. stared at her so hard from under his heavy eyebrows. But the piano suffers for want of use. March is doing more for him than we can. except timid Beth. and he found something very charming in the innocent companionship of these simple-hearted girls.CHAPTER SIX 40 CHAPTER SIX BETH FINDS THE PALACE BEAUTIFUL The big house did prove a Palace Beautiful. their cheerful society. Let him do what he likes. he artfully led the conversation to music. and I'm glad of it. they took the solitary boy into their midst and made much of him. as Meg called it. till. not even for the dear piano. "Never mind. and could not do enough to show how grateful he was for Mrs. as if fascinated." With the delightful enthusiasm of youth. they found that he considered them the benefactors.. but after he had called. for this made them shy of accepting favors which they could not return. He can't get into mischief in that little nunnery over there. and make it up afterward. Every one liked Laurie. amusement. Mr. Wouldn't some of your girls like to run over. the fact coming to Mr. and talked away about great singers whom he had seen. as long as he is happy. No persuasions or enticements could overcome her fear. such pleasant evenings in the old parlor. and told such charming anecdotes that Beth found it impossible to stay in her distant corner. and that I've been coddling the fellow as if I'd been his grandmother. Old Mr. She went once with Jo. Laurence's ear in some mysterious way. after a while. Never having known mother or sisters. Amy copied pictures and enjoyed beauty to her heart's content. for he was getting too fond of it. could not pluck up courage to go to the 'Mansion of Bliss'. March's motherly welcome. he set about mending matters. and Beth found it very hard to pass the lions. as if the idea had just occurred to him. So they soon forgot their pride and interchanged kindnesses without stopping to think which was the greater. Meg could walk in the conservatory whenever she liked and revel in bouquets. and said "Hey!" so loud. and found people so interesting now that Mr. he was quick to feel the influences they brought about him. "The good lady next door says he is studying too hard and needs young society. but crept nearer and nearer. he said to Mrs. but the old gentleman. though it took some time for all to get in.. such sleigh rides and skating frolics. let him take a holiday. said something funny or kind to each one of the girls. and she ran away. and he privately informed his tutor that "the Marches were regularly splendid girls. Brooke was obliged to make very unsatisfactory reports. Jo browsed over the new library voraciously. and exercise. Such plays and tableaux. And presently. March. for Laurie was always playing truant and running over to the Marches'. and convulsed the old gentleman with her criticisms. and practice on it now and then. He was tired of books. declaring she would never go there any more. and the comfort he took in that humble home of theirs. nobody felt much afraid of him. During one of the brief calls he made. with her great eyes wide open and her cheeks red with excitement of this unusual performance. Taking no more notice of her than if she had been a fly." What good times they had. and talked over old times with their mother. that he frightened her so much her 'feet chattered on the floor'. for the new friendship flourished like grass in spring. "The boy neglects his music now. and their busy. lively ways made him ashamed of the indolent life he led. and now and then such gay little parties at the great house. But Beth. The other lion was the fact that they were poor and Laurie rich. Laurence was the biggest one. and Laurie played 'lord of the manor' in the most delightful style. Laurence talked on about Laurie's lessons and teachers. not being aware of her infirmity. and Mrs. I suspect she is right. she never told her mother. fine organs he had heard. though yearning for the grand piano.

and I'll come. Quite by accident. my dear. and everything else but the unspeakable delight which the music gave her. and Beth looked up at him with a face full of gratitude. for this was an irresistible temptation.. saying. and the thought of practicing on that splendid instrument quite took her breath away. "I'm Beth. and be disturbed. "They needn't see or speak to anyone. How blithely she sang that evening.." Here a little hand slipped into his. and found. he kissed her. the little brown hood slipped through the hedge nearly every day. The old gentleman softly stroked the hair off her forehead.. of course. "I had a little girl once. God bless you. stooping down. Before Mrs. easy music lay on the piano. and. For I'm shut up in my study at the other end of the house. The house is empty half the day. After that. for that last arrangement left nothing to be desired. and trembling at her own boldness as she spoke. herself." "How kind you are. March could reply. "Oh sir. but she had no appetite. in a tone few people ever heard . fairly got in at the side door. and could only sit and smile upon everyone in a general state of beatitude. and with trembling fingers and frequent stops to listen and look about. but she was not frightened now. Perhaps it was because she was so grateful for this blessing that a greater was given her. Next day. "Please. very very much!" "Are you the musical girl?" he asked. She never saw Laurie mount guard in the hall to warn the servants away. madam. but run in at any time. So she enjoyed herself heartily. and then rushed up to impart the glorious news to her family of invalids. Laurence opened his study door to hear the old-fashioned airs he liked. Beth at last touched the great instrument. in her earnest yet timid way. and pressed her hands tightly together to keep from clapping them. and if they don't care to come. after two or three retreats. and the servants are never near the drawing room after nine o'clock. fearing to be rude." she added. and how they all laughed at her because she woke Amy in the night by playing the piano on her face in her sleep. and when he talked to her about music at home. with eyes like these. as if going. why. sir!" Beth blushed like a rose under the friendly look he wore. Beth had a rapture with her mother. having seen both the old and young gentleman out of the house. without any startling "Hey!" as he looked down at her very kindly. and gave the hand a grateful squeeze because she had no words to thank him for the precious gift he had given her. Laurence went on with an odd little nod and smile. so come and drum away as much as you like. She stayed till Hannah came to take her home to dinner. my dear! Good day. I love it dearly. she only thought how kind he was to tell things that helped her so much. as the girls were not home. Mr. tell the young ladies what I say. as she said. and made her way as noiselessly as any mouse to the drawing room where her idol stood.. . "Not a soul.. and Beth made up her mind to speak. At any rate she deserved both. She never suspected that the exercise books and new songs which she found in the rack were put there for her especial benefit. if you are quite sure nobody will hear me. and the great drawing room was haunted by a tuneful spirit that came and went unseen. Laurie is out a great deal. for it was like the voice of a beloved friend." Here he rose. and I shall be obliged to you. and straightway forgot her fear. never mind.CHAPTER SIX 41 Beth took a step forward." And away he went. they do care. that her granted wish was all she had hoped. some pretty. what isn't always the case. Beth. in a great hurry. She never knew that Mr..

so I know you will allow 'the old gentleman' to send you something which once belonged to the little grand daughter he lost. but she got no further. All day passed and a part of the next before any acknowledgement arrived. but I never had any that suited me so well as yours.. quite upset by her present. After many serious discussions with Meg and Jo. the materials bought. with occasional lifts over hard parts. At the door her sisters seized and bore her to the parlor in a triumphal procession. "Here's a letter from the old gentleman! Come quick. Beth waited to see what would happen. directed like a sign board to "Miss Elizabeth March. and the moment they saw her. but we are dying to know what he says.." "For me?" gasped Beth. hugging her sister and offering the note. holding onto Jo and feeling as if she should tumble down. and she was beginning to fear she had offended her crochety friend. her daily exercise. When this excitement was over.'" continues Jo. "'I have had many pairs of slippers in my life. and they were finished before anyone got tired of them. A cluster of grave yet cheerful pansies on a deeper purple ground was pronounced very appropriate and pretty. I'm going to work Mr. We didn't open it. "Yes. I feel so queer! Oh. Jo opened the paper and began to laugh. and I don't know any other way. my precious! Isn't it splendid of him? Don't you think he's the dearest old man in the world? Here's the key in the letter.CHAPTER SIX 42 "Mother. "Yes. Beth hurried on in a flutter of suspense.. who took peculiar pleasure in granting Beth's requests because she so seldom asked anything for herself. the invalid doll. and the slippers begun. and give poor Joanna. he's sent you. Laurence a pair of slippers.. for there stood a little cabinet piano. "'Heartsease is my favorite flower. It will please him very much. dear. "You read it! I can't. "Look there! Look there!" Beth did look. "Miss March: "Dear Madam--" "How nice it sounds! I wish someone would write to me so!" said Amy. got them smuggled onto the study table one morning before the old gentleman was up." cried Jo. The girls will help you about them. As she came up the street. several hands were waved. she went out to do an errand." began Amy. who thought the old-fashioned address very elegant. and read it!" "Oh. I like to pay my debts. with a letter lying on the glossy lid. and I will pay for the making up. and with Laurie's help. gesticulating with unseemly energy. all pointing and all saying at once. the pattern was chosen. He is so kind to me. On the afternoon of the second day. on her return." replied Mrs. all for you. I must thank him. a few weeks after that eventful call of his. She was a nimble little needlewoman. and Beth worked away early and late. and these will always remind me of the gentle giver. With hearty thanks and best wishes. four heads popping in and out of the parlor windows.. I remain "'Your grateful friend and humble . Then she wrote a short. it was such an overwhelming thing altogether. she saw three. Can I do it?" asked Beth. it is too lovely!" and Beth hid her face in Jo's apron. yes. for Jo quenched her by slamming down the window. and be a nice way of thanking him. March. and turned pale with delight and surprise. simple note.. and several joyful voices screamed. for the first words she saw were. Beth.

as he was." And. Jo began to dance a jig." said Jo. Let's hear the sound of the baby pianny. Beth ceased to fear him from that moment. and sat there talking to him as cozily as if she had known him all her life. he walked with her to her own gate. and when a gruff voice called out. that's an honor to be proud of. like a handsome. I wish I may die if it ain't the queerest thing I ever see! The pianny has turned her head! She'd never have gone in her right mind. When she went home. and gratitude can conquer pride.." 43 "There. with only a small quaver in her voice. only remembering that he had lost the little girl he loved. Just think.pie order. and held out her hand. and he just set her on his knee. and laid his wrinkled cheek against her rosy one. by way of a joke. I'll tell the girls. "come in!" she did go in. They would have been still more amazed if they had seen what Beth did afterward. That comes of having big blue eyes and loving music. 'JAMES LAURENCE'. I mean to. and everyone pronounced it the most remarkable piano ever heard. he liked it amazingly! And was so touched and pleased by that confiding little kiss that all his crustiness vanished. "You'll have to go and thank him. If you will believe me. feeling as if he had got his own little granddaughter back again. puckered up. I guess I'll go now." added Meg. and the pretty rack and stool. Oh. she went and knocked at the study door before she gave herself time to think. Only think of his writing that to you.. sir. yes. she put both arms round his neck and kissed him. staring after her. the old gentleman wouldn't have been more astonished. Laurence. honey. shook hands cordially. "I came to thank you. James Laurence'. and touched his hat as he marched back again." But she didn't finish. "'Your humble servant. with up-lifted hands. and Meg exclaimed. by way of expressing her satisfaction. I think the real charm lay in the happiest of all happy faces which leaned over it. "Try it." cried Hannah. and how he kept all her little things carefully. saying. who looked quite taken aback. When the girls saw that performance. as Beth lovingly touched the beautiful black and white keys and pressed the bright pedals. If the roof of the house had suddenly flown off. I do believe the world is coming to an end. "Yes. It had evidently been newly tuned and put in apple. before I get frightened thinking about it." said Amy. much impressed by the note.CHAPTER SIX servant. for the idea of the child's really going never entered her head. for love casts out fear. "See the cunning brackets to hold candles. Beth. and the nice green silk." . dear. he's given you her piano. opening the instrument and displaying its beauties. Laurence used to be of the child who died. I'm sure! Laurie told me how fond Mr." said Hannah. soldierly old gentleman. perfect as it was. "Well. So Beth tried it. right up to Mr." said Jo. who always took a share in the family joys and sorrows. for he looked so friendly that she forgot her speech and. while the girls were rendered quite speechless by the miracle. for. But he liked it. and in at the Laurences' door. to the utter amazement of the assembled family. but. looking very stately and erect. Amy nearly fell out of the window in her surprise. all complete. who trembled and looked more excited than she had ever been before. trying to soothe Beth. with a gold rose in the middle. "Well. They'll think it's splendid. through the hedge. Beth walked deliberately down the garden.

for I haven't tasted a lime this week." "Oh. you see. as if to herself. and I'm actually suffering for one." Next day Amy was rather late at school. and I don't see why you need fire up when I admire his riding. "Why?" asked Meg kindly. and unless you want to be thought mean. my goodness! That little goose means a centaur. for Marmee forbade my having anything charged at the shop. and I ought for they are debts of honor. with pardonable pride. "Why. the girls are always buying them.four delicious limes (she ate one on the way) and was going to treat circulated through her 'set'. it's only a 'lapse of lingy'. and the attentions of her friends became quite overwhelming. "You needn't be so rude. If she's mad with her. you know. . you know. Davis says. "I didn't say anything about his eyes. before she consigned it to the inmost recesses of her desk. and she called him a Cyclops. I'm dreadfully in debt. Katy Brown invited her to her next party on the spot." retorted Amy. bead rings. too. "I just wish I had a little of the money Laurie spends on that horse. you must do it too. "I need it so much. Don't you like limes?" "Not much. Amy? What do you mean?" And Meg looked sober. and I've had ever so many but haven't returned them. yet hoping her sisters would hear. or something else. for it isn't very plenty. It's nothing but limes now. as Mr. when he's got both his eyes? And very handsome ones they are. and it won't be my turn to have the rag money for a month.CHAPTER SEVEN 44 CHAPTER SEVEN AMY'S VALLEY OF HUMILIATION "That boy is a perfect cyclops. and leave a few cents over for a treat for you. and doesn't offer even a suck. taking out her purse. paper dolls. and I can't pay them. I felt delicate about taking any. isn't he?" said Amy one day. finishing Jo with her Latin. They treat by turns. till I have money. I owe at least a dozen pickled limes." "Oh. as I couldn't return them." "How much will pay them off and restore your credit?" asked Meg." cried Jo. but could not resist the temptation of displaying. Make it last as long as you can. Amy looked so grave and important. "How dare you say so. as Laurie clattered by on horseback." "Tell me all about it. with a burst of laughter. you know. If one girl likes another. Are limes the fashion now? It used to be pricking bits of rubber to make balls. a moist brown-paper parcel. You may have my share. for Jo had gone off in another laugh at Amy's second blunder. for everyone is sucking them in their desks in schooltime. and trading them off for pencils. she gives her a lime. with a flourish of his whip as he passed." exclaimed Jo. thank you! It must be so nice to have pocket money! I'll have a grand feast. Mary Kinglsey insisted on lending her her watch till recess. Here's the money." "In debt. During the next few minutes the rumor that Amy March had got twenty. "A quarter would more than do it. "Why." she added." And Meg tried to keep her countenance. at recess. who resented any slighting remarks about her friend. she eats one before her face.

Davis had declared limes a contraband article. "You needn't be so polite all of a sudden. Blimber. and brown eyes were obediently fixed upon his awful countenance. than Jenny. But Amy had not forgotten Miss Snow's cutting remarks about 'some persons whose noses were not too flat to smell other people's limes. Mr. "Bring with you the limes you have in your desk. and examples were not considered of any particular importance. had suppressed a private post office.CHAPTER SEVEN 45 and Jenny Snow. "Young ladies. a satirical young lady. But. alas! Pride goes before a fall. Unfortunately. Davis particularly detested the odor of the fashionable pickle. feelings. language of a schoolgirl. "Miss March. especially to nervous gentlemen with tyrannical tempers and no more talent for teaching than Dr. had forbidden distortions of the face. and fifty pairs of blue. Davis. who had basely twitted Amy upon her limeless state. and ologies of all sorts so he was called a fine teacher. if you please!" At the stern order the buzz ceased. Mr. and stuck-up people who were not too proud to ask for them'. Davis had evidently taken his coffee too strong that morning. which honor to her foe rankled in the soul of Miss Snow. Mr. Latin." was the unexpected command which arrested her before she got out of her seat." whispered her neighbor. "He was as nervous as a witch and as cross as a bear". and disgust added to his wrath. Now Mr. "Don't take all. Boys are trying enough to human patience. and manners. and Jenny knew it. the teacher. and she instantly crushed 'that Snow girl's' hopes by the withering telegram. come to the desk. and the revengeful Snow turned the tables with disastrous success." stammered Amy. Amy hastily shook out half a dozen and laid the rest down before Mr. but girls are infinitely more so. his yellow face flushed. had made a bonfire of the confiscated novels and newspapers." Amy rose to comply with outward composure." A distinguished personage happened to visit the school that morning. algebra. and Amy's beautifully drawn maps received praise. but a secret fear oppressed her. which always affected his neuralgia. a young lady of great presence of mind. alas. This much-enduring man had succeeded in banishing chewing gum after a long and stormy war. "Is that all?" "Not quite. Davis knew any quantity of Greek. for the limes weighed upon her conscience. and caused Miss March to assume the airs of a studious young peacock. if not elegant. to use the expressive. attention. "Bring the rest immediately. that Amy March had pickled limes in her desk. informed Mr. and done all that one man could do to keep half a hundred rebellious girls in order. feeling that any man possessing a human heart would relent when that delicious perfume met his nose. and caricatures. It was a most unfortunate moment for denouncing Amy. morals. The word 'limes' was like fire to powder. nicknames. No sooner had the guest paid the usual stale compliments and bowed himself out. there was an east wind. for you won't get any. promptly buried the hatchet and offered to furnish answers to certain appalling sums. Therefore. goodness knows. and his pupils had not done him the credit which he felt he deserved. Davis. gray. under pretense of asking an important question. and he rapped on his desk with an energy which made Jenny skip to her seat with unusual rapidity. and solemnly vowed to publicly ferrule the first person who was found breaking the law." . black.

but that made no difference to her. Miss March. hold out your hand. and I never break my word. fell from her reluctant hands. and the treat was ravished from their longing lips. a shout from the street completed the anguish of the girls. and one passionate lime lover burst into tears. Davis. and the disgrace. with that shame fresh upon her. irritated the irascible gentleman. Miss March. I am sorry this has happened. looking. and break her heart with crying. as the last hope fled. "You are sure there are no more?" "I never lie. and for a second she felt as if she could only drop down where she stood." 46 There was a simultaneous sigh. "Young ladies. he was called. and they will be so disappointed in me!" The fifteen minutes seemed an hour. She was rather a favorite with 'old Davis'. as. and too proud to cry or beseech. They were neither many nor heavy. threw back her head defiantly. For the first time in her life she had been struck. and. but they came to an end at last. looking oh. "You can go." said Mr. as he felt. "You will now stand on the platform till recess. which created quite a little gust." Amy started. All flashed indignant or appealing glances at the inexorable Davis. A bitter sense of wrong and the thought of Jenny Snow helped her to bear it. Now take these disgusting things two by two. so motionless and white that the girls found it hard to study with that pathetic figure before them. and the word 'Recess!' had never seemed so welcome to her before. As Amy returned from her last trip. for during the twelve years of her life she had been governed by love alone. Miss March!" was the only answer her mute appeal received. That hiss. she obeyed. but I never allow my rules to be infringed. Amy went to and fro six dreadful times. since he had begun. ." "So I see. faint as it was. Davis gave a portentous "Hem!" and said. and put both hands behind her. and sealed the culprit's fate. so plump and juicy.. she fixed her eyes on the stove funnel above what now seemed a sea of faces. Mr. for it told them that their feast was being exulted over by the little Irish children. in her eyes.CHAPTER SEVEN With a despairing glance at her set. uncomfortable. you remember what I said to you a week ago. and stood there. During the fifteen minutes that followed." said Mr. and as each doomed couple. sir. and bore without flinching several tingling blows on her little palm. Davis. was as deep as if he had knocked her down. To others it might seem a ludicrous or trivial affair. in his most impressive manner. of course. but to her it was a hard experience. taking the ignominious place. and it's my private belief that he would have broken his word if the indignation of one irrepressible young lady had not found vent in a hiss. The smart of her hand and the ache of her heart were forgotten in the sting of the thought. but to face the whole school. seemed impossible. the proud and sensitive little girl suffered a shame and pain which she never forgot. or the satisfied ones of her few enemies. who were their sworn foes. turning on him an imploring look which pleaded for her better than the words she could not utter. That was dreadful. "I shall have to tell at home. This--this was too much. "Your hand. and throw them out of the window. and see the pitying faces of her friends. resolved to do the thing thoroughly.. It would have been bad enough to go to her seat. and a blow of that sort had never touched her before. Amy set her teeth. Scarlet with shame and anger.

He will make a fine man. who could not be prevailed upon to play for them after her compliment. and Hannah shook her fist at the 'villain' and pounded potatoes for dinner as if she had him under her pestle. without a word to anyone. also unusually nervous. being in a particularly lively humor. and has much talent. Davis be arrested without delay. You are getting to be rather conceited. but there is no need of parading them. who had been pensive all evening. Davis's manner of teaching and don't think the girls you associate with are doing you any good. and hid her face in the sofa cushion. and deserved some punishment for disobedience. She was in a sad state when she got home. carefully scraping the mud from her boots on the door mat. Jo wrathfully proposed that Mr. he has had an excellent education." was the severe reply. but the sharp-eyed demoiselles discovered that Mr. March that evening. never guessed what sweet little things she composed when she was alone. but I want you to study a little every day with Beth. It's perfectly maddening to think of those lovely limes. even if it is. Jo appeared. for conceit spoils the finest genius." sighed Amy. There is not much danger that real talent or goodness will be overlooked long. "but I'm not sure that it won't do you more good than a bolder method. "I should not have chosen that way of mending a fault. said suddenly. "Do you mean you are glad I was disgraced before the whole school?" cried Amy. who stood beside him." said Beth. as if she shook the dust of the place off her feet. and wouldn't have believed it if anyone had told her. Beth felt that even her beloved kittens would fail as a balm for griefs like this." "So it is!" cried Laurie. and when the older girls arrived. and left the place "forever. Jo let Laurie win the game to pay for that praise of her Beth. "I am not sorry you lost them. as if busy over some new idea. You have a good many little gifts and virtues. and comforted her afflicted little daughter in her tenderest manner. and sang delightfully. listening eagerly. and it is quite time you set about correcting it. Amy." replied her mother. Maybe she would have helped me. and spoil his old school. the consciousness of possessing and using it well should satisfy one. "You do know her. my dear." "That's good! I wish all the girls would leave.CHAPTER SEVEN 47 He did not soon forget the reproachful glance Amy gave him. wearing a grim expression as she stalked up to the desk. so I shall ask your father's advice before I send you anywhere else. "Is Laurie an accomplished boy?" "Yes. Davis was quite benignant in the afternoon. and departed. with the air of a martyr. especially for girls. which rather disappointed the young lady. and she helps you better than anyone else could. looking at her with such mischievous meaning in his merry black eyes that Beth suddenly turned very red. quite overcome by such an unexpected discovery. No notice was taken of Amy's flight. if not spoiled by . for to the Marches he seldom showed the moody side of his character. and the great charm of all power is modesty. Just before school closed." answered Laurie." as she passionately declared to herself. who was playing chess in a corner with Jo. and she didn't know it." "I wish I'd known that nice girl. "Yes. who expected nothing but sympathy. Mrs. Meg bathed the insulted hand with glycerine and tears. I'm so stupid. who had a really remarkable talent for music. some time later. So Laurie did his best. "I knew a girl once. March did not say much but looked disturbed. I dislike Mr. "I don't approve of corporal punishment." said Mrs. When he was gone. and delivered a letter from her mother. as she went. you can have a vacation from school. then collected Amy's property. an indignation meeting was held at once. snatched her things. except by her mates. for you broke the rules. straight into the anteroom.

48 "These things are always seen and felt in a person's manner and conversations. but it is not necessary to display them. March. It's nice to have accomplishments and be elegant. .CHAPTER SEVEN petting. "Any more than it's proper to wear all your bonnets and gowns and ribbons at once. "And he isn't conceited. "Not in the least. is he?" asked Amy." said Amy thoughtfully." replied her mother. if modestly used." said Mrs. That is why he is so charming and we all like him so much." "I see." added Jo. that folks may know you've got them. and the lecture ended in a laugh. but not to show off or get perked up.

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CHAPTER EIGHT
JO MEETS APOLLYON "Girls, where are you going?" asked Amy, coming into their room one Saturday afternoon, and finding them getting ready to go out with an air of secrecy which excited her curiosity. "Never mind. Little girls shouldn't ask questions," returned Jo sharply. Now if there is anything mortifying to our feelings when we are young, it is to be told that, and to be bidden to "run away, dear" is still more trying to us. Amy bridled up at this insult, and determined to find out the secret, if she teased for an hour. Turning to Meg, who never refused her anything very long, she said coaxingly, "Do tell me! I should think you might let me go, too, for Beth is fussing over her piano, and I haven't got anything to do, and am so lonely." "I can't, dear, because you aren't invited," began Meg, but Jo broke in impatiently, "Now, Meg, be quiet or you will spoil it all. You can't go, Amy, so don't be a baby and whine about it." "You are going somewhere with Laurie, I know you are. You were whispering and laughing together on the sofa last night, and you stopped when I came in. Aren't you going with him?" "Yes, we are. Now do be still, and stop bothering." Amy held her tongue, but used her eyes, and saw Meg slip a fan into her pocket. "I know! I know! You're going to the theater to see the Seven Castles!" she cried, adding resolutely, "and I shall go, for Mother said I might see it, and I've got my rag money, and it was mean not to tell me in time." "Just listen to me a minute, and be a good child," said Meg soothingly. "Mother doesn't wish you to go this week, because your eyes are not well enough yet to bear the light of this fairy piece. Next week you can go with Beth and Hannah, and have a nice time." "I don't like that half as well as going with you and Laurie. Please let me. I've been sick with this cold so long, and shut up, I'm dying for some fun. Do, Meg! I'll be ever so good," pleaded Amy, looking as pathetic as she could. "Suppose we take her. I don't believe Mother would mind, if we bundle her up well," began Meg. "If she goes I shan't, and if I don't, Laurie won't like it, and it will be very rude, after he invited only us, to go and drag in Amy. I should think she'd hate to poke herself where she isn't wanted," said Jo crossly, for she disliked the trouble of overseeing a fidgety child when she wanted to enjoy herself. Her tone and manner angered Amy, who began to put her boots on, saying, in her most aggravating way, "I shall go. Meg says I may, and if I pay for myself, Laurie hasn't anything to do with it." "You can't sit with us, for our seats are reserved, and you mustn't sit alone, so Laurie will give you his place, and that will spoil our pleasure. Or he'll get another seat for you, and that isn't proper when you weren't asked. You shan't stir a step, so you may just stay where you are," scolded Jo, crosser than ever, having just pricked her finger in her hurry. Sitting on the floor with one boot on, Amy began to cry and Meg to reason with her, when Laurie called from below, and the two girls hurried down, leaving their sister wailing. For now and then she forgot her grown-up

CHAPTER EIGHT ways and acted like a spoiled child. Just as the party was setting out, Amy called over the banisters in a threatening tone, "You'll be sorry for this, Jo March, see if you ain't." "Fiddlesticks!" returned Jo, slamming the door.

50

They had a charming time, for The Seven Castles Of The Diamond Lake was as brilliant and wonderful as heart could wish. But in spite of the comical red imps, sparkling elves, and the gorgeous princes and princesses, Jo's pleasure had a drop of bitterness in it. The fairy queen's yellow curls reminded her of Amy, and between the acts she amused herself with wondering what her sister would do to make her 'sorry for it'. She and Amy had had many lively skirmishes in the course of their lives, for both had quick tempers and were apt to be violent when fairly roused. Amy teased Jo, and Jo irritated Amy, and semioccasional explosions occurred, of which both were much ashamed afterward. Although the oldest, Jo had the least self-control, and had hard times trying to curb the fiery spirit which was continually getting her into trouble. Her anger never lasted long, and having humbly confessed her fault, she sincerely repented and tried to do better. Her sisters used to say that they rather liked to get Jo into a fury because she was such an angel afterward. Poor Jo tried desperately to be good, but her bosom enemy was always ready to flame up and defeat her, and it took years of patient effort to subdue it. When they got home, they found Amy reading in the parlor. She assumed an injured air as they came in, never lifted her eyes from her book, or asked a single question. Perhaps curiosity might have conquered resentment, if Beth had not been there to inquire and receive a glowing description of the play. On going up to put away her best hat, Jo's first look was toward the bureau, for in their last quarrel Amy had soothed her feelings by turning Jo's top drawer upside down on the floor. Everything was in its place, however, and after a hasty glance into her various closets, bags, and boxes, Jo decided that Amy had forgiven and forgotten her wrongs. There Jo was mistaken, for next day she made a discovery which produced a tempest. Meg, Beth, and Amy were sitting together, late in the afternoon, when Jo burst into the room, looking excited and demanding breathlessly, "Has anyone taken my book?" Meg and Beth said, "No." at once, and looked surprised. Amy poked the fire and said nothing. Jo saw her color rise and was down upon her in a minute. "Amy, you've got it!" "No, I haven't." "You know where it is, then!" "No, I don't." "That's a fib!" cried Jo, taking her by the shoulders, and looking fierce enough to frighten a much braver child than Amy. "It isn't. I haven't got it, don't know where it is now, and don't care." "You know something about it, and you'd better tell at once, or I'll make you." And Jo gave her a slight shake. "Scold as much as you like, you'll never see your silly old book again," cried Amy, getting excited in her turn. "Why not?" "I burned it up."

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"What! My little book I was so fond of, and worked over, and meant to finish before Father got home? Have you really burned it?" said Jo, turning very pale, while her eyes kindled and her hands clutched Amy nervously. "Yes, I did! I told you I'd make you pay for being so cross yesterday, and I have, so..." Amy got no farther, for Jo's hot temper mastered her, and she shook Amy till her teeth chattered in her head, crying in a passion of grief and anger... "You wicked, wicked girl! I never can write it again, and I'll never forgive you as long as I live." Meg flew to rescue Amy, and Beth to pacify Jo, but Jo was quite beside herself, and with a parting box on her sister's ear, she rushed out of the room up to the old sofa in the garret, and finished her fight alone. The storm cleared up below, for Mrs. March came home, and, having heard the story, soon brought Amy to a sense of the wrong she had done her sister. Jo's book was the pride of her heart, and was regarded by her family as a literary sprout of great promise. It was only half a dozen little fairy tales, but Jo had worked over them patiently, putting her whole heart into her work, hoping to make something good enough to print. She had just copied them with great care, and had destroyed the old manuscript, so that Amy's bonfire had consumed the loving work of several years. It seemed a small loss to others, but to Jo it was a dreadful calamity, and she felt that it never could be made up to her. Beth mourned as for a departed kitten, and Meg refused to defend her pet. Mrs. March looked grave and grieved, and Amy felt that no one would love her till she had asked pardon for the act which she now regretted more than any of them. When the tea bell rang, Jo appeared, looking so grim and unapproachable that it took all Amy's courage to say meekly... "Please forgive me, Jo. I'm very, very sorry." "I never shall forgive you," was Jo's stern answer, and from that moment she ignored Amy entirely. No one spoke of the great trouble, not even Mrs. March, for all had learned by experience that when Jo was in that mood words were wasted, and the wisest course was to wait till some little accident, or her own generous nature, softened Jo's resentment and healed the breach. It was not a happy evening, for though they sewed as usual, while their mother read aloud from Bremer, Scott, or Edgeworth, something was wanting, and the sweet home peace was disturbed. They felt this most when singing time came, for Beth could only play, Jo stood dumb as a stone, and Amy broke down, so Meg and Mother sang alone. But in spite of their efforts to be as cheery as larks, the flutelike voices did not seem to chord as well as usual, and all felt out of tune. As Jo received her good-night kiss, Mrs. March whispered gently, "My dear, don't let the sun go down upon your anger. Forgive each other, help each other, and begin again tomorrow." Jo wanted to lay her head down on that motherly bosom, and cry her grief and anger all away, but tears were an unmanly weakness, and she felt so deeply injured that she really couldn't quite forgive yet. So she winked hard, shook her head, and said gruffly because Amy was listening, "It was an abominable thing, and she doesn't deserve to be forgiven." With that she marched off to bed, and there was no merry or confidential gossip that night. Amy was much offended that her overtures of peace had been repulsed, and began to wish she had not humbled herself, to feel more injured than ever, and to plume herself on her superior virtue in a way which was particularly exasperating. Jo still looked like a thunder cloud, and nothing went well all day. It was bitter

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cold in the morning, she dropped her precious turnover in the gutter, Aunt March had an attack of the fidgets, Meg was sensitive, Beth would look grieved and wistful when she got home, and Amy kept making remarks about people who were always talking about being good and yet wouldn't even try when other people set them a virtuous example. "Everybody is so hateful, I'll ask Laurie to go skating. He is always kind and jolly, and will put me to rights, I know," said Jo to herself, and off she went. Amy heard the clash of skates, and looked out with an impatient exclamation. "There! She promised I should go next time, for this is the last ice we shall have. But it's no use to ask such a crosspatch to take me." "Don't say that. You were very naughty, and it is hard to forgive the loss of her precious little book, but I think she might do it now, and I guess she will, if you try her at the right minute," said Meg. "Go after them. Don't say anything till Jo has got good-natured with Laurie, than take a quiet minute and just kiss her, or do some kind thing, and I'm sure she'll be friends again with all her heart." "I'll try," said Amy, for the advice suited her, and after a flurry to get ready, she ran after the friends, who were just disappearing over the hill. It was not far to the river, but both were ready before Amy reached them. Jo saw her coming, and turned her back. Laurie did not see, for he was carefully skating along the shore, sounding the ice, for a warm spell had preceded the cold snap. "I'll go on to the first bend, and see if it's all right before we begin to race," Amy heard him say, as he shot away, looking like a young Russian in his fur-trimmed coat and cap. Jo heard Amy panting after her run, stamping her feet and blowing on her fingers as she tried to put her skates on, but Jo never turned and went slowly zigzagging down the river, taking a bitter, unhappy sort of satisfaction in her sister's troubles. She had cherished her anger till it grew strong and took possession of her, as evil thoughts and feelings always do unless cast out at once. As Laurie turned the bend, he shouted back... "Keep near the shore. It isn't safe in the middle." Jo heard, but Amy was struggling to her feet and did not catch a word. Jo glanced over her shoulder, and the little demon she was harboring said in her ear... "No matter whether she heard or not, let her take care of herself." Laurie had vanished round the bend, Jo was just at the turn, and Amy, far behind, striking out toward the smoother ice in the middle of the river. For a minute Jo stood still with a strange feeling in her heart, then she resolved to go on, but something held and turned her round, just in time to see Amy throw up her hands and go down, with a sudden crash of rotten ice, the splash of water, and a cry that made Jo's heart stand still with fear. She tried to call Laurie, but her voice was gone. She tried to rush forward, but her feet seemed to have no strength in them, and for a second, she could only stand motionless, staring with a terror-stricken face at the little blue hood above the black water. Something rushed swiftly by her, and Laurie's voice cried out... "Bring a rail. Quick, quick!" How she did it, she never knew, but for the next few minutes she worked as if possessed, blindly obeying Laurie, who was quite self-possessed, and lying flat, held Amy up by his arm and hockey stick till Jo dragged a rail from the fence, and together they got the child out, more frightened than hurt.

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"Now then, we must walk her home as fast as we can. Pile our things on her, while I get off these confounded skates," cried Laurie, wrapping his coat round Amy, and tugging away at the straps which never seemed so intricate before. Shivering, dripping, and crying, they got Amy home, and after an exciting time of it, she fell asleep, rolled in blankets before a hot fire. During the bustle Jo had scarcely spoken but flown about, looking pale and wild, with her things half off, her dress torn, and her hands cut and bruised by ice and rails and refractory buckles. When Amy was comfortably asleep, the house quiet, and Mrs. March sitting by the bed, she called Jo to her and began to bind up the hurt hands. "Are you sure she is safe?" whispered Jo, looking remorsefully at the golden head, which might have been swept away from her sight forever under the treacherous ice. "Quite safe, dear. She is not hurt, and won't even take cold, I think, you were so sensible in covering and getting her home quickly," replied her mother cheerfully. "Laurie did it all. I only let her go. Mother, if she should die, it would be my fault." And Jo dropped down beside the bed in a passion of penitent tears, telling all that had happened, bitterly condemning her hardness of heart, and sobbing out her gratitude for being spared the heavy punishment which might have come upon her. "It's my dreadful temper! I try to cure it, I think I have, and then it breaks out worse than ever. Oh, Mother, what shall I do? What shall I do?" cried poor Jo, in despair. "Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault," said Mrs. March, drawing the blowzy head to her shoulder and kissing the wet cheek so tenderly that Jo cried even harder. "You don't know, you can't guess how bad it is! It seems as if I could do anything when I'm in a passion. I get so savage, I could hurt anyone and enjoy it. I'm afraid I shall do something dreadful some day, and spoil my life, and make everybody hate me. Oh, Mother, help me, do help me!" "I will, my child, I will. Don't cry so bitterly, but remember this day, and resolve with all your soul that you will never know another like it. Jo, dear, we all have our temptations, some far greater than yours, and it often takes us all our lives to conquer them. You think your temper is the worst in the world, but mine used to be just like it." "Yours, Mother? Why, you are never angry!" And for the moment Jo forgot remorse in surprise. "I've been trying to cure it for forty years, and have only succeeded in controlling it. I am angry nearly every day of my life, Jo, but I have learned not to show it, and I still hope to learn not to feel it, though it may take me another forty years to do so." The patience and the humility of the face she loved so well was a better lesson to Jo than the wisest lecture, the sharpest reproof. She felt comforted at once by the sympathy and confidence given her. The knowledge that her mother had a fault like hers, and tried to mend it, made her own easier to bear and strengthened her resolution to cure it, though forty years seemed rather a long time to watch and pray to a girl of fifteen. "Mother, are you angry when you fold your lips tight together and go out of the room sometimes, when Aunt March scolds or people worry you?" asked Jo, feeling nearer and dearer to her mother than ever before. "Yes, I've learned to check the hasty words that rise to my lips, and when I feel that they mean to break out against my will, I just go away for a minute, and give myself a little shake for being so weak and wicked,"

CHAPTER EIGHT answered Mrs. March with a sigh and a smile, as she smoothed and fastened up Jo's disheveled hair.

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"How did you learn to keep still? That is what troubles me, for the sharp words fly out before I know what I'm about, and the more I say the worse I get, till it's a pleasure to hurt people's feelings and say dreadful things. Tell me how you do it, Marmee dear." "My good mother used to help me..." "As you do us..." interrupted Jo, with a grateful kiss. "But I lost her when I was a little older than you are, and for years had to struggle on alone, for I was too proud to confess my weakness to anyone else. I had a hard time, Jo, and shed a good many bitter tears over my failures, for in spite of my efforts I never seemed to get on. Then your father came, and I was so happy that I found it easy to be good. But by-and-by, when I had four little daughters round me and we were poor, then the old trouble began again, for I am not patient by nature, and it tried me very much to see my children wanting anything." "Poor Mother! What helped you then?" "Your father, Jo. He never loses patience, never doubts or complains, but always hopes, and works and waits so cheerfully that one is ashamed to do otherwise before him. He helped and comforted me, and showed me that I must try to practice all the virtues I would have my little girls possess, for I was their example. It was easier to try for your sakes than for my own. A startled or surprised look from one of you when I spoke sharply rebuked me more than any words could have done, and the love, respect, and confidence of my children was the sweetest reward I could receive for my efforts to be the woman I would have them copy." "Oh, Mother, if I'm ever half as good as you, I shall be satisfied," cried Jo, much touched. "I hope you will be a great deal better, dear, but you must keep watch over your 'bosom enemy', as father calls it, or it may sadden, if not spoil your life. You have had a warning. Remember it, and try with heart and soul to master this quick temper, before it brings you greater sorrow and regret than you have known today." "I will try, Mother, I truly will. But you must help me, remind me, and keep me from flying out. I used to see Father sometimes put his finger on his lips, and look at you with a very kind but sober face, and you always folded your lips tight and went away. Was he reminding you then?" asked Jo softly. "Yes. I asked him to help me so, and he never forgot it, but saved me from many a sharp word by that little gesture and kind look." Jo saw that her mother's eyes filled and her lips trembled as she spoke, and fearing that she had said too much, she whispered anxiously, "Was it wrong to watch you and to speak of it? I didn't mean to be rude, but it's so comfortable to say all I think to you, and feel so safe and happy here." "My Jo, you may say anything to your mother, for it is my greatest happiness and pride to feel that my girls confide in me and know how much I love them." "I thought I'd grieved you." "No, dear, but speaking of Father reminded me how much I miss him, how much I owe him, and how faithfully I should watch and work to keep his little daughters safe and good for him." "Yet you told him to go, Mother, and didn't cry when he went, and never complain now, or seem as if you

Amy stirred and sighed in her sleep. and strength. and kept my tears till he was gone." Jo's only answer was to hold her mother close. Amy opened her eyes. and today. "I let the sun go down on my anger. As if she heard. and sorrows. she had drawn nearer to the Friend who always welcomes every child with a love stronger than that of any father. and held out her arms. My child. Jo looked up with an expression on her face which it had never worn before. as freely and confidingly as you come to your mother. in spite of the blankets. and in the silence which followed the sincerest prayer she had ever prayed left her heart without words. and hopes. and led by her mother's hand." said Jo. and sins. His love and care never tire or change. Believe this heartily. it might have been too late! How could I be so wicked?" said Jo. but they hugged one another close. The more you love and trust Him. as she leaned over her sister softly stroking the wet hair scattered on the pillow. and as if eager to begin at once to mend her fault. it is because I have a better friend. . half aloud. wondering. and the less you will depend on human power and wisdom.CHAPTER EIGHT needed any help. but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavenly Father as you do that of your earthly one. and everything was forgiven and forgotten in one hearty kiss. even than Father. she had learned not only the bitterness of remorse and despair. I wouldn't forgive her. and go to God with all your little cares. if it hadn't been for Laurie. but the sweetness of self-denial and self-control. Why should I complain. Neither said a word. the troubles and temptations of your life are beginning and may be many. For in that sad yet happy hour. can never be taken from you. to comfort and sustain me. happiness. 55 "I gave my best to the country I love. when we both have merely done our duty and will surely be the happier for it in the end? If I don't seem to need help. with a smile that went straight to Jo's heart. but may become the source of lifelong peace. the nearer you will feel to Him. tenderer than that of any mother.

there's my new gray walking suit. let me see. and you always look like an angel in white. so I ought not to complain. "And such lovely weather. A whole fortnight of fun will be regularly splendid. you've got the tarlaton for the big party.CHAPTER NINE 56 CHAPTER NINE MEG GOES TO VANITY FAIR "I do think it was the most fortunate thing in the world that those children should have the measles just now. I shall keep my adventures to tell you when I come back. Jo. and the sash will set it off beautifully. that I feel as if I'd got a new one. looking like a windmill as she folded skirts with her long arms. and I'm not going to give up to it. one April day. I'm so glad of that. doesn't it? The violet silk would be so nice. but it will have to do. "There is a lovely old-fashioned pearl set in the treasure chest. It's strong and neat. I wanted the violet silk. but as you can't. who had not been present at the opening of a certain cedar chest in which Mrs." sighed Meg. "What did Mother give you out of the treasure box?" asked Amy. My blue housedress looks so well." replied Meg. "I won't be so silly. turned and freshly trimmed. it looks heavy for spring." added Beth. surveying the little umbrella with great disfavor. as she stood packing the 'go abroady' trunk in her room." said Amy with her mouth full of pins. but Mother said real flowers were the prettiest ornament for a young girl. "I wish I was going to have a fine time and wear all these nice things. My silk sacque isn't a bit the fashion." And Meg took a refreshing peep at her glove box. "Now. but I know I shall feel ashamed of it beside Annie's silk one with a gold top. "Change it. glancing round the room at the very simple outfit. surrounded by her sisters. My silk stockings and two pairs of new gloves are my comfort." said Amy. I told Mother black with a white handle. as she artistically replenished her sister's cushion. I feel so rich and sort of elegant." "It will look nice over my new muslin skirt." said Meg. "And so nice of Annie Moffat not to forget her promise. or hurt Marmee's feelings. March kept a few relics of past splendor. Beth. It's a nonsensical notion of mine. just curl up the feather in my hat. that pretty carved fan. lent for the great occasion. . dear!" "Never mind. You are a dear to lend me yours." said Meg. for you might have had it. lending me things and helping me get ready. I wish I hadn't smashed my coral bracelet. and Laurie promised to send me all I want." said Jo. but there isn't time to make it over. "A pair of silk stockings. but she forgot and bought a green one with a yellowish handle. then my poplin for Sunday and the small party. I'm sure it's the least I can do when you have been so kind. I didn't like to say anything. "I wish you were all going. tidily sorting neck and hair ribbons in her best box. and a lovely blue sash." replied Jo. Oh. and my bonnet doesn't look like Sallie's." advised Jo. with two new pairs. who loved to give and lend. which seemed nearly perfect in their eyes. and it doesn't sweep enough. but I was sadly disappointed in my umbrella. "It isn't low-necked. when she took so much pains to get my things. as gifts for her girls when the proper time came. and the old ones cleaned up for common. so I must be contented with my old tarlaton. brooding over the little store of finery in which her soul delighted. but whose possessions were usually too dilapidated to be of much use.

take in her dresses. and Annie to tie her sash. and one was engaged. Mrs. without understanding why." said Meg. crimp her hair. was in a fair way to have her head turned. The Moffats were very fashionable. in spite of the frivolous life they led. Moffat. and her heart felt very heavy as she stood by herself. who took as great a fancy to Meg as her daughter had done. who knew her father. "I wonder if I shall ever be happy enough to have real lace on my clothes and bows on my caps?" said Meg impatiently. but Sallie offered to dress her hair. and fern within. the trays are ready. Would you put some on mine?" she asked. and all were exclaiming at the lovely roses. The next day was fine. use French phrases. bitter feeling was getting pretty bad. and she felt that she was a very destitute and much-injured girl. walked. and called all day. Everyone petted her. Meg saw the girls glance at it and then at one another. "So I did! Well. for the smart caps won't match the plain gowns without any trimming on them. and soon put their guest at her ease.CHAPTER NINE 57 "Annie Moffat has blue and pink bows on her nightcaps. while the others laughed. and I won't fret. The hard. for the three young girls were busily employed in 'having a good time'. for Annie had many friends and knew how to entertain them. wear her best frock every day. at first. and do nothing but enjoy herself. but it does seem as if the more one gets the more one wants. however. which I shall leave for Mother to pack. and Sallie had promised to take good care of her. and simple Meg was rather daunted. which she called her 'ball dress' with an important air. and that all their gilding could not quite conceal the ordinary material of which they were made. and the daughter went to take her first taste of fashionable life. Moffat was a fat. drive in a fine carriage. and soon she began to imitate the manners and conversation of those about her. and her cheeks began to burn. jolly old lady. They shopped. and everything in but my ball dress. she found that the poplin wouldn't do at all. and talk about the fashions as well as she could. to put on little airs and graces. "No. for the other girls were putting on thin dresses and making themselves very fine indeed. that they were not particularly cultivated or intelligent people. chattered. rode. Home now looked bare and dismal as she thought of it. It certainly was agreeable to fare sumptuously. and shabbier than ever beside Sallie's crisp new one. and Belle. Annie had the cover off. and Meg departed in style for a fortnight of novelty and pleasure. I wouldn't. praised her white arms. The more she saw of Annie Moffat's pretty things. as Beth brought up a pile of snowy muslins. "You said the other day that you'd be perfectly happy if you could only go to Annie Moffat's. and flew about like gauzy butterflies. Meg thought. March had consented to the visit rather reluctantly. the more she envied her and sighed to be rich. Before she could speak." observed Beth in her quiet way. doesn't it? There now. when the maid brought in a box of flowers. . cheering up. which was extremely interesting and romantic." said Jo decidedly. in spite of the new gloves and silk stockings. looking older. heath. Mr. limper. She had not much time for repining. But they were kindly people. went to theaters and operas or frolicked at home in the evening. It suited her exactly. and Mrs. Perhaps Meg felt. So out came the tarlatan. fearing that Margaret would come back more discontented than she went. work grew harder than ever. When the evening for the small party came. by the splendor of the house and the elegance of its occupants. I am happy. No one said a word about it. jolly old gentleman. as she glanced from the half-filled trunk to the many times pressed and mended white tarlaton. for with all her gentleness she was very proud. But she begged so hard. Poor folks shouldn't rig. Her older sisters were very fine young ladies. But in their kindness Meg saw only pity for her poverty. the engaged sister. a fat. and a little pleasure seemed so delightful after a winter of irksome work that the mother yielded. fresh from Hannah's hands. and 'Daisey'. as they called her.

and colored up when the flowers came quite prettily. but had some spring in her'. The girl evidently doesn't think of it yet. "She told that fib about her momma. as she laid her ferns against her rippling hair and fastened the roses in the dress that didn't strike her as so very shabby now. "Oh. I should say. anger. she saw a happy. George always sends her some. and some one said she had a remarkably fine voice. "The note is from Mother. early as it is. and that will be a good excuse for offering a decent one. Feeling almost happy again. till she overheard a bit of conversation. fluttering about Meg in a high state of curiosity and surprise." "Mrs. "She's proud. the man said." put in the maid. when she heard a voice ask on the other side of the flowery wall." "that fib about her mamma." till she was ready to cry and rush home to tell her troubles and ask . Annie made her sing. She was proud. Everyone was very kind. hair. innocent and unsuspicious as she was. M. of course.. for she danced to her heart's content. She tried to forget it. and the old man quite dotes on them. and the flowers from Laurie." cried the girls. with a great sniff." Here Meg's partner appeared. She enjoyed herself very much that evening. Moffat insisted on dancing with her because she 'didn't dawdle. as if she did know. She was sitting just inside the conservatory. "How old is he?" "Sixteen or seventeen." said Mrs. and she had three compliments. for the few loving words had done her good. she could not help understanding the gossip of her friends. bright-eyed face in the mirror." said Meg simply. as Meg slipped the note into her pocket as a sort of talisman against envy. offering them so prettily that Clara. and will play her cards well. indeed!" said Annie with a funny look. and her pride was useful just then. yet much gratified that he had not forgotten her. Do you think she'd be offended if we offered to lend her a dress for Thursday?" asked another voice. holding it to Meg.CHAPTER NINE 58 "It's for Belle. So altogether she had a very nice time. as he gracefully expressed it. Major Lincoln asked who 'the fresh little girl with the beautiful eyes' was. has made her plans." and "dowdy tarlaton. and false pride. Moffat. "Mrs. which disturbed her extremely. vanity. She may tear it tonight. "What fun! Who are they from? Didn't know you had a lover. and they looked quite charmed with her small attention. Somehow the kind act finished her despondency. and disgust at what she had just heard. Poor thing! She'd be so nice if she was only got up in style. but I don't believe she'd mind. Moffat. and Mr. the elder sister.. but these are altogether ravishing. "It would be a grand thing for one of those girls. to find her looking much flushed and rather agitated. And here's a note. and when all the rest went to show themselves to Mrs. waiting for her partner to bring her an ice. and quickly made up the rest in dainty bouquets for the breasts. and the flowers cheered her up by their beauty. but could not. for it helped her hide her mortification." cried Annie. M. wouldn't it? Sallie says they are very intimate now." replied another voice. and kept repeating to herself. told her she was 'the sweetest little thing she ever saw'. For. "They are for Miss March. she laid by a few ferns and roses for herself. or skirts of her friends. I dare say. has made her plans. for that dowdy tarlaton is all she has got.

Those foolish. "You are very kind." Meg colored. Laurence. Her faith in her mother was a little shaken by the worldly plans attributed to her by Mrs." returned Miss Belle with a shrug. had opened a new world to Meg. Laurence are friends. he often does. you know. tossing her head. My mother and old Mr. "Nearer my sister Jo's. and much disturbed the peace of the old one in which till now she had lived as happily as a child. "There isn't any. "You sly creature! Of course we meant the young man. and half ashamed of herself for not speaking out frankly and setting everything right. Can I do anything for you." and Meg hoped they would say no more. young ladies?" asked Mrs. "About your age. dear. though she did not understand it till Miss Belle looked up from her writing.." "My child. where she could think and wonder and fume till her head ached and her hot cheeks were cooled by a few natural tears. "It's evident Daisy isn't out yet. I am seventeen in August. "Daisy. Mr. All this surprised and flattered her." said Miss Clara to Belle with a nod. and got up heavy-eyed. Poor Meg had a restless night. "I'm going out to get some little matters for my girls. so it is quite natural that we children should play together. Something in the manner of her friends struck Meg at once. As that was impossible. "Quite a pastoral state of innocence all round. isn't it?" said Annie." Nan said. "Yes. We should like to know him. to all of us. and it's only a proper compliment to you. what do you mean? What is his age. with a sentimental air. half resentful toward her friends. Everybody dawdled that morning. unhappy. I've sent an invitation to your friend. and being rather excited. I believe. laughing. "It's very nice of him to send you flowers. who judged others by herself. I beg to know!" cried Miss Clara. Laurie is only a little boy. looking wise about nothing." returned Meg. Moffat. "Nearly seventy. took quite a tender interest in what she said. counting stitches to hide the merriment in her eyes. for their house is full. she succeeded so well that no one dreamed what an effort she was making. but I'm afraid he won't come. and looked at her with eyes that plainly betrayed curiosity. but a mischievous fancy to tease the girls made her reply demurely. Cherie?" asked Miss Belle. and it was noon before the girls found energy enough even to take up their worsted work. she did her best to seem gay." exclaimed Miss Belle. Her innocent friendship with Laurie was spoiled by the silly speeches she had overheard. for Thursday. she thought. . yet well meant words. She was very glad when it was all over and she was quiet in her bed.CHAPTER NINE 59 for advice. and the sensible resolution to be contented with the simple wardrobe which suited a poor man's daughter was weakened by the unnecessary pity of girls who thought a shabby dress one of the greatest calamities under heaven. They treated her with more respect." And Meg laughed also at the queer look which the sisters exchanged as she thus described her supposed lover. and we are so fond of them. and said. "He's too old." answered Meg.." "Why not.

and you'd be a regular little beauty with a touch here and there. thank you. with her long skirts trailing. if Meg had not rebelled. but feeling very uncomfortable. A set of silver filagree was added. but I don't mind my old dress if you don't." said Belle in her persuasive tone. Where is the use of having a lot of dresses when she isn't out yet? There's no need of sending home. lumbering in like an elephant in silk and lace. and for several minutes she stood.. "Why don't you send home for another?" said Sallie. "Only that? How funny. if I can mend it fit to be seen." She did not finish her speech. for a desire to see if she would be 'a little beauty' after touching up caused her to accept and forget all her former uncomfortable feelings toward the Moffats. dear?" "You are very kind. her earrings tinkling. who was not an observing young lady. necklace. is she not?" cried Hortense. and you shall wear it to please me. brooch." replied Sallie.. and her heart beating. As Meg went rustling after. while the rest chattered like a party of magpies. which I've outgrown. "Mademoiselle is charmante. for Hortense tied them on with a bit of pink silk which did not show. white shoulders." It cost Meg an effort to say that. A lace handkerchief. and Hortense would have added 'a soupcon of rouge'. reconciled Meg to the display of her pretty. but Sallie did not see it and exclaimed in amiable surprise.CHAPTER NINE Moffat. "Now do let me please myself by dressing you up in style. a plumy fan.. tres jolie." began Meg. but stopped because it occurred to her that she did want several things and could not have them. "Come and show yourself.. they polished her neck and arms with some fragrant powder.. she felt as if her fun had really begun at last. trying to speak quite easily. and then we'll burst upon them like Cinderella and her godmother going to the ball. Her friends repeated the pleasing phrase enthusiastically. which was so tight she could hardly breathe and so low in the neck that modest Meg blushed at herself in the mirror. saying kindly. "Not at all. and a pair of high-heeled silk boots satisfied the last wish of her heart. A cluster of tea-rose buds at the bosom. enjoying her borrowed plumes. Belle shut herself up with her maid. "What shall you wear?" asked Sallie. "I haven't got any other. it does well enough for a little girl like me. "I've got my new pink silk for Thursday and don't want a thing. her curls waving. . They crimped and curled her hair." said Meg. clasping her hands in an affected rapture. and between them they turned Meg into a fine lady. 60 "My old white one again. I admire to do it. "No. for I've got a sweet blue silk laid away. even if you had a dozen. I shan't let anyone see you till you are done." said Miss Belle. and even earrings. and a ruche. it got sadly torn last night. ma'am. On the Thursday evening. Meg couldn't refuse the offer so kindly made. They laced her into a sky-blue dress. won't you. and Miss Belle surveyed her with the satisfaction of a little girl with a newly dressed doll. bracelets. like a jackdaw in the fable. and a bouquet in a shoulder holder finished her off. for Belle shook her head at her and broke in." said Meg." "Nor I. Daisy. touched her lips with coralline salve to make them redder. for the mirror had plainly told her that she was 'a little beauty'. leading the way to the room where the others were waiting..

but reverses of fortune. or she will trip herself up. for though he bowed and smiled. who. and you're quite French." answered Laurie. She very soon discovered that there is a charm about fine clothes which attracts a certain class of people and secures their respect." said Belle. and criticized the rest of the party. as she hurried away. you know. do you drill her. "Don't you like me so?" asked Meg." thought Meg.. "How absurd of you! The girls dressed me up for fun. She was flirting her fan and laughing at the feeble jokes of a young gentleman who tried to be witty. Wouldn't Jo stare if she saw me?" said Meg. and rustled across the room to shake hands with her friend. and said all manner of foolish but agreeable things to her. Take your silver butterfly. she saw Belle nudge Annie. yet something in his honest eyes made her blush and wish she had her old dress on. Moffat's fibs. Several young ladies. putting up her glass for another observation of Meg. sweet creature. I was afraid you wouldn't. don't be so careful of them. and several old ladies. . Moffat reply to one of them. bent on making him say whether he thought her improved or not. now not only stared. with her most grown-up air. "What shall you tell her?" asked Meg. or let it change me a bit. She heard Mrs. and tell her how you looked. who sat on the sofas. and be sure you don't trip. though the tight dress gave her a side-ache. "Yes. so I did. and disapproval also. for you look so grown-up and unlike yourself." "Dear me!" said the old lady. "Silly creatures. intimate friends of the Laurences. To complete her confusion. were very affectionate all of a sudden. trying not to care that Meg was prettier than herself. He was staring at her with undisguised surprise." returned Laurie gravely. "I'm glad you came. The 'queer feeling' did not pass away. but asked to be introduced. I'm quite afraid of you. yet feeling ill at ease with him for the first time. in the management of her skirt and those French heels. "You don't look a bit like yourself. who tried to look as if she had not heard and been rather shocked at Mrs. and both glance from her to Laurie. the train kept getting under her feet. full of curiosity to know his opinion of her. but you are very nice. I won't care for it.CHAPTER NINE 61 "While I dress." she said.. without turning his eyes upon her. my Ned is quite wild about her. I'm nowhere beside you. looking well pleased with her success." he said. she saw Laurie. who had only stared at her at the other party. Keeping that warning carefully in mind. and she was in constant fear lest her earrings should fly off and get lost or broken. "Daisy March--father a colonel in the army--one of our first families. when she suddenly stopped laughing and looked confused. for Belle has heaps of taste. who had taken no notice of her before. I assure you. and I rather like it. Several young gentlemen. Let your flowers hang. Margaret got safely down stairs and sailed into the drawing rooms where the Moffats and a few early guests were assembled. and catch up that long curl on the left side of her head. and don't any of you disturb the charming work of my hands. Clara. though he half smiled at her maternal tone. to put such thoughts into my head." returned Sallie. I think she would. for just opposite. she was happy to see. Nan. but she imagined herself acting the new part of fine lady and so got on pretty well. "I shall say I didn't know you. fumbling at his glove button. looked unusually boyish and shy. I assure you. "Jo wanted me to come. inquired who she was with an air of interest. she thought.

"Laurie. I don't like your gown." 62 That was altogether too much from a lad younger than herself.. so plainly that Meg hastily added. and turning." "I'm afraid it will be too disagreeable to you. "You are the rudest boy I ever saw. I wanted you to see her.." And he waved his hands. Come. for having practiced at home." She leaned her forehead on the cool pane. I'll be good. saying petulantly. I don't. "Please forgive my rudeness." "Pin it round your neck. with his very best bow and his hand out. looking down at the little blue boots. and whispered as they stood waiting to catch the time. then I should not have disgusted other people.. It's the plague of my life and I was a goose to wear it." "Then why did you do it?" said Laurie's eyes. bare shoulders. She's nothing but a doll tonight. . "Not a bit of it. Away they went fleetly and gracefully. I'm dying to do it. and Meg walked away. looking penitent. with alacrity." "Oh. they were well matched. she saw Laurie.. for the tight dress gave her an uncomfortably brilliant color. "I wish I'd been sensible and worn my own things. "Won't I!" said Laurie. she went and stood at a quiet window to cool her cheeks. "They are making a fool of that little girl." said Laurie. which it did very soon though she would not own why. "I don't like fuss and feathers. which had not a particle of his usual politeness in it. but I do think you are just splendid. till some one touched her." Feeling very much ruffled. and it will worry Mother. "Why not?" in an anxious tone.." said Meg. Meg smiled and relented.. as they twirled merrily round and round. and come and dance with me.CHAPTER NINE "No. "Take care my skirt doesn't trip you up. "Please don't tell them at home about my dress tonight. as he stood fanning her when her breath gave out. and then it will be useful. and fantastically trimmed dress with an expression that abashed her more than his answer. and stood half hidden by the curtains. but they have spoiled her entirely. They won't understand the joke. never minding that her favorite waltz had begun. trying to look offended and failing entirely. Major Lincoln passed by. dear!" sighed Meg. will you?" said Meg. and a minute after she heard him saying to his mother. As she stood there. feeling more friendly than ever after their small tiff. as he said. I want you to do me a favor." was the blunt reply. or felt so uncomfortable and ashamed of myself. and the blithe young couple were a pleasant sight to see. He glanced at her frizzled head. as if words failed to express his admiration. which he evidently approved of.

you know.CHAPTER NINE "I shall tell them myself all about it. then. ill-pleased at the change he saw in her. But I'd rather do it myself. who had given her many anxious looks that day. For motherly eyes are quick to . "No. feeling as if she had been to a masquerade and hadn't enjoyed herself as much as she expected. and not have company manners on all the time. "You'll have a splitting headache tomorrow. chattered and giggled. as Laurie said to himself. as Ned turned to refill her glass and Fisher stooped to pick up her fan.. leaning over her chair. only what shall I say when they ask me?" "Just say I looked pretty well and was having a good time. your mother doesn't like it. when he saw her drinking champagne with Ned and his friend Fisher. and on Saturday went home. After supper she undertook the German. dear. and I suppose he's coming for them. though it isn't splendid. but this sort doesn't pay." "Here comes Ned Moffat." said Meg. I only wanted a little fun." muttered Laurie. trying to smile. Tomorrow I shall put away my 'fuss and feathers' and be desperately good again. but Meg was too tired for gossip and went to bed." she answered with an affected little laugh." he whispered. I find. She was sick all the next day. not just now. Meg danced and flirted. This little bit of byplay excited Annie's curiosity. for the splitting headache had already begun. Are you?" And Laurie looked at her with an expression which made her answer in a whisper. for I was afraid home would seem dull and poor to you after your fine quarters. will you?" "I give you my word I won't. knitting his black brows as if he did not regard his young host in the light of a pleasant addition to the party." replied Laurie. Home is a nice place. "I'm glad to hear you say so.. who were behaving 'like a pair of fools'." replied her mother. "He put his name down for three dances. with a melodramatic flourish. as she sat with her mother and Jo on the Sunday evening. and 'fess' to Mother how silly I've been. What a bore!" said Meg. looking about her with a restful expression. as the other girls did. for he felt a brotherly sort of right to watch over the Marches and fight their battles whenever a defender was needed. "Silence a la mort. if you drink much of that. assuming a languid air which amused Laurie immensely. "I'm not Meg tonight. He did not speak to her again till suppertime. I'm 'a doll' who does all sorts of crazy things. Meg. "Wish tomorrow was here." 63 "I'll say the first with all my heart. quite used up with her fortnight's fun and feeling that she had 'sat in the lap of luxury' long enough. as he went away. who looked on and meditated a lecture. for Meg kept away from him till he came to say good night. Don't think I'm horrid. walking off. but how about the other? You don't look as if you were having a good time. and blundered through it. What does he want?" said Laurie. So you'll not tell. "It does seem pleasant to be quiet. and I'm getting tired of it. "Remember!" she said. and romping in a way that scandalized Laurie. But he got no chance to deliver it. nearly upsetting her partner with her long skirt. I wouldn't.

" "We are prepared." "Just wait till I see Annie Moffat. dear?" "Shall I go away?" asked Jo discreetly. Don't I always tell you everything? I was ashamed to speak of it before the younger children. Jo saw her mother fold her lips tightly. if that isn't the greatest rubbish I ever heard. and quantities of nonsense. "Well. so I let them make a fool of me. but something still seemed to weigh upon her spirits.CHAPTER NINE see any change in children's faces. March. and could not find it in her heart to blame her little follies. Laurie thought I wasn't proper. The idea of having 'plans' and being kind to Laurie because he's rich and may marry us by-and-by! Won't he shout when I tell him what those silly things say about us poor children?" And Jo laughed. and made me look like a fashion-plate. taking Beth's stool. What is it. March gravely. 64 Meg had told her adventures gayly and said over and over what a charming time she had had. Meg suddenly left her chair and. never repeat that foolish gossip. I drank champagne and romped and tried to flirt. saying little and looking worried." "Is that all?" asked Jo. "No. and one man called me 'a doll'." And Mrs." Then she told the various bits of gossip she had heard at the Moffats'. leaned her elbows on her mother's knee. "Why didn't you pop out and tell them so on the spot?" "I couldn't. it was so embarrassing for me. As the clock struck nine and Jo proposed bed. as Mrs. I'll never forgive you! She mustn't. I want to 'fess'. "There is something more. which suddenly grew rosy as Meg answered slowly." said Mrs. but I want you to know all the dreadful things I did at the Moffats'." said Meg self-reproachfully. and then I was so angry and ashamed. and when the younger girls were gone to bed. "Marmee. It's very silly. I didn't remember that I ought to go away. and as she spoke. and forget it as soon as you can." "I thought so. "I told you they dressed me up.. "I was very .. smiling but looking a little anxious. I know he did. though he didn't say so. I couldn't help hearing at first. must she. March smoothed the soft cheek. because I hate to have people say and think such things about us and Laurie. and was altogether abominable. I think." said Mrs. she sat thoughtfully staring at the fire. Mother?" said Meg. but I want to tell it. I knew it was silly. and I'll show you how to settle such ridiculous stuff. "If you tell Laurie.. as if on second thoughts the thing struck her as a good joke." cried Jo indignantly. "No. as if ill pleased that such ideas should be put into Meg's innocent mind. but I didn't tell you that they powdered and squeezed and frizzled. looking distressed. "Yes. saying bravely.. but they flattered me and said I was a beauty. "Of course not. March looked silently at the downcast face of her pretty daughter.

I won't let it hurt me." "Poor girls don't stand any chance. I suspect. looking both interested and a little perplexed. marry rich men merely because they are rich. with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send." sighed Meg. Some of the best and most honored women I know were poor girls. poverty seldom daunts a sincere lover. in her serious yet cheery way. One thing remember. "That is perfectly natural.. on a very serious subject. if the liking does not become a passion and lead one to do foolish or unmaidenly things. ill-bred. and quite harmless. And Jo felt as if during that fortnight her sister had grown up amazingly. "Yes. I am ambitious for you. Jo. Mother is always ready to be your confidant. It is natural to think of it. pleasant lives. and respected. Leave these things to time. perhaps." . I'll forget all the bad and remember only the good. will be the pride and comfort of our lives. I dare say. and wise to prepare for it." "Don't be sorry. contented. "Don't be troubled. my dear. My dear girls. loved. to be well and wisely married. Jo. but not too young to understand me. and was drifting away from her into a world where she could not follow. "Then we'll be old maids." said Mrs. than queens on thrones. and good. looking as if she thought they were about to join in some very solemn affair. so that you may be fit for homes of your own. while Jo stood with her hands behind her. Meg. Meg. and I'll stay with you till I'm fit to take care of myself. and full of these vulgar ideas about young people. but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for. without self-respect and peace. if they are good. I am more sorry than I can express for the mischief this visit may have done you. for it was a new thing to see Meg blushing and talking about admiration. Meg." said Jo stoutly. Meg. Meg. as Mrs. for I did enjoy a great deal. Learn to know and value the praise which is worth having. which are not homes because love is wanting. if you were happy. You are young. But it is nice to be praised and admired. running about to find husbands. my girls. I'll not be sentimental or dissatisfied. I have a great many. for the time has come when a word may set this romantic little head and heart of yours right. Money is a needful and precious thing. lovers. so listen to my 'plans' and help me carry them out.CHAPTER NINE 65 unwise to let you go among people of whom I know so little. Father to be your friend. March said. and to lead useful. looking half ashamed of the confession. and to excite the admiration of excellent people by being modest as well as pretty. I know I'm a silly little girl." Margaret sat thinking a moment. and both of us hope and trust that our daughters. all mothers do. and I can't help saying I like it. but worldly. your turn will come in time. you may feel ready for the duties and worthy of the joy. and things of that sort. Mother. or unmaidenly girls. accomplished." Jo went and sat on one arm of the chair. and when well used. right to hope and wait for it. Mrs." said Meg. so that when the happy time comes. and I sincerely hope my girls may know this beautiful experience. a noble thing. if they are offered you.. To be loved and chosen by a good man is the best and sweetest thing which can happen to a woman. Make this home happy. and watching the two young faces wistfully. "I want my daughters to be beautiful. Moffat said?" asked Meg bashfully. I'd rather see you poor men's wives. "Right. Moffat's. To be admired. unless they put themselves forward. and thank you very much for letting me go. I will tell you some of them. beloved. Better be happy old maids than unhappy wives. "Mother. but not to have you make a dash in the world. and contented here if they are not. To have a happy youth. Holding a hand of each. kind. March decidedly. and mothers' lips are the fittest to speak of such things to girls like you. or have splendid houses. Belle says. whether married or single. but so love-worthy that they were not allowed to be old maids. but mine differ somewhat from Mrs. do you have 'plans'.

with all their hearts. Marmee. 66 . we will!" cried both.CHAPTER NINE "We will. as she bade them good night.

tonight. local news. some old. Our Pickwick. sweet peas and mignonette. with a big 'P. tied their badges round their heads. for the girls' tastes differed as much as their characters. and flower hunts employed the fine days. 18--POET'S CORNER ANNIVERSARY ODE Again we meet to celebrate With badge and solemn rite. on which occasions the ceremonies were as follows: Three chairs were arranged in a row before a table on which was a lamp. and Amy. With a few interruptions. picturesque plants as would consent to blossom there.' in different colors on each. Jo. Pickwick put on a pair of spectacles without any glass. rather small and earwiggy. and as all of the girls admired Dickens. pansies. and hints. Hannah used to say. myrtle. they called themselves the Pickwick Club. which was filled with original tales." and so she might. was Samuel Pickwick. till he arranged himself properly. he reads Our well-filled weekly sheet. As spring came on. funny advertisements. delicate ferns.C. and as many brilliant. also four white badges. in which they good-naturedly reminded each other of their faults and short comings. the seeds of which cheerful land aspiring plant were to feed Aunt Cockle-top and her family of chicks. AND P. Gardening. rapped upon the table. Amy had a bower in hers. the four members ascended to the clubroom. and having stared hard at Mr. was the editor. they had house diversions. to which all contributed something. walks. the president. who reveled in pens and ink. it was thought proper to have one. larkspur. Pickwick. and took their seats with great solemnity. On one occasion. poetry. Tracy Tupman. who was tilting back in his chair. ef I see 'em in Chiny. With reverence we greet. At seven o'clock. and each sister had a quarter of the little plot to do what she liked with. In Pickwick Hall. spectacles on nose. while Jo. The Pickwick Portfolio. being of a literary turn. We all are here in perfect health. and southernwood. The garden had to be put in order. began to read: ---"THE PICKWICK PORTFOLIO" MAY 20. Meg's had roses and heliotrope. and the weekly newspaper called. was Nathaniel Winkle. rows on the river. hemmed. Beth. and met every Saturday evening in the big garret. And press each friendly hand. tall white lilies. with chickweed for the birds and catnip for the pussies. Snodgrass. some new. all more or less original. Mr. but very pretty to look at. for as secret societies were the fashion. for she was always trying experiments. because she was round and rosy.C. Beth had old-fashioned fragrant flowers in her garden. always at his post. and for rainy ones. with honeysuckle and morning-glories hanging their colored horns and bells in graceful wreaths all over it. pinks. .C. and a little orange tree in it. and the lengthening days gave long afternoons for work and play of all sorts.O. As. Our fifty-second anniversary. Augustus Snodgrass. Meg. who was always trying to do what she couldn't. as the eldest. they had kept this up for a year.'. None gone from our small band: Again we see each well-known face. One of these was the 'P. a new set of amusements became the fashion. This year it was to be a plantation of sun flowers. "I'd know which each of them gardings belonged to. Jo's bed was never alike two seasons. read the paper.CHAPTER TEN 67 CHAPTER TEN THE P.

pardon the ruse by which I have gathered you here to witness the marriage of my daughter. demanding an explanation. we wait your services." said the lady. C. all mingled gaily in the dance. he motioned them to kneel. I envy him. For words of wisdom from him fall. He struggles 'gainst his lot. The year is gone. monks and flower girls. as they joined the dance." . And tumbles off his seat. as Count de Adelon spoke thus: "My lords and ladies. And coming years their blessings pour On the useful. and sweet. and left its lovely load to swell the brilliant throng that filled the stately halls of Count Adelon. Yonder he comes. A. my children. we still unite To joke and laugh and read. Unmask and receive my blessing. Prim little Winkle too is here. 68 Poetic fire lights up his eye. Instant silence fell on the gay throng. "Tis whispered that she loves the young English artist who haunts her steps. Father. Then the eager spectators gathered round the count. and is spurned by the old Count. for neither bride nor groom removed their masks." returned the troubadour." All eyes turned toward the bridal party. and a murmur of amazement went through the throng. Now. Long may our paper prosper well. plump." "By my faith. Knights and ladies. So rosy.CHAPTER TEN Although he suffers from a cold. Curiosity and wonder possessed all hearts. With every hair in place. And on his nose. and withdrawing the young pair to an alcove. Though he hates to wash his face. Sweet voices and rich melody filled the air. though her stern father bestows her hand. With brown and jovial face. With elephantine grace. broke the hush. Next our peaceful Tupman comes. We joy to hear him speak. whom she passionately hates. is she not lovely. Behold ambition on his brow. In spite of croak or squeak. Old six-foot Snodgrass looms on high. and not a sound. too. except the black mask. though so sad! Her dress is well chosen. When that is off we shall see how he regards the fair maid whose heart he cannot win. "Has your Highness seen the Lady Viola tonight?" asked a gallant troubadour of the fairy queen who floated down the hall upon his arm. And beams upon the company. and so with mirth and music the masquerade went on. And tread the path of literature That doth to glory lead. elves and pages. SNODGRASS ---THE MASKED MARRIAGE (A Tale Of Venice) Gondola after gondola swept up to the marble steps. and I yielded to it. hung with purple velvet. but respect restrained all tongues till the holy rite was over. "Yes. let the play end. "Gladly would I give it if I could.'. gay 'P. a blot. Who chokes with laughter at the puns. but I only know that it was the whim of my timid Viola. arrayed like a bridegroom. A model of propriety. for in a week she weds Count Antonio. but the dash of fountains or the rustle of orange groves sleeping in the moonlight. Our club unbroken be. The revel was at its height when a priest appeared.

and turning to the bewildered crowd. "To you. went and bought it for her mother. and baked it till it was brown and nice. and boiled it in the big pot. TUPMAN ---Mr. four spoons of sugar. On being removed from this perilous situation. it would be well. it was discovered that he had suffered no injury but several bruises. now my wife. WINKLE [The above is a manly and handsome aknowledgment of past misdemeanors. Sir:-.] ---A SAD ACCIDENT On Friday last. and some crackers. followed by cries of distress. radiant with joy and beauty. is now doing well. She lugged it home. and after a while it sprouted and became a vine and bore many squashes. and next day it was eaten by a family named March. and torn his garments badly. "My lord. Yours respectably. ED. having tripped and fallen while getting wood for domestic purposes. On rushing in a body to the cellar. A gorcerman bought and put it in his shop. a little girl in a brown hat and blue dress. C. upset a keg of soft soap upon his manly form. for the young bridegroom replied in a tone that startled all listeners as the mask fell. we were startled by a violent shock in our basement. That same morning. and leaning on the breast where now flashed the star of an English earl was the lovely Viola. like the Tower of Babel? It is full of unruly members. my gallant friends. ---THE HISTORY OF A SQUASH Once upon a time a farmer planted a little seed in his garden. And to the rest she added a pint of milk. I can only wish that your wooing may prosper as mine has done. when he gives his ancient name and boundless wealth in return for the beloved hand of this fair lady. and that you may all win as fair a bride as I have by this masked marriage. the artist lover. T.CHAPTER TEN 69 But neither bent the knee. I can do more. mashed some of it with salt and butter. and we are happy to add.I address you upon the subject of sin the sinner I mean is a man named Winkle who makes trouble in his club by laughing and sometimes won't write his piece in this fine paper I hope you will pardon his badness and let him send a French fable because he can't write out of his head as he has so many lessons to do and no brains in future I will try to take time by the fetlock and prepare some work which will be all commy la fo that means all right I am in haste as it is nearly school time. for dinner. he picked one and took it to market. we discovered our beloved President prostrate upon the floor. when they were ripe. N. put it in a deep dish. cut it up. you scornfully bade me claim your daughter when I could boast as high a name and vast a fortune as the Count Antonio. If our young friend studied punctuation. for in his fall Mr. with a round face and snub nose." The count stood like one changed to stone. One day in October. PICKWICK Why is the P." S. A perfect scene of ruin met our eyes. disclosing the noble face of Ferdinand Devereux. for even your ambitious soul cannot refuse the Earl of Devereux and De Vere. Pickwick had plunged his head and shoulders into a tub of water. two eggs. nutmeg. Ferdinand added. ---THE PUBLIC BEREAVEMENT . with a gay smile of triumph. Pickwick.

S. and we relinquish all hope. Nor play by the old green gate." is the name of this thrilling . no loving purr Is heard at the parlor door. and it is feared that some villain. But she does not hunt as our darling did. A cat with a dirty face. A NEW PLAY will appear at the Barnville Theatre. A. Mrs. in the course of a few weeks. will deliver her famous lecture on "WOMAN AND HER POSITION" at Pickwick Hall. We know not where it may be. The DUSTPAN SOCIETY will meet on Wednesday next. for her beauty attracted all eyes. she was sitting at the gate. She is useful and mild. And we cannot give her your place dear.CHAPTER TEN 70 It is our painful duty to record the sudden and mysterious disappearance of our cherished friend. Nor worship her as we worship thee. For never more by the fire she'll sit. set aside her dish. and orders are respectfully solicited. Weeks have passed. B. A WEEKLY MEETING will be held at Kitchen Place. or Constantine the Avenger. her graces and virtues endeared her to all hearts. This lovely and beloved cat was the pet of a large circle of warm and admiring friends. The little grave where her infant sleeps Is 'neath the chestnut tree. which will surpass anything ever seen on the American stage. Her stealthy paws tread the very hall Where Snowball used to play. All members to appear in uniform and shoulder their brooms at nine precisely. Hannah Brown will preside. And sigh o'er her hapless fate. Her empty bed. but no trace of her has been discovered. BETH BOUNCER will open her new assortment of Doll's Millinery next week. "The Greek Slave. watching the butcher's cart. and does her best. The latest Paris fashions have arrived. her idle ball. But o'er her grave we may not weep. Nor play with her airy grace. and all are invited to attend. after the usual performances. Mrs. Snowball Pat Paw. PAT PAW) We mourn the loss of our little pet. next Saturday Evening. But she only spits at the dogs our pet So gallantly drove away. and parade in the upper story of the Club House. and weep for her as one lost to us forever. When last seen. Will never see her more. Another cat comes after her mice. the accomplished strong-minded lecturer. But she is not fair to see. ---A sympathizing friend sends the following gem: A LAMENT (FOR S. ---ADVERTISEMENTS MISS ORANTHY BLUGGAGE. basely stole her. tie a black ribbon to her basket. tempted by her charms. and her loss is deeply felt by the whole community. No gentle tap. to teach young ladies how to cook.

Come now. he wouldn't always be late at breakfast. "We don't wish any boys. and his grandpa. and then Mr. and say. Amy--Middling. "All in favor of this motion please to manifest it by saying. and he does so much for us. "Mr. the literary value of the paper. we ought to do it. and be no end jolly and nice. pulling the little curl on her forehead. Winkle rose to say with great elegance. "Now then.T please don't forget Amy's napkin. and make fun of us afterward. too. "We'll put it to a vote. Beth--Very Good. This is a ladies' club. assuming a parliamentary attitude and tone. and no one said a word as Snodgrass took his seat. A. I think the least we can do is to offer him a place here. WEEKLY REPORT Meg--Good. must not fret because his dress has not nine tucks. "Yes. by a timid one from Beth." said the President. don't you see? We can do so little for him. N. do have him. 'Aye!'" cried Snodgrass excitedly. Theodore Laurence as an honorary member of the P. Laurie won't do anything of the sort. to everybody's surprise. "I wish to propose the admission of a new member--one who highly deserves the honor." This artful allusion to benefits conferred brought Tupman to his feet. "Sir. "Aye! Aye! Aye!" replied three voices at once. 'No'.CHAPTER TEN drama!!! HINTS 71 If S. they only joke and bounce about. President and gentlemen. and he'll give a tone to our contributions and keep us from being sentimental. if he likes. . looking as if he had quite made up his mind. vote again. followed.W. would be deeply grateful for it. Snodgrass rose to make a proposition." Meg and Amy were contrary-minded." A loud response from Snodgrass.S. Jo--Bad. is requested not to whistle in the street. ---As the President finished reading the paper (which I beg leave to assure my readers is a bona fide copy of one written by bona fide girls once upon a time). Up rose Snodgrass. I propose Mr. even if we are afraid. I give you my word as a gentleman. He likes to write." observed Pickwick. Everybody remember it's our Laurie. but all looked rather anxious. 'Aye'. and Jo left her seat to shake hands approvingly. T.P." This spirited burst from Beth electrified the club." "I'm afraid he'll laugh at our paper. and make him welcome if he comes." he began. C. very much in earnest. didn't use so much soap on his hands. and we wish to be private and proper. as she always did when doubtful. "Contrary-minded say. a round of applause followed. and Mr. and would add immensely to the spirit of the club." Jo's sudden change of tone made the girls laugh. I say he may come.

also the females. a fine. and save our valuable time. and displayed Laurie sitting on a rag bag. how could you?" cried the three girls. to the dismay of the rest of the club. Milton. who was enjoying the joke amazingly. He certainly did add 'spirit' to the meetings. that as a slight token of my gratitude for the honor done me. when it broke up with three shrill cheers for the new member." said the new member. if I may be allowed the expression. rubbers. mysterious messages. as there's nothing like 'taking time by the fetlock'. is not to be blamed for the base stratagem of tonight. as Winkle characteristically observes. I never will do so again. and jovial member no club could have." "Good! Good!" cried Jo. A long discussion followed. Weller deposited a little key on the table and subsided. poetry and pickles. O. Jo threw open the door of the closet. but I've stopped up the door and made the roof open. for a more devoted. Pickwick. "Mr." broke in Snodgrass. The P. manuscripts. "who has so flatteringly presented me. It's the old martin house. garden seeds and long letters. for his orations convulsed his hearers and his contributions were excellent. "You rogue! You traitor! Jo. "But on my honor. and as a means of promoting friendly relations between adjoining nations. President and ladies--I beg pardon. well-behaved. as Snodgrass led her friend triumphantly forth. and did not adjourn till a late hour. and as each nation has a key. gentlemen--allow me to introduce myself as Sam Weller. "My faithful friend and noble patron. books. but never sentimental. with a Welleresque nod to Mr. So it was an unusually lively meeting. comical. trying to get up an awful frown and only succeeding in producing an amiable smile. and his gardener. she thought. Pickwick. for everyone did her best. and with many thanks for your favor. and henceforth devote myself to the interest of this immortal club. pounding with the handle of the old warming pan on which she leaned. for nearly as many queer things passed through it as through the real post office. flushed and twinkling with suppressed laughter. I planned it. being patriotic. with a grateful salutation to the Chair. No one ever regretted the admittance of Sam Weller. and flourished wonderfully.CHAPTER TEN 72 "Good! Bless you! Now. and funny telegrams." began Mr. invitations. "Never mind what she says. and puppies. I'm the wretch that did it. and amused himself by sending odd bundles. "Go on. so it will hold all sorts of things. allow me to present the new member." And. installed him in a jiffy." "Hear! Hear!" cried Jo. "The coolness of you two rascals is amazing. clashing the lid of the warming pan like a cymbal. Letters. and she only gave in after lots of teasing. go on!" added Winkle and Tupman. and producing both a chair and a badge. and everyone came out surprising. I fancy." Great applause as Mr. the very humble servant of the club. and rising. and it was some time before order could be restored." "Come now. Allow me to present the club key. and bundles can be passed in there. sir. it will be uncommonly nice. was a capital little institution. don't lay it all on yourself. I have set up a post office in the hedge in the lower corner of the garden. music and gingerbread. Tragedies and cravats. the warming pan clashed and waved wildly. classical. scoldings. said in the most engaging manner. "I merely wish to say. and remodeled her own works with good effect. or Shakespeare." continued Laurie with a wave of the hand. . while the President bowed benignly. You know I proposed the cupboard. spacious building with padlocks on the doors and every convenience for the mails. and 'a tone' to the paper. But the new member was equal to the occasion. take my seat. or dramatic. The old gentleman liked the fun. Jo regarded them as worthy of Bacon.

How they laughed when the secret came out. actually sent a love letter to Jo's care. . never dreaming how many love letters that little post office would hold in the years to come.CHAPTER TEN 73 who was smitten with Hannah's charms.

you know." "Poor old Jo! She came in looking as if bears were after her. coming home one warm day to find Jo laid upon the sofa in an unusual state of exhaustion. "What shall you do all your vacation?" asked Amy. be joyful!" said Jo. while Beth took off her dusty boots.CHAPTER ELEVEN 74 CHAPTER ELEVEN EXPERIMENTS "The first of June! The Kings are off to the seashore tomorrow. We had a flurry getting the old lady off. I will. but it doesn't matter. I'm sure. for I was in such a hurry to be through that I was uncommonly helpful and sweet. "that dozy way wouldn't suit me. March. as she cuddled her sister's feet with a motherly air. changing the subject with tact. I should have felt as if I ought to do it." said Beth. since he's a warbler. with Laurie. "I was mortally afraid she'd ask me to go with her. and I had a fright every time she spoke to me. "Aunt March went today. and do nothing. and my children need fitting up for the summer. They are dreadfully out of order and really suffering for clothes. and whisked round the corner where I felt safe. "Aunt March is a regular samphire. I quaked till she was fairly in the carriage. won't you--?' I didn't hear any more. . for I basely turned and fled. tasting her mixture critically. as a return snub for the 'samphire' correction." murmured Jo. as the girls mean to. is she not?" observed Amy. That's proper and appropriate. Beth." said Meg complacently. "You may try your experiment for a week and see how you like it. 'Josyphine." replied Meg. but play all the time and rest." said Jo. If she had. when I'm not having l----" "Don't say 'larks!'" implored Amy. but Plumfield is about as gay as a churchyard. oh. "I'll say 'nightingales' then. from the depths of the rocking chair. "I've been routed up early all winter and had to spend my days working for other people." "Oh. dear. so now I'm going to rest and revel to my heart's content. for as it drove of. saying. "Well. turning to Mrs. I've laid in a heap of books. and I'd rather be excused. and I'm free." "Don't let us do any lessons. "I shall lie abed late. if Mother doesn't mind. and I'm going to improve my shining hours reading on my perch in the old apple tree. Three months' vacation--how I shall enjoy it!" exclaimed Meg." "May we. and feared she'd find it impossible to part from me. I want to learn some new songs. she popped out her head. "She means vampire. Mother?" asked Meg." "No." proposed Amy. for which. who sat sewing in what they called 'Marmee's corner'. and Amy made lemonade for the refreshment of the whole party. I did actually run. for a while. not seaweed. no! It will be delicious. and had a final fright. I think by Saturday night you will find that all play and no work is as bad as all work and no play. It's too warm to be particular about one's parts of speech.

She smiled. that it wouldn't wash. who went shopping in the afternoon and got a 'sweet blue muslin'. At teatime they compared notes. But something in the air affected her. . smoothed her curls. the summer would be delightful. Fun forever. she left her establishment topsy-turvy and went to her music. Nothing was neat and pleasant but 'Marmee's corner'. Beth began by rummaging everything out of the big closet where her family resided. It was astonishing what a peculiar and uncomfortable state of things was produced by the 'resting and reveling' process. and a little ashamed. no breakfast in the dining room. but getting tired before half done. and came home dripping. though unusually long day. Beth had not dusted. Meg. glass in hand. to 'rest and read'. she had 'nothing to wear'. staring about her in dismay. unless very well conducted. When they got up on Saturday morning. Tea parties didn't amount to much. Meg did not appear till ten o'clock. for Katy Brown's party was to be the next day and now like Flora McFlimsey. as my 'friend and pardner. there was no fire in the kitchen. Her solitary breakfast did not taste good. and so reduced in spirits that she desperately wished she had gone with Aunt March. rising. after several days devoted to pleasure. As the height of luxury. got caught in a shower. which meant to yawn and imagine what pretty summer dresses she would get with her salary. They all drank it merrily. had discovered. and when her sisters left her to amuse herself. up in the apple tree. as the lemonade went round. and no mother anywhere to be seen. for her resources were small. the weather was unusually variable and so were tempers. Jo read till her eyes gave out and she was sick of books. And there Meg sat. hoping someone would see and inquire who the young artist was. so she gave Hannah a holiday and let the girls enjoy the full effect of the play system. who had a good deal of humor. But these were mere trifles. and with Hannah's help did their neglected work. March. keeping home pleasant and the domestic machinery running smoothly. "Mercy on us! What has happened?" cried Jo. and one couldn't draw all the time. looking relieved but rather bewildered. for Jo had not filled the vases. fairy tales were childish. and Amy's books lay scattered about. that she fell to snipping and spoiling her clothes in her attempts to furbish them up a la Moffat. Meg put out some of her sewing. Amy arranged her bower. and Satan found plenty of mischief for the idle hands to do. got so fidgety that even good-natured Laurie had a quarrel with her. who examined her work with interest. and they assured their mother that the experiment was working finely. resolved to finish off the trial in an appropriate manner. and ennui. after she had cut the breadths off. and then found time hang so heavily. and no grubbing!" cried Jo. Jo spent the morning on the river with Laurie and the afternoon reading and crying over The Wide. Jo had burned the skin off her nose boating. "If one could have a fine house. No one would own that they were tired of the experiment.CHAPTER ELEVEN 75 "I now propose a toast. neither did picnics. but to stay at home with three selfish sisters and a grown-up boy was enough to try the patience of a Boaz. for she was constantly forgetting that it was to be all play and no work. says. and Amy deeply regretted the damage done her frock. put on her best white frock. Mrs. and fell back into her old ways now and then. and got a raging headache by reading too long. which mishap made her slightly cross. Wide World. Beth was worried by the confusion of her closet and the difficulty of learning three or four songs at once. The days kept getting longer and longer. full of nice girls. As no one appeared but an inquisitive daddy-longlegs. she soon found that accomplished and important little self a great burden. and the room seemed lonely and untidy. Meg ran upstairs and soon came back again. but by Friday night each acknowledged to herself that she was glad the week was nearly done. which looked as usual. rejoicing that she had no dishes to wash. Hoping to impress the lesson more deeply. Beth got on pretty well. said nothing. fretting. she went to walk. and began the experiment by lounging for the rest of the day." complained Miss Malaprop. and sat down to draw under the honeysuckle. or go traveling. Sairy Gamp'. Amy fared worst of all. Next morning. so much so that on one occasion she actually shook poor dear Joanna and told her she was 'a fright'. and all agreed that it had been a delightful. and more than once her tranquility was much disturbed. She didn't like dolls. an unsettled feeling possessed everyone.

rather hurt. so that their feelings might not be hurt. so we mustn't grumble but take care of ourselves. "Oh. when informed of the hospitable but rash act. they will have a hard time. you be mistress. I'll get the dinner and be servant." "Don't try too many messes. and taken up with the cook's compliments. Meg and Jo got breakfast. wondering as they did why servants ever talked about hard work. that is. you know. but soon realized the truth of Hannah's saying. Many were the complaints below." "That's easy enough. immediately put a note in the office. and while Beth and Amy set the table." There was plenty of food in the larder. keep your hands nice. who presided and felt quite matronly behind the teapot. for she'd take care of herself." returned Meg prudently. as Hannah says. It's a very queer thing for her to do. and it will do them good. only very tired. but they won't suffer. and don't disturb me. see company. I'm not a fool. I'm going out to dinner and can't worry about things at home. I'll have blanc mange and strawberries for dessert. and I like the idea. "You'd better see what you have got before you think of having company. for you can't make anything but gingerbread and molasses candy fit to eat. "Get what you like. and coffee too. inviting Laurie to dinner. So a tray was fitted out before anyone began. In fact it was an immense relief to them all to have a little work. and they took hold with a will." added Jo quickly. you may just take care of him. I'm afraid. won't you?" asked Jo. "Of course I shall. and she says she is going to stay quietly in her room all day and let us do the best we can. a motherly little deception for which they were grateful." said . and I shall get some asparagus and a lobster. though she said we were not to think of her. and the biscuits speckled with saleratus." she said. she doesn't act a bit like herself. "Housekeeping ain't no joke. if you want to be elegant. 'for a relish'. Jo. You had better ask Mother's leave before you order anything. but I don't know much. and since you have asked Laurie on your own responsibility. I'm aching for something to do. "Yes. We'll have lettuce and make a salad. I wash my hands of the dinner party. but the book tells. and Margaret retired to the parlor. March received her repast with thanks and laughed heartily over it after Jo was gone. "I shall take some up to Mother. who knew still less than Meg about culinary affairs. with perfect faith in her own powers and a friendly desire to make up the quarrel. "Poor little souls." said Meg. But she says it has been a hard week for her. "Never mind. the omelet scorched. This obliging offer was gladly accepted. I don't know how." "I don't want you to do anything but be civil to him and help to the pudding. You'll give me your advice if I get in a muddle. and give orders." And Jo went off in a huff at the doubts expressed of her powers. The boiled tea was very bitter." said Meg.CHAPTER ELEVEN 76 "Mother isn't sick. which she hastily put in order by whisking the litter under the sofa and shutting the blinds to save the trouble of dusting. but Mrs. producing the more palatable viands with which she had provided herself. some new amusement. and great the chagrin of the head cook at her failures. except about bread and a few trifles. there's corned beef and plenty of poatoes. Jo." said Jo. and disposing of the bad breakfast.

. Now. when the door flew open and a floury. that's a sure sign that something is wrong in this family. Bethy. It's a pity. for an eclipse. Putting on a big apron. The walk revived her spirits. and amuse myself. never. going downstairs. Jo peeped into his half-open eye. isn't bread 'riz' enough when it runs over the pans?" Sallie began to laugh. "Put him in the oven. Pip! Oh. If Amy is bothering." Feeling very much out of sorts herself. and read. and Pip has had the worst of the experiment. an earthquake. slamming the stove door open." said Jo. after buying a very young lobster. and lay him in my box. "Everything is out of sorts. but Meg nodded and lifted her eyebrows as high as they would go. and two boxes of acid strawberries. Make the shroud. Mrs. after peeping here and there to see how matters went. when Jo spoke to her. Having rekindled the fire.. she fell to work and got the dishes piled up ready for washing. By the time she got cleared up. Oh. somehow. the dinner arrived and the stove was red-hot. write. "He's been starved. and offered her domino box for a coffin. Meg had worked it up early. and he shan't be baked now he's dead. Pip! How could I be so cruel to you?" cried Beth. she trudged home again. sitting on the floor with her pet folded in her hands. Meg was entertaining Sallie Gardiner in the parlor. which was in a most discouraging state of confusion. and poking vigorously among the cinders." The unusual spectacle of her busy mother rocking comfortably and reading early in the morning made Jo feel as if some unnatural phenomenon had occurred. and he shall be buried in the garden." murmured Beth. while the dear departed lay in state in the domino box. when she discovered that the fire was out. "I say. she thought she would go to market while the water heated. but nothing goes right this week. my Pip! for I am too bad to own one. we'll have a nice little funeral. go visiting. the canary. Hannah had left a pan of bread to rise. "There's Beth crying. and after the dinner party. shook her head. Leaving the others to console Beth. don't cry. March. "The funeral shall be this afternoon. crocky. "Here's a sweet prospect!" muttered Jo. and I'll never have another bird. there isn't a seed or a drop left. she departed to the kitchen. and we will all go. and I'm going to take a vacation today. which caused the apparition to vanish and put the sour bread into the oven without further delay. who sat making a winding sheet. set it on the hearth for a second rising. "I never enjoyed housekeeping.CHAPTER ELEVEN 77 Mrs. March went out. who lay dead in the cage with his little claws pathetically extended. flushed. demanding tartly. taking the poor thing in her hands and trying to restore him." she said to herself. and flattering herself that she had made good bargains. A strange sense of helplessness fell . and disheveled figure appeared. some very old asparagus. I'll make him a shroud. I forgot him. or a volcanic eruption would hardly have seemed stranger." said Amy hopefully. and forgotten it. as if imploring the food for want of which he had died. "It's all my fault. also saying a word of comfort to Beth. Jo hurried into the parlor to find Beth sobbing over Pip. I'll shake her. and finding him stiff and cold. and maybe he will get warm and revive. beginning to feel as if she had undertaken a good deal. felt his little heart.

Amy. and covered with moss. and dispirited. So did everyone else. She turned scarlet and was on the verge of crying. critsized everything. and stood. Miss Crocker tasted first. not to keep the asparagus waiting. Fearing to ask any more advice. and Laurie talked and laughed with all his might to give a cheerful tone to the festive scene. accustomed to all sorts of elegance. Laurie dug a grave under the ferns in the grove. Who died the 7th of June. and had a pitcher of rich cream to eat with it. tired. for she had sugared it well. . she did her best alone. choked. composed by Jo while she struggled with the dinner. experiences. The lobster was a scarlet mystery to her. Jo uttered a groan and fell back in her chair." thought Jo. "Oh. Meg looked distressed. as she rang the bell half an hour later than usual. they can eat beef and bread and butter. and were not done at the last. and the cream is sour. Now this lady was a thin. when she met Laurie's eyes. if they are hungry. simply because she was old and poor and had few friends. with a sharp nose and inquisitive eyes. Jo's one strong point was the fruit. so we will sober ourselves with a funeral. The potatoes had to be hurried. and everyone looked graciously at the little rosy islands floating in a sea of cream. They disliked her. glanced at Laurie. Language cannot describe the anxieties. who was fond of delicate fare. and the dinner she served up became a standing joke. They did sober themselves for Beth's sake. remembering that she had given a last hasty powdering to the berries out of one of the two boxes on the kitchen table. hid her face in her napkin. yellow spinster. and she laughed till the tears ran down her cheeks. what is it?" exclaimed Jo.CHAPTER ELEVEN 78 upon the girls as the gray bonnet vanished round the corner. but she hammered and poked till it was unshelled and its meager proportions concealed in a grove of lettuce leaves. and told stories of the people whom she knew. thinking there might not be enough. which would look merry in spite of his heroic efforts." replied Meg with a tragic gesture. and discovered that something more than energy and good will is necessary to make a cook. whose tattling tongue would report them far and wide. with bread and butter. The comical side of the affair suddenly struck her. Jo. and she drew a long breath as the pretty glass plates went round. and Miss Crocker. Her hot cheeks cooled a trifle. as one thing after another was tasted and left. even 'Croaker' as the girls called the old lady. Here lies Pip March. but had been taught to be kind to her. who refused. "Salt instead of sugar. surveying the feast spread before Laurie. as they rose. and drank some water hastily. olives and fun. So Meg gave her the easy chair and tried to entertain her. She boiled the asparagus for an hour and was grieved to find the heads cooked off and the stalks harder than ever. The blanc mange was lumpy. while Amy giggled. though there was a slight pucker about his mouth and he kept his eye fixed on his plate. and Miss Crocker made ready to go. trembling. little Pip was laid in. for the salad dressing so aggravated her that she could not make it fit to eat. only it's mortifying to have to spend your whole morning for nothing. having been skilfully 'deaconed'. and said she'd come to dinner. "Well. who saw everything and gossiped about all she saw." said Jo. and the unfortunate dinner ended gaily. And not forgotten soon. "I haven't strength of mind enough to clear up now. but he was eating away manfully. being eager to tell the new story at another friend's dinner table. and exertions which Jo underwent that morning. Poor Jo would gladly have gone under the table. and the strawberries not as ripe as they looked. with many tears by his tender-hearted mistress. took a heaping spoonful. made a wry face. for they dwindled sadly after the picking over. and had neglected to put the milk in the refrigerator. while she asked questions. and despair seized them when a few minutes later Miss Crocker appeared. while a wreath of violets and chickweed was hung on the stone which bore his epitaph. Miss Crocker pursed her lips. hot. Loved and lamented sore. and left the table precipitately. The bread burned black.

March came home to find the three older girls hard at work in the middle of the afternoon. that it is better to have a few duties and live a little for others. "You think then. and one or two necessary bits of sewing neglected until the last minute. Beth retired to her room. one by one they gathered on the porch where the June roses were budding beautifully. who had had suspicions all day. and a glance at the closet gave her an idea of the success of one part of the experiment. if you want it. "Mother. Don't you feel that it is pleasanter to help one another. "Nor I. you got on pretty well. as Beth nestled up to her and the rest turned toward her with brightening faces. which was a deed of charity. errands done. March. for the sour cream seemed to have had a bad effect upon her temper. "Not a bit like home. looking as if her holiday had not been much pleasanter than theirs. just to see how we'd get on?" cried Meg. usually the first to speak. "It has seemed shorter than usual. but there was no place of repose. "I don't!" cried Jo decidedly. "What a dreadful day this has been!" began Jo. "It can't seem so without Marmee and little Pip. That's a useful accomplishment. As twilight fell. glancing with full eyes at the empty cage above her head. as flowers turn toward the sun. I wanted you to see how the comfort of all depends on each doing her share faithfully. Before the housewives could rest. Then tea must be got. and there was a scramble to get ready to see them." "Suppose you learn plain cooking. as if tired or troubled. dear. "Yes. "Are you satisfied with your experiment." echoed the others. but so uncomfortable. Mrs. for she had met Miss Crocker and heard her account of it. Meg helped Jo clear away the remains of the feast. though I don't think you were very happy or amiable." As she spoke.CHAPTER ELEVEN 79 At the conclusion of the ceremonies. and she found her grief much assuaged by beating up the pillows and putting things in order. "Here's Mother. laughing inaudibly at the recollection of Jo's dinner party. did you go away and let everything be." said Mrs. So I thought." observed Jo. Laurie took Amy to drive. which no woman should be without. "I'm tired of it and mean to go to work at something right off. While Hannah and I did your work." sighed Beth. dewy and still." added Amy. which took half the afternoon and left them so tired that they agreed to be contented with tea and toast for supper. for the beds were not made. overcome with emotion and lobster. March came and took her place among them. do you?" "Lounging and larking doesn't pay. or do you want another week of it?" she asked. and to bear and forbear. Mrs. I would show you what happens when everyone thinks only of herself. and you shall have another bird tomorrow. as a little lesson. shaking her head. to have daily duties which make leisure sweet when it comes. several people called. and each groaned or sighed as she sat down. girls." said Meg. that home may be comfortable and lovely to us all?" .

in spite of poverty. is good for health and spirits. and fancy that we shall not have to repeat it. Then youth will be delightful." "We'll remember. Mother!" and they did. though I'm not fond of sewing. "I shall learn to make buttonholes. they are good for us. 80 "Then let me advise you to take up your little burdens again." "I'll make the set of shirts for father. Have regular hours for work and play. and there is plenty for everyone. and ought to be studying. and love it too. only don't go to the other extreme and delve like slaves." "Very good! Then I am quite satisfied with the experiment. and attend to my parts of speech. I am a stupid thing. I can and I will. That will be better than fussing over my own things. and not spend so much time with my music and dolls. It keeps us from ennui and mischief. Marmee.CHAPTER ELEVEN "We do. Work is wholesome. "I'll do my lessons every day." was Beth's resolution." said Jo." "We'll work like bees. "I'll learn plain cooking for my holiday task. instead of letting you do it. which are plenty nice enough as they are. old age will bring few regrets. not playing. and gives us a sense of power and independence better than money or fashion. for though they seem heavy sometimes. make each day both useful and pleasant. ." said Meg. and the next dinner party I have shall be a success. and life become a beautiful success. Mother. and lighten as we learn to carry them. see if we don't. and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. while Amy followed their example by heroically declaring. we do!" cried the girls.

for. and think." "I hate to have odd gloves! Never mind. while her fingers flew and her thoughts were busied with girlish fancies as innocent and fresh as the pansies in her belt." she said. and very womanly. "Miss Meg March. 'Why mind the fashion? Wear a big hat. perhaps. and always believe that no one sympathizes more tenderly with you than your loving. she could attend to it regularly. for this isn't Laurie's writing. being most at home. My Dear: I write a little word to tell you with how much satisfaction I watch your efforts to control your temper.. March glanced at Meg. delivering the articles to her sister. "Two letters for Doctor Jo. as she sat sewing at her little worktable. too. looking at the gray cotton glove. "Didn't you drop the other in the garden?" "No. failures. and he has sent me this. that no one sees them but the Friend whose help you daily ask. because I burn my face every hot day.. Marmee. He said. for it said to her. and be comfortable!' I said I would if I had one. one letter and a glove. Brooke did it. and was kept supplied by the affectionate boy. One July day she came in with her hands full. You say nothing about your trials. "Why." . since I have you to help me. and here is only one. to try me. Oh." said Beth. and show him I don't care for the fashion. dear. I think Mr. stitching wristbands. I do try! I will keep on trying. since it begins to bear fruit." said Meg. have seen them all. putting the fresh nosegay in the vase that stood in 'Marmee's corner'." continued Beth. Jo read her letters. Go on. or successes. I'll wear it for fun. laughing as she went into the study where Jo sat writing. for there was only one in the office. and dearly liked the daily task of unlocking the little door and distributing the mail. so unconscious of the thought in her mother's mind as she sewed and sang. and a funny old hat. who sat near her mother." Mrs." And hanging the antique broad-brim on a bust of Plato. I'm sure I didn't. "Here's your posy.CHAPTER TWELVE 81 CHAPTER TWELVE CAMP LAURENCE Beth was postmistress. if I may trust the well-worn cover of your guidebook. and went about the house leaving letters and parcels like the penny post. that Mrs. I.. full of tidy white rolls. patiently and bravely. One from her mother made her cheeks glow and her eyes fill. the other may be found. March smiled and was satisfied. I left a pair over there. who was looking very pretty in her gingham morning gown.. and heartily believe in the sincerity of your resolution. a book. Mother "That does me good! That's worth millions of money and pecks of praise. which covered the whole post office and stuck outside. My letter is only a translation of the German song I wanted. "What a sly fellow Laurie is! I said I wished bigger hats were the fashion. Mother! Laurie never forgets that. with the little curls blowing about her forehead. and not get tired.

as a shield and a reminder. Jo?" asked Meg. and do double duty today. make messes." added Beth. I'll work hard and not trouble anyone. doubly encouraging. Do you know anything about them. Laurie knew them abroad." "Not a boy!" "I like to please Laurie. quite ready for either good or bad news. March than if it had given back the rosy roundness of her youth. and this assurance was doubly precious. "Have you anything decent. before the lamps are lighted. and Meg see to the lunch. and nobody shall worry her. You'll come. Fighting faults isn't easy. and I love you for it. and liked the boys. Mother. flying in to tell the news to Meg." said Jo. . dashing hand. from the way he primmed up his mouth in speaking of her. I'm going to pitch my tent in Longmeadow." "I hope the Vaughns are not fine grown-up people. for she had thought that no one saw and appreciated her efforts to be good. because unexpected and from the person whose commendation she most valued. "And I got a note from Mr. and all sorts of larks. it's just the thing and so becoming!" observed Meg complacently. and Kate Vaughn will play propriety for the girls. only do come. and you'll take care of me. and the children be useful in some way. so I'll go. he is so kind. for I can row. and I shall go. and I'm not afraid of Mr. good enough for me. that he didn't admire Kate much. and like such things. If it's fine. so I don't want any starch to think of. Don't bother about rations. lest she be taken unaware. Laurence. asking me to come over and play to him tonight. more precious to Mrs. Jo wet her little romance with a few happy tears. I'll see to that and everything else. Feeling stronger than ever to meet and subdue her Apollyon. I want you all to come. and a little girl (Grace). Yours ever. They are nice people. or say anything. Kate is older than you. "Now let's fly round. there's a good fellow! In a tearing hurry. and proceeded to open her other letter.. showing her mail. But I don't want to play. as I know. so that we can play tomorrow with free minds. whose friendship with the old gentleman prospered finely. "Only that there are four of them. I shall row and tramp about. Fred and Frank (twins) about my age.." said Amy. can't let Beth off at any price." "I'm so glad my French print is clean. Jo.CHAPTER TWELVE 82 Laying her head on her arms. and the picture I wanted to copy. gypsy fashion. In a big. and row up the whole crew to lunch and croquet--have a fire." And Jo gave the thin cheek a grateful kiss. Thank you. Laurie. Mother? It will be such a help to Laurie. Brooke. she pinned the note inside her frock. I fancied. Brooke will go to keep us boys steady. You do try to fight off your shyness. "Here's richness!" cried Jo. "Of course we can go. Jo?" "Scarlet and gray boating suit. who is nine or ten. "I had a box of chocolate drops. and a cheery word kind of gives a lift. Laurie wrote. What ho! Some english girls and boys are coming to see me tomorrow and I want to have a jolly time. Dear Jo. Betty?" "If you won't let any boys talk to me." "That's my good girl. or sing.

poor thing. merry. for it's capital. "I just will. and two dreadful boys. he's got a crutch. the party was soon embarked. Barker doing up the lunch in a hamper and a great basket. lunch. leaving Mr. she ." With that Jo marched straight away and the rest followed. I do declare. It was one of the kind artists use to hold the paper on their drawing boards. Jo. and after staring dumbly at one another for a few minutes. a bright little band of sisters. for it was of general utility. Laurie ran to meet and present them to his friends in the most cordial manner. for that young lady had a standoff-don't-touch-me air. a tall lady. Now then. was dressed with a simplicity which American girls would do well to imitate. who was ready first. Each had made such preparation for the fete as seemed necessary and proper. it created quite a refreshing breeze. light. The lawn was the reception room. a little girl. and she would be kind to him on that account. One is lame. Why. I thought he was at the mountains. he saw a comical sight. Jo had copiously anointed her afflicted face with cold cream. Beth took an observation of the new boys and decided that the lame one was not 'dreadful'. flapping to and fro as she rowed. though. while Fred Vaughn. looking like a sailor. Hold up your dress and put your hat on straight. Laurence waving his hat on the shore. and croquet utensils having been sent on beforehand. It broke the ice in the beginning by producing a laugh. for he burst out with such radiance that Jo woke up and roused her sisters by a hearty laugh at Amy's ornament. Laurence is looking up at the sky and the weathercock. come on!" "Oh. old-fashioned leghorn Laurie had sent for a joke. and big. Jo?" cried Meg in a flutter. and soon a lively bustle began in both houses. and who was much flattered by Mr. all looking their best in summer suits. girls! It's getting late. and Amy had capped the climax by putting a colthespin on her nose to uplift the offending feature. Tents. "A regular daisy. which contrasted strongly with the free and easy demeanor of the other girls. the riotous twin. isn't that the man who bowed to you one day when we were shopping?" "So it is. Be quick. Am I all right." remonstrated Meg. if a shower came up. How queer that he should come. Ned's assurances that he came especially to see her. There's Laurie. Mr. and would make an excellent umbrella for the whole party. therefore quite appropriate and effective for the purpose it was now being put. little person. Jo's funny hat deserved a vote of thanks. and I don't mind being a guy if I'm comfortable. with happy faces under the jaunty hatbrims. did his best to upset both by paddling about in a wherry like a disturbed water bug. and the two boats pushed off together. There is Sallie. Laurie and Jo rowed one boat. Jo understood why Laurie 'primmed up his mouth' when speaking of Kate. there is Ned Moffat. mercy me! Here's a carriage full of people. nice boy! Oh. I'm glad she got back in time. and for several minutes a lively scene was enacted there. Now Mr. Meg had an extra row of little curlpapers across her forehead. Amy found Grace a well-mannered. though twenty. but gentle and feeble. Beth had taken Joanna to bed with her to atone for the approaching separation. Beth. I wish he would go too. kept reporting what went on next door. you are not going to wear that awful hat? It's too absurd! You shall not make a guy of yourself. as Jo tied down with a red ribbon the broad-brimmed. Laurie didn't tell us that. it looks sentimental tipped that way and will fly off at the first puff. It will make fun. so shady. This funny spectacle appeared to amuse the sun. Sunshine and laughter were good omens for a pleasure party.CHAPTER TWELVE preparing to replace her pen with a broom. they suddenly became very good friends. "There goes the man with the tent! I see Mrs. and enlivened her sisters' toilets by frequent telegrams from the window. Brooke and Ned the other. 83 When the sun peeped into the girls' room early next morning to promise them a fine day. Meg was grateful to see that Miss Kate. Meg.

It was not far to Longmeadow. who kept Beth in constant terror by his pranks. as they landed with exclamations of delight. and was a long time finding it among the bushes. I am commissary general." Frank." cried Fred excitedly. while Fred hit the stake and declared himself out with much exultation. but that is allowed. Sallie Gardiner was absorbed in keeping her white pique dress clean and chattering with the ubiquitous Fred. He gave a stroke. Mr. with handsome brown eyes and a pleasant voice. Miss Jo owes me one. "Upon my word. hammering down a wicket with all her might. Laurie took Sallie. Kate. "Brooke is commander in chief. He never talked to her much. No one was very near. colored up to her forehead and stood a minute." said Jo. who both admired the prospect and feathered their oars with uncommon 'skill and dexterity'. "By George. of course put on all the airs which freshmen think it their bounden duty to assume. Kate. Jo. and running up to examine. everybody knows. this is the messroom and the third is the camp kitchen." cried the young gentleman. I'll settle you. which failure ruffled her a good deal. with three wide-spreading oaks in the middle and a smooth strip of turf for croquet. and when she got there. and contested every inch of the ground as strongly as if the spirit of '76 inspired them. I didn't move it. and you. but very good-natured. The tent is for your especial benefit and that oak is your drawing room. let's have a game before it gets hot. with a look that made the lad redden. She went off to get her ball. looking cool and quiet. ladies. but she came back. and then we'll see about dinner. Jo was through the last wicket and had missed the stroke." said Jo angrily. A pleasant green field. being in college. Beth. and get in first. the other side had nearly won. Mr. Meg liked his quiet manners and considered him a walking encyclopedia of useful knowledge. "Yankees have a trick of being generous to their enemies. and Fred. . was delightfully situated. Fred was close behind her and his turn came before hers. Brooke chose Meg.CHAPTER TWELVE said." "We don't cheat in America. are company. and smiled upon her from afar. There you go!" returned Fred. The English played well. which put it just an inch on the right side. Miss Jo. and altogether an excellent person to carry on a picnic. Jo and Fred had several skirmishes and once narrowly escaped high words. Miss Kate decided that she was 'odd'. but checked herself in time. in the other boat. but you can. "I'm through! Now. It took several strokes to regain the place she had lost. silent young man. 84 Meg. face to face with the rowers. "Yankees are a deal the most tricky. as they all drew near to see the finish. swinging his mallet for another blow. but the tent was pitched and the wickets down by the time they arrived. perhaps. Now. It's my turn now. It rolled a bit. Ned. but he looked at her a good deal. if you choose. So." said Jo sharply. stand off please. Amy. "Welcome to Camp Laurence!" said the young host. so you are finished. Brooke was a grave. croqueting her ball far away. for Kate's ball was the last but one and lay near the stake. and Ned. but the Americans played better. "You pushed it. He was not very wise. I saw you. the other fellows are staff officers. and let me have a go at the stake. and waited her turn patiently. and Grace sat down to watch the game played by the other eight. and she felt sure that he did not regard her with aversion. it's all up with us! Goodbye. his ball hit the wicket. and stopped an inch on the wrong side. he gave it a sly nudge with his toe. but rather clever. Jo opened her lips to say something rude.

and the boys could not. feeling that her late lessons in cookery were to do her honor. and I'm no end obliged to you. while Miss March. and the boys made a fire and got water from a spring near by. "It was dreadfully provoking. Miss Kate sketched and Frank talked to Beth. A very merry lunch it was. We can't tell him so. Jo. This is no credit to me. under pretense of pinning up a loose braid.CHAPTER TWELVE 85 "especially when they beat them. It's you and Meg and Brooke who make it all go. but he won't do it again. will you make the fire and get water." "Aren't you company too? I thought she'd suit Brooke. but you kept your temper. and I'm so glad. take my word for it. and Kate just stares at them through that ridiculous glass of hers." "Don't praise me. Laurie threw up his hat. for you can't do it. Miss Sallie. for everything seemed fresh and funny. looking at his watch. and said approvingly. Jo. biting her lips as she glowered at Fred from under her big hat. "Good for you. What shall we do when we can't eat anymore?" asked Laurie. I should certainly have boiled over if I hadn't stayed among the nettles till I got my rage under control enough to hold my tongue. "Time for lunch. feeling that his trump card had been played when lunch was over. when yours is so nice in every way?" added Jo. and an objectionable dog barked at them from the other side of the river with all his might and main. eat any more. went to preside over the coffeepot. Jo! He did cheat. which produced many mishaps to cups and plates. "I had an uncommonly good time that day. Jo announced that the coffee was ready. she won the game by a clever stroke. "How dare you remind me of that horrid dinner party. leaving Kate's ball untouched. and as the girls would not. as. I brought Authors. Three white-headed children peeped over the fence. Meg. So Jo. The commander in chief and his aides soon spread the tablecloth with an inviting array of eatables and drinkables. and stopped in the middle of the cheer to whisper to his friend. and I spread the table? Who can make good coffee?" "Jo can. little black ants partook of the refreshments without being invited. and everyone settled themselves to a hearty meal." Miss Kate did know several new games. so I hope he'll keep out of my way." said Mr. . and haven't got over it yet. acorns dropped in the milk. who was making little mats of braided rushes to serve as plates. and exercise develops wholesome appetites. "Have games till it's cooler. I'm going. while the children collected dry sticks. so you needn't try to preach propriety." said Meg. She's company. I don't do anything. as they both laughed and ate out of one plate. for youth is seldom dyspeptic. Brooke. as he handed Jo a saucer of berries. It's simmering now. fishing up two unwary little ones who had gone to a creamy death. for I could box his ears this minute. glad to recommend her sister. Go and ask her." she replied. the china having run short. There was a pleasing inequality in the table." returned Jo. they all adjourned to the drawing room to play Rig-marole. but he keeps talking to Meg. I saw him." Meg drew her aside. "There's salt here. you know." she added. and I dare say Miss Kate knows something new and nice. prettily decorated with green leaves. "Thank you. and frequent peals of laughter startled a venerable horse who fed near by. then remembered that it wouldn't do to exult over the defeat of his guests. and you ought to stay with her more. I prefer spiders. and fuzzy caterpillars swung down from the tree to see what was going on." said Laurie. "Commissary general.

my cruel fate condemns me to remain here till my tyrant is destroyed. went up a pair of stone steps covered with dust a foot thick. They reached a curtained door. gliding noiselessly before him down a corridor as dark and cold as any tomb." .. paddled round the castle till he came to a little door guarded by two stout fellows." "Snuffbox. got halfway down when the ladder broke. and waved threateningly before him a. "It beckoned. which an old fellow in a black gown fired at him. who had read French novels. for the colt was a gallant fellow.. The knight wished intensely that he could free them." went on Meg.. extending a hand of marble fairness. of which he was very fond. till he came to the palace of a good old king." "A stunning blow from the big Greek lexicon. in a sepulchral tone. He traveled a long while. knocked their heads together till they cracked like a couple of nuts. He was delighted. and had a hard time of it. where there were eleven other knights packed together without their heads. It's very funny when well done. and was told that several captive princesses were kept there by a spell. when the next takes it up and does the same. when he gave his lessons to this pet of the king's. with a cry of rapture. He sprang forward to enter. still kneeling. the knight rode him through the city. for he had nothing but his sword and his shield. and turned to join the lady. but never found. and having peeped through the keyhole at the princesses spinning away for dear life. and flinging open the door of the mauve salon. 'Never! Till you tell me how I may rescue you. Miss March. all in white with a veil over its face and a lamp in its wasted hand. which he had seen many times in his dreams. Mr. a dead silence reigned. showing the glitter of awful eyes through its white veil. victorious." said Ned. Mr. the evil spirit picked up her victim and put him in a large tin box. nearly eight-and-twenty years... but with a bump on his brow. Brooke obediently began the story. as he went prancing down a quiet street. but the specter plucked him back. and spun all day to lay up money to buy their liberty. 'Alas. then. only taking care to stop short at some exciting point. though he was freakish and wild. any nonsense you like. and return victorious or dead!' With these thrilling words he rushed away. which surprised Meg. and admired the style. which convulsed the audience. tore up the curtains. "Once on a time. brave heart.. Shadowy effigies in armor stood on either side. and got on slowly but surely.. a knight went out into the world to seek his fortune. Go. Could swim like a duck. pitched the tyrant out of the window. inquired who lived in this old castle. At last he resolved to get into the castle and ask how he could help them. Sir What's-his-name recovered himself.' swore the knight. as he took a pinch and sneezed seven times so violently that his head fell off. but he was poor and could only go by each day." said Kate. rise!' she said. behind which sounded lovely music. One day.' 'Where is the villain?' 'In the mauve salon.. and spiders that would frighten you into hysterics.CHAPTER TWELVE 86 "One person begins a story. who exclaimed. 'Ha! Ha!' laughed the ghost. made a rope ladder. The great door flew open. Lying on the grass at the feet of the two young ladies. watching for the sweet face and longing to see it out in the sunshine. and soon learned to love his new master. the lamp burned blue. with the handsome brown eyes steadily fixed upon the sunshiny river. when he received. found the door locked. by a trifling exertion of his prodigious strength. Brooke. he looked everywhere for a certain beautiful face." "A tall figure. Every day. with a commanding air. and fell at her feet in an ecstasy of joy. and save me from despair. and he beheld. he smashed in the door. and he went headfirst into the moat." said Jo. like sardines. who treated the tutor with as much respect as any other gentleman. Please start it. The knight agreed to try. who all rose and began to. sixty feet below." "A ravishingly lovely lady. "Instantly.' 'I obey. was about to enter. and the ghostly figure ever and anon turned its face toward him. 'At last! At last!'" continued Kate. 'Oh. and tells as long as he pleases. At the top of these steps he came plump upon a sight that took his breath away and chilled his blood. toads as big as your fist. he saw at the window of a ruinous castle the lovely face. and makes a perfect jumble of tragical comical stuff to laugh over.. "'Thankee. "'Tis she!' cried Count Gustave.' said the knight politely.. who had offered a reward to anyone who could tame and train a fine but unbroken colt. He went and knocked. and as he rode.

and left him to fight his way in. gracious! What shall I say?" cried Sallie. they went to the bottom. "I guess the princess gave him a posy. is he?" asked Mr. rushed to the castle to see which was left. and die hard!' 'Bosun's mate. Frank will tell you. as they danced. and a tremendous fight began.. "So the poor knight is to be left sticking in the hedge.. reef the tops'l halliards. He tried to climb over the hedge. as sweet as honey.. By-and-by a diver came down. he saw the queen of his affections picking flowers in her garden. sea. for the order had been 'Cutlasses. as he threw acorns at his tutor. and a nice mermaid welcomed them. and was much disappointed on opening it to find no pearls. So the diver hoisted it up. the rubbishy old castle turned to a man-of-war in full sail. and couldn't raise the heavy load herself. So he patiently broke twig after twig till he had made a little hole through which he peeped. for being a woman.' said the British captain. and playing with the wild rose in his buttonhole. "Having taken the pirate captain prisoner. who kept a hundred fat geese in the field. still watching the river. but it grew thicker and thicker. "and. with a flag black as ink flying from her foremast. where it was found by a." said Laurie. sailed slap over the schooner." "Oh. they know everything. and all the geese opened their hundred mouths and screamed. smiling to himself. in which he had jumbled together pell-mell nautical phrases and facts out of one of his favorite books. The knight in whom I'm interested went back to find the pretty face." "'Cabbages!'" continued Laurie promptly. and ran to get twelve fine ones from her garden. 'Go in and win." cut in Fred. the knights revived at once. who stood by him through thick and thin. I'm not playing. and went on their way rejoicing. and start this villain if he doesn't confess his sins double quick. and mounting the colt. So she asked what she should use for new heads. as Jo paused for breath. He left it in a great lonely field. whose decks were piled high with dead and whose lee scuppers ran blood. "The little girl was sorry for them. She put them on. aside. and down she went. take a bight of the flying-jib sheet. sea' where. and he was in despair.. as a Portuguese pirate hove in sight. since the old ones were lost. when Sallie's invention gave out. I never do.' said the old woman. and the mermaid said. The Portuguese held his tongue like a brick. and walked the plank." said Frank. scuttled her. and man the guns!' roared the captain. but it seemed to grow higher and higher." "Little goose girl.' for she wanted to restore the poor things to life. 'Up with the jib. Whether he did or not. but was much grieved on finding the box of headless knights. helm hard alee. and kindly pickled them in brine.CHAPTER TWELVE 87 "Dance a hornpipe. with all sail set.. and asked an old woman what she should do to help them. my hearties!' says the captain. for there were so many other heads like them in the world that no one thought anything of it. But the sly dog dived. she was curious. thanked her." "I can't. they don't!" cried Jo. hoping to discover the mystery about them.' said the girl.' said she. "'Just the thing. dismayed at the sentimental predicament out of which he was to rescue the absurd couple. He was in a great state of mind at that. 'Will you give me a rose?' said he. 'To the bottom of the sea. 'Your geese will tell you. never knowing the difference. Beth had disappeared behind Jo. for she picked her roses quietly. Then he tried to push through. 'I'll give you a box of pearls if you can take it up." "No." said Amy. and opened the gate after a while. while the jolly tars cheered like mad. 'You must come and get it. as Fred ended his rigmarole. and learned that the princesses had spun themselves free and all gone and married. Of course the British beat--they always do. I can't come to you. . Brooke. "Well. it isn't proper. and Grace was asleep. but one. came up under the man-of-war.. 'Let me in! Let me in!' But the pretty princess did not seem to understand. Peeping over the hedge. saying imploringly.

"Why.CHAPTER TWELVE "What a piece of nonsense we have made! With practice we might do something quite clever." "Let's try it. "Margaret. "Who are your heroes?" asked Jo." "Genius. who liked new experiments." "Which lady here do you think prettiest?" said Sallie. Sallie. "Grandfather and Napoleon. Laurie?" And she slyly smiled in his disappointed face. "The game." said Fred. "Try again." "What silly questions you ask!" And Jo gave a disdainful shrug as the rest laughed at Laurie's matter-of-fact tone. "Courage and honesty. "Not a true answer. "A quick temper. of course. You must say what you really do want most." "What do you most wish for?" said Laurie. "It's a very good one for you." returned Jo." . by way of testing in her the virtue he lacked himself. 88 Miss Kate and Mr. "Jo. and the lot fell to Laurie. Don't you wish you could give it to me. and Laurie piled and drew. but Fred. Truth isn't a bad game. "A pair of boot lacings. Her turn came next. Jo. choose a number. "What virtues do you most admire in a man?" asked Sallie." "Which do you like best?" from Fred. you pile up your hands. Do you know Truth?" "I hope so." said Meg soberly. guessing and defeating his purpose. and Ned declined." retorted Jo in a low voice. It's great fun. I mean?" "What is it?" said Fred. "What is your greatest fault?" asked Fred. and draw out in turn. Meg. Brooke. and the person who draws at the number has to answer truly any question put by the rest." said Jo.

" said Meg. the three elders sat apart. "Didn't you cheat at croquet?" "Well." "Good! Didn't you take your story out of The Sea Lion?" said Laurie. So did mine. Papa says." "I forgot young ladies in America go to school more than with us." "Don't you think the English nation perfect in every respect?" asked Sallie. "What do you hate most?" asked Fred. "I haven't time.CHAPTER TWELVE "Now my turn. I fancy. "Rather. I suppose?" . a little bit.. you shall have a chance without waiting to draw. Can't you do the same with your governess?" "I have none. yes. "Let's give it to him." proposed Jo. and Margaret watched her. and while it went on." replied Miss Kate graciously. talking." "Well. while Mr. "I should be ashamed of myself if I didn't. "Dancing and French gloves. Frank. too.." "What do you like best?" asked Jo. "You impertinent boy! Of course I'm not. "Spiders and rice pudding. Brooke lay on the grass with a book. You go to a private one. Miss Sallie. Miss Kate took out her sketch again. I'll harrrow up your feelings first by asking if you don't think you are something of a flirt." whispered Laurie to Jo." said Laurie. Ned. and then she was quite willing I should go on. but I proved to her that I had talent by taking a few lessons privately." said Fred. "How beautifully you do it! I wish I could draw. I think Truth is a very silly play. with mingled admiration and regret in her voice. as his hand came last. which he did not read." exclaimed Sallie. and the little girls joined in this." 89 "He's a true John Bull. who nodded and asked at once. Now. as Jo nodded to Fred as a sign that peace was declared. "Why don't you learn? I should think you had taste and talent for it." "Your mamma prefers other accomplishments. Very fine schools they are. with an air that proved the contrary. Let's have a sensible game of Authors to refresh our minds.

yes! It was very sweet." said Meg. and I'm much obliged to whoever translated it for me. but she never looked up. indeed!" said Miss Kate. "I'll read a bit to encourage you. and wish she had not been so frank. for German is a valuable accomplishment to teachers. forgetting her listener in the beauty of the sad scene. Down the page went the green guide. adding to herself with a shrug. she would have stopped short. "It's so hard I'm afraid to try. Brooke. and something in her face made Meg color. who said innocently. and looking as if he did indeed love to teach." "Oh. Brooke made no comment as she returned the book to Meg. and I don't get on very fast alone.CHAPTER TWELVE "I don't go at all. shut her sketch book. as she paused. Here is Schiller's Mary Stuart and a tutor who loves to teach. "I thought it was poetry. Brooke. Meg obediently following the long grass-blade which her new tutor used to point with." "Try a little now. If she had seen the brown eyes then. "Very well indeed!" said Mr. read slowly and timidly. she is romping. but bashful in the presence of the accomplished young lady beside her. "Dear me." 90 "Oh." And Miss Kate strolled away." "Some of it is. Mr. though she is young . Brooke's mouth as he opened at poor Mary's lament." said Miss Kate in a patronizing tone that hurt Meg's pride. for I've no one to correct my pronunciation. they are both well bred and accomplished. but degrading. "You've a nice accent and in time will be a clever reader. but she might as well have said. quite ignoring her many mistakes. Miss Kate put up her glass. yes." And Miss Kate read one of the most beautiful passages in a perfectly correct but perfectly expressionless manner. "Don't you read German?" asked Miss Kate with a look of surprise. because. My father. Meg read as if alone. and are admired and respected for supporting themselves. Brooke looked up and said quickly. Miss March?" inquired Mr. "I didn't come to chaperone a governess. unconsciously making poetry of the hard words by the soft intonation of her musical voice. Mr. how dreadful!" for her tone implied it. "Did the German song suit. I am a governess myself. I advise you to learn." And Mr. breaking an awkward pause. "Not very well. giving a little touch of tragedy to the words of the unhappy queen. of course it's very nice and proper in them to do so. having taken a survey of the little tableau before her. We have many most respectable and worthy young women who do the same and are employed by the nobility. I must look after Grace. Brooke laid his book on her lap with an inviting smile." And Meg's downcast face brightened as she spoke. "Young ladies in America love independence as much as their ancestors did. is away. being the daughters of gentlemen. and made her work seem not only more distasteful. Try this passage. and presently. you know. and the lesson was not spoiled for her. "Oh. saying with condescension." There was a queer smile about Mr. grateful. and. who taught me.

It's very nice. I shall be very sorry to lose him next year. "Laurie and his grandfather would care a great deal. and as soon as he is off. laughing. Frank. Brooke. Meg." said Meg heartily. but her eyes added. and there was no more quiet that day. busily punching holes in the turf. My sister. There's no place like America for us workers. for my friends go too. as I know to my sorrow. "I dote upon it." said Mr. mounted on the old horse. and ride nearly every day in the park with Fred and Kate. and the Row is full of ladies and gentlemen. I'm afraid Laurie will be quite spoiled among them. led by Ned." "I think you would if you had Laurie for a pupil. "And what becomes of you?" "Yes." said Mr. for he is ready. looking cheerful again." she added sorrowfully." And Mr." "I forgot that English people rather turn up their noses at governesses and don't treat them as we do. "I should think every young man would want to go. except Ellen Tree. 91 "Tutors also have rather a hard time of it there. though it is hard for the mothers and sisters who stay at home. "I'm glad I live in it then. Ned. sitting just behind the little girls. who had not the remotest idea what the Row was and wouldn't have asked for the world. that sounds pleasant. and pushed his crutch away from him . you see. and we should all be very sorry to have any harm happen to you. used to ride when Papa was rich. looking after the retreating figure with an annoyed expression. "I have a pony at home. "Going to college. Miss Margaret. Brooke." said Amy." "Dear." said Meg. Brooke looked so contented and cheerful that Meg was ashamed to lament her hard lot. as they stood resting after a race round the field with the others." "I am glad of that!" exclaimed Meg. came lumbering up to display his equestrian skill before the young ladies. but I'd rather go to Rome than the Row. so Jo put the saddle on it. Brooke rather bitterly as he absently put the dead rose in the hole he had made and covered it up. "Why. "Don't you love to ride?" asked Grace of Amy. and very few friends to care whether I live or die. I shall turn soldier. so I won't complain. I don't like my work. I only wished I liked teaching as you do. and we bounce away on Ellen Tree whenever we like. but we don't keep any horses now." added Amy. but before he could finish his speech. fixed some reins on the part that turns up. but we've only got an old sidesaddle and no horse. like a little grave. I am needed." began Mr. I suppose?" Meg's lips asked the question. "I have neither. it's high time he went. Is it a donkey?" asked Grace curiously. how charming! I hope I shall go abroad some day. Jo is crazy about horses and so am I. "Tell me about Ellen Tree. Out in our garden is an apple tree that has a nice low branch.CHAPTER TWELVE and pretty." "How funny!" laughed Grace. but I get a good deal of satisfaction out of it after all. "Thank you. heard what they were saying. What odd people these Yankees are.

My heart! What shall I do? I don't know anything about them. who had not yet learned to suit his amusements to his strength. and forgetting the boy's misfortune in her flurry. as they sat discussing dolls and making tea sets out of the acorn cups. It's dull. hoping to make him talk. We each are young. and the poor boy looked so wistfully at her that she bravely resolved to try. turning to the prairies for help and feeling glad that she had read one of the boys' books in which Jo delighted. Buffaloes proved soothing and satisfactory. against whom she had begged protection. and an amicable game of croquet finished the afternoon. when she likes to be. She meant 'facinating'. in her shy yet friendly way. why should we stand thus coldly apart? . Can I do anything for you?" "Talk to me. "What do you like to talk about?" she asked. Beth." she said. so she is good to him. for I got hurt leaping a confounded five-barred gate. well pleased at Beth's success. Alone. "Bless her heart! She pities him. we each have a heart. Beth forgot herself. At sunset the tent was struck. sitting by myself. wickets pulled up." said Frank with a sigh that made Beth hate herself for her innocent blunder. Ned." "I did once. no Jo to hide behind now. but I suppose you know all about it. she said. An impromptu circus. warbled a serenade with the pensive refrain. but as Grace didn't know the exact meaning of either word. "I always said she was a little saint. "Your deer are much prettier than our ugly buffaloes. thought Beth. "I haven't heard Frank laugh so much for ever so long. I like to hear about cricket and boating and hunting. "I'm afraid you are tired. ah! Woe." said Jo. but there was no place to run to. beaming at her from the croquet ground. "I never saw any hunting. as if there could be no further doubt of it. and the whole party floated down the river. and was quite unconscious of her sisters' surprise and delight at the unusual spectacle of Beth talking away to one of the dreadful boys. fox and geese. Oh. fastidious sounded well and made a good impression.. If he asked her to deliver a Latin oration. "My sister Beth is a very fastidious girl. and at the lines. please.. alone." said Frank. "Well. looked up and said. but I can never hunt again. hampers packed.." answered Frank. alone..CHAPTER TWELVE 92 with an impatient gesture as he watched the active lads going through all sorts of comical gymnastics. who was collecting the scattered Author cards. singing at the tops of their voices. so there are no more horses and hounds for me. fumbling over the cards and dropping half as she tried to tie them up." said Grace to Amy." added Meg. who had evidently been used to being made much of at home. getting sentimental. it would not have seemed a more impossible task to bashful Beth. boats loaded." said Amy. and in her eagerness to amuse another.

trying to be witty. Brooke. . for the Vaughns were going to Canada." returned Sallie. "She's not a stricken deer anyway. saying." 93 "I didn't mean to." said Ned. the little party separated with cordial good nights and good-bys. without the patronizing tone in her voice.CHAPTER TWELVE he looked at Meg with such a lackadiasical expression that she laughed outright and spoiled his song. for it was quite true that she had shunned him. "In spite of their demonstrative manners. "You've kept close to that starched-up Englishwoman all day. As the four sisters went home through the garden. under cover of a lively chorus. passing over the first part of his reproach. and now you snub me. but you looked so funny I really couldn't help it. Miss Kate looked after them." replied Meg. defending her friend even while confessing her shortcomings. but she's a dear. and succeeding as well as very young gentlemen usually do." said Mr. Ned was offended and turned to Sallie for consolation. is there?" "Not a particle. "How can you be so cruel to me?" he whispered. American girls are very nice when one knows them. saying to her rather pettishly." "I quite agree with you. "There isn't a bit of flirt in that girl. On the lawn where it had gathered. remembering the Moffat party and the talk after it.

and looking as fresh and sweet as a rose in her pink dress among the green. and see what's going on. for they haven't got the key. he waited for them to appear. and Amy a portfolio. Beth was sorting the cones that lay thick under the hemlock near by. He stood so still that a squirrel." said Laurie to himself. and he was wishing he could live it over again. "Here's a landscape!" thought Laurie. for she made pretty things with them. Meg had a cushion. then there was a hunt for the key. opening his sleepy eyes to take a good look. and began to climb the hill that lay between the house and river. advancing slowly.CHAPTER THIRTEEN 94 CHAPTER THIRTEEN CASTLES IN THE AIR Laurie lay luxuriously swinging to and fro in his hammock one warm September afternoon. please? Or shall I be a bother?" he asked. he had flung himself into his hammock to fume over the stupidity of the world in general. Meg lifted her eyebrows. which was at last discovered in his pocket. but Jo scowled at her defiantly and said at once." . Staring up into the green gloom of the horse-chestnut trees above him. that's cool. The hot weather made him indolent. I'll take it to them. out at the little back gate. it took him some time to find one. A shadow passed over the boy's face as he watched them. Meg sat upon her cushion. Each wore a large. and all the little wood people going on with their affairs as if these were no strangers but old friends. the aromatic wind lifting their hair and cooling their hot cheeks. Peeping through the meshes of the hammock. sewing daintily with her white hands. for there was something rather peculiar in the appearance of his neighbors. for the sisters sat together in the shady nook. yet lingering because home seemed very lonely and this quiet party in the woods most attractive to his restless spirit. a brown linen pouch slung over one shoulder. All walked quietly through the garden. espied the wistful face behind the birches. displeased his grandfather by practicing half the afternoon. Beth a basket. ran down a pine close beside him. as if bound on some expedition. Brooke's patience to the utmost. Amy was sketching a group of ferns. and Jo was knitting as she read aloud. till the peace of the lovely day quieted him in spite of himself. Taking the shortest way to the boathouse. and. A grove of pines covered one part of it. and beckoned with a reassuring smile. with sun and shadow flickering over them. but too lazy to go and find out. and carried a long staff. for the day had been both unprofitable and unsatisfactory. feeling that he ought to go away because uninvited. flapping hat. We should have asked you before. saw him suddenly and skipped back. and was just imagining himself tossing on the ocean in a voyage round the world. but no one came. only we thought you wouldn't care for such a girl's game as this. He was in one of his moods. wondering what his neighbors were about. when the sound of voices brought him ashore in a flash. tried Mr. so that the girls were quite out of sight when he leaped the fence and ran after them. frightened the maidservants half out of their wits by mischievously hinting that one of his dogs was going mad. "Of course you may. "What in the world are those girls about now?" thought Laurie. scolding so shrilly that Beth looked up. Perhaps they forgot it. he dreamed dreams of all sorts. Jo a book. "to have a picnic and never ask me! They can't be going in the boat. and looking wide-awake and good-natured already. after high words with the stableman about some fancied neglect of his horse. "May I come in. It was a rather pretty little picture. peeping through the bushes." Though possessed of half a dozen hats. and he had shirked his studies. and from the heart of this green spot came a clearer sound than the soft sigh of the pines or the drowsy chirp of the crickets. busy with its harvesting. and he went up the hill to take an observation. he saw the Marches coming out. "Well.

read. The vacation is nearly over. Shall I sew." was the meek answer." "I've no objection. "He'll laugh. didn't she tell you about this new plan of ours? Well." "Yes. He did like it. "Mother likes to have us out-of-doors as much as possible." and Laurie thought regretfully of his own idle days. but if Meg doesn't want me. or do all at once? Bring on your bears." said Laurie. It's against the rules to be idle here." said Jo. I'll do anything if you'll let me stop a bit. so don't scold. you see we used to play Pilgrim's Progress. I wanted to amuse him one night when you were all away. Never mind. The story was not a long one. and we have been going on with it in earnest. looking a trifle displeased. "Please. nodding wisely. "Yes'm. I know. doing his best to prove his gratitude for the favor of admission into the 'Busy Bee Society'. . the stints are all done. "You can't keep a secret. cone. "Who told you?" demanded Jo. we have tried not to waste our holiday." "Yes. and he was rather dismal. so we bring our work here and have nice times. and when it was finished." "Go on.CHAPTER THIRTEEN "I always like your games. I'm ready." added Beth. I should think so. draw. as Jo became absorbed in her work. handing him the book. Jo." said Laurie." "No. "Finish this story while I set my heel. "I guess he'll like it. "Oh. and don't be afraid. all winter and summer." replied Meg gravely but graciously." And Laurie sat down with a submissive expression delightful to behold. as he began." said Beth meekly. please. "Spirits. but each has had a task and worked at it with a will. if you do something." "The idea of being afraid of you! Well. for it's as dull as the Desert of Sahara down there. "Of course I shall! I give you my word I won't laugh. I'll go away. and we are ever so glad that we didn't dawdle. he ventured to ask a few questions as a reward of merit. I did. 95 "Much obliged. Jo. it saves trouble now. could I inquire if this highly instructive and charming institution is a new one?" "Would you tell him?" asked Meg of her sisters." said Amy warningly. "Who cares?" said Jo. Tell away. ma'am.

use poles to climb the hill. won't you. "Jo talks about the country where we hope to live sometime--the real country. We call this hill the Delectable Mountain. will you tell yours?" "Yes. and Laurie sat up to examine. and we like to watch it." "Wouldn't it be fun if all the castles in the air which we make could come true. after a little pause." "You'll get there. wishing she could paint it. to the green hills that rose to meet the sky. with her quiet eyes on the changing clouds." said Beth musingly. The sun was low. as we used to do years ago. I'd like to settle in Germany and have just as much music as I choose. Now. Gold and purple clouds lay on the hilltops. Beth?" Something in the boy's face troubled his little friend. by-and-by. Laurie. if the girls will too. but I wish the beautiful country up there was real. lying flat and throwing cones at the squirrel who had betrayed him. you'll say a good word for me. "It's often so. and we could live in them?" said Jo. What is it?" asked Meg. and climb and wait. and the heavens glowed with the splendor of an autumn sunset. and go in at that splendid gate.CHAPTER THIRTEEN 96 For the fun of it we bring our things in these bags. sooner or later. she means. I want to fly away at once. if that's any comfort. I'm to be a famous musician myself. for I don't believe there are any locks on that door or any guards at the gate. "You'd have to take your favorite one. "If people really want to go. Beth. I shall have to do a deal of traveling before I come in sight of your Celestial City. where the shining ones stretch out their hands to welcome poor Christian as he comes up from the river. and we could ever go to it. "I'm the one that will have to fight and work. "If I tell mine. It would be nice. and maybe never get in after all. no fear of that. and rising high into the ruddy light were silvery white peaks that shone like the airy spires of some Celestial City. And I'm never to be . for he was quick to see and feel beauty of any kind. but she said cheerfully. and really try all their lives. If I arrive late. blue river." "You'll have me for company. so hard to do. for it is never the same. "How beautiful that is!" said Laurie softly. with pigs and chickens and haymaking. when we are good enough. "I've made such quantities it would be hard to choose which I'd have." "We will. and all creation is to rush to hear me." Jo pointed. for through an opening in the wood one could look cross the wide. "It seems so long to wait. as those swallows fly." "After I'd seen as much of the world as I want to. wear the old hats. but always splendid. I think they will get in. I always imagine it is as it is in the picture." answered Meg with her sweetest voice. and play pilgrims. the meadows on the other side. for we can look far away and see the country where we hope to live some time." said Jo." said Laurie." replied Amy. where we shall go. far over the outskirts of the great city. "There is a lovelier country even than that.

"Why don't you say you'd have a splendid. as if to disperse imaginary gnats." answered Meg petulantly. I do wonder if any of us will ever get our wishes. and do fine pictures. that would suit me." said blunt Jo. "I've got the key to mine. "Here's mine!" and Amy waved her pencil." "Mine is to stay at home safe with Father and Mother. but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen. and gorgeous in every respect. "Wouldn't I though? I'd have a stable full of Arabian steeds. "I should like a lovely house. "I've got the key to my castle in the air." and Meg carefully tied up her shoe as she spoke. and novels in yours." said Laurie at once." "Wouldn't you have a master for your castle in the air?" asked Laurie slyly. full of all sorts of luxurious things--nice food." "I have ever so many wishes. That's my favorite castle. I don't know what. chewing grass like a meditative calf. and be the best artist in the whole world. I only wish we may all keep well and be together. "I haven't got any. you have. with plenty of servants. and make everyone love me dearly. but I'm not allowed to try it. so I never need work a bit. wise. Hang college!" muttered Laurie with an impatient sigh.CHAPTER THIRTEEN bothered about money or business. but the pet one is to be an artist. I think I shall write books. and go to Rome. "We're an ambitious set." said Meg forlornly. How I should enjoy it! For I wouldn't be idle. "I said 'pleasant people'. rooms piled high with books. and waved a brake before her face. and help take care of the family. who had no tender fancies yet. pleasant people. and get rich and famous. something heroic or wonderful that won't be forgotten after I'm dead. so that my works should be as famous as Laurie's music. What's yours. while she said slowly. wants to be rich and famous. but I'm on the watch for it. inkstands. I am to be mistress of it. but just enjoy myself and live for what I like. aren't we? Every one of us. and manage it as I like. "Since I had my little piano. but Beth. Meg?" 97 Margaret seemed to find it a little hard to tell hers. I am perfectly satisfied. "Don't you wish for anything else?" asked Laurie. I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle. pretty clothes. good husband and some angelic little children? You know your castle wouldn't be perfect without. and rather scorned romance. . so that is my favorite dream. "You'd have nothing but horses. and heaps of money. you know." said Laurie. so that no one saw her face." was Amy's modest desire. handsome furniture. "Yes. and I'd write out of a magic inkstand. except in books." observed Jo mysteriously. but do good." said Beth contentedly. and mean to astonish you all some day. nothing else.

and when he sees that you try to please him." Laurie spoke excitedly. grateful for the good advice. Don't be dismal or fret." said Jo. You mustn't talk in that way. I'm afraid I shall dawdle. Going to college ought to satisfy him." replied the boy. Brooke has. but it's working against the grain. If there was anyone left to stay with the old gentleman. she is sure you'll work splendidly. Mother says." "What do you know about him?" asked Laurie. in spite of his indolent ways. and Amy twenty-two. there is no one else to stay with and love him. Teddy. sitting up with sudden energy. Brooke had worn when he told the story of the knight. and every sort of rubbish his old ships bring. "If we are all alive ten years hence. let's meet. for he was growing up very fast and. who felt grown up already. and you'd never forgive yourself if you left him without his permission. I will. 98 "You and I will be twenty-six. Beth twenty-four." said Meg in her most maternal tone. Jo. or how much nearer we are then than now. As you say. Meg colored behind the brake." "Wait and see if it doesn't bring you something worth having. I'd do it tomorrow." "Is she? By Jupiter. but I'm such a lazy dog. whose imagination was fired by the thought of such a daring exploit. "I hope I shall have done something to be proud of by that time. and when you get it." said Jo. and whose sympathy was excited by what she called 'Teddy's Wrongs'. by being respected and loved." "You need a motive. and Laurie mustn't take your bad advice. a young man's restless longing to try the world for himself. and comes hard. You should do just what your grandfather wishes. and I'd rather be shot. but do your duty and you'll get your reward. and looked ready to carry his threat into execution on the slightest provocation. that's of no use. "That's not right. and I've got to do just as he did. had a young man's hatred of subjection. "Bless me! How old I shall be. twenty-seven!" exclaimed Meg." "Nonsense. and never come home again till you have tried your own way. He wants me to be an India merchant. . as he was. But he's set. as good Mr. you see. and I do try. having just reached seventeen. and glad to turn the conversation from himself after his unusual outbreak. "I ought to be satisfied to please Grandfather.CHAPTER THIRTEEN "Where?" "In your face. as my father did. and see how many of us have got our wishes. always ready with a plan. but objecting to the lecture. for if I give him four years he ought to let me off from the business. laughing at the thought of a charming little secret which he fancied he knew. What a venerable party!" said Jo. if I only get the chance!" cried Laurie. my dear boy. unless I break away and please myself. and I don't care how soon they go to the bottom when I own them. "Do your best at college. "I advise you to sail away in one of your ships. Jo. I'm sure he won't be hard on you or unjust to you. I hate tea and silk and spices. but asked no questions and looked across the river with the same expectant expression which Mr.

I'm cross and have been out of sorts all day. so that they might like him. Laurie squeezed the kind little hand. I meant it kindly. you know. Miss?" "I can always tell by his face when he goes away. smiling. how he took good care of his own mother till she died. so don't mind if I am grumpy sometimes. and love your book. and went on about you all in flaming style. I only thought Jo was encouraging you in a feeling which you'd be sorry for by-and-by. as Meg paused. and wouldn't go abroad as tutor to some nice person because he wouldn't leave her." ." "Well. don't tell him I said anything! It was only to show that I cared how you get on. and they would just have time to get home to supper. "Only if Brooke is going to be a thermometer." "Then you may come. He thought she was just perfect." cried Meg. much alarmed at the thought of what might follow from her careless speech. I didn't mean to preach or tell tales or be silly. In the midst of an animated discussion on the domestic habits of turtles (one of those amiable creatures having strolled up from the river)." replied Laurie. I like to have you tell me my faults and be sisterly. do you? I see him bow and smile as he passes your window. we feel as if you were our brother and say just what we think. "How do you know I do. wound cotton for Meg. There's a demand for socks just now. looking flushed and earnest with her story. as if he wanted to go back and do his work better. you see what I'll do for Brooke." "Please don't be offended." "We haven't. "Yes. and said frankly. and I'll teach you to knit as the Scotchmen do. he made himself as agreeable as possible. with his 'high and mighty' air. asking him over with me and treating him in her beautiful friendly way. "I'll try." Bent on showing that he was not offended. "May I come again?" asked Laurie. Brooke couldn't understand why your mother was so kind to him. as Jo called a certain expression which he occasionally wore. If you have been good. shook down cones for Beth. "It's like Grandpa to find out all about him without letting him know. if you are good. "I don't tell tales. proving himself a fit person to belong to the 'Busy Bee Society'. and helped Amy with her ferns. and talked about it for days and days. You are so kind to us. I must mind and have fair weather for him to report. I like that? So you keep an account of my good and bad marks in Brooke's face." said Meg sharply. but I didn't know you'd got up a telegraph." said Meg. and oh. he's sober and walks slowly." "Begin to do something now by not plaguing his life out." And Meg offered her hand with a gesture both affectionate and timid. but is just as generous and patient and good as he can be. and never tells anyone. dear old fellow!" said Laurie heartily. Forgive me. and to tell all his goodness to others. If ever I do get my wish. If you have plagued him." "So he is. I thank you all the same. And how he provides now for an old woman who nursed his mother.CHAPTER THIRTEEN 99 "Only what your grandpa told us about him. and what is said here is said in confidence. the faint sound of a bell warned them that Hannah had put the tea 'to draw'. Ashamed of his momentary pique. recited poetry to please Jo. Don't be angry. as the boys in the primer are told to do. he looks satisfied and walks briskly. "I'm the one to be forgiven.

listened to the little David. for I am all he has. the boy said to himself. who sat with his gray head on his hand. Laurie." . and stay with the dear old gentleman while he needs me. standing in the shadow of the curtain. when Beth played to Mr. Laurence in the twilight. waving hers like a big blue worsted banner as they parted at the gate.CHAPTER THIRTEEN added Jo. Remembering the conversation of the afternoon. "I'll let my castle go. 100 That night. whose simple music always quieted his moody spirit. with the resolve to make the sacrifice cheerfully. thinking tender thoughts of the dead child he had loved so much. and watched the old man.

If anyone had been watching her. while Scrabble.. On returning for the third time. exclaiming. thank goodness!" "Why did you go alone?" . saying with a smile and a shiver. This maneuver she repeated several times. and sat a minute looking at it with a sober. promenaded the beams overhead. and putting in many exclamation points. writing busily. and a few books. Once there. who. she composed herself. took his hat. she read the manuscript carefully through. "There. she went into the doorway. "It's like her to come alone. for the October days began to grow chilly. and went down to post himself in the opposite doorway. Jo's desk up here was an old tin kitchen which hung against the wall. There was a dentist's sign. and took a roundabout way to the road. among others.. which plainly showed how earnest her work had been. which looked like little balloons. showing Jo seated on the old sofa. and passed him with a nod. safely shut away from Scrabble. being likewise of a literary turn. "Did you have a bad time?" "Not very. and after staring a moment at the pair of artificial jaws which slowly opened and shut to draw attention to a fine set of teeth.CHAPTER FOURTEEN 101 CHAPTER FOURTEEN SECRETS Jo was very busy in the garret. Then she tied it up with a smart red ribbon. swung herself down to the grassy bank. Jo gave herself a shake. was fond of making a circulating library of such books as were left in his way by eating the leaves. I've done my best! If this won't suit I shall have to wait till I can do better. suddenly dived into the street and walked away as rapidly as she came. leaving her friends to nibble on her pens and taste her ink. But he followed. for on alighting. She put on her hat and jacket as noiselessly as possible. looked up the dirty stairs." "Yes. wistful expression. and the afternoons were short." In ten minutes Jo came running downstairs with a very red face and the general appearance of a person who had just passed through a trying ordeal of some sort. looking very merry and mysterious. but if she has a bad time she'll need someone to help her home. crept quietly downstairs. he would have thought her movements decidedly peculiar. which adorned the entrance. and putting both in her pocket. the pet rat. and after standing stock still a minute. pulled her hat over her eyes. In it she kept her papers. looking as if she were going to have all her teeth out. a fine young fellow. From this tin receptacle Jo produced another manuscript. For two or three hours the sun lay warmly in the high window. and rolled away to town." Lying back on the sofa. and going to the back entry window. asking with an air of sympathy." "You got through quickly. to the great amusement of a black-eyed young gentleman lounging in the window of a building opposite. Having found the place with some difficulty. with her papers spread out upon a trunk before her. hailed a passing omnibus. accompanied by his oldest son. when she signed her name with a flourish and threw down her pen. When she saw the young gentleman she looked anything but pleased. the young gentleman put on his coat. got out upon the roof of a low porch. she went off at a great pace till she reached a certain number in a certain busy street. Quite absorbed in her work. who was evidently very proud of his whiskers. Jo scribbled away till the last page was filled. and walked up the stairs. making dashes here and there.

and grow like those dreadful boys. Jo. "So are you." said Laurie. and then when we play Hamlet. and will waste time and money. but a gymnasium." "I wish you wouldn't." "I'm glad of that. looking nettled. What were you doing. Mother won't let us have him at our house. so. but I must wait a week. up in that billiard saloon?" "Begging your pardon. I have billiards at home." "Won't she?" asked Laurie anxiously. How many did you have out?" Jo looked at her friend as if she did not understand him. you can be Laertes.CHAPTER FOURTEEN "Didn't want anyone to know. sir. which made several passers-by smile in spite of themselves." "You're the oddest fellow I ever saw." Laurie burst out with a hearty boy's laugh." "What are you laughing at? You are up to some mischief. ma'am. I did hope you'd stay respectable and be a satisfaction to your friends. But I don't believe that was your only reason for saying 'I'm glad' in that decided way. 102 "I'll teach you whether we play Hamlet or not." "It's no harm. I come sometimes and have a game with Ned Moffat or some of the other fellows. shaking her head." "Why?" "You can teach me. "That depends upon how and where he takes it. I'm so sorry. and wish you'd keep out of it. and we'll make a fine thing of the fencing scene. was it now?" "No. looking mystified. And if you grow like him she won't be willing to have us frolic together as we do now. and I was taking a lesson in fencing. dear. "Can't a fellow take a little innocent amusement now and then without losing his respectability?" asked Laurie. Jo. it wasn't a billiard saloon. "There are two which I want to have come out. because I hope you never go to such places." said Jo. I don't like Ned and his set. for you'll get to liking it better and better. she can't bear fashionable young men." "Oh. then began to laugh as if mightily amused at something. but it's no fun unless you have good players. I was glad that you were not in the saloon. "No. It's grand fun and will straighten you up capitally. though he wants to come. as I'm fond of it. Do you?" "Not often. and she'd shut us all up in bandboxes rather than have us associate with them." .

and if I tell you." . for his eyes looked angry. nobody minds them. respectable boy. honest." Laurie walked in silence a few minutes. wishing she had held her tongue. she needn't get out her bandboxes yet. so lark away." began Jo." "I won't preach any more. Jo?" "A little." "No. and ran away. remembering that she had. no!--but I hear people talking about money being such a temptation. King's son. and we'll never desert you. or I won't tell." "Do you worry about me. and got tipsy and gambled. as you sometimes do. I don't know what I should do if you acted like Mr. He had plenty of money. I'd like to walk with you and tell you something very interesting. isn't it! All about people you know." "I haven't got any. when you look moody and discontented. "Is your secret a nice one?" "Oh. but didn't know how to spend it. don't you?" "Yes. and such fun! You ought to hear it. and Jo watched him. so up and 'fess. then. Come. will you?" "Not a word. you must tell me yours." "You'll not say anything about it at home. and I've been aching to tell it this long time. and I'd like to hear the news immensely. I'm afraid it would be hard to stop you. for you've got such a strong will. "Are you going to deliver lectures all the way home?" he asked presently. I'll take a bus. If you're not." cried Laurie. if you once get started wrong." "Very well. and forged his father's name. I'm not a fashionable party and don't mean to be. and I sometimes wish you were poor. It's a secret. I don't--oh. come on. I shouldn't worry then. dear." "I'll be a double distilled saint. "Of course not. but stopped suddenly. but don't get wild. and was altogether horrid. I believe. Why?" "Because if you are." "I can't bear saints.CHAPTER FOURTEEN 103 "Well. you begin. Just be a simple." "And you won't tease me in private?" "I never tease. though his lips smiled as if at her warnings. but I do like harmless larks now and then." "You think I'm likely to do the same? Much obliged. will you? Or there will be an end of all our good times. "You know you have--you can't hide anything.

and a friend's praise is always sweeter than a dozen newspaper puffs. Teddy." "Thank you. for I never feel easy in my mind till I've told you any plummy bit of news I get. and shan't we feel proud of our authoress?" Jo's eyes sparkled. and I said nothing about it because I didn't want anyone else to be disappointed." "Don't you like it?" . as you'll agree when I tell you where it is. which produced a comical change. you do. You get everything you want out of people. Jo. five hens. four cats. in her confidant's ear. or I'll never believe you again. but I couldn't rest till I had tried. "Hush! It won't come to anything. for it is always pleasant to be believed in. looking disappointed. Fire away. but you are a born wheedler. looking both surprised and displeased." "Where?" "Pocket." "It won't fail. and whispered three words in Jo's ear. to the great delight of two ducks." 104 "Well. "I may get into a scrape for telling. so I will. the celebrated American authoress!" cried Laurie. She stood and stared at him for a minute. throwing up his hat and catching it again. as Laurie nodded and twinkled with a face full of mysterious intelligence." "Tell. "Hurrah for Miss March. I've left two stories with a newspaperman. saying sharply. then." Laurie bent. "It's quite enough for the present. Why." she said. isn't that romantic?" "No. "How do you know?" "Saw it. I dare say. Won't it be fun to see them in print. "Where's your secret? Play fair. I know where Meg's glove is. and half a dozen Irish children. then walked on. for they were out of the city now. trying to extinguish the brilliant hopes that blazed up at a word of encouragement." whispered Jo. I don't know how you do it. your stories are works of Shakespeare compared to half the rubbish that is published every day. it's horrid. but I didn't promise not to.CHAPTER FOURTEEN "Yes. and he's to give his answer next week." "All this time?" "Yes." "Is that all?" said Jo.

Go. Let me be a little girl as long as I can. dropping down under a maple tree. the smooth road sloped invitingly before her. Don't try to make me grow up before my time. for lately she had felt that Margaret was . It's hard enough to have you change all of a sudden. and Jo bundled up her braids." said Jo. and finding the temptation irresistible. and you'll be all right. My patience! What would Meg say?" "You are not to tell anyone. and not lose my breath." suggested Laurie." As she spoke. "They grow on this road. and who should it be but Meg. "I wish I was a horse. which was carpeting the bank with crimson leaves." "I'd like to see anyone try it. It's ridiculous. Jo. "Race down this hill with me. "And hairpins. "Getting leaves. 105 No one was in sight. regarding her disheveled sister with well-bred surprise. I feel rumpled up in my mind since you told me that. looking particularly ladylike in her state and festival suit. and wish you hadn't told me." "You have been running." "At the idea of anybody coming to take Meg away? No. Laurie reached the goal first and was quite satisfied with the success of his treatment. thank you. sorting the rosy handful she had just swept up." "You'll feel better about it when somebody comes to take you away." "Well. I won't for the present. Laurie leisurely departed to recover the lost property. "Never till I'm stiff and old and have to use a crutch. and no signs of dissatisfaction in her face. hoping no one would pass by till she was tidy again." added Laurie." "I didn't promise. "What in the world are you doing here?" she asked. so do combs and brown straw hats. as she settled her cuffs and smoothed her hair. and I trusted you. soon leaving hat and comb behind her and scattering hairpins as she ran. Mind that. Jo bent over the leaves to hide the trembling of her lips. anyway." "I thought you'd be pleased. like a cherub. But someone did pass. Meg. then I could run for miles in this splendid air. it won't be allowed. throwing half a dozen into Jo's lap. Meg. pick up my things. "I don't think secrets agree with me.CHAPTER FOURTEEN "Of course I don't. "So should I!" and Laurie chuckled at the idea." meekly answered Jo. How could you? When will you stop such romping ways?" said Meg reprovingly. It was capital. bright eyes." said Jo rather ungratefully. for she had been making calls. Jo darted away. with which the wind had taken liberties. ruddy cheeks. but I'm disgusted. for his Atlanta came panting up with flying hair. but see what a guy it's made me. as you are." "That was understood." cried Jo fiercely.

two agreeable things that made her feel unusually elegant and ladylike. all so fine?" "At the Gardiners'. was scandalized by the sight of Laurie chasing Jo all over the garden and finally capturing her in Amy's bower. was rude to Mr." returned Jo. laughing. occasionally jumping up to shake and then kiss her in a very mysterious manner. Meg could not see. She is so funny and dear as she is. with her curls tied up in a very becoming way." added Amy. carefully keeping the name of the paper out of sight." "I'm glad of it!" muttered Jo. Meg?" said Laurie. "I shall never 'go and marry' anyone. Laurie and she were always making signs to one another. and Laurie's secret made her dread the separation which must surely come some time and now seemed very near. "Because if you care much about riches. Just think how delightful that must be!" "Do you envy her. looking surprised. but shrieks of laughter were heard. "What shall we do with that girl? She never will behave like a young lady. frowning at Laurie. and talking about 'Spread Eagles' till the girls declared they had both lost their wits. That will amuse us and keep you out of mischief. walking on with great dignity while the others followed. tying on her hat with a jerk. He saw the trouble in her face and drew Meg's attention from it by asking quickly. who sat making some new frills for herself." sighed Meg." said Beth. It was very splendid. with condescension. "I'm afraid I do. In a few minutes Jo bounced in." observed Meg. as Meg said to herself. as she watched the race with a disapproving face.CHAPTER FOURTEEN 106 fast getting to be a woman. "Have you anything interesting there?" asked Meg. and they have gone to spend the winter in Paris. "Why?" asked Meg. Meg. She rushed to the door when the postman rang. who had never betrayed that she was a little hurt at Jo's having secrets with anyone but her. Jo behaved so queerly that her sisters were quite bewildered. "Nothing but a story. . who was mutely warning her to mind what she said. For a week or two. and 'behaving like children'. On the second Saturday after Jo got out of the window." said Amy in her most grown-up tone. wondering why Jo kept her face behind the sheet. "What's the name?" asked Beth. would sit looking at Meg with a woe-begone face. whispering. you will never go and marry a poor man. followed by the murmur of voices and a great flapping of newspapers. Brooke whenever they met. laid herself on the sofa. but we never can make her comme la fo. though she might have been tempted to join them if she had not had her best dress on. "I hope she won't. "You'd better read it aloud. and Sallie has been telling me all about Belle Moffat's wedding. won't amount to much. What went on there. "It's very trying. and affected to read. I guess. skipping stones. as she sat sewing at her window." said Jo. "Where have you been calling.

only let them print in his paper. "Who wrote it?" asked Beth. and I am so happy. The girls listened with interest. I am so proud!" and Beth ran to hug her sister and exult over this splendid success. and with a funny mixture of solemnity and excitement replied in a loud voice. so I let him. and skipped and sang with joy." actually printed in the paper." was Amy's approving remark. and today this was sent to me. anyone would pay." said Jo. March was when she knew it. How Hannah came in to exclaim. to be sure! How Meg wouldn't believe it till she saw the words." Jo's breath gave out here. wiping her eyes. for these foolish." said Meg. my Jo." "You?" cried Meg. "Stop jabbering. how delighted they all were. . as most of the characters died in the end. isn't that queer?" said Meg. for the tale was romantic. "Your sister. but didn't pay beginners. wondering if Miss Burney felt any grander over her Evelina than she did over her 'Rival Painters'. The reader suddenly sat up. 107 With a loud "Hem!" and a long breath. displaying a flushed countenance. and when the beginners improved." "When did it come?" "How much did you get for it?" "What will Father say?" "Won't Laurie laugh?" cried the family. "I prefer the lovering part. and I shall write more. the man said he liked them both. How Beth got excited. Viola and Angelo are two of our favorite names. Dear me. all in one breath as they clustered about Jo. Read it. he said. It was good practice." said Amy critically. How Jo laughed. and somewhat pathetic. and he's going to get the next paid for. as Jo paused. she bedewed her little story with a few natural tears. who had caught a glimpse of Jo's face. with tears in her eyes. and noticed the stories. "Sakes alive. affectionate people made a jubilee of every little household joy. well I never!" in great astonishment at 'that Jo's doin's'. "And when I went to get my answer. and how the 'Spread Eagle' might be said to flap his wings triumphantly over the House of March. "Miss Josephine March. for in time I may be able to support myself and help the girls. Jo added. as she declared she might as well be a peacock and done with it. So I let him have the two stories. How proud Mrs. and offered hints for a sequel. "I knew it! I knew it! Oh. "I like that about the splendid picture. for the lovering part was tragical. Jo began to read very fast. Having told how she disposed of her tales. as the paper passed from hand to hand. as the hero and heroine were dead. dropping her work.CHAPTER FOURTEEN "The Rival Painters. and Laurie caught me with it and insisted on seeing it. and this seemed to be the first step toward that happy end. for to be independent and earn the praise of those she loved were the dearest wishes of her heart. girls. and wrapping her head in the paper. And he said it was good." "That sounds well. which unfortunately couldn't be carried out. How graciously Amy critisized the artistic parts of the story. and I'll tell you everything. "Tell us about it. cast away the paper. "It's very good.

without a bit of change. you and Beth will go. men have to work and women marry for money. It's a dull day. It's a dreadfully unjust world. we should think it a delightful month." "My patience. but the air isn't bad." "People don't have fortunes left them in that style nowadays. poor dear. "Won't some of you come for a drive? I've been working away at mathematics till my head is in a muddle. Just wait ten years. "If something very pleasant should happen now. and faces. Jo. Father is as regular as the sun. looking out at the frostbitten garden. Madam Mother?" asked Laurie. Come. "We three will be ready in a minute." And Meg whisked out her workbasket. except call at the office. but I'm busy. and come home my Lady Something in a blaze of splendor and elegance. and the postman hasn't been. Mrs. "I dare say. Oh. March with her usual question. March's chair with the affectionate look and tone he always gave her." said Meg bitterly. "Two pleasant things are going to happen right away. smiling. so I'd have some rich relation leave you a fortune unexpectedly. not to drive too often with the young gentleman. but nothing pleasant ever does happen in this family. who was out of sorts. though I'm grateful for your good intentions. and very little fun. thank you. but Amy spatted away energetically. "Jo and I are going to make fortunes for you all. girls?" and Laurie to say in his persuasive way. fruit." In they both came. if it isn't out. Marmee is coming down the street. scorn everyone who has slighted you. how blue we are!" cried Jo. running away to wash her hands." said Margaret. who took a hopeful view of everything. and turned to the frostbitten garden again. and see if we don't. go abroad. "Any letter from Father. Then you'd dash out as an heiress. and I'm afraid I haven't much faith in ink and dirt." said Amy." Meg sighed. grind. perhaps. standing at the window one dull afternoon." "Much obliged. "I don't much wonder. for you see other girls having splendid times. leaning over Mrs. quite unconscious of the blot on her nose." cried Amy. dear. while you grind. year in and year out. and Laurie is tramping through the garden as if he had something nice to tell. and Beth. don't I wish I could manage things for you as I do for my heroines! You're pretty enough and good enough already. won't you?" "Of course we will. who sat in a corner making mud pies. so it will be gay inside. "Can I do anything for you.CHAPTER FIFTEEN 108 CHAPTER FIFTEEN A TELEGRAM "November is the most disagreeable month in the whole year. "No. It's our day for a letter. but there's some delay on the way. even November. We might as well be in a treadmill." . "Can't wait. Jo groaned and leaned both elbows on the table in a despondent attitude. and I'm going to take Brooke home. for her at least. and I'm going to freshen my wits by a brisk turn. if you'll be so kind." observed Jo pensively. who sat at the other window." said Meg. for she had agreed with her mother that it was best. said. as Hannah called her little clay models of birds." said Beth. "That's the reason I was born in it. "We go grubbing along day after day.

How still the room was as they listened breathlessly. Be calm. and went away to work like three women in one. and let me think. I can go anywhere. there's no time for tears now. tender assurances of help. 109 "It's one of them horrid telegraph things." . feeling as if all the happiness and support of their lives was about to be taken from them." she said." "What else? The horses are ready. let me do something!" cried the boy. mingled with broken words of comfort. Mrs. Jo drew the table before her mother. and with unconscious wisdom she set all the rest a good example. At the word 'telegraph'. March snatched it. Washington. hurrying from the next room whither he had withdrawn. Jo. as she wiped her face on her apron. and feeling as if she could do anything to add a little to the sum for her father. Mrs. sad journey must be borrowed. Oh. in a tone they never forgot. when she had collected her thoughts and decided on the first duties to be done. "Send a telegram saying I will come at once. March: Your husband is very ill. Come at once. S.. I'll take that. well knowing that money for the long. ma'am. saying. "The Lord keep the dear man! I won't waste no time a-cryin'. and put away her grief to think and plan for them. children." he said. "Here. give me that pen and paper. Oh. looking pale but steady. looking ready to fly to the ends of the earth. dear. mum. gave her mistress a warm shake of the hand with her own hard one. and dropped back into her chair as white as if the little paper had sent a bullet to her heart. Laurie dashed downstairs for water. and Jo read aloud. The next train goes early in the morning. read the message over. feeling that their first sorrow was too sacred for even his friendly eyes to see. how strangely the day darkened outside. There is no need of that. Poor Hannah was the first to recover. and hopeful whispers that died away in tears. while Meg and Hannah supported her. HALE Blank Hospital. do anything. but don't kill yourself driving at a desperate pace." Tearing off the blank side of one of her newly copied pages. work was panacea for most afflictions. but it may be too late. children. "Now go." They tried to be calm. in a frightened voice. "Where's Laurie?" she asked presently." she said heartily. as their mother sat up. as the girls gathered about their mother. "I shall go at once. for with her. "Leave a note at Aunt March's. March was herself again directly.CHAPTER FIFTEEN A sharp ring interrupted her. and a minute after Hannah came in with a letter. and stretched out her arms to her daughters. mum. girls. "She's right. handling it as if she was afraid it would explode and do some damage. and how suddenly the whole world seemed to change. read the two lines it contained. Mrs. but git your things ready right away.. help me to bear it!" For several minutes there was nothing but the sound of sobbing in the room. poor things.

Mrs. yet an expression of relief was visible when he spoke of it. while Beth and Amy got tea. I'll put them down. however. and Meg begged her to sit quietly in her room for a little while. and went on with her preparations. rubbed his hands. Mr. March's warning was evidently thrown away." Writing. Amy. bringing every comfort the kind old gentleman could think of for the invalid. Everything was arranged by the time Laurie returned with a note from Aunt March. The short afternoon wore away. and let them work. for I'm half bewildered. Everyone scattered like leaves before a gust of wind. Laurence came hurrying back with Beth. "I'm very sorry to hear of this. They began to get anxious. saying with a little choke in her voice. she came suddenly upon Mr. Brooke would have felt repaid for a much greater sacrifice than the trifling one of time and comfort which he was about to take. knit his heavy eyebrows. and a few lines repeating what she had often said before. which puzzled the family as much as did the roll of bills she laid before her mother. but still Jo did not come. satisfaction and regret in it. for five minutes later Laurie tore by the window on his own fleet horse. and forgot herself entirely till something in the brown eyes looking down at her made her remember the cooling tea. and she hoped they would take her advice the next time. from his own dressing gown to himself as escort. I'm sure. Miss March. March would not hear of the old gentleman's undertaking the long journey. I hope you haven't done anything rash?" . saying she would call her mother. Mrs. where did you get it? Twenty-five dollars! Jo. Hospital stores are not always good. with a pair of rubbers in one hand and a cup of tea in the other. and lead the way into the parlor. come and help me find my things. I'm not too proud to beg for Father. go and ask Mr. and it will give me real satisfaction to be of service to her there. "I came to offer myself as escort to your mother. But the last was impossible. riding as if for his life. enclosing the desired sum. and friendliest promises of protection for the girls during the mother's absence. On the way get these things.CHAPTER FIFTEEN Mrs. "How kind you all are! Mother will accept. and directing all at once might well bewilder the poor lady. always predicted that no good would come of it." Down dropped the rubbers. for anxiety ill fits one for traveling. which comforted her very much. and marched abruptly away. Laurence has commissions for me in Washington. they'll be needed and I must go prepared for nursing. and Meg. for there was a mixture of fun and fear. as Meg put out her hand. No one had time to think of him again till. King that I can't come. He shall have the best of everything. Thank you very. Mr. and Meg and her mother busy at some necessary needlework. quiet tone which sounded very pleasantly to her perturbed spirit. March put the note in the fire. and the tea was very near following. Beth. Brooke." he said. happy household was broken up as suddenly as if the paper had been an evil spell. run to the rooms. He missed her. and it will be such a relief to know that she has someone to take care of her. saying he'd be back directly. the money in her purse. "That's my contribution toward making Father comfortable and bringing him home!" "My dear. and she came walking in with a very queer expression of countenance. and the quiet. with a face so full of gratitude that Mr. and tell Mrs. All other errands were done. Laurence for a couple of bottles of old wine. with her lips folded tightly in a way which Jo would have understood if she had been there. for no one knew what freak Jo might take into her head. as Meg ran through the entry. in the kind. and Hannah finished her ironing with what she called a 'slap and a bang'. and Laurie went off to find her. There was nothing he didn't offer. He saw the look. very much!" Meg spoke earnestly. that she had always told them it was absurd for March to go into the army. tell Hannah to get down the black trunk. 110 "Jo. thinking.

and you know when I start to do a thing. my child! You had no winter things and got the simplest with your own hard earnings. for I only sold what was my own. for I know how willingly you sacrificed your vanity." "She doesn't look like my Jo any more. So I begged him to take it. and he never paid much for it in the first place. and I'm afraid you will regret it one of these days. and so on. and I was afraid if it wasn't done right away that I shouldn't have it done at all. how could you? Your one beauty. and Beth hugged the cropped head tenderly. and his wife heard. or steal it. so I felt wicked. 'Take it. for I got rather excited. for all her abundant hair was cut short. as they gathered about the table. The work put into it made it dear." said Beth in a tone of awe. who liked to have things explained as they went along. I was getting too proud of my wig. I walked in. so please take the money and let's have supper. borrow. if I sold the nose off my face to get it. and the barber said I could soon have a curly crop. I dare say. It was getting late. and said so kindly. and feeling as if I'd like to dive into some of the rich stores and help myself." replied Jo. and I don't think you'll blame me." "My dear girl. "What made you do it?" asked Amy. who would as soon have thought of cutting off her head as her pretty hair. March." "I don't see how you dared to do it. as you call it. which did not deceive anyone a particle. "I hadn't the least idea of selling my hair at first. I am not quite satisfied. but it changed his mind. "Oh. to your love. It was silly. and a general outcry arose. and told him why I was in such a hurry. rumpling up the brown bush and trying to look as if she liked it. In a barber's window I saw tails of hair with the prices marked." "You needn't feel wicked. and told the story in my topsy-turvy way. so don't wail. it wasn't the fashionable color. asked if they bought hair. and oblige the young lady. Jo." As she spoke. he was a little man who looked as if he merely lived to oil his hair. It will do my brains good to have that mop taken off. I was wild to do something for Father. It came to me all of a sudden that I had one thing to make money out of. and one black tail. I'd do as much for our Jimmy any day if I had a spire of hair worth selling. . My head feels deliciously light and cool. "No. but as I went along I kept thinking what I could do. if you ask for a ninepence. I hate to give it up. and easy to keep in order. Jo assumed an indifferent air. she always does. as if he wasn't used to having girls bounce into his shop and ask him to buy their hair. it was not necessary. not so thick as mine. Thomas. becoming." said Mrs. and said. I won't!" returned Jo stoutly." said Mrs. I didn't beg. Jo. but I love her dearly for it!" 111 As everyone exclaimed. and was bound to have some money. it's mine honestly." "Who was Jimmy?" asked Amy. my dear. But. "It doesn't affect the fate of the nation." "Tell me all about it. and I knew Aunt March would croak. which will be boyish. was forty dollars. "Well. for healthy young people can eat even in the midst of trouble. but I can't blame you. He rather stared at first. Beth. He said he didn't care about mine.CHAPTER FIFTEEN "No. "Your hair! Your beautiful hair!" "Oh. Meg gave all her quarterly salary toward the rent. March with a look that warmed Jo's heart. there was no need of this. and what they would give for mine. feeling much relieved that her prank was not entirely condemned. and without stopping to think. and I only got some clothes with mine. I'm satisfied. I earned it. It will be good for my vanity. "I hate to borrow as much as Mother does. Jo took off her bonnet.

No one wanted to go to bed when at ten o'clock Mrs. and talk as cheerfully as they could about Mr. and you'll soon drop off." said Mrs. with a choke. with a shiver. She only said. not now." "I tried it. dear." "What did you think of?" "Handsome faces--eyes particularly. March folded the wavy chestnut lock. Brooke's kindness. I thought you were asleep. and that was the end of it. Good night. but Meg lay awake. just to remember past glories by. and laid it away with a short gray one in her desk. it's all over now. and picked out a long lock for me to keep. "I'm not sorry. who kissed and caressed the afflicted heroine in the tenderest manner.. thinking the most serious thoughts she had ever known in her short life. what is it? Are you crying about father?" "No. How came you to be awake?" "I can't sleep. My hair!" burst out poor Jo. and the happy times they would have when Father came home to be nursed. March. don't they? She talked away all the time the man clipped. March put by the last finished job. I felt queer when I saw the dear old hair laid out on the table. and her sister fancied that she was asleep. All began bravely." said Meg. I'm so anxious. for to her music was always a sweet consoler. she said. though. if I could.. for we must be up early and shall need all the sleep we can get. deary. It did not seem at all comical to Meg. but broke down one by one till Beth was left alone. and felt only the short rough ends of my head. Don't tell anyone." "What then?" "My. Marmee." protested Jo." answered Meg. They kissed her quietly. for a crop is so comfortable I don't think I shall ever have a mane again. "Thank you. singing with all her heart." but something in her face made the girls change the subject. "Go to bed and don't talk. so I just made a little private moan for my one beauty. smiling to herself in the dark. till a stifled sob made her exclaim.CHAPTER FIFTEEN 112 "Her son. "Jo. How friendly such things make strangers feel. It almost seemed as if I'd an arm or leg off. my darlings. "I'd do it again tomorrow. as she touched a wet cheek." Mrs... It's only the vain part of me that goes and cries in this silly way. I will confess. but felt wider awake than ever. The woman saw me look at it. the prospect of a fine day tomorrow. trying vainly to smother her emotion in the pillow. who was in the army. I never snivel over trifles like that. "Think about something pleasant. "I took a last look at my hair while the man got his things." "Didn't you feel dreadfully when the first cut came?" asked Meg. Jo lay motionless. Beth and Amy soon fell asleep in spite of the great trouble. and went to bed as silently as if the dear invalid lay in the next room. for no one cared to try another. I'll give it to you." Beth went to the piano and played the father's favorite hymn. "Come girls. . and said. and diverted my mind nicely. as the hymn ended.

then amiably promised to make her hair curl. settling a pillow there." . and to pray the fervent prayers which only mothers utter. sometimes. Blue are lovely. and Meg sharply ordered her not to talk." Jo laughed.CHAPTER FIFTEEN "What color do you like best?" "Brown. that is. 113 The clocks were striking midnight and the rooms were very still as a figure glided quietly from bed to bed. which seemed to whisper in the silence. As she lifted the curtain to look out into the dreary night. and fell asleep to dream of living in her castle in the air. and pausing to look long and tenderly at each unconscious face. to kiss each with lips that mutely blessed. "Be comforted. the moon broke suddenly from behind the clouds and shone upon her like a bright. smoothing a coverlet here. dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds. benignant face.

That was the hard minute. be obedient. remember that you never can be fatherless. Laurence. and whatever happens. a third putting on her overshoes. write to me often. the little books were full of help and comfort. and even Hannah's familiar face looked unnatural as she flew about her kitchen with her nightcap on. Jo was obliged to hide her face in the kitchen roller more than once. yet I am anxious that you should take this trouble rightly. comfort yourself with your music. Laurence's protection. Go on with your work as usual. Mother's cloak and bonnet lay on the sofa. my darlings! God bless and keep us all!" whispered Mrs. so full of light and bustle within. who were all busied about her. and the little girls wore a grave. so dim and still outside. as they spoke that it might be too late to deliver them. They kissed their mother quietly. and smiled and waved their hands." "Yes. watch over your sisters. old Mr. March said to the girls. "Goodby. Be patient. and be faithful to the little home duties. ready to help and cheer all. and as they dressed. Everything seemed very strange when they went down. faithful Hannah. don't get despondent or do rash things. Mother! We will!" The rattle of an approaching carriage made them all start and listen. be prudent. remembering. Jo. or think that you can be idle and comfort yourselves by being idle and trying to forget. The big trunk stood ready in the hall. and send their mother on her anxious journey unsaddened by tears or complaints from them. and a fourth fastening up her travelling bag. Brooke looked so strong and sensible and kind that the girls christened him 'Mr. March. Nobody talked much. and in any perplexity. Hope and keep busy.CHAPTER SIXTEEN 114 CHAPTER SIXTEEN LETTERS In the cold gray dawn the sisters lit their lamp and read their chapter with an earnestness never felt before. she saw it shining on the group at the gate like a good omen. They saw it also. as she kissed one dear little face after the other. and our good neighbor will guard you as if you were his own. as if sorrow was a new experience to them. and Mr. but looking so pale and worn with sleeplessness and anxiety that the girls found it very hard to keep their resolution. Breakfast at that early hour seemed odd. Meg's eyes kept filling in spite of herself. one folding her shawl. Mother. clung about her tenderly." "We will. and behind them like a bodyguard. and be my brave girl. and devoted Laurie. Amy. but the girls stood it well. and hurried into the carriage. and looking back. For now the shadow of a real trouble had come. As she rolled away. and you. troubled expression. help all you can." "Meg. I leave you to Hannah's care and Mr. Mrs. though their hearts were very heavy as they sent loving messages to Father. the sun came out... and tried to wave their hands cheerfully when she drove away. I have no fears for you. and the last thing she beheld as she turned the corner was the four bright faces. consult Hannah. Don't grieve and fret when I am gone. Greatheart' on the spot. Laurence. and Mother herself sat trying to eat. and keep happy safe at home. but as the time drew very near and they sat waiting for the carriage. Hannah is faithfulness itself. dear. another smoothing out the strings of her bonnet. no one ran away or uttered a lamentation. No one cried. Laurie and his grandfather came over to see her off. go to Mr. for work is a blessed solace. they agreed to say goodbye cheerfully and hopefully. . Beth. "Children.

" added Meg forlornly. trying not to smile at the curly head. It was a little thing. turning to find fresh proof of it in the respectful sympathy of the young man's face. or the fragrant invitation issuing from the nose of the coffee pot. and Hannah showed great tact in making it that morning. Beth and I can keep house perfectly well. as they parted. and there she was. . and when the two went out to their daily tasks." returned Mr." put in Amy. and felt better for it. No one could resist her persuasive nods. remember what your ma said. laughing so infectiously that Mrs. Hannah wisely allowed them to relieve their feelings. showing that even in her last hurried moments she had thought and worked for them. with a grateful face. as she sipped with returning spirit. "Now. she came to the rescue. "It seems as if half the house was gone. won't she lecture though!" said Jo. The sight of the turnovers made Jo sober again. Brooke." observed Amy." added Beth. The girls couldn't help laughing. smiles. eating sugar pensively. as usual." returned Meg. as their neighbors went home to breakfast. I shall go to Aunt March. and then let's fall to work and be a credit to the family. And so the journey began with the good omens of sunshine. though Meg shook her head at the young lady who could find consolation in a sugar bowl. Your hair is becoming. that's the motto for us. waving her hat. my dear young ladies." said Meg. and when the shower showed signs of clearing up. Oh. "Goodbye. Don't fret about Father. and don't fret. with an important air. they all broke down and cried bitterly. "'Hope and keep busy'. and in ten minutes were all right again. They drew up to the table. wishing she hadn't made her eyes so red. "I shall go to my Kings. so let's see who will remember it best. "I feel as if there had been an earthquake. "No need of that. Meggy. but it went straight to their hearts.CHAPTER SIXTEEN "How kind everyone is to us!" she said. getting out her mop and dish tub without delay. and in spite of their brave resolutions. "And I hope Aunt March won't croak. "I think anxiety is very interesting. armed with a coffeepot. and cheerful words. March could not help smiling. I hope the Kings won't strain today. but Beth had remembered the little household ceremony. though I'd much rather stay at home and attend to things here. and we'll have everything nice when you come home. dear. but could only point to the pile of nicely mended hose which lay on Mother's table. and it looks very boyish and nice. which looked comically small on her tall sister's shoulders. Beth opened her lips to say something." she added. It was gone. nodding away at them like a rosyfaced mandarin. Come and have a cup of coffee all round. 115 "I don't see how they can help it." Coffee was a treat. they looked sorrowfully back at the window where they were accustomed to see their mother's face. "Hannah will tell us what to do. exchanged their handkerchiefs for napkins. leaving them to rest and refresh themselves." said Jo. "That's so like my Beth!" said Jo.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN "That's my only comfort." And, touching her hat a la Laurie, away went Jo, feeling like a shorn sheep on a wintry day.

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News from their father comforted the girls very much, for though dangerously ill, the presence of the best and tenderest of nurses had already done him good. Mr. Brooke sent a bulletin every day, and as the head of the family, Meg insisted on reading the dispatches, which grew more cheerful as the week passed. At first, everyone was eager to write, and plump envelopes were carefully poked into the letter box by one or other of the sisters, who felt rather important with their Washington correspondence. As one of these packets contained characteristic notes from the party, we will rob an imaginary mail, and read them. My dearest Mother: It is impossible to tell you how happy your last letter made us, for the news was so good we couldn't help laughing and crying over it. How very kind Mr. Brooke is, and how fortunate that Mr. Laurence's business detains him near you so long, since he is so useful to you and Father. The girls are all as good as gold. Jo helps me with the sewing, and insists on doing all sorts of hard jobs. I should be afraid she might overdo, if I didn't know her 'moral fit' wouldn't last long. Beth is as regular about her tasks as a clock, and never forgets what you told her. She grieves about Father, and looks sober except when she is at her little piano. Amy minds me nicely, and I take great care of her. She does her own hair, and I am teaching her to make buttonholes and mend her stockings. She tries very hard, and I know you will be pleased with her improvement when you come. Mr. Laurence watches over us like a motherly old hen, as Jo says, and Laurie is very kind and neighborly. He and Jo keep us merry, for we get pretty blue sometimes, and feel like orphans, with you so far away. Hannah is a perfect saint. She does not scold at all, and always calls me Miss Margaret, which is quite proper, you know, and treats me with respect. We are all well and busy, but we long, day and night, to have you back. Give my dearest love to Father, and believe me, ever your own... MEG This note, prettily written on scented paper, was a great contrast to the next, which was scribbled on a big sheet of thin foreign paper, ornamented with blots and all manner of flourishes and curly-tailed letters. My precious Marmee: Three cheers for dear Father! Brooke was a trump to telegraph right off, and let us know the minute he was better. I rushed up garret when the letter came, and tried to thank god for being so good to us, but I could only cry, and say, "I'm glad! I'm glad!" Didn't that do as well as a regular prayer? For I felt a great many in my heart. We have such funny times, and now I can enjoy them, for everyone is so desperately good, it's like living in a nest of turtledoves. You'd laugh to see Meg head the table and try to be motherish. She gets prettier every day, and I'm in love with her sometimes. The children are regular archangels, and I-- well, I'm Jo, and never shall be anything else. Oh, I must tell you that I came near having a quarrel with Laurie. I freed my mind about a silly little thing, and he was offended. I was right, but didn't speak as I ought, and he marched home, saying he wouldn't come again till I begged pardon. I declared I wouldn't and got mad. It lasted all day. I felt bad and wanted you very much. Laurie and I are both so proud, it's hard to beg pardon. But I thought he'd come to it, for I was in the right. He didn't come, and just at night I remembered what you said when Amy fell into the river. I read my little book, felt better, resolved not to let the sun set on my anger, and ran over to tell Laurie I was sorry. I met him at the gate, coming for the same thing. We both laughed, begged each other's pardon, and felt all good and comfortable again. I made a 'pome' yesterday, when I was helping Hannah wash, and as Father likes my silly little things, I put it in to amuse him. Give him my lovingest hug that ever was, and kiss yourself a dozen times for your... TOPSY-TURVY JO

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Queen of my tub, I merrily sing, While the white foam rises high, And sturdily wash and rinse and wring, And fasten the clothes to dry. Then out in the free fresh air they swing, Under the sunny sky. I wish we could wash from our hearts and souls The stains of the week away, And let water and air by their magic make Ourselves as pure as they. Then on the earth there would be indeed, A glorious washing day! Along the path of a useful life, Will heartsease ever bloom. The busy mind has no time to think Of sorrow or care or gloom. And anxious thoughts may be swept away, As we bravely wield a broom. I am glad a task to me is given, To labor at day by day, For it brings me health and strength and hope, And I cheerfully learn to say, "Head, you may think, Heart, you may feel, But, Hand, you shall work alway!" Dear Mother, There is only room for me to send my love, and some pressed pansies from the root I have been keeping safe in the house for Father to see. I read every morning, try to be good all day, and sing myself to sleep with Father's tune. I can't sing 'LAND OF THE LEAL' now, it makes me cry. Everyone is very kind, and we are as happy as we can be without you. Amy wants the rest of the page, so I must stop. I didn't forget to cover the holders, and I wind the clock and air the rooms every day. Kiss dear Father on the cheek he calls mine. Oh, do come soon to your loving... LITTLE BETH Ma Chere Mamma, We are all well I do my lessons always and never corroberate the girls--Meg says I mean contradick so I put in both words and you can take the properest. Meg is a great comfort to me and lets me have jelly every night at tea its so good for me Jo says because it keeps me sweet tempered. Laurie is not as respeckful as he ought to be now I am almost in my teens, he calls me Chick and hurts my feelings by talking French to me very fast when I say Merci or Bon jour as Hattie King does. The sleeves of my blue dress were all worn out, and Meg put in new ones, but the full front came wrong and they are more blue than the dress. I felt bad but did not fret I bear my troubles well but I do wish Hannah would put more starch in my aprons and have buckwheats every day. Can't she? Didn't I make that interrigation point nice? Meg says my punchtuation and spelling are disgraceful and I am mortyfied but dear me I have so many things to do, I can't stop. Adieu, I send heaps of love to Papa. Your affectionate daughter... AMY CURTIS MARCH Dear Mis March, I jes drop a line to say we git on fust rate. The girls is clever and fly round right smart. Miss Meg is going to make a proper good housekeeper. She hes the liking for it, and gits the hang of things surprisin quick. Jo doos beat all for goin ahead, but she don't stop to cal'k'late fust, and you never know where she's like to bring up. She done out a tub of clothes on Monday, but she starched 'em afore they was wrenched, and blued a pink calico dress till I thought I should a died a laughin. Beth is the best of little creeters, and a sight of help to me, bein so forehanded and dependable. She tries to learn everything, and really goes to market beyond her years, likewise keeps accounts, with my help, quite wonderful. We have got on very economical so fur. I don't let the girls hev coffee only once a week, accordin to your wish, and keep em on plain wholesome vittles. Amy does well without frettin, wearin her best clothes and eatin sweet stuff. Mr. Laurie is as full of didoes as usual, and

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turns the house upside down frequent, but he heartens the girls, so I let em hev full swing. The old gentleman sends heaps of things, and is rather wearin, but means wal, and it aint my place to say nothin. My bread is riz, so no more at this time. I send my duty to Mr. March, and hope he's seen the last of his Pewmonia. Yours respectful, Hannah Mullet Head Nurse of Ward No. 2, All serene on the Rappahannock, troops in fine condition, commisary department well conducted, the Home Guard under Colonel Teddy always on duty, Commander in Chief General Laurence reviews the army daily, Quartermaster Mullet keeps order in camp, and Major Lion does picket duty at night. A salute of twenty-four guns was fired on reciept of good news from Washington, and a dress parade took place at headquarters. Commander in chief sends best wishes, in which he is heartily joined by... COLONEL TEDDY Dear Madam: The little girls are all well. Beth and my boy report daily. Hannah is a model servant, and guards pretty Meg like a dragon. Glad the fine weather holds. Pray make Brooke useful, and draw on me for funds if expenses exceed your estimate. Don't let your husband want anything. Thank God he is mending. Your sincere friend and servant, JAMES LAURENCE

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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
LITTLE FAITHFUL For a week the amount of virtue in the old house would have supplied the neighborhood. It was really amazing, for everyone seemed in a heavenly frame of mind, and self-denial was all the fashion. Relieved of their first anxiety about their father, the girls insensibly relaxed their praiseworthy efforts a little, and began to fall back into old ways. They did not forget their motto, but hoping and keeping busy seemed to grow easier, and after such tremendous exertions, they felt that Endeavor deserved a holiday, and gave it a good many. Jo caught a bad cold through neglect to cover the shorn head enough, and was ordered to stay at home till she was better, for Aunt March didn't like to hear people read with colds in their heads. Jo liked this, and after an energetic rummage from garret to cellar, subsided on the sofa to nurse her cold with arsenicum and books. Amy found that housework and art did not go well together, and returned to her mud pies. Meg went daily to her pupils, and sewed, or thought she did, at home, but much time was spent in writing long letters to her mother, or reading the Washington dispatches over and over. Beth kept on, with only slight relapses into idleness or grieving. All the little duties were faithfully done each day, and many of her sisters' also, for they were forgetful, and the house seemed like a clock whose pendulum was gone a-visiting. When her heart got heavy with longings for Mother or fears for Father, she went away into a certain closet, hid her face in the folds of a dear old gown, and made her little moan and prayed her little prayer quietly by herself. Nobody knew what cheered her up after a sober fit, but everyone felt how sweet and helpful Beth was, and fell into a way of going to her for comfort or advice in their small affairs. All were unconscious that this experience was a test of character, and when the first excitement was over, felt that they had done well and deserved praise. So they did, but their mistake was in ceasing to do well, and they learned this lesson through much anxiety and regret. "Meg, I wish you'd go and see the Hummels. You know Mother told us not to forget them." said Beth, ten days after Mrs. March's departure. "I'm too tired to go this afternoon," replied Meg, rocking comfortably as she sewed. "Can't you, Jo?" asked Beth. "Too stormy for me with my cold." "I thought it was almost well." "It's well enough for me to go out with Laurie, but not well enough to go to the Hummels'," said Jo, laughing, but looking a little ashamed of her inconsistency. "Why don't you go yourself?" asked Meg. "I have been every day, but the baby is sick, and I don't know what to do for it. Mrs. Hummel goes away to work, and Lottchen takes care of it. But it gets sicker and sicker, and I think you or Hannah ought to go." Beth spoke earnestly, and Meg promised she would go tomorrow. "Ask Hannah for some nice little mess, and take it round, Beth, the air will do you good," said Jo, adding apologetically, "I'd go but I want to finish my writing."

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN "My head aches and I'm tired, so I thought maybe some of you would go," said Beth. "Amy will be in presently, and she will run down for us," suggested Meg.

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So Beth lay down on the sofa, the others returned to their work, and the Hummels were forgotten. An hour passed. Amy did not come, Meg went to her room to try on a new dress, Jo was absorbed in her story, and Hannah was sound asleep before the kitchen fire, when Beth quietly put on her hood, filled her basket with odds and ends for the poor children, and went out into the chilly air with a heavy head and a grieved look in her patient eyes. It was late when she came back, and no one saw her creep upstairs and shut herself into her mother's room. Half an hour after, Jo went to 'Mother's closet' for something, and there found little Beth sitting on the medicine chest, looking very grave, with red eyes and a camphor bottle in her hand. "Christopher Columbus! What's the matter?" cried Jo, as Beth put out her hand as if to warn her off, and asked quickly... "You've had the scarlet fever, haven't you?" "Years ago, when Meg did. Why?" "Then I'll tell you. Oh, Jo, the baby's dead!" "What baby?" "Mrs. Hummel's. It died in my lap before she got home," cried Beth with a sob. "My poor dear, how dreadful for you! I ought to have gone," said Jo, taking her sister in her arms as she sat down in her mother's big chair, with a remorseful face. "It wasn't dreadful, Jo, only so sad! I saw in a minute it was sicker, but Lottchen said her mother had gone for a doctor, so I took Baby and let Lotty rest. It seemed asleep, but all of a sudden if gave a little cry and trembled, and then lay very still. I tried to warm its feet, and Lotty gave it some milk, but it didn't stir, and I knew it was dead." "Don't cry, dear! What did you do?" "I just sat and held it softly till Mrs. Hummel came with the doctor. He said it was dead, and looked at Heinrich and Minna, who have sore throats. 'Scarlet fever, ma'am. Ought to have called me before,' he said crossly. Mrs. Hummel told him she was poor, and had tried to cure baby herself, but now it was too late, and she could only ask him to help the others and trust to charity for his pay. He smiled then, and was kinder, but it was very sad, and I cried with them till he turned round all of a sudden, and told me to go home and take belladonna right away, or I'd have the fever." "No, you won't!" cried Jo, hugging her close, with a frightened look. "Oh, Beth, if you should be sick I never could forgive myself! What shall we do?" "Don't be frightened, I guess I shan't have it badly. I looked in Mother's book, and saw that it begins with headache, sore throat, and queer feelings like mine, so I did take some belladonna, and I feel better," said Beth, laying her cold hands on her hot forehead and trying to look well. "If Mother was only at home!" exclaimed Jo, seizing the book, and feeling that Washington was an immense way off. She read a page, looked at Beth, felt her head, peeped into her throat, and then said gravely, "You've been over the baby every day for more than a week, and among the others who are going to have it, so I'm

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN afraid you are going to have it, Beth. I'll call Hannah, she knows all about sickness." "Don't let Amy come. She never had it, and I should hate to give it to her. Can't you and Meg have it over again?" asked Beth, anxiously. "I guess not. Don't care if I do. Serve me right, selfish pig, to let you go, and stay writing rubbish myself!" muttered Jo, as she went to consult Hannah.

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The good soul was wide awake in a minute, and took the lead at once, assuring that there was no need to worry; every one had scarlet fever, and if rightly treated, nobody died, all of which Jo believed, and felt much relieved as they went up to call Meg. "Now I'll tell you what we'll do," said Hannah, when she had examined and questioned Beth, "we will have Dr. Bangs, just to take a look at you, dear, and see that we start right. Then we'll send Amy off to Aunt March's for a spell, to keep her out of harm's way, and one of you girls can stay at home and amuse Beth for a day or two." "I shall stay, of course, I'm oldest," began Meg, looking anxious and self-reproachful. "I shall, because it's my fault she is sick. I told Mother I'd do the errands, and I haven't," said Jo decidedly. "Which will you have, Beth? There ain't no need of but one," aid Hannah. "Jo, please." And Beth leaned her head against her sister with a contented look, which effectually settled that point. "I'll go and tell Amy," said Meg, feeling a little hurt, yet rather relieved on the whole, for she did not like nursing, and Jo did. Amy rebelled outright, and passionately declared that she had rather have the fever than go to Aunt March. Meg reasoned, pleaded, and commanded, all in vain. Amy protested that she would not go, and Meg left her in despair to ask Hannah what should be done. Before she came back, Laurie walked into the parlor to find Amy sobbing, with her head in the sofa cushions. She told her story, expecting to be consoled, but Laurie only put his hands in his pockets and walked about the room, whistling softly, as he knit his brows in deep thought. Presently he sat down beside her, and said, in his most wheedlesome tone, "Now be a sensible little woman, and do as they say. No, don't cry, but hear what a jolly plan I've got. You go to Aunt March's, and I'll come and take you out every day, driving or walking, and we'll have capital times. Won't that be better than moping here?" "I don't wish to be sent off as if I was in the way," began Amy, in an injured voice. "Bless your heart, child, it's to keep you well. You don't want to be sick, do you?" "No, I'm sure I don't, but I dare say I shall be, for I've been with Beth all the time." "That's the very reason you ought to go away at once, so that you may escape it. Change of air and care will keep you well, I dare say, or if it does not entirely, you will have the fever more lightly. I advise you to be off as soon as you can, for scarlet fever is no joke, miss." "But it's dull at Aunt March's, and she is so cross," said Amy, looking rather frightened. "It won't be dull with me popping in every day to tell you how Beth is, and take you out gallivanting. The old

. and tell her you'll give in. and it will only make them anxious. "That is what troubles me. whatever we do. with an approving pat. There doesn't seem to be anything to hold on to when Mother's gone. well. "What a trying world it is!" said Jo. The baby's death troubled her. so I'm all at sea. Jo. "We can't decide anything till he has been. Beth won't be sick long. Settle your wig. promised to go. don't make a porcupine of yourself. and Hannah knows just what to do. Suppose you ask Grandfather after the doctor has been. Bangs at once. and tell me if I shall telegraph to your mother. Hannah says she thinks so. so I suppose we must. but it doesn't seem quite right to me." said Laurie. Meg and Jo came running down to behold the miracle which had been wrought." "Stay where you are." "We will." "Well--I guess I will. and that makes me fidgety. I'm errand boy to this establishment. who never had been reconciled to the loss of his friend's one beauty. "She is lying down on Mother's bed." "Well. if we may. or do anything?" asked Laurie. and Mother said we were to mind her. "I'm afraid you are busy. feeling very precious and self-sacrificing. which annoyed Amy more than the 'giving in'. so she won't peck at us." said Amy slowly.CHAPTER SEVENTEEN lady likes me. 122 "How is the little dear?" asked Laurie." "And go to the theater. if the doctor said Beth was going to be ill. truly?" "A dozen theaters. but Hannah says we mustn't. and I'll be as sweet as possible to her." answered Meg. go and get Dr." commanded Meg. and he felt more anxious about her than he liked to show." "Hum. for Beth was his especial pet. and feels better. and Amy. "I think we ought to tell her if Beth is really ill. but she looks worried. I can't say." "Will you take me out in the trotting wagon with Puck?" "On my honor as a gentleman. taking up his cap." said Laurie. "Good girl! Call Meg." began Meg. "No sooner do we get out of one trouble than down comes another." said Meg." "And come every single day?" "See if I don't!" "And bring me back the minute Beth is well?" "The identical minute. Jo. but I dare say she has only got cold. rumpling up her hair in a fretful way. for Mother can't leave Father. Jo. it isn't becoming.

Jo. if you are allowed to go poking about among poor folks." "Hold your tongue. . who was shaking with laughter at the last speech. which caused Polly to utter an astonished croak and call out.. and running to peck the 'rattlepated' boy. which I've no doubt she will be. looks like it now. "Father is much better. while the parrot. March never had any stamina." thought Amy. but he thought she would have it lightly. that she laughed instead. dancing on her perch.. take a pinch of snuff. Amy was ordered off at once. "Bless my boots!" in such a funny way." Amy was on the point of crying. is he? Well." "Do you study in vacation time?" asked Jo. child. Amy can stay and make herself useful if she isn't sick. you fright!" screamed Polly." observed Jo. that won't last long. she departed in great state. Don't cry. said Beth had symptoms of the fever. tumbling off the chair with a bounce. "Hold your tongue. sitting on the back of her chair. "Ha. Dr. 123 "I follow the good example my neighbors set me. "What do you hear from your mother?" asked the old lady gruffly. Aunt March received them with her usual hospitality. as he swung himself out of the room. "No more than I expected. you disrespectful old bird! And. goodbye. It isn't proper to be gadding about so late with a rattlepated boy like. though he looked sober over the Hummel story." was Laurie's answer. I fancy. goodbye!" squalled Polly. as she was left alone with Aunt March." replied Jo. No boys allowed here. "Go away. "Get along. "What do you want now?" she asked. for a boy. for the subject did not interest her. and at that rude speech Amy could not restrain a sniff. "I don't think I can bear it. Bangs came. I've done my lessons for the day. trying to keep sober. but I'll try. it worries me to hear people sniff." was Meg's somewhat ungracious answer. you disrespectful old bird!" cried Polly. and Jo told her story. "Oh. but Laurie slyly pulled the parrot's tail." was the cheerful reply.. "I have great hopes for my boy. ha! Never say die.CHAPTER SEVENTEEN "No. looking sharply over her spectacles." Laurie retired to the window. and clawing at the old lady's cap as Laurie tweaked him in the rear. you'd better go at once. watching him fly over the fence with an approving smile.. with Jo and Laurie as escort. called out. "He does very well. and provided with something to ward off danger.

When Dr. the neighbors sent all sorts of comforts and good wishes. March had had a relapse. peace. held the hot hand in both his own for a minute. and how heavy were the hearts of the sisters as they worked and waited. but addressed them by wrong names. Laurence was not allowed to see her. She could not think it right to deceive her mother. Bangs did his best. broken voice. learned to see the beauty and the sweetness of Beth's nature. A letter from Washington added to their trouble. to play on the coverlet as if on her beloved little piano. Meanwhile she lay on her bed with old Joanna at her side. or beauty. bade them tell her mother that she would write soon. he looked long at Beth. so Hannah had everything her own way. and which all should love and value more than talent. snow fell fast. and even those who knew her best were surprised to find how many friends shy little Beth had made. with that suffering little sister always before her eyes and that pathetic voice sounding in her ears. March can leave her husband she'd better be sent for. Bangs came that morning. lest they should get sick. and Mr.' Jo devoted herself to Beth day and night. But there came a time when during the fever fits she began to talk in a hoarse. Laurence locked the grand piano. Meg kept a telegram in her desk all ready to send off at any minute. a time when she did not know the familiar faces around her. for even in her wanderings she did not forget her forlorn protege. how sad and lonely the house. saying. Dr. for Beth was very patient. She sent loving messages to Amy. longed eagerly to be at home. and busy Dr. "If Mrs. living in the darkened room. for Mr. sitting alone with tears dropping often on her work. The girls knew nothing about illness. March bein' told. for a bitter wind blew." . protection. Hummel came to beg pardon for her thoughtlessness and to get a shroud for Minna. And Amy. Meg begged to be allowed to write the truth. and in her quiet hours she was full of anxiety about Jo. and even Hannah said she 'would think of it. not a hard task. Laurie haunted the house like a restless ghost. in a low voice to Hannah. or sank into a heavy sleep which brought her no refreshment. The milkman. and bore her pain uncomplainingly as long as she could control herself. felt how rich she had been in things more precious than any luxuries money could buy--in love. and to acknowledge the worth of Beth's unselfish ambition to live for others. that Father might not think she had neglected him. how many neglected tasks those willing hands had done for her. but would not have them brought. Bangs came twice a day. and the year seemed getting ready for its death. How dark the days seemed now. and remembering. tossing to and fro. but she had been bidden to mind Hannah. with incoherent words on her lips. Then it was that Jo. and could not think of coming home for a long while. and was much sicker than anyone but Hannah and the doctor suspected. in her exile. and Mr. feeling now that no service would be hard or irksome. wealth. But soon even these intervals of consciousness ended. and Jo never stirred from Beth's side. Then Jo grew frightened. the real blessings of life. and called imploringly for her mother. and laid it gently down.CHAPTER EIGHTEEN 124 CHAPTER EIGHTEEN DARK DAYS Beth did have the fever. while the shadow of death hovered over the once happy home. Meg stayed at home. though there was no danger yet'. Then it was that Margaret. She longed for her cats. The first of December was a wintry day indeed to them. and worried just for sech a trifle. and often begged for pencil and paper to try to say a word. because he could not bear to be reminded of the young neighbor who used to make the twilight pleasant for him. that she might work for Beth. lest she should infect the Kings. baker. to feel how deep and tender a place she filled in all hearts. poor Mrs. Hannah sat up at night. grocer. and try to sing with a throat so swollen that there was no music left. and kept house. and health. with regretful grief. feeling very anxious and a little guilty when she wrote letters in which no mention was made of Beth's illness. Everyone missed Beth. and make home happy by that exercise of those simple virtues which all may possess. and she lay hour after hour. but left a good deal to the excellent nurse. and butcher inquired how she did. and Hannah wouldn't hear of 'Mrs.

spreading her wet handkerchief over her knees to dry. and looked up with a grateful face." . and God seems so far away I can't find Him. tugging at her rubber boots with a tragic expression. gently stroking her bent head as her mother used to do. Beth is my conscience. and in the silence learned the sweet solace which affection administers to sorrow. standing with a pale face for a minute. but no fitting words came to him. Jo. but the heavy weight did not seem lifted off her heart. The doctor told us to. it is. I don't believe God will take her away yet. and seemed to lead her nearer to the Divine arm which alone could uphold her in her trouble. rushed out into the storm. March was mending again. Jo." sighed Jo. "Oh. as Jo's sobs quieted. saying that Mr. for her lips twitched nervously. and I am glad of it. so he stood silent. Laurie drew his hand across his eyes. She's so good. looking indignant. that will help you. I don't feel so forlorn. Teddy. and her face was so full of misery that Laurie asked quickly. "I don't think she will die. with a startled face. it's not so bad as that?" cried Laurie. and Laurie took it in his. Soon she dried the tears which had relieved her. and then everything will be all right. Soon your mother will be here. as he seated her in the hall chair and took off the rebellious boots. Meg dropped down into a chair as the strength seemed to go out of her limbs at the sound of those words. me! It does seem as if all the troubles came in a heap." said Jo. and will try to bear it if it comes. "Yes. far more soothing than the most eloquent words. and there's nobody to help us bear it. I'm better now. "No." "I'm so glad Father is better. "Doesn't Meg pull fair?" asked Laurie. Oh. She doesn't know us. she tries to." "Keep hoping for the best. and she won't miss her as I shall. for Jo felt the unspoken sympathy." "Oh. seeing how her hands shook. and Jo. for she had kept up bravely till now and never shed a tear. Presently. snatched up the telegram. Now she won't feel so bad about leaving him. She doesn't look like my Beth. ran to the parlor. It might be unmanly. as if groping in the dark. he said hopefully. but she can't love Bethy as I do. "What is it? Is Beth worse?" "I've sent for Mother. she stretched out her hand in a helpless sort of way. "Thank you. yes. Laurie longed to say something tender and comfortable. as she calls the vine leaves on the wall. "I'm here. and I got the heaviest part on my shoulders." As the tears streamed fast down poor Jo's cheeks. whispering as well as he could with a lump in his throat. She was soon back. I can't! I can't!" Down went Jo's face into the wet handkerchief. It was the best thing he could have done. and the warm grasp of the friendly human hand comforted her sore heart. "Good for you. and I can't give her up. she doesn't even talk about the flocks of green doves. and we all love her so much. Jo read it thankfully.CHAPTER EIGHTEEN 125 Hannah nodded without speaking. Jo. Hold on to me. Laurie came in with a letter. and she cried despairingly. but she did 'hold on'. but could not speak till he had subdued the choky feeling in his throat and steadied his lips. Mother and father both gone. and while noiselessly taking off her cloak. but he couldn't help it. Jo! Did you do it on your own responsibility?" asked Laurie. dear!" She could not speak. and throwing on her things.

and Hannah most took my head off when I proposed a telegram. so that settled my mind. I never can bear to be 'lorded over'. but you were such a dear to go and do it in spite of Hannah that I couldn't help flying at you. Your mother will come. Tell me all about it. and the late train is in at two A. "Why. forgetting her woes for a minute in her wonder. I know. and off I pelted to the office yesterday. Aren't you glad I did it?" Laurie spoke very fast." laughed Laurie. where she sat down upon a dresser and told the assembled cats that she was "happy. Laurie. and don't give me wine again. when your grandpa comes. she put him gently away. Stop a bit. as the kind words had done her troubled mind. flew out of her chair. I'll do it by proxy.CHAPTER EIGHTEEN 126 "The good and dear people always do die.Health to my Beth! You are a good doctor. and when Laurie came running down with a glass of wine. don't! I didn't mean to. it makes me act so. saying breathlessly." .. and you've only got to bottle up your rapture. you're an angel! How shall I ever thank you?" "Fly at me again. "I'll send my bill." said Laurie. beaming at her with a face of suppressed satisfaction at something. which no one had thought of moving from the table where she left it. Teddy. I shall go for her. "No. you see I got fidgety. but go home and rest. "I drink-.M. for the doctor looked sober. and tonight I'll give you something that will warm the cockles of your heart better than quarts of wine. and Brooke answered she'd come at once. "That's the interferingest chap I ever see. which brought Jo round at once. and trembled and clung to her friend as if she was a little bewildered by the sudden news." said Laurie. So I got grandpa to say it was high time we did something." "Laurie. so happy!" while Laurie departed. as the wine refreshed her body. looking mischievous. and she'll be here tonight. behaved with great presence of mind." Laurie went off two stairs at a time. it was dreadful of me. for the submissive spirit of its gentle owner seemed to enter into Jo. thank you. I'll hearten you up in a jiffy. and as she finished her speech. and such a comfortable friend. for you'll be up half the night. Jo grew quite white. for fear of disappointing the girls or harming Beth. a thing he had not done for a fortnight. with a joyful cry. "Poor girl. for her friend's words cheered her up in spite of her own doubts and fears. How can I ever pay you?" she added. "What is it?" cried Jo. I rather liked it. and the moment he stopped speaking she electrified him by throwing her arms round his neck. for he had kept his plot a secret. Don't tease.. but I forgive him and do hope Mrs." "I don't mind. Laurie! Oh. We thought Hannah was overdoing the authority business. she vanished precipitately into the kitchen. "Oh. She'd never forgive us if Beth. It isn't like you to be forlorn. and I did it. as he settled his tie. but laughed hysterically. "Oh. Bless you. though decidedly amazed. and keep Beth quiet till that blessed lady gets here. but she stopped crying. and finding that she was recovering. oh. March is coming right away. if anything happened. He patted her back soothingly. Holding on to the banisters. you're worn out." groaned Jo. she took it with a smile. and everything will be all right. by-and-by. and so did Grandpa. It must have possessed some magic. Mother! I am so glad!" She did not weep again. you know. and Jo laid her wearied head down on Beth's little brown hood. "I telegraphed to your mother yesterday. Teddy. Well. and crying out. followed it up by a bashful kiss or two. and turned red and excited all in a minute. bless you!" Jo had backed into a corner. and your mother ought to know. feeling that he had made a rather neat thing of it. and said bravely.

and turning quickly. the sisters. I'll try to love and serve Him all my life. 127 Meg had a quiet rapture. the once busy hands so weak and wasted. A dreadful fear passed coldly over Jo. and to her excited eyes a great change seemed to have taken place. it aches so. the once smiling lips quite dumb. when Jo. "Beth is dead. haunted the girls. for better or worse. with equal fervor." whispered Meg earnestly." answered Jo. with an air of relief. saw Meg kneeling before their mother's easy chair with her face hidden. Weary Hannah slept on. and softly whispered. while Jo set the sickroom in order. "Mother's coming. and Meg is afraid to tell me. A breath of fresh air seemed to blow through the house. Laurence marched to and fro in the parlor. with that dreadful sense of powerlessness which comes to us in hours like those. "If life is often as hard as this. watching.CHAPTER EIGHTEEN said Hannah. I don't see how we ever shall get through it. heard a movement by the bed. She lay in that heavy stupor." added her sister despondently. The girls never forgot that night. Everything appeared to feel the hopeful change. Here the clock struck twelve. as she thought. a great grief at Washington. but staring into the fire with the thoughtful look which made his black eyes beautifully soft and clear. waiting. and anxious fears of delay in the storm. hurried to the bed. All day Jo and Meg hovered over her. and no one but the sisters saw the pale shadow which seemed to fall upon the little bed. or. and the once pretty. dear! Mother's coming!" Every one rejoiced but Beth." She was back at her post in an instant. looked at each other with brightening eyes. worst of all. But night came at last. An hour went by. whispering encouragingly. and something better than sunshine brightened the quiet rooms. only rousing now and then to mutter. All day she lay so. still no one came. It was a piteous sight. hoping. and all day the snow fell. The fever flush and the look of pain were gone. she kissed the damp forehead with her heart on her lips. lay down on the sofa at the bed's foot and fell fast asleep. well-kept hair scattered rough and tangled on the pillow. quite worn out. "Water!" with lips so parched they could hardly shape the word. looked at Beth. and both forgot themselves in watching Beth. "Goodby. Another hour. and every time the clock struck. or accidents by the way. "I wish I had no heart. "If God spares Beth. Laurie lay on the rug. doubt and danger. my Beth. still sitting on either side of the bed. and the hours dragged slowly by. and every time the girls met. the once rosy face so changed and vacant. March's countenance as she entered. The fires seemed to burn with unusual cheeriness. at which time he would return. for they fancied a change passed over her wan face. after a pause. The doctor had been in to say that some change. Beth's bird began to chirp again. "If god spares Beth. and Hannah "knocked up a couple of pies in case of company unexpected". for each hour brought help nearer. and the beloved little face looked so pale and peaceful in its utter repose that Jo felt no desire to weep or to lament. . The house was still as death. pretending to rest. would probably take place about midnight. and trusting in God and Mother. who stood at the window thinking how dreary the world looked in its winding sheet of snow." sighed Meg. Hannah started out of her sleep. Goodby!" As if awaked by the stir. and a half-blown rose was discovered on Amy's bush in the window. Hannah. and then brooded over the letter. their pale faces broke into smiles as they hugged one another. I never will complain again. felt her hands. and nothing happened except Laurie's quiet departure for the station. feeling that he would rather face a rebel battery than Mrs. when Jo told the good news. alike unconscious of hope and joy. the bitter wind raged. for no sleep came to them as they kept their watch. It was past two. Mr. and nothing but the wailing of the wind broke the deep hush. Leaning low over this dearest of her sisters.

" What they were to give. her skin's damp. "If Mother would only come now!" said Jo. when their long. held each other close. they found Beth lying.CHAPTER EIGHTEEN 128 listened at her lips. coming up with a white. and never had the world seemed so lovely as it did to the heavy eyes of Meg and Jo. my dears. as if just fallen asleep. sad vigil was done.. and breathing quietly.. as the winter night began to wane. half-opened rose. He was a homely man. "I thought this would hardly be ready to lay in Beth's hand tomorrow if she--went away from us. smiling to herself. sat down to rock to and fro. throwing her apron over her head. the dreadful pallor gone. she's come! She's come!" . but they thought his face quite heavenly when he smiled and said. a cry from Hannah. for both crept into the dark hall. she's sleepin' nat'ral. there was a sound of bells at the door below. and Mother's face. my goodness me!" Before the girls could believe the happy truth. with her cheek pillowed on her hand. When they went back to be kissed and cuddled by faithful Hannah. rejoicing with hearts too full for words. "Hark!" cried Jo. as she stood behind the curtain." said Meg. let her sleep. neither heard." said Meg. But it has blossomed in the night. "Yes. watching the dazzling sight. with a fatherly look at them. "It looks like a fairy world. and. as she used to do. the first thing she sees will be the little rose. starting to her feet. as they looked out in the early morning. and she breathes easy. under her breath. sitting on the stairs. Praise be given! Oh. and now I mean to put it in my vase here. Keep the house quiet. give her. and when she wakes. and then Laurie's voice saying in a joyful whisper. exclaiming. "Girls. so that when the darling wakes. I think the little girl will pull through this time. "The fever's turned." Never had the sun risen so beautifully. Yes. and then. "See. the doctor came to confirm it.

and revenged himself by being as mischievous as possible. and long. intending to cry over her hard fate. She took a fancy to Mademoiselle. the old lady felt it her duty to try and counteract. for Aunt March fell to telling long stories about her youth. She really did her best to make Amy happy. who could not get along without her. the bad effects of home freedom and indulgence. and who rather tyrannized over the old lady. she must do her lessons. But Aunt March had not this gift. upset his bread and milk to plague her when she had newly cleaned his cage. Amy's chief delight was an Indian cabinet. the old coachman was deaf. and she worried Amy very much with her rules and orders. on condition that she was never asked to change her religion. for the well-behaved little girl pleased her very much. which she usually did for an hour.CHAPTER NINETEEN 129 CHAPTER NINETEEN AMY'S WILL While these things were happening at home. but usually going to sleep before she had squeezed out more than a tear or two. for the old lady was very lame and seldom left her big chair. After dinner. for Aunt March hoarded like a magpie. she felt that she never could have got through that dreadful time. but Aunt March ordered her to change it. made Mop bark by pecking at him while Madam dozed. and taught her as she herself had been taught sixty years ago. full of queer drawers. but she meant to be kind. realized how much she was beloved and petted at home. and who lay on his back with all his legs in the air and a most idiotic expression of countenance when he wanted something to eat. and all the furniture had claw legs and much carving. She also allowed her to roam about the great house. giving and receiving friendship in the sweetest way. and Aunt March had a soft place in her old heart for her nephew's children. and sit still while the old lady slept. Her real name was Estelle. which were so unutterably dull that Amy was always ready to go to bed. for he soon felt that she did not admire him. and Esther the only one who ever took any notice of the young lady. which was a daily trial of every virtue she possessed. which was never dusted to suit. Then she must dust the room. can sympathize with children's little cares and joys. little . Aunt March never petted any one. She felt her exile deeply. and wheedled Aunt March till Amy was allowed to go out with him. She had to wash the cups every morning. The evenings were the worst of all. a fat. and polish up the old-fashioned spoons. The parrot alone was enough to drive her distracted. Some old people keep young at heart in spite of wrinkles and gray hairs. and what a trying job that was. Amy was having hard times at Aunt March's. dear me. Not a speck escaped Aunt March's eye. Finding the child more docile and amiable than her sister. and made her feel like a fly in the web of a very strict spider. when they walked and rode and had capital times. who had lived with'Madame'. and amused her very much with odd stories of her life in France. she did not approve of it. prosy talks. and old Esther. and for the first time in her life. So she took Amy by the hand. when Amy sat with her while she got up Madame's laces. but. Esther was a Frenchwoman. Then Polly had to be fed. Then patchwork or towels appeared. If it had not been for Laurie. The cook was bad-tempered. and the glasses till they shone. and can hide wise lessons under pleasant plays. Then she was allowed one hour for exercise or play. and Amy sewed with outward meekness and inward rebellion till dusk. as she dropped off over the first page. a process which carried dismay to Amy's soul. cross beast who snarled and yelped at her when she made his toilet. which was about a dozen times a day. He pulled her hair whenever she came near him. as far as possible. as she called her mistress. her prim ways. the maid. for many years. and a dozen trips upstairs and down to get things or deliver orders. when she was allowed to amuse herself as she liked till teatime. the lap dog combed. and she obeyed. Then she could not endure the dog. and didn't she enjoy it? Laurie came every day. and behaved in all respects like an reprehensible old bird. and examine the curious and pretty things stored away in the big wardrobes and the ancient chests. After these tiresome labors. she had to read aloud. make them feel at home. called her names before company. what mistakes she made. the fat silver teapot. though she didn't think it proper to confess it.

who in her loneliness felt the need of help of some sort. it would be well if you went apart each day to meditate and pray. . Madame confides in me. Procrastination is not agreeable. and in a box all by itself lay Aunt March's wedding ring. and felt much for the sisters in their anxiety." "If Mademoiselle was a Catholic. Esther. I should choose this if I might. the pearls her father gave her on her wedding day. I witnessed her will. and as such I should use it like a good catholic. some precious. but as that is not to be. and quite sincere in her advice. especially the jewel cases." "You seem to take a great deal of comfort in your prayers. "It would be excellent and charming. To examine and arrange these things gave Amy great satisfaction. "Is it meant to use as you use the string of good-smelling wooden beads hanging over your glass?" asked Amy. I know it. "Which would Mademoiselle choose if she had her will?" asked Esther. but when she sleeps go you and sit alone a while to think good thoughts. and I'm fond of necklaces. yes." said Esther." Esther was truly pious. Say nothing to Madame. as did the good mistress whom I served before Madame. taking a last look at the diamonds. "I. the baby bracelets her one little daughter had worn. "I wish I knew where all these pretty things would go when Aunt March dies. instead of wearing it as a vain bijou. and it is to be so. and I shall gladly arrange the little dressing room for you if you like it.CHAPTER NINETEEN 130 pigeonholes. in which were kept all sorts of ornaments. and always come down looking quiet and satisfied. some merely curious. and secret places. all more or less antique. covet that. hoping it would do her good. She had a little chapel. they are so becoming. "How nice! But I wish she'd let us have them now. her lover's diamonds. the jet mourning rings and pins. looking with great admiration at a string of gold and ebony beads from which hung a heavy cross of the same. "To you and your sisters. There was the garnet set which Aunt March wore when she came out. "I like the diamonds best. the queer lockets. and pray the dear God preserve your sister. but put carefully away like the most precious jewel of them all. but there is no necklace among them." replied Amy. to pray with. for she had an affectionate heart. Amy liked the idea. Uncle March's big watch. in which on velvet cushions reposed the ornaments which had adorned a belle forty years ago. too small now for her fat finger." whispered Esther smiling. now that Beth was not there to remind her of it. and found that she was apt to forget her little book. I wish I could. and in it found solacement for much trouble. as she slowly replaced the shining rosary and shut the jewel cases one by one. who always sat near to watch over and lock up the valuables." she said. with portraits of dead friends and weeping willows made of hair inside. and gave her leave to arrange the light closet next her room. but not as a necklace." "Would it be right for me to do so too?" asked Amy." observed Amy. she would find true comfort. Ah. eyeing the handsome thing wistfully. It would be pleasing to the saints if one used so fine a rosary as this. too. no! To me it is a rosary. "Truly. with the red seal so many childish hands had played with.

making stately curtsies. and sweeping her train about with a rustle which delighted her ears. "That bird is the trial of my life. During one of her play hours she wrote out the important document as well as she could. while her tender thoughts of her own were busy at her heart. In this room there was a wardrobe full of old-fashioned costumes with which Esther allowed her to play. "Yesterday." "Do you think so? Oh. Amy felt relieved and laid it by to show Laurie. for she had on highheeled shoes. but. being appropriate. you fright! Hold your tongue! Kiss me." And Amy tried on the blue ring with a delighted face and a firm resolve to earn it. very good. however. and just now her burden seemed very heavy. but having been taught where to look. She tried to forget herself. Esther fitted up the closet with a little table. and over it a picture taken from one of the shut-up rooms. I do like Aunt March after all. Esther had given her a rosary of black beads with a silver cross. while Laurie seated himself astride a chair. and praying the dear God to preserve her sister. if I can only have that lovely ring! It's ever so much prettier than Kitty Bryant's. and be satisfied with doing right. and parade up and down before the long mirror. nor care if she did. for being left alone outside the safe home nest. then I want to consult you about a very serious matter. It cost her a pang even to think of giving up the little treasures which in her eyes were as precious as the old lady's jewels. she decided to make her will. removing the pink mountain from her head. feeling doubtful as to its fitness for Protestant prayers. dear! Ha! Ha!" Having with difficulty restrained an explosion of merriment. But. it was a comical sight to see her mince along in her gay suit. and I have a fancy that the little turquoise ring will be given to you when you go. "Sit down and rest while I put these things away. and. and Amy's beauty-loving eyes were never tired of looking up at the sweet face of the Divine Mother. whose fatherly love most closely surrounds His little children. she borrowed it. contrasting oddly with her blue brocade dress and yellow quilted petticoat. lest it should offend her majesty. The little girl was very sincere in all this. she went upstairs to amuse herself in one of the large chambers.CHAPTER NINETEEN 131 "It is too soon yet for the young ladies to wear these things. I'll be a lamb. when she had shown her splendor and driven Polly into a corner. Polly began to squall and flap . but Amy hung it up and did not use it. with some help from Esther as to certain legal terms. as Laurie told Jo afterward." she continued. As it was a rainy day. flirting her fan and tossing her head. From that day she was a model of obedience. Amy was a young pilgrim. she did her best to find the way and walk in it confidingly." said Amy. and the old lady complacently admired the success of her training. She thought it was of no great value. with Polly sidling and bridling just behind her. well knowing that Madame would never know it. imitating her as well as he could. and occasionally stopping to laugh or exclaim. whom she wanted as a second witness. as Aunt March had done. On the table she laid her little testament and hymnbook. her possessions might be justly and generously divided. to keep cheerful. on which she wore a great pink turban. and came every day to 'sit alone' thinking good thoughts. and it was her favorite amusement to array herself in the faded brocades. The first one who is affianced will have the pearls. kept a vase always full of the best flowers Laurie brought her. for Madame approves your good behavior and charming manners. placed a footstool before it. when Aunt was asleep and I was trying to be as still as a mouse. though no one saw or praised her for it. Madame has said it. she felt the need of some kind hand to hold by so sorely that she instinctively turned to the strong and tender Friend. and when the good-natured Frenchwoman had signed her name. so that if she did fall ill and die. It was. So busy was she on this day that she did not hear Laurie's ring nor see his face peeping in at her as she gravely promenaded to and fro. a very valuable copy of one of the famous pictures of the world. "Ain't we fine? Get along. Laurie tapped and was graciously received. In her first effort at being very. She missed her mother's help to understand and rule herself. and took Polly with her for company. She was obliged to walk carefully.

in his funny way. Laurence I leave my purple box with a looking glass in the cover which will be nice for his pens and remind him of the departed girl who thanks him for his favors to her family. pecking at Laurie's toes. and my medal. and scrambled up on Aunt's chair. my best pictures. so I went to let him out. also my bronze inkstand--she lost the cover--and my most precious plaster rabbit. To our venerable benefactor Mr. To Jo I leave my breastpin. and away ran Polly. "I'd wring your neck if you were mine. shaking his fist at the bird. "I want you to read that. . Also in return for his great kindness in the hour of affliction any one of my artistic works he likes. To my dear sister Margaret. and works of art." Laurie bit his lips. you old torment. yawning. "Allyluyer! bless your buttons. Amy Curtis March. being in my sane mind.CHAPTER NINETEEN 132 about in his cage. to wit:--namely To my father. saying.' I couldn't help laughing. shutting the wardrobe and taking a piece of paper out of her pocket. and my sketch of her as a memorial of her 'little girl'. and it ran under the bookcase. the one mended with sealing wax. including frames. my clay model of a horse though he did say it hadn't any neck. and turning a little from the pensive speaker." "Did the spider accept the old fellow's invitation?" asked Laurie. except the blue apron with pockets--also my likeness. and found a big spider there. "Yes. out it came. with praiseworthy gravity. To my mother. I wish my favorite playmate Kitty Bryant to have the blue silk apron and my gold-bead ring with a kiss. all my clothes. lor!" cried the parrot. with a cock of his eye." said Amy. maps." cried Laurie. and tell me if it is legal and right. for life is uncertain and I don't want any ill feeling over my tomb. I felt I ought to do it. my linen collars and my new slippers if she can wear them being thin when she gets well. Polly marched straight after it. calling out. go give and bequeethe all my earthly property--viz. frightened to death. to do what he likes with. especially Beth. stooped down and peeped under the bookcase. also my green box with the doves on it. which made Poll swear. considering the spelling: MY LAST WILL AND TESTIMENT I. 'Catch her! Catch her! Catch her!' as I chased the spider. To Beth (if she lives after me) I give my dolls and the little bureau. I poked it out. my dear. To my friend and neighbor Theodore Laurence I bequeethe my paper mashay portfolio. please. I give my turkquoise ring (if I get it). sketches. Also my $100. with much love. Noter Dame is the best. my fan. who put his head on one side and gravely croaked. 'Come out and take a walk. because I am sorry I burned up her story. dear!" "Now I'm ready. read the following document. and Aunt woke up and scolded us both. also my piece of real lace for her neck." "That's a lie! Oh. And I herewith also leave her my regret that I ever made fun of old Joanna.

"What about Beth?" "I'm sorry I spoke. prayed for Beth. that I wish all my curls cut off. Amy Curtis March Witnesses: Estelle Valnor. as Amy laid a bit of red tape. I'll tell you. and a standish before him. and Amy explained that he was to rewrite it in ink and seal it up for her properly. and sitting in the twilight. Anni Domino 1861. When he had gone. "What put it into your head? Did anyone tell you about Beth's giving away her things?" asked Laurie soberly. dear. And now having disposed of my most valuable property I hope all will be satisfied and not blame the dead. . "Is there really any danger about Beth?" "I'm afraid there is. but she only said. but I want it done though it will spoil my looks. The last name was written in pencil. who would love it for her sake. Then he amused her for an hour. sometimes?" "Yes. and her best love to Grandpa. and left locks of hair to the rest of us. but we must hope for the best. Amy's face was full of trouble. I forgot it." "Put one in mine then. I forgive everyone. She was sorry she had so little to give. and was much interested in all her trials. so don't cry.CHAPTER NINETEEN 133 To Hannah I give the bandbox she wanted and all the patchwork I leave hoping she 'will remember me. with streaming tears and an aching heart. Amy held him back to whisper with trembling lips." Laurie was signing and sealing as he spoke. they call them. 'codicils'. feeling that a million turquoise rings would not console her for the loss of her gentle little sister. and the poor old doll to Jo. she went to her little chapel. and given round to my friends. when it you see'. smiling at Amy's last and greatest sacrifice. "Don't people put sort of postscripts to their wills. But when he came to go. a taper. She felt so ill one day that she told Jo she wanted to give her piano to Meg. and did not look up till a great tear dropped on the paper. She never thought of a will. She explained and then asked anxiously. but as I did." Laurie added it. Amen. To this will and testiment I set my hand and seal on this 20th day of Nov. and trust we may all meet when the trump shall sound." And Laurie put his arm about her with a brotherly gesture which was very comforting. her cats to you. with sealing wax. Theodore Laurence.

and brood over her child. when things vex or grieve us. feeling that the hungry longing was satisfied at last. and when she returned. After a while. and never even thought of the turquoise ring. like a miser over some recovered treasure. that she behaved 'like a capital little woman'. but rested in the big chair. for all the world seemed abroad to welcome the first snow. but it is my private opinion that Amy was the happiest of all." "Yes. Laurie meanwhile posted off to comfort Amy. receiving consolation and compensation in the shape of approving smiles and fond caresses. dear. Too weak to wonder at anything. merely saying that the house was full of genuine happiness. when the old lady heartily agreed in Laurie's opinion. and a Sabbath stillness reigned through the house. There are a good many hard times in this life of ours. worn out with fatigue. Hannah had 'dished up' an astonishing breakfast for the traveler. touch. Brooke's promise to stay and nurse him. the delays which the storm occasioned on the homeward journey. he was stretched out with both arms under his head. but very hard to describe. and cold. and the unspeakable comfort Laurie's hopeful face had given her when she arrived. and when I go home I mean to have a corner in the big closet to put my books and the copy of that picture which I've tried to make. Meg and Jo closed their weary eyes. and I'm not sure that he would. and Meg and Jo fed their mother like dutiful young storks. She would very gladly have gone out to enjoy the bright wintry weather. They were alone together in the chapel. restrained her impatience to see her mother. while nodding Hannah mounted guard at the door. and never once said "I told you so". and the girls waited upon their mother. She was a long time about it. for when Beth woke from that long.CHAPTER TWENTY 134 CHAPTER TWENTY CONFIDENTIAL I don't think I have any words in which to tell the meeting of the mother and daughters. when she sat in her mother's lap and told her trials. March would not leave Beth's side. but we can always bear them if we ask help in the right way. while Aunt March had pulled down the curtains and sat doing nothing in an unusual fit of benignity. for he called her a good girl. so I will leave it to the imagination of my readers. the first objects on which her eyes fell were the little rose and Mother's face. while they listened to her whispered account of Father's state. spent with watching. like storm-beaten boats safe at anchor in a quiet harbor. and I love it very much. dear". in his most affable tone. Mother. healing sleep. it's too beautiful for me to draw. I like to think He was a little child once. they began to think he was not going to wake up till night. "It is an excellent plan to have some place where we can go to be quiet. for she would not unclasp the thin hand which clung to hers even in sleep. and the lovely picture with its garland of evergreen. to which her mother did not object when its purpose was explained to her. had he not been effectually roused by Amy's cry of joy at sight of her mother. she only smiled and nestled close in the loving arms about her. and lay at rest. She dried her tears quickly. Such hours are beautiful to live. and told his story so well that Aunt March actually 'sniffed' herself. for everyone slept. There probably were a good many happy little girls in and about the city that day. Then she slept again. I think my little girl is learning this. she persuaded him to rest on the sofa. anxiety. waking often to look at. Mrs. and begged her to "come and take a walk. while she wrote a note to her mother. Even Polly seemed impressed. Mr. The woman's face is not good. but discovering that Laurie was dropping with sleep in spite of manful efforts to conceal the fact. sound asleep. blessed her buttons. finding it impossible to vent her excitement in any other way." looking from the dusty rosary to the well-worn little book. for then I don't seem so . What a strange yet pleasant day that was. I like it very much. "On the contrary. Amy came out so strong on this occasion that I think the good thoughts in the little chapel really began to bear fruit. So quiet and reposeful within. With a blissful sense of burdens lifted off. and that Meg's tender hope was realized. So brilliant and gay without. but the baby is done better.

I think you will prosper. Jo slipped upstairs into Beth's room. Mother. but I think you're rather too young for such ornaments. isn't it a dreadful state of things?" . Wear your ring. "No. and put it on my finger." "Beth is asleep. and that's the reason everyone loves her and feels so bad at the thoughts of losing her. so I'm going to try hard to cure it. People wouldn't feel so bad about me if I was sick. she added gravely. "I wanted to speak to you about this. it's about her. and said I was a credit to her. Now I must go back to Beth. holding out her hand. but I have more faith in the corner of the big closet. "Last summer Meg left a pair of gloves over at the Laurences' and only one was returned. with a worried gesture and an undecided look. She gave that funny guard to keep the turquoise on. Mrs. so I'm going to try and be like Beth all I can. and though it's a little thing. and tell me all about it." 135 As Amy pointed to the smiling Christ child on his Mother's knee. We forgot about it. deary?" asked Mrs. March saw something on the lifted hand that made her smile. and finding her mother in her usual place. That Moffat hasn't been here. and that helps me. "I want to tell you something. "What is it. "I've thought a great deal lately about my 'bundle of naughties'. and I don't deserve to have them. and being selfish is the largest one in it. Now. it fidgets me. with the band of sky-blue stones on the forefinger. settling herself on the floor at her mother's feet. but I want to wear it as the girl in the story wore her bracelet. to remind me of something. I should have shut the door in his face if he had. "I'll try not to be vain. but I'd like to be loved and missed by a great many friends. looking at the plump little hand. She said nothing. and we will soon have you home again." That evening while Meg was writing to her father to report the traveler's safe arrival." "About Meg?" "How quickly you guessed! Yes. and she'd like to keep me always. Keep up your heart. I guess I should do better. Speak low. May we try this way?" "Yes. "I don't think I like it only because it's so pretty. dear. I hope?" asked Mrs." Amy looked so earnest and sincere about it that her mother stopped laughing. for the sincere wish to be good is half the battle. stood a minute twisting her fingers in her hair. with a face which invited confidence." said Amy. laughing. and the quaint guard formed of two tiny golden hands clasped together. Amy. but Amy understood the look. and do your best. and listened respectfully to the little plan. she was so young and he so poor. little daughter. March rather sharply. as it's too big. till Teddy told me that Mr." said Mrs. March.CHAPTER TWENTY far away. I'd like to wear them Mother. can I?" "They are very pretty. "No. Aunt gave me the ring today. Brooke owned that he liked Meg but didn't dare say so. March. I'm apt to forget my resolutions. if I can. and after a minute's pause." said Jo. She called me to her and kissed me. but I forgot it. but if I had something always about me to remind me. to remind me not to be selfish." "Do you mean Aunt March?" asked her mother. Beth isn't selfish.

and I will tell you how it happened. and pinched me when I spoke of it. for Meg is only seventeen and it will be some years before John can make a home for her. dear! I know you'll take his part. I can judge better of her feelings toward him. "In novels. March smile. don't get angry about it. and the right to make her love him if he could. tender . but she said gravely. before twenty. and I shall break my heart.CHAPTER TWENTY "Do you think Meg cares for him?" asked Mrs. fainting away. Now Meg does not do anything of the sort. March sighed. Meg will be absorbed and no good to me any more. I confide in you and don't wish you to say anything to Meg yet. but all be happy together as we always have been. carry her off." This odd arrangement made Mrs. and then it will be all up with her. if she wants to. and you won't send him away. with an anxious look. He only wanted our leave to love her and work for her. nor be married. and likes brown eyes. the girls show it by starting and blushing. I see it all! They'll go lovering around the house. He is a truly excellent young man. for he told us he loved her." "Of course not. and keep her safe in the family. and doesn't think John an ugly name. "Jo. 136 "Mercy me! I don't know anything about love and such nonsense!" cried Jo. and only blushes a little bit when Teddy jokes about lovers. and I have no fear of her treating him unkindly. She eats and drinks and sleeps like a sensible creature. but I do want to keep my girls as long as I can. but he doesn't mind me as he ought. but would earn a comfortable home before he asked her to marry him." "Oh. and not tell Meg a word of it. I just wish I could marry Meg myself. Your father and I have agreed that she shall not bind herself in any way." "I did wrong to sigh. He was perfectly open and honorable about Meg. She read the short reports he sent more than she did your letters. it will melt like butter in the sun if anyone looks sentimentlly at her. and now it's worse than I imagined. then there wouldn't be any bother. Brooke. When John comes back. and make a hole in the family. I forbid him to do it. John went with me at Mr. and she'll go and fall in love. She's got such a soft heart. Let's send him about his business. but let Meg marry him. Oh. they can wait. It is natural and right you should all go to homes of your own in time. "You don't like it. Mother? I'm glad of it." "She'll see those handsome eyes that she talks about. and cozy times together." "Then you fancy that Meg is not interested in John?" "Who?" cried Jo." Jo leaned her chin on her knees in a disconsolate attitude and shook her fist at the reprehensible John. she looks straight in my face when I talk about that man. I call him 'John' now. "My dear. If she and John love one another. March. "Mr. My pretty. He's been good to Father. It would be idiotic! I knew there was mischief brewing. and I am sorry that this happened so soon. and test the love by doing so. growing thin. She is conscientious. We fell into the way of doing so at the hospital. and was so devoted to poor Father that we couldn't help getting fond of him. Jo. I felt it. and there's an end of peace and fun. and acting like fools." And Jo pulled her hair again with a wrathful tweak. staring. dear me! Why weren't we all boys. Laurence's request. and everything will be abominably uncomfortable. and he likes it. Mean thing! To go petting Papa and helping you. just to wheedle you into liking him. and I see them together. with a funny mixture of interest and contempt. but I will not consent to Meg's engaging herself so young. and we could not refuse to listen to him. Mrs. and Jo looked up with an air of relief. and we shall have to dodge. Brooke will scratch up a fortune somehow.

and beautifully written. "I'm glad of that. and enjoy your good fortune. I am content to see Meg begin humbly. smiling." said Mrs.. and some privations give sweetness to the few pleasures. March. Please add that I send my love to John." . with her innocent eyes looking down into her mother's. dear." 137 "Hadn't you rather have her marry a rich man?" asked Jo. Jo. and tall. when a pull here and a snip there would straighten it out. as her mother's voice faltered a little over the last words. Jo. I won't. with a mixture of satisfaction and regret. but I know. for I'd planned to have her marry Teddy by-and-by and sit in the lap of luxury all her days. as she crept into the room with the finished letter in her hand. unfolding herself like an animated puzzle. and quite agree. Mother. but let time and their own hearts mate your friends. We can't meddle safely in such matters. she will be rich in the possession of a good man's heart. I should like to know that John was firmly established in some good business. lest it spoil our friendship. and I say it's a pity my plan is spoiled. but Jo broke in. Come. But buds will be roses. Mother. "Money is a good and useful thing. The kiss her mother gave her was a very tender one. I wish wearing flatirons on our heads would keep us from growing up. Good night. "He is younger than she." replied Mrs. and as she went away. and altogether too much of a weathercock just now for anyone to depend on. by experience. where the daily bread is earned. nor be tempted by too much. how much genuine happiness can be had in a plain little house. "Quite right. If rank and money come with love and virtue. a fashionable position." began Mrs. he's old for his age. I'm not ambitious for a splendid fortune. looking up with a brighter face. and that is better than a fortune. "Only one of my stupid speeches. Don't make plans. or a great name for my girls. more's the pity!" "What's that about flatirons and cats?" asked Meg. for if I am not mistaken. It is so inexpressibly comfortable to have you here. I should accept them gratefully. as she glanced over the letter and gave it back. March said. and loves us all. Then he's rich and generous and good. you know. and we are very fond of him." said Jo. "She does not love John yet." "Well. but I hate to see things going all crisscross and getting snarled up.. March. into our heads. and had better not get 'romantic rubbish' as you call it. returning the look with a keen one." "I'm afraid Laurie is hardly grown-up enough for Meg. and kittens cats. he has been like a son to us. but I'm disappointed about Meg. and can be quite grown-up in his manners if he likes. Peggy. he is so lonely.CHAPTER TWENTY hearted girl! I hope things will go happily with her. which gave him an income large enough to keep free from debt and make Meg comfortable. also. Mrs. March." "I understand. "Do you call him 'John'?" asked Meg. but will soon learn to. "Yes. Wouldn't it be nice?" asked Jo." was Meg's answer. "Only a little. I'm going to bed. and I hope my girls will never feel the need of it too bitterly.

that he might surprise the truth from her. blushed when looked at. for the mischief-loving lad no sooner suspected a mystery than he set himself to find it out. "It's all a mistake. Laurie was her only refuge. for he was an incorrigible tease. as she distributed the contents of the little post office. for she had learned that the best way to manage Jo was by the law of contraries. ridiculed. but all of a sudden a change seemed to come over her. by dint of perseverance. lies awake. she rather dreaded him just then. and sat over her sewing. Meg. Meg observed it. and Jo's she silenced by begging to be let alone. March and Jo were deep in their own affairs. This left Jo to her own devices. Oh. "She feels it in the air--love. he satisfied himself that it concerned Meg and Mr. she was quite unlike herself. Amy being gone. Brooke. and amuse herself after her long confinement. for a day or two. as you do. however violent. and she found it hard not to look mysterious and important. bewildered. be kind and patient. threatened. he set his wits to work to devise some proper retaliation for the slight. bribed." said Jo next day. and mopes in corners. I caught her singing that song he gave her. He wheedled. all sealed up. and scolded. and bade her rest. and she feared he would coax the secret from her. and once she said 'John'. looking ready for any measures. She started when spoken to.CHAPTER TWENTY 138 CHAPTER TWENTY -ONE LAURIE MAKES MISCHIEF. he didn't send it. troubled look on her face. She was quite right. and Jo assumed a patronizing air. Whatever shall we do?" said Jo. when a sound from Meg made them look up to see her staring at her note with a frightened face. . I mean--and she's going very fast. and led Jo a trying life of it. for Mrs. and at last. for the secret rather weighed upon her. "Nothing but wait. and Father's coming will settle everything. She's got most of the symptoms--is twittery and cross. therefore. running to her. and then turned as red as a poppy. "My child. She was rather surprised. Let her alone. "Here's a note to you. was very quiet. exercise. Mrs. and much as she enjoyed his society. AND JO MAKES PEACE Jo's face was a study next day. "Me! I've done nothing! What's she talking about?" cried Jo. declared he knew." replied her mother. so she felt sure of being told everything if she did not ask. with a timid. what is it?" cried her mother. Jo. crying as if her heart were quite broken. while Jo tried to take the paper which had done the mischief. which decidedly aggravated Meg. Meg meanwhile had apparently forgotten the matter and was absorbed in preparations for her father's return. how could you do it?" and Meg hid her face in her hands. To her mother's inquiries she answered that she was quite well. and. who in turn assumed an air of dignified reserve and devoted herself to her mother. How odd! Teddy never seals mine. when the silence remained unbroken. then that he didn't care. but did not trouble herself to make inquiries. doesn't eat. affected indifference. March had taken her place as nurse. Feeling indignant that he was not taken into his tutor's confidence.

you will make me happy. but I think they would consent if they knew that we adored one another. but nothing more. "My Dearest Margaret. lest she should fly off.CHAPTER TWENTY 139 Meg's mild eyes kindled with anger as she pulled a crumpled note from her pocket and threw it at Jo." commanded Mrs. Mother. and don't know anything about it. Mr. "I can no longer restrain my passion." began Meg. I felt like the girls in books. Laurence will help me to some good place. then I remembered how you liked Mr." she added. "I was worried at first and meant to tell you. March. "I only said I was too young to do anything about it yet. with a laugh." "On my word. "Yes. which was written in a peculiar hand.. "If I had taken part in it I'd have done it better than this." And Jo made for the door again. you must clear yourself first. and must know my fate before I return. Brooke wouldn't write such stuff as that. But her mother held her back. I'm so silly that I liked to think no one knew. You have played so many pranks that I am afraid you have had a hand in this. as true as I live!" said Jo. I can't rest till I get hold of him. March quickly. so mean. and would be his friend. saying. and that bad boy helped you. exclaiming. "You are almost . you didn't answer it?" cried Mrs. I should think you'd have known Mr." faltered Meg. "Here's a scrape! Do let me bring that wicked boy over to explain and be lectured. "Your devoted John. "I received the first letter from Laurie. my sweet girl. and he must speak to father. I was very grateful for his kindness. so I thought you wouldn't mind if I kept my little secret for a few days. I haven't! I never saw that note before. March. and have written a sensible note. as if well pleased. I'll give him a hearty scolding and bring him over to beg pardon." Mrs. for a long while. I'm paid for my silliness now. tell me the whole story." "Oh. and then. for it is worse than I thought. who didn't look as if he knew anything about it. saying reproachfully. "Oh. who have such things to do. "You wrote it. "Stop. for she and her mother were reading the note. that I didn't wish to have secrets from you. Forgive me. the little villain! That's the way he meant to pay me for keeping my word to Mother. How could you be so rude. Margaret. but to send one word of hope through Laurie to. Mother. burning to execute immediate justice. yet keeping hold of Jo." cried Jo. I never can look him in the face again." "What did you say to him?" asked Mrs. "It's like his writing. and while I was deciding what to say. Brooke. scornfully tossing down the paper. without looking up. overcome with shame. and Jo clapped her hands. Jo.. I did!" and Meg hid her face again. I dare not tell your parents yet. sitting down by Meg. I implore you to say nothing to your family yet. March smiled. comparing it with the note in her hand. and cruel to us both?" Jo hardly heard her. with a look she seldom wore. Meg. so earnestly that they believed her. "Hush! Let me handle this.

Jo." replied Meg. Meg pardoned him." Away ran Jo. Jo. and put a stop to such pranks at once. but he knew the minute he saw Mrs. caught up the two notes. Meg received his humble apology. Teddy wrote both. "It was altogether abominable. as he spoke in his irresistibly persuasive tone. Meg. child! Mother told me. Laurie. Mrs. I'll comfort Meg while you go and get Laurie. "I'll never tell him to my dying day." "That will do. when she heard him declare that he would atone for his sins by all sorts of penances. I don't want to have anything to do with lovers for a long while. and was much comforted by the assurance that Brooke knew nothing of the joke. "If John doesn't know anything about this nonsense.CHAPTER TWENTY equal to Caroline Percy. and stood twirling his hat with a guilty air which convicted him at once. and Mrs. dear. trying to hide her maidenly confusion under a gravely reproachful air. It's very kind and respectful." said Meg warningly. so you'll forgive me. "I'll try. having some fear that the prisoner might bolt. "I don't believe Brooke ever saw either of these letters. What did he say to that?" 140 "He writes in a different way entirely. and keeps yours to crow over me with because I wouldn't tell him my secret. Brooke's real feelings. March soothed her by promises of entire silence and great discretion for the future. and I'll do anything to show how out-and-out sorry I am. Meg. "Bless you. The instant Laurie's step was heard in the hall. calling Laurie names. Jo was dismissed. March gently told Meg Mr. March's grave face relaxed. that it was impossible to frown upon him in spite of his scandalous behavior. but you will. said decidedly. and I don't deserve to be spoken to for a month. but it was a very ungentlemanly thing to do. but chose to march up and down the hall like a sentinel. wild horses shan't drag it out of me. telling me that he never sent any love letter at all. Jo had not told him why he was wanted. looking the image of despair. but what happened during that interview the girls never knew. . looking very much ashamed of himself." "Don't have any secrets." he added. I won't be deceived and plagued and made a fool of. and Jo tramped about the room. Meg fled into the study. though. Jo. and abase himself like a worm before the injured damsel. won't you?" And Laurie folded his hands together with such and imploring gesture. March's face. March received the culprit alone. All of a sudden she stopped. The sound of voices in the parlor rose and fell for half an hour. as I should have done. Laurie was standing by their mother with such a penitent face that Jo forgave him on the spot. and is very sorry that my roguish sister. It's a shame!" Seeing Meg's usually gentle temper was roused and her pride hurt by this mischievous joke. should take liberties with our names. don't tell him. I shall sift the matter to the bottom. I didn't think you could be so sly and malicious. When they were called in. perhaps never. and Mrs. but think how dreadful for me!" Meg leaned against her mother. but did not think it wise to betray the fact. and make Jo and Laurie hold their tongues. and after looking at them closely. "Now. fearing he wouldn't come. who was a pattern of prudence! Tell on." answered Meg petulantly. or will you keep yourself quite free for the present?" "I've been so scared and worried. what are your own? Do you love him enough to wait till he can make a home for you. Tell it to Mother and keep out of trouble. and Mrs. in spite of her efforts to keep sober.

Why were you treated so?" . Laurence in?" asked Jo. "That's nothing. she felt lonely and longed for Teddy. "Pooh! You're a girl. and armed with a book to return. and turned his back on her till the others were done with him. and when Meg and her mother went upstairs. Miss. Laurie. she wished she had been more forgiving. and going artistically down upon her knees. and it's fun. when he made her a low bow and walked off without a word." "I've been shaken. Jo immediately knocked again. Laurie looked at her once or twice. said meekly. went over to the big house. "Yes." "Why not? Is he ill?" "La. and knocked smartly on the door of Laurie's little study." was the cavalier reply to her petition. no Miss. and you don't mind. The door flew open. "Thank you. who was coming downstairs. "Please forgive me for being so cross. I don't know what's to become of the dinner. Jo.. and he won't answer." "Where is Laurie?" "Shut up in his room. of a housemaid. so I dursn't go nigh him. and in she bounced before Laurie could recover from his surprise. she yielded to the impulse. but I'll allow no man to shake me!" "I don't think anyone would care to try it." said Jo soothingly.. and don't be a goose. I came to make it up. Get up. Seeing that he really was out of temper. and succeeding only in primming up her face into an expression of entire disapprobation." "I'll go and see what the matter is. I'm not afraid of either of them. I often shake you. he felt injured." And the injured youth finished his sentence by an energetic gesture of the right arm.CHAPTER TWENTY 141 Jo stood aloof. "Stop that. or I'll open the door and make you!" called out the young gentleman in a threatening tone. "Is Mr. who knew how to manage him. As soon as he had gone. if you looked as much like a thundercloud as you do now. but as she showed no sign of relenting. which vexes the old gentleman. After resisting for some time. and there's no one to eat it. trying to harden her heart against him." "It's all right. "Who did it?" demanded Jo. meanwhile. I will. though I've been a-tapping. If it had been anyone else I'd have. and I won't bear it!" growled Laurie indignantly. who is in one of his tantrums about something. but I don't believe he's seeable just yet." Up went Jo. Could I ask what's the matter? You don't look exactly easy in your mind. but he's had a scene with Mr. and can't go away till I have. "Grandfather. assumed a contrite expression. for it's ready. Jo.

but I won't do it again." "He ought to trust me." "He didn't know that. so go down and make up." "What pepper pots you are!" sighed Jo. he would have the truth. but he's sorry. I'll go to Washington and see Brooke. "If I was a boy. I was sorry about Meg." "Don't preach." "What fun you'd have! I wish I could run off too. As I couldn't. but they fell on the old house opposite." "Bless you! He won't do that." "I won't go down till he does. Her eyes kindled as they turned wistfully toward the window. and believe me when I say I can't tell him what the fuss's about. It's no use. but as I'm a miserable girl. and trot off at once. but you ought not to go and worry him. and don't need anyone's apron string to hold on by. and I'll enjoy myself after the troubles. we'd run away together. "Come on. then! Why not? You go and surprise your father." . and when Grandpa misses me he'll come round fast enough." "Hanged if I do! I'm not going to be lectured and pummelled by everyone. when I wasn't in the wrong.CHAPTER TWENTY 142 "Just because I wouldn't say what your mother wanted me for. I'd have told my part of the scrape. Teddy. I'll help you. It's gay there. liberty and fun. and I'll explain what I can. and she shook her head with sorrowful decision. We'll leave a letter saying we are all right. and nothing but the truth. it just suited her. and have a capital time. Let's do it. I held my tongue. It will do you good. and I'll stir up old Brooke. forgetting her part of mentor in lively visions of martial life at the capital. Teddy." "I dare say. it's a crazy plan. It would be a glorious joke. I'd promised not to tell. just for a bit of a frolic. and no harm. if I could without bringing Meg in. I've got money enough. I'll slip off and take a journey somewhere. "How do you mean to settle this affair?" "Well." "It wasn't nice. he's got to learn that I'm able to take care of myself. You can't stay here. the whole truth." "Couldn't you satisfy your grandpa in any other way?" "No. Let it pass. as you go to your father. be sensible." For a moment Jo looked as if she would agree. so what's the use of being melodramatic?" "I don't intend to stay here long. for fear I should forget myself. anyway. for wild as the plan was." "Now. and not act as if I was a baby. Jo. and of course I wasn't going to break my word. and thoughts of her father blended temptingly with the novel charms of camps and hospitals. longed for change. he ought to beg pardon. Then I bolted. Jo. and bore the scolding till the old gentleman collared me. I know. I must be proper and stop at home. She was tired of care and confinement." said Jo. Don't tempt me. and begged pardon like a man.

" began Laurie. and all promised not to say a word to anyone. will you give up running away?" asked Jo seriously. hoping to propitiate him by accepting a second dose of Boswell's Johnson. Sir." "Hang the Rambler! Come down and give me your word that this harum-scarum boy of mine hasn't done . Laurence looked so alarming and spoke so sharply that Jo would have gladly run away. Laurence's gruff voice sounded gruffer than ever. Laurence seemed to suspect that something was brewing in her mind. but I thought you had more spirit. but we forgave him. Sir. as she walked away. he faced round on her." began Laurie insinuatingly. but someone else. asked pardon. "Come in!" and Mr. who wished to make up. but felt that his outraged dignity must be appeased first. I like old Sam so well.CHAPTER TWENTY 143 "That's the fun of it. but she was perched aloft on the steps. I can the old one. "Bad boy." "He did wrong. "What has that boy been about? Don't try to shield him. so she had to stay and brave it out." returned Jo. leaving Laurie bent over a railroad map with his head propped up on both hands. Mother forbade it. don't go making me add to mine. The shaggy eyebrows unbent a little as he rolled the steps toward the shelf where the Johnsonian literature was placed." "I know Meg would wet-blanket such a proposal. and be punished. It was partly my fault." muttered Jo. We don't keep silence to shield him. but you won't do it. speaking so abruptly that Rasselas tumbled face downward on the floor. not to hear things that make me skip to think of. as she entered. and it will make more trouble if you interfere. "'Prunes and prisms' are my doom. I know he has been in mischief by the way he acted when he came home. but it's all right now. but trying not to show it." began Jo reluctantly. Laurie has confessed. come to return a book. and talk about the Rambler or something pleasant. Mr. and I may as well make up my mind to it." answered Laurie. beg pardon." she said blandly. He shall not shelter himself behind a promise from you softhearted girls. as Jo tapped at his door. and been punished quite enough. "Yes. "That won't do. If he's done anything amiss. So let's forget it. a lion in the path. covering her ears. "Want any more?" asked the old gentleman. If I get your grandpa to apologize for the shaking. if she could. "Hold your tongue!" cried Jo. I think I'll try the second volume. looking grim and vexed. Jo skipped up." Mr. please. who had got a willful fit on him and was possessed to break out of bounds in some way. I cannot tell. for after taking several brisk turns about the room. I can't get a word from him. affected to be searching for her book. Please don't. I won't be kept in the dark. I came here to moralize. and sitting on the top step. as he had recommended that lively work. "If I can manage the young one. but was really wondering how best to introduce the dangerous object of her visit. and when I threatened to shake the truth out of him he bolted upstairs and locked himself into his room. Out with it. Jo. "Indeed. "Yes. be quiet! Sit down and think of your own sins. and he stood at the foot. he shall confess. "It's only me.

though she quaked a little after her bold speech. and smoothing the frown from his brow with an air of relief.. Mr. dear no. To her great relief and surprise. tell him it's all right.. well. I think the shaking hurt his feelings very much. "Hum. and ought to thank him for not shaking me. I suppose. for Mr." said Jo. yet we can't do without them. and your proper bringing up? Bless the boys and girls! What torments they are. the old gentleman only threw his spectacles onto the table with a rattle and exclaimed frankly. and she knew the day was won. What the dickens does the fellow expect?" and the old gentleman looked a trifle ashamed of his own testiness. and advise him not to put on tragedy airs with his grandfather. who seemed to get out of one scrape only to fall into another. you may advertise for two boys and look among the ships bound for India. when he gets tired of studying. Laurence. She obediently descended. "I'm sorry for that. Sir. I won't bear it. girl." said Mr. and not from obstinacy. Laurence began to laugh." 144 The threat sounded awful. "Go and bring that boy down to his dinner. pinching her cheeks good-humoredly." "He won't come. but did not alarm Jo. and then just a trifle hasty when he tries your patience. if we go on so. Don't you think you are?" Jo was determined to have it out now. and only threatens it sometimes. and married against the imperious old man's will. evidently taking the whole as a joke. "So am I. and made as light of the prank as she could without betraying Meg or forgetting the truth. rubbing up his hair till it looked as if he had been out in a gale. You are rather too kind sometimes. but a kind word will govern me when all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't. If he has. and hoped he would be more forebearing with the lad. especially since my hair was cut. so if you ever miss us. and I know how it will end. hey?" was the sharp answer. with a troubled glance at the picture of a handsome man. Laurence's ruddy face changed suddenly.." She laughed as she spoke. and tried to look quite placid.CHAPTER TWENTY anything ungrateful or impertinent. I'll forgive him. I am! I love the boy. if the boy held his tongue because he promised. She meant to warn him that Laurie would not bear much restraint. how dare you talk in that way? Where's your respect for me." Jo tried to look pathetic but must have failed. for she knew the irascible old gentleman would never lift a finger against his grandson. He feels badly because you didn't believe him when he said he couldn't tell. "You think I'm not kind to him. which hung over his table. He's a stubborn fellow and hard to manage. and Mr. who had run away in his youth. after all your kindness to him. Sir. I often think I should like to. and he sat down. I'll thrash him with my own hands. Laurence looked relieved." he said. ha. he'll run away. "You're right." "I'll tell you. Jo fancied he remembered and regretted the past. It was Laurie's father. trying to say a kind word for her friend. but he tries my patience past bearing. "You hussy. "He won't do it unless he is very much worried. . and she wished she had held her tongue.. "Oh. whatever he might say to the contrary." Jo was sorry for that speech the minute it was made.

as I used to spoil my copybooks. He says he won't come down till he has one. I'd write him an apology. and waited for her at the bottom. saying slowly. you'll feel better after it. "What a good fellow you are. "Go and eat your dinner. who was quite saintly in temper and overwhelmingly respectful in manner all the rest of the day. on the whole." he began apologetically. and I felt just ready to go to the deuce. Men always croak when they are hungry. Meg remembered. laughing. she left the note to do its work. ." and Jo whisked out at the front door after that. and was going quietly away. and spoiling them." answered Laurie. whereat she groaned tragically and cast it into the fire. but I don't mind being managed by you and Beth. Finding the door locked again." "Ah! I got it all round. but she thought of him a good deal. A formal apology will make him see how foolish he is. "You're a sly puss. "That's a 'label' on my 'sect'.CHAPTER TWENTY 145 "If I were you. and bring him down quite amiable." "I keep turning over new leaves. and let us have done with this nonsense. and talks about Washington. Everyone thought the matter ended and the little cloud blown over. Here. dreamed dreams more than ever. advising him through the keyhole to be submissive. and I make so many beginnings there never will be an end. with his most virtuous expression of countenance. 'Mrs. "No. but the mischief was done. found a bit of paper scribbled over with the words. turn over a new leaf and begin again. as he went to partake of humble pie dutifully with his grandfather. and teach him his duty. quoting Amy. and ran up to slip the apology under Laurie's door." The note was written in the terms which one gentleman would use to another after offering some deep insult. saying. for though others forgot it. Jo! Did you get blown up?" he added. and once Jo. give me a bit of paper. rummaging her sister's desk for stamps. Laurence gave her a sharp look. and put on his spectacles. Teddy. "Don't talk that way. Laurence's bald head." Mr. Even you cast me off over there. Jo dropped a kiss on the top of Mr. my son. feeling that Laurie's prank had hastened the evil day for her. and a few other agreeable impossibilities." he said dolefully. Sir. and this way is better than talking. He likes fun. Try it. and goes on in an absurd way. She never alluded to a certain person. when the young gentleman slid down the banisters. I'll carry it up. John Brooke'. he was pretty mild. decorous.

the ambitious pair were considered effectually quenched and went about with forlorn faces. and in time with doll's sewing. Mr. Accept a ribbon red. An afghan for her toes. Several days of unusually mild weather fitly ushered in a splendid Christmas Day. I beg. a soft crimson merino wrapper. dear Queen Bess! May nothing you dismay. The invalids improved rapidly. Meg cheerfully blackened and burned her white hands cooking delicate messes for 'the dear'. if he had had his own way. But health and peace and happiness Be yours. and a Christmas carol issuing from her lips on a pink paper streamer. and Mr. As Christmas approached. was borne in high triumph to the window to behold the offering of Jo and Laurie. amusing herself with the well-beloved cats at first. and. the usual mysteries began to haunt the house. which were rather belied by explosions of laughter when the two got together. Her once active limbs were so stiff and feeble that Jo took her for a daily airing about the house in her strong arms. Laurie was equally impracticable. and what ridiculous speeches Jo made as she presented them. After many skirmishes and snubbings. and she proved herself a true prophetess. then Beth felt uncommonly well that morning. March wrote that he should soon be with them. a perfect rainbow of an Afghan round her chilly shoulders. in honor of this unusually merry Christmas. see. A Mont Blanc in a pail. for everybody and everything seemed bound to produce a grand success. The Unquenchables had done their best to be worthy of the name.CHAPTER TWENTY 146 CHAPTER TWENTY -TWO PLEASANT MEADOWS Like sunshine after a storm were the peaceful weeks which followed. how Laurie ran up and down to bring in the gifts. By Raphael No." said Beth. Out in the garden stood a stately snow maiden. And flowers for her nose. Beth was soon able to lie on the study sofa all day. being dressed in her mother's gift. THE JUNGFRAU TO BETH God bless you. From Laurie and from Jo. and Jo frequently convulsed the family by proposing utterly impossible or magnificently absurd ceremonies. Accept it. which had fallen sadly behind-hand. I couldn't hold one drop more. Hannah 'felt in her bones' that it was going to be an unusually fine day. and the Alpine maid. 2. a loyal slave of the ring. Here's fruit to feed our busy bee. How Beth laughed when she saw it. A portrait of Joanna. this Christmas day. March began to talk of returning early in the new year. bearing a basket of fruit and flowers in one hand. For Madam Purrer's tail. quite sighing with contentment as Jo carried her off to the study to rest after the excitement. a great roll of music in the other. for like elves they had worked by night and conjured up a comical surprise. Here's music for her pianee. Their dearest love my makers laid Within my breast of snow. skyrockets. Who laboured with great industry To make it fair and true. and would have had bonfires. and to refresh herself with . and triumphal arches. And ice cream made by lovely Peg. that if Father was only here. "I'm so full of happiness. crowned with holly. To begin with. celebrated her return by giving away as many of her treasures as she could prevail on her sisters to accept. while Amy.

Of course there was a general stampede. "Here's another Christmas present for the March family. for the full hearts overflowed. he was whisked away somehow. March paused a minute just there. Why Mr. for his face was so full of suppressed excitement and his voice so treacherously joyful that everyone jumped up. So was the plum pudding. Half an hour after everyone had said they were so happy they could only hold one drop more. looked at his wife with an inquiring lift of the eyebrows. washing away the bitterness of the past and leaving only the sweetness of the present. he had been allowed by his doctor to take advantage of it." But it was too late. muttering to herself as she slammed the door. "Of course I am!" cried Meg. and held up her hand with a warning. Now and then. Brooke for his faithful care of her husband. and no one said a word. leaning on the arm of another tall man. when Hannah sent him up. hugged and cried over her father's boots in the most touching manner. which her mother had given her in a pretty frame. joy put strength into the feeble limbs. as her eyes went from her husband's letter to Beth's smiling face. 147 "I'm sure I am. which melted in one's . when the fine weather came. The study door flew open. Brooke suddenly remembered that Mr. poring over the engraved copy of the Madonna and Child. and how he was altogether a most estimable and upright young man. in this workaday world. though he only said. which the girls had just fastened on her breast. smoothing the silvery folds of her first silk dress. tumbled over a stool. and seizing Laurie. muffled up to the eyes." echoed Amy. and decorated. chestnut and dark brown hair. as he somewhat incoherently explained. and her hand carressed the brooch made of gray and golden. Then the two invalids were ordered to repose. things do happen in the delightful storybook fashion. Mr. slapping the pocket wherein reposed the long-desired Undine and Sintram. and she stalked grimly away to get wine and beef tea. and what a comfort it is. and never stopping to get up. for Mr. for the strangest things were done. and had to be doctored by Laurie in the china closet. And Amy. Mr. March gently nodded her head and asked. March began to thank Mr. by both sitting in one big chair and talking hard. breathless voice. "So am I. the dignified. March was the first to recover herself." added Jo. March became invisible in the embrace of four pairs of loving arms. Also why Mrs. for Hannah was discovered behind the door. March gratefully. sobbing over the fat turkey. who tried to say something and couldn't." Before the words were well out of his mouth. and in his place appeared a tall man. Laurie opened the parlor door and popped his head in very quietly.CHAPTER TWENTY some of the delicious grapes the 'Jungfrau' had sent her. and after a glance at Meg. Laurence had insisted on giving it. Jo saw and understood the look. Mr. Mrs. As the laugh subsided. browned. Never mind what happened just after that. March told how he had longed to surprise them. "I hate estimable young men with brown eyes!" There never was such a Christmas dinner as they had that day. he precipitately retired. I leave you to imagine. rather abruptly. "How can I be otherwise?" said Mrs. He might just as well have turned a somersault and uttered an Indian war whoop. at which Mr. the drop came. which they did. "Hush! Remember Beth. The fat turkey was a sight to behold. but a hearty laugh set everybody straight again. the little red wrapper appeared on the threshold. and for several minutes everybody seemed to lose their wits. how devoted Brooke had been. if he wouldn't like to have something to eat. and Beth ran straight into her father's arms. Jo disgraced herself by nearly fainting away. Mrs. who was violently poking the fire. stuffed. and how. in a queer. It was not at all romantic. March needed rest. Brooke kissed Meg entirely by mistake. which she had forgotten to put down when she rushed up from the kitchen.

"What about Jo? Please say something nice. told stories. and I'm sure the sewing done by these pricked fingers will last a long time.CHAPTER TWENTY 148 mouth. for it has grown gentler. a burn on the back. Mum." Mr. industrious little hand. Her face is rather thin and pale just now. But you have got on bravely. but I like to look at it. "For my mind was that flustered." said Mr. let alone bilin' of it in a cloth. "In spite of the curly crop. "Rather a rough road for you to travel. 'reminisced'. who sat on her father's knee. I don't see the 'son Jo' whom I left a year ago. "Rather a pleasant year on the whole!" said Meg. Straws show which way the wind blows. "I remember a time when this hand was white and smooth. and I think the burdens are in a fair way to tumble off very soon. so much good will went into the stitches. I'm proud to shake this good. March." said Mr. at whom Jo glowered darkly. and stuff the turkey with raisins. feasting modestly on chicken and a little fruit. who sat beside him. with and unusually mild expression in her face. It was very pretty then. also Mr. he pointed to the roughened forefinger. which was a mercy. and two or three little hard spots on the palm. so the guests departed early. especially the latter part of it." said Beth in her father's ear. watching the light shine on her ring with thoughtful eyes. Everything turned out well." observed Amy. and takes care of a certain . but to me it is much prettier now. as the old folks say. likewise the jellies. nor lies on the rug as she used to do. my dear. Brooke with dignity. in which sat Beth and her father. and hope I shall not soon be asked to give it away. laces her boots neatly. tell us what they are!" cried Meg. They drank healths. and her voice is lower. and congratulating herself on having treated Mr. my little pilgrims. talks slang. for she has tried so hard and been so very. "Not much. "I see a young lady who pins her collar straight." And taking up the hand which lay on the arm of his chair. but the girls would not leave their father. for in this seeming blemishes I read a little history. breaking a short pause which had followed a long conversation about many things. and as twilight gathered. smiling at the fire. He laughed and looked across at the tall girl who sat opposite. and neither whistles. this hardened palm has earned something better than blisters. looking with fatherly satisfaction at the four young faces gathered round him. I value the womanly skill which keeps home happy more than white hands or fashionable accomplishments. Do you remember?" asked Jo. A burnt offering has been made to vanity. March. A sleigh ride had been planned. Hannah said. "How do you know? Did Mother tell you?" asked Jo. and your first care was to keep it so. "Here is one." "Oh. sang songs. "I think it's been a pretty hard one. in which Amy reveled like a fly in a honeypot. She doesn't bounce. and had a thoroughly good time." If Meg had wanted a reward for hours of patient labor." whispered Beth. Two easy chairs stood side by side at the head of the table. that it's a merrycle I didn't roast the pudding. she received it in the hearty pressure of her father's hand and the approving smile he gave her. to Laurie's infinite amusement. "Just a year ago we were groaning over the dismal Christmas we expected to have. but moves quietly. because we've got you back. Meg. Brooke. very good to me. with watching and anxiety. the happy family sat together round the fire. and I've made several discoveries today. Laurence and his grandson dined with them. "I'm glad it's over.

adding. "There's so little of her. He that is low no pride. who sat on the cricket at his feet. but if I get a strong." So. with her cheek against his own. because he likes the verses. He that is humble ever shall Have God to be his guide." began their father cheerfully. I made the music for Father. "I read in Pilgrim's Progress today how. and has not even mentioned a very pretty ring which she wears. Because Thou savest such. and in the sweet voice they had never thought to hear again. "I observed that Amy took drumsticks at dinner. for fear she will slip away altogether. and has waited on every one with patience and good humor." Jo's keen eyes were rather dim for a minute. so I conclude that she has learned to think of other people more and of herself less. . as she slipped out of her father's arms and went to the instrument." After a minute's silence. I'm afraid to say much. but I do know that in all Washington I couldn't find anything beautiful enough to be bought with the five-and-twenty dollars my good girl sent me. or much. though she is not so shy as she used to be." "What are you thinking of. and I'll keep you so. I shall be infinitely prouder of a lovable daughter with a talent for making life beautiful to herself and others." said Amy. helpful. sang to her own accompaniment the quaint hymn. feeling that she did deserve a portion of it. please God. he held her close. I also observe that she does not fret much nor look in the glass. and there they rested happily. as we do now. I am glad of this. he looked down at Amy. saying tenderly.. which was a singularly fitting song for her." answered Beth. but ready to wait. I rather miss my wild girl. I'll try to sing the song of the shepherd boy which the Pilgrims heard. for though I should be very proud of a graceful statue made by her. my Beth. after many troubles. tenderhearted woman in her place. "Now.. Little be it. before they went on to their journey's end. and said. I don't know whether the shearing sobered our black sheep. when Amy had thanked her father and told about her ring. Beth?" asked Jo. I shall feel quite satisfied. Lord! Contentment still I crave. Beth.CHAPTER TWENTY 149 little person in a motherly way which delights me. sitting at the dear little piano. and I want to be in my old place. ran errands for her mother all the afternoon. gave Meg her place tonight. But recollecting how nearly he had lost her. "It's singing time now. longing for her turn. Beth softly touched the keys. "I've got you safe. Christian and Hopeful came to a pleasant green meadow where lilies bloomed all year round. and her thin face grew rosy in the firelight as she received her father's praise. and has decided to try and mold her character as carefully as she molds her little clay figures. And. I am content with what I have. with a caress of the shining hair. He that is down need fear no fall.

and hereafter bliss. That go on pilgrimage. Is best from age to age! 150 .CHAPTER TWENTY Fulness to them a burden is. Here little.

and clasped his hands imploringly. in your own affairs of this sort. but we are all to be friendly. since Father was safe at home. "Don't say my John. and staggered round the corner as if in utter despair. as their eyes followed Meg. tore his hair. so I needn't be taken unawares. shy. with the other three close by. Jo had sudden fits of sobriety. but I do wish it was all settled." said Jo pettishly. "Everyone seemed waiting for something. as if begging some boon. Touching." "We can't. wait upon. Amy said. "Would you mind telling me what you'd say?" asked Jo more respectfully. There's no knowing what may happen. for he fell down on one knee in the snow. "Please don't plague me. quite old enough to be my confident. perhaps." "I'm not so silly and weak as you think. "I can't say anything till he speaks. I've told you I don't care much about him. and I wished to be prepared. because Father said I was too young. You are sixteen now. I hate to wait. and couldn't settle down. I know just what I should say. I see it." and Beth innocently wondered why their neighbors didn't run over as usual. and seem ever so far away from me. isn't it?" answered Jo scornfully. which suggested that she did not quite agree with her father on that point. but would cry or blush. and Laurie's mischief has spoiled you for me. nothing seemed needed to complete their happiness. and my experience will be useful to you by-and-by. "He's showing you how your John will go on by-and-by. "Not at all. so if you mean ever to do it. March looked at one another with an anxious expression. started when the bell rang. Laurie went by in the afternoon. which had been left in the hall. and so does Mother. "What does the goose mean?" said Meg. decided no. As he sat propped up in a big chair by Beth's sofa. and silent. But something was needed. laughing and trying to look unconscious. for something has been said. and Hannah popping in her head now and then 'to peek at the dear man'.CHAPTER TWENTY 151 CHAPTER TWENTY -THREE AUNT MARCH SETTLES THE QUESTION Like bees swarming after their queen." . and the elder ones felt it. seemed suddenly possessed with a melodramatic fit. and Mrs. beat his breast. neglecting everything to look at. instead of giving a good. Jo. Brooke's umbrella. Meg was absent-minded. March the next day." but Meg's voice lingered over the words as if they sounded pleasant to her. And when Meg told him to behave himself and go away. though none confessed the fact. he wrung imaginary tears out of his handkerchief. You are not like your old self a bit. Mr. and there isn't to be anything said. or let him have his own way. "If he did speak. and listen to the new invalid." began Meg. make haste and have it over quickly. and go on as before. for I've planned it all. it isn't proper or true. you wouldn't know what to say. and he won't. who was in a fair way to be killed by kindness." Jo couldn't help smiling at the important air which Meg had unconsciously assumed and which was as becoming as the pretty color varying in her cheeks. I don't mean to plague you and will bear it like a man. and colored when John's name was mentioned. which was queer. and was seen to shake her fist at Mr. and seeing Meg at the window. bending over her work with a queer little smile. mother and daughters hovered about Mr.

"Mother will like to see you. please don't. I came to get my umbrella. murmuring. Meg began to sidle toward the door. He seemed to think it was worth the trouble. "It's very well. when a step in the hall made her fly into her seat and begin to sew as fast as if her life depended on finishing that particular seam in a given time. and looking down at Meg with so much love in the brown eyes that her heart began to flutter. that's stiff and cool enough! I don't believe you'll ever say it." so softly that John had to stoop down to catch the foolish little reply. "How can I be afraid when you have been so kind to Father? I only wish I could thank you for it. "I won't trouble you. rather than hurt his feelings. you'll give in. and answered. pressed the plump . and was just going to rehearse the dignified exit. "Oh. that is.. dear. quite calmly and decidedly. you are very kind.'" "Hum. and he liked you. looking alarmed at the thought. and glanced out at the lane where she had often seen lovers walking together in the summer twilight." she said." Meg spoke as if to herself. she put out her hand with a confiding gesture. Brooke. 'Thank you. and I know he won't be satisfied if you do. 152 "I think not. Brooke tenderly." said Jo. I'll call her. "I thought you were going to tell your speech to that man." And having jumbled her father and the umbrella well together in her reply." "Don't go." Meg rose as she spoke." "Shall I tell you how?" asked Mr. I'd rather not. She blushed up to the little curls on her forehead. Jo smothered a laugh at the sudden change.. "I don't know. She forgot every word of it. This was the moment for the calm. I should merely say. but I should feel like a fool doing it myself. and said gratefully.. I love you so much." added Mr. Anxious to appear friendly and at her ease. It's fun to watch other people philander. but let us be friends as we were. I'll get him.CHAPTER TWENTY "Don't mean to have any. I shall tell him I've made up my mind. opened the door with a grim aspect which was anything but hospitable. for he had never called her Margaret before. and tell it you are here. Are you afraid of me. I won't. Brooke. getting a trifle confused as his eyes went from one telltale face to the other. for he smiled to himself as if quite satisfied. and she was surprised to find how natural and sweet it seemed to hear him say it." said Mr. If he goes on like the rejected lovers in books. proper speech. Brooke looked so hurt that Meg thought she must have done something very rude. and she both longed to run away and to stop and listen. Meg. "Oh no." said Jo. but Meg didn't make it. Jo slipped out of the room to give Meg a chance to make her speech and air her dignity. but I agree with Father that I am too young to enter into any engagement at present. and when someone gave a modest tap. But the instant she vanished. if you liked anyone very much. to see how your father finds himself today. I only want to know if you care for me a little. Margaret?" and Mr. Mr. trying to withdraw her hand. hung her head. he's in the rack. Brooke. so please say no more. rudely shortening her sister's little reverie. holding the small hand fast in both his own. and looking frightened in spite of her denial.." "No. Pray sit down. "Good afternoon. and shall walk out of the room with dignity.

The old lady couldn't resist her longing to see her nephew. Meg. sitting down. it's too soon and I'd rather not. She felt excited and strange. feeling that she was in for a lecture now. Brooke and the umbrella were safely out of the house." faltered Meg. Brooke looked as if his lovely castle in the air was tumbling about his ears. He was grave and pale now. He just stood looking at her so wistfully. so tenderly." "Don't think of me at all. "It's Father's friend. I'd rather you wouldn't. and that he wore the satisfied smile of one who had no doubt of his success. Mr. "Yes." "Mayn't I hope you'll change your mind by-and-by? I'll wait and say nothing till you have had more time. ." broke in John. Annie Moffat's foolish lessons in coquetry came into her mind. and looked decidedly more like the novel heroes whom she admired. What would have happened next I cannot say. hoping to surprise them. and Mr. I didn't think that of you. which sleeps in the bosoms of the best of little women. for I can't go to work with any heart until I learn whether I am to have my reward in the end or not. wishing that Mr. "Bless me. "But what is Father's friend saying to make you look like a peony? There's mischief going on. you could be learning to like me. yet rather enjoying it. Meg saw that his eyes were merry as well as tender. woke up all of a sudden and took possession of her. and not knowing what else to do. I don't want to be worried about such things." with another rap. wondering why she was so fluttered.. "We were only talking. Please go away and let me be!" Poor Mr. "I don't choose. and it rather bewildered him. "That's evident. said petulantly. if Aunt March had not come hobbling in at this interesting minute. Would it be a very hard lesson. and hearing of Mr. dear?" "Not if I chose to learn it.. Don't play with me. and in the meantime. Brooke came for his umbrella." said Meg. and this is easier than German. Meg. "I'll wait. "Will you try and find out? I want to know so much. and the love of power. taking a naughty satisfaction in trying her lover's patience and her own power. and said in his most persuasive tone. She did surprise two of them so much that Meg started as if she had seen a ghost. I'm so surprised to see you!" stammered Meg. so that she had no way of hiding her face as he bent to look into it. but stealing a shy look at him. and. following her as she walked away. "Do you really mean that?" he asked anxiously. Brooke vanished into the study. for she had met Laurie as she took her airing. Father says I needn't." "Please choose to learn. I love to teach. The family were all busy in the back part of the house. what's all this?" cried the old lady with a rap of her cane as she glanced from the pale young gentleman to the scarlet young lady. that she found her heart relenting in spite of herself. His tone was properly beseeching. I do.CHAPTER TWENTY 153 hand gratefully. and she had made her way quietly in. and I insist upon knowing what it is." "I'm too young. for he had never seen Meg in such a mood before. getting possession of the other hand. but. followed a capricious impulse. withdrawing her hands." began Meg. This nettled her. drove straight out to see him. March's arrival." returned Aunt March. but he neither slapped his forehead nor tramped about the room as they did.

have no more worldly wisdom than a pair of babies. Jo blundered into a wrong message in one of your Father's letters. child?" cried Aunt March." "That won't last long. Tell me. and being already much excited. You haven't gone and accepted him. "Now. Meg hardly knew herself." "I'm glad of it. if she liked. He hasn't any business. saying as mildly as she could. try it and see how cool they'll grow. has he?" "Not yet." "I couldn't do better if I waited half my life! John is good and wise. but went on with her lecture. and go on working harder than you do now." "It can't be a worse one than some people find in big houses. looking scandalized. be reasonable and take my advice." said the old lady impressively. It's your duty to make a rich match and it ought to be impressed upon you. Meg. If Aunt March had begged Meg to accept John Brooke. I've something to say to you. Aunt March saw that she had begun wrong. Laurence is going to help him. for she did not know her in this new mood. "Not yet. So you intend to marry a man without money. and enjoyed doing it. I know all about it." retorted Meg. You ought to marry well and help your family. my dear. has he?" "No. Now Aunt March possessed in perfection the art of rousing the spirit of opposition in the gentlest people." she said. especially when we are young and in love. position. made a fresh start. and be a sensible girl. "I shall marry whom I please. and after a little pause. when you've tried love in a cottage and found it a failure. Inclination as well as perversity made the decision easy. and you can leave your money to anyone you like." "Father and Mother don't think so. she would probably have declared she couldn't think of it. James Laurence is a crotchety old fellow and not to be depended on.CHAPTER TWENTY 154 "Brooke? That boy's tutor? Ah! I understand now." "Your parents. so glad to defend John and assert her right to love him. Aunt March put on her glasses and took a look at the girl. and I must free my mind at once. Remember that." cried Meg stoutly. do you mean to marry this Cook? If you do. nodding her head with a resolute air. not one penny of my money ever goes to you. "This Rook is poor and hasn't got any rich relations. The best of us have a spice of perversity in us. Mr. They like John though he is poor. and I made her tell me. "Hush! He'll hear. he's willing to . she immediately made up her mind that she would. Miss? You'll be sorry for it by-and-by. when you might be comfortable all your days by minding me and doing better? I thought you had more sense. and don't want you to spoil your whole life by making a mistake at the beginning. but as she was preemptorily ordered not to like him. he's got heaps of talent. I mean it kindly. Aunt March. Shan't I call Mother?" said Meg. or business. much troubled. Meg opposed the old lady with unusual spirit. my dear. she felt so brave and independent." "You can't live on friends. Aunt March took no notice. "Highty-tighty! Is that the way you take my advice. Meg. but he has many warm friends.

he's so energetic and brave. for she had set her heart on having her pretty niece make a fine match. how dare you say such a thing? John is above such meanness. but Meg never thought of doing either." "I didn't know how much till she abused you. "She has seen him away as we planned. with the strongminded sister enthroned upon his knee and wearing an expression of the most abject submission. as he kissed the astonished newcomer." "Aunt March. though I'm so poor and young and silly. and that affair is settled. she was taken possession of by Mr. actually laughed and said coolly. Meg jumped up. for when left alone. "Sister Jo. and disgraced herself forever in Jo's eyes by meekly whispering. nodded and smiled with a satisfied expression. that she had told 'her John' to go away. and something in the girl's happy young face made the lonely old woman feel both sad and sour. Don't expect anything from me when you are married. it certainly was a shock to behold the aforesaid enemy serenely sitting on the sofa. Aunt March was very angry. saying to herself. Everyone likes and respects him. but 'that man'. forgetting everything but the injustice of the old lady's suspicions. for I've been happy so far. I'm not afraid of being poor. and hearing no sound within. undecided whether to laugh or cry. Jo vanished without a word. Aunt March drove off in high dudgeon. That's the secret of his liking. I won't stop. who said all in one breath. as if a cold shower bath had suddenly fallen upon her. I'm done with you forever.CHAPTER TWENTY 155 work and sure to get on. looking both proud and shy. it was altogether too much." Meg stopped there. Jo gave a sort of gasp. Thank you for defending me." cried Meg indignantly. Brooke. dear?" Here was another fine chance to make the crushing speech and the stately exit. and I'm proud to think he cares for me. Your Mr. and I won't listen to you a minute if you talk so. and you've lost more than you know by this piece of folly. and Aunt March for proving that you do care for me a little bit. and I know I shall be with him because he loves me. may I. Meg stood for a moment. remembering all of a sudden that she hadn't made up her mind. John. for she was transfixed upon the threshold by a spectacle which held her there. as Jo called him. and making some wild demonstration with her hands. child. We are willing to work and we mean to wait. Going in to exult over a fallen enemy and to praise a strong-minded sister for the banishment of an objectionable lover. and haven't spirits to see your father now. paused an instant at the parlor door. staring with her mouth nearly as wide open as her eyes. she startled the invalids by exclaiming tragically as she . Brooke's friends must take care of you. Jo came softly downstairs. and that he might be overhearing her inconsistent remarks." said Meg. Before she could make up her mind. "My John wouldn't marry for money. "Yes. and I. "Well. but may stay and be happy. I'm disappointed in you. and have a good laugh over it. Fifteen minutes after Aunt March's departure. I suspect. Brooke's waistcoat. She seemed to take all the girl's courage with her. for such an unexpected turning of the tables actually took her breath away. looking prettier than ever in her earnestness. At the odd sound the lovers turned and saw her. congratulate us!" That was adding insult to injury. "He knows you have got rich relations. No. Meg.." began Meg. I'll go and hear the fun. "And I needn't go away." and hiding her face on Mr. "I couldn't help hearing." But poor Jo never got her laugh." And slamming the door in Meg's face. I wash my hands of the whole affair! You are a willful child.. any more than I would. Rushing upstairs.

How much has happened since I said that! It seems a year ago. it seems a short time to me. but everyone looked very happy. "You can't say nothing pleasant ever happens now. for Laurie came prancing in. "In most families there comes. "I knew Brooke would have it all his own way. for Jo loved a few persons very dearly and dreaded to have their affection lost or lessened in any way. Jo cried and scolded tempestuously as she told the awful news to Beth and Amy. and Mrs. and Meg likes it!" Mr. with an expression which caused Jo to shake her head." said Mrs. and Mrs. and the old room seemed to brighten up amazingly when the first romance of the family began there. but a great deal of talking was done." "Hope the next will end better. Nobody ever knew what went on in the parlor that afternoon. . and casting herself upon the bed. March left the room with speed. I am to do the work. and then say to herself with an air of relief as the front door banged. as if everything had become possible to him now. and quiet Mr. Meg?" said Amy. Brooke. who was in a blissful dream lifted far above such common things as bread and butter." said Mr. however. with a sweet gravity in her face never seen there before. "You have only to wait.CHAPTER TWENTY 156 burst into the room. who found it very hard to see Meg absorbed in a stranger before her face. "No. smiling at Meg. Now we shall have some sensible conversation. "Here comes Laurie. and evidently laboring under the delusion that the whole affair had been brought about by his excellent management. and he proudly took her in to supper. he always does. if I live to work out my plans. The tea bell rang before he had finished describing the paradise which he meant to earn for Meg. after all. who was in a hurry for the wedding. and persuaded them to arrange everything just as he wanted it. "I hope the third year from this will end better. Amy was very much impressed by John's devotion and Meg's dignity. John Brooke'. overflowing with good spirits. "I've got so much to learn before I shall be ready. "Oh. and confided her troubles to the rats. No one ate much. March surveyed the young couple with such tender satisfaction that it was perfectly evident Aunt March was right in calling them as 'unworldly as a pair of babies'." muttered Jo." answered Meg. March. trying to decide how she would group the lovers in a sketch she was planning to make. when he had presented his offering and his congratulations. "Doesn't it seem very long to wait?" asked Amy. I mean it shall. but it ends well. and Jo got little comfort from them. Brooke astonished his friends by the eloquence and spirit with which he pleaded his suit. bearing a great bridal-looking bouquet for 'Mrs. considered it a most agreeable and interesting event." said Laurie. told his plans." answered Meg. Beth beamed at them from a distance. can you. a year full of events. and I rather think the changes have begun. I'm sure I can't." said John beginning his labors by picking up Meg's napkin. now and then. This has been such a one. "The joys come close upon the sorrows this time." But Jo was mistaken. so she went up to her refuge in the garret. The little girls. both looking so happy that Jo hadn't the heart to be jealous or dismal. for when he makes up his mind to accomplish anything. do somebody go down quick! John Brooke is acting dreadfully. while Mr. it's done though the sky falls.

" said Jo solemnly." she continued with a little quiver in her voice. the light of which touched their faces with a grace the little artist could not copy. ma'am. there's a good fellow. Jo lounged in her favorite low seat." sighed Jo. for the sight of Jo's face alone on that occasion would be worth a long journey. for I shall be through college before long. and everyone looks so happy now." returned Laurie. and then we'll go abroad on some nice trip or other. but I've made up my mind to bear it. Jo. "That's true." returned Jo. "I think not. I've lost my dearest friend. "You've got me. who held her little hand as if he felt that it possessed the power to lead him along the peaceful way she walked. Amy was drawing the lovers. "You can't know how hard it is for me to give up Meg. but I'll stand by you. Wouldn't that console you?" "I rather think it would. It's all right you see. . "I know you will. So the curtain falls upon Meg. smiled with his friendliest aspect. "Well." answered Mr. and it will be very jolly to see Meg in her own little house. "You don't give her up. following her into a corner of the parlor. Teddy. I don't believe they could be much improved. leaning on the back of her chair. even his mischievous pupil. talking cheerily with her old friend." And Jo's eyes went slowly round the room. all the days of my life. Beth lay on her sofa. Upon my word I will!" and Laurie meant what he said. anyhow.CHAPTER TWENTY 157 "Much obliged for that recommendation. and Amy. "I don't approve of the match. Jo." said Laurie consolingly. LITTLE WOMEN PART 2 In order that we may start afresh and go to Meg's wedding. Brooke will fly round and get settled immediately. Whether it ever rises again. "It can never be the same again. for the prospect was a pleasant one. Brooke. quietly reliving the first chapter of the romance which for them began some twenty years ago. You don't look festive. We'll have capital times after she is gone. and I'm ever so much obliged. brightening as they looked. who sat apart in a beautiful world of their own. Father and Mother sat together." said Jo thoughtfully. whither all had adjourned to greet Mr. who felt at peace with all mankind. and nodded at her in the long glass which reflected them both. Meg is happy. gratefully shaking hands. I'm not good for much. You are always a great comfort to me. don't be dismal. with the grave quiet look which best became her. Beth. "I'll come if I'm at the ends of the earth. You only go halves. Grandpa will attend to him. I take it as a good omen for the future and invite you to my wedding on the spot. and shall not say a word against it. but there's no knowing what may happen in three years. now. his chin on a level with her curly head. Laurence... what's the matter?" asked Laurie. depends upon the reception given the first act of the domestic drama called Little Women. for I might see something sad. Don't you wish you could take a look forward and see where we shall all be then? I do. I know. and Laurie.

the charity which calls all mankind 'brother'. but the quiet scholar. the piety that blossoms into character. The war is over. Meg had spent the time in working as well as waiting. husband and father. for to him the busy. Ambitious men caught glimpses of nobler ambitions than their own. and secretly wishing she could have the same. and accepted the place of bookkeeper. and Meg couldn't help contrasting their fine house and carriage. and felt some disappointment at the humble way in which the new life must begin. preparing for business. "What can you expect when I have four gay girls in the house. I can only say with Mrs. and just now so absorbed in Meg's affairs that the hospitals and homes still full of wounded 'boys' and soldiers' widows. and earning a home for Meg. anxious women always turned in troublous times. rich in the wisdom that is better than learning. the wisest counsel. making it august and lovely. With the good sense and sturdy independence that characterized him. than when we saw her last. anchor. Sinners told their sins to the pure-hearted old man and were both rebuked and saved.CHAPTER TWENTY 158 CHAPTER TWENTY -FOUR GOSSIP In order that we may start afresh and go to Meg's wedding with free minds. as naturally as sweet herbs draw bees. John Brooke did his duty manfully for a year. March safely at home. The girls gave their hearts into their mother's keeping. busy with his books and the small parish which found in him a minister by nature as by grace. for love is a great beautifier. and to both parents. in the truest sense of those sacred words. a quiet. many gifts. got wounded. March. the household conscience. And here let me premise that if any of the elders think there is too much 'lovering' in the story. sitting among his books. She had her girlish ambitions and hopes. and Mr. March is as brisk and cheery. attracted to him many admirable persons. Gifted men found a companion in him. and splendid outfit with her own. he refused Mr. as I fear they may (I'm not afraid the young folks will make that objection). and as naturally he gave them the honey into which fifty years of hard experience had distilled no bitter drop. and so they did in many things. although 'they wouldn't pay'. who lived and labored so faithfully for them. for he cheerfully risked all he had. and prettier than ever. These attributes. it will be well to begin with a little gossip about the Marches. and even worldlings confessed that his beliefs were beautiful and true. but he deserved them. finding him. Ned Moffat had just married Sallie Gardiner. and comforter. was still the head of the family. their souls into their father's. Mrs. they gave a love that grew with their growth and bound them tenderly together by the sweetest tie which blesses life and outlives death. He received no stars or bars. Laurence's more generous offers. thoughtful or troubled women instinctively brought their doubts to him. he devoted himself to getting well. in spite of poverty and the strict integrity which shut him out from the more worldly successes. To outsiders the five energetic women seemed to rule the house. decidedly miss the motherly missionary's visits. was sent home. sure of finding the gentlest sympathy. and life and love are very precious when both are in full bloom. feeling better satisfied to begin with an honestly earned salary than by running any risks with borrowed money. growing womanly in character. and a dashing young neighbor over the way?" The three years that have passed have brought but few changes to the quiet family. But somehow envy and discontent soon vanished . wise in housewifely arts. Earnest young men found the gray-headed scholar as young at heart as they. studious man. and not allowed to return. though rather grayer. Perfectly resigned to his discharge.

Brooke had prepared for Meg's first home. But as high spirits and the love of fun were the causes of these pranks. he always managed to save himself by frank confession. Here Meg meant to have a fountain. though just at present the fountain was represented by a weather-beaten urn. aquatic. honorable atonement. or the irresistible power of persuasion which he possessed in perfection. shrubbery. and liked to thrill the girls with graphic accounts of his triumphs over wrathful tutors. Amy would have served a far harder mistress. who remained delicate long after the fever was a thing of the past. sentimental. And speaking of sentiment brings us very naturally to the 'Dovecote'. it was altogether charming. Jo felt herself a woman of means. and became quite a belle among them. with a little garden behind and a lawn about as big as a pocket handkerchief in the front. undecided whether to live or die. Laurie had christened it. Jo meantime devoted herself to literature and Beth. saying it was highly appropriate to the gentle lovers who 'went on together like a pair of turtledoves. thanks to money. as college fashions ordained. her afternoons to pleasure. To be sure. which seemed more natural to her than the decorums prescribed for young ladies. which was one day to place the name of March upon the roll of fame. and the kindest heart that ever got its owner into scrapes by trying to get other people out of them. if he had not possessed a talisman against evil in the memory of the kind old man who was bound up in his success. or gymnastic. and feats. and probably would have been. for her ladyship early felt and learned to use the gift of fascination with which she was endowed. Laurie. In fact. and when they sat together in the twilight. and were frequently allowed to bask in the smiles of these great creatures. happy. and found it very difficult to refrain from imitating the gentlemanly attitudes. but Jo felt quite in her own element. for the old lady took such a fancy to Amy that she bribed her with the offer of drawing lessons from one of the best teachers going. talked slang. Jo never went back to Aunt March. Amy especially enjoyed this high honor. the motherly friend who watched over him as if he were her son. The 'men of my class'. but not least by any means. though very few escaped without paying the tribute of a sentimental sigh or two at Amy's shrine. But great plans fermented in her busy brain and ambitious mind. Being only 'a glorious human boy'. But inside. and a profusion of lovely flowers. much talent. and the happy bride saw no fault from garret to cellar. and vanquished enemies. everyone's friend. As long as The Spread Eagle paid her a dollar a column for her 'rubbish'. who never wearied of the exploits of 'our fellows'. and more than once came perilously near suspension and expulsion. It was a tiny house. and last. and the old tin kitchen in the garret held a slowly increasing pile of blotted manuscript. and the profusion of flowers was merely hinted by regiments of sticks to show where seeds were planted. hazed and was hazed. They all liked Jo immensely. he rather prided himself on his narrow escapes. Meg was too much absorbed in her private and particular John to care for any other lords of creation. but never again the rosy. like many another promising boy. very like a dilapidated slopbowl. dignified professors. and prospered finely. the future always grew so beautiful and bright that she forgot Sallie's splendor and felt herself the richest. grew dandified. as she called it. when Laurie brought them home with him. manners. and for the sake of this advantage. A universal favorite. That was the name of the little brown house Mr. of course he frolicked and flirted. phrases. the knowledge that four innocent girls loved. and serene. and believed in him with all their hearts. talking over their small plans. admired. the shrubbery consisted of several young larches. happiest girl in Christendom. and busy with the quiet duties she loved. and an angel in the house. and Beth too shy to do more than peep at them and wonder how Amy dared to order them about so. he stood in great danger of being spoiled. but never fell in love with her. and spun her little romances diligently. with first a bill and then a coo'. was now getting through it in the easiest possible manner to please himself. Not an invalid exactly. the hall . So she gave her mornings to duty. were heroes in the eyes of the girls. healthy creature she had been. yet always hopeful.CHAPTER TWENTY 159 when she thought of all the patient love and labor John had put into the little home awaiting her. having dutifully gone to college to please his grandfather. long before those who loved her most had learned to know it.

There were no marble-topped tables. a fine picture or two. I don't think the Parian Psyche Laurie gave lost any of its beauty because John put up the bracket it stood upon. a knife cleaner that spoiled all the knives. thanks to you all. long mirrors. this young gentleman. "If she only had a servant or two it would be all right. to a wonderful boiler which would wash articles in its own steam with every prospect of exploding in the process. and I am morally certain that the spandy new kitchen never could have looked so cozy and neat if Hannah had not arranged every pot and pan a dozen times over. the pretty gifts which came from friendly hands and were the fairer for the loving messages they brought. John laughed at him. "Are you satisfied? Does it seem like home. "Yes. and Meg found so many proofs of this that everything in her small nest. and so happy that I can't talk about it. People who hire all these things done for them never know what they lose. and what shouts of laughter arose over Laurie's ridiculous bargains. a wonderful nutmeg grater which fell to pieces at the first trial. as she and her daughter went through the new kingdom arm in arm. In vain Meg begged him to stop. and piece bags. So each week beheld some fresh absurdity. His last whim had been to bring with him on his weekly visits some new. for the homeliest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them. perfectly satisfied. and Jo called him 'Mr. and every kind of tinware. March. Toodles'. scattered all about. and invented three different kinds of dishcloths for the express service of the bridal china. coming out of the parlor. for just then they seemed to cling together more tenderly than ever. and do you feel as if you should be happy here?" asked Mrs. but simple furniture. merry words. infallible cements which stuck firmly to nothing but the fingers of the deluded buyer. or a sweeper that picked the nap neatly off the carpet and left the dirt. I also doubt if any young matron ever began life with so rich a supply of dusters." with a look that was far better than words. for one never could have been got in whole. or that any store-room was ever better provided with good wishes. labor-saving soap that took the skin off one's hands. But once get used to these slight blemishes and nothing could be more complete. What happy times they had planning together. and seeing his friends fitly furnished forth. the dining room was so small that six people were a tight fit. was eloquent of home love and tender forethought. Mother. though nearly through college. and I have made up my mind to try her way first. Everything was done at last. Brooke came home'. and the kitchen stairs seemed built for the express purpose of precipitating both servants and china pell-mell into the coalbin. and happy hopes than that in which Jo and her mother put away Meg's few boxes. plenty of books. and the result was highly satisfactory. "Mother and I have talked that over. Now a bag of remarkable clothespins. next. There will be so little to . and laid the fire all ready for lighting the minute 'Mis. In his love of jokes. He was possessed with a mania for patronizing Yankee ingenuity. was a much of a boy as ever. where she had been trying to decide whether the bronze Mercury looked best on the whatnot or the mantlepiece. a stand of flowers in the bay window. and bundles. and ingenious article for the young housekeeper. even to Amy's arranging different colored soaps to match the different colored rooms. and.CHAPTER TWENTY 160 was so narrow it was fortunate that they had no piano. what funny mistakes they made." said Amy. and Beth's setting the table for the first meal. useful. holders. from the kitchen roller to the silver vase on her parlor table. that any upholsterer could have draped the plain muslin curtains more gracefully than Amy's artistic hand. for good sense and good taste had presided over the furnishing. from a toy savings bank for odd pennies. barrels. for Beth made enough to last till the silver wedding came round. or lace curtains in the little parlor. what solemn shopping excursions.

broad-shouldered young fellow. but the lessons you learn now will be of use to you by-and-by when John is a richer man. who. March. "Here I am. laying the snowy piles smoothly on the shelves and exulting over the goodly array. have made. the house wouldn't hold them. and marked a generous supply of house and table linen. "Sallie isn't a poor man's wife. as Sallie says she does to amuse herself. and was much exercised in her mind how to get round it. "I did after a while. but there came a time when I was truly grateful that I not only possessed the will but the power to cook wholesome food for my little girls. patting the damask tablecloths. and insisted that she could give nothing but the old-fashioned pearls long promised to the first bride. as well she might. Carrol. A tall." added Meg. was ordered to buy. I shall only have enough work to keep me from getting lazy or homesick. Aunt March was rather in a quandary when time had appeased her wrath and made her repent her vow. Mrs. and gossip. for the mistress of a house. Beth was there. Meg and John begin humbly. for that linen closet was a joke. should know how work ought to be done. and send it as her present. I had a young friend who set up housekeeping with six sheets. as they went upstairs and she looked into her well-stored linen closet.. enveloped in a big blue pinafore. a felt basin of a hat. for I got heartily sick of doing fancywork and tending my pocket handkerchief. with a truly feminine appreciation of their fineness. was giving the last polish to the door handles.CHAPTER TWENTY 161 do that with Lotty to run my errands and help me here and there. came tramping down the road at a great pace. with both hands out and a hearty. dear. March." . not to 'mess' but to learn of Hannah how things should be done. it's all right. having said that if Meg married 'that Brooke' she shouldn't have a cent of her money. and master and missis would have to camp in the garden." And Meg looked quite contented. and at last devised a plan whereby she could satisfy herself. Hannah says. however splendid. a minute after. You begin at the other end." broke in Jo. and help myself when I could no longer afford to hire help. for Aunt March tried to look utterly unconscious. and many maids are in keeping with her fine establishment. "I haven't a single finger bowl. and a flyaway coat.. but I have a feeling that there will be quite as much happiness in the little house as in the big one. walked over the low fence without stopping to open the gate. She never broke her word. Mother." said Mrs. "If Meg had four. When I was first married." began Amy. but this is a setout that will last me all my days. but she had finger bowls for company and that satisfied her. though they never turn out well and the servants laugh at her. All three laughed as Meg spoke." said Meg. and was greatly enjoyed by the family. give orders. Mother! Yes. "Do you know I like this room most of all in my baby house. It's a great mistake for young girls like Meg to leave themselves nothing to do but dress. I'm sure of that. for the best of women will hold forth upon the all absorbing subject of house keeping. It was play then. but the secret leaked out. "Sallie Moffat has four. listening respectfully to the little lecture. You see." answered Meg tranquilly. so that I might have the pleasure of mending them. all of which was faithfully done. I used to long for my new clothes to wear out or get torn. with a cropped head." "Yes. "That's a housewifely taste which I am glad to see. straight up to Mrs. if she wishes to be well and honestly served. that my servants need not laugh at me. Meg." "Why didn't you go into the kitchen and make messes." said Meg. Florence's mamma.

then shook hands all round. and fell into an attitude of mock rapture before Amy. amid the laughter of the girls. and if she hadn't defended it manfully I'd have had a pick at it. and it will rouse the neighborhood in a jiffy. with the maker's congratulations and compliments. "Mother and I are going to wait for John. I'm in such a state of exhaustion I can't get home without help. it's peculiarly becoming." responded the young gentleman." said Beth. whose head was about level with the little chandelier.CHAPTER TWENTY The last words were in answer to the look the elder lady gave him. he delivered a brown paper parcel to Meg. as Jo bestowed his especial aversion in . pulled Beth's hair ribbon. whatever you do. Teddy?" inquired Jo. Mrs. Wish you'd been there to see. just swing that out of the front window. stared at Jo's big pinafore. Jo. Nice thing." said Laurie. and everyone began to talk. with a motherly kiss." added Amy. Bless you. ma'am. ma'am." "I wonder if you will ever grow up." "Which side won the last match. "Where is John?" asked Meg anxiously. a kindly questioning look which the handsome eyes met so frankly that the little ceremony closed. Meg. "What's the last joke? Undo the bundle and see. as a watchman's rattle appeared. "For Mrs. Beth! What a refreshing spectacle you are. Jo. "Come. "Any time when John is away and you get frightened. "I suppose it would be profanation to eat anything in this spick-and-span bower. who persisted in feeling an interest in manly sports despite her nineteen years." As Laurie spoke. Don't take off your apron. I'm afraid. don't desert a fellow. for it looked like a remarkably plummy one." he added presently. "There's gratitude for you! And speaking of gratitude reminds me to mention that you may thank Hannah for saving your wedding cake from destruction. isn't it?" and Laurie gave them a sample of its powers that made them cover up their ears. so as I'm tremendously hungry. but can't get much higher. Amy. as six feet is about all men can do in these degenerate days. "I'm doing my best. you are getting altogether too handsome for a single lady. I propose an adjournment. "It's a useful thing to have in the house in case of fire or thieves. There are some last things to settle. 162 "More cruel than ever. bustling away." said Meg in a matronly tone." observed Laurie. I saw it going into your house as I came by. Don't you see how I'm pining away?" and Laurie gave his broad chest a sounding slap and heaved a melodramatic sigh. eying the knobby parcel with curiosity. Meg. as usual. of course." "How is the lovely Miss Randal?" asked Amy with a significant smile." said Meg. and enjoying the effect as much as anybody. "Stopped to get the license for tomorrow. tying a picturesque hat over her picturesque curls. John Brooke. Laurie. "Beth and I are going over to Kitty Bryant's to get more flowers for tomorrow. "Ours.

hey?" cut in Laurie. to make your head look like a scrubbing brush. but every now and then it breaks out in a new spot. You are the one for that." "Bless you. I only want some money. with an injured air. Why. We heard about Henshaw and all you did for him. do you think I'd look your mother in the face and say 'All right'." "Not a prank. I thought you'd got over the dandy period." "Exactly. I'd say nothing. I say. Just now it's the fashion to be hideous. I don't. "You must promise to behave well. have you got into a scrape and want to know how he'll take it?" asked Jo rather sharply. I only moaned a trifle to keep the girls company. he made a mountain out of a molehill. when he is worth a dozen of us lazy chaps." said Laurie. I shall certainly laugh if you do." "I never cry unless for some great affliction. 163 "Now. that the felt hat fell off. and not cut up any pranks. and spoil our plans." "I never do. orange gloves." "Such as fellows going to college. endless neckties. but it costs as much as the other. Jo." Laurie threw back his head. wear a strait jacket. and I don't get any satisfaction out of it. which insult only afforded him an opportunity for expatiating on the advantages of a rough-and-ready . you'll be crying so hard that the thick fog round you will obscure the prospect. "Oh. Teddy. and clumping square-toed boots. Jo. but I don't see the use of your having seventeen waistcoats." said Jo warmly. Teddy. and a new hat every time you come home. "No. and Jo walked on it. if it wasn't?" and Laurie stopped short. no one would blame you. I want to talk seriously to you about tomorrow." "And I implore you not to look at me during the ceremony." "And don't say funny things when we ought to be sober. it spends itself somehow. I don't spend it. how is Grandpa this week? Pretty amiable?" "Very." "You are so generous and kind-hearted that you let people borrow. "Now. "You spend a great deal. as they strolled away together. If you always spent money in that way. and is gone before I know it. would you?" "Of course not. If it was cheap ugliness. You wouldn't have me let that fine fellow work himself to death just for want of a little help." "You won't see me." began Jo. and laughed so heartily at this attack. appeased by her hearty tone.CHAPTER TWENTY her capacious pocket and offered her arm to support his feeble steps." "Then don't go and be suspicious. and can't say 'No' to anyone. with suggestive laugh. walking on again. "Don't be a peacock.

writes poetry. and if a fellow gets a peep at it by accident and can't help showing that he likes it. I'm not aristocratic. I'll get myself up regardless of expense tomorrow and be a satisfaction to my friends. with a sidelong glance and a little more color than before in his sunburned face. "By the way. and like to enjoy myself when I come home. there's a good soul! I have enough all through the week. and get so thorny no one dares touch or look at you. Meg's wedding has turned all our heads. and it's a mercy. having voluntarily sacrificed a handsome curly crop to the demand for quarter-inch-long stubble. elder brotherly tone. but I do object to being seen with a person who looks like a young prize fighter. and I don't know what we are coming to. "Don't be alarmed. for there should always be one old maid in a family. who certainly could not be accused of vanity. I'm not one of the agreeable sort. and stuffed it into his pocket. Gummidge did her sweetheart. "Of course he had. what are the children thinking of?" and Jo looked as much scandalized as if Amy and little Parker were not yet in their teens. as he folded up the maltreated hat. Jo. shaking his head over the degeneracy of the times." 164 "I'll leave you in peace if you'll only let your hair grow. after a minute's silence. "Don't lecture any more." "You won't give anyone a chance. Mercy on us. You are a mere infant. I don't wish to get cross. "It's a fast age. and we'll be left lamenting. and we talk of nothing but lovers and such absurdities. He talks of her constantly. "This unassuming style promotes study. Now don't say any more about it. so let's change the subject. and I think it's dreadful to break up families so. and moons about in a most suspicious manner. Jo. Whatever his feelings might have been. ma'am. you'll go next. Jo. "Mark my words.CHAPTER TWENTY costume. Laurie found a vent for them in a long low whistle and the fearful prediction as they parted at the gate. throw cold water over him. He'd better nip his little passion in the bud. in a confidential." . I think that little Parker is really getting desperate about Amy. that's why we adopt it. We don't want any more marrying in this family for years to come." returned Laurie." "I don't like that sort of thing. I'm too busy to be worried with nonsense. you treat him as Mrs." and Jo looked quite ready to fling cold water on the slightest provocation. hadn't he?" added Laurie. Nobody will want me. but you'll go next." observed Jo severely." said Laurie." said Laurie. "You won't show the soft side of your character.

the droop of her hair. I want a great many crumples of this sort put into it today. although it is not sad itself. but possessed of that indescribable charm called grace. for some peeped in at the dining room windows where the feast was spread. for all that was best and sweetest in heart and soul seemed to bloom into her face that day. and more quiet than ever. Amy's nose still afflicted her. The beautiful. There is a fresh color in her brown cheeks. Meg looked very like a rose herself. Beth has grown slender. which 'her John' liked best of all the flowers that grew. being too wide. like friendly little neighbors. for at sixteen she has the air and bearing of a full-grown woman. surveying her with delight when all was done. "Now I'm going to tie John's cravat for him. and hall. some climbed up to nod and smile at the sisters as they dressed the bride. One saw it in the lines of her figure. offered their tribute of beauty and fragrance to the gentle mistress who had loved and tended them so long. only so very sweet and lovely that I should hug you if it wouldn't crumple your dress. conscious that in spite of the smiles on the motherly face." So she made her wedding gown herself." and Meg ran down to perform these little ceremonies.CHAPTER TWENTY 165 CHAPTER TWENTY -FIVE THE FIRST WEDDING The June roses over the porch were awake bright and early on that morning. so did her mouth. feeling that the new love had not changed the old. pale. not beautiful. from the rosiest full-blown flower to the palest baby bud. the make and motion of her hands. making it fair and tender. nor orange flowers would she have. porch. and to them I wish to look and be my familiar self. for all are looking their best just now. and don't mind my dress. But please hug and kiss me. a soft shine in her eyes. rejoicing with all their hearts in the cloudless sunshine. "You do look just like our own dear Meg. As the younger girls stand together. kind eyes are larger. "I don't want a fashionable wedding. as they were. more becoming to the small head atop of the tall figure." and Meg opened her arms to her sisters. and as attractive to many as beauty itself. others waved a welcome to those who came and went on various errands in garden. but Beth seldom complains and always speaks hopefully of 'being better soon'. everyone. unconscious yet harmonious. and then to follow her mother wherever she went. if not grace. but only those about me whom I love. with a charm more beautiful than beauty. Her sisters braided up her pretty hair. and the only ornaments she wore were the lilies of the valley. "Then I am satisfied. Neither silk. Jo's angles are much softened. sewing into it the tender hopes and innocent romances of a girlish heart. and in them lies an expression that saddens one. and having a decided chin. Amy is with truth considered 'the flower of the family'. lace. The curly crop has lengthened into a thick coil. It is the shadow of pain which touches the young face with such pathetic patience. Quite flushed with excitement were their ruddy faces. These offending features gave . it may be a good time to tell of a few changes which three years have wrought in their appearance. and all. and only gentle words fall from her sharp tongue today. for it never would grow Grecian. the flow of her dress. whispering to one another what they had seen. giving the last touches to their simple toilet. as they swung in the wind." cried Amy. she has learned to carry herself with ease. there was a secret sorrow hid in the motherly heart at the flight of the first bird from the nest. who clung about her with April faces for a minute. and then to stay a few minutes with Father quietly in the study.

During the next fifteen minutes she looked more like a rose than ever. and no one heard his replies. "The first kiss for Marmee!" and turning. but she never could see it. and was only saved from a demonstration by the consciousness that Laurie was staring fixedly at her. for everyone availed themselves of their privileges to the fullest extent. and I'm going to have my little wedding just as I like it. The bridegroom's hand trembled visibly. who. he kissed his little bride behind the folding door. March and the young couple took their places under the green arch. fresh-faced. and said. Aunty. and everything looks . Mr. Meg cried. but the minute she was fairly married. There were to be no ceremonious performances. But Meg looked straight up in her husband's eyes. and he can be perfectly elegant if he likes. accompanied by the indecorous exclamation. and gliding away to warn Hercules to beware of the dragon. Jo did not cry. here's your hammer. child." And away went Meg to help 'that man' in his highly improper employment. everything was to be as natural and homelike as possible. and consoled herself with her wonderfully fair complexion. and 'the party came in'. to find the bridegroom fastening up a garland that had fallen down. "Jupiter Ammon! Jo's upset the cake again!" caused a momentary flurry. a cry. taking the seat of honor prepared for her. and curls more golden and abundant than ever. adorned with a headdress fearfully and wonderfully made. which only seemed to make the service more beautiful and solemn. but Amy stood like a graceful statue. with a most becoming ray of sunshine touching her white forehead and the flower in her hair. There was no bridal procession. as the rooms filled and Laurie's black head towered above the rest. "I will!" with such tender trust in her own face and voice that her mother's heart rejoiced and Aunt March sniffed audibly. which was hardly over when a flock of cousins arrived. and a laugh from Laurie. John. and to catch a glimpse of the paternal minister marching upstairs with a grave countenance and a wine bottle under each arm. she was scandalized to see the bride come running to welcome and lead her in. a hundred times! The cake ain't hurt a mite. It wasn't at all the thing. 166 All three wore suits of thin silver gray (their best gowns for the summer). from Mr. or count the cost of my luncheon. and no one is coming to stare at me." returned Amy. Laurence to old Hannah. pausing a moment in their busy lives to read with wistful eyes the sweetest chapter in the romance of womanhood. "Thank you. with a look that made Aunt March whisk out her pocket handkerchief with a sudden dew in her sharp old eyes. happy-hearted girls. though she was very near it once. Brooke didn't even say. "He has promised to be very good today." but as he stooped for the unromantic tool. I'm afraid. "You oughtn't to be seen till the last minute. as if loath to give Meg up. Beth kept her face hidden on her mother's shoulder.CHAPTER TWENTY character to her whole face. with a comical mixture of merriment and emotion in his wicked black eyes." "I'm not a show. I'm too happy to care what anyone says or thinks. "Upon my word. A crash. Mother and sisters gathered close. he worries me worse than mosquitoes. crying with a sob and a chuckle. fell upon her in the hall." whispered the old lady to Amy. keen blue eyes. deary. so when Aunt March arrived. gave it with her heart on her lips. to criticize my dress. "Don't let that young giant come near me. and settling the folds of her lavender moire with a great rustle. and all three looked just what they were. with blush roses in hair and bosom. here's a state of things!" cried the old lady. "Bless you. dear. which warning caused him to haunt the old lady with a devotion that nearly distracted her. as Beth used to say when a child. The fatherly voice broke more than once. but a sudden silence fell upon the room as Mr.

" "And I drink 'long life to your resolution'. I give you my word for it. "No one can refuse me anything today. or tried to. "I like that! For I've seen enough harm done to wish other women would think as you do. Laurie. when Laurie was seized with an inspiration which put the finishing touch to this unfashionable wedding. nor was there an elaborate breakfast. Come. Mrs. "All the married people take hands and dance round the new-made husband and wife. you see." 167 Everybody cleared up after that. for they were already in the little house. dressed with flowers. and with an answering smile. this is not one of my temptations. Laurence and Aunt March shrugged and smiled at one another when water. for which he thanked them all his life. as she waved her glass and beamed approvingly upon him. and coffee were found to be to only sorts of nectar which the three Hebes carried round.CHAPTER TWENTY lovely. people strolled about. promise. for after a quick look at her. Being brought up where wine is as common as water and almost as harmless. he gave her his hand. through the house and garden. if not for your own. the girls seized a happy moment to do their friend a service. who insisted on serving the bride. saying heartily. either. Don't think too well of me. There was no display of gifts. by twos and threes. but Father put away a little for Beth. and feeling her power. Teddy. I hope?" and there was an anxious accent in Meg's voice. but a plentiful lunch of cake and fruit. but she looked up at him with a face made very eloquent by happiness. the pledge made and loyally kept in spite of many temptations. No one said anything. "or am I merely laboring under a delusion that I saw some lying about loose this morning?" "No." "You are not made wise by experience." A demand so sudden and so serious made the young man hesitate a moment. Mr. your grandfather kindly offered us his best." Meg spoke seriously and expected to see Laurie frown or laugh. Meg knew that if he gave the promise he would keep it at all costs. very much. promenading down the path with . Brooke!" "I thank you. for with instinctive wisdom. lemonade. for ridicule is often harder to bear than self-denial. enjoying the sunshine without and within. You know he thinks that wine should be used only in illness. She did not speak. "I promise. for the sake of others. which did just as well. used it as a woman may for her friend's good. for laughter is ready when hearts are light." Laurie certainly could not. and give me one more reason to call this the happiest day of my life. "No. in his impetuous way." "But you will. I don't care for it. till Laurie. but when a pretty girl offers it. very. with a loaded salver in his hand and a puzzled expression on his face. baptizing him with a splash of lemonade. "Has Jo smashed all the bottles by accident?" he whispered. but he did neither. he said. So the toast was drunk. and a smile which said. and dispatched the rest to the Soldier's Home. Meg and John happened to be standing together in the middle of the grass plot. and Aunt March actually sent some." cried Jo. one doesn't like to refuse. as the Germans do. and Mother says that neither she nor her daughters will ever offer it to any young man under her roof. and said something brilliant. while we bachelors and spinsters prance in couples outside!" cried Laurie. appeared before her. After lunch.

others rapidly joined in. my dear. Laurence and Aunt March. and Mrs. young man. "I wish you well. Sir. Laurence. with her hands full of flowers and the June sunshine brightening her happy face--and so Meg's married life began." she said. clinging to her mother. settling himself in his easy chair to rest after the excitement of the morning. my lad. "I shall come every day. and hopped briskly away to join hands with the rest and dance about the bridal pair." said Mr. and I shall be perfectly satisfied. adding to the bridegroom." was Laurie's unusually dutiful reply." "That is the prettiest wedding I've been to for an age. and expect to keep my old place in all your hearts. and then people began to go. if you ever want to indulge in this sort of thing. as he led her to the carriage. threw her train over her arm and whisked Ned into the ring. or that I love you any the less for loving John so much. she just tucked her cane under her arm. looking like a pretty Quakeress in her dove-colored suit and straw bonnet tied with white. Aunt and Uncle Carrol began it. with faces full of love and hope and tender pride as she walked away. get one of those little girls to help you. "Don't feel that I am separated from you. as they drove away. Goodby. with such infectious spirit and skill that everyone else followed their example without a murmur. But the crowning joke was Mr. for there wasn't a bit of style about it. "Laurie. Moffat to her husband. The little house was not far away. Mr. Beth is going to be with me a great deal. with full eyes for a moment. and the only bridal journey Meg had was the quiet walk with John from the old home to the new. I heartily wish you well. as tenderly as if she had been going to make the grand tour. though I am married. while the young folks pervaded the garden like butterflies on a midsummer day. goodby!" They stood watching her. even Sallie Moffat. March. see that you deserve it. "You've got a treasure.CHAPTER TWENTY 168 Amy. they all gathered about her to say 'good-by'. Ned. When she came down." observed Mrs. and the other girls will drop in now and then to laugh at my housekeeping struggles." said Aunt March to Meg. "I'll do my best to gratify you. for when the stately old gentleman chasseed solemnly up to the old lady. but I think you'll be sorry for it. Want of breath brought the impromptu ball to a close. Thank you all for my happy wedding day. leaning on her husband's arm. and I don't see why. as he carefully unpinned the posy Jo had put in his buttonhole. Marmee dear. . after a moment's hesitation. Father.

that looked like a choice display of featherbeds when done. as the spectator pleased. and Amy fell to painting with undiminished ardor. and the family were one day alarmed by an unearthly bumping and screaming and running to the rescue. found the young enthusiast hopping wildly about the shed with her foot held fast in a pan full of plaster. For a long time there was a lull in the 'mud-pie' business. red-hot pokers lay about promiscuously. with a tomato-colored splash in the middle. and Hannah never went to bed without a pail of water and the dinner bell at her door in case of fire. were brought to an abrupt close by an untoward accident. and colors.CHAPTER TWENTY 169 CHAPTER TWENTY -SIX ARTISTIC ATTEMPTS It takes people a long time to learn the difference between talent and genius. buxom ladies and dropiscal infants. and discouragements. till their incoherent accounts of her mysterious doings caused Miss Amy to be regarded in the light of a young ogress. suggested Murillo. which had hardened with unexpected rapidity. for picturesque studies. or tumbled off closet shelves onto people's heads. and left a lasting memorial of one artistic attempt. and a broken mullein stalk. Children were enticed in as models. failures. Softened into crayon sketches. or 'a heavenly mass of clouds'. and Bacchus on the head of a beer barrel. in which she showed such taste and skill that her graceful handiwork proved both pleasant and profitable. which might be the sun or a bouy. which quenched her ardor. Her monstrosities in the way of cattle would have taken prizes at an agricultural fair. oily brown shadows of faces with a lurid streak in the wrong place. for she persevered in spite of all obstacles. But over-strained eyes caused pen and ink to be laid aside for a bold attempt at poker-sketching. at least. While this attack lasted. and the perilous pitching of her vessels would have produced seasickness in the most nautical observer. if the utter disregard to all known rules of shipbuilding and rigging had not convulsed him with laughter at the first glance. looking as wild and crocky as if just evoked from a coalbin. An artist friend fitted her out with his castoff palettes. and sighing for ruins to copy. brown rain. She caught endless colds sitting on damp grass to book 'a delicious bit'. Meg's mouth. and Turner appeared in tempests of blue thunder. they did better. Charcoal portraits came next. especially ambitious young men and women. and ghostly casts of her acquaintances haunted corners of the house. She sacrificed her complexion floating on the river in the midsummer sun to study light and shade. a stump. till a mania for sketching from nature set her to haunting river. and Laurie's eyes were pronounced 'wonderfully fine'. for Jo was so overcome with laughter while she excavated that her knife went too far. composed of a stone. A return to clay and plaster followed. Swarthy boys and dark-eyed Madonnas. as Michelangelo affirms. cut the poor foot. Amy had some claim to the divine attribute. Amy was learning this distinction through much tribulation. and purple clouds. and wood. and the entire family hung in a row. the family lived in constant fear of a conflagration. After this Amy subsided. and got a wrinkle over her nose trying after 'points of sight'. Raphael's face was found boldly executed on the underside of the moulding board. smoke issued from attic and shed with alarming frequency. With much difficulty and some danger she was dug out. she attempted every branch of art with youthful audacity. If 'genius is eternal patience'. staring at you from one corner of the studio. From fire to oil was a natural transition for burned fingers. for mistaking enthusiasm for inspiration. for the odor of burning wood pervaded the house at all hours. firmly believing that in time she should do . a sailor's shirt or a king's robe. one mushroom. Other models failing her for a time. field. and she daubed away. for the likenesses were good. A chanting cherub adorned the cover of the sugar bucket. meant Rembrandt. Rubens. orange lightning. Her efforts in this line. brushes. and Amy's hair. and attempts to portray Romeo and Juliet supplied kindling for some time. or whatever the squint-and-string performance is called. however. producing pastoral and marine views such as were never seen on land or sea. she undertook to cast her own pretty foot. Jo's nose. and she devoted herself to the finest pen-and-ink drawing.

" "That looks feasible. Never forgetting that by birth she was a gentlewoman. and coffee will be all that is necessary. often mistaking the false for the true. "Twelve or fourteen in the class. sincerely desired to be a genuine lady. "I want to ask a favor of you. for they are all rich and I know I am poor. "You know as well as I that it does make a difference with nearly everyone. Money. a row on the river. French chocolate and ice cream. doing. what is your plan?" "I should like to ask the girls out to lunch next week. when your chickens get pecked by smarter birds. I suppose?" "Oh. "My lady. for among her good gifts was tact." and Amy smiled without bitterness. you know. but I dare say they won't all come. "Well. and was so at heart. little girl. Everybody liked her. without being quite sure what the best really was. yet they never made any difference. motherly hen." Amy said. so that when the opportunity came she might be ready to take the place from which poverty now excluded her. sandwiches. Mrs. They have been very kind to me in many ways. and enjoying other things. fashionable accomplishments. The ugly duckling turned out a swan. Mamma. my swan. and admiring what was not admirable. besides. but had yet to learn that money cannot buy refinement of nature. "Our drawing class breaks up next week. What do you want for lunch? Cake. for she was one of those happily created beings who please without effort. perhaps. did just what suited the time and place. position. coming in with an important air one day.CHAPTER TWENTY something worthy to be called 'high art'. so don't ruffle up like a dear. no! We must have cold tongue and chicken. She had an instinctive sense of what was pleasing and proper. March put the question with what the girls called her 'Maria Theresa air'." "Why should they?" and Mrs. and that true breeding makes itself felt in spite of external drawbacks. for she had resolved to be an attractive and accomplished woman. 170 She was learning. and she liked to associate with those who possessed them." ." One of her weaknesses was a desire to move in 'our best society'. and I want my lunch to be proper and elegant. I want to ask them out here for a day. for she possessed a happy temper and hopeful spirit. beginning to look sober. in whose eyes the stately young lady still remained 'the baby'. that rank does not always confer nobility. though I do work for my living. and elegant manners were most desirable things in her eyes. and before the girls separate for the summer. even if she never became a great artist. March laughed." "How many young ladies are there?" asked her mother. sketch the broken bridge. Here she succeeded better. meanwhile. she cultivated her aristocratic tastes and feelings. and was so self-possessed that her sisters used to say. and smoothed down her maternal pride as she asked. dear. and I am grateful. make friends everywhere. and make a little artistic fete for them." as her friends called her. "Well. fruit. The girls are used to such things. and copy some of the things they admire in my book. and take life so gracefully and easily that less fortunate souls are tempted to believe that such are born under a lucky star. always said the right thing to the right person. to take them for a drive to the places they want to see. They are wild to see the river. "If Amy went to court without any rehearsal beforehand. what is it?" replied her mother. she'd know exactly what to do.

I don't care to have it at all. "I don't truckle. "The girls do care for me. and call it independence. who. Amy's definition of Jo's idea of independence was such a good hit that both burst out laughing.) "All of this will be expensive. Much against her will. and help her sister through what she regarded as 'a nonsensical business'. "Why in the world should you spend your money. and the best we can do will be nothing new. if they had not objected to taking advice as much as they did salts and senna. if your heart is set upon it. You can go through the world with your elbows out and your nose in the air. and the discussion took a more amiable turn. worry your family. for the two still jangled when such questions arose. and when it was possible she left her children to learn alone the lessons which she would gladly have made easier. from her little house itself to her very best saltspoons. You don't care to make people like you. Meg agreed at once. you will have to charter an omnibus to carry them about. with the decision which opposition was apt to change into obstinacy. for she seldom failed to have common sense on her side. and prophesied that "ef the washin' and . I know that I can carry it out perfectly well. that some simpler plan would be pleasanter to them. and whichever way you decide. time. you are always so kind. and I'll pay for it myself. Grundy." said Jo. child. and I for them. Mother. so I shall hire a beach wagon and borrow Mr. But Jo frowned upon the whole project and would have nothing to do with it at first. was not in the best mood for social enterprises. as a change if nothing more. and turn the house upside down for a parcel of girls who don't care a sixpence for you? I thought you had too much pride and sense to truckle to any mortal woman just because she wears French boots and rides in a coupe." and away went Amy to lay her plan before her sisters. Hannah was out of humor because her week's work was deranged. and cultivate your manners and tastes. I'll do my best to help you." When Amy had whetted her tongue and freed her mind she usually got the best of it. being called from the tragic climax of her novel. and much better for us than buying or borrowing what we don't need. and I hate being patronized as much as you do!" returned Amy indignantly. gladly offering anything she possessed." 171 "Why.CHAPTER TWENTY "Bless me. and promised her aid. and there's a great deal of kindness and sense and talent among them. Amy." said Amy. I do. "Very well. that as these girls are used to such things. dear. and I don't see why I can't if I'm willing to pay for it. and I mean to make the most of every chance that comes. and temper. Mrs. how can you think of such a thing? Not more than six or eight will probably come. nearly all accepted. The invitations were sent. in spite of what you call fashionable nonsense." "Not very. Laurence's cherry-bounce. to go into good society." "Thanks. and attempting a style not in keeping with our circumstances?" "If I can't have it as I like. if you and the girls will help a little. Mother. March knew that experience was an excellent teacher. while Jo carried her love of liberty and hate of conventionalities to such an unlimited extent that she naturally found herself worsted in an argument. I'll say no more. That's not my way. I've calculated the cost." "Don't you think. Amy. and you see your way through without too great an outlay of money." (Hannah's pronunciation of char-a-banc. Jo at length consented to sacrifice a day to Mrs. if you like. and the following Monday was set apart for the grand event. Talk it over with the girls.

she skillfully made the best of what she had." said Amy. The parlor struck her as looking uncommonly shabby. Amy was up at dawn. "Then I must have a lobster. It drizzled a little. she proceeded to do it in spite of all obstacles. She spoke briskly. coming in half an hour later. blew a little." advised his wife. which seemed trifling at the outset. hustling people out of their beds and through their breakfasts. but without stopping to sigh for what she had not. she should drive away with her friends for an afternoon of artistic delights. and mistakes were uncommonly numerous. so did the wagon. that the house might be got in order. March. arranging chairs over the worn places in the carpet. Then the cake and ice cost more than Amy expected. that nothing might be lost. an arrangement which aggravated Jo and Hannah to the last degree. Hannah's cooking didn't turn out well. "Shall I rush into town and demand one?" asked Jo. and aching head. The carriages were promised. Then came the hours of suspense." said Mr. the object of her desire . with the magnanimity of a martyr.CHAPTER TWENTY 172 ironin' warn't done reg'lar. "Hannah left it on the kitchen table a minute. "Use the chicken then. The lunch looked charming. I'm very sorry. whose temper was beginning to fail. feeling that a cool drive would soothe her ruffled spirit and fit her for the labors of the day. After some delay. and didn't make up its mind till it was too late for anyone else to make up theirs. while public opinion varied like the weathercock. "You'd come bringing it home under your arm without any paper. and as she wearily dressed. and trying. the tongue too salty. Jo had engaged to be as lively and amiable as an absent mind. but in her secret soul she wished she had said nothing about Tuesday. the toughness won't matter in a salad. A smart shower at eleven had evidently quenched the enthusiasm of the young ladies who were to arrive at twelve. for tongue alone won't do. shone a little. and that the borrowed glass. and the chocolate wouldn't froth properly. but Amy's motto was 'Nil desperandum'. If it was not fair on Monday. for her interest like her cake was getting a little stale. so we must fly round and be ready for them. who was still a patroness of cats. "No doubt about the weather today. and at two the exhausted family sat down in a blaze of sunshine to consume the perishable portions of the feast. and as she surveyed it. the young ladies were to come on Tuesday. she sincerely hoped it would taste well. and having made up her mind what to do. and various other expenses. for the 'cherry bounce' and the broken bridge were her strong points. Meg had an unusual number of callers to keep her at home. which gave an artistic air to the room. I'll go myself. This hitch in the mainspring of the domestic machinery had a bad effect upon the whole concern. Shrouded in a thick veil and armed with a genteel traveling basket." said Amy decidedly. "I can't get any lobsters. On Monday morning the weather was in that undecided state which is more exasperating than a steady pour. and a very decided disapproval of everybody and everything would allow. during which she vibrated from parlor to porch. serious. lunch safely over. counted up rather alarmingly afterward. Beth got a cold and took to her bed. with an expression of placid despair. and the kittens got at it. Amy. Amy cheered herself with anticipations of the happy moment when. she departed. china. covering stains on the walls with homemade statuary. To begin with. nothin' would go well anywheres". as did the lovely vases of flowers Jo scattered about. so you will have to do without salad today. and Jo was in such a divided state of mind that her breakages. Beth was able to help Hannah behind the scenes. for nobody came." answered Amy. The chicken was tough. Meg and Mother were all ready to do the honors. and silver would get safely home again." added Beth. just to try me. as the sun woke her next morning. they will certainly come. accidents.

when the old lady got out. so she ordered the 'cherry bounce'. The lobster was instantly surrounded by a halo of pleasing reminiscences. In came Amy." said Mrs. too excited to stop even for a laugh." cried Jo. that's a comfort. "Run. well pleased with her own forethought. She did not mention this meeting at home (though she discovered that. set her basket boldly on the seat. returned the young man's greeting with her usual suavity and spirit. and I want the poor child to have a good time after all her trouble. but went through with the preparations which now seemed more irksome than before. Beth. sat Amy and one young lady. really. was revealed to the highborn eyes of a Tudor! "By Jove.CHAPTER TWENTY 173 was procured. It looks hospitable. who entered without stopping the vehicle. quite calm and delightfully cordial to the one guest who had kept her promise. with an indescribable expression. thanks to the upset. and an air of sober interest that did credit to his breeding. and said. her new dress was much damaged by the rivulets of dressing that meandered down the skirt). "Oh. and drove away in state to meet and escort her guests to the banquet. "There's the rumble." and." murmured Amy. they're coming! I'll go onto the porch and meet them. poking the scarlet monster into its place with his cane. As the omnibus contained only one other passenger. till a masculine voice said. So busy was she with her card full of refractory figures that she did not observe a newcomer. In stumbling to the door. played their parts equally well. Feeling that the neighbors were interested in her movements. laughing. But after one glance. and at twelve o'clock all was ready again. she's forgotten her dinner!" cried the unconscious youth. hurrying away to the lower regions. Fervently hoping that he would get out before she did. for looking quite lost in the big carriage. being of a dramatic turn. and to see the charming young ladies who are to eat it?" Now that was tact. likewise a bottle of dressing to prevent further loss of time at home. It's an uncommonly fine one. with a face nearly as red as her fish. with great presence of mind. and curiosity about 'the charming young ladies' diverted his mind from the comical mishap. looking up. and help Hannah clear half the things off the table. and--oh horror!--the lobster. Amy pocketed her veil and beguiled the tedium of the way by trying to find out where all her money had gone to. "Good morning. I beg pardon. "Please don't--it's--it's mine. for Amy's chief care was soon set at rest by learning that the gentleman would leave first. They got on excellently. isn't it?" said Tudor. but I shan't see them. "Don't you wish you were to have some of the salad he's going to make. a sleepy old lady. and she was chatting away in a peculiarly lofty strain. and Miss Eliott found them a most hilarious set. "I suppose he'll laugh and joke over it with Laurie. for it was impossible to control entirely the merriment which possessed them. It will be too absurd to put a luncheon for twelve before a single girl. she retired. as Tudor bowed and departed. The rest of the family. and congratulating herself that she had on her new traveling dress. she wished to efface the memory of yesterday's failure by a grand success today. in all its vulgar size and brilliancy. The remodeled lunch being . and preparing to hand out the basket after the old lady. Amy recovered herself in a breath. she beheld one of Laurie's most elegant college friends. Miss March. she upset the basket. Amy utterly ignored the basket at her feet." thought Amy. for two of the ruling foibles of the masculine mind were touched. and off she drove again. March. suiting the action to the word.

I'm sick of the sight of this. "I thank you all very much for helping me. but the word 'fete' always produced a general smile. thinking with a sigh of the generous store she had laid in for such an end as this." sighed Jo. dear. I'm the only one here who likes sweet things. and it will mold before I can dispose of it. looking very tired but as composed as ever." observed Beth. and seemed to enjoy herself. "I am satisfied. and there's no reason you should all die of a surfeit because I've been a fool. "It's a pity Laurie isn't here to help us." No one did for several months. and drove her friend quietly about the neighborhood till sunset. wiping her eyes." answered Amy. and I'll thank you still more if you won't allude to it for a month. to the great surprise of the learned gentleman. at least." said Amy with a little quiver in her voice. and the whole family ate in heroic silence. she observed that every vestige of the unfortunate fete had disappeared.. I have so much company. when 'the party went out'. and Evelyn. as respectfully as if the whole twelve had come. but we all did our best to satisfy you. and it's not my fault that it failed." asked Meg soberly. "You've had a loverly afternoon for your drive. like two little kernels in a very big nutshell. I've done what I undertook. I comfort myself with that. "I thought I should have died when I saw you two girls rattling about in the what-you-call-it.. "Take it all. "Could you spare me some of your cake? I really need some. and I can't make such delicious stuff as yours. As she came walking in. and Laurie's birthday gift to Amy was a tiny coral lobster in the shape of a charm for her watch guard. I thought." said Mrs. . except a suspicious pucker about the corners of Jo's mouth. dear." cried Amy. in a tone full of motherly regret. March mildly observed. "I'm very sorry you were disappointed. as they sat down to ice cream and salad for the second time in two days. and Mother waiting in state to receive the throng. with unusual warmth." Here a general explosion of laughter cut short the 'history of salads'. Amy ordered a buggy (alas for the elegant cherry-bounce). quite spent with laughter. A warning look from her mother checked any further remarks.CHAPTER TWENTY 174 gaily partaken of. "Miss Eliott is a very sweet girl. "Bundle everything into a basket and send it to the Hummels. till Mr. March. Germans like messes." began Jo." said her mother. "salad was one of the favorite dishes of the ancients. and art discussed with enthusiasm. the studio and garden visited.

unconscious of want. saying bluntly. and cast upon the floor. with boyish good nature offered half his paper. idly wondering what fortuitous concatenation of circumstances needed the melodramatic illustration of an Indian in full war costume. It was a People's Course. but took an observation of the cap. and murder. "want to read it? That's a first-rate story. with massive foreheads and bonnets to match. "Does genius burn. or bad weather. and not until the red bow was seen gaily erect upon the gifted brow. sleepy. meals stood untasted. or despondent. and an old gentleman taking his preparatory nap behind a yellow bandanna. adorned with a cheerful red bow. the lad saw her looking and. artlessly holding each other by the hand. and whose lives were spent in trying to solve harder riddles than that of the Sphinx. for the story belonged to that class of light literature in . put on her scribbling suit. Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room. it was a sign that hard work was going on. and led a blissful life. while two infuriated young gentlemen. for till that was finished she could find no peace. writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul. and then she emerged from her 'vortex'. with unnaturally small feet and big eyes. This cap was a beacon to the inquiring eyes of her family. but I doubt if half a million would have given more real happiness then did the little sum that came to her in this wise." Jo accepted it with a smile. Not a golden penny. into which she bundled her hair when the decks were cleared for action. while she sat safe and happy in an imaginary world. but took it for granted that some great social evil would be remedied or some great want supplied by unfolding the glories of the Pharaohs to an audience whose thoughts were busy with the price of coal and flour. If this expressive article of dress was drawn low upon the forehead. but when the writing fit came on. It was a pictorial sheet. and dropped a good luck penny in her path. who during these periods kept their distance. and Jo examined the work of art nearest her. and soon found herself involved in the usual labyrinth of love. On her left were two matrons. and a cap of the same material. and while Miss Crocker set the heel of her stocking. exactly. were stabbing each other close by. Jo?" They did not always venture even to ask this question. and Jo rather wondered at the choice of such a subject for such an audience. discussing Women's Rights and making tatting. The devine afflatus usually lasted a week or two. the lecture on the Pyramids. did anyone dare address Jo. in exciting moments it was pushed rakishly askew. and 'fall into a vortex'. cross. Her 'scribbling suit' consisted of a black woolen pinafore on which she could wipe her pen at will. day and night were all too short to enjoy the happiness which blessed her only at such times. tumbling over a precipice with a wolf at his throat. and a disheveled female was flying away in the background with her mouth wide open. She did not think herself a genius by any means. At such times the intruder silently withdrew. Beyond sat a pair of humble lovers. care. and in return for her virtue was rewarded with a new idea. Jo amused herself by examining the faces of the people who occupied the seat with them. for she had never outgrown her liking for lads. merely popping in their heads semi-occasionally to ask. even if they bore no other fruit. her only neighbor was a studious looking lad absorbed in a newspaper. and when despair seized the author it was plucked wholly off. and made these hours worth living. They were early.CHAPTER TWENTY 175 CHAPTER TWENTY -SEVEN LITERARY LESSONS Fortune suddenly smiled upon Jo. full of friends almost as real and dear to her as any in the flesh. she gave herself up to it with entire abandon. On her right. mystery. She was just recovering from one of these attacks when she was prevailed upon to escort Miss Crocker to a lecture. Sleep forsook her eyes. with interest. and judged accordingly. hungry. as she expressed it. a somber spinster eating peppermints out of a paper bag. Pausing to turn a page.

but Jo heard very little of it. and after years of effort it was so pleasant to find that she had learned to do something. "I should think I was a pretty lucky chap if I could. Northbury. he shook his head. and gets paid well for writing it. but fell to work next day." "Do you say she makes a good living out of stories like this?" and Jo looked more respectfully at the agitated group and thickly sprinkled exclamation points that adorned the page. she electrified the family by appearing before them with the letter in one hand. "Prime." and he pointed to the name of Mrs. and boldly resolving to try for the hundred-dollar prize offered in its columns for a sensational story. A prouder young woman was seldom seen than she. and was just beginning to give up all hope of ever seeing her manuscript again.. Aim at the highest. the romance fresh and hearty. who always looked a little anxious when 'genius took to burning'. modestly saying that if the tale didn't get the prize. and never mind the money. but Jo did both. they say. "Do you know her?" asked Jo. Six weeks is a long time to wait. S. though after her father had told her that the language was good. she had built up a splendid fortune for herself (not the first founded on paper). though it was only to write a sensation story. amused at his admiration of the trash. isn't it?" asked the boy." . I think he would devote his leisure hours. and I know a fellow who works in the office where this paper is printed. Jo had never tried this style before. as a striking and appropriate denouement. and said in his unworldly way. "No. and hieroglyphics. because it was encouraging. then she read her letter and began to cry. but I read all her pieces.A. for on opening it. and the tragedy quite thrilling. under the title of the tale. The manuscript was privately dispatched. If the amiable gentleman who wrote that kindly note could have known what intense happiness he was giving a fellow creature. being unable to decide whether the duel should come before the elopement or after the murder. She said nothing of her plan at home. if he has any. when. By the time the lecture ended and the audience awoke. "I think you and I could do as well as that if we tried. and costumes. a grand catastrophe clears the stage of one half the dramatis personae. and was already deep in the concoction of her story. which the writer hardly dared expect.L. scarabei. Her experience and miscellaneous reading were of service now. for while Professor Sands was prosing away about Belzoni. she was covertly taking down the address of the paper. and when the author's invention fails. Her story was as full of desperation and despair as her limited acquaintance with those uncomfortable emotions enabled her to make it. Cheops. and supplied plot.G. Of course there was a great jubilee. accompanied by a note.. and having located it in Lisbon. she wound up with an earthquake. having composed herself. for Jo valued the letter more than the money.CHAPTER TWENTY 176 which the passions have a holiday." Here the lecture began. with sudden interest. and when the story came everyone read and praised it. she would be very glad to receive any sum it might be considered worth. the check in the other. language. a check for a hundred dollars fell into her lap. much to the disquiet of her mother.N." returned Jo. She makes a good living out of such stories. announcing that she had won the prize. For a minute she stared at it as if it had been a snake. Jo. "Guess she does! She knows just what folks like. and a still longer time for a girl to keep a secret. contenting herself with very mild romances for The Spread Eagle. leaving the other half to exult over their downfall. for they gave her some idea of dramatic effect. when a letter arrived which almost took her breath away. to that amusement. as her eye went down the last paragraph of her portion. "You can do better than this.

" said Amy." said Jo. . who took a strictly practical view of the subject." interrupted Jo.CHAPTER TWENTY "I think the money is the best part of it. and help her to do better next time. for by the magic of a pen. "that's just it. Fame is a very good thing to have in the house. She did earn several that year. Make a good. and omit all the parts which she particularly admired. and need ask no one for a penny. make it brief and dramatic. 177 To the seaside they went. and we don't. "Now I must either bundle it back in to my tin kitchen to mold. after much discussion. It will be a great help to have cool. 'Leave out the explanations. I've been fussing over the thing so long. so I wish to take the sense of the meeting on this important subject. The Duke's Daughter paid the butcher's bill. March. you can afford to digress. and ceased to envy richer girls. but poverty has its sunny side. Wealth is certainly a most desirable thing. for it will show her both unsuspected merits and faults." was her father's advice. but they found a market. her 'rubbish' turned into comforts for them all." said Mrs. and he practiced what he preached. beautiful. having waited patiently thirty years for fruit of his own to ripen. and submitted it with fear and trembling to three publishers. and useful blessings of the world. knitting her brows. when you've got a name. and fell to work with a cheery spirit. March declared she felt ten years younger. I really don't know whether it's good. and being in no haste to gather it even now when it was sweet and mellow. on condition that she would cut it down one third. pay for printing it myself. "Send Beth and Mother to the seaside for a month or two. impartial persons take a look at it. We are too partial. "It seems to me that Jo will profit more by taking the trial than by waiting. "Do as he tells you. A Phantom Hand put down a new carpet. calling a family council." "I wouldn't leave a word out of it. or chop it up to suit purchasers and get what I can for it. So Jo was satisfied with the investment of her prize money. He knows what will sell. "Don't spoil your book. my girl. and tell me what they think of it. we owe half the wise. who firmly believed that this book was the most remarkable novel ever written. or indifferent. bad. read it to all her confidential friends. "Criticism is the best test of such work. Allen says. and the Curse of the Coventrys proved the blessing of the Marches in the way of groceries and gowns. and the idea is well worked out. and have philosophical and metaphysical people in your novels. and it will be all a muddle if you don't explain as you go on. while Mrs. but the praise and blame of outsiders will prove useful. What will you do with such a fortune?" asked Amy. and though Beth didn't come home as plump and rosy as could be desired. she at last disposed of it." said Jo." said Meg. she was much better. bent on earning more of those delightful checks. You'll spoil it if you do." answered Jo promptly. popular book. and get as much money as you can. regarding the magic slip of paper with a reverential eye. Jo enjoyed a taste of this satisfaction. she resolved to make a bold stroke for fame and fortune. Having copied her novel for the fourth time. and to the inspiration of necessity. "But Mr. and began to feel herself a power in the house. and one of the sweet uses of adversity is the genuine satisfaction which comes from hearty work of head or hand. taking great comfort in the knowledge that she could supply her own wants." "Yes. for there is more in it than you know. and encouraged by this fact. even if she gets but little money. turning to the publisher's note. for the interest of the story is more in the minds than in the actions of the people. By-and-by. but cash is more convenient. Little notice was taken of her stories. Let it wait and ripen. and let the characters tell the story'.

out into the big. so that was allowed to remain though she had her doubts about it." was all Beth said. and confidingly sent the poor little romance. "and I've got the joke on my side. Jo quenched the spritly scenes which relieved the somber character of the story. what do you say?" 178 "I should so like to see it printed soon. and true'. for I know nothing about such things. and a wistful look in the eyes that never lost their childlike candor. with Spartan firmness. for I do hate to be so misjudged." . like a picked robin. therefore it came. like Keats. that criticism would help me. and chopped it up as ruthlessly as any ogre.' (I know better than that). Then. both so much greater than she expected that she was thrown into a state of bewilderment from which it took her some time to recover. pure. If I've got some of his wise ideas jumbled up with my romance. except what I hear father say. I don't see how this critic can be right. "This man says. after all. as I had no theory of any kind. she could laugh at her poor little book. "You said. laughing. wrath and dismay the next. full of morbid fancies. and the scenes that I made up out of my own silly head are pronounced 'charmingly natural. and unnatural characters. to complicate the ruin. and nearly all insist that I had a deep theory to expound. some overpraise. But it did her good. yet believe in it still. it won't kill me. beauty. she took everyone's advice. Now. with the best intentions in life." Her family and friends administered comfort and commendation liberally. Another says. and like the old man and his donkey in the fable suited nobody. and smiled in saying it. and feel herself the wiser and stronger for the buffeting she had received. who meant so well and had apparently done so ill. and when I'm ready. and she got three hundred dollars for it. Well. and copied my characters from life. don't believe in Spiritualism. which chilled Jo's heart for a minute with a forboding fear." said Jo. 'The theory of the book is bad. and healthy. likewise plenty of praise and blame. Beth. Out.' Now. she cut it down one third. 'It's one of the best American novels which has appeared for years.' 'Tisn't! Some make fun of it.'" continued the perplexed authoress. for the parts that were taken straight out of real life are denounced as impossible and absurd. the young authoress laid her first-born on her table. so much the better for me. while Amy objected to the fun. and when the first soreness was over. it was printed. But there was an unconscious emphasis on the last word. busy world to try its fate. it isn't my fault. full of truth. But how can it. and with it many necessary links in the story." she said stoutly. "Not being a genius. when it's so contradictory that I don't know whether I've written a promising book or broken all the ten commandments?" cried poor Jo. and the next asserts that 'Though it is original. spiritualistic ideas. it is a dangerous book. Yet it was a hard time for sensitive. turning over a heap of notices. So. Her mother thought that there was a trifle too much description. when I only wrote it for the pleasure and the money. high-spirited Jo. I'll up again and take another.CHAPTER TWENTY "Well. and written with great force and feeling. 'An exquisite book. and earnestness. and decided her to make her little venture 'soon'. Her father liked the metaphysical streak which had unconsciously got into it. for those whose opinion had real value gave her the criticism which is an author's best education. sometimes. In the hope of pleasing everyone. tender. I wish I'd printed the whole or not at all. so Jo piled up the agony to suit her. and. Meg admired the tragedy. "if my people are 'philosophical and metaphysical'. "The next.' 'All is sweet. So I'll comfort myself with that. the perusal of which filled her with pride and joy one minute. Mother.

Home came four dozen delightful little pots. "Shall I send some veal or mutton for dinner. and a small boy to pick the currants for her. when her husband followed up his kiss with the tender inquiry. While the cooking mania lasted she went through Mrs. but they had held to their resolve. Meg began her married life with the determination to be a model housekeeper. and took a natural pride in her skill. which tried his soul. for their own currants were ripe and were to be attended to at once. and a frugal fit would ensue. and restrained. Cornelius. she asked advice of Mrs. Fired a with housewifely wish to see her storeroom stocked with homemade preserves. energy. hash. although he bore it with praiseworthy fortitude. They were very happy. for hadn't she seen Hannah do it hundreds of times? The array of pots rather amazed her at first. John should find home a paradise. a family jar. for the little woman fussed. and cheerfulness to the work that she could not but succeed. feeling the cares of the head of a family upon his shoulders. Sometimes her family were invited in to help eat up a too bounteous feast of successes. She did her best. she racked her brain to remember what Hannah did that she left undone. working out the problems with patience and care. arms bared to the elbow. As for buttons. Then John took steadily to business. She longed to run home. As John firmly believed that 'my wife' was equal to anything. John grew dyspeptic after a course of dainty dishes and ungratefully demanded plain fare. and Meg laid by her cambric wrappers. during which the poor man was put through a course of bread pudding. cumbered with many cares. to shake her head over the carelessness of men. and fussing over her jelly. and bustled about like a true Martha. and to threaten to make him sew them on himself. she reboiled. Before the golden mean was found. even to smile. and ask Mother to lend her a hand. feeling no doubts about her success. They had laughed over that last word as if the idea it suggested was a most preposterous one. resugared. sometimes. however. which were to be concealed from all eyes in the convenient stomachs of the little Hummels. Cornelius's Receipt Book as if it were a mathematical exercise. She was too tired. With her pretty hair tucked into a little cap. but that dreadful stuff wouldn't 'jell'. Her paradise was not a tranquil one. John was requested to order home a dozen or so of little pots and an extra quantity of sugar. should fare sumptuously every day. but it became a home. but John was so fond of jelly. he should always see a smiling face. and spent a long day picking. and frolicked over it like children. and warmed-over coffee.CHAPTER TWENTY 179 CHAPTER TWENTY -EIGHT DOMESTIC EXPERIENCES Like most other young matrons. straining. and . An evening with John over the account books usually produced a temporary lull in the culinary enthusiasm. bib and all. that Meg resolved to fill them all. She brought so much love. John did not find Meg's beauty diminished. At first they played keep-house. but John and she had agreed that they would never annoy anyone with their private worries. and the young couple soon felt that it was a change for the better. and never know the loss of a button. and the nice little jars would look so well on the top shelf. darling?" The little house ceased to be a glorified bower. though she beamed at him from behind the familiar coffee pot. the young housewife fell to work. he resolved that she should be gratified. even after they discovered that they couldn't live on love alone. experiments. put on a big apron. or quarrels. she undertook to put up her own currant jelly. and see if his work would stand impatient and clumsy fingers any better than hers. as before said. in spite of some obstacles. with more energy than discretion. Nor did Meg miss any of the romance from the daily parting. and their only crop of fruit laid by in a most pleasing form for winter use. was over-anxious to please. she soon learned to wonder where they went. boiling. and fell to work. and a checked apron which had a coquettish look in spite of the bib. or Lotty would be privately dispatched with a batch of failures. Meg added to her domestic possessions what young couples seldom get on long without. half a barrel of sugar.

smiling a shy welcome as she greeted her guest. Congratulating himself that a handsome repast had been ordered that morning. with a queer look on his face. "What worries you dear? Has anything dreadful happened?" asked the anxious John. to bring a friend home to dinner unexpectedly. but he could both see and hear. Round the house he hurried. Scott strolled after him. Nothing of the sort. and no one interfered. with the irrepressible satisfaction of a young host and husband. and indulging in pleasant anticipations of the charming effect it would produce. and Mr. and felt what a blessed thing it was to have a superior wife. when his pretty wife came running out to meet him. no scolding. Now. There shall be no flurry. ." sobbed Meg despairingly. "Yes. Brooke. Now it was not only shut. dear. If John had not forgotten all about the jelly. deplore. The front door usually stood hospitably open. sat sobbing dismally. with a distracting little bow in her hair. while Mrs. or a bright-eyed hostess. "My husband shall always feel free to bring a friend home whenever he likes. with awful visions of scalded hands. while I look up Mrs.CHAPTER TWENTY 180 whenever they could get on without help they did so. it really would have been unpardonable in him to choose that day. which was all askew. for the jelly was still in a hopelessly liquid state. no picture of the pretty wife sewing on the piazza. It is a world of disappointments. sudden news of affliction. So Meg wrestled alone with the refractory sweetmeats all that hot summer day. and yesterday's mud still adorned the steps. invite whom you please. in white. In the kitchen reigned confusion and despair. never stop to ask my leave. rushing in. Brooke. and a third was burning gaily on the stove. with her apron over her head. The parlor windows were closed and curtained. for her pinafore had been baptized at the same time as the floor. no discomfort. for not a soul appeared but a sanginary-looking boy asleep under the current bushes. wrung her bedaubed hands. but locked. I shall always be prepared. what is the matter?" cried John. John. was calmly eating bread and currant wine. led by a pungent smell of burned sugar. But. and at five o'clock sat down in her topsy-turvey kitchen. John. and being a bachelor. It always happens so in this vale of tears. to be sure! John quite glowed with pride to hear her say it. of all the days in the year. he escorted his friend to his mansion. Do come and help me or I shall die!" and the exhausted housewife cast herself upon his breast. "I'm afraid something has happened. alarmed at the silence and solitude. Scott. One edition of jelly was trickled from pot to pot. "My dearest girl. another lay upon the floor. Step into the garden. as John discovered when he reached the Dovecote. Lotty. and bear as we best can. I am so tired and hot and cross and worried! I've been at it till I'm all worn out. there is an inevitability about such things which we can only wonder at. "Oh. and a good dinner. feeling sure that it would be ready to the minute. a cheerful wife. enjoyed the prospect mightily. for Mrs. lifted up her voice and wept. it never happened to be unexpected. with Teutonic phlegm. and be sure of a welcome from me. He paused discreetly at a distance when Brooke disappeared. in the first flush of the new life. tenderly kissing the crown of the little cap. and Meg had never had an opportunity to distinguish herself till now. giving him a sweet welcome in every sense of the word. but a neat house. and secret consternation at the thought of the guest in the garden. she had often said. although they had had company from time to time." said John." How charming that was. March had advised the plan.

rushing to the larder. but if you will lend a hand. We won't ask for jelly. Out with it.. then. for I met him on the way out. dear. I never tried it before. The jelly won't jell and I don't know what to do!" 181 John Brooke laughed then as he never dared to laugh afterward." He meant it to be a good-natured joke." continued Meg petulantly.. love. I meant to dine at Mother's. and you two can laugh at me and my jelly as much as you like.. and the derisive Scott smiled involuntarily as he heard the hearty peal. and bread and cheese. "Is that all? Fling it out of the window." John got no further. I won't have anything of the sort in my house. for even turtledoves will peck when ruffled. and don't bother any more about it. I can't see him. "I hadn't time to cook anything." "Well. You won't have anything else here. anything. reproach. "You ought to have sent word. for I've brought Jack Scott home to dinner. we'll pull through and have a good time yet. Give us the cold meat. and there was no time to send word. and there isn't any dinner. and. and after a long day's work to come home tired. for Meg cast him off. so we shan't mind what it is.CHAPTER TWENTY "Tell me quick. It's like a man to propose a bone and vulgar bread and cheese for company. and everything in a mess! John Brooke. he's in the garden! I forgot the confounded jelly. and the pudding you promised?" cried John. exclaiming in a tone of mingled indignation. which put the finishing stroke to poor Meg's woe. and clasped her hands with a tragic gesture as she fell into a chair. and fix us up something to eat. and the last atom of patience vanished as he spoke. I'll buy you quarts if you want it. "I should hope not! Take him away at once. hungry. how could you do such a thing?" "Hush." said John. I'm sorry. "A man to dinner. I'm too used up to 'exert' myself for anyone." and Meg's tears began again. with an aggrieved air.. I can bear anything better than that." and having delivered her defiance all on one breath. dead. when you have always told me to do as I liked. . and hang me if I ever do again!" added John. "I didn't know it this morning.. but it can't be helped now.. Don't cry. I won't see him. and hopeful." "The. Meg cast away her pinafore and precipitately left the field to bemoan herself in her own room. to find a chaotic house. "It's a scrape. but he was human. Meg thought it was too cruel to hint about her sad failure. but that one word sealed his fate. Don't cry. sick. but I was so busy. We're both as hungry as hunters. and a cross wife was not exactly conductive to repose of mind or manner. "You must get yourself out of the scrape as you can. and the little squall would have blown over. or told me this morning. I never thought of asking leave. I like that! Where's the beef and vegetables I sent home. and you ought to have remembered how busy I was. but for heaven's sake don't have hysterics. an empty table. surveying the prospect with an anxious eye. I acknowledge. John was a mild man. He restrained himself however. Take that Scott up to Mother's. and dismay. and tell him I'm away. but just exert yourself a bit. but for one unlucky word.

and received with unbelieving protests. if you reason kindly. He is very accurate. a milder mood came over him. after they had strolled away together. especially the last." He hoped she had not gone home--he hated gossip and interference. for peace and happiness depend on keeping his respect. He had carried it off as a good joke with Scott. Meg went to the other window. Never deceive him by look or word. with perfect freedom. and sent him on at a quicker pace. quite firm. but John was angry. but firm. and sat down to wait for John to come and be forgiven." Meg longed to go and tell Mother. and after a summary cleaning up. and hasty words that often pave the way for bitter sorrow and regret. and guard against the little piques. Meg. "We are going to have a new moon. began to hum quite naturally. This was the first serious . and then the fear that Meg would cry herself sick softened his heart.CHAPTER TWENTY 182 What those two creatures did in her absence. Be careful. dear. Brooke and wet-blanketed by Mrs. Watch yourself." These words came back to Meg. and hide the pots." He had fumed inwardly during the feast. Meg likewise resolved to be 'calm and kind. John went to one window. but a sense of shame at her own short-comings. though he did not show it. and greatly laughed. and the master bid her throw away all the sweet stuff. only came leisurely in and laid himself upon the sofa with the singularly relevant remark. and you must learn to see and bear with them. as she was sure of being. unfolded his paper. No. but then she was young." thought Meg. John didn't come. of loyalty to John. Brooke. and when Meg descended. and leave him in the lurch. and he will give you the confidence you deserve." The word 'Mother' suggested other maternal counsels given long ago. "It wasn't fair to tell a man to bring folks home any time. but firm'. as Mother says. and show her where she had failed in her duty to her spouse. but he has his faults. still anger that is seldom stirred. she never knew. she found traces of a promiscuous lunch which filled her with horror. Lotty reported that they had eaten "a much. not oppose impatiently. "John is a good man. Both looked quite 'calm and firm'. John was a little disappointed not to find a tender Niobe. He has a temper. though you call him 'fussy'. like a lady of leisure in her best parlor. resolving to be calm and kind. of course. it wasn't! And Meg must know it. excused his little wife as well as he could. Scott was not taken 'up to Mother's'. Neither spoke. remembering your own. but once kindled is hard to quench. and show him his duty. but. be very careful. not to wake his anger against yourself. but Mr. my dear. he felt that Meg had deserted him in his hour of need. and sewed as if new rosettes for slippers were among the necessaries of life. She longed to run to meet him. and conversation languished. "who might be cruel. to be laughed at or pitied. Unfortunately. He is very decided. as she sat sewing in the sunset. and does need infinite patience as well as love. and when he took you at your word. by George. and promised to come again. not like ours--one flash and then all over--but the white. but never will be obstinate. to flame up and blame him. and beg pardon. and particular about the truth--a good trait. but when the flurry was over and he strolled home after seeing Scott off. he made none. and when she saw John coming. "Poor little thing! It was hard upon her when she tried so heartily to please me. For a minute he was ruffled again at the mere thought of it. and played the host so hospitably that his friend enjoyed the impromptu dinner. misunderstandings. but feeling that his dignity demanded the first apology." restrained her." "I've no objection. "Oh. of course. She was wrong. "married life is very trying. and be kissed and comforted." was Meg's equally soothing remark. A few other topics of general interest were introduced by Mr. she did nothing of the sort. and wrapped himself in it. figuratively speaking. but nobody should know it. as she rocked and sewed. the support you need. I must be patient and teach her. and both felt desperately uncomfortable. she dressed herself prettily. not seeing the matter in that light. be the first to ask pardon if you both err.

was always running out for a dish of gossip at the little house. Forgive me. and John had her on his knee in a minute. yes. Meg had Mr. and she had the money. So it naturally fell out that Meg got into the way of gadding and gossiping with her friend. but with dress. oh bless you. and now and then she tried to console herself by buying something pretty. She always felt wicked after it. but she was ashamed to confess it. But that autumn the serpent got into Meg's paradise. had offered to lend the money. and when she cast up her accounts at the end of the month the sum total rather scared her. "I will be the first to say. for pride was hard to swallow. and thoughts of poor John coming home to such a scene quite melted her heart. She put down her work and got up. for family peace was preserved in that little family jar. not with apples. it wasn't worth worrying about. and with the best intentions in life had tempted Meg beyond her strength. and have nothing to reproach myself with. but he did not see them. I'll do my part. but Meg declined them. been prudent and exact. and Meg longed for a new one. and here was a lovely violet silk going at a bargain. but another five-and-twenty out of the household fund? That was the question. Sallie had been buying silks. Till now she had done well. and tempted her like many a modern Eve. In an evil moment the shopman held up the lovely. was free to take what she liked. and remember that she was a poor man's wife. but he did not turn his head. John always said what was his was hers. so that Sallie needn't think she had to economize. as she recalled them. and then this foolish little woman went and did what John disliked even worse. and nothing to do but sew. All were busy at home. and stood by him. and showed them to him monthly without fear. but would he think it right to spend not only the prospective five-and-twenty. She knew her husband's income. dear. I never will again!" But he did. and often offered her the coveted trifles. or potter about.CHAPTER TWENTY 183 disagreement. or inviting 'that poor dear' to come in and spend the day at the big house. for in dull weather Meg often felt lonely. her black silk was so common. She glanced at him with tears in her eyes. on which occasion she was so gay and gracious. for the pretty things were seldom necessaries. Meg didn't like to be pitied and made to feel poor. not only with his happiness." and stooping down. Sallie was very kind. but the third he had a grand quarterly settling up. A few days before she had done a dreadful thing. She went very slowly across the room. her own anger looked childish now. The penitent kiss was better than a world of words. new trials and experiences came to Meg. and pity herself because she had not got them. and so did Meg. "It was too bad to laugh at the poor little jelly pots. then came the thought. or read. and made everything go off so charmingly. and Meg never forgot it. For a minute she felt as if she really couldn't do it. shimmering . But the trifles cost more than one would imagine. but he did not seem to hear her. both declaring that it was the sweetest jelly they ever made. Of course that settled it. and served him up a pleasant feast without a cooked wife for the first course. It irritated her. just a handsome light one for parties. It was pleasant. and she loved to feel that he trusted her. the next month he was absent.. Scott told John he was a lucky fellow. John was busy that month and left the bills to her. kept her little account books neatly. Seeing Sallie's pretty things made her long for such. Scott to dinner by special invitation. and in the shopping excursions she was no longer a passive looker-on. In the autumn. hundreds of times. That was only a month to wait. her own hasty speeches sounded both silly and unkind. if she only dared to take it. but then they cost so little. so the trifles increased unconsciously. After this. Sallie had urged her to do it. that Mr. John absent till night. She knew where it was. Sallie Moffat renewed her friendship. thinking. saying tenderly. but what some men seem to value more--his money. and shook his head over the hardships of bachelorhood all the way home. pay bills once a month. and all he asked was that she should keep account of every penny.. and it weighed upon her conscience. and thin things for evening wear were only proper for girls. Aunt March usually gave the sisters a present of twenty-five dollars apiece at New Year's. knowing that John wouldn't like it. "This is the beginning. 'Forgive me'". she softly kissed her husband on the forehead.

The house bills were all paid. "John. but I was sorry after I had done it." she said. as Mr." . Meg's heart sank. ma'am. The kind. When she got home. I don't know that fifty is much for a dress. and though he was unusually merry. for she wanted the worst over. I'm ashamed to show you my book. for I've really been dreadfully extravagant lately. saying goodhumoredly. she fancied he had found her out. and made him guess what piping was. dear. I go about so much I must have things. and was undoing the old pocketbook which they called the 'bank'. then John said slowly--but she could feel it cost him an effort to express no displeasure--.. dear. "Well. for I knew you'd think it wrong in me. "A bargain. with the calmness of desperation. demand fiercely the meaning of a hug-me-tight.. with a shiver. so I did. She put it away. could possibly be a bonnet. and Sallie advised my getting it. Mantalini says?" That didn't sound like John. pointing to the sum which would have been bad enough without the fifty. or wonder how a little thing composed of three rosebuds. being particularly proud of his prudent wife. I assure. she said. The little book was brought slowly out and laid down before him." She answered. When John got out his books that night.. but it looked less silvery now. you. with all the furbelows and notions you have to have to finish it off these days. and cost six dollars.." John laughed. what will he say when he comes to that awful fifty dollars!" thought Meg. and she had laughed as if it were a thing of no consequence. "Oh.CHAPTER TWENTY 184 folds. not delightfully as a new dress should. after all. the books all in order. and Sallie had exulted. as he often did. a bit of velvet. and John's eye had fallen on it as he spoke. "It's worse than boots. but which was appalling to her with that added. but didn't mean to let her know it. it's a silk dress. with her panic increasing with every word. Meg got behind his chair under pretense of smoothing the wrinkles out of his tired forehead. knowing that it was quite empty. and a pair of strings. when Meg. and don't mind if she does pay eight or nine dollars for her boots. She turned the page and her head at the same time.. and drew her round beside him." That had been one of her last 'trifles'. and said. I'm rather proud of my wife's feet. she tried to assuage the pangs of remorse by spreading forth the lovely silk. and standing there. I won't beat you if you have got a pair of killing boots. feeling as if she had stolen something. and my New Year's money will partly pay for it. but dreadfully like the ghost of a folly that was not easily laid. and she knew he was looking up at her with the straightforward look that she had always been ready to meet and answer with one as frank till now. and for the first time in her married life. For a minute the room was very still. but she always insisted on his doing so." and it was cut off and paid for. didn't become her. she was afraid of her husband. brown eyes looked as if they could be stern. but it haunted her. saying nervously. "You haven't seen my private expense book yet." John never asked to see it. if they are good ones. and used to enjoy his masculine amazement at the queer things women wanted. John had praised her.. That night he looked as if he would like the fun of quizzing her figures and pretending to be horrified at her extravagance. "Don't go and hide. and driven away. stopped his hand. and the words 'fifty dollars' seemed stamped like a pattern down each breadth. you know. "Well. "I'll take it. what is the 'dem'd total'. and the police were after her.

but a few minutes after he found her in the hall with her face buried in the old greatcoat. the dear! Every soul of 'em is upstairs a worshipin'. and taken off at night by a most devoted little wife. John came home early. and I'm tired of being poor. Moffat willingly did so." Meg said no more. and I'll send 'em down to you. and I didn't think those little things would count up so. They had a long talk that night. and taught him a tender patience with which to bear and comfort the natural longings and failures of those he loved. given him the strength and courage to fight his own way. John. She had promised to love him for better or worse. John. So the year rolled round. He had simply said. after spending his earnings recklessly. "Oh. for John pushed the books away and got up. faintly. had reproached him with his poverty. I do my best. just as if nothing had happened. and asked him how he liked her new silk gown. crying as if her heart would break. and what a blissful state of things ensued. One can imagine what answer he made. but he did. saying with a little quiver in his voice. and was received with the clash of cymbals. hard-working boy. and the discovery that John had countermanded the order for his new greatcoat reduced her to a state of despair which was pathetic to behold. "How's the little mamma? Where is everybody? Why didn't you tell me before I came home?" began Laurie in a loud whisper. my dear. but Meg knew that she had done and said a thing which would not be forgotten soon. It was dreadful. "Happy as a queen. my dear. forgave her readily. and Meg learned to love her husband better for his poverty. for a sudden recollection of the cost still to be incurred quite overwhelmed her. "I was afraid of this. kind. I try to be contented. so untrue and ungrateful. with repentant tears. and asked her to buy the silk as a favor. in answer to her surprised inquiries as to the change. She could have bitten her tongue out the minute she had said it." with which somewhat involved reply Hannah vanished. and did not utter one reproach." sighed Meg. his wife. Laurie came sneaking into the kitchen of the Dovecote one Saturday." If he had scolded her. although he might never allude to it again. We didn't want no hurrycanes round.CHAPTER TWENTY 185 "It isn't made or trimmed. went to Sallie. for he had denied himself many pleasures for Meg's sake. and when John arrived. crying." said John dryly. "I can't afford it. I can't resist them when I see Sallie buying all she wants. she put it on. and worked at night when she had gone to cry herself to sleep. and pitying me because I don't. I didn't mean it! It was so wicked. "Twenty-five yards of silk seems a good deal to cover one small woman. and had the delicacy not to make her a present of it immediately afterward. Meg. chuckling ecstatically. Then Meg ordered home the greatcoat. and then she. but I've no doubt my wife will look as fine as Ned Moffat's when she gets it on.natured Mrs. it would not have broken her heart like those few words. how could I say it! Oh. told the truth. or even shaken her." The last words were spoken so low she thought he did not hear them. and the worst of it was John went on so quietly afterward. because it seemed to have made a man of him. She ran to him and held him close. . the deepest and tenderest of a woman's life. "I know you are angry. how could I say it!" He was very kind. Meg gadded no more. and that greatcoat was put on in the morning by a very happy husband. with an excited face. The good. except that he stayed in town later. and they wounded him deeply. how he received his present. but I can't help it. A week of remorse nearly made Meg sick. Next day she put her pride in her pocket. and at midsummer there came to Meg a new experience. Now you go into the parlor. but it is hard. for Hannah clapped her hands with a saucepan in one and the cover in the other. I don't mean to waste your money.

Hannah. "I will. and made the babies squeal. 186 Laurie backed precipitately into a corner. "No. and John caused him to open them the next minute. "I never was more staggered in my life. I will! Only you must be responsible for damages. Jo. while Laurie laughed till the tears ran down his cheeks. when she got her breath. to find himself invested with two babies instead of one. "Take 'em quick. "Amy put a blue ribbon on the boy and a pink on the girl. Aren't they beauties?" said the proud papa. isn't it? I wouldn't have told you. Kiss them. Amy. turning as if to go. and marched up and down. beaming upon the little red squirmers as if they were unfledged angels. French fashion. one has blue eyes and one brown. Jo's face was very sober. regarding the infants with the air of a big. will you?" cried Laurie. I shall drop it or smash it. Now then. for the expression of his face was droll enough to convulse a Quaker." began Laurie. A peal of laughter from Jo. with one on each arm. they are used to it now." she said invitingly. Laurie heroically shut his eyes while something was put into his arms. sir!" commanded Jo. Laurie screwed up his face and obeyed with a gingerly peck at each little cheek that produced another laugh." and obeying orders. "I'm afraid they mightn't like it. "Most remarkable children I ever saw. delighted with a poke in the face from a tiny fist. and put his hands behind him with an imploring gesture. for I set my heart on surprising you. by Jupiter!" was all he said for a minute. No wonder they laughed. I'd rather not. but her eyes twinkled. he added." said wicked Jo. . "It's the best joke of the season. "There. Hold me up. "Boy and girl. Uncle Teddy. then turning to the women with an appealing look that was comically piteous. so you can always tell. I knew they didn't like it! That's the boy. see him kick. thank you. and I flatter myself I've done it. fearing he might propose a proxy. "Of course they will. Isn't it fun? Are they boys? What are you going to name them? Let's have another look.CHAPTER TWENTY Presently Jo appeared. with unusual timidity in such matters. as sure as fate. somebody! I'm going to laugh. Do it this minute. he hits out with his fists like a good one. proudly bearing a flannel bundle laid forth upon a large pillow. and there was an odd sound in her voice of repressed emotion of some sort." Jo rescued his babies. "Shut your eyes and hold out your arms." said Jo decidedly. as if already initiated into the mysteries of babytending." "Then you shan't see your nevvy. Which is which?" and Laurie bent like a well-sweep to examine the prodigies. benevolent Newfoundland looking at a pair of infantile kittens. for upon my life it's one too many for me. young Brooke." said Jo. March. Mrs. and I shall drop 'em. "Twins." returned Laurie. as he stood and stared wildly from the unconscious innocents to the hilarious spectators with such dismay that Jo sat down on the floor and screamed. flapping aimlessly about. pitch into a man of your own size. Besides.

after mother and grandmother. and I suppose the mannie will be Jack." said Laurie "Daisy and Demi. "Name him Demijohn. and the girl Margaret. We shall call her Daisey. so as not to have two Megs. 187 . and call him Demi for short. unless we find a better name.CHAPTER TWENTY "He's to be named John Laurence." cried Jo clapping her hands. Teddy certainly had done it that time." said Amy. with aunt-like interest. just the thing! I knew Teddy would do it. for the babies were 'Daisy' and 'Demi' to the end of the chapter.

"Why not? I'm neat and cool and comfortable. and then be at peace for another six months. It doesn't for me. so that you will make a good impression. and come and help me do the civil. You shall be commander of the expedition. it was a bargain between us." cried Amy. do come and take care of me. and never made any till Amy compelled her with a bargain. I'll do anything for you. "You're a perfect cherub! Now put on all your best things. and there's no one to pay it but you and me. and having clashed her scissors rebelliously. when a single one upsets me for a week. and will drive me distracted before I can get her properly ready. I'll go if I must." "If it was fair. I'm afraid to go alone." "For what?" "You don't mean to say you have forgotten that you promised to make half a dozen calls with me today?" "I've done a good many rash and foolish things in my life. surveying her with amazement. There is a pile of clouds in the east. I hope. It's a lovely day. You can talk so well. that I'm proud of you. and you pride yourself on keeping promises. It pays for you to be fine. and furbelows only worry me. Jo. and be as elegant as you please. while protesting that she smelled thunder. I was to finish the crayon of Beth for you. and do my best. you are perverse enough to provoke a saint! You don't intend to make calls in that state. no prospect of rain. but it's a debt we owe society. bribe. I want people to like you. come and do your duty. and return our neighbors' visits. she gave in." "Oh. "now she's in a contrary fit. and ordered out to make calls in her best array on a warm July day. The idea of my being aristocratic and well-bred. She hated calls of the formal sort. I'm sure it's no pleasure to me to go today. I don't wish to see them. You can dress for both. Shylock. quite proper for a dusty walk on a warm day." "Now. if you'll only dress yourself nicely. or promise. it's time. that's shirking." "Yes. Jo. and I'll obey blindly. but I don't think I ever was mad enough to say I'd make six calls in one day. it's not fair. and taking up her hat and gloves with an air of resignation. dear!" sighed Amy. told Amy the victim was ready. and you were to go properly with me. and I stand to the letter of my bond.CHAPTER TWENTY 188 CHAPTER TWENTY -NINE CALLS "Come. with a sudden change from perversity to lamblike submission. and behave so beautifully. put away her work." "You're an artful little puss to flatter and wheedle your cross old sister in that way. If people care more for my clothes than they do for me. "Jo March. and they would if you'd only try to be a little . Well." At that minute Jo was particularly absorbed in dressmaking. that was in the bond. will that satisfy you?" said Jo. so be honorable. and took especial credit to herself because she could use a needle as well as a pen. It was very provoking to be arrested in the act of a first trying-on. you did. and I'll tell you how to behave at each place. and I don't go. and your being afraid to go anywhere alone! I don't know which is the most absurd. look so aristocratic in your best things. if you try. for she was mantua-maker general to the family. In the present instance there was no escape.

"Yes. and those folds over the arm are really artistic. saying meekly. "What a haughty. and administered covert pokes with her foot. a bow. for she sighed as she rustled into her new organdie. the Chesters consider themselves very elegant people. whose embroidery was as irritating to her nose as the present mission was to her feelings." Jo revolved. for my feet are pretty. though my nose isn't. calm as a summer sea. and put the pink rose in your bonnet. My powers are great. and I'm so glad Aunt March gave you that lovely one. she turned to Amy with an imbecile expression of countenance. as she hung out of the upper window to watch them. 'Calm. Each and all were answered by a smile. uninteresting creature that oldest Miss March is!" was the unfortunately audible remark of one of the ladies.CHAPTER TWENTY more agreeable. Jo laughed noiselessly all through the hall." Amy looked relieved. picnics. for that white bonnet with the rose is quite ravishing. Is the point of my mantle in the middle. in doing up her cuff. observing graciously. and the Misses Chester introduced parties. and the fashions. and borrow her white sunshade. "Let me see. and you can easily do it for fifteen minutes. cool as a snowbank. with a baby on each arm. and have I looped my dress evenly? I like to show my boots. Don't make any of your abrupt remarks. The sweeping style suits you best. every fold correctly draped. I've played the part of a prim young lady on the stage. Jo. wrinkled up her features generally as she shook out the handkerchief. and carry your hands easily. do it at once. There's one thing you can do well. for during the first call she sat with every limb gracefully composed. In vain Mrs.. Chester alluded to her 'charming novel'. yes. but at last both were ready. and quiet'." said Amy. and sailed away. cool. having borrowed the white parasol and been inspected by Meg. and when she had squeezed her hands into tight gloves with three buttons and a tassel. but handsome. but Amy looked disgusted at the failure of her instructions. It's simple. please. as the last touch of elegance. as you shall see. the opera. but naughty Jo took her at her word. and a demure "Yes" or "No" with the chill on. Turn slowly round. Your head is all I could ask. and you must learn to trail your skirts gracefully. "I'm perfectly miserable. however. Hold back your shoulders." said Jo. not without entering her protest. looking as 'pretty as picters'. In vain Amy telegraphed the word 'talk'. but drop it in the house. "Now. as they approached the first place. 'icily regular. and you look too sober in your plain suit. that's safe and ladylike. Take your light gloves and the embroidered handkerchief." 189 While Amy dressed. so I want you to put on your best deportment. ma'am?" "Hold it up when you walk. for they make up the pleasing whole. cool. and I'll try it off. wear a shawl. that is.." "You're highly satisfactory. no matter if your gloves do pinch. you'll do. splendidly null'. "Am I to drag my best dress through the dust. and then you can have my dove-colored one. with her head on one side. so be easy in your mind. We'll stop at Meg's. or do anything odd. and Jo obeyed them." Jo sighed. but if you consider me presentable. Hannah said. . I think I can promise that. or loop it up. I die happy. tried to draw her out. frowned darkly at herself as she tied her bonnet strings in an irreproachable bow. Do your hair the pretty way. will you? Just be calm. but it's very nice to see you. and as silent as the sphinx. It's becoming. and quiet. my child. wrestled viciously with pins as she put on her collar. You'll never look finished if you are not careful about the little details. and very naturally laid the blame upon Jo. Jo dear. I can't. then fell back. and proceeded to burst the buttons off her glove. as the door closed upon their guests. she issued her orders. Jo sat as if blandly unconscious of it all. and let me get a careful view. and Amy gave a touch here and there. looking through her hand with the air of a connoisseur at the blue feather against the golden hair. You haven't half buttoned one cuff. with deportment like Maud's face." "You are a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

put it on her head. and had a capital time." "Well. Gossip as other girls do. She has such a passion for it. who enjoyed the subject. and Amy strained her ears to hear what was going on. while three delightful young gentlemen hovered near. I'll gossip and giggle. I rather enjoy this. and marched up to the barn to the utter amazement of the old man!" "Did she ride the horse?" "Of course she did. and the other so balky that you had to put dirt in his mouth before he would start. My dear creature. Nice animal for a pleasure party. with whom she was a favorite. and talked away as volubly as the lady. She used to practice mounting. she resolved to try. and join in the chat with a spirit which amazed the beholder. 'What a lively. Amy's face was a study when she saw her sister skim into the next drawing room. Jo was off again. Lamb turned an approving glance upon Amy. making more droll revelations and committing still more fearful blunders. Now she rides anything. wondering what his mother could be saying to make the girl look so red and uncomfortable. because he was handsome and spirited. "Yes. and forced to hear a long account of Lucretia's last attack. A knot of heads gathered about her. Try to be sociable at the Lambs'. She heard of a young horse at the farm house over the river. There was no one to bring the horse to the saddle. and have horrors and raptures over any trifle you like. So situated. "She rides splendidly. so she took the saddle to the horse. and of three left. They move in the best society. she actually rowed it over the river. one was lame. one blind. and I'll improve upon her. I expected to see her brought home in fragments. and though a lady had never ridden him.CHAPTER TWENTY 190 "How could you mistake me so? I merely meant you to be properly dignified and composed." At this awful speech Amy contained herself with difficulty. I can do it. but she managed him perfectly. she was powerless to check Jo. nice creature that Jo March is!" Amy felt anxious. she can be a horsebreaker. Amy was in despair that day. and now I'll imitate what is called 'a charming girl'. which was her especial aversion. and I wouldn't fail to make a good impression there for anything. as well she might. and frequent peals of laughter made her wild to share the fun. I call that plucky!" and young Mr. Amy was taken possession of by Mrs. . and was the life of the party. holding the reins. Lamb. for she doesn't know what fear is. Who taught her?" "No one. and you made yourself a perfect stock and stone. for the impression was being given that she was rather a fast young lady. for I have May Chester as a model. One may imagine her suffering on overhearing fragments of this sort of conversation. for when Jo turned freakish there was no knowing where she would stop. and the stableman lets her have horses cheap because she trains them to carry ladies so well. for all the good beasts were gone. beam graciously upon the young gentlemen. and be interested in dress and flirtations and whatever nonsense comes up. and sitting straight on an old saddle in a tree. for broken sentences filled her with curiosity. But what could she do? For the old lady was in the middle of her story. are valuable persons for us to know. and get her living so. Her struggles were really pathetic. and long before it was done. "None of them. wasn't it?" "Which did she choose?" asked one of the laughing gentlemen." "I'll be agreeable. I often tell her if everything else fails. See if the Lambs don't say. who seemed possessed by a spirit of mischief. kiss all the young ladies with effusion. waiting for a pause when they might rush in and rescue her.

"Sorry you could find nothing better to read. Why. "That's nothing compared to some of her brilliant performances." was Amy's short answer. They know we are poor. but if you should come. "Oh. "Just as you please." said Amy despairingly. with an air of pride in her sister's accomplishments that exasperated Amy till she felt that it would be a relief to throw her cardcase at her. Any mention of her 'works' always had a bad effect upon Jo. this speech was not exactly grateful or complimentary. dear." "You needn't go and tell them all our little shifts. You can't buy those soft shades. The minute it was made Jo saw her mistake. being disturbed by her . do come and see us. I don't think I shall have the heart to send you away. and did so with an abruptness that left three people with half-finished sentences in their mouths. we must go. "Didn't I do well?" asked Jo. who found Jo great fun. I wash my hands of you. There's nothing the child can't do. instead of mentioning the place where it was bought two years ago. so we paint ours any color we like. One of the young ladies asked Jo where she got the pretty drab hat she wore to the picnic and stupid Jo. It's a great comfort to have an artistic sister. so it's no use pretending that we have grooms." Jo said this with such a droll imitation of May Chester's gushing style that Amy got out of the room as rapidly as possible. Good-by." added Jo. who did not look the character just then. and all the rest of it?" "Why. We are pining for a visit. and amuses people. Goodness knows I need a little change. Amy painted it. Are you going to New York this winter?" As Miss Lamb had 'enjoyed' the story. when a sudden turn in the conversation introduced the subject of dress. and enjoyed it very much. and they looked exactly like satin. who either grew rigid and looked offended. she wanted a pair of blue boots for Sallie's party. feeling a strong desire to laugh and cry at the same time. wishing to compliment the literary lady. as now. and expose our poverty in that perfectly unnecessary way. Lamb. and silently chafed the end of her nose with the stiff handkerchief." was Amy's crushing reply. "Nothing could have been worse. "Amy. and the hats and boots. Mr. I don't dare to ask you. "We read a story of yours the other day. suddenly remembered that it was for her to make the first move toward departure. I write that rubbish because it sells." returned Jo gruffly. so she just painted her soiled white ones the loveliest shade of sky blue you ever saw. and we'll have a comfortable time. it's funny. Poor Jo looked abashed. The boys are at home. and never will learn when to hold your tongue and when to speak. as if performing a penance for her misdemeanors. as they approached the third mansion. "What possessed you to tell those stories about my saddle. buy three or four hats a season. "How shall I behave here?" she asked. "Then I'll enjoy myself. must needs answer with unnecessary frankness." "Isn't that an original idea?" cried Miss Lamb. and have things as easy and fine as they do. You haven't a bit of proper pride. or changed the subject with a brusque remark.CHAPTER TWENTY 191 She was still redder and more uncomfortable a moment after. but fearing to make the matter worse." observed the elder Miss Lamb. it must be confessed. with a satisfied air as they walked away. and ordinary people like it. for elegance has a bad effect upon my constitution.

Leaving her sister to her own devices. it would have been right. aren't they? I feel quite young and brisk again after that. and a dirty-footed dog reposing on the skirt of her state and festival dress. whose father keeps a grocery store. and leaving Amy to entertain the hostess and Mr. "so let us look amiable. nor admire Tudor." returned Jo. Jo devoted herself to the young folks and found the change refreshing. Tudor. he puts on airs. her escort accompanied her. "Why do you always avoid Mr. she went with an alacrity which caused Mamma to smile upon her. my dear. One small child was poking turtles with Amy's cherished parasol." began Amy. as she related one of Laurie's pranks to her admiring audience. "No. for in spite of her American birth and breeding. as the Kings are evidently out.CHAPTER TWENTY failure to suit. and when Jo collected her damaged property to go." said Amy reprovingly." "It's no use trying to argue with you. fervently hoping that her incorrigible sister would not be found in any position which should bring disgrace upon the name of March. respect. snubs his sisters. for he is a gentleman in spite of the brown paper parcels. and doesn't speak respectfully of his mother. Tudor?" asked Amy. caressed pointers and poodles without a murmur. begging her to come again. she possessed that reverence for titles which haunts the best of us--that unacknowledged loyalty to the early faith in kings which set the most democratic nation under the sun in ferment at the coming of a royal yellow-haired laddie." . "Not the least. "It was such fun to hear about Laurie's larks. but Amy considered it bad. and a third playing ball with her gloves. Tommy is poor and bashful and good and very clever. Amy proceeded to enjoy herself to her heart's content. "I neither like. If you had just reversed the nod and the bow. She listened to college stories with deep interest. For Jo sat on the grass." interrupted Jo. who happened to be calling likewise." said Jo. worries his father. partly from habit. and drop a card here." regardless of the improper form of praise. strolling along with her hands behind her. and when the proper number of minutes had passed. at least. a second was eating gingerbread over Jo's best bonnet. "Don't like him. and I don't consider him a desirable acquaintance. for which I'm deeply grateful. bearlike but affectionate. though his grandfather's uncle's nephew's niece was a third cousin to a lord. and just now you bowed and smiled in the politest way to Tommy Chamberlain. with an encampment of boys about her. agreed heartily that "Tom Brown was a brick. some years ago. But even the satisfaction of talking with a distant connection of the British nobility did not render Amy forgetful of time. and like to show that I do. and which still has something to do with the love the young country bears the old. It might have been worse. who held him while she could. and when one lad proposed a visit to his turtle tank. but all were enjoying themselves. she reluctantly tore herself from this aristocratic society. it wouldn't. Tudor's uncle had married an English lady who was third cousin to a living lord. I think well of him. and Amy regarded the whole family with great respect. and dearer to her than the most faultless coiffure from the hands of an inspired Frenchwoman. like that of a big son for an imperious little mother. 192 An enthusiastic welcome from three big boys and several pretty children speedily soothed her ruffled feelings." "You might treat him civilly. Laurie says he is fast. as that motherly lady settled the cap which was left in a ruinous condition by filial hugs." "Capital boys. and looked about for Jo. wisely refraining from any comment upon Jo's dilapidated appearance. partly to conceal the bespattered parasol. Mr. so I let him alone. You gave him a cool nod. and let him go with a farewell scolding when he rebelled.

and smile upon another set because we do. but it gives her pleasure. We can't agree about that. and always shall be. we might do something. but I'm always possessed to burst out with some particularly blunt speech or revolutionary . but I'm not called upon to tell him so. because there is more of you. and let me take the crumbs off of your bonnet. and making a formal call. but I shall have the liveliest time of it. or women of wealth and position. Stoop down. and Jo uttered another thanksgiving on reaching the fifth house." "I'm a crotchety old thing. "Now let us go home. and let the small ones slip. I don't like reformers. particularly poor ones. for you belong to the old set. since I've had Teddie to manage. "If we were belles. and I don't believe it will hurt your things half so much as letting dirty dogs and clumping boys spoil them. I fancy. but for us to frown at one set of young gentlemen because we don't approve of them. and never mind Aunt March today. compose yourself now. and people who set themselves against it only get laughed at for their pains. and there is no use in making yourself disagreeable because he is. and can't be taken as a sample of other boys." Amy smiled and was mollified at once. I think of them. for in spite of the laughing the world would never get on without them." "I'll try not to.CHAPTER TWENTY 193 The family cardcase having done its duty the girls walked on." "I can't argue about it." "Speak for yourself. isn't it?" "It's a greater not to be able to hide them. saying with a maternal air. It's a little thing to do. But there are many little ways in which I can influence him without a word. with a repentant glance from her own damaged costume to that of her sister. for they have no other way of repaying the kindnesses they receive. Aunt March likes to have us pay her the compliment of coming in style. and how can they do it except by their manners? Preaching does not do any good. only it's easier for me to risk my life for a person than to be pleasant to him when I don't feel like it. but it takes too much time to do them. in a tone of solemn conviction. but I'm willing to own that you are right. you'd be better liked than I am. and we should only be considered odd and puritanical." "But I think girls ought to show when they disapprove of young men. and I say we ought to do it to others if we can." said Amy. It's a great misfortune to have such strong likes and dislikes. so I wait for a chance to confer a great favor. I don't mind saying that I don't approve of Tudor any more than you do. and it's really a pity to trail through the dust in our best bibs and tuckers. I only know that it's the way of the world. but they tell best in the end. perhaps. and don't worry Aunt with your new ideas. "I wish it was as easy for me to do little things to please people as it is for you. wouldn't have a particle of effect. and practice it. If you'd remember that. "Women should learn to be agreeable. which was fresh and spotless still. as I know to my sorrow. and being told that the young ladies were engaged. I think. merely because we are not belles and millionaires. and I to the new." "So we are to countenance things and people which we detest. and I hope you never try to be one." "Teddy is a remarkable boy. I should rather enjoy the brickbats and hooting. You will get on the best. are we? That's a nice sort of morality. We can run down there any time. Amy!" said Jo." "I do like them." "What a good girl you are. when we are tired and cross. and I shall be one if I can. Neither are you. if you please." "Well. which would have convulsed the 'remarkable boy' if he had heard it.

with a somewhat morose expression. but Amy. Chester asked me if I would. Patronage does not trouble me when it is well meant. it's such a slippery. silly sort of language." replied Amy. was in a most angelic frame of mind." "Ahem!" coughed Aunt Carrol softly. Carrol. and I offered to tend a table. It's a pleasure to help people who appreciate our efforts. Amy.CHAPTER TWENTY sentiment before her. with a grateful look. I'd rather do everything for myself. I'm very stupid about studying anything. can't bear French. I like your grateful spirit. who sat apart. and the Chesters think it's a great favor to allow us to help with their highly connected fair. By her next speech. "Do you speak French. Jo was not in a good humor." "Quite right and proper. Another look passed between the ladies." said Aunt March. dear?" asked Mrs. rocking herself. looking what they afterward said emphatically. and the perverse fit returned. If Jo had only known what a great happiness was wavering in the balance for one of them. Carrol. and cannot see what goes on in the minds of our friends. Mercifully unconscious of what she had done. my dear. with a look at Aunt March. and be perfectly independent." "Are you going to help about the fair. dear?" asked Mrs. but they dropped it as the girls came in. "I told you so." "I'm not." observed Aunt March." was the brusque reply." 194 They found Aunt Carrol with the old lady. "Don't know a word." "I am willing to work. Jo deprived herself of several years of pleasure. Jo sat with her nose in the air. looking over her spectacles at Jo. who lets Esther talk to me as often as I like. but unfortunately. and I think it very kind of them to let me share the labor and the fun. and I can't help it. I wonder you consented. but now and then it would be such a comfort. Mrs. which caused the old lady to smile affably. and Aunt March said to Amy. "That child improves every day. Carrol of Jo. and both aunts 'my deared' her affectionately. as Amy sat down beside her with the confiding air elderly people like so well in the young. Some do not. It's my doom. "Yes. thanks to Aunt March. as I have nothing but my time to give. such a saving of time and temper. they oppress and make me feel like a slave. we don't have windows in our breasts. "Pretty well. This amiable spirit was felt at once. kept her temper and pleased everybody. and received a timely lesson in the art of holding her tongue. with a decided nod to Aunt Carrol. with a conscious look which betrayed that they had been talking about their nieces. "I don't like favors. they only want you to work." put in Jo decidedly. It's for the freedmen as well as the Chesters. Aunt. "I hate to be patronized. . and that is trying. "You are quite strong and well now. who had virtuously done her duty. Better for us that we cannot as a general thing. "How are you about languages?" asked Mrs. and a revolutionary aspect which was anything but inviting. laying a hand on Amy's. she would have turned dove-like in a minute. both absorbed in some very interesting subject.

my dear?" cried Polly." and Aunt Carrol to reply decidedly. draw the latch. bending down from his perch on the back of her chair to peep into Jo's face. squalled Polly. and I'm sure you will some day. Come Amy. I'm very well. and mean to do great things next winter. Sit by the fire and spin. "You'd better do it. as Amy picked up her ball for her. "Come and take a walk. which impression caused Aunt March to say. do they?" 195 "Not at all. so that I may be ready for Rome. with a look suggestive of a lump of sugar. I will. "I certainly will. with such a comical air of impertinent inquiry that it was impossible to help laughing. feeling more strongly than ever that calls did have a bad effect upon her constitution. and the girls departed. leaving behind them the impression of shadow and sunshine. hopping toward the china closet. "Thank you. I'll supply the money. as they vanished." . if her father and mother consent. thank you. whenever that joyful time arrives. She shook hands in a gentlemanly manner. with an approving pat on the head. but Amy kissed both the aunts." said Aunt March. "Most observing bird. Crosspatch.. Mary. I believe? Eyes don't trouble you any more." said the old lady. ma'am." "Good girl! You deserve to go.CHAPTER TWENTY dear.." and Jo brought the visit to an end.

it is thought best for them to take this place. when. however. It's merely a matter of expediency.. and attend to the flowers." . All the blame of this should have fallen upon Jo. and just at this time several trifling circumstances occurred to increase the feeling. she found it rather difficult to utter it naturally. "Perhaps you had rather I took no table at all?" "Now. Chester fancied beforehand that it would be easy to deliver this little speech. of course. with a look which enlightened Amy as to one cause of her sudden fall from favor." Mrs. if you like. and she exerted herself to prepare and secure appropriate and valuable contributions to it. "It shall be as you please. but took no other notice of that girlish sarcasm. for her naughty imitation had been too lifelike to escape detection.. of course. You could make a charming thing of it. but we must give up our private wishes. and it took a good many hard knocks to teach her how to get on easily. Wouldn't you like the flower table? The little girls undertook it. The 'haughty. but Amy's talent and taste were duly complimented by the offer of the art table. with all their private piques and prejudices. in a bland tone. the very evening before the fair. Then the all conquering Tudor had danced four times with Amy at a late party and only once with May--that was thorn number two. but with a cold look. try to work together. "I find. but they are discouraged. dear. but I know you are too sincerely interested in the cause to mind a little personal disappointment. when some five-and-twenty women. I beg. and answered with unexpected amiability. She colored angrily. No hint of this had reached the culprits. and the frolicsome Lambs had permitted the joke to escape. and I will see that you have a good place elsewhere. and you shall have another table if you like. and this table is considered their proper place. Everything went on smoothly till the day before the fair opened. feeling hurt. and showing that she did. and said quietly. as she was putting the last touches to her pretty table. said. Mrs." "Especially to gentlemen. May Chester was rather jealous of Amy because the latter was a greater favorite than herself. As this is the most prominent. as her elbows were decidedly akimbo at this period of her life. and gave an excuse for her unfriendly conduct. old and young. that there is some feeling among the young ladies about my giving this table to anyone but my girls.CHAPTER THIRTY 196 CHAPTER THIRTY CONSEQUENCES Mrs. and they are the chief getters-up of the fair. and feel very grateful for your efforts to make it so pretty. Mrs. my dear. was a rumor which some obliging gossip had whispered to her." added May. and everyone was much interested in the matter. you see. who. Amy's dainty pen-and-ink work entirely eclipsed May's painted vases--that was one thorn. Amy was asked. Chester. that the March girls had made fun of her at the Lambs'.. uninteresting creature' was let severely alone. my girls will naturally take the lead. but could not guess what. I'll give up my place here at once.. But the chief grievance that rankled in her soul. and the flower table is always attractive you know. and Amy's dismay can be imagined. I'm sorry. resented the supposed ridicule of her daughter. I think it very appropriate to you. Amy felt that there was something behind this. which was fortunate for all parties. with Amy's unsuspicious eyes looking straight at her full of surprise and trouble. Chester's fair was so very elegant and select that it was considered a great honor by the young ladies of the neighborhood to be invited to take a table. and some say the most attractive table of all. don't have any ill feeling. but Jo was not. then there occurred one of the little skirmishes which it is almost impossible to avoid. Chester. but when the time came.

for the dears fussed and chattered like so many magpies. feeling a trifle ashamed of her own part in this one. Beth declared she wouldn't go to the fair at all. Amy stood a minute. school. As she turned the pages rich in dainty devices with very pardonable pride. The evergreen arch wouldn't stay firm after she got it up. Framed in a brilliant scrollwork of scarlet. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Even a fair table may become a pulpit. turning the leaves in her hand.CHAPTER THIRTY 197 "You can put your own things on your own table. I wish I hadn't asked you to speak. though it's not very easy to give it sometimes. that could not hide the vacancies her pretty work had once filled. she walked off." thought Amy. making a great deal of confusion in their artless efforts to preserve the most perfect order. which left a sepia tear on the Cupid's cheek. Amy adhered to her resolution all the next day. the painted shells. and in which on leaves of vellum she had beautifully illuminated different texts. with the air of one who had learned the difference between preaching and practicing. or home. As she arranged her table that morning.. with little spirits of good will helping one another up and down among the thorns and flowers. but Amy mistook her meaning." said May." and sweeping her contributions into her apron. if it can offer the good and helpful words which are never out of . reading on each some sweet rebuke for all heartburnings and uncharitableness of spirit. It was late. a little book. feeling that herself and her works of art had been insulted past forgiveness. "Oh. She bruised her hands with hammering. Marmee?" "That's the right spirit. bent on conquering her enemy by kindness." "I ought. There was great indignation at home when she told her story that evening. my dear. the antique cover of which her father had found among his treasures. Mama. looking disconsolately at the empty spaces on her table. feeling a little conscience-stricken. and quaint illuminations Amy had so carefully made and so gracefully arranged. But everything seemed against her. blue and gold. were the words. but told her she had done right. Oh. thanks to a silent reminder that came to her unexpectedly. The little girls hailed Amy and her treasures with delight. "Girls' quarrels are soon over. and she fell to work. certainly. and said quickly. and got cold working in a draft. I don't intend to show it. if they are in your way. and though I think I've a right to be hurt. if you prefer. and Jo demanded why she didn't take all her pretty things and leave those mean people to get on without her. won't they. while the little girls were in the anteroom filling the baskets. and she was tired. Her mother said it was a shame. her eye fell upon one verse that made her stop and think." returned her mother." said her mother. as well she might. which cordial reception somewhat soothed her perturbed spirit. Everyone was too busy with their own affairs to help her. dear. and the little girls were only hindrances. Any girl reader who has suffered like afflictions will sympathize with poor Amy and wish her well through her task. office. as she looked at the pretty racks. I hate such things. She began well. but wiggled and threatened to tumble down on her head when the hanging baskets were filled.. which last affliction filled her with apprehensions for the morrow. as her eye went from the bright page to May's discontented face behind the big vases. A kiss for a blow is always best. In spite of various very natural temptations to resent and retaliate. pell-mell. if she could not artistically. "Now she's mad. They will feel that more than angry speeches or huffy actions. "Because they are mean is no reason why I should be. but I don't. Her best tile got a splash of water. she took up her pet production." began May. Many wise and true sermons are preached us every day by unconscious ministers in street. but most opportunely. She meant it kindly. determined to succeed florally.

but a better spirit had come over her. for she knew she wouldn't sell them at her own table.CHAPTER THIRTY 198 season. for Amy's voice came across the hall. and I don't want to fill up with odds and ends. but another young lady. often quite alone. while Jo astonished her family by getting herself up with unusual care. and straightway put it in practice. "I merely intend to make myself entrancingly agreeable to every one I know. the girls were very kind. and then she looked so pale and quiet that they knew the day had been a hard one. Amy often looked wistfully across. She did not go home till night. Now it's spoiled. They dropped their voices. The table was just complete then. as she departed early. with a nod and a smile. A group of girls were standing about May's table. and welcome. as she sat behind her table. "You may have them. if you want them.. "How could I after all the fuss?" began May. took the sermon to heart. and that one little act seemed to have cleared the atmosphere amazingly." "I dare say she'd put them back if you asked her. admiring the pretty things. I was just thinking I'd offer to put them back. Here they are. but very trying. it was not only tedious." Now. She heard May say sorrowfully. as she presently discovered. feeling that it was easier to do a friendly thing than it was to stay and be thanked for it. and hurried away again. hoping to find a reinforcement of flowers to refresh her poor little table. but to a pretty. don't you?" cried one girl. feeling that virtue was not always its own reward. so let it all pass and behave yourself. for the little girls deserted very soon." suggested someone.. When we make little sacrifices we like to have them appreciated. and her bouquets began to droop long before night. saying pleasantly. Amy returned her contribution. and did not even tell what she had done. "Now. But it is. please take them. There was a crowd about it all day long. for there is no time to make other things. longing to be there. where she felt at home and happy. Beth helped her dress. "It's too bad. and the tenders were constantly flying to and fro with important faces and rattling money boxes. added." begged Amy. "Very lovely. and she did what many of us do not always do.. I won't have any fuss made. but she did not finish. but Amy knew they were speaking of her. and her table to blossom under her skillful hands. pray Jo." As she spoke. at least. and hinting darkly that the tables were about to be turned. blithe young girl. and presently a chance offered for proving it. then and there. that was hard. for her spirits began to rise. It might seem no hardship to some of us. without asking. and the thought of Laurie and his friends made it a real martyrdom. for they belong to your table rather than mine.. May's answer was inaudible. and for a minute Amy was sorry she had done it. Amy's conscience preached her a little sermon from that text. hearing one side of the story and judging accordingly. "Don't do anything rude. and to keep them in your corner . instead of in a corner with nothing to do. with a disagreeable laugh. It was not pleasant. though she made no complaint. I call that lovely of her. Her mother gave her an extra cordial cup of tea. The art table was the most attractive in the room. and made a charming little wreath for her hair. It was a very long day and a hard one for Amy. whose temper was evidently a little soured by making lemonade. Few cared to buy flowers in summer. and talking over the change of saleswomen. and forgive me if I was hasty in carrying them away last night.

and we'll have a good time yet. he forgot. but saw no sign of them. She reproached herself for her share of the ill feeling and resolved to exonerate Amy as soon as possible. which enlightened her upon the subject of the Chester change of base. as your grandpa was poorly. Presently the familiar tramp was heard in the dusk. "Oh. encamped before the table. after all. Don't we always go halves in everything?" began Laurie. I'll bless you forever. coming to the conclusion. But we mustn't stand philandering here." thought Jo. and called through the bars. "Is that my boy?" "As sure as this is my girl!" and Laurie tucked her hand under his arm with the air of a man whose every wish was gratified. with a loverly basket arranged in his best manner for a centerpiece. and when Amy was happily surrounded by her guard of honor. I dare say. but I shouldn't wonder if they never came at all. that virtue was it's own reward. Amy says. "Gracious. if nothing more. in the tone that always made Jo turn thorny. bought up the bouquets." Thanks to the conspirators. how could you think there was any need of asking? They are just as much yours as mine. "Good evening. She also discovered what Amy had done about the things in the morning. though I did want some. Then the March family turned out en masse. so you go and make yourself splendid. the tables were turned that night. and the fresh ones may not arrive in time. "Didn't Hayes give you the best out of our gardens? I told him to. Teddy and his boys will lend a hand. I don't wish to be unjust or suspicious. and I'll be hanged if I don't make them buy every flower she's got. Laurie and his friends gallantly threw themselves into the breach." "Now. for people not only came. about that time. and made that corner the liveliest spot in the room. and Jo exerted herself to some purpose. for Hayes sent up a wilderness of flowers. Jo. but hotly resented any insult offered her family. and." observed Jo in a disgusted tone. "Go away." returned Jo. . and if you'll be so very kind as to let Hayes take a few nice flowers up to the Hall. I didn't like to worry him by asking." "I didn't know that. I've got to help Amy. she glanced over it for her sister's things. Teddy. so suggestively that Jo shut the gate in his face with inhospitable haste. picking up various bits of gossip. Teddy. such doings!" and Jo told Amy's wrongs with sisterly zeal. How does Amy get on?" asked May with a conciliatory air. was as spritely and gracious as possible. and considered her a model of magnanimity. I hope not! Half of some of your things wouldn't suit me at all. but stayed. for she wanted to show that she also could be generous. "Tucked away out of sight. admiring Amy's taste. and apparently enjoying themselves very much. laughing at her nonsense. Jo circulated about the Hall. and camp down before her table afterward. and out of gratitude. who could forgive her own wrongs. Miss Jo." "Couldn't you do it now?" asked Laurie. I'm busy. I suppose.CHAPTER THIRTY 199 as long as possible. Jo behaved herself with exemplary propriety. leaning over the gate to watch for Laurie. Amy was in her element now." said Laurie. When people do one mean thing they are very likely to do another. As she passed the art table. and she ran out to meet him. "The flowers are not at all nice. espousing her cause with warmth. "A flock of our fellows are going to drive over by-and-by.

for a small boy!" and walked him off. To May's great delight." added Beth from her pillow. and love her for being so ready to forgive. and they made a nice little sum of money for us. and when she got home she found the vases paraded on the parlor chimney piece with a great bouquet in each. It must have been dreadfully hard. "Why. but gave her an affectionate kiss. "You've a deal more principle and generosity and nobleness of character than I ever gave you credit for. making a frantic effort to be both witty and tender. we all do.. looked pleased. "Very well. You laugh at me when I say I want to be a lady. very anxious to learn the fate of her sister's work. Chester. especially the art table. "Now. which made the latter lady beam with satisfaction. you needn't praise me so. painted fans." said little Parker. The flower table is always attractive. and watch Amy with a face full of mingled pride and anxiety. I only did as I'd be done by. as well as Amy had. which still remained unsold. gentlemen. ordering out 'Teddy's own'. and I try to do it as far as I know how. The other gentlemen speculated with equal rashness in all sorts of frail trifles. girls. I don't believe I could have done it as kindly as you did. The fair was pronounced a success. and a look which said 'forgive and forget'. and getting promptly quenched by Laurie." whispered Amy to Laurie. and fell to praising the great vases. you know. Mr. and wandered helplessly about afterward. and Amy looked both touched and surprised by the report of May's word and manner.. but pervaded the hall with one under each arm. but do your duty like men. charge!' is the motto for that table. heard the story." Jo couldn't resist giving that little slap. but May took it so meekly she regretted it a minute after. as they brushed their hair together late that night. Laurence not only bought the vases. "Everything of Amy's sold long ago. That satisfied Amy. Amy.CHAPTER THIRTY 200 "She has sold everything she had that was worth selling. and you'll get your money's worth of art in every sense of the word. as a final heaping of coals of fire on her enemy's head. my son. I want you to go and do your duty by the other tables as generously as you have by mine. "Yes." said Jo warmly. Much gratified." said Jo. after working so long and setting your heart on selling your own pretty things." returned May. but I mean a true gentlewoman in mind and manners. and I respect you with all my heart. March in a corner." said the irrepressible Jo. "The reward of merit for a magnanimous March. 'especially to gentlemen'. who had overcome sundry small temptations. who said. burdened with wax flowers. filigree portfolios. "To hear is to obey. and now she is enjoying herself. "Is Amy's illumination anywhere about? I took a fancy to buy that for Father. You've behaved sweetly. Jo rushed back to tell the good news. I took care that the right people saw them." as Laurie announced with a flourish. as the girls called the college friends. though she did not betray the cause of her pleasure till several days later. "Buy the vases." she said. I can't . that day. and said something to Mrs. and when May bade Amy goodnight. "'Charge. Aunt Carrol was there. as the devoted phalanx prepared to take the field. but March is fairer far than May. and other useful and appropriate purchases. she did not gush as usual. with a paternal pat on the head.

"I understand now what you mean. March said sorrowfully. I believe." "I'll try. dear. who were with her. remembering words which had been her undoing. When Aunt spoke to me the other day." Amy spoke earnestly. I've wanted it so long. decidedly. It's Amy. and not grudge her one minute of happiness. and humbly beg Aunt Carrol to burden her with this favor. The young lady herself received the news as tidings of great joy. money. and no one will be more delighted than I shall. and try not only to seem glad. embracing her. When she had heard the explanation of the quoted phrases. Try away. as if quoting something you had said--'I planned at first to ask Jo." said Jo. Jo. A letter came from Aunt Carrol. "No.CHAPTER THIRTY 201 explain exactly. my abominable tongue! Why can't I learn to keep it quiet?" groaned Jo. and don't sadden Amy's pleasure by reproaches or regrets. not you." "Oh. and she 'hates French'. Mrs. but without repinings at Amy's good fortune." "Me to go with her!" burst in Jo. dear. she regretted your blunt manners and too independent spirit. It isn't fair. and poor Jo found it hard to be delighted." and poor Jo bedewed the little fat pincushion she held with several very bitter tears. and be so altogether splendid. and hope in time to be what Mother is. Aunt says Amy. and see how gratefully she would bear it.." "Oh. with a cordial hug. "I'm afraid it's partly your own fault. but as 'favors burden her'. my tongue. will make a good companion for Flo. "I'll take a leaf out of her book." whispered Beth. By the time Amy came in. you'll get your reward some day. But it won't be easy. I think I won't venture to invite her. basket and all. dear. and I'll never laugh at you again.. but there is no hope of it this time." "It's always so. but I want to be above the little meannesses and follies and faults that spoil so many women. Jo was able to take her part in the family jubilation. perhaps. and here she writes. and receive gratefully any help the trip may give her.. Amy has all the fun and I have all the work. for it is a dreadful disappointment. and I'm glad you are not going quite yet. for you've learned the secret. leaving such trifles as clothes. and Jo said. winking hard as she knelt down to pick up the basket she had joyfully upset. and Mrs. "I wish you could have gone. I must go!" "I'm afraid it's impossible." A week later Amy did get her reward. and began to sort her colors and pack her pencils that evening. and passports to those less absorbed in visions of art than . and I'll take lessons of you in true politeness. went about in a solemn sort of rapture. Amy is more docile. "Aunt Carrol is going abroad next month. oh. it's my turn first. but I couldn't spare you. March's face was illuminated to such a degree when she read it that Jo and Beth.. flying out of her chair in an uncontrollable rapture. not quite as heartily as usual. I'm very selfish. and it is not for us to dictate when she offers such a favor. I'm far from it now. but I do my best. You are getting on faster than you think. with such a clinging touch and loving face that Jo felt comforted in spite of the sharp regret that made her want to box her own ears. it isn't fair!" cried Jo passionately. deary. Mother! She's too young. but to be so. "Jo. demanded what the glad tidings were. and wants. so try to bear it cheerfully. It would do me so much good.

"Hum!" said Jo. smiling. and we'll dig in the Forum for relics. and if anything happens." "Would you like to go?" asked Amy. I should like to be able to help those who are. fervently hoping that none but gentle fortunes would befall the happy-hearted girl. Jo bore up very well till the last flutter of blue ribbon vanished. when she retired to her refuge." "I will. with red eyes. I shall find it out in Rome. and carry out all the plans we've made so many times. accepting the vague but magnificent offer as gratefully as she could. but I don't believe that one will." returned Jo." said Amy. the last lingerer. if it ever does. and the house was in a ferment till Amy was off. saying with a sob. "Oh. So Amy sailed away to find the Old World." "Thank you.. . dear." "Suppose you haven't?" said Jo. for your wishes are always granted--mine never. and cried till she couldn't cry any more. at the new collars which were to be handed over to Amy. which is always new and beautiful to young eyes.. "Your predictions sometimes come to pass. and she clung to Laurie.CHAPTER THIRTY herself. and you'll marry some rich man. as if the part of Lady Bountiful would suit her better than that of a poor drawing teacher. Then just as the gangway was about to be withdrawn. thoughtfully patting her nose with her knife. in a year or two I'll send for you. sewing away. while her father and friend watched her from the shore. the garret. with a sigh. and scratched away at her palette as if bent on vigorous measures before she gave up her hopes. I'm sure I wish it would. take care of them for me. and if anything should happen. and will do something to prove it. with philosophic composure. Amy likewise bore up stoutly till the steamer sailed. and come home to sit in the lap of luxury all your days." whispered Laurie. for if I have any genius. I'll come and comfort you. you won't. You hate hard work. I will. "It will decide my career." said Jo. "Then I shall come home and teach drawing for my living. There was not much time for preparation. "If you wish it you'll have it. 202 "It isn't a mere pleasure trip to me. who waved her hand to them till they could see nothing but the summer sunshine dazzling on the sea. it suddenly came over her that a whole ocean was soon to roll between her and those who loved her best. for if I can't be an artist myself. little dreaming that he would be called upon to keep his word. "Rather!" "Well. But she made a wry face at the prospect. I'll remind you of your promise when that joyful day comes. girls." she said impressively. "No. as she scraped her best palette.." replied the aspirant for fame..

I never shall get to London if I don't hurry. It was all heavenly. Everyone was very kind to me.. and I was glad to leave it. girls? I like traveling. Don't laugh. with deer feeding in the parks. and as they have nothing to do. and a rosy sky overhead. full of lovely landscapes. It's not a fashionable place. such sunsets. Wasn't that fun. and got shaved 'a la mutton chop. Piccadilly. and an umbrella. she'd have been in such a state of rapture. Oh. as if they never got nervous like Yankee . the shore so picturesque. but I was glad to see the Irish coast. Lennox. ruins on some of the hills. so when I had done what I could for them. with "Robert Lennox's compliments. The trip was like riding through a long picture gallery. who came on with us. sir. Here I really sit at a front window of the Bath Hotel. and gentlemen's countryseats in the valleys. but the first time he had the mud cleaned off his shoes. As for Jo. "Oh. for I've done nothing but sketch and scribble since I started. latticed windows. and sung. and found it very lovely. for the bay was full of little boats. Uncle rushed out and bought a pair of dogskin gloves. It was early in the morning. Then he flattered himself that he looked like a true Briton. when I felt pretty miserable. on deck all day. gentlemen really are very necessary aboard ship. Jo. with thatched roofs. to order a bouquet for me. made friends with the engineers. with brown cabins here and there. I went and enjoyed myself. and liked to be let alone. I must tell you what that absurd Lennox did! He got his friend Ward.. have you e'er heard of Kate Kearney? She lives on the banks of Killarney. but after that I got on delightfully. I wish Beth could have come. as they stood knee-deep in clover. it would have done her so much good. It's a dirty. seldom ill. such splendid air and waves! It was almost as exciting as riding a fast horse. or to wait upon one." on the card. Such walks on deck. However. and stout women with rosy children at the doors. thick shoes. it's a mercy to make them useful. and won't go anywhere else. the first thing. I can't begin to tell you how I enjoy it all! I never can. For fatal's the glance of Kate Kearney. some ugly. I've given 'em the latest Yankee shine. so it's no great matter. but Uncle stopped here years ago. The very cattle looked more tranquil than ours. with a look at me. so green and sunny. The farmhouses were my delight." It amused Uncle immensely. At Queenstown one of my new acquaintances left us. Shun danger and fly. and the hens had a contented cluck. and tooted on the captain's speaking trumpet. I never shall forget it. "There yer har. the little bootblack knew that an American stood in them. Mr. when we went rushing on so grandly.CHAPTER THIRTY 203 CHAPTER THIRTY -ONE OUR FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT London Dearest People. especially the officers. or whatever the high thing is called. she would have gone up and sat on the maintop jib. we don't mean to stay long. with a grin. noisy place. and said. ivy up to the eaves. he sighed. so I'll only give you bits out of my notebook." Wasn't that nonsensical? We only stopped at Liverpool a few hours. Oh. I'm afraid. with plenty of pleasant people to amuse me. From the glance of her eye. and when I said something about the Lakes of Killarney. but I didn't regret getting up to see it. to hold on to. and the first thing I saw in my room was a lovely one. I sent a line from Halifax. otherwise they would smoke themselves to death. Aunt and Flo were poorly all the way.

in short red jackets and muffin caps stuck on one side. that's impossible. aye. mum. "A colliery. ordered a hansom cab. "Now. and whirling around corners at a breakneck pace. Aunt was tired and went to sleep. Of course it rained when we got to London. staring out at two tall posts with a crossbeam and some dangling chains. and the men. my dear! It was as good as Punch.and the young folks do a deal of flirting here. handsome girls. and powdered coachmen in front." says Amy. sky so blue. and there was nothing to be seen but fog and umbrellas. but he was up outside behind somewhere. Shopping in Regent Street is perfectly splendid. a red eye appeared. and the Duke of Wellington's house is not far off. At last. that gray place among the trees!" Flo. and a beery voice said. I was in a rapture all the way..CHAPTER THIRTY 204 biddies. mum?" I gave my order as soberly as I could. in a tone that keeps us quiet till Flo settles down to enjoy the Flirtations of Captain Cavendish. as if going to a funeral. for it's the thing to wear one in the button-hole. for the fun of it. The Duke of Devonshire lives near. stout ladies. not unless you want beer. woods so dark. The horses are splendid. a muslin dress to match. Amy. with the rosiest children I ever saw. especially the grooms. which isn't according to our rules. "A little faster. looking like the women in a toy Noah's Ark." A pause--then Flo cried out. young ladies." the man made his horse walk. with an "Aye. and on poking it open. in my despair.M. flying up--"Oh. darting to my window--"How sweet! We must go there sometime. for there were fat dowagers rolling about in their red and yellow coaches. and we went to Hyde Park. trying to see everything while we were whisking along at the rate of sixty miles an hour. looking so funny I longed to sketch them. A white hat and blue feather. Today was fair. "Here's a lovely flock of lambs all lying down. so I'll only say it was sublime! This evening we are going to see Fechter. I often see his footmen lounging at the back gate. Doesn't that sound sort of elegant and rich? Flo and I. Rotten Row means 'Route de Roi'. calmly admiring his boots--"No. up behind. with a twinkle of the eye. and I couldn't get at him. In the P. Such sights as I saw. but the women are stiff. Aunt Mary got me some new things. that must be Kenilworth. where?" shrieks Amy. though we learned afterward that it wasn't the thing for young ladies to ride in them alone. I saw a pair exchange rose buds. ride well. with gorgeous Jeameses in silk stockings and velvet coats. and shopped a little between the showers. I poked again and said. I saw a little door in the roof. Everyone rides--old men. little children-. the man drove so fast that Flo was frightened. there's a gallows and a man going up. and wouldn't be astonished at anything. aren't they pretty?" added Flo sentimentally. or the king's way. "Bless me. Things seem so cheap. quite helpless. looking half asleep. and we resigned ourselves to our fate." remarks Uncle. and I thought it rather a nice little idea. So was Flo. and there we were. but don't expect me to describe it. Such perfect color I never saw. which will be an appropriate end to the happiest day of my . "Geese. to Westminster Abbey. We rested. dandies in queer English hats and lavender kids lounging about. for we are more aristocratic than we look. that's a brewery. This is the way we went on. in their scant habits and high hats. unpacked. but Uncle read his guidebook. rattling away. for they trotted solemnly up and down. close by. It was so droll! For when we were shut in by the wooden apron. and slamming down the door. and told me to stop him.. nor see me flap my parasol in front. nice ribbons only sixpence a yard. "See." returns Uncle." then off he went. and we kept bouncing from one side to the other. for I came off in such a hurry I wasn't half ready. won't we Papa?" Uncle. my dear. while Aunt and Uncle were out. He didn't hear me call. but shall get my gloves in Paris. Smart maids. helter-skelter as before." "Where. and bounce. I longed to show them a tearing American gallop. and I have the scenery all to myself. and the loveliest mantle you ever saw. grain so yellow. and went for a drive. and tall soldiers. I laid in a stock. but now it's more like a riding school than anything else. then. Papa. the grass so green.

and saw larks go up. Fred laughed when I spoke of Jo. but he was so cool about it she couldn't say a word. find we don't. also Marie Antoinette's little shoe. I think. and the boys very nice fellows. thanks to Fred and Frank.CHAPTER THIRTY life. as we were at tea? Laurie's English friends. and the other great creatures. Who do you think came in. Charlemagne's sword. and Frank much better. I really feel like a dissipated London fine lady. The Palais Royale is a heavenly place. stopping for nice lunches in the gay cafes. as ever. Aunt's pronunciation is old-fashioned. I enjoyed the trips to Hampton Court and the Kensington Museum more than anything else. She would like the relics of great people better. though we flattered ourselves that we knew a good deal. the ring of Saint Denis. We 'did' London to our heart's content. so we shall return the call. and I don't know what we should do without him. and were sorry to go away. or the fun we had there. The day in Richmond Park was charming. but haven't time to write. and was going to Switzerland. and I had more splendid oaks and groups of deer than I could copy. so I must stop. The Vaughns hope to meet us in Rome next winter. and Fred and I talked over past. I long to see you all. for Grace and I are great friends. I'll talk for hours about them when I come. and in spite of my nonsense am. as Uncle calls it. and my head a jumble of parks. for I shouldn't have known them but for the cards. Fred handsome in the English style. AMY PARIS Dear girls. for we had a regular English picnic. Uncle doesn't know ten words.. and came to ask us to their house. and future fun as if we had known each other all our days. Aunt looked sober at first.. and are very grateful to have Fred do the 'parley vooing'. Such delightful times as we are having! Sight-seeing from morning till night. when he turned up again. but Uncle won't go. Neither of them had forgotten Camp Laurence. and Flo and I. new gowns. saying he had come for a holiday. so full of bijouterie and lovely things that I'm nearly distracted because . revelling in pictures. and insists on talking English very loud. Hogarth. They had heard from Laurie where we were to be. his baby's cradle and his old toothbrush. rooms full of pictures by Turner. and sent his 'respectful compliments to the big hat'. and I shall be dreadfully disappointed if they don't. but I have. for he speaks French like a native. and many other interesting things. Rainy days I spend in the Louvre. and was sorry to hear of her ill health. for though English people are slow to take you in. and we did have such a good time. They went to the theater with us. for at Hampton I saw Raphael's cartoons. because she has no soul for art. as if it would make people understand him. Both are tall fellows with whiskers. especially Fred. for Frank devoted himself to Flo. also heard a nightingale. Lawrence. Jo would turn up her naughty nose at some of the finest. we were hardly settled here. and what pleasant parties they made for us. and are very glad he came. but I can't let my letter go in the morning without telling you what happened last evening. Tell Beth Frank asked for her. and uses no crutches. Fred and Frank Vaughn! I was so surprised. theaters. present. and I'm cultivating eye and taste as fast as I can. Well. and see them as we can. your loving. Reynolds. and gallant creatures who say "Ah!" and twirl their blond mustaches with the true English lordliness. What ages ago it seems. with my room full of pretty things. And now we get on nicely. doesn't it? Aunt is tapping on the wall for the third time. how kind the Vaughns were. writing here so late. when they once make up their minds to do it they cannot be outdone in hospitality. and meeting with all sorts of droll adventures. for I've seen her Napoleon's cocked hat and gray coat. 205 It's very late. for he only limps slightly. In my last I told you about our London visit. and at the Museum.

for I don't fancy light men. It is so pleasant that we spend our evenings talking there when too tired with our day's work to go out. the great fortress opposite. Fred wanted to get me some. who sits chatting to his tutor. I saw Goethe's house. the bridge of boats. I didn't like to ask. and it mortifies me. and music fit to melt a heart of stone. one sees a table. for I find I don't know anything. . Having a quiet hour before we leave for Berne. and I scolded him. and turned sensible again. We flew up. for he tossed it out of the window.except Laurie. and as we shall travel fast. green hat. Get Father's old guidebooks and read about it. and is altogether the most agreeable young man I ever knew-.CHAPTER THIRTY 206 I can't buy them. That is so Frenchy. kiss their hands to the invisible ladies. it begins to look like it. and with my sketchbook will give you a better idea of my tour than these scribbles. He needs someone to look after him when Frank is not with him. but Flo. I thought--purple dress. The sail up the Rhine was perfect. to smoke and drink beer. and said I didn't throw it. Schiller's statue. Then the Bois and Champs Elysees are tres magnifique. I'm afraid I'm going to have trouble with that boy. Pere la Chaise is very curious. It was the most romantic thing I ever saw--the river. and I quite agree with her that it would be well for him. for many of the tombs are like small rooms."" HEIDELBERG My dear Mamma. and about one o'clock Flo and I were waked by the most delicious music under our windows. though the antique Luxembourg Gardens suit me better. I ought to have read more. Frankfurt was delightful. Next morning Fred showed me one of the crumpled flowers in his vest pocket. I shall only be able to give you hasty letters. gave us a serenade. but of course I didn't allow it. I'll try to tell you what has happened. I suppose. and go laughing away. and saw them scramble for them. and looked very sentimental. as my own is yellower. I wish Fred was dark. but dressed in bad taste. When they were done we threw down some flowers. as Father advised. I've seen the imperial family several times. but I should have enjoyed it more if I had known the story better. and yellow gloves. the Vaughns are very rich and come of an excellent family. and kisses his hand to the people as he passes in his four-horse barouche.' It was very lovely. the empress pale and pretty. as everyone knew it or pretended they did. I keep my diary. we look up and down the long. The baths at Nassau were very gay. where Fred lost some money. and sitting on the balcony. Our rooms are on the Rue de Rivoli. Fred is very entertaining. and try to 'remember correctly and describe clearly all that I see and admire'. and hid behind the curtains. with images or pictures of the dead. with postilions in red satin jackets and a mounted guard before and behind. hard-looking man. however. so I won't find fault with their yellow hair. but sly peeps showed us Fred and the students singing away down below. We often walk in the Tuileries Gardens. as you will see. I embrace you tenderly. which seemed to disgust him. for they are lovely. and I just sat and enjoyed it with all my might. so was Baden-Baden. "Votre Amie. Kate said once she hoped he'd marry soon. I wish Jo would tell me all about it. with whom Fred got acquainted on the boat. At Coblentz we had a lovely time. for some of it is very important. I haven't words beautiful enough to describe it. for some students from Bonn. It was a moonlight night. I laughed at him. and chairs for the mourners to sit in when they come to lament. Little Nap is a handsome boy. brilliant street. and Dannecker's famous 'Ariadne. and looking in. Adieu. Next week we are off to Germany and Switzerland. moonlight everywhere. It is good practice for me. the emperor an ugly. whose manners are more charming.

but is rather peppery. and such a splendid one it is! A city house in a fashionable street. Amy?" I didn't promise. We had a charming time poking about the ruins. sitting there. but only for a minute because he said. lovely grounds. You may be sure of that. I like it. stiff Englishmen. and pictures of the country place. and Fred has just gone. for it was impossible to help seeing that Fred liked me. He has been so kind and jolly that we all got quite fond of him. and very rich--ever so much richer than the Laurences. from something he once hinted." when he says "Will you. and though Fred is not my model hero. and I should be very happy. Jo won't. I felt as if I'd got into a romance. He looked so troubled that I forgot all about myself. it would be all I should ask! And I'd rather have it than any title such as girls snap up so readily. Fred. Meg didn't. and they like me. Beth can't yet. the vaults where the monster tun is. I can't help it if people like me. the mercenary little wretch!". and be sure I will do nothing rashly. I liked the great terrace best. and we get on comfortably together. So he was going at once on the night train and only had time to say good-by. Send me as much advice as you like. "I shall soon come back. I shall accept him. about 'ein wonderschones Blondchen'. He is handsome. remember I am your 'prudent Amy'. I never thought of anything but a traveling friendship till the serenade night. listening to the music of the Austrian band below. and the girls say. young. but I looked at him. thank you. but I've made up my mind. will have the estate. and don't mean to bear it a minute longer than I can help. and have done my very best. for Frank was very ill. and then he came hurrying through the great arch to find me. Fred looked as fierce as a lion. clever enough. He said nothing. I was very sorry for him. and he seemed satisfied. and it worries me if I don't care for them. but quite cool and only a little excited. you won't forget me. always gets on my side of the carriage. and asked what the matter was. I like him. for the view was divine. I know he wanted to speak. He said he'd just got a letter begging him to come home. last evening we went up to the castle about sunset. but I wished you to know what was going on. the family jewels. like a real storybook girl. such as English people believe in. for they are all kind. I may be mercenary. generous people. I haven't flirted. not so showy as our big houses. Well. when an Austrian officer stared at us and then said something to his friend. at least all of us but Fred. he does very well. the old servants. as one might guess from his bonnie blue eyes. and make everything okay all round. but remembered what you said to me. and said it in a way that I could not mistake. Don't be anxious about me. please?" Of course this is all very private. and if Fred asks me. watching the Neckar rolling through the valley. a rakish-looking baron. Yesterday at dinner. well-bred. though I'm not madly in love. . He isn't one of the cool. Oh. and the old gentleman dreads a foreign daughter-in-law. looks sentimental when we are alone. So I've been turning the matter over in my mind the last week. if I don't change my mind. for it happened here. and daily adventures were something more to him than fun. table. By-and-by I heard Fred's voice. so while the rest went to see the rooms inside. but twice as comfortable and full of solid luxury. great house. I wouldn't marry a man I hated or despised. but little things showed it. with its park. that he had promised his father not to do anything of the sort yet a while. but I hate poverty. and fine horses. and then. or promenade. for he was off in an hour. though Jo says I haven't got any heart. We shall soon meet in Rome. and let me do just as I liked. I've seen the plate. as the eldest twin. with scarlet woodbine sprays hanging round it. I had a feeling that something was going to happen and I was ready for it. and the beautiful gardens made by the elector long ago for his English wife. Since then I've begun to feel that the moonlight walks. and we all miss him very much. and cut his meat so savagely it nearly flew off his plate. Now I know Mother will shake her head. I don't try to make them. truly. I don't think his family would object. I didn't feel blushy or quakey.CHAPTER THIRTY 207 Now comes the serious part. I'll say "Yes. One of us must marry well. and frowns at anyone else who ventures to speak to me. but I think. so I shall. and find nothing behind. and in time I should get fond enough of him if he was very fond of me. Mother. He never goes with Flo. "Oh. who was to meet us there after going to the Post Restante for letters. and disappointed for myself. as he shook hands. for he has Scotch blood in him. I suppose. for he is a rash boy. for it's genuine. and there was no time for anything but messages and good-byes. and waiting for my lover. balcony talks. I sat there trying to sketch the gray stone lion's head on the wall.

CHAPTER THIRTY I'll use it if I can. I wish I could see you for a good talk, Marmee. Love and trust me. Ever your AMY

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-TWO TENDER TROUBLES "Jo, I'm anxious about Beth." "Why, Mother, she has seemed unusually well since the babies came." "It's not her health that troubles me now, it's her spirits. I'm sure there is something on her mind, and I want you to discover what it is." "What makes you think so, Mother?" "She sits alone a good deal, and doesn't talk to her father as much as she used. I found her crying over the babies the other day. When she sings, the songs are always sad ones, and now and then I see a look in her face that I don't understand. This isn't like Beth, and it worries me." "Have you asked her about it?" "I have tried once or twice, but she either evaded my questions or looked so distressed that I stopped. I never force my children's confidence, and I seldom have to wait for long." Mrs. March glanced at Jo as she spoke, but the face opposite seemed quite unconscious of any secret disquietude but Beth's, and after sewing thoughtfully for a minute, Jo said, "I think she is growing up, and so begins to dream dreams, and have hopes and fears and fidgets, without knowing why or being able to explain them. Why, Mother, Beth's eighteen, but we don't realize it, and treat her like a child, forgetting she's a woman." "So she is. Dear heart, how fast you do grow up," returned her mother with a sigh and a smile. "Can't be helped, Marmee, so you must resign yourself to all sorts of worries, and let your birds hop out of the nest, one by one. I promise never to hop very far, if that is any comfort to you." "It's a great comfort, Jo. I always feel strong when you are at home, now Meg is gone. Beth is too feeble and Amy too young to depend upon, but when the tug comes, you are always ready." "Why, you know I don't mind hard jobs much, and there must always be one scrub in a family. Amy is splendid in fine works and I'm not, but I feel in my element when all the carpets are to be taken up, or half the family fall sick at once. Amy is distinguishing herself abroad, but if anything is amiss at home, I'm your man." "I leave Beth to your hands, then, for she will open her tender little heart to her Jo sooner than to anyone else. Be very kind, and don't let her think anyone watches or talks about her. If she only would get quite strong and cheerful again, I shouldn't have a wish in the world." "Happy woman! I've got heaps." "My dear, what are they?" "I'll settle Bethy's troubles, and then I'll tell you mine. They are not very wearing, so they'll keep." and Jo stitched away, with a wise nod which set her mother's heart at rest about her for the present at least.

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While apparently absorbed in her own affairs, Jo watched Beth, and after many conflicting conjectures, finally settled upon one which seemed to explain the change in her. A slight incident gave Jo the clue to the mystery, she thought, and lively fancy, loving heart did the rest. She was affecting to write busily one Saturday afternoon, when she and Beth were alone together. Yet as she scribbled, she kept her eye on her sister, who seemed unusually quiet. Sitting at the window, Beth's work often dropped into her lap, and she leaned her head upon her hand, in a dejected attitude, while her eyes rested on the dull, autumnal landscape. Suddenly some one passed below, whistling like an operatic blackbird, and a voice called out, "All serene! Coming in tonight." Beth started, leaned forward, smiled and nodded, watched the passer-by till his quick tramp died away, then said softly as if to herself, "How strong and well and happy that dear boy looks." "Hum!" said Jo, still intent upon her sister's face, for the bright color faded as quickly as it came, the smile vanished, and presently a tear lay shining on the window ledge. Beth whisked it off, and in her half-averted face read a tender sorrow that made her own eyes fill. Fearing to betray herself, she slipped away, murmuring something about needing more paper. "Mercy on me, Beth loves Laurie!" she said, sitting down in her own room, pale with the shock of the discovery which she believed she had just made. "I never dreamed of such a thing. What will Mother say? I wonder if her..." there Jo stopped and turned scarlet with a sudden thought. "If he shouldn't love back again, how dreadful it would be. He must. I'll make him!" and she shook her head threateningly at the picture of the mischievous-looking boy laughing at her from the wall. "Oh dear, we are growing up with a vengeance. Here's Meg married and a mamma, Amy flourishing away at Paris, and Beth in love. I'm the only one that has sense enough to keep out of mischief." Jo thought intently for a minute with her eyes fixed on the picture, then she smoothed out her wrinkled forehead and said, with a decided nod at the face opposite, "No thank you, sir, you're very charming, but you've no more stability than a weathercock. So you needn't write touching notes and smile in that insinuating way, for it won't do a bit of good, and I won't have it." Then she sighed, and fell into a reverie from which she did not wake till the early twilight sent her down to take new observations, which only confirmed her suspicion. Though Laurie flirted with Amy and joked with Jo, his manner to Beth had always been peculiarly kind and gentle, but so was everybody's. Therefore, no one thought of imagining that he cared more for her than for the others. Indeed, a general impression had prevailed in the family of late that 'our boy' was getting fonder than ever of Jo, who, however, wouldn't hear a word upon the subject and scolded violently if anyone dared to suggest it. If they had known the various tender passages which had been nipped in the bud, they would have had the immense satisfaction of saying, "I told you so." But Jo hated 'philandering', and wouldn't allow it, always having a joke or a smile ready at the least sign of impending danger. When Laurie first went to college, he fell in love about once a month, but these small flames were as brief as ardent, did no damage, and much amused Jo, who took great interest in the alternations of hope, despair, and resignation, which were confided to her in their weekly conferences. But there came a time when Laurie ceased to worship at many shrines, hinted darkly at one all-absorbing passion, and indulged occasionally in Byronic fits of gloom. Then he avoided the tender subject altogether, wrote philosophical notes to Jo, turned studious, and gave out that he was going to 'dig', intending to graduate in a blaze of glory. This suited the young lady better than twilight confidences, tender pressures of the hand, and eloquent glances of the eye, for with Jo, brain developed earlier than heart, and she preferred imaginary heroes to real ones, because when tired of them, the former could be shut up in the tin kitchen till called for, and the latter were less manageable. Things were in this state when the grand discovery was made, and Jo watched Laurie that night as she had never done before. If she had not got the new idea into her head, she would have seen nothing unusual in the fact that Beth was very quiet, and Laurie very kind to her. But having given the rein to her lively fancy, it galloped away with her at a great pace, and common sense, being rather weakened by a long course of

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romance writing, did not come to the rescue. As usual Beth lay on the sofa and Laurie sat in a low chair close by, amusing her with all sorts of gossip, for she depended on her weekly 'spin', and he never disappointed her. But that evening Jo fancied that Beth's eyes rested on the lively, dark face beside her with peculiar pleasure, and that she listened with intense interest to an account of some exciting cricket match, though the phrases, 'caught off a tice', 'stumped off his ground', and 'the leg hit for three', were as intelligible to her as Sanskrit. She also fancied, having set her heart upon seeing it, that she saw a certain increase of gentleness in Laurie's manner, that he dropped his voice now and then, laughed less than usual, was a little absent-minded, and settled the afghan over Beth's feet with an assiduity that was really almost tender. "Who knows? Stranger things have happened," thought Jo, as she fussed about the room. "She will make quite an angel of him, and he will make life delightfully easy and pleasant for the dear, if they only love each other. I don't see how he can help it, and I do believe he would if the rest of us were out of the way." As everyone was out of the way but herself, Jo began to feel that she ought to dispose of herself with all speed. But where should she go? And burning to lay herself upon the shrine of sisterly devotion, she sat down to settle that point. Now, the old sofa was a regular patriarch of a sofa--long, broad, well-cushioned, and low, a trifle shabby, as well it might be, for the girls had slept and sprawled on it as babies, fished over the back, rode on the arms, and had menageries under it as children, and rested tired heads, dreamed dreams, and listened to tender talk on it as young women. They all loved it, for it was a family refuge, and one corner had always been Jo's favorite lounging place. Among the many pillows that adorned the venerable couch was one, hard, round, covered with prickly horsehair, and furnished with a knobby button at each end. This repulsive pillow was her especial property, being used as a weapon of defense, a barricade, or a stern preventive of too much slumber. Laurie knew this pillow well, and had cause to regard it with deep aversion, having been unmercifully pummeled with it in former days when romping was allowed, and now frequently debarred by it from the seat he most coveted next to Jo in the sofa corner. If 'the sausage' as they called it, stood on end, it was a sign that he might approach and repose, but if it lay flat across the sofa, woe to man, woman, or child who dared disturb it! That evening Jo forgot to barricade her corner, and had not been in her seat five minutes, before a massive form appeared beside her, and with both arms spread over the sofa back, both long legs stretched out before him, Laurie exclaimed, with a sigh of satisfaction... "Now, this is filling at the price." "No slang," snapped Jo, slamming down the pillow. But it was too late, there was no room for it, and coasting onto the floor, it disappeared in a most mysterious manner. "Come, Jo, don't be thorny. After studying himself to a skeleton all the week, a fellow deserves petting and ought to get it." "Beth will pet you. I'm busy." "No, she's not to be bothered with me, but you like that sort of thing, unless you've suddenly lost your taste for it. Have you? Do you hate your boy, and want to fire pillows at him?" Anything more wheedlesome than that touching appeal was seldom heard, but Jo quenched 'her boy' by turning on him with a stern query, "How many bouquets have you sent Miss Randal this week?" "Not one, upon my word. She's engaged. Now then." "I'm glad of it, that's one of your foolish extravagances, sending flowers and things to girls for whom you

CHAPTER THIRTY don't care two pins," continued Jo reprovingly.

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"Sensible girls for whom I do care whole papers of pins won't let me send them 'flowers and things', so what can I do? My feelings need a 'vent'." "Mother doesn't approve of flirting even in fun, and you do flirt desperately, Teddy." "I'd give anything if I could answer, 'So do you'. As I can't, I'll merely say that I don't see any harm in that pleasant little game, if all parties understand that it's only play." "Well, it does look pleasant, but I can't learn how it's done. I've tried, because one feels awkward in company not to do as everybody else is doing, but I don't seem to get on", said Jo, forgetting to play mentor. "Take lessons of Amy, she has a regular talent for it." "Yes, she does it very prettily, and never seems to go too far. I suppose it's natural to some people to please without trying, and others to always say and do the wrong thing in the wrong place." "I'm glad you can't flirt. It's really refreshing to see a sensible, straightforward girl, who can be jolly and kind without making a fool of herself. Between ourselves, Jo, some of the girls I know really do go on at such a rate I'm ashamed of them. They don't mean any harm, I'm sure, but if they knew how we fellows talked about them afterward, they'd mend their ways, I fancy." "They do the same, and as their tongues are the sharpest, you fellows get the worst of it, for you are as silly as they, every bit. If you behaved properly, they would, but knowing you like their nonsense, they keep it up, and then you blame them." "Much you know about it, ma'am," said Laurie in a superior tone. "We don't like romps and flirts, though we may act as if we did sometimes. The pretty, modest girls are never talked about, except respectfully, among gentleman. Bless your innocent soul! If you could be in my place for a month you'd see things that would astonish you a trifle. Upon my word, when I see one of those harum-scarum girls, I always want to say with our friend Cock Robin... "Out upon you, fie upon you, Bold-faced jig!" It was impossible to help laughing at the funny conflict between Laurie's chivalrous reluctance to speak ill of womankind, and his very natural dislike of the unfeminine folly of which fashionable society showed him many samples. Jo knew that 'young Laurence' was regarded as a most eligible parti by worldly mamas, was much smiled upon by their daughters, and flattered enough by ladies of all ages to make a coxcomb of him, so she watched him rather jealously, fearing he would be spoiled, and rejoiced more than she confessed to find that he still believed in modest girls. Returning suddenly to her admonitory tone, she said, dropping her voice, "If you must have a 'vent', Teddy, go and devote yourself to one of the 'pretty, modest girls' whom you do respect, and not waste your time with the silly ones." "You really advise it?" and Laurie looked at her with an odd mixture of anxiety and merriment in his face. "Yes, I do, but you'd better wait till you are through college, on the whole, and be fitting yourself for the place meantime. You're not half good enough for--well, whoever the modest girl may be." and Jo looked a little queer likewise, for a name had almost escaped her. "That I'm not!" acquiesced Laurie, with an expression of humility quite new to him, as he dropped his eyes and absently wound Jo's apron tassel round his finger.

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"Mercy on us, this will never do," thought Jo, adding aloud, "Go and sing to me. I'm dying for some music, and always like yours." "I'd rather stay here, thank you." "Well, you can't, there isn't room. Go and make yourself useful, since you are too big to be ornamental. I thought you hated to be tied to a woman's apron string?" retorted Jo, quoting certain rebellious words of his own. "Ah, that depends on who wears the apron!" and Laurie gave an audacious tweak at the tassel. "Are you going?" demanded Jo, diving for the pillow. He fled at once, and the minute it was well, "Up with the bonnets of bonnie Dundee," she slipped away to return no more till the young gentleman departed in high dudgeon. Jo lay long awake that night, and was just dropping off when the sound of a stifled sob made her fly to Beth's bedside, with the anxious inquiry, "What is it, dear?" "I thought you were asleep," sobbed Beth. "Is it the old pain, my precious?" "No, it's a new one, but I can bear it," and Beth tried to check her tears. "Tell me all about it, and let me cure it as I often did the other." "You can't, there is no cure." There Beth's voice gave way, and clinging to her sister, she cried so despairingly that Jo was frightened. "Where is it? Shall I call Mother?" "No, no, don't call her, don't tell her. I shall be better soon. Lie down here and 'poor' my head. I'll be quiet and go to sleep, indeed I will." Jo obeyed, but as her hand went softly to and fro across Beth's hot forehead and wet eyelids, her heart was very full and she longed to speak. But young as she was, Jo had learned that hearts, like flowers, cannot be rudely handled, but must open naturally, so though she believed she knew the cause of Beth's new pain, she only said, in her tenderest tone, "Does anything trouble you, deary?" "Yes, Jo," after a long pause. "Wouldn't it comfort you to tell me what it is?" "Not now, not yet." "Then I won't ask, but remember, Bethy, that Mother and Jo are always glad to hear and help you, if they can." "I know it. I'll tell you by-and-by." "Is the pain better now?"

CHAPTER THIRTY "Oh. and even if I haven't much time there. with sudden color in her cheeks. doing. "You asked me the other day what my wishes were." 214 So cheek to cheek they fell asleep. go out to service in that great boarding house!" and Mrs. then said slowly. I shall bring home quantities of material for my rubbish. Her family is separate from the rest. and no one knows me there. I'd like to hop a little way and try my wings. dear. I'll tell you one of them. as they sat along together. Marmee." "I'm glad of that. Jo?" and her mother looked up quickly. and on the morrow Beth seemed quite herself again. "It may be vain and wrong to say it." "I have no doubt of it. But your writing?" "All the better for the change. March looked surprised. as if the words suggested a double meaning. With her eyes on her work Jo answered soberly. "Mercy. "I want to go away somewhere this winter for a change. so as I can be spared this winter. But Jo had made up her mind. and need stirring up. and after pondering over a project for some days. and am immensely proud of him." "Why. Jo. but as for anything more." she began. I'll stay with you. and I'm not ashamed of it. but not displeased." "Where will you hop?" "To New York. it's out of the question. you are so comfortable. and a loving word can medicine most ills. Don't care if they do." "Go to sleep. get new ideas." . It's rather hard to find just the thing. for at eighteen neither heads nor hearts ache long. Kirke is your friend--the kindest soul that ever lived--and would make things pleasant for me. but--I'm afraid--Laurie is getting too fond of me. "It's not exactly going out to service. much better." "May I know the others?" Jo looked up and Jo looked down. for Mrs. and this is it. she confided it to her mother. but are these your only reasons for this sudden fancy?" "No. You know Mrs. and learning more than I am. March looked anxious as she put the question. Jo." "Then you don't care for him in the way it is evident he begins to care for you?" and Mrs. I brood too much over my own small affairs. It's honest work. yes. "I want something new. I had a bright idea yesterday. no! I love the dear boy. Mother. as I always have. but I think I should suit if I tried." "Nor I. Kirke wrote to you for some respectable young person to teach her children and sew. I shall see and hear new things. I feel restless and anxious to be seeing." "My dear. I know.

" and Jo told her little story. and repeated her opinion that for Laurie's sake Jo should go away for a time. please?" 215 "Because. but he looks a great deal. I don't think you suited to one another. By the way. "How Mrs. but to her surprise he took it very quietly. for I think I know it. "Let us say nothing about it to him till the plan is settled. and promised to make a pleasant home for her. and so cure him of this romantic notion." Jo was very much relieved that one of his virtuous fits should come on just then. for only then will you find that there is something sweeter. but very pleasant. smiling. and I am content with her success. But she can pet and comfort him after I'm gone.CHAPTER THIRTY "Why. He had been graver than usual of late. then I'll run away before he can collect his wits and be tragic. could I?" "You are sure of his feeling for you?" The color deepened in Jo's cheeks as she answered. for I can't talk about Laurie to her. but the hope is the same in all--the desire to see their children happy. she owned she had a trouble. When all was settled. mothers may differ in their management. while the new scenes and society would be both useful and agreeable. and when jokingly accused of turning over a new leaf." Jo spoke hopefully. You I leave to enjoy your liberty till you tire of it. she seems brighter this last day or two. "So I am. I'm glad you think he is only beginning to care for me. and made her preparations with a lightened heart. pride. Mrs. said. and that Laurie would not get over his 'lovelornity' as easily as heretofore. and how she will rejoice that Annie may still hope. he's used to it. for the home nest was growing too narrow for her restless nature and adventurous spirit. Kirke gladly accepted Jo." Jo looked relieved. Mother. The plan was talked over in a family council and agreed upon. It would trouble me sadly to make him unhappy. and pain which young girls wear when speaking of first lovers. I think I had better go away before it comes to anything." "I agree with you. The teaching would render her independent. Moffat would wonder at your want of management. not to mention hot tempers and strong wills. for I couldn't fall in love with the dear old fellow merely out of gratitude. I said no more. and promised to tell me by-and-by. in a relation which needs infinite patience and forbearance. He hasn't said anything. if she knew. and will soon get over his lovelornity. "I'm afraid it is so. Jo liked the prospect and was eager to be gone. For Beth. as I am. with the look of mingled pleasure. and your frequent quarrels soon blow over. Jo. Meg is so. for Mrs. Beth must think I'm going to please myself. and after a pause. and if it can be managed you shall go. . As friends you are very happy. but her good sense will help her. though I couldn't express it. he answered soberly." "That's just the feeling I had." "Ah. but could not rid herself of the foreboding fear that this 'little trial' would be harder than the others. dear. March shook her head. to get on happily together. and hoped she was doing the best for all. for Beth seemed more cheerful. Amy is my chief care now. and did not take so romantic a view of the case. and I mean this one shall stay turned. and such leisure as she got might be made profitable by writing. with fear and trembling she told Laurie. but I fear you would both rebel if you were mated for life. You are too much alike and too fond of freedom. as well as love. I indulge no hopes except that she may be well. Have you spoken to her?' "Yes. but looked grave. He's been through so many little trials of the sort.

" "I'll do my best. won't you?" "Of course I will. "It won't do a bit of good." promised Beth. "You mean your papers?" asked Beth. When Laurie said good-by. the night before she left. I leave him in your charge. so mind what you do. so remember. wondering why Jo looked at her so queerly.CHAPTER THIRTY "One thing I leave in your especial care. and he'll miss you sadly. Jo. or I'll come and bring you home. "No. Be very good to him. to plague. and keep in order. pet. for your sake." 216 ." "It won't hurt him. but I can't fill your place. he whispered significantly." she said. my boy. My eye is on you.

I'm going to write you a regular volume." said Mrs. if an Irish lady with four small children. though I'm not a fine young lady traveling on the continent. and your own shall be as comfortable as I can make it. She gave me a funny little sky parlor--all she had. and walk away. and I took a fancy to my den on the spot. in her motherly way. K. When I lost sight of Father's dear old face. The little back is too young to haf such heaviness. Kirke's private parlor. K. November Dear Marmee and Beth. but they took to me after telling them The Seven Bad Pigs. Mrs. and said. Soon the sun came out. and I was glad to hear that Mrs. where I am to teach and sew. I saw a gentleman come along behind her. He's almost forty. I saw something I liked. as you may suppose with such a family. and for the present I do. for as Father says.CHAPTER THIRTY 217 CHAPTER THIRTY -THREE JO'S JOURNAL New York. and I mean to peep at him. for I amused myself by dropping gingerbread nuts over the seat every time they opened their mouths to roar." And off she bustled. leaving me to settle myself in my new nest. told me he was from Berlin. for I am bashful. There's the tea bell. Marmee. The nursery. and a nice table in a sunny window. and as I stood waiting at the head of the third one for a little servant girl to lumber up. hadn't diverted my mind. and taking it as a good omen. I cleared up likewise and enjoyed my journey with all my heart. When I mentioned it to Mrs. he's always doing things of that sort. "I'm on the drive from morning to night. and gives lessons to support himself and two little orphan nephews whom he is educating here. and then I'll tell you how he looks. with a kind nod and a foreign accent. Not a very romantic story. my dear. Kirke welcomed me so kindly I felt at home at once. My rooms are always open to you. As I went downstairs soon after. and be as happy as you can. very learned and good. put it down at a door near by. she laughed. but poor as a church mouse.. carry it all the way up. and the two little girls are pretty children. but there is a stove in it. and might have shed a briny drop or two. There are some pleasant people in the house if you feel sociable. "That must have been Professor Bhaer." Wasn't it good of him? I like such things. "Now. all crying more or less. according to the wishes of his sister. Come to me if anything goes wrong. though no one will believe it. so it's no harm. and your evenings are always free. make yourself at home. I felt a trifle blue. K. and I've no doubt I shall make a model governess. if I prefer it to the great table. I fancy. saying. I must run and change my cap. take the heavy hod of coal out of her hand. so I can sit here and write whenever I like. lends him her parlor for some of his scholars. rather spoiled. but a great anxiety will be off my mind if I know the children are safe with you. . who married an American. A fine view and a church tower opposite atone for the many stairs. that evening. "It goes better so. The flights are very long in this tall house. is a pleasant room next Mrs. trifles show character. but it interested me." Mrs. even in that big house full of strangers. for I've got heaps to tell. K. There is a glass door between it and the nursery. I am to have my meals with the children.

Tuesday Eve 218 Had a lively time in my seminary this morning. I pitied him. I peeped in. So he put her up at the table. and at one time I really thought I should shake them all round. then." went on the funny little thing. and holding her so high over his head that she had to stoop her little face to kiss him." and once there was a loud rap. but as she is short and I'm tall. Then he smiled. "Thou shalt haf thy Bhaer. like a big bumblebee. "Herein!" I was just going to run. Mrs. when the parlor door opened and shut." in a coquettish tone. and taking little Tina who had fallen asleep on the sofa in his arms. I was thanking my stars that I'd learned to make nice buttonholes. while Mr. and gave her a paper and pencil. you haf not attend to what I say. with brown hair tumbled all over his head. Kirke asked me if I wouldn't go down to the five o'clock dinner. the kindest eyes I ever saw. I know. and he looked like a gentleman. It was dreadfully improper. so soberly that I nearly betrayed myself by a laugh. catching her up with a laugh. I shall keep a journal-letter. my efforts at concealment were rather a failure. followed by the despairing exclamation. Another knock and the appearance of two young ladies sent me back to my work. After luncheon. Bhaer stood stroking her pretty hair with a fatherly look that made me think she must be his own. I took a good look at him. "No. turning a leaf now and then. and when the girls were gone. A regular German--rather stout. the girl took them out for a walk. and there I virtuously remained through all the noise and gabbling that went on next door. and a splendid big voice that does one's ears good. and stopped. Professor Bhaer was there. tired out. He looked sober in spite of his humming.CHAPTER THIRTY After tea and a go-to-bed romp with the little girls. brisk tone. I attacked the big workbasket. and feeling a little bit homesick. Kennst Du Das Land. and I kept it up till they were glad to sit down and keep still. his hands were large. yet I liked him. put his books in his pocket. and sat there with his eyes shut till the clock struck two. called out in a loud. and send it once a week. his linen was very nice. I thought I would. slamming down her book and running to meet him. opened the great dictionary she had brought. took just one more peep to see if he survived it. and while he arranged his books. for more than once I heard him say emphatically. though two buttons were off his coat and there was a patch on one shoe. and when a tap came at the door. as if finding a word. Some good angel inspired me to try gymnastics. and she scribbled away. as if ready for another lesson." said the mite. and take a goot hug from him. and he hadn't a really handsome feature in his face. for he had a fine head. no. for the children acted like Sancho. and had a quiet evening chatting with my new friend. it is not so. "Me wants me Bhaer. though she looked more French than German. he carried her quietly away. Both seemed to try his patience sorely. after our sharp or slipshod American gabble. and stroke the cat. good nose. and I went to my needlework like little Mabel 'with a willing mind'. One of the girls kept laughing affectedly. So I made myself respectable and tried to slip in behind Mrs. "Prut! It all goes bad this day. Come. and lifting one end of the curtain before the glass door. but I couldn't resist the temptation." said the Professor. who received him like an old friend. and more tomorrow. my Tina. and saying. as if he struck the table with his book. when he jumped up. and someone began to hum. just to see what sort of people are under the same roof with me. His clothes were rusty. "Now Professor. and the other pronounced her German with an accent that must have made it hard for him to keep sober. "Now me mus tuddy my lessin. except his beautiful teeth. and passing her little fat finger down the page. to see what was going on. so goodnight. . I fancy he has a hard life of it. till he went to the window to turn the hyacinth bulbs toward the sun. Kirke. when I caught sight of a morsel of a child carrying a big book. He seemed to have thrown himself back in his chair. a bushy beard." Poor man.

vanishing as soon as they were done. which is more than some people have. so I shall make myself agreeable." "What the deuce is she at our table for?" "Friend of the old lady's. She has fine books and pictures. and then I didn't care. judging from the remarks of the elegant beings who clattered away." "Not a bit of it. young couples absorbed in each other. Bhaer came in with some newspapers for Mrs. who looks as if she had something in her. I didn't mind. I was in our parlor last evening when Mr. and I heard one say low to the other. "Who's the new party?" "Governess. the presents he brings." I felt angry at first. for I do want to get into good society. and old gentlemen in politics. call him Old Fritz. he had a great appetite. smoking like bad chimneys. shouting answers to the questions of a very inquisitive. it seems. I hate ordinary people! Thursday Yesterday was a quiet day spent in teaching. and make all manner of jokes on his name. knows interesting persons. Kirke says. The long table was full. though a 'bacheldore'. She spoke to me at dinner today (for I went to table again. sewing. married ladies in their babies. If Amy had been here. and shoveled in his dinner in a manner which would have horrified 'her ladyship'. I plucked up courage and looked about me. but Minnie.CHAPTER THIRTY 219 She gave me a seat by her. The younger men quiz him. who seemed to be eating on time. who is a little old woman. She wasn't there. if I haven't style. or something of that sort. it's such fun to watch people). the gentlemen especially. Bhaer. and writing in my little room. and kind. The little thing has lost her heart to Mr. and seems friendly. Cast away at the very bottom of the table was the Professor. Give us a light and come on. and takes it so good-naturedly that they all like him in spite of his foreign ways. except one sweetfaced maiden lady. with a light and fire. I picked up a few bits of news and was introduced to the Professor. for they bolted in every sense of the word. Mrs. It seems that Tina is the child of the Frenchwoman who does the fine ironing in the laundry here." "Handsome head. which is very cozy. and talking philosophy with a Frenchman on the other. and follows him about the house like a dog whenever he is at home. Lager Beer. rich. Miss March. deaf old gentleman on one side. only it isn't the same sort that Amy likes. and the poor man must have needed a deal of food after teaching idiots all day. "This is Mamma's friend." . and every one intent on getting their dinner. cultivated. she'd have turned her back on him forever because. and after my face cooled off. and the splendid tales he tells. two of the young men were settling their hats before the hall mirror. as Hannah says. and I've got sense. Ursa Major. There was the usual assortment of young men absorbed in themselves. Kirke. and asked me to come and see her at her room. I don't think I shall care to have much to do with any of them. for a governess is as good as a clerk. and tell all sorts of stories about the plays he invents. sad to relate. Kitty and Minnie Kirke likewise regard him with affection. as he is very fond of children. but no style. As I went upstairs after dinner. introduced me very prettily. The maiden lady is a Miss Norton. which delights him. But he enjoys it like a boy. for I like 'to see folks eat with a relish'.

yes. and she does it out of kindness to me. looking as much in earnest as any of them. and give heaps of love to everyone. When I got back to the nursery there was such an uproar in the parlor that I looked in. as her escort. while he told charming fairy stories of the storks on the chimney tops. but it seems as if I was doomed to see a good deal of him. Bon voyage. for the prim introduction and the blunt addition were rather a comical contrast. Beth. but you will like them. Mees Marsch. Kirke has told her about us. Bhaer down on his hands and knees. "Ah." I laughed all the way downstairs. for she showed me all her treasures. sock and all. The German gentlemen embroider. and then we laughed. except a call on Miss Norton. who is an 'enfant terrible'. but I'm sure Mrs. Is Teddy studying so hard that he can't find time to write to his friends? Take good care of him for me. danced and sang. and when it began to grow dark they all piled onto the sofa about the Professor. I promised I would. for today as I passed his door on my way out. I tremble to think of the stamps this long letter will need. doesn't she. I hear these naughty ones go to vex you." explained Kitty. I wish Americans were as simple and natural as Germans. and Minnie feeding two small boys with seedcakes. "You haf a fine day to make your walk. by accident I knocked against it with my umbrella. I'm as proud as Lucifer. who ride the snowflakes as they fall. with a big blue sock on one hand and a darning needle in the other. but it was a little pathetic.CHAPTER THIRTY "Yes. and asked me if I would sometimes go with her to lectures and concerts. call at me and I come. My small news will sound very flat after her splendors. who has a room full of pretty things. and he departed. "We are playing nargerie. if I enjoyed them. "Dis is mine effalunt!" added Tina. saying in his loud. but darning hose is another thing and not so pretty.. I know. and there was Mr. . with Tina on his back. The 'effalunt' sat up. "Mamma always allows us to do what we like Saturday afternoon. From your faithful Jo. Mr." he said. She put it as a favor. and I accepted gratefully. Mademoiselle. and tell me all about the babies. also to think of the poor man having to mend his own clothes. but such favors from such people don't burden me. "I gif you my wort it is so. and the little 'koblods'. if we make too large a noise you shall say Hush! to us. and she's jolly and we like her lots. he waved his hand. and said soberly to me. Kitty leading him with a jump rope.. cheerful way. He didn't seem at all ashamed of it. when Franz and Emil come. I know. Bhaer?" said Minnie. with a threatening frown that delighted the little wretches." I promised to do so. for though I've used thin paper and written fine. I should go spinning on forever if motives of economy didn't stop me. They played tag and soldiers." added Kitty. but left the door open and enjoyed the fun as much as they did. Saturday Nothing has happened to write about. Pray forward Amy's as soon as you can spare them. for a more glorious frolic I never witnessed. and who was very charming. holding on by the Professor's hair. and there he stood in his dressing gown. and we go more softly. 220 We both bowed. If so again. for when I explained and hurried on. It flew open. don't you? I'm so fond of writing. as they roared and ramped in cages built of chairs.

for Tina runs in and out. for on pleasant days they all go to walk. and rocking to and fro in a most absurd way. "I don't mind it. I had been sitting near this door. and I can hear. After a grand rummage three of the missing articles were found. he lets those boys ride over him roughshod. and traces of the dearly beloved boys. for the mixture of German and American spirit in them produces a constant state of effervescence. Franz and Emil are jolly little lads. who is as stupid as I am. for they were boggled out of shape with his queer darns. as she put the relics in the rag bay. for it was 'a den' to be sure. "Such a man!" laughed good-natured Mrs. leaving the door open. but I do my duty by them. with the Professor and myself to keep order. a ragged bird without any tail chirped on one window seat. I'd like to. The girl had gone. and an old flute over the mantlepiece as if done with.CHAPTER THIRTY 221 P. Half-finished boats and bits of string lay among the manuscripts. but I am always interested in odd people.. and they are fond of me. it was so still. while he made signs to Tina not to betray him. but he forgets to give out his things and I forget to look them over. Kirke called to me one day as I passed Mr. for which. K. but see. They are not so interesting to me as Tina and the boys. but one day last week he caught me at it. I direct it to you. I really couldn't help it. Nothing was said. whether spent in the house or out." said I. my dear? Just come and help me put these books to rights. oh. Saturday afternoons are riotous times. I peep at you. when a little crow made me look up. Dirty little boots stood drying before the fire." I went in. like a seminary. and give you some idea of my goings on. and I hoped he wouldn't find it out. as I stopped and stared like a goose. and I thought he had also. and it all came about in such a droll way that I must tell you. one covered with ink." So I have got his things in order. Books and papers everywhere. trying to discover what he has done with the six new handkerchiefs I gave him not long ago. "So!" he said. be joyful! After what Amy would call Herculaneum efforts. On reading over my letter. and knit heels into two pairs of the socks. one over the bird cage. and then such fun! We are very good friends now. Hearing the lessons he gives to others has interested and amused me so much that I took a fancy to learn. bandage cut fingers. Bless you! DECEMBER My Precious Betsey. and I was busily gabbling over a verb. I agreed to do his washing and mending. having been used as a holder. for I've turned everything upside down. and while we worked I looked about me. and there was Mr. and this is not bad. He's so absent-minded and goodnatured. but I can't scold him. for whom he makes a slave of himself. and I really had nothing else to write about." "Let me mend them. it strikes me as rather Bhaery. To begin at the beginning. in the way of mental and moral agriculture. "I suppose the others are torn up to rig ships. Bhaer's room where she was rummaging. I am not pleasanting when I say. for it may amuse you. they are rather amusing. he's so kind to me about bringing my letters and lending books. or make kite tails. and trying to understand what he said to a new scholar.S. "you peep at me. and a box of white mice adorned the other. It's dreadful. and I've begun to take lessons. finishing off the last sock. so he comes to a sad pass sometimes. were to be seen all over the room. "Did you ever see such a den. quite after my own heart. and a third burned brown. Bhaer looking and laughing quietly. Mrs. my young ideas begin to shoot and my little twigs to bend as I could wish. a broken meerschaum. and he needn't know. for though quiet. As this is to be a scribble-scrabble letter. haf you a wish for German?" .

and a young man by the name of Teddy. JANUARY A Happy New Year to you all. as red as a peony. but it must have been torment to him. I forgot my bashfulness. he will think his buttons grow out new when they fall. Fortunately the story was The Constant Tin Soldier. and we began. he clapped his hands and cried out in his hearty way. only don't make a saint of him. and he doesn't seem tired of it yet. he will see not what we do. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your Christmas bundle. I'm afraid I couldn't like him without a spice of human naughtiness. battered-looking bundle was brought to me. I haf a heart. "Now we shall try a new way. I like it very much. do your best. 'he is a stupid old fellow. meaning it for a surprise. You see Beth manages him better than I did." I blundered out. Beth's new 'ink bib' was capital. and I did. but didn't blame him a particle. I tried both ways. for I dare not offer money. and was scrambling my papers together. I do him in German. I haven't time to write much. a little lesson then and now. my dearest family. which is droll. and opened Hans Andersons's fairy tales so invitingly before me. I'm glad Laurie seems so happy and busy. for look you. I am too stupid to learn. meaning to rush upstairs and shake myself hard. so I was disappointed. and I can see that the grammar gets tucked into the tales and poetry as one gives pills in jelly. You and I will read these pleasant little marchen together." Of course I couldn't say anything after that. and now I read my lessons pretty well. Your letter came in the morning. muddy. and doing my very best. tumbling over long words. he was so earnest. that I was more ashamed than ever. I felt a little low in my mind as I sat up in my room after tea.' "Ah! But I haf an eye. and as it really is a splendid opportunity. and I see much. he just threw the grammar on to the floor and marched out of the room. and believe that strings make theirselves. I took four lessons. for I'd had a 'kind of feeling' that you wouldn't forget me. Mees Marsch. I'm not jealous. but you said nothing about a parcel. and when it came to a sniff or utter mortification and woe. and went at my lesson in a neck-or-nothing style that seemed to amuse him immensely. I'll be sure and wear the nice flannels you sent. and Hannah's box of hard gingerbread will be a treasure. that goes in the corner for making us trouble.' they say to one another. when in he came. in my usual absurd way. gif me your ear. and pegged away (no other word will express it) with all my might. Come. or--no more good fairy works for me and mine. for I didn't get it till night and had given up hoping. It was so homey and refreshing that I sat down on the floor and read and looked and ate and laughed and cried. 222 "Prut! We will make the time. and then I stuck fast in a grammatical bog. for I couldn't help it. I so excited. rumbling out the words with his strong voice and a relish which was good to see as well as hear. I made the bargain. and all the better for being made instead of bought. When I finished reading my first page. and stopped for breath. At efening I shall gif a little lesson with much gladness. and I feel thanks for this. After that we got on better. which of course includes Mr. Read him bits of my letters. I felt myself disgraced and deserted forever. Marmee. isn't it? I mean to give him something on Christmas. and we fail not to find the sense.CHAPTER THIRTY "Yes. The things were just what I wanted. I just hugged it and pranced. you know. and when the big. and read carefully the . "Das ist gut! Now we go well! My turn. Marmee. Thank Heaven Beth continues so comfortable. for this way of studying suits me. pronouncing according to inspiration of the minute." He spoke so kindly. and the whole thing so comical." And he pointed to my work 'Yes. though I didn't understand half he read. The Professor was very patient with me. so I could laugh. that he has given up smoking and lets his hair grow. and now and then he'd look at me with such an expression of mild despair that it was a toss-up with me whether to laugh or cry. as brisk and beaming as if I'd covered myself in glory. Tell me something nice. which is very good of him. and that will do just as well. I haf this debt to pay. he will never observe that his sock heels go not in holes any more." And away he went. but you are too busy. dear. L. these so kind ladies. and dig no more in that dry book.

and a holder for his blower. and bead eyes. and sailed in with a mask on. or a bit of green in a glass. Bless you all! Ever your loving. for I disguised my voice. and black and yellow wings. Not having much money. like an allegory on the banks of the Nile'. having no dress. or funny. I was so glad of that. he says. and when we unmasked it was fun to see them stare at me. a big butterfly with a fat body. as if I had a hundred books. for I'm cheerful all the time now. and feel rich in my new 'friend Friedrich Bhaer'. as only Germans can give it. Homer. It took his fancy immensely. a new standish on his table. or knowing what he'd like. Here I gif you one. and he will help you much. where he would find them unexpectedly. Mother would admire his warm heart. to use a Teddyism. without its cover. and put them about the room. Father his wise head. I didn't mean to go down. Read him well. and Milton. I'm glad you both like what I tell you about him. which is satisfactory. he always has one. so you may imagine how I felt when he brought it down. I got several little things. from the French laundrywoman to Miss Norton forgot him. Poor as he is. work with a will. and so I am to whippersnappers) could dance and dress. I had a very happy New Year. heaps and heaps! 223 Speaking of books reminds me that I'm getting rich in that line. I never knew how much there was in Shakespeare before. a perfect little fairy in his arms. but then I never had a Bhaer to explain it to me. most of them. I heard one of the young men tell another that he knew I'd been an actress. and burst out into a 'nice derangement of epitaphs. and had a gay time New Year's Eve. "You say often you wish a library. and hope you will know him some day. "from my friend Friedrich Bhaer". for on New Year's Day Mr. pretty. Bhaer gave me a fine Shakespeare. and talk now about 'my library'. and Tina was Titania. a little vase for his flower. Mrs. Thank you all. after all. Meg will relish that joke. and he put it on his mantlepiece as an article of virtue.CHAPTER THIRTY books Father has marked. he didn't forget a servant or a child in the house.. and I've often admired it. But at the last minute. haughty Miss March (for they think I am very stiff and cool. and when I thought it over in my room. and Miss Norton lent me lace and feathers. I felt as if I was getting on a little in spite of my many failures. as people will say it. No one knew me. To see them dance was 'quite a landscape'. It is one he values much.. but something between the two. so that he needn't burn up what Amy calls 'mouchoirs'. for between these lids (he meant covers) is many books in one. so it was rather a failure after all. and no one dreamed of the silent. It isn't pronounced either Bear or Beer. to keep him fresh. and not a soul here. he thought he remembered seeing me at one of the minor theaters. Bhaer was Nick Bottom. worsted feelers. I enjoyed it very much. I made it like those Beth invented. Now don't laugh at his horrid name. Mr. So I dressed up as Mrs. and take more interest in other people than I used to. and showed me my own name in it. Plato. They were useful." I thanked him as well as I could. I admire both. for the study of character in this book will help you to read it in the world and paint it with your pen. They got up a masquerade. in fact. Kirke remembered some old brocades. Malaprop. Jo . set up in the place of honor with his German Bible.

I was looking for the Weekly Volcano office. but nearly left behind her what was far more precious than the moneybags. She took to writing sensation stories. I take it?" observing that the pages were numbered. from strawberries in winter to an organ in her bedroom. Jo hesitated on the threshold. up rose the smokiest gentleman. She saw that money conferred power." While she blushed and blundered. Like that immortal hero. and was turning over the leaves with a pair of rather dirty fingers. murmuring in much embarrassment. She has had some experience." . giving Beth everything she wanted. "No. and trying to persuade herself that she was neither excited nor nervous. Jo produced her manuscript and. and always having more than enough. he advanced with a nod and a countenance expressive of nothing but sleep. Dashwood. she reposed awhile after the first attempt.. and the presence of three gentlemen. and got a prize for a tale in the Blarneystone Banner.CHAPTER THIRTY 224 CHAPTER THIRTY -FOUR FRIEND Though very happy in the social atmosphere about her." Down went the highest pair of heels. she resolved to have. but she had a womanly instinct that clothes possess an influence more powerful over many than the worth of character or the magic of manners. but concocted a 'thrilling tale'. had been for years Jo's most cherished castle in the air. The purpose which now took possession of her was a natural one to a poor and ambitious girl. bravely climbed two pairs of dark and dirty stairs to find herself in a disorderly room. covered only on one side. Mr. The dream of filling home with comforts. and very busy with the daily work that earned her bread and made it sweeter for the effort. so that she might indulge in the luxury of charity. even all-perfect America read rubbish. lead to this delightful chateau en Espagne. So she dressed herself in her best. editor of the Weekly Volcano. and not tied up with a ribbon--sure sign of a novice.. a cloud of cigar smoke. which resulted in a tumble and the least lovely of the giant's treasures. sitting with their heels rather higher than their hats. I wished to see Mr. going abroad herself. if I remember rightly. Somewhat daunted by this reception. after long traveling and much uphill work. but the means she took to gain her end were not the best. sir. "A friend of mine desired me to offer--a story--just as an experiment--would like your opinion--be glad to write more if this suits. Dashwood had taken the manuscript. "Not a first attempt. "Excuse me. therefore. Feeling that she must get through the matter somehow. She had never read Sartor Resartus. but for those whom she loved more than life. The prize-story experience had seemed to open a way which might. But the novel disaster quenched her courage for a time. and boldly carried it herself to Mr. not to be used for herself alone. blushing redder and redder with each sentence. Dashwood. for in those dark ages. for public opinion is a giant which has frightened stouter-hearted Jacks on bigger beanstalks than hers. which articles of dress none of them took the trouble to remove on her appearance. money and power. blundered out fragments of the little speech carefully prepared for the occasion. so she scrambled up on the shady side this time and got more booty. and carefully cherishing his cigar between his fingers. She told no one. Jo still found time for literary labors. and casting critical glances up and down the neat pages. But the 'up again and take another' spirit was as strong in Jo as in Jack.

Mr. I thought every story should have some sort of a moral. did she?" and Mr. you know. and never mind the moral. there was nothing for her to do but bow and walk away. we'll look at it. unconscious of her little slip of the tongue. not exactly knowing how to express herself. "We'll take this (editors never say I)." returned Mr. and in an hour or two was cool enough to laugh over the scene and long for next week. It's too long. Such trifles do escape the editorial mind. you can leave it. but I'll run my eye over it." Mr. whereat she rejoiced. as if that point had escaped him. it is said. looking particularly tall and dignified. "Well. "Oh. Dashwoods's editorial gravity relaxed into a smile. and worked off her irritation by stitching pinafores vigorously. for Jo had forgotten her 'friend'. and spoken as only an author could." he said. "But. she went home. Morals don't sell nowadays. but. Jo did not like to leave it. produced by some inaudible remark of the editor. Dashwood was not too deeply absorbed in a cigar to remember his manners. Dashwood didn't suit her at all. so the second interview was much more comfortable than the first.CHAPTER THIRTY 225 "Oh. and so on." said Jo. but omitting the passages I've marked will make it just the right length." was Mr. Pay when it comes out. in a businesslike tone. What name would your friend like to put on it?" in a careless tone. for it was perfectly evident from the knowing glances exchanged among the gentlemen that her little fiction of 'my friend' was considered a good joke. she looked at the marked passages and was surprised to find that all the moral reflections--which she had carefully put in as ballast for much romance--had been stricken out. as he closed the door. "Very well. again. which seemed to take note of everything she had on. Dashwood was alone. and pretty well worked up--language good. it's a new plot. by the way. but feeling as a tender parent might on being asked to cut off her baby's legs in order that it might fit into a new cradle. Dashwood was much wider awake than before. not preached at. Jo hardly knew her own MS." Which was not quite a correct statement. We've more of this sort of thing on hand than we know what to do with at present. for after the dollar-a-column work. even twenty-five seemed good pay. Dashwood gave Jo a quick look. Just then she was both. and give you an answer next week. "People want to be amused. you can have it. Dashwood's affable reply. well. then?" "Yes. completed her discomfiture. Dashwood. When she went again. "What do you--that is. and emboldened by her success. and Mr. Tell her to make it short and spicy. "You think it would do with these alterations. as she was apt to do when nettled or abashed. so I took care to have a few of my sinners repent. . "Shall I tell my friend you will take another if she has one better than this?" asked Jo. "Well. and a laugh. we give from twenty-five to thirty for things of this sort. Can't promise to take it. which was agreeable. so crumpled and underscored were its pages and paragraphs. from the bow in her bonnet to the buttons on her boots. under the circumstances. if you don't object to a few alterations. for Mr. Mr. handing back the story with a satisfied air. what compensation--" began Jo. Half resolving never to return. if you like. yes." Now. Sir.

Her readers were not particular about such trifles as grammar. science and art. She studied faces in the street. which comes soon enough to all of us. and preferred to have her own way first. of course. but she'll do. but unconsciously she was beginning to desecrate some of the womanliest attributes of a woman's character. police records and lunatic asylums. Mr. "I'll call. gypsies. and introduced herself to folly. and quieted all pricks of conscience by anticipations of the happy minute when she should show her earnings and laugh over her well-kept secret. The tale will be out next week. But Mr. if not masterly in execution. not thinking it necessary to tell her that the real cause of his hospitality was the fact that one of his hacks. Eager to find material for stories. She thought it would do her no harm. Northbury her model. Dashwood's directions. who felt a natural desire to know who his new contributor might be. and bent on making them original in plot. She was living in bad society. and crimes. Jo soon found that her innocent experience had given her but few glimpses of the tragic world which underlies society. all about her. and banditti. she went abroad for her characters and scenery. Like most young scribblers. but thanks to the life preserver thrown her by a friend. and Mr." said Jo. a morbid amusement in which healthy young minds do not voluntarily indulge. She had a feeling that Father and Mother would not approve. nuns. She delved in the dust of ancient times for facts or fictions so old that they were as good as new. bad. she searched newspapers for accidents. Dashwood put up his feet. punctuation. on being offered higher wages. sin. and characters. its influence affected her. counts. She was beginning to feel rather than see this. and imaginary though it was. had basely left him in the lurch. for her emaciated purse grew stout. Dashwood had of course found it out very soon. and when Jo most needed hers. blushing in spite of herself. she doesn't wish her name to appear and has no nom de plume. and probability. for much describing of other people's passions and feelings set her to studying and speculating about her own. but promised to be dumb. and played their parts with as much accuracy and spirit as could be expected.CHAPTER THIRTY 226 "None at all. Wrongdoing always brings its own punishment. and beg pardon afterward. . She thought she was prospering finely. and duchesses appeared upon her stage. she set about supplying her deficiencies with characteristic energy. good. had to be ransacked for the purpose. and was fast brushing the innocent bloom from her nature by a premature acquaintance with the darker side of life. It was easy to keep her secret. or shall I send it?" asked Mr. Jo rashly took a plunge into the frothy sea of sensational literature. and as thrills could not be produced except by harrowing up the souls of the readers. She excited the suspicions of public librarians by asking for works on poisons. Dashwood graciously permitted her to fill his columns at the lowest prices. if you please. Sir. for she was feeding heart and fancy on dangerous and unsubstantial food. so regarding it in a business light. as well as her limited opportunities allowed. She soon became interested in her work. "Just as she likes. and that was that she did not tell them at home. and misery. and for a wonder kept his word. Dashwood rejected any but thrilling tales. and indifferent. Mr. land and sea. Dashwood. she got it. history and romance. incidents." As she departed. she came up again not much the worse for her ducking. with the graceful remark. and making Mrs. for she sincerely meant to write nothing of which she would be ashamed. Will you call for the money. Good morning. One thing disturbed her satisfaction. as usual. for no name appeared with her stories." Following Mr. and the little hoard she was making to take Beth to the mountains next summer grew slowly but surely as the weeks passed. "Poor and proud.

she made other discoveries which rapidly dispelled her romantic illusions. His very clothes seemed to partake of the hospitable nature of the wearer. There were lines upon his forehead. hard-working life was much beautified by the spice of romance which this discovery gave it. They looked as if they were at ease. Jo went prepared to bow down and adore the mighty ones whom she had worshiped with youthful enthusiasm afar off. but while endowing her imaginary heroes with every perfection under the sun. after outmaneuvering her in efforts to absorb the profound philosopher. young nor handsome. on stealing a glance of timid admiration at the poet whose lines suggested an ethereal being fed on 'spirit. and his homely. his eyes were never cold or hard. a stranger. and his big hand had a warm. "That's it!" said Jo to herself. had he known it. but she also possessed a most feminine respect for intellect. His rusty coat had a social air. The scientific celebrities. but as happy-hearted as a boy. though only a poor language-master in America. He was poor. 'it sat with its head under its wing'. and strong. and his collars never stiff and raspy like other people's. He never spoke of himself. for she coolly turned round and studied him--a proceeding which would have much surprised him. Why everybody liked him was what puzzled Jo. for the worthy Professor was very humble in his own conceit. and the baggy pockets plainly proved that little hands often went in empty and came out full. Jo was discovering a live hero. yet always appeared to be giving something away. the famous divine flirted openly with one of the Madame de Staels of the age. or brilliant. had advised her to study simple. at first. gossiped about art. and at last decided that it was benevolence which worked the miracle. and liked it all the better because Mr. no longer young. the loquacity of the lady rendering speech impossible. and liked to make him comfortable. when she at length discovered that genuine good will toward one's fellow men could beautify and dignify even a stout German teacher. which Jo would have had no chance of seeing but for her. to behold him devouring his supper with an ardor which flushed his intellectual countenance. and yet he was as attractive as a genial fire. and his oddities were freely forgiven for his sake. yet everyone was his friend. If he had any sorrow.CHAPTER THIRTY 227 I don't know whether the study of Shakespeare helped her to read character. true. forgetting their mollusks and glacial periods. trying to discover the charm. and kindly conferred many favors of this sort both on Jo and the Professor. while devoting . and a little discovery which she made about the Professor added much to her regard for him. Another and a better gift than intellect was shown her in a most unexpected manner. and people seemed to gather about him as naturally as about a warm hearth. His very boots were benevolent. Turning as from a fallen idol. yet his face looked beautiful to many. in one of their conversations. wherever she found them. He never spoke of himself. who imbibed tea Johnsonianly and appeared to slumber. as good training for a writer. and was burdened with the name of Bhaer. brave. She felt proud to know that he was an honored Professor in Berlin. and dew'. Bhaer. in no respect what is called fascinating. plain and peculiar. The pleasant curves about his mouth were the memorials of many friendly words and cheery laughs. Jo valued goodness highly. who looked daggers at another Corinne. till a countryman came to see him. and no one ever knew that in his native city he had been a man much honored and esteemed for learning and integrity. Imagine her dismay. who was amiably satirizing her. She took them with her one night to a select symposium. Bhaer had never told it. who interested her in spite of many human imperfections. and in a conversation with Miss Norton divulged the pleasing fact. who shoveled in his dinner. fire. and he turned only his sunny side to the world. Jo took him at his word. strong grasp that was more expressive than words. and it took her some time to recover from the discovery that the great creatures were only men and women after all. or the natural instinct of a woman for what was honest. remembering how kind he was to others. Mr. The solitary woman felt an interest in the ambitious girl. His capacious waistcoat was suggestive of a large heart underneath. darned his own socks. but Time seemed to have touched him gently. and lovely characters. held in honor of several celebrities. From her Jo learned it. Jo often watched him. imposing. Miss Norton had the entree into most society. The great novelist vibrated between two decanters with the regularity of a pendulum. He was neither rich nor great. But her reverence for genius received a severe shock that night.

that she sat down in a corner to recover herself. and the specimen of the British nobility present happened to be the most ordinary man of the party. The old beliefs. fearing that some inflammable young soul would be led astray by the rockets. intellect. and kept her seat. who was charming the city like a second Orpheus. though Kant and Hegel were unknown gods. Jo knew nothing about philosophy or metaphysics of any sort. but she was fascinated just then by the freedom of Speculative Philosophy. outtalked but not one whit convinced. half painful. with a smile. and immortality was not a pretty fable. and to feel that if greatness is what a wise man has defined it to be. on infinitely better principles than before. quite unconscious of the ludicrous contrast between his subject and his headgear. seemed better than the new. Bhaer soon joined her. for he was going to read her the Death of Wallenstein. She did neither. and just when the wish was sincerest. Now. reverence. It all grew out of a cocked hat. attracted by the brilliancy of the philosophic pyrotechnics. each mounted on his hobby. to find when the display was over that they had only an empty stick or a scorched hand. and gave the Professor her heartiest respect." and sat soberly down. As he glanced from Jo to several other young people. She valued his esteem. Jo wanted to clap her hands and thank him. looking rather out of his element. He had a hard fight." thought Jo. He bore it as long as he could. trying to find out what the wise gentlemen intended to rely upon after they had annihilated all the old beliefs. that religion was in a fair way to be reasoned into nothingness. and put together on new and.CHAPTER THIRTY 228 themselves to oysters and ices with characteristic energy. which Tina had put there and he had forgotten to take off. for she knew it cost him an effort to speak out then and there. but he didn't know when he was beaten and stood to his colors like a man. He shook his head and beckoned her to come away. Bhaer was a diffident man and slow to offer his own opinions. she came near to losing everything. the Subjective and Objective unintelligible terms. talked horses. 'truth. The conversations were miles beyond Jo's comprehension. Jo felt so completely disillusioned. as he talked. and good will'. as he said "Goot efening. and found him looking at her with the grimmest expression she had ever seen him wear. came ambling up to hold an intellectual tournament in the recess. Mr. but a curious excitement. for one evening the Professor came in to give Jo her lesson with a paper soldier cap on his head. half pleasurable. She looked round to see how the Professor liked it. and presently several of the philosophers. "It's evident he doesn't look in his glass before coming down. and the only thing 'evolved from her inner consciousness' was a bad headache after it was all over. not because they were unsettled. Bhaer paused. rank. Somehow. but great. the young musician. for she liked to hear him laugh out his big. God was not a blind force. because his conscience would not let him be silent. and intellect was to be the only God. but when he was appealed to for an opinion. and when Mr. Before the evening was half over. hearty laugh when anything funny . he blazed up with honest indignation and defended religion with all the eloquence of truth--an eloquence which made his broken English musical and his plain face beautiful. but she remembered the scene. that had lasted so long. but a blessed fact. for the wise men argued well. she wanted to be worthy of his friendship. It dawned upon her gradually that the world was being picked to pieces. but she enjoyed it. she coveted his respect. but too sincere and earnest to be lightly spoken. She said nothing at first. the world got right again to Jo. This belief strengthened daily. he knit his brows and longed to speak. She felt as if she had solid ground under her feet again. came over her as she listened with a sense of being turned adrift into time and space. Mr. She began to see that character is a better possession than money. according to the talkers. like a young balloon out on a holiday. or beauty. then her friend Friedrich Bhaer was not only good.

a villain. The Professor didn't know what to make of her. but not a trace of it appeared in his face. and walked to the fire. and it troubled him. "There is a demand for whisky. by a look and a blush. for to hear a German read Schiller is rather an absorbing occupation. but very gravely. After the reading came the lesson. but as she never spoke of it.. the absent-minded Professor gravely felt and removed the little cocked hat." Mr. but see you. They are made pleasant to some. however. looked at it a minute. If the respectable people knew what harm they did. the Professor saw a good deal more than people fancied. but the impulse that made her turn it over was not one of displeasure but fear. . Jo sat still. but I would more rather give my boys gunpowder to play with than this bad trash. nor young people to read. and let the small ones eat it." said Jo. No. "I wish these papers did not come in the house. Bhaer spoke warmly." as many people would have done. for though an absent man. which was a lively one. Many very respectable people make an honest living out of what are called sensation stories. looking as if the fire had come to her. and had met her down among the newspaper offices more than once. you too shall wear him. "Ah! I see him now.CHAPTER THIRTY 229 happened.. for what do you laugh in your master's face? Haf you no respect for me. All this flashed through his mind in a minute. because for a minute she fancied the paper was the Volcano. for her cheeks burned long after the cocked hat had turned to smoke and gone harmlessly up the chimney. he was ready to say quite naturally." "All may not be bad. and if there is a demand for it. for Jo was in a gay mood that night. he asked no questions in spite of a strong desire to see her work. they should think a little. He did not say to himself. you know. I don't see any harm in supplying it. I've no right to say anything. and Jo's needle threaded. there would have been no name to betray her. and then threw back his head and laughed like a merry bass viol. Now it occurred to him that she was doing what she was ashamed to own. It was not. Well. and he was moved to help her with an impulse as quick and natural as that which would prompt him to put out his hand to save a baby from a puddle. and a viper. but I think you and I do not care to sell it. it is nothing. only silly. scratching gathers so energetically that a row of little slits followed her pin.. a corpse. and by the time the paper was turned." muttered the Professor. when you forget to take your hat off?" said Jo. and her panic subsided as she remembered that even if it had been and one of her own tales in it. coming back with a relieved air. it is that imp Tina who makes me a fool with my cap. I do not think that good young girls should see such things. that you go on so bad?" "How can I be respectful. so she left him to discover it for himself. They are not for children to see. and I haf no patience with those who make this harm. a girl far away from mother's love and father's care. Bhaer caught sight of a picture on the hat. He knew that Jo wrote." But the lesson did not go at all for a few minutes because Mr. "It is none of my business. said with great disgust. and stopped at last to ask with an air of mild surprise that was irresistible.. Lifting his hand to his head. and presently forgot all about it. and unfolding it. and the cocked hat kept her eyes dancing with merriment. She had betrayed herself. He only remembered that she was young and poor. They haf no right to put poison in the sugarplum. they would not feel that the living was honest. however. It is not well. She did not like it." Jo glanced at the sheet and saw a pleasing illustration composed of a lunatic. Sir. "Mees Marsch. "I should like much to send all the rest after him. and sweep mud in the street before they do this thing. "Yes. crumpling the paper in his hands. if this lesson goes not well. you are right to put it from you.

that's the best place for such inflammable nonsense. but he meant more than she imagined. but going to the other extreme. a little black cinder with fiery eyes. and will soon be worse trash if I go on. "I almost wish I hadn't any conscience. as she sat on the floor. for her lively fancy and girlish romance felt as ill at ease in the new style as she would have done masquerading in the stiff and cumbrous costume of the last century. as is the way with people of her stamp. Jo. smiling to see how they magnified the fine print of her book. and may keep this to pay for my time. If I didn't care about doing right. it's so inconvenient. she got out her papers. and pity from your heart those who have no such guardians to hedge them round with principles which may seem like prison walls to impatient youth. than let other people blow themselves up with my gunpowder. The only person who offered enough to make it worth her while to try juvenile literature was a worthy gentleman who felt it his mission to convert all the world to his particular belief. but which will prove sure foundations to build character upon in womanhood." was all he said. I suppose." she thought as she watched the Demon of the Jura whisk away. But when nothing remained of all her three month's work except a heap of ashes and the money in her lap. she took a course of Mrs. after a long meditation. that Mother and Father hadn't been so particular about such things. Sherwood. which she could easily have disposed of if she had not been mercenary enough to demand filthy lucre for it. and her hard-earned money lay rather heavily on her conscience at that minute. Sir? I'll be very good and proper now. they are only silly. So nothing came of these trials. for I can't read this stuff in sober earnest without being horribly ashamed of it. nor all the good infants who did go as rewarded by every kind of bliss." Ah. Jo wrote no more sensational stories. and Hannah More. Jo could not consent to depict all her naughty boys as being eaten by bears or tossed by mad bulls because they did not go to a particular Sabbath school. Now she seemed to have on the Professor's mental or moral spectacles also. and what should I do if they were seen at home or Mr." "I shall hope so. adding impatiently. wondering what she ought to do about her wages. instead of wishing that. Then she tried a child's story. nearly setting the chimney afire with the blaze. for each is more sensational than the last. "Shall we go on. I know it's so. deciding that the money did not pay for her share of the sensation. Bhaer got hold of them?" Jo turned hot at the bare idea. and she was inclined to agree with Mr. and Jo . thank God that 'Father and Mother were particular'. from gilded gingerbread to escorts of angels when they departed this life with psalms or sermons on their lisping tongues. I can't help wishing sometimes. "They are trash. she said. for the sake of money. I'd better burn the house down. so intensely moral was it. Bhaer sometimes used eye glasses. so I won't be worried. and carefully reread every one of her stories. hurting myself and other people. Mr. Dashwood that morals didn't sell. but it found no purchaser. never bad. Miss Edgeworth. for the faults of these poor stories glared at her dreadfully and filled her with dismay. I should get on capitally. and the grave. She had her doubts about it from the beginning. Then she thought consolingly to herself. "Yes." and taking up her book. "Mine are not like that. As soon as she went to her room. and Jo had tried them once. Being a little shortsighted. I've gone blindly on. and stuffed the whole bundle into her stove. "I think I haven't done much harm yet. and then produced a tale which might have been more properly called an essay or a sermon. She sent this didactic gem to several markets. with a studious face. and didn't feel uncomfortable when doing wrong. But much as she liked to write for children. kind look he gave her made her feel as if the words Weekly Volcano were printed in large type on her forehead. Jo looked sober.CHAPTER THIRTY 230 Jo thought what a blaze her pile of papers upstairs would make." she said.

hoping the Professor did not see it. He helped her in many ways. for I want them all to know my friend. so she bade them all goodbye overnight. and he was satisfied. and laying a foundation for the sensation story of her own life. if you ever travel our way. Bhaer's hair stuck straight up all over his head. my boy Teddy. If it had not been for Tina on her knee. 'sweep mud in the street' if I can't do better. at least. 231 "I don't know anything. shouldered Tina. Gott bless you!" And with that. "Now. you are happy that you haf a home to go in. when she told him.." "Do you? Shall I come?" he asked. Sir. Fortunately the child was moved to hug her. and simply because she particularly wished not to look as if anything was the matter. It was a pleasant winter and a long one. or homesickness. and studied with a dogged patience. "Yes. he knew that she had given up writing. but she spent her evenings downstairs now. proving himself a true friend." "That is your best friend. I'll wait until I do before I try again. "Going home? Ah. she involuntarily began to blush. she said warmly. I'm very proud of him and should like you to see him. for she did not leave Mrs. of whom you speak?" he said in an altered tone. and Jo was happy. so she managed to hide her face an instant. he sat long before his fire with the tired look on his face and the 'heimweh'.. will you? I'll never forgive you if you do. her external life had been as busy and uneventful as usual. but she stood the test. she was learning other lessons besides German. was met no more among newspaper offices. and sat silently pulling his beard in the corner. While these internal revolutions were going on. and the more she tried not to.. as if in search of something that he could not find." Which decision proved that her second tumble down the beanstalk had done her some good. and meantime." he said. for while her pen lay idle. He did it so quietly that Jo never knew he was watching to see if she would accept and profit by his reproof. and then roamed about the room. he leaned his head on his hands a minute. and said in a fit of very wholesome humility. Laurie graduates then. Once. But he did. "I fear I shall not make the time for that. you won't forget to come and see us. But after the boys were abed. and you all happiness. and Mr. while she held a little levee on that last evening. as he said cordially. "Yes. Everyone seemed sorry when the time came. which assured him that she was bent on occupying her mind with something useful. and you'd enjoy commencement as something new. and when his turn came. if not pleasant. when he remembered Jo as she sat with the little child in her lap and that new softness in her face. come next month. She didn't know what would have become of her. the redder she grew. quite unconscious of anything but her own pleasure in the prospect of showing them to one another. Kirke till June. The children were inconsolable. for he always rumpled it wildly when disturbed in mind. and his own changed again from that momentary anxiety to its usual expression." Jo looked up then. but I wish the friend much success. lying heavy at his heart. and if she sometimes looked serious or a little sad no one observed it but Professor Bhaer. for though no words passed between them. Not only did he guess it by the fact that the second finger of her right hand was no longer inky. . She was going early. Something in Mr.. that's honest. and went away.CHAPTER THIRTY corked up her inkstand. looking down at her with an eager expression which she did not see. he shook hands warmly. Bhaer's face suddenly recalled the fact that she might find Laurie more than a 'best friend'.

CHAPTER THIRTY 232 "It is not for me. "Well. a bunch of violets to keep her company. but I don't think he found that a pair of rampant boys. Then. earned no fortune." he said to himself. and best of all. with a sigh that was almost a groan. he went and kissed the two tousled heads upon the pillow. were very satisfactory substitutes for wife and child at home. or even the divine Plato. he was at the station next morning to see Jo off. Early as it was. she began her solitary journey with the pleasant memory of a familiar face smiling its farewell. a pipe." . and I've written no books. He did his best and did it manfully. and opened his Plato. the winter's gone. the happy thought. and thanks to him. took down his seldom-used meerschaum. as if reproaching himself for the longing that he could not repress. but I've made a friend worth having and I'll try to keep him all my life. I must not hope it now.

To rescue the conversation from one of the wells of silence into which it kept falling. and made her put out her hand with an imploring. and the sooner the better for both of us. She always used to take his arm on these occasions. for she was the only one who kept up the old custom. It's no use. Please don't!" "I will. .CHAPTER THIRTY 233 CHAPTER THIRTY -FIVE HEARTACHE Whatever his motive might have been. and then what shall I do?" Evening meditation and morning work somewhat allayed her fears. and he made no complaint. still further fortified her for the tete-a-tete. Jo?" cried Laurie. but I shall be home early tomorrow. but when she saw a stalwart figure looming in the distance. but talked on rapidly about all sorts of faraway subjects. "I'll come. John and Meg. He said 'girls'. and all exulted over him with the sincere admiration which boys make light of at the time. deary me! I know he'll say something. Jo and Beth. Jo said hastily. and having decided that she wouldn't be vain enough to think people were going to propose when she had given them every reason to know what her answer would be. as soon as he was within speaking distance. getting flushed and excited all at once. so his friends said. "Say what you like then. but fail to win from the world by any after-triumphs." Laurie thanked her with a look that made her think in a sudden panic. suddenly lost his fine flow of language. so proud--Mr. for he graduated with honor. girls?" Laurie said. Teddy. Laurie studied to some purpose that year. but he meant Jo. You'll come and meet me as usual.. and a refreshing sniff and sip at the Daisy and Demijohn. for that salutation could not be called lover-like. with a desperate sort of patience. March. and answered warmly. and now and then a dreadful pause occurred. They were all there." And Jo took heart again. Jo." Something in his resolute tone made Jo look up quickly to find him looking down at her with an expression that assured her the dreaded moment had come. rain or shine. "Now you must have a good long holiday!" "I intend to. and march before you. she set forth at the appointed time. now she did not. and gave the Latin oration with the grace of a Phillips and the eloquence of a Demosthenes. Teddy. till they turned from the road into the little path that led homeward through the grove. she had a strong desire to turn about and run away. hoping Teddy wouldn't do anything to make her hurt his poor feelings. I'll listen. "Oh. which was a bad sign. and Mrs.. "No. "Where's the jew's-harp. A call at Meg's. as he put the sisters into the carriage after the joys of the day were over. She had not the heart to refuse her splendid. and you must hear me." said Jo." he answered. "I've got to stay for this confounded supper. his grandfather--oh. playing 'Hail the conquering hero comes' on a jew's-harp. successful boy anything. "I forgot it. we've got to have it out. Then he walked more slowly.

finding it a great deal harder than she expected. for I can't go on so any longer. "I don't. I can't help it. but I can't change the feeling. saying in a voice that would get choky now and then. I'm sorry. I thought you'd understand. dear. so he plunged into the subject with characteristic impetuousity. I never wanted to make you care for me so." "Really. but the girls are so queer you never know what they mean. and so proud and fond of you. Presently Jo said very soberly. It was like you. "You. and waited and never complained. I want to tell you something. while a blackbird sung blithely on the willow by the river.. and I went away to keep you from it if I could. Jo. and I worked hard to please you. as she softly patted his shoulder. entrenching himself behind an undeniable fact. though I'm not half good enough. you are. truly. "Don't tell me that." began Jo. threw up his head. They say no when they mean yes. Now I'm going to make you hear. as she sat down on the step of the stile.. so he decapitated buttercups while he cleared his 'confounded throat'. I can't bear it now!" "Tell what?" she asked. and I'm so grateful to you. I've tried to show it. and the tall grass rustled in the wind. I don't know why I can't love you as you want me to.. and stood so still that Jo was frightened. I only loved you all the more. you're a great deal too good for me. wondering at his violence. and when the last words fell reluctantly from Jo's lips." They were in the grove now." returned Laurie. close by the stile." said a muffled voice from the post. but you wouldn't let me. and caught both her hands as he put his question with a look that she did not soon forget. and I'd rather not try it.. So he just laid his head down on the mossy post. and cried out in a fierce tone. couldn't help it. "They do sometimes. You know it's impossible for people to make themselves love other people if they don't. "I don't believe it's the right sort of love. Jo?" He stopped short." He started as if he had been shot. "Oh. and I gave up billiards and everything you didn't like." "I wanted to save you this. remembering the time when he had comforted her so long ago. I could kill myself if it would do any good! I wish you wouldn't take it so hard. truly." Here there was a choke that couldn't be controlled. but it was no use. "Really. and drive a man out of his wits just for the fun of it. There was a long pause. and give me an answer. . I've tried. for I hoped you'd love me. and it would be a lie to say I do when I don't. Jo." was the decided answer. "Laurie. 234 "I've loved you ever since I've known you.CHAPTER THIRTY Laurie was a young lover. "I know you did. Teddy.. but he was in earnest. and meant to 'have it out'. so desperately sorry. but for once in his life the fence was too much for him. you've been so good to me. Laurie dropped her hands and turned as if to go on. if he died in the attempt.. in spite of manful efforts to keep it steady." "I thought so." cried Jo inelegantly but remorsefully.

I can't. 235 "That devilish Professor you were always writing about. We don't agree and we never shall." "No. Now that arrangement was not conducive to calm speech or clear thought on Jo's part. Sit down and listen. was getting excited with all this. I haven't the least idea of loving him or anybody else.CHAPTER THIRTY "That you love that old man. if we were so foolish as to. next to you. and then what will become of me?" "You'll love someone else too. finding that emotions were more unmanagable than she expected. and it only makes it harder. but I know I shall get angry if you abuse my Professor." There was a little quiver in Jo's voice. don't fly into a passion. I want to be kind. If you say you love him. hoping to soothe him with a little reason. Jo. Laurie turned round. your . because our quick tempers and strong wills would probably make us very miserable. "Now do be reasonable. bringing all his persuasive powers to bear as he said. as she stroked the wavy hair which had been allowed to grow for her sake--how touching that was. Seeing a ray of hope in that last speech. "Don't disappoint us.." implored Jo. so we'll be good friends all our lives. almost at her wit's end. Jo. which proved that she knew nothing about love." "But you will after a while." "I wish I hadn't. Teddy! He isn't old. I know I shall do something desperate." "I can't love anyone else." and he looked as if he would keep his word. and lashes still wet with the bitter drop or two her hardness of heart had wrung from him? She gently turned his head away." "Yes. and looked up at her with an expectant face. Pray. I don't want to take what you call 'a sensible view'. nor anything bad." she said. leaned his arm on the lower step of the stile. thinking he must mean his grandfather. It won't help me. "Marry--no we shouldn't! If you loved me. for you could make me anything you like. I should be a perfect saint. as he clenched his hands with a wrathful spark in his eyes." "What old man?" demanded Jo. Never! Never!" with a stamp to emphasize his passionate words. I've tried and failed. Jo wanted to laugh. we will if we get the chance. "You haven't heard what I wanted to tell you. "Don't swear.. like a sensible boy. but good and kind. but restrained herself and said warmly. and forget all this trouble. for she too. dear! Everyone expects it. and thinking it a good omen. and the best friend I've got. in the wheedlesome tone that had never been so dangerously wheedlesome before. I don't believe you've got any heart. and I won't risk our happiness by such a serious experiment. for indeed I want to do right and make you happy. for how could she say hard things to her boy while he watched her with eyes full of love and longing." muttered Laurie rebelliously. but we won't go and do anything rash. but Laurie uttered it with a rapturous expression." Jo paused a little over the last word. Grandpa has set his heart upon it. to be sure! "I agree with Mother that you and I are not suited to each other. and I'll never forget you. "What shall I do with him?" sighed Jo. "I won't be reasonable. and take a sensible view of the case. Laurie threw himself down on the grass at her feet. saying.

Jo. It was very hard to do. but she did it. and make a fine mistress for your fine house. sin or misery to send a young man to a violent death." and the despairing lover cast his hat upon the ground with a gesture that would have seemed comical. Say you will. knowing that delay was both useless and cruel. penitent state of mind. "Now I must go and prepare Mr. and we should be unhappy." she said. "You think so now. and he'll come home in such a tender. who will adore you. and let's be happy. and the sooner you believe it the better for both of us--so now!" That speech was like gunpowder. perhaps he may in time. saying in a desperate sort of tone. I shall always be fond of you. and you'd be ashamed of me. "Nothing more. and I couldn't get on without it. and find some lovely accomplished girl. burning with indignation at the very idea.. For a minute Jo's heart stood still. but you won't be reasonable. if his face had not been so tragic. and thank me for it. and I can't get on without you. and I shall have to stand by and see it." "I know better!" broke in Laurie. as she went slowly home. "You'll be sorry some day. for his face frightened her. feeling as if she had murdered some innocent thing. I'm happy as I am. I will live and die for him. if he ever comes and makes me love him in spite of myself. He had no thought of a melodramatic plunge. and it's selfish of you to keep teasing for what I can't give. and row away with all his might. and never could. that I shan't dare to see him. and we should quarrel--we can't help it even now. do!" 236 Not until months afterward did Jo understand how she had the strength of mind to hold fast to the resolution she had made when she decided that she did not love her boy. except that I don't believe I shall ever marry. as a friend. I'm homely and awkward and odd and old. as he swung himself down the bank toward the river. "I can't say 'yes' truly. I know you will. "To the devil!" was the consoling answer. but it takes much folly. and you'll love him tremendously. and Laurie was not one of the weak sort who are conquered by a single failure. "I've done my best. making better time up the river than he had done in any race. and you must do the best you can!" cried Jo. but I begin to think I was mistaken about her. and love my liberty too well to be in a hurry to give it up for any mortal man. "Yes. finding it hard to listen patiently to this prophetic burst. and buried it under the leaves. you will!" persisted Jo. Laurence to be very kind to my poor boy. and you'd hate my scribbling. but there'll come a time when you will care for somebody. I wish he'd love Beth. "That will do him good. and live and die for him.. Jo drew a long breath and unclasped her hands as she watched the poor fellow trying to outstrip the trouble which he carried in his heart. I shouldn't. it's your way. Do. Oh dear! How can girls like to have lovers and refuse them? I think it's dreadful. you see--and I shouldn't like elegant society and you would." "Oh. where are you going?" she cried." . very fond indeed. You'll see that I'm right. then turned sharply away. by-and-by. "Yes. losing patience with poor Teddy. Laurie looked at her a minute as if he did not quite know what to do with himself. so I won't say it at all. "You'll get over this after a while." she began solemnly. but some blind instinct led him to fling hat and coat into his boat. and everything would be horrid!" "Anything more?" asked Laurie. "I'll be hanged if I do!" and Laurie bounced up off the grass. but I'll never marry you. adding. and wish we hadn't done it.CHAPTER THIRTY people like it.

and said. March's voice had not been heard calling. lad. it was hard work for the old man to ramble on as usual. "I can't stand this. his grandfather met him as if he knew nothing. I dare say. then Laurie asked sharply. she went straight to Mr. and then broke down. whose kind old heart was full of sympathy. I'm disappointed. did not utter a reproach. laid a kind hand on either of the broad shoulders. played stormily for several minutes. "Not if you are the gentleman I think you. "You won't care to stay at home now. with a different meaning! As he listened. He bore it as long as he could. which to him now seemed like love's labor lost. and I shall stay and do it as long as I like. for once understood music better than her sister." No answer for an instant. dead tired but quite composed. and I promised you should when you got through college. if in a momentary lull Mrs. told the hard story bravely through. and hoped she would change her mind. Laurence with unusual mildness. and the only thing left for you to do is to go away for a time. He found it difficult to understand how any girl could help loving Laurie. perhaps?" "I don't intend to run away from a girl. "That's very fine. groped his way to the piano. but it's sad enough to make one cry. Laurie dashed into a livelier strain. and harder still for the young one to listen to praises of the last year's success. though sorely disappointed. which he longed to show but knew not how. as you planned. but he knew even better than Jo that love cannot be forced. and kept up the delusion very successfully for an hour or two. and Jo. I don't care what becomes of me. When Laurie came home. and would have got through bravely. his man's pride could not bear a man's pity. I want you. the time they used to enjoy so much." "Then there's an end of it!" And he shook off his grandfather's hands with an impatient motion. I want to say one thing. for Young Impetuosity's parting words to Jo disturbed him more than he would confess. and played it as he never did before. Jo can't prevent my seeing her. but the girl can't help it. dear. "Who told you?" "Jo herself." returned Mr." muttered the old gentleman. for God's sake. for though grateful for the sympathy. and forget it?" "I can't. crying so dismally over her own insensibility that the kind old gentleman." Just what Laurie longed to say. then went to his piano and began to play.CHAPTER THIRTY 237 Being sure that no one could do it so well as herself. Where will you go?" "Anywhere. "Take it like a man. Why not go abroad." "But you've been wild to go. Up he got. The window's were open." and Laurie got up with a reckless laugh that grated on his grandfather's ear. "I know. and then there shall be an end of it." . for he played the 'Sonata Pathetique'. as gently as a woman. But when they sat together in the twilight. my boy. "Jo." interrupted Laurie in a defiant tone. the music ended with a broken chord. Laurence. I know. he lost his place. come in. Give us something gayer. and don't do anything rash." said Mr. so he shook his head sadly and resolved to carry his boy out of harm's way. walking in the garden with Beth. "Not quite. and the musician sat silent in the dark. Laurence.

he said stoutly. and adventures to your heart's content. but I can do it better myself. So. or that he did not like the plan. once in my own young days. for the mood in which he found his grandson assured him that it would not be wise to leave him to his own devices. what is it?" and Laurie sat down. Germany. I give you entire liberty. sir. I don't intend to gad about with you. and should like to visit them. and can be off at any time." Now. I can't ask it of you at your age. It doesn't matter where I go or what I do. remember that. and my old bones won't suffer. yes. but leave you free to go where you like." "Who. "Just as you like. I'm merely holding on until you take my place. and particularly desired to prevent it. while I amuse myself in my own way. "Well. I do know. as if fearful that he would break away as his father had done before him. and enjoy pictures. Sir. in a spiritless tone. but--you know--Grandfather--" "Lord help me. keeping hold of the young man. "There is business in London that needs looking after. I've friends in London and Paris. if he went at all. stifling a natural regret at the thought of the home comforts he would leave behind him. I'm not superannuated yet. and a green oasis or two suddenly appeared in the howling wilderness. "I'm a selfish brute. but there'll come a time when that promise will keep you out of mischief. "I don't mean to be a marplot or a burden. "Myself. There's someone ready and glad to go with you." said Mr." "Good.CHAPTER THIRTY 238 "Ah. "You don't care now. and can be carried out at once." "It does to me. Switzerland." A restless movement from Laurie suggested that his chair was not easy. but I trust you to make an honest use of it." ." Laurie came back as quickly as he went. It's all settled. who was grateful for the sacrifice. my dear boy. Sir?" stopping to listen. and made the old man add hastily. I go because I think you'd feel happier than if I was left behind. "I don't ask you to go alone." began Laurie. He sighed. scenery. where you will. Laurie. and put out his hand. and then said. anywhere in the world. for traveling nowadays is almost as easy as sitting in a chair. but much preferred to go alone. The old gentleman knew that perfectly well. Meantime you can go to Italy. Laurie felt just then that his heart was entirely broken and the world a howling wilderness. the broken heart gave an unexpected leap. Sir. I meant you should attend to it. saying huskily." "Anything you like. Now. Sir. without a sign of interest in face or voice. Laurence. and then with your father. or I'm much mistaken. just sit quietly down and hear my plan. "Bless your soul. My partners do almost everything. my lad. Promise me that. for I've been through it all before. It will do me good. music." thought the old gentleman. I quite enjoy the idea. and things here will get on very well with Brooke to manage them." "But you hate traveling. but at the sound of certain words which the old gentleman artfully introduced into his closing sentence. but I didn't mean to go alone!" and Laurie walked fast through the room with an expression which it was well his grandfather did not see.

they were off. and come home happy'. Ah. neglected his dress and devoted much time to playing tempestuously on his piano. but passed it by with the sad superiority of one who knew that his fidelity like his love was unalterable. not forgetting the afflicted Hannah. This gaiety did not impose upon anybody. Unlike some sufferers. but they tried to look as if it did for his sake. "It's all right." and went away without another word. and ran downstairs as if for his life. Mr. March. dear fellow was going away to forget his trouble. lost his appetite. to attempt consolation or offer sympathy. never mind. When the parting came he affected high spirits. Then feeling that he was going very fast. this was a relief to his friends. for while the curly head lay on her arm a minute after her hard answer. . he hastily embraced them all round. she felt as if she had stabbed her dearest friend. can't you?" "Teddy. with a tragic face that haunted her dreams by night and oppressed her with a heavy sense of guilt by day.CHAPTER THIRTY 239 Being an energetic individual. Jo followed a minute after to wave her hand to him if he looked round. and would allow no one. March kissed him. except a little pause. and he got on very well till Mrs. came back. and when he left her without a look behind him. and Jo did mind. with a whisper full of motherly solicitude. Jo. and pensive by turns. and before the blighted being recovered spirit enough to rebel. Laurie bore himself as young gentleman usually do in such cases. he never spoke of his unrequited passion. During the time necessary for preparation. she knew that the boy Laurie never would come again. put his arms about her as she stood on the step above him. and looked up at her with a face that made his short appeal eloquent and pathetic. not even Mrs. avoided Jo. he smiled darkly at their delusion. irritable. but it wasn't all right. He did look round. He was moody. Of course. Laurence struck while the iron was hot. to conceal certain inconvenient emotions which seemed inclined to assert themselves. but consoled himself by staring at her from his window. Then Laurie straightened himself up. On some accounts. and everyone rejoiced that the 'poor. "Oh. said. I wish I could!" That was all. dear. but the weeks before his departure were very uncomfortable.

but even among the pleasant people there. Try to see it so and don't be troubled about me. She had confessed her sins and been forgiven. and was thankful also. for it had come too gradually to startle those who saw her daily. but begged not to go so far away from home. dear. "Jo. the vague anxiety returned and haunted her. sat looking at her with wistful eyes. and presently in other cares Jo for a time forgot her fear. but said nothing at the time. and what thoughts were passing through her mind during the long hours when she lay on the warm rocks with her head in Jo's lap. and soon the first impression lost much of its power. Another little visit to the seashore would suit her better. and during the quiet weeks when the shadows grew so plain to her. Jo saw and felt it. for when most deeply moved. But she could not find enough to satisfy her. and the immortal shining through the frail flesh with an indescribably pathetic beauty. as if they felt instinctively that a long separation was not far away. believing that it would tell itself when Beth came back no better. for Beth seemed happy. It came to her then more bitterly than ever that Beth was slowly drifting away from her. and came and went. "I've known it for a good while. no one appeared to doubt that she was better." . She was the weaker then. and Jo too wrapped up in her to care for anyone else. but when she put out her hand to lift it up. for the cheeks were very thin. and she waited for Beth to speak. and let the fresh sea breezes blow a little color into her pale cheeks. For a minute her eyes were too dim for seeing. but to eyes sharpened by absence. the girls made few friends. and as Grandma could not be prevailed upon to leave the babies. and Beth tried to comfort and sustain her. who watched with sympathetic eyes the strong sister and the feeble one. always together. Beth was too shy to enjoy society. that her parents did not seem to see what she saw." There was no answer except her sister's cheek against her own. Beth had thanked her heartily. as if the mortal was being slowly refined away. Jo took Beth down to the quiet place. it was very plain and a heavy weight fell on Jo's heart as she saw her sister's face. and peace prevailed again. They did feel it. She wondered still more if her sister really guessed the hard truth. quite unconscious of the interest they exited in those about them. transparent look about it. where she could live much in the open air. indeed it is. but I couldn't. It was no paler and but littler thinner than in the autumn. it isn't hard to think of or to bear. dear. while the winds blew healthfully over her and the sea made music at her feet. and now I'm used to it. yet there was a strange. I'm glad you know it. Beth was looking up at her so tenderly that there was hardly any need for her to say. It was not a fashionable place. But when Laurie was gone. but when she showed her savings and proposed a mountain trip. and when they cleared. Jo thought she was asleep. there seemed something sacred in the silence. So they were all in all to each other. and putting down her book. Jo did not cry. She wondered. I've tried to tell you. she had been struck with the change in Beth. trying to see signs of hope in the faint color on Beth's cheeks. yet neither spoke of it. No one spoke of it or seemed aware of it. with her arms about her and the soothing words she whispered in her ear. she said nothing of it to those at home. for often between ourselves and those nearest and dearest to us there exists a reserve which it is very hard to overcome. and her arms instinctively tightened their hold upon the dearest treasure she possessed. preferring to live for one another.CHAPTER THIRTY 240 CHAPTER THIRTY -SIX BETH'S SECRET When Jo came home that spring. One day Beth told her. not even tears. Jo felt as if a veil had fallen between her heart and Beth's. because it's best. and the hands seemed too feeble to hold even the rosy little shells they had been collecting. she lay so still.

as innocently as a child. and you so happy with Laurie--at least I thought so then. only loved her better for her passionate affection. no one said anything. now. with recovered serenity. and take up her cross so cheerfully. could teach and strengthen heart and spirit for this life and the life to come. and cheerfully wait for death." sighed Jo. love. and imagined your poor little heart full of lovelornity all that while. Beth could not reason upon or explain the faith that gave her courage and patience to give up life. as the first bitter wave of this great sorrow broke over them together. didn't let me comfort and help you? How could you shut me out. It shows itself in acts rather than in words. and life. it was hard to feel that I could never be like you. Beth. but it can't be stopped. She could not say. I wasn't sure. it can't be too late. but glad to know that Laurie had no part in Beth's trouble. and added softly. your tide must not turn so soon. glad to say all the truth. and would not let it trouble anyone. dearie? I was afraid it was so. and you didn't tell me. He is so good to me. "Yes. You must get well. . Jo. but I didn't like to own it. "You'll tell them this when we go home?" "I think they will see it without words. "Perhaps it was wrong. I don't care what becomes of anybody but you. but I tried to do right." "I want to. I hope he truly will be. Father and Mother of us all. how can I help It? But he could never be anything to me but my brother. did you?" asked Jo." "It shall be stopped. and they would suit excellently. how could I. sometime." "And I thought you loved him. But when I saw you all so well and strong and full of happy plans. I tried to think it was a sick fancy. Beth? You did not feel it then. bear it all alone?" Jo's voice was full of tender reproach. and I hoped I was mistaken. Beth looked so amazed at the idea that Jo smiled in spite of her pain. Beth. and has more influence than homilies or protestations." "Not through me. I'll work and pray and fight against it. It would have been selfish to frighten you all when Marmee was so anxious about Meg. God won't be so cruel as to take you from me. Beth. I'll keep you in spite of everything. but left everything to God and nature. Beth.CHAPTER THIRTY 241 "Is this what made you so unhappy in the autumn. from which our Father never means us to be weaned. Like a confiding child. and I went away because I couldn't. and they only. Jo. "Then you didn't." "Why." "Oh. "I do love him dearly. she asked no questions. There must be ways. and keep it to yourself so long. but every day I lose a little." for life was very sweet for her. sincere people seldom speak much of their piety. and clung more closely to the dear human love. and Amy away. She could only sob out. when he was so fond of you?" asked Beth. and her heart ached to think of the solitary struggle that must have gone on while Beth learned to say goodbye to health. Jo. refusing to see or say that it was best. but through which He draws us closer to Himself. "I'm glad to go. Simple. when it turns. and then I was miserable." said Jo decidedly. for now it seemed to her that Beth changed every day. "I try to be willing. so much! I try." while she held fast to Jo. I gave up hoping then. feeling sure that they. I can't let you go." cried Jo. It's like the tide. but I have no heart for such things. and feel more sure that I shall never gain it back. it goes slowly." cried poor Jo rebelliously. "Amy is left for him. She did not rebuke Jo with saintly speeches. oh. By and by Beth said. nineteen is too young. for her spirit was far less piously submissive than Beth's.

Beth. dear. and when Jo went down. trying to get up among the clouds. "Dear little bird! See. quite at home. confiding little things. I'm not like the rest of you. don't hope any more." began Jo. how tame it is." Jo leaned down to kiss the tranquil face. and not let you think it's true. I've heard that the people who love best are often blindest to such things. Dear little girl! She's so ambitious. and always chirping that contented little song of theirs. She was right. but she seems so far away. and Amy is like the lark she writes about. and happy all alone. Beth smiled and felt comforted. and the hard part now is the leaving you all. of no use anywhere but there." said Jo. It came quite close to Beth. "Jo. for I don't suffer much. for the tiny thing seemed to offer its small friendship and remind her that a pleasant world was still to be enjoyed. quaker-colored creatures. won't you Jo?" "If I can. but they seem happy. but you must stand by Father and Mother. because I can't speak out except to my Jo. always near the shore. We won't be miserable. Meg is the turtledove. I used to call them my birds last summer. "I don't know how to express myself.CHAPTER THIRTY 242 "Perhaps not. but it seems as if I should be homesick for you even in heaven. I never wanted to go away. and for several minutes there was no sound but the sigh of the wind and the lapping of the tide. Tired with her short journey. They are not so wild and handsome. saying how glad she was to be home. and I think the tide will go out easily. trying to speak cheerfully. and Jo went to comfort her without a word. We'll have happy times. I never thought of being married. you will tell them for me. Beth went at once to bed. feeling that of all the changes in Beth. But. and I mean that you shall be all ready to see and enjoy her. and then said in her quiet way. You are the gull. I couldn't seem to imagine myself anything but stupid little Beth. as if enjoying the sun and sea. I'm going to have you well and rosy by that time. I never made any plans about what I'd do when I grew up. and no matter how high she flies. but enjoy being together while we wait. and shouldn't try to anyone but you. I'm going to believe that it is a sick fancy. Her father stood leaning his head on the mantelpiece and did not turn as she came in. she dedicated herself soul and body to Beth. she never will forget home. It won't do any good. Beth lay a minute thinking. flying far out to sea. Beth watched it till it vanished. strong and wild. and looked at her with a friendly eye and sat upon a warm stone. Jo. but her heart is good and tender. Jo." "She is coming in the spring. A little gray-coated sand bird came tripping over the beach 'peeping' softly to itself. I'm not afraid. as you all did. . There was no need of any words when they got home." Jo could not speak. with the flash of sunshine on its silvery breast. If they don't see it. Meg has John and the babies to comfort her. the talking change was the greatest. I only mean to say that I have a feeling that it never was intended I should live long. for Father and Mother saw plainly now what they had prayed to be saved from seeing. and her eyes were full of sadness. I'm sure of that. fond of the storm and the wind. if you help me. trotting about at home. and she thought aloud in a way quite unlike bashful Beth. and with that silent kiss. I like peeps better than the gulls. she found that she would be spared the hard task of telling Beth's secret. but her mother stretched out her arms as if for help. for it seemed to cost no effort now. and it's kinder to prepare them. but always dropping down into its nest again. I hope I shall see her again. dressing its wet feathers. A white-winged gull flew by. and Mother said they reminded her of me --busy. I don't give up yet. I don't want any secrets.

Presently he strolled out of the promenade and stood a moment at the crossing. Victor Emmanuel or the Queen of the Sandwich Islands. lively French." "I have so much to say." "How is your grandfather? When did you come? Where are you staying?" "Very well--last night--at the Chauvain. and then envy him his inches. or to wander along the beach toward Castle Hill. handsome Spaniards. and tropical shrubs. containing a single young lady. I called at your hotel. and on a sunny day the spectacle is as gay and brilliant as a carnival. sit. He looked like an Italian. waving his hat like a boy. dropping the reins and holding out both hands. and orange flowers in their buttonholes. lest she should be demoralized by beholding the free manners of these 'mad English'. . flowers. many costumes worn. while beyond lie orange orchards and the hills. gay nets to keep their voluminous flounces from overflowing the diminutive vehicles. and had the independent air of an American--a combination which caused sundry pairs of feminine eyes to look approvingly after him. leaning back and folding his arms. a ball?" "A Christmas party at our hotel. Many nations are represented. and criticizing the latest celebrity who has arrived--Ristori or Dickens. came rapidly down the street. blonde. Flo's saving up for tonight. on the other by the grand drive. many languages spoken. especially the low basket barouches in which ladies drive themselves. "I was detained by the way. and little grooms on the perch behind. who preferred to drive. or saunter here. and. The quick trot of ponies' feet made him look up. for the wide walk. but I promised to spend Christmas with you. to the great scandalization of a French mamma. and a somewhat absent expression of countenance. except to glance now and then at some blonde girl in blue. but the young man took little notice of them. You'll go with us. all the fashionable world at Nice may be seen on the Promenade des Anglais--a charming place. was dressed like an Englishman. with his hands behind him. I was going for a drive and longing for company. of course? Aunt will be charmed. and dressed in blue." "What happens then. all drive. with rose-colored neckties. chatting over the news. to shrug their shoulders. with a pair of dashing ponies. but you were out. ugly Russians." "Thank you. Haughty English. a tall young man walked slowly. and sundry dandies in black velvet suits. buff gloves. then his whole face woke up. as if undecided whether to go and listen to the band in the Jardin Publique. for her parasol whip and blue reins over the white ponies backs afforded her infinite satisfaction. lined with hotels and villas. as one of the little carriages. is it really you? I thought you'd never come!" cried Amy. and here I am. The equipages are as varied as the company and attract as much attention. on Christmas Day. Where now?" asked Laurie. He stared a minute. Laurie.CHAPTER THIRTY 243 CHAPTER THIRTY -SEVEN NEW IMPRESSIONS At three o'clock in the afternoon. Along this walk. bordered with palms. I don't know where to begin! Get in and we can talk at our ease. sober Germans. he hurried forward to meet her. meek Jews. is bounded on one side by the sea. free-and-easy Americans. a proceeding which suited Amy. who hastened her daughter's steps. and they give it in honor of the day. There were plenty of pretty faces to admire. "Oh. The lady was young. There are many Americans there.

"Beth is very poorly. "Que pensez-vous?" she said. At Avigdor's she found the precious home letters and. and then to Castle Hill. while I like to feel that someone is glad to see me when I get back from my wanderings. with a curious sense of disappointment and discomfort. but I don't mind having a look at it. and these glimpses of the narrow cross streets are my delight. where tea roses bloomed as freshly as in June. So I do. he looked tired and spiritless--not sick. "Why. It's going to the Church of St. and I like to feed the peacocks. and we get on capitally. years ago. trying meantime to seem quite easy and gay. he hates to travel. and the result is charming. isn't it?" he added." she thought." said Amy. and he enjoys my adventures. with a look of disgust as they drove along the boulevard to the Place Napoleon in the old city. so she shook her head and touched up her ponies. I spent a month there and then joined him in Paris. so I go and come. it sounded indifferent in spite of the look. but now that the flush of pleasure at meeting her was over. and told her she was 'altogether jolly'. which had improved in quantity. since she came abroad. The river and the hills are delicious. your grandfather wrote that he expected you from Berlin." "Yes. I wish he'd stay a boy. when he promenaded round her on festival occasions. for I shall never have another chance like this. I often think I ought to go home. He has friends there and finds plenty to amuse him. Now we shall have to wait for that procession to pass. "The dirt is picturesque. where he has settled for the winter. She blushed with pleasure." While Laurie listlessly watched the procession of priests under their canopies. . she thought. Dirty old hole." "That's a sociable arrangement.CHAPTER THIRTY 244 "I'm going to the bankers first for letters. Amy watched him. you see." "Now tell me all about yourself. though she couldn't tell what. with a hearty smile and an approving pat on the head. She couldn't understand it and did not venture to ask questions. missing something in Laurie's manner. I am often with him. so I don't mind. if not in quality. and some brotherhood in blue chanting as they walked. The last I heard of you." said Amy. read them luxuriously as they wound up the shady road between green hedges. white-veiled nuns bearing lighted tapers. nor exactly unhappy. for though not blase. and there is no trouble. He was handsomer than ever and greatly improved. but somehow the compliment did not satisfy her like the blunt praises he used to give her at home. John. bowing with his hand on his heart and an admiring look. but they all say 'stay'. "That mademoiselle has made good use of her time. giving the reins to Laurie. for he was changed. as the procession wound away across the arches of the Paglioni bridge and vanished in the church. "If that's the way he's going to grow up. looking sober over one page." replied Laurie. and felt a new sort of shyness steal over her. but older and graver than a year or two of prosperous life should have made him. so we each suit ourselves. airing her French. and she could not find the merry-faced boy she left in the moody-looking man beside her. Mother says. and I hate to keep still. The view is so lovely. Have you ever been there?" "Often. She didn't like the new tone.

and the fear that sometimes weighed on Amy's heart was lightened. and her native frankness was unspoiled by foreign polish." He drew a little nearer." he answered without enthusiasm. and made her a prominent figure in the pleasant scene. but he saw enough to satisfy and interest him. "Take a good look at it for her sake. It's not much changed. she had gained a certain aplomb in both carriage and conversation. and the lovely road to Villa Franca. with the bow rampantly erect upon her cap. just below. But she did not get it. she would not be alone in a strange land. promising to return in the evening. seemed to assure her that if any trouble did come. the golden gloss of her hair. She had seen her old friend in a new light. Schubert's Tower. Amy waved her hand as if welcoming him to her favorite haunt. put it in his vest pocket 'to keep it from blowing away'. the fishermen dragging their nets in the bay. with a natural curiosity to see what changes time and absence had wrought. not as 'our boy'. and she was conscious of a very natural desire to find favor in his sight. Carrol. Laurie smiled. but as a handsome and agreeable man. While Amy stood laughing on the bank above him as she scattered crumbs to the brilliant birds. As they came up onto the stone plateau that crowns the hill. 'Genius burns!'. there. and issuing from her mouth the words. pointing here and there. "What Jo would give for a sight of that famous speck!" said Amy. my dear. for overlooking a few little affectations of speech and manner. took it. they drove home again. It must be recorded of Amy that she deliberately prinked that night. Laurie left them." said Amy. Laurie did not read all this while he watched her feed the peacocks. So after idling away an hour. and carried away a pretty little picture of a bright-faced girl standing in the sunshine. He found nothing to perplex or disappoint. and said. tamely waiting to be fed. with the addition of that indescribable something in dress and bearing which we call elegance. and having paid his respects to Mrs. her strong will still held its own. and a party at night. and looked more like his old self as he said that. and enjoying so much. the fresh color of her cheeks. and then come and tell me what you have been doing with yourself all this while. Time and absence had done its work on both the young people. Always mature for her age. seating herself. feeling in good spirits and anxious to see him so also. You could do nothing at home. and it is a great comfort to them to know that you are well and happy.CHAPTER THIRTY 245 "I think you are right. as they alighted among the ruins of the old fort. much to admire and approve. "This will be a regularly merry Christmas to me. which brought out the soft hue of her dress." was all he said. and listened with interest to the lively letter Amy read him. and best of all. the brotherly 'my dear'. "Yes. but her old petulance now and then showed itself. Amy knew her good ." said Amy. the act. for though he joined her and answered all her questions freely. and a flock of splendid peacocks came trooping about them. which made her seem more of a woman of the world than she was. for the look. "Do you remember the Cathedral and the Corso. ready for a good talk. she could only learn that he had roved about the Continent and been to Greece. you and letters in the afternoon. she was as sprightly and graceful as ever. Presently she laughed and showed him a small sketch of Jo in her scribbling suit. that speck far out to sea which they say is Corsica?" "I remember. with presents in the morning. Laurie looked at her as she had looked at him. but he turned and strained his eyes to see the island which a greater usurper than even Napoleon now made interesting in his sight.

or braid. and I can't afford to make a fright of myself. She seldom ran--it did not suit her style. It must be confessed that the artist sometimes got possession of the woman. and the real lace on Aunt's mouchoir gives an air to my whole dress. I arranged them myself. and the thought of entering the ballroom on the arm of such a personable man caused Amy to pity the four plain Misses Davis from the bottom of her heart. statuesque attitudes. and chassed down the room. but you have improved it. when advised to frizzle. for he too looked unusually debonair. which had a good effect upon her hair." she said. with the look of satisfaction she liked to see in his eyes when they rested on her. and once arranged herself under the chandelier. smiling back at him. as she snapped the silver bracelet on her wrist. surveying herself with a critical eye and a candle in each hand. Apollo!" she answered. then she thought better of it. which were both inexpensive and effective. but it's becoming. as she put on Flo's old white silk ball dress." she used to say. and covered it with a cloud of fresh illusion. Diana!" said Laurie. and framed the white shoulders in delicate green vines. It isn't what it should be. handing her a delicate nosegay. with her head half turned and one hand gathering up her dress. and all manner of dainty devices. "My new fan just matches my flowers. Amy looped her fleecy skirts with rosy clusters of azalea. remembering that you didn't like what Hannah calls a 'sot-bookay'. the slender. dear heart. and keep our hearts merry with their artless vanities. "If I'd known you were coming I'd have had something ready for you today. she surveyed her white satin slippers with girlish satisfaction." "Thank you. after gathering up the thick waves and curls into a Hebe-like knot at the back of her head. admiring her aristocratic feet all by herself. "Good evening.CHAPTER THIRTY points. and went away to the other end of the room. she looked unusually gay and graceful as she glided away. puff." he added. the stately and Junoesque was more appropriate than the sportive or piquante. If I only had a classical nose and mouth I should be perfectly happy." said Laurie. She walked up and down the long saloon while waiting for Laurie. who satisfy our eyes with their comeliness. she thought. . "I do want him to think I look well. and indulged in antique coiffures. for being tall." said Amy to herself. we all have our little weaknesses. "It's not the fashion. and tell them so at home. I'm afraid. Having no ornaments fine enough for this important occasion. got up charming little toilettes with fresh flowers. "How kind you are!" she exclaimed gratefully. Her hair she had the sense to let alone. as the latest style commanded. out of which her white shoulders and golden head emerged with a most artistic effect. and as she stood at the distant window. and classic draperies. for Laurie came in so quietly she did not hear him. 246 Tarlatan and tulle were cheap at Nice. as if ashamed of the girlish desire to have the first view a propitious one. in a holder that she had long coveted as she daily passed it in Cardiglia's window. and made the most of them with the taste and skill which is a fortune to a poor and pretty woman. though not as pretty as this. white figure against the red curtains was as effective as a well-placed statue. "Good evening. so she enveloped herself in them on such occasions. Remembering the painted boots. It so happened that she could not have done a better thing. my gloves fit to a charm. But. "Here are your flowers. In spite of this affliction. a few trinkets. and find it easy to pardon such in the young. and following the sensible English fashion of simple dress for young girls.

She knew she looked well. and destitute of escort. and a few plain but piquante French demoiselles. and a German Serene Something. she felt that her foot was on her native heath in a ballroom." 247 "I'm glad of it. and enjoyed the delightful sense of power which comes when young girls first discover the new and lovely kingdom they are born to rule by virtue of beauty. roamed vaguely about. a large-nosed Jew in tight boots. She did pity the Davis girls. it doesn't sound natural. and her feet to tap the floor impatiently. leaning on Laurie's arm. . there were many light-footed. and asked if his tie was straight. secured a few to add luster to their Christmas ball. but rather a short Pole to support. hoping that the name would have a good effect. as it permitted them to see her dress. as if his master's name crowned him with a golden halo. and most devinely fair. A Polish count. and womanhood. having come to supper alone. which was good of her. and she bowed to them in her friendliest manner as she passed. and burn with curiosity to know who her distinguished-looking friend might be. plain.. youth. aged eighteen. May I have the honor?" "I can give you one if I put off the Count. that evening. A daughter of the gods." Her amazed look and quick answer caused Laurie to repair his error as fast as possible. came to indulge his mania for dancing." said Amy." "Not from you. for she danced well and wanted Laurie to know it. just as he used to do when they went to parties together at home. devoted himself to the ladies. seeking what he might devour. With the first burst of the band. Amy's color rose. Any young girl can imagine Amy's state of mind when she 'took the stage' that night. "Nice little boy. she loved to dance. 'a fascinating dear'. A stout Frenchman. and Lady de Jones. affably beamed upon the world. who knew the Emperor. Devinely tall. adorned the scene with her little family of eight. was such as one sees nowhere but on the Continent. A Russian prince condescended to sit in a corner for an hour and talk with a massive lady. shrill-voiced American girls. "Do you care to dance?" "One usually does at a ball. likewise the usual set of traveling young gentlemen who disported themselves gaily. He dances devinely." he answered. Therefore the shock she received can better be imagined than described. and having no prejudice against titles. except a grim papa and three grimmer maiden aunts. however. Baron Rothschild's private secretary. handsome. as you are an old friend. and I like your old bluntness better. who were awkward. when he said in a perfectly tranquil tone. but he will excuse me. dressed like Hamlet's mother in black velvet with a pearl bridle under her chin." "I thought you liked that sort of thing. The hospitable Americans had invited every acquaintance they had in Nice.CHAPTER THIRTY "Please don't. who pronounced him. a British matron. while mammas of all nations lined the walls and smiled upon them benignly when they danced with their daughters.. then buttoned her gloves for her." was all the satisfaction she got. The company assembled in the long salle a manger. her eyes began to sparkle. lifeless-looking English ditto. "I meant the first dance. Of course. with a look of relief. and show Laurie that she was not to be trifled with.

as he fanned her with one hand and held her coffee cup in the other. and those who couldn't admired their neighbors with uncommon warmth. "Illusion. whether he knew it or not. for she neither romped nor sauntered. Laurie resigned her to the 'nice little boy'. But the Emperor's friend covered himself with glory. making the delightsome pastime what it should be. Her anger had a good effect. except a word now and then when she came to her chaperon between the dances for a necessary pin or a moment's rest." . she saw Laurie sit down by her aunt with an actual expression of relief. and healthy young spirits rise. and Christmas merriment made all faces shine. and before the evening was half over." he said. she said to herself. with assurances that he was 'desolated to leave so early'. and introduced impromptu pirouettes when the figures bewildered him. for she immediately engaged herself till supper. he wiped the drops from his brow. Laurie had a waked-up look as he rose to give her his seat. and when she galloped away with the Count. and heels light. and see how her recreant knight had borne his punishment. for soon the spirit of the social season took possession of everyone. his coattails waved wildly. and young nerves will thrill. when subjected to the enchantment of beauty. The serene Teuton found the supper-table and was happy. and when he hurried away to bring her some supper. and seemed unusually blithe and brilliant. his pumps actually twinkled in the air. and went to do his duty to Flo. Laurie's eyes followed her with pleasure.CHAPTER THIRTY 248 The set in which they found themselves was composed of English. she was ready to rest. and Amy was compelled to walk decorously through a cotillion. and dismayed the garcons by the ravages he committed. meaning to relent if he then gave any signs penitence. feeling all the while as if she could dance the tarantella with relish. eating steadily through the bill of fare. had decided that 'little Amy was going to make a very charming woman'. his bald head shown. I thought that would do him good!" "You look like Balzac's 'Femme Peinte Par Elle-Meme'. She showed him her ball book with demure satisfaction when he strolled instead of rushed up to claim her for the next. a glorious polka redowa. for though he 'carried weight'. and many Joneses gamboled like a flock of young giraffes." and Amy rubbed her brilliant cheek. blighted affections find a balm in friendly society. which reprehensible want of forethought was properly punished. for she hid it under a smiling face. That was unpardonable. for he danced everything. with a satisfied smile. "Ah. everybody danced who could. and showed him her white glove with a sober simplicity that made him laugh outright. and banged as if they enjoyed it. The boyish abandon of that stout man was charming to behold. Amy and her Pole distinguished themselves by equal enthusiasm but more graceful agility. however. and Laurie found himself involuntarily keeping time to the rhythmic rise and fall of the white slippers as they flew by as indefatigably as if winged. tooted. The musicians fiddled. but danced with spirit and grace. He very naturally fell to studying her from this new point of view. The air was dark with Davises. without securing Amy for the joys to come. "What do you call this stuff?" he asked. he flew. When little Vladimir finally relinquished her. he danced like an India-rubber ball. and when the music stopped. and Amy took no more notice of him for a long while. and beamed upon his fellow men like a French Pickwick without glasses. light. It had been successful. It was a lively scene. touching a fold of her dress that had blown over his knee. "My rouge won't come off. young blood dance. He ran. for at three-and-twenty. and motion. But his polite regrets didn't impose upon her. he pranced. music. his face glowed. hearts happy. The golden secretary darted through the room like a meteor with a dashing frenchwoman who carpeted the floor with her pink satin train.

isn't it?" "It's as old as the hills. Amy was gratified." 249 "None of that. which accounts for the mistake. would you kindly explain?" returned Amy. I'd rather take coffee than compliments just now. "As 'this sort of thing' is rather a vague expression. it is forbidden." Amy rather regretted that last sentence. "Where did you learn all this sort of thing?" he asked with a quizzical look. you see. for she had lost her shyness now. and found himself both admiring and respecting the brave patience that made the most of opportunity. as girls have a delightful way of doing when lords of creation show any signs of subjection. and meekly took her empty plate feeling an odd sort of pleasure in having 'little Amy' order him about. knowing perfectly well what he meant. and demurely answered.the--illusion--you know". the-. . breaking down and helping himself out of his quandary with the new word. and I am used to making the most of my poor little things. I study as well as play. but the impulse that wrought this agreeable change was the result of one of the new impressions which both of them were unconsciously giving and receiving. it makes me nervous. but of course didn't show it. nor why he filled up her book with his own name. "Well--the general air. and you never found out that it was pretty till now-. laughed Laurie. You have seen it on dozens of girls.CHAPTER THIRTY "Good name for it. the self-possession. It's very pretty--new thing. the style. No." Laurie sat bold upright. and felt an irrestible desire to trample on him. tulle is cheap. and the cheerful spirit that covered poverty with flowers. posies to be had for nothing. fearing it wasn't in good taste. don't lounge. and as for this"--with a little gesture toward her dress--"why. but wickedly leaving him to describe what is indescribable.stupide!" "I never saw it on you before. and devoted himself to her for the rest of the evening in the most delightful manner. but Laurie liked her better for it. Amy did not know why he looked at her so kindly. "Foreign life polishes one in spite of one's self.

the house was neglected. as did a very pretty woman the other day. but the young matrons usually abdicate with the first heir to the throne and go into a seclusion almost as close as a French nunnery. and a nice little supper set forth in tempting style. he was answered with a reproachful look. the piano in tune. though by no means as quiet.CHAPTER THIRTY 250 CHAPTER THIRTY -EIGHT ON THE SHELF In France the young girls have a dull time of it till they are married. but no one takes any notice of me because I'm married. Meg looked worn and nervous. and enjoy their freedom with republican zest. Meg did not experience this affliction till her babies were a year old. if he came gaily in at night. it would disturb the babies. Day and night she brooded over them with tireless devotion and anxiety. "No. "I'm as handsome as ever. and Kitty. the chessboard ready. and a decided . The parlor was always bright and attractive. for an Irish lady now presided over the kitchen department. he did what other paternal exiles do--tried to get a little comfort elsewhere. and she found herself more admired and beloved than ever. and she performed her mission most successfully. In America. if a muffled chirp sounded from the nest above. girls early sign the declaration of independence. and she was entirely absorbed in her children. plenty of gay gossip. and his own wife singing lullabies that seemed to have no end. and most of them might exclaim. Being a domestic man. And when he read his paper of an evening. who took life 'aisy'. they are virtually put upon the shelf as soon as the wedding excitement is over. with nothing to do but be agreeable. As she was a womanly little woman. John would have preferred his own fireside if it had not been so lonely. or tramping about the house and waking the children. and there was no return of repose. leaving John to the tender mercies of the help. But by-and-by. who deserted him. eager to embrace his family. when his own parlor was empty. when 'Vive la liberte!' becomes their motto. Demi's colic got into the shipping list and Daisy's fall affected the price of stocks. and John fell into the way of running over for an hour or two of an evening. but as he adored his babies. never!" His sleep was broken by infant wails and visions of a phantom figure pacing noiselessly to and fro in the watches of the night. for Mrs. and when no signs of amendment appeared. Mrs. half-helped. he cheerfully relinquished his comfort for a time. kept him on short commons. The poor man was very uncomfortable. for in her little world primitive customs prevailed. pretty girl. and found it a relief to know that John was having a good time instead of dozing in the parlor. he was quenched by a "Hush! They are just asleep after worrying all day. as everyone knows." Not being a belle or even a fashionable lady. to the utter exclusion of everything and everybody else. Scott had married and gone to housekeeping not far off. Meg rather approved of the new arrangement at first. the cook. When he went out in the morning he was bewildered by small commissions for the captive mamma. But three months passed. for the children had bereft him of his wife. leaving Mamma . Whether they like it or not. Scott was a lively. but as it was he gratefully took the next best thing and enjoyed his neighbor's society. the babies absorbed every minute of her time. home was merely a nursery and the perpetual 'hushing' made him feel like a brutal intruder whenever he entered the sacred precincts of Babyland. supposing with masculine ignorance that peace would soon be restored. John decidedly missed the wifely attentions he had been accustomed to receive. when the teething worry was over and the idols went to sleep at proper hours."Leave my children for pleasure." If he hinted at a lecture or a concert. He bore it very patiently for six months. Brooke was only interested in domestic news." If he proposed a little amusement at home. the maternal instinct was very strong. His meals were interrupted by the frequent flight of the presiding genius.

"Goes on how. drying her tears on Daisy's bib with an injured air. so he leaves his faded wife and goes to see his pretty neighbor. and with a little interruption in either lap." "Don't you neglect him?" "Why. however. dear. and insisted on knowing what the matter was. with two babies to tend. but felt injured because he did not know that she wanted him without being told. for Meg's drooping spirits had not escaped her observation. and some day John will see what I've gladly sacrificed for them. But the pain increased as politics absorbed John. and in that unreasonable frame of mind which the best of mothers occasionally experience when domestic cares oppress them. when he was not sitting opposite in his old dressing gown." Meg drew her low chair beside her mother's. till her mother found her in tears one day. and Meg would put by her lamentations for a maternal revel. Meg. Men are very selfish. even the best of them." "I think you could. I often feel as if I needed teaching more than ever since these babies look to me for everything. "He's away all day. and will you remember that it's Mother who blames as well as Mother who sympathizes?" "Indeed I will! Speak to me as if I were little Meg again. Not a word did she say." "I don't see how. "I'm getting old and ugly. and find her workbasket dull company. Want of exercise robs them of cheerfulness. but I can't do it now. my precious?" To which pathetic appeal Daisy would answer with a coo. as you call it. and at night when I want to see him. "Yes." "But it can't be right for him to neglect me. as far as sympathizing goes. quite unconscious that Meg missed him. while you made it a point to give him your society of an evening. Did John ever neglect you." she would say. won't he. she began to miss John. makes them feel as if they were all nerve and no muscle. . comfortably scorching his slippers on the fender. Don't blame John till you see where you are wrong yourself. but I think the fault is yours. "I wouldn't tell anyone except you. the teapot. I thought you'd take my part!" "So I do. Mother. for if John goes on much longer I might as well be widowed. and too much devotion to that idol of American women. but I really do need advice. who was always running over to discuss interesting points with Scott. John doesn't find me interesting any longer. the two women rocked and talked lovingly together." "So are women. Mother. It isn't fair that I should have the hardest work. and I think you ought. May I speak quite freely. She was nervous and worn out with watching and worry. Brooke. he is continually going over to the Scotts'. She would not ask him to stay at home. they don't care if I am thin and pale and haven't time to crimp my hair. entirely forgetting the many evenings he had waited for her in vain." "Let me show you. they are my comfort. looking in the glass. Well. or Demi with a crow. the babies love me.CHAPTER THIRTY 251 time to rest. who has no incumbrances. and never any amusement. his only leisure time?" "No. my dear?" asked her mother anxiously. feeling that the tie of motherhood made them more one than ever." replied Mrs. which soothed her solitude for the time being.

Each do our part alone in many things." "John is so sensible." "Make it so pleasant he won't want to go away. and it's none too soon to begin. Well. Scott's suppers. You were poorly. That is the secret of our home happiness. and you are always in the nursery. let him read to you. I nearly spoiled her by indulgence. he's longing for his little home. and I try not to let domestic worries destroy my interest in his pursuits. quietly managed everything. You need the exercise. and I don't know how to tell him without words. Don't shut yourself up in a bandbox because you are a woman. and he never said anything. and John would find his wife again. and made himself so helpful that I saw my mistake. after I had refused all offers of help. Besides. but I thought I was right. I struggled along as well as I could. Then I'd do what I have often proposed." "You always were my docile daughter. and I wouldn't insult him by such an idea. not separate you. Mother?" "I know it. and you may trust the precious babies to her while you do more housework. but Jo was too much for me. feeling as if I didn't do my duty unless I devoted myself wholly to you. Poor Father took to his books. Don't neglect husband for children. don't shut him out of the nursery. Love covers a multitude of sins. and if you get dismal there is no fair weather. let Hannah come and help you. Meg. but understand what is going on. always. and of whom could you ask more freely than of him? Try it. too much confinement makes you nervous. A very natural and forgivable mistake. and my great wish is to be to my husband and children what you have been to yours. and I worried about you till I fell sick myself. and he will do it gladly and faithfully. I've seen it for some weeks. She is a capital nurse. and the children need him. Mother. Poor John! I'm afraid I have neglected him sadly. feeling sure it would come right in time. Meg. I'm afraid he will think I'm stupid if I ask questions about politics and things. Let him feel that he has a part to do. I'll do anything you say. I went on just as you are. and I seldom give advice unless I've proved its practicability. Then I'd try to take an interest in whatever John likes--talk with him." "I will. but teach him how to help in it." . he'll think I'm jealous. and educate yourself to take your part in the world's work." "You really think so. Hannah would enjoy the rest. and never have been able to got on without him since. for you are the sunshine-maker of the family. and see if he doesn't find your society far more agreeable than Mrs." "It is so. dear. He doesn't see that I want him. and John had nothing to do but support them. He does not let business wean him from the little cares and duties that affect us all. keep cheerful as well as busy. If I ask him to stay. for I've tried it. but one that had better be remedied before you take to different ways. When you and Jo were little. if I were you. and help each other in that way." "I don't believe he would." "Oughtn't I to be there?" "Not all the time. I'd let John have more to do with the management of Demi. and left me to try my experiment alone. for the boy needs training. but it isn't home without you. but at home we work together. as if they were all yours.CHAPTER THIRTY 252 "You have only made the mistake that most young wives make--forgotten your duty to your husband in your love for your children. and it will be better for you all. Show me how. but have not spoken. exchange ideas." "I'm afraid it won't. for it all affects you and yours. and then you are unfitted for everything. you owe something to John as well as to the babies. His place is there as well as yours. My dear. Go out more. for children should draw you nearer than ever. Then Father came to the rescue.

and God bless you all. Think over Mother's preachment. little mother." said old-fashioned John. found it good. and ruled the house as soon as they found out that kicking and squalling brought them whatever they wanted. Do you expect company?" "Only you. and through them you will learn to know and love one another as you should. how gay we are tonight. yet like the Englishman. But unfortunately Demi's most unconquerable prejudice was against going to bed. "Will Demi lie still like a good boy. act upon it if it seems good. while Mamma runs down and gives poor Papa his tea?" asked Meg. Mr. And no time is so beautiful and precious to parents as the first years of the little lives given to them to train. looking young and pretty again. Mamma thought the dear too young to be taught to conquer his prejudices.CHAPTER THIRTY 253 "He tried not to be selfish. "Why." laughed Meg. so she ordered a nice supper. no. Don't let John be a stranger to the babies. if you'll go bye-bye like Daisy. told stories and tried every sleep-prevoking wile she could devise. like the chubby little bunch of good nature she was. and that night he decided to go on a rampage. "Ditto. . for the first tenderness soon wears off." "Is it a birthday. and long after Daisy had gone to byelow. unless care is taken to preserve it. and loved the father whose grave "No. preparing to join in the revel. dear. Meg slipped away and ran down to greet her husband with a smiling face and the little blue bow in her hair which was his especial admiration. So poor Meg sang and rocked. but I'll save you some little cakies for breakfast. when young married people are apt to grow apart. naughty Demi lay staring at the light. no matter how tired you are." was more impressive than all Mamma's love pats. and put the children to bed early. A few days after the talk with her mother. the big eyes wouldn't shut. but all in vain. as the hall door softly closed. You always make yourself nice for table. but he has felt rather forlorn. we won't call it obstinacy. Brooke. and the well-known step went tip-toeing into the dining room. "Me has tea!" said Demi. and acted upon it. but Papa was not so easily subjugated. ditto. with the most discouragingly wide-awake expression of countenance. dear. This is just the time. for they will do more to keep him safe and happy in this world of trial and temptation than anything else. Taking advantage of the propitious moment. Now. or anything?" "No. I'm tired of being dowdy. as she nodded to him over the teapot. as if to catch sleep and hurry the desired day. set the parlor in order. that nothing should interfere with her experiment. and occasionally afflicted his tender spouse by an attempt at paternal discipline with his obstreperous son. Mamma was an abject slave to their caprices. For Demi inherited a trifle of his sire's firmness of character. Meg resolved to try a social evening with John. Of course the children tyrannized over her. dressed herself prettily. though the first attempt was not made exactly as she planned to have it. lovey?" "Iss!" and Demi shut his eyes tight. but Papa believed that it never was too soon to learn obedience. and when he made up his little mind to have or to do anything. good-by. Meg." Meg did think it over. my dear. "No. He saw it at once and said with pleased surprise. he always got the worst of it. and the very time when they ought to be most together. so why shouldn't I when I have the time?" "I do it out of respect for you. anniversary. baby respected the man who conquered him. so I dressed up as a change. So Master Demi early discovered that when he undertook to 'wrastle' with 'Parpar'. I fancy. Will you. all the king's horses and all the king's men could not change that pertinacious little mind.

of course. I told him to go to sleep alone. This tastes right." and John sipped his tea with an air of reposeful rapture. go upstairs. hardening his heart against the engaging little sinner. Put him in his bed and leave him. and regarding his first attempt as eminently successful. "No. helping himself to the coveted 'cakie'.." said the artful one. Meg. with his long nightgown gracefully festooned over his arm and every curl bobbing gayly as he pranced about the table. then the judgment day was at hand. "More sudar. make him do it. and said to Meg." "I'll manage him. when the little ghost walked again. poor . and beginning to eat the same with calm audacity. and here he is. and get into your bed. answering the call. Then you can have the little cake with sugar on it. Nor was he disappointed." "Now this won't do. as Mamma bids you." which struck the culprit with dismay." "Yes. "We shall never know any peace till that child learns to go to bed properly. Demi. with a "Be gentle with him.CHAPTER THIRTY 254 "Well. Bereft of his cake. and borne away by a strong hand to that detested bed. But even that refuge proved unavailing." said Meg. "Mornin' now. and then there will be an end of it. or he will never learn to mind you. he never does unless I sit by him. Me's tummin!" "It's that naughty boy." and Meg led her son away. I shall carry you if you don't go yourself. for as he put down his cup. the door handle rattled mysteriously. "Iss!" said Demi the perjured. laboring under the delusion that the bribe was to be administered as soon as they reached the nursery. tucked him into his bed." and Demi retired to his mother's skirts for protection. and like old times. But John shook his head. feeling a strong desire to spank the little marplot who hopped beside her. "Opy doy. which was of very short duration however. dear.. and exposed the maternal delinquencies by boldly demanding. Give him one lesson. and go to sleep alone. for when Mamma deserted him. and a little voice was heard. preparing to climb the paternal knee and revel in forbidden joys. it's altogether delightful. You have made a slave of yourself long enough. Marmar. saying impatiently. it isn't morning yet. defrauded of his frolic. Demi. and forbade any more promenades till morning. for he was delivered over to the enemy. getting his death a-cold pattering over that canvas." "S'ant!" replied the young rebel." said John. and supper was progressing pleasantly. for that shortsighted woman actually gave him a lump of sugar. and not trouble poor Mamma. eyeing the 'cakies' with loving glances. Meg returned to her place. me don't love Parpar." "Go 'way. blissfully sucking his sugar.. Come. You must go to bed. "You must never say that to Papa. I drink your health. downstairs." "He won't stay there.. John." announced Demi in joyful tone as he entered. "If you told him to stay up there." "Me loves Parpar.

and made for the door. Demi sobbed more quietly. John. and he put up his arms. as his angry passions subsided. cuddled close in the circle of his father's arm and holding his father's finger. for the moment his father peeped at him. which lively performance was kept up till the young man's strength gave out. no lullaby." thought John. he rolled out on the other." . he won't. "I never need fear that John will be too harsh with my babies. saying with a penitent hiccough. he'll be good now." When John spoke in that masterful tone. The plaintive wail which succeeded the passionate roar went to Meg's heart. for after it was given. and then go and set Meg's heart at rest. now. for Demi is getting too much for me. when he devoted himself to roaring at the top of his voice. saying in a satisfied tone. she slipped into the room to set her fears at rest. Go down. reproaching herself for deserting her boy. my dear.. even the light was put out and only the red glow of the fire enlivened the 'big dark' which Demi regarded with curiosity rather than fear. and after imagining all sorts of impossible accidents. Demi's eyes opened. Don't interfere." Sitting on the stairs outside Meg wondered at the long silence which followed the uproar. and never regretted her docility. The minute he was put into bed on one side. and I can't have his spirit broken by harshness. and she ran up to say beseechingly. more tired by that tussle with his son than with his whole day's work. creeping to the bedside. I'll manage him. John?" "Certainly. and then slipped away again. not in his usual spreadeagle attitude. whither he had wriggled in his anguish of mind. "Please let me kiss him once. as you bid him. This vocal exercise usually conquered Meg." "But he'll cry himself sick. for she is very tired with taking care of you all day. John had waited with a womanly patience till the little hand relaxed its hold. and let her go and rest. and he must. and lay quite still at the bottom of the bed. I've told him he must go to sleep. "Let me stay with him." "He's my child. I'll cover him up. Meg always obeyed. This new order of things disgusted him." "No. no sugar. he's so tired he will soon drop off and then the matter is settled. As Meg stood watching the two faces on the pillow. He does know how to manage them. say good night to Mamma. hoping to find his rebellious heir asleep. So held.CHAPTER THIRTY 255 Demi could not restrain his wrath. and recollections of his tender bondwoman returned to the captive autocrat. But he wasn't. and leave the boy to me. but in a subdued bunch. he's worn out with sleep and crying. my dear.. she smiled to herself. No coaxing. and had gone to sleep a sadder and wiser baby. and while waiting had fallen asleep." "He's my child. and he howled dismally for 'Marmar'. for he will understand that he has got to mind. "Poor little man. "No. Demi. only to be ignominiously caught up by the tail of his little toga and put back again. if I stay here all night. but openly defied Papa." Meg always insisted upon it that the kiss won the victory. and will be a great help. Demi lay fast asleep. as if he felt that justice was tempered with mercy. but John sat as unmoved as the post which is popularly believed to be deaf." pleaded Meg. no story. and I won't have his temper spoiled by indulgence. his little chin began to quiver. and kicked and screamed lustily all the way upstairs. "Me's dood.

that's only fair. "She is trying to like politics for my sake. while Meg recovered her spirits and composed her nerves by plenty of wholesome exercise. and watched her for a minute. I had a talk with Marmee the other day. He read a long debate with the most amiable readiness and then explained it in his most lucid manner. that she might use it in . "That's very pretty. but wisely asked no questions. Even Sallie Moffatt liked to go there. and I'm going to make home what it used to be. but she kept these feminine ideas to herself. and therefore the clue would soon appear. and John had no wish to leave it. so. and keep her thoughts from wandering from the state of the nation to the state of her bonnet. because I've neglected you shamefully lately. John saw in a minute that a revolution of some kind was going on. to ask intelligent questions. content. however. if I can. and much confidential conversation with her sensible husband. if he was not too tired. shook her head and said with what she thought diplomatic ambiguity. as if trying to discover the charm. All that we have any business to know is that John did not appear to object. please?" "Of course I will. I naturally mistook it for one of the flyaway things you sometimes wear. and that the mission of politicians seemed to be calling each other names. of all things. to the great detriment of the rosebud under the chin." she used to say. and I'm to see to things about the house more. or what a very narrow escape the little bonnet had from utter ruin. expecting to find a pensive or reproachful wife. adding aloud. and when John paused. unless he took Meg with him. it's a bonnet! My very best go-to-concert-and-theater bonnet." thought John the Just." "I beg your pardon. and everyone found the little house a cheerful place. "It is always so quiet and pleasant here. You have been shut up so long. and now and then have a little fun. so I'll try and like millinery for hers. little mother?" "Well." John laughed. The children throve under the paternal rule. "Well. stedfast John brought order and obedience into Babydom. for I want you to take me to one of the new concerts some night. Meg." and Meg illustrated by putting on the bonnet and regarding him with an air of calm satisfaction that was irresistible. It was not all Paradise by any means. a little pleasure. but I prefer the face inside. broken-down old woman before my time. she couldn't keep a secret to save her life. while Meg tried to look deeply interested. and I want to try it for your sake as much as for mine. full of happiness.CHAPTER THIRTY 256 When John came down at last. it does me good. In her secret soul. "I'm glad you like it. and she said I needed change and less care." and John kissed the smiling face. I really don't see what we are coming to. for it looks young and happy again. You don't object. How do you keep it on?" "These bits of lace are fastened under the chin with a rosebud. Is it what you call a breakfast cap?" "My dear man. he was agreeably surprised to find Meg placidly trimming a bonnet. I hope?" Never mind what John said. "It's a love of a bonnet. John. it was so small. What put it into your head. looking about her with wistful eyes. just to keep me from getting to be a fidgety. she decided that politics were as bad as mathematics. and regarded it with the genuine interest which his harangue had failed to waken. knowing that Meg was such a transparent little person. but everyone was better for the division of labor system. I really need some music to put me in tune. or anywhere else you like. with all my heart. It's only an experiment. and I shall enjoy it. and to be greeted with the request to read something about the election. so Hannah is to help me with the children. as she poised a pretty little preparation of lace and flowers on her hand. and family love. it will do you no end of good. for accurate. judging from the changes which gradually took place in the house and its inmates. and told her how nervous and cross and out of sorts I felt. The Scotts came to the Brookes' now. Will you. Home grew homelike again.

and each year of married life taught them how to use it. and Ned lived in a world of his own. that a woman's happiest kingdom is home. full of splendid loneliness. as Meg learned. sunny-faced babies there. for there were no riotous. This is the sort of shelf on which young wives and mothers may consent to be laid. undaunted by sorrow. her highest honor the art of ruling it not as a queen. and the richest cannot buy. This household happiness did not come all at once. . through fair and stormy weather. or age. but John and Meg had found the key to it. the 'house-band'. and learning. unlocking the treasuries of real home love and mutual helpfulness. which the poorest may possess. safe from the restless fret and fever of the world. finding loyal lovers in the little sons and daughters who cling to them. poverty. with a faithful friend. walking side by side. where there was no place for her. who is. in the true sense of the good old Saxon word.CHAPTER THIRTY 257 her great house. but as a wise wife and mother.

for at Nice no one can be very industrious during the gay season. walking. for no attentions. "Then I'll go with pleasure. It's no exertion to me. Amy tried to please. I preferred to stay at home and write letters. Here an ancient monastery. along winding roads rich in the picturesque scenes that delight beauty-loving eyes. and remained a month. and left little Baptiste nothing to do but fold his arms and fall asleep on his perch. will you come?" said Amy. but just let himself drift along as comfortably as possible." Laurie lifted his eyebrows and followed at a leisurely pace as she ran downstairs. but isn't it rather warm for such a long walk?" he answered slowly. and he rather dreaded the keen blue eyes that seemed to watch him with such half-sorrowful. and they went on together in the most amicable manner. feeling that he was the representative of the dear family for whom she longed more than she would confess. Amy rose daily in the estimation of her friend. trying to forget. dancing. riding. Amy was too well-bred. but when they got into the carriage he took the reins himself. There a bare-legged shepherd. in wooden shoes. were half so pleasant as the sisterly adoration of the girls at home. and Baptiste can drive. But she tucked it under her arm with a sharp." and he put out his hand for her sketchbook. however flattering. and repaid him with the little services to which womanly women know how to lend an indescribable charm. whence the solemn chanting of the monks came down to them. but you don't look equal to it." returned Amy. with a sarcastic glance at the immaculate kids. Meek. and feeling that all women owed him a kind word because one had been cold to him. pointed hat. But. and just now Laurie was too lazy. and rough jacket over one shoulder. sat piping on a stone while his goats skipped among the rocks or lay at his feet. "Well. and keep your gloves nice. but she was very glad to see him now. It was a lovely drive. but he sank in hers. so you'll have nothing to do but hold your umbrella. and each felt the truth before a word was spoken.. they were half-consciously making discoveries and forming opinions about each other. mouse-colored donkeys. and Amy's familiar presence seemed to give a homelike charm to the foreign scenes in which she bore a part. or dawdling. They are done now. "Don't trouble yourself. for the shaded salon looked inviting after the glare without. for she was grateful for the many pleasures he gave her. He was tired of wandering about alone. "All the rest have gone to Monaco for the day. and I am going to Valrosa to sketch. from strangers. She answered him with a smile. He rather missed the 'petting' he used to receive. as she joined Laurie one lovely day when he lounged in as usual.. and he would have given Amy all the trinkets in Nice if she would have taken them.CHAPTER THIRTY 258 CHAPTER THIRTY -NINE LAZY LAURENCE Laurie went to Nice intending to stay a week. It cost him no effort to be generous. while apparently amusing themselves in the most careless fashion. and enjoyed a taste of it again. but at the same time he felt that he could not change the opinion she was forming of him. They naturally took comfort in each other's society and were much together. Laurie made no effort of any kind. "I'm going to have the little carriage. about noon. The two never quarreled. so in a minute he peeped under her hatbrim with an inquiring air. and quite clung to him. Amy never would pet him like the others. half-scornful surprise. and succeeded. which were a weak point with Laurie. laden with panniers of freshly . yes.

or bunches of oranges still on the bough. "It's good advice. for vivid flowers became her. Roses covered the walls of the house. and he was just then in that state of half-sweet." "Then why don't you do it?" "Natural depravity." "I dare say. and a luxurious whiff of perfume that came wandering by.CHAPTER THIRTY 259 cut grass passed by. I will. draped the cornices. I suppose. He had thought of Jo in reaching after the thorny red rose. when imaginative young men find significance in trifles and food for romance everywhere. when are you going to your grandfather?" she asked presently. and she had often worn ones like that from the greenhouse at home. thinking her speech amused him. where seats invited one to stop and rest. "Thank you. "Laurie. white. winding through lemon trees and feathery palms up to the villa on the hill. and a few months later he did it in earnest." "You have said that a dozen times within the last three weeks. They overhung the archway. and great scarlet anemones fringed the roadside." "He expects you. while beyond green slopes and craggy heights. for in that climate of perpetual summer roses blossomed everywhere. climbed the pillars. you'd better take it and save your fingers. with a pretty girl in a capaline sitting between the green piles. "Very soon. Every shadowy nook. "No." she said. fruit hung golden in the orchard. Valrosa well deserved its name. and for a moment he wondered if the omen was for Jo or for himself. as she settled herself on a rustic seat. or an old woman spinning with a distaff as she went." . and ran riot over the balustrade of the wide terrace. the Maritime Alps rose sharp and white against the blue Italian sky. Brown. after a vain attempt to capture a solitary scarlet flower that grew just beyond his reach. and he laughed a heartier laugh than Amy had heard since he came. whence one looked down on the sunny Mediterranean. She put them in his buttonhole as a peace offering. short answers save trouble. pausing on the terrace to enjoy the view. soft-eyed children ran out from the quaint stone hovels to offer nosegays. thrust themselves between the bars of the great gate with a sweet welcome to passers-by. with his thumb in his mouth. isn't it? Did you ever see such roses?" asked Amy. "This is a regular honeymoon paradise. half-bitter melancholy. for in the Italian part of his nature there was a touch of superstition." returned Laurie. "Try lower down. but the next instant his American common sense got the better of sentimentality. was a mass of bloom." said Amy. and lined the avenue. The pale roses Amy gave him were the sort that the Italians lay in dead hands. nor felt such thorns. and pick those that have no thorns. every cool grotto had its marble nymph smiling from a veil of flowers and every fountain reflected crimson. leaning down to smile at their own beauty." "Hospitable creature! I know it. and he stood a minute looking down at them with a curious expression. Gnarled olive trees covered the hills with their dusky foliage. gathering three of the tiny cream-colored ones that starred the wall behind her. and you really ought to go. or pale pink roses." he answered in jest. never in bridal wreaths. and the white-walled city on its shore.

if you'll allow me. by the cordial tone in which she said. "What are you doing just now?" "Watching lizards. "Wish I was!" "That's a foolish wish. as he lay basking in the sun with uncovered head and eyes full of southern dreaminess. I'm busy!'" He laughed as he spoke. and looking straight into her eyes. ma'am. for she had seen and heard them before. Laurie saw and understood the affectionate anxiety which she hesitated to express. with a half-timid. unless you have spoiled your life. 'Go away. for the utterance of the familiar name touched the wound that was not healed yet. and go to sleep if you like. and she showed that it did." "With all the pleasure in life. 260 "Not so bad as it seems. more significant than her unfinished speech. "As usual.CHAPTER THIRTY "Natural indolence." "Stay as you are. and now she looked up in time to catch a new expression on Laurie's face--a hard bitter look. dissatisfaction. "You look like the effigy of a young knight asleep on his tomb. I sometimes think--" there Amy stopped. said. you mean. in fact I think it agrees with you excellently. "What would Jo say if she saw you now?" asked Amy impatiently." said Amy in her most energetic tone. How will you have me. I mean what do you intend and wish to do?" "Smoke a cigarette. It's really dreadful!" and Amy looked severe. You are so changed." and Laurie composed himself for a lounge on the broad ledge of the balustrade. It was gone before she could study it and the listless expression back again. half-wistful look. It also touched her. "It's all right. hoping to stir him up by the mention of her still more energetic sister's name. Both tone and shadow struck Amy. but the laugh was not natural." That satisfied her and set at rest the doubts that had begun to worry her lately. Teddy. just as he used to say it to her mother." "No. and a shade passed over his face. carefully tracing the well-cut profile defined against the dark stone. I intend to work hard. you can bear it better. for I should only plague him if I went. on my head or my heels? I should respectfully suggest a recumbent posture. no. "What delightful enthusiasm!" and he leaned against a tall urn with an air of entire satisfaction." "How provoking you are! I don't approve of cigars and I will only allow it on condition that you let me put you into my sketch. Amy shook her head and opened her sketchbook with an air of resignation. then put yourself in also and call it 'Dolce far niente'. so I might as well stay and plague you a little longer. but she had made up her mind to lecture 'that boy' and in a minute she began again. and regret. I need a figure.. She watched him for a moment with artistic pleasure. for he seemed to have forgotten her and fallen into a reverie. . full length or three-quarters." she said.. full of pain. thinking how like an Italian he looked.

and ask questions. with a despondent but decided air. you know." she answered. I'm roving about so. it's impossible to be regular." "She's very busy. lost your heart to some charming Frenchwoman with a husband. I heard rumors about Fred and you last year. hey?" "That's not for me to say. and there was a traitorous sparkle of the eye which betrayed that she knew her power and enjoyed the knowledge. I fancy. with so much energy and talent?" "That's just why. but her lips would smile. if I get the chance. Raphaella?" he asked. and be an ornament to society. Don't stay out there in the sun. and no amount of energy can make it so." and he glanced up with a decided expression of interest in his eyes. You may begin." Laurie obediently threw himself down on the turf. but audacity becomes young people. When do you begin your great work of art. and sounded daring. if your tongue won't. and spent no time lamenting. and began to amuse himself by sticking daisies into the ribbons of Amy's hat. come and lie on the grass here and 'let us be friendly'.." "And what are you going to do with yourself now. or got into some of the scrapes that young men seem to consider a necessary part of a foreign tour. Laurie smiled. so I don't intend to try any more. "Never. as Jo used to say when we got in the sofa corner and told secrets. Don't you hear often? I fancied Jo would send you volumes." "Why should you. May I?" "I don't promise to answer. and it's my private opinion that if he had not been called home so suddenly and detained so long. changing the subject abruptly after another pause." It was a characteristic speech. because talent isn't genius. for after seeing the wonders there. I hope?" and Laurie looked very elder-brotherly and grave all of a sudden. "I'm all ready for the secrets." "Haven't one to bless myself with. . something would have come of it. if I may ask?" "Polish up my other talents. but I fancied you might have wasted money at that wicked Baden-Baden.CHAPTER THIRTY 261 "I'm glad of that! I didn't think you'd been a very bad boy." "Your face will." "You have heard all that has come lately." Amy preserved a discreet silence. "Good! And here is where Fred Vaughn comes in. "You are not engaged. I felt too insignificant to live and gave up all my foolish hopes in despair." was Amy's grim reply. but he liked the spirit with which she took up a new purpose when a long-cherished one died. in which he had been wondering if Amy knew his secret and wanted to talk about it. "I've none to tell. You aren't woman of the world enough yet to hide your feelings. or nothing. "Now I'm going to play brother. but there was a conscious look in her downcast face that made Laurie sit up and say gravely. "Rome took all the vanity out of me. I thought perhaps you'd had some news from home. I won't be a common-place dauber. I want to be great. that lay there. my dear. and Amy's ambition had a good foundation.

after his long abstinence from his favorite pastime." and she looked as if she would like doing it in the most summary style. Amy." "You don't know what I can do. but not the man I fancied you'd like. Snow produces a glow and a tingle. "Do it for me. but the quiet decision with which it was uttered contrasted curiously with the young speaker. and made her resolve to deliver her lecture without delay. but he only folded his arms under his head." A short speech. trying to be quite cool and dignified. "I wish you'd do me the favor to rouse yourself a little. if applied rightly. "That's . it won't hurt me and it may amuse you. It's Lazy Laurence. "You'd be angry in five minutes. and began. then. as the big man said when his little wife beat him. I give you leave. if I tried. with an imperturbable. there's a dear girl. Amy sharpened both tongue and pencil. as the world goes. and has delightful manners." "I could. and start in that way? Quite right and proper." "True. as well as a certain inward self-disapproval. with a sense of disappointment which he could not explain. a gentleman. but it sounds odd from the lips of one of your mother's girls." "Then you are fond of old Fred?" "I could be. How do you like it?" She thought it would annoy him.CHAPTER THIRTY "No. and a good stirring up would prove it." "I'm never angry with you. who enjoyed having someone to tease. what unearthly prudence! He's a good fellow. Laurie felt this instinctively and laid himself down again. in spite of the sincerity of her intentions. It takes two flints to make a fire." 262 "He is rich. "Flo and I have got a new name for you. "I understand. Your indifference is half affectation. if he comes back and goes properly down on his knees. nevertheless." she said sharply. ruffled Amy. "Try. You are as cool and soft as snow. so you mean to make a good match. but feeling a little ashamed of herself. if I tried." returned Laurie. if that sort of exercise agrees with you." Being decidedly nettled herself." "But you will be. Regard me in the light of a husband or a carpet. won't you?" "Very likely. His look and silence." "But you don't intend to try till the proper moment? Bless my soul. and beat till you are tired." began Amy. and longing to see him shake off the apathy that so altered him. Queens of society can't get on without money." "Stir away.

You men tell us we are angels." Amy spoke bitterly.. for the one virtue on which he prided himself was generosity. "Yes. position. with every chance for being good. But the lecture began to take effect. Selfish people always like to talk about themselves. lazy." "Do you want to know what I honestly think of you?" "Pining to be told. blandly finishing the sentence. for I don't think you half so nice as when I left you at home. I despise you. ah you like that old Vanity! But it's the truth." "Strong language. if you please?" "Because.." "Am I selfish?" the question slipped out involuntarily and in a tone of surprise. I will be good!" . and waste time on frivolous things. for I've studied you while we were frolicking. "Why. I said when we first met that you had improved. "I will be good. twice as effective just then as an angry one. which proves how much your flattery is worth. you are only. and say we can make you what we will. "Saint Laurence on a gridiron. talent. as far as I can see. half-injured expression replaced the former indifference. but the instant we honestly try to do you good. At any rate. with a droll imitation of a penitent child. and miserable. it's quite interesting.CHAPTER THIRTY not bad. you are faulty. he would have laughed and rather liked it." "Pray do." "I thought you'd find it so. but the grave. mademoiselle.. and done nothing but waste time and money and disappoint your friends. so that she could not draw." there she stopped.. for there was a wide-awake sparkle in his eyes now and a half-angry. and I'm not at all satisfied with you. with all these splendid things to use and enjoy. and Laurie's voice said." added Laurie. you are contented to be petted and admired by silly people. With money. Here you have been abroad nearly six months. health. you can find nothing to do but dawdle. useful." continued Amy. and turned her back on the exasperating martyr at her feet. with a look that had both pain and pity in it. accent in her voice made him open his eyes. very selfish. "I'll show you how. and instead of being the man you ought to be. "I supposed you'd take it so. Thank you. and happy. cool voice. You have grown abominably lazy. ladies. I'll go on. Now I take it all back. instead of being loved and respected by wise ones. almost sad. you laugh at us and won't listen. in a calm. oh." 263 If she had even said 'I hate you' in a petulant or coquettish tone." "Isn't a fellow to have any pleasure after a four-year grind?" "You don't look as if you'd had much. In a minute a hand came down over the page. you like gossip." "Well. you are none the better for it. and ask quickly." "If you like it. and beauty. so I can't help saying it.

and looks as if it never did anything but wear Jouvin's best gloves and pick flowers for ladies. dear. and the wearing of the little old ring which was no ornament to a handsome hand. And Jo wouldn't be kind to you? Why. said soberly. "Aren't you ashamed of a hand like that? It's as soft and white as a woman's. wishing to be sure of her facts this time. only the little old one Jo gave you so long ago. for she did not know what balm to apply." "I think they would. and the hand that wore the ring nestled down into the grass. you knew perfectly well I never cared for anyone but Jo. "No. impetuous tone. you didn't. But we are all so fond and proud of you. I was sure she loved you dearly." came from under the hat. and you came away." "She was kind. the change in his character. I never did like that Miss Randal and now I hate her!" said artful Amy. but as they never said anything about it. and there was energy enough in the echo of her wish to suit even Amy. It's her fault though. as if for shade.. She glanced down at him with a new thought in her mind." The hard. "Hang Miss Randal!" and Laurie knocked the hat off his face with a look that left no doubt of his sentiments toward that young lady. Laurie. though. and if you weren't the sweetest-tempered fellow in the world. "I did think so. and it troubled Amy. and now she was sure of it. Her keen eyes filled. She remembered that Laurie never spoke voluntarily of Jo." "Don't." and there she paused diplomatically. and his mustache hid his mouth. "I know I have no right to talk so to you. and when she spoke again. You are not a dandy.CHAPTER THIRTY 264 But Amy did not laugh. but he was lying with his hat half over his face. but not in the right way. in a grim tone. bitter look came back again as he said that. Girls are quick to read such signs and feel their eloquence. Dear soul. and turned his face away as he spoke. "They ought to have told me. with a long breath that might have been a sigh. and you may tell her so. Teddy. perhaps they would understand the change better than I do. she recalled the shadow on his face just now. you'd be very angry with me. I'm very sorry I was so cross. that's her name for me!" and Laurie put up his hand with a quick gesture to stop the words spoken in . I supposed I was mistaken. I didn't know." Laurie said that in his old. so I'm glad to see there are no diamonds or big seal rings on it. for she was in earnest. and not let me go blundering and scolding. when I should have been more kind and patient than ever. if I'm the good-for-nothing fellow you think me. and told her what her sister never had confided to her. but I can't help wishing you'd bear it better. "I beg pardon. and tapping on the outspread hand with her pencil.. I couldn't bear to think they should be disappointed in you at home as I have been. "I was wrong. quite as touching as a broken one. All in a minute various hints and trifles assumed shape and significance in Amy's mind. I wish she was here to help me!" "So do I!" The hand vanished as suddenly as it came. thank Heaven. and it's lucky for her she didn't love me. I thought. She only saw his chest rise and fall. as if to hide something too precious or too tender to be spoken of. it was in a voice that could be beautifully soft and kind when she chose to make it so. Amy had fancied that perhaps a love trouble was at the bottom of the alteration.

but there was a life and spirit in it which atoned for many faults. lazy figure on the grass. Only a rough sketch of ." "Graduating well. half-reproachful tone. "Yes. for Jo wouldn't love me." and Amy laid another sketch beside the one he held. This is as you were. and it recalled the past so vividly that a sudden change swept over the young man's face as he looked. I'm interested in other people's experiences and inconsistencies. adding. with a half-laugh. It would have been shameful to fail after spending so much time and money. Amy's lecture put the matter in a new light. but it was no use. when everyone knew that you could do well. as he pulled up the grass by the handful. and shut himself up in moody indifference. say what you will. and taking his trouble away to live it down alone. I don't pretend to be wise. "Do you think Jo would despise me as you do?" "Yes. It was not nearly so well done." he added in a low voice. I remember and use them for my own benefit. Love Jo all your days. that's me. for it's wicked to throw away so many good gifts because you can't have the one you want. Now. with a genuine surprise and pleasure at her skill. you mean? That was no more than you ought to have done. and though I can't explain. with the decision of one who knew nothing about it. happy self again. leaning his head on his hand in a despondent attitude. Laurie flattered himself that he had borne it remarkably well." "That's impossible. merely saying. and forget your trouble. asking no sympathy. You needn't shrug your shoulders. if she saw you now. "How well you draw!" he said. you'd soon be your hearty." said Amy." Neither spoke for several minutes. making no moan. for your grandfather's sake. 'Much she knows about such things'. She hates lazy people. but don't let it spoil you. and make her love you?" "I did my best. from which came the little wreath of smoke that encircled the dreamer's head. and Amy put the last touches to the hasty sketch she had been working at while she talked. Presently she put it on his knee. and one hand holding a cigar. but I am observing. and think. He felt as if suddenly shaken out of a pensive dream and found it impossible to go to sleep again.CHAPTER THIRTY 265 Jo's half-kind. Why don't you do something splendid. and you'll say so in the end." "Try it and see. If you'd only set about another task of some sort. for it was capitally done. with listless face. and proved that you could do something if you tried. and for the first time it did look weak and selfish to lose heart at the first failure." began Laurie. Laurie sat turning the little ring on his finger. "I'd take it manfully. "How do you like that?" He looked and then he smiled." "As you are. half-shut eyes. the long. for I know you'll wake up and be a man in spite of that hardhearted girl. There. as he could not well help doing. I won't lecture any more. and I see a great deal more than you'd imagine." "I did fail. you didn't. and be respected if I couldn't be loved. Presently he sat up and asked slowly. "No. for it did you good. "Wait till you've tried it yourself. if you choose.

as if to remind her that even moral lectures should have an end. Please make my adieux to your aunt. in her sprightly way." "Much obliged. and I can't take back a word of it. Laurie. instead of the usual call.CHAPTER THIRTY 266 Laurie taming a horse. with an approving smile. I'm glad.. in the foreign fashion. and I sat on the fence and drew you. with one foot impatiently pawing the ground. Something in his face made Amy say quickly and warmly. Well." and with these words. she said. and youthful buoyancy that contrasted sharply with the supine grace of the 'Dolce far Niente' sketch. and commanding attitude was full of energy and meaning. That satisfied her. I found that sketch in my portfolio the other day. and exult within yourself. resolute face. with my congratulations. "Now. "No.. Amy felt the shade of coldness in his manner. and ears pricked up as if listening for the voice that had mastered him. the sunshine had a shadow over it. and said to herself. but it's true. indifferent air. which became him better than many men. if it makes him hate me. up behind. He tried to resume his former easy. "Don't you remember the day you played Rarey with Puck. But both felt ill at ease. but it was an affectation now. for 'Lazy Laurence' has gone to his grandpa. Au revoir. and part in the good old way. "Shall we see you this evening. just subdued. be yourself with me." "Goodbye. Hat and coat were off. dear. if it does him good. Telemachus "Good boy! I'm glad he's gone. stood arching his neck under the tightly drawn rein. and we all looked on? Meg and Beth were frightened. and I congratulate you. as they parted at her aunt's door. and without waiting for him to speak." said Amy. I've offended him. The next minute her face fell as she .. madamoiselle. the rider's breezy hair and erect attitude. of strength.. but Jo clapped and pranced. and every line of the active figure. My Dear Mentor. Amy received a note which made her smile at the beginning and sigh at the end. In the ruffled mane. like the best of boys. Amy saw him flush up and fold his lips together as if he read and accepted the little lesson she had given him. The handsome brute. there was a suggestion of suddenly arrested motion. uttered in the tone she liked.. Tell him so. and may the gods grant you a blissful honeymoon at Valrosa! I think Fred would be benefited by a rouser. Laurie said nothing but as his eye went from one to the other. returned the pictures with a smile and a bow and looked at his watch. Laurie left her. A pleasant winter to you. after a handshake almost painful in its heartiness. "Unfortunately I have an engagement. for the rousing had been more effacious than he would confess. Yours gratefully. You've improved immensely since then. mon frere?" asked Amy. I'm sorry. May I venture to suggest in 'a honeymoon paradise' that five o'clock is the dinner hour at your hotel?" Laurie rose as he spoke." They laughed and chatted all the way home. there was a secret discontent in the heart of each." and Laurie bent as if to kiss her hand. and kept it to show you.. The friendly frankness was disturbed. I'd rather have a hearty English handshake than all the sentimental salutations in France. thought that monsieur and madamoiselle were in charming spirits. touched it up. and little Baptiste. Next morning. and despite their apparent gaiety. courage.

" .CHAPTER THIRTY 267 glanced about the empty room. I am glad. but how I shall miss him. adding. with an involuntary sigh. "Yes.

and each did his or her part toward making that last year a happy one. and came to regard the gentle giver as a sort of fairy godmother. and every day Meg brought her babies on a loving pilgrimage. her piano. The feeble fingers were never idle. and in it was gathered everything that she most loved. Jo never left her for an hour since Beth had said "I feel stronger when you are here. as applicable now as when written centuries ago. and say "How beautiful this is!" as they all sat together in her sunny room. The first few months were very happy ones. and the droll little letters which came to her. to feed. she tried to make it happier for those who should remain behind. a sharp struggle of the young life with death. waking often to renew the fire. mother and sisters working near. Old Hannah never wearied of concocting dainty dishes to tempt a capricious appetite. John quietly set apart a little sum. and her tranquil spirit was sorrowfully perturbed by the ills that vexed her feeble flesh. and waited with her on the shore. Simple sermons. the babies kicking and crowing on the floor. or wait upon the patient creature who seldom asked for . scrapbooks for picture-loving eyes. in his pleasant voice. They put away their grief. trying to see the Shining Ones coming to receive her when she crossed the river. and from across the sea came little gifts and cheerful letters. and all manner of pleasant devices. Jo's desk. long nights. Talking wearied her. and Beth often used to look round. A sad eclipse of the serene soul. Father's best books found their way there. penwipers for young penmen toiling through forests of pothooks. till the reluctant climbers of the ladder of learning found their way strewn with flowers. trying to show them that hope can comfort love. pictures. but both were mercifully brief. flowers. such aching hearts and imploring prayers.CHAPTER FORTY 268 CHAPTER FORTY THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW When the first bitterness was over. for nothing could change the sweet. If Beth had wanted any reward. dropping tears as she worked. help me!" and to feel that there was no help. Amy's finest sketches. for by-and-by. Beth's soul grew strong. to drop a pair of mittens from her window for a pair of purple hands. pain claimed her for its own. and faith make resignation possible. seeming to bring breaths of warmth and fragrance from lands that know no winter. those about her felt that she was ready. and though she said little. and then the natural rebellion over. and showered down gifts miraculously suited to their tastes and needs. full of blots and gratitude. that went straight to the souls of those who listened. to hear the bitter cry." She slept on a couch in the room. such long. she found it in the bright little faces always turned up to her window. With the wreck of her frail body. from the wise old books which seemed rich in good and comfortable words. "Help me. the family accepted the inevitable. for the father's heart was in the minister's religion. faces troubled her. and even while preparing to leave life. Beth said the needle was 'so heavy'. The pleasantest room in the house was set apart for Beth. the little worktable. that he might enjoy the pleasure of keeping the invalid supplied with the fruit she loved and longed for. and the frequent falter in the voice gave a double eloquence to the words he spoke or read. when those who loved her best were forced to see the thin hands stretched out to them beseechingly. helping one another by the increased affection which comes to bind households tenderly together in times of trouble. and put it down forever. and the beloved pussies. a needlebook for some small mother of many dolls. Here. lift. and father reading. Mother's easy chair. the old peace returned more beautiful than ever. Ah me! Such heavy days. unselfish nature. It was well for all that this peaceful time was given them as preparation for the sad hours to come. sat Beth. a little chapel. with nods and smiles. who sat above there. saw that the first pilgrim called was likewise the fittest. as it were. and one of her pleasures was to make little things for the school children daily passing to and fro. and tried to bear it cheerfully. to make sunshine for Aunty Beth. tranquil and busy as ever. where a paternal priest taught his flock the hard lessons all must learn. cherished like a household saint in its shrine.

Give to life new aspirations. And the sister gone before me By their hands shall lead me home. Out of human care and strife. and blossom in the dust'. so I won't wake her to ask leave. wise and sweet. That with charity devine Can pardon wrong for love's dear sake-. MY BETH Sitting patient in the shadow Till the blessed light shall come. feeling that Beth. Of that courage. unambitious. she found a little paper. Guardian angels shall become. For with eyes made clear by many tears. bequeath me that great patience Which has power to sustain A cheerful. heard her singing softly. Which has made the path of duty Green beneath your willing feet.CHAPTER FORTY 269 anything. Earthly joys and hopes and sorrows Break like ripples on the strand Of the deep and solemn river Where her willing feet now stand. Often when she woke Jo found Beth reading in her well-worn little book. and prouder of being chosen then than of any honor her life ever brought her. for her one regret had been that she had done so little. as she turned the leaves of her old favorite. charity for all. Leave me. with the tongs beside her. Henceforth. and 'tried not to be a trouble'. those virtues Which have beautified your life. born of my sorrow. Hope and faith. and a heart softened by the tenderest sorrow. the saintliest hymns. to beguile the sleepless night. and fit herself for the life to come. they brought a look of inexpressible comfort to Beth's face. A new trust in the unseen. The name caught her eye and the blurred look of the lines made her sure that tears had fallen on it. forgive me mine! Thus our parting daily loseth Something of its bitter pain. Precious and helpful hours to Jo. was trying to wean herself from the dear old life. or saw her lean her face upon her hands. quiet prayers. in her simple. Give me. O my sister. with a glance at her sister. unselfish way. the self-forgetfulness that makes the humblest on earth remembered soonest in heaven. ready to wake up the minute the log fell apart. who lay on the rug. for now her heart received the teaching that it needed.Meek heart. All day she haunted the room. household spirit Waiting for me on the shore. Give me that unselfish nature. faulty and feeble as the lines were. I shall see forever more A beloved. and Jo would lie watching her with thoughts too deep for tears. Seeing this did more for Jo than the wisest sermons. safe across the river. passing from me. and the music she loved so well. A serene and saintly presence Sanctifies our troubled home. the true success which is possible to all. scribbled over in Jo's hand. And while learning this hard lesson. for I need it sorely. by sacred words of comfort. Pilgrims's Progress. She shows me all her things. she recognized the beauty of her sister's life--uneventful. the loyalty to duty that makes the hardest easy. that her death would not bring the despair she feared. My great loss becomes my gain. the most fervent prayers that any voice could utter. "Poor Jo! She's fast asleep. and this seemed to assure her that her life had not been useless. Lessons in patience were so sweetly taught her that she could not fail to learn them. and the sincere faith that fears nothing. to find something to make her forget the mortal weariness that was almost as hard to bear as pain. and I don't think she'll mind if I look at this". Dear. while slow tears dropped through the transparent fingers. As she sat with the paper folded between . the lovely spirit that can forgive and truly forget unkindness. One night when Beth looked among the books upon her table. uncomplaining spirit In its prison-house of pain. yet full of the genuine virtues which 'smell sweet. For the touch of grief will render My wild nature more serene. Blurred and blotted. as a gift. thought Beth. jealous of any other nurse. but trusts undoubtingly.

They will turn to you. and the birds came back in time to say goodbye to Beth. and the room was very still. Beth. one little sigh. Jo started up. but so happy. I found this and read it.CHAPTER FORTY 270 her hands. that you'll be more to me than ever. the earth greener. I used to think I couldn't let you go. "Oh. with no farewell but one loving look. Jo's place was empty. dear. Seldom except in books do the dying utter memorable words. but I have tried to do right. as Father and Mother guided her tenderly through the Valley of the Shadow. But a bird sang blithely on a budding bough. "Not asleep. Have I been all that to you. When morning came." "More than any one in the world. the sky grew clearer. and the spring sunshine streamed in like a benediction over the placid face upon the pillow. I knew you wouldn't care. the charred log fell asunder. With tears and prayers and tender hands. humble earnestness. And now. so much!" and Jo's head went down upon the pillow beside her sister's. Beth. for I'm sure I shall be your Beth still." "I'll try. revived the blaze. and feels as if I'd helped them. Mother and sisters made her ready for the long sleep that pain would never mar again. she quietly drew her last. see visions. and those who have sped many parting souls know that to most the end comes as naturally and simply as sleep." and then and there Jo renounced her old ambition. and feeling the blessed solace of a belief in the immortality of love. a face so full of painless peace that those who loved it best smiled through their tears. remember that I don't forget you. "Then I don't feel as if I'd wasted my life. for love is the only thing that we can carry with us when we go. I'm not so good as you make me. so much. and be everything to Father and Mother when I'm gone. not a phantom full of dread. seeing with grateful eyes the beautiful serenity that soon replaced the pathetic patience that had wrung their hearts so long. clung to the hands that had led her all her life. and crept to the bedside. with wistful. and if it's hard to work alone. close by. and in the dark hour before dawn. it's such a comfort to know that someone loves me so much. but I'm learning to feel that I don't lose you. and it makes the end so easy. and that you'll be happier in doing that than writing splendid books or seeing all the world. . and I don't fear it any longer. Beth. like a tired but trustful child. to love and help you more than ever. on the bosom where she had drawn her first breath. for the first time in many months the fire was out. Jo?" she asked. Jo. the flowers were up fairly early. the 'tide went out easily'. You must take my place." "I know it cannot. though it seems to. don't fail them. the snowdrops blossomed freshly at the window. and feeling with reverent joy that to their darling death was a benignant angel. So the spring days came and went. who. or depart with beatified countenances. and gave her up to God. hoping Beth slept. and thanked God that Beth was well at last. acknowledging the poverty of other desires. pledged herself to a new and better one. when it's too late to begin even to do better. and death can't part us. See. As Beth had hoped.

he went to Vienna. and his ideas needed clarifying. but then when a man has a great sorrow. but elephants could not have dragged him back after the scolding he had received. and freaks. and he had to give her up with a "Bless that girl. or throwing cold water over his passion a la Gummidge--and an irresistable laugh spoiled the pensive picture he was endeavoring to paint. when he had a joy or a grief. but he took her for his heroine and grew quite fond of her. . and escorted her. would only show her in the most unsentimental aspects--beating mats with her head tied up in a bandanna. especially the stout Frenchman. But whether the sorrow was too vast to be embodied in music. and fell to work with the firm determination to distinguish himself. and though he should never cease to be a faithful mourner. barricading herself with the sofa pillow. if it succeeds. Therefore the next time the old gentleman found him getting restless and moody and ordered him off. faults. he would find himself humming a dancing tune that vividly recalled the Christmas ball at Nice.CHAPTER FORTY 271 CHAPTER FORTY -ONE LEARNING TO FORGET Amy's lecture did Laurie good. though. or music too ethereal to uplift a mortal woe. Pride forbid. but it always had golden hair. He had only been waiting till the aforesaid blighted affections were decently interred. It was evident that his mind was not in working order yet. he did not own it till long afterward. When he looked about him for another and a less intractable damsel to immortalize in melody. but here again unforeseen difficulties beset him. Jo wouldn't love him. peacocks. the lords of creation don't take the advice till they have persuaded themselves that it is just what they intended to do. was enveloped in a diaphanous cloud. and still toil on'. This phantom wore many faces. so Laurie resolved to embalm his love sorrow in music. Men seldom do. Then he tried an opera. He had always meant to do something. as well he might. what a torment she is!" and a clutch at his hair. and Amy's advice was quite unnecessary. as became a distracted composer. they give the weaker vessel half the credit of it. put it into a song. and as if possessed by the perverse spirit of the girl." "Go and do something splendid that will make her love you. for when women are the advisers. he should be indulged in all sorts of vagaries till he has lived it down. Jo wouldn't be put into the opera at any price. and. and blue ribbons. Then they act upon it. would only recall Jo's oddities. and was so dutifully devoted for several weeks that the old gentleman declared the climate of Nice had improved him wonderfully. of course. where he had musical friends. and floated airily before his mind's eye in a pleasing chaos of roses. If it fails. But memory turned traitor. memory produced one with the most obliging readiness. there was no occasion to wear his weeds ostentatiously. and he had better try it again. they generously give her the whole. He felt that his blighted affections were quite dead now." Laurie turned the matter over in his mind so often that he soon brought himself to confess that he had been selfish and lazy. and to compose a Requiem which should harrow up Jo's soul and melt the heart of every hearer. and called upon his memory to supply him with tender recollections and romantic visions of his love. he soon discovered that the Requiem was beyond him just at present. he felt that he was ready to 'hide his stricken heart. but he might make her respect and admire him by doing something which should prove that a girl's 'No' had not spoiled his life. for he gifted her with every gift and grace under the sun. He did not give the complacent wraith any name. There was nothing the young gentleman would have liked better. He wanted Jo for his heroine. for often in the middle of a plaintive strain. Laurie went back to his grandfather. through trials which would have annihilated any mortal woman. and whenever the longing grew very strong. for nothing seemed impossible in the beginning. white ponies. unscathed. That being done. and put an effectual stop to tragic composition for the time being. he fortified his resolution by repeating the words that had made the deepest impression--"I despise you. As Goethe.

and was not prepared for it. but he thought a great deal and was conscious of a change of some sort going on in spite of himself. surprised at his own fickleness. and time and nature work their will in spite of us. and Laurie began to wish he had to work for his daily bread.. very tender. it simmered to some purpose. he said soberly to himself. he was a great man. one by one. If it is a feminine delusion. He carefully stirred up the embers of his lost love. got angry with himself. Now what shall I do?" That seemed a hard question to answer. and see what comes of it. Grundy will observe. for without it half the beauty and the romance of life is lost. and glanced up at the picture of Mozart that was before him. he got on swimmingly for a time.. but he withstood them pretty well. and Satan is proverbially fond of providing employment for full and idle hands. Women work a good many miracles. and let the young men sow their wild oats if they must. and his desire to be able to look honestly into the eyes of the women who loved him. Laurie's heart wouldn't ache. The poor fellow had temptations enough from without and from within. He did not do much. There was only a comfortable glow that warmed and did him good without putting him into a fever. with a secret suspicion all the while that it wasn't genius. That music has taken the vanity out of me as Rome took it out of her. pen in hand. and was happy. sat staring at the busts of Mendelssohn. and couldn't understand it. "Well. and he was reluctantly obliged to confess that the boyish passion was slowly subsiding into a more tranquil sentiment. Laurie thought that the task of forgetting his love for Jo would absorb all his powers for years. and keep many tares from spoiling the harvest. for he had plenty of money and nothing to do. boys will be boys. Very likely some Mrs. but to his great surprise he discovered it grew easier every day. Now if ever. who stared benignly back again. and say "All's well. As the word 'brotherly' passed through his mind in one of his reveries." I dare say you don't. splendidly performed at the Royal Theatre." he said. for much as he valued liberty. and he forgot to compose. Grundy. but it's true nevertheless. He was disgusted with himself. and Bach. began to long for some real and earnest work to go at. perhaps. but something far more common. occurred an eligible opportunity for 'going to the devil'. Then suddenly he tore up his music sheets. he found himself trying to remember. Whatever it was. and instead of trying to forget. Mrs. a little sad and resentful still. who still love their mothers better than themselves and are not ashamed to own it.. but gradually the work lost its charm. and friends may help to make the crop a small one. and I won't be a humbug any longer. He refused to believe it at first. and sorrowful forebodings would embitter all our hopes of the brave. he valued good faith and confidence more. and when he couldn't have one sister he took the other. while he sat musing. the longer the better. Returning from one of Mozart's grand operas." kept him safe and steady. so his promise to his grandfather. for he grew more and more discontented with his desultory life. The wound persisted in healing with a rapidity that astonished him. sisters. leaving a brotherly affection which would last unbroken to the end. and you can't make it so. by believing. played a few of the best parts. "She is right! Talent isn't genius. and I have a persuasion that they may perform even that of raising the standard of manhood by refusing to echo such sayings.CHAPTER FORTY 272 Thanks to this inspiration. but they refused to burst into a blaze. I'll let it simmer. "It's genius simmering. but these hearts of ours are curious and contrary things. and finally came to the wise conclusion that everyone who loved music was not a composer.. leave us to enjoy it while we may. "I don't believe it. soul and body. He had not foreseen this turn of affairs. and showing that they believe. and women must not expect miracles. and as the last fluttered out of his hand." . as he once forcibly expressed it. which seemed to be in a somewhat unsettled state that winter. or roamed about the gay city to get some new ideas and refresh his mind. and full of a queer mixture of disappointment and relief that he could recover from such a tremendous blow so soon. Beethoven. but that was sure to pass away in time. he looked over his own. young men must sow their wild oats. tenderhearted little lads. he smiled. But mothers. Let the boys be boys. in the possibility of loyalty to the virtues which make men manliest in good women's eyes.

"Fred is a good fellow. since Jo persisted in being stonyhearted. In a postscript she desired him not to tell Amy that Beth was worse. thank you. but he did it energetically. but took them so beautifully and was kinder than ever. I never can. Then she begged him to be happy with somebody else. hoping somebody would arrive before long. and though not overwhelmed with affliction. and put them neatly into a small drawer of the desk. full of lively gossip. kept returning to her as pertinaciously as her own did when she said in look. and settled his mind effectually on one point. homesick or anxious. The letter went very soon. and went out to hear High Mass at Saint Stefan's. and not let her feel lonely. I won't! I haven't forgotten. He wanted desperately to go to Nice. feeling as if there had been a funeral. She was wrapped up in Beth. She was so glad he didn't hate her for the dreadful things she said. but always keep a little corner of his heart for his loving sister Jo. he seized pen and paper and wrote to Jo. at once. and needed petting. With a half-repentant. for Jo decidedly couldn't and wouldn't. many people would be proud and glad to have such a dear boy care for them. for just then she was having little experiences of her own. carefully tied up with one of her blue ribbons and sweetly suggestive of the little dead roses put away inside. "I shall marry for money. saying to himself. which made her rather wish to avoid the quizzical eyes of 'our boy'." and Laurie opened his desk. worldly creature. Laurie gathered up all Jo's letters. sisterly . for as he rummaged out his best paper. I'll try again.. Couldn't she. smoothed. but not at all the man I fancied you would ever like. but a duty to answer them. and the next instant kissed the little old ring." but now she said. She didn't care to be a queen of society now half so much as she did to be a lovable woman. If all brothers were treated as well as Laurie was at this period. and went back to Paris. and letters flew to and fro with unfailing regularity all through the early spring. It couldn't be very hard. why then. they would be a much happier race of beings than they are. passports." kindly but steadily." and Laurie's face when he uttered them. as if writing to Amy had been the proper conclusion of the sentence left unfinished some weeks before. But Jo never would act like other girls. for Amy was homesick. I'm afraid. but he thought them. and if that fails. "No. It was not only a pleasure. and business documents of various kinds were several of Jo's letters. wouldn't she--and let him come home and be happy? While waiting for an answer he did nothing. Tumbling about in one part of the desk among bills. then slowly drew it off. She asked his opinion on all subjects. he came across something which changed his purpose. but would not till he was asked. She ought to have made an effort and tried to love him. made allumettes of his opera. she wished she could take it back. Amy never lectured now. and put the question to which she had once decided to answer. telling her that he could not settle to anything while there was the least hope of her changing her mind. this seemed a more proper way to spend the rest of the day than in writing letters to charming young ladies. and she found that something more than money and position was needed to satisfy the new longing that filled her heart so full of tender hopes and fears. however. "Yes. it will be a sad going home for her. for he was in a fever of impatience. for the poor fellow was forlorn. The words. and confessed it in the most delightfully confiding manner. Fred Vaughn had returned. but Laurie must write to her often. locked the drawer. it sounded so unwomanly.CHAPTER FORTY Laurie did not utter the words." 273 Leaving his sentence unfinished. Poor little girl. It came at last. for when the time came. if not in words. and in another compartment were three notes from Amy. she was coming home in the spring and there was no need of saddening the remainder of her stay. That would be time enough.. for the home letters were very irregular and not half so satisfactory as his when they did come. folded. and never wished to hear the word love again. Laurie sold his busts. please God. made charming little presents for him." It troubled her to remember that now. His letters were such a comfort. and sent him two letters a week. But he did not write the letter that day. "So I will. her courage failed her. half-amused expression. and Amy would not ask him. thank you. she was interested in everything he did. and was promptly answered. so there was nothing to do but be very kind and treat him like a brother. stood a minute turning the ring thoughtfully on his finger. laid it with the letters. The correspondence flourished famously. She didn't want Laurie to think her a heartless. "No.

with a homesick heart and heavy eyes. Amy left her to think what she liked. and captivating sketches of the lovely scenes about her. cried over when short. But she certainly did grow a little pale and pensive that spring. and she wore it as her only ornament.. ivy climbing everywhere. he hurried along the shore to La Tour. on the terrace at Valrosa. thinking of Beth and wondering why Laurie did not come. and finding denials useless and explanations impossible. with his hat over his eyes. for the heat had driven them from Nice in May. while she sat for hours. read and reread diligently. If he had any doubts about the reception she would give him. and let absence soften her sorrow. with a heart full of joy and sorrow. she ran to him. which was safe but not altogether satisfactory. for since it was too late to say goodbye to Beth. Laurie. nor see him pause in the archway that led from the subterranean path into the garden. both faces being left a blur according to the last fashion in art. He knew Vevay well. the blonde mademoiselle might be in the chateau garden. "Oh. where the Carrols were living en pension. He stood a minute looking at her with new eyes. but he was in Germany. a stalwart knight carved on a tomb. they were set at rest the minute she looked up and saw him. as he said to himself. but he understood it. But her heart was very heavy. but no." With that he heaved a great sigh.. I dare say. even the little ebony cross at her throat seemed pathetic to Laurie. and here Amy often came to read or work. hope and suspense. and went out sketching alone a good deal. But monsieur could not wait even a 'flash of time'. with her hands folded. The moment he read it. and then. promenading down a ballroom on the arm of a tall gentleman. and in the middle of the speech departed to find mademoiselle himself. leaning her head on her hand. She never had much to show when she came home. or absently sketched any fancy that occurred to her. At one corner of the wide. she had better stay. but was studying nature. for he had given it to her.CHAPTER FORTY 274 confidences. bade adieu to his fellow pedestrians. the black ribbon that tied up her hair. for dropping everything. taking care that Laurie should know that Fred had gone to Egypt. But the letter telling that Beth was failing never reached Amy. we will not hint that Amy did any of these fond and foolish things. or a curly haired girl in gorgeous array. He did come very soon. and I can sympathize. waiting for Laurie to come and comfort her. with chestnuts rustling overhead. and looked relieved. low wall was a seat. A pleasant old garden on the borders of the lovely lake. I knew you'd come to me!" . She did not hear him cross the courtyard beyond. and treasured carefully. "I was sure she would think better of it. and was off to keep his promise. and every day looked wistfully across the lake. and quietly submitted to the family decree that she should not shorten her visit. put his feet up on the sofa and enjoyed Amy's letter luxuriously. Everything about her mutely suggested love and sorrow. a flash of time should present her. and it took some days to reach him. The garcon was in despair that the whole family had gone to take a promenade on the lake. lost much of her relish for society.. with a venerable air. As few brothers are complimented by having their letters carried about in their sister's pockets. kissed when long. for the same mail brought letters to them both. she longed to be at home. and the black shadow of the tower falling far across the sunny water. If monsieur would give himself the pain of sitting down. Laurie. That was all. he packed his knapsack. a young man asleep in the grass. Poor old fellow! I've been through it all. Her aunt thought that she regretted her answer to Fred. She was sitting here that day. and they had travelled slowly to Switzerland. and when the next found her at Vevay. She bore it very well. trouble had come at home. the tender side of Amy's character.. or console herself with the beauty all about her. the womanly pain and patience in her face. seeing what no one had ever seen before. While these changes were going on abroad. exclaiming in a tone of unmistakable love and longing. and as soon as the boat touched the little quay. the blotted letters in her lap. by way of Genoa and the Italian lakes. as if he had discharged his duty to the past.

The quaint old garden had sheltered many pairs of lovers. "Beth is well and happy.." "I do. and gave it a sympathetic squeeze that was better than words. "You needn't say anything." Amy spoke and looked so like a homesick child whose heart was full that Laurie forgot his bashfulness all at once. for it would do her more good than so much . for as they stood together quite silent for a moment. as it rippled by below. I wish I could say something to comfort you for the loss of dear little Beth. Amy felt that no one could comfort and sustain her so well as Laurie. and tell her to have a good cry. and I want to enjoy you while you stay. much as I long to see them all. this comforts me. and I mustn't wish her back. "Poor little soul.. He felt more at ease upon his legs. half-commanding way that Amy liked. and Amy found it pleasant to have a strong arm to lean upon. and the wide lake to carry away the echo of their words. for both felt the truth. As he sat down beside her. finding in the sight of sundry well-worn letters and suggestive sketches good omens for the future. and gave her just what she wanted--the petting she was used to and the cheerful conversation she needed. Carrol saw the girl's altered face. Amy felt as if she left her burden of loneliness and sorrow behind her in the chateau garden. a familiar face to smile at her. "Now I understand it all--the child has been pining for young Laurence. You needn't go right back. and while she dried her tears. so much. and began to pace up and down the sunny walk under the new-leaved chestnuts. but cordially urged Laurie to stay and begged Amy to enjoy his society. the wind is too chilly for you to sit still. and turned rosy red at the recollection of her impulsive greeting. I never thought of such a thing!" With praiseworthy discretion. For an hour this new pair walked and talked. enjoying the sweet influences which gave such a charm to time and place. so don't cry any more. and when an unromantic dinner bell warned them away. for he too turned bashful all of a sudden." she said. drew her arm through his. and it would be so comfortable to have you for a little while.CHAPTER FORTY 275 I think everything was said and settled then. for it makes me cry. and exclaimed to herself. she was illuminated with a new idea. and gladly left the rest to silence. and seemed expressly made for them. Aunt and Flo are very kind. but she was not disappointed. He did not tell her so. Laurie gathered up the scattered papers. trying in vain to speak quite naturally. as he tied on her hat. In a minute Amy went back to her place. but I dread the going home. Amy felt shy again. but I can only feel. but you seem like one of the family. and a kind voice to talk delightfully for her alone. or rested on the wall. need you?" "Not if you want me. It was such a surprise to look up and find you. were satisfied. with the dark head bent down protectingly over the light one. Bless my heart. you look as if you'd grieved yourself half sick! I'm going to take care of you." she said softly. "I couldn't help it. in the half-caressing. just as I was beginning to fear you wouldn't come. and Laurie decided that Amy was the only woman in the world who could fill Jo's place and make him happy. We won't talk about it now. and was so very glad to see you." he said. with nothing but the tower to overlook them. the good lady said nothing. He longed to lay Amy's head down on his shoulder. and did not quite know what to say. and. dear. "I came the minute I heard. and betrayed no sign of enlightenment. so sunny and secluded was it." He could not get any further. so took her hand instead. but come and walk about with me. I felt so lonely and sad. but he did not dare. The moment Mrs.

It all came about so naturally that no one could complain. merely for the sake of saying something. and she did not contradict him. hardly any need of telling Amy that he loved her. we are apt to be wary and slow in making a second trial." In spite of the new sorrow. Amy took the offered third of a seat. and accepted an oar. boating. and let me row. as they glided past Chillon. There was no need of having a scene. and the boat went smoothly through the water. Laurie had lounged and Amy had scolded. and Laurie but one. and when she looked up. as they looked up at Clarens. so happy that Laurie could not bear to disturb it by a word. Bernard and the Dent du Midi on the other. They seemed to get clearer views of life and duty up there among the everlasting hills." "I'm not tired. It took him a little while to recover from his surprise at the cure of his first. but they knew it was a love story. Amy had been dabbling her hand in the water during the little pause that fell between them. and as he had firmly believed. and of Rousseau. The warm spring sunshine brought out all sorts of aspiring ideas. and he knew that everybody would be pleased.. enjoying every hour. for which he could be grateful when the pain was over. his last and only love. and he looked back upon it as if through a long vista of years with a feeling of compassion blended with regret.CHAPTER FORTY solitude. At Vevay. he resolved. and happy thoughts. and in the most graceful and decorous manner. The invigorating air did them both good. Mont St. or studying in the most energetic manner.. she was left to entertain her friend. The lake seemed to wash away the troubles of the past. though I have to sit nearly in the middle. for the matter was settled on the lake at noonday in a few blunt words. and the conviction that it would have been impossible to love any other woman but Amy so soon and so well. "Little children. He consoled himself for the seeming disloyalty by the thought that Jo's sister was almost the same as Jo's self. They had been talking of Bonnivard. shook her hair over her face. and leaving to chance the utterance of the word that would put an end to the first and sweetest part of his new romance. being glad of a like excuse for her own recovered health and spirits. Rest a little. and each privately wondered if it was half as interesting as their own. and as her aunt was a good deal occupied with Flo. if you like. and the bluer lake below. He had rather imagined that the denoument would take place in the chateau garden by moonlight. and moody mists. it was a very happy time. His first wooing had been of the tempestuous order. so Laurie let the days pass. tender hopes. but it turned out exactly the reverse. riding. His second wooing. Gingolf to sunny Montreux. as if he rather liked the arrangement. There's room enough. where he wrote his Heloise. should be as calm and simple as possible. while Amy admired everything he did and followed his example as far and as fast as she could. Laurie was never idle. The fresh winds blew away desponding doubts. but put it away as one of the bitter-sweet experiences of his life. Laurie was leaning on his oars with an expression in his eyes that made her say hastily. They had been floating about all the morning. It will do me good. Amy was a model of docility. dotted with the picturesque boats that look like white-winged gulls. but always walking. and Lausanne upon the hill beyond. and did it with more than her usual success. the oars kept time. even Jo. for since you came I have been altogether lazy and luxurious. He was not ashamed of it. a cloudless blue sky overhead. . she knew it without words and had given him his answer long ago. She rowed as well as she did many other things. Neither had read it. He said the change was owing to the climate. delusive fancies. from gloomy St. but you may take an oar. pretty Vevay in the valley. and though she used both hands. Feeling that she had not mended matters much. and much exercise worked wholesome changes in minds as well as bodies. "You must be tired. and the grand old mountains to look benignly down upon them saying." returned Laurie. love one another. else the boat won't trim. with the Alps of Savoy on one side. 276 At Nice. But when our first little passion has been crushed.

Laurie. "Yes. who objected to silence just then. 277 Then they both stopped rowing. and unconsciously added a pretty little tableau of human love and happiness to the dissolving views reflected in the lake. don't we?" said Amy.CHAPTER FORTY "How well we pull together. Amy?" very tenderly." very low. "So well that I wish we might always pull in the same boat. Will you. .

able and glad to serve each other with mutual sympathy as well as mutual love. Then. only disappointment. her burdens made heavier. and did not fear to ask for it. as quick to hear her sobbing as she had been to hear her sister's faintest whisper. thinking Beth called her. and a more submissive spirit. "Oh." she said to herself. For. when her first efforts failed and she fell into the moody. secretly rebelling against it all the while. these were dark days to her. her mother came to comfort her. she said very humbly. for something like despair came over her when she thought of spending all her life in that quiet house. hopeless way to do her duty. trouble and hard work. talk to me as you did to Beth. Jo's burden seemed easier to bear. nothing can comfort me like this. were trying now to teach another to accept life without . But someone did come and help her. and all the sad bewilderment which we call despair. and where in all the world could she 'find some useful. seen from the safe shelter of her mother's arms. sitting in Beth's little chair close beside him. he gave her the help she needed. and nothing remained but loneliness and grief. not with words only. and life get harder and harder as she toiled along. a few small pleasures. duty grew sweeter. for it seemed unjust that her few joys should be lessened. Jo told her troubles. Often she started up at night. I need it more than she did. turning affliction to a blessing. and leaning over the good gray head lifted to welcome her with a tranquil smile. which chastened grief and strengthned love. Happy. Some people seemed to get all sunshine. and both arms round her. how could she 'make the house cheerful' when all its light and warmth and beauty seemed to have deserted it when Beth left the old home for the new. I wasn't meant for a life like this. and from which she came with fresh courage. It was not fair. When aching heart was a little comforted. when heart talked to heart in the silence of the night. but as man and woman. How could she 'comfort Father and Mother' when her own heart ached with a ceaseless longing for her sister. She gave him entire confidence. and some all shadow. and both found consolation in the act. come back! Come back!" she did not stretch out her yearning arms in vain. for one day she went to the study. For the time had come when they could talk together not only as father and daughter. because hopeful resignation went hand-in-hand with natural sorrow. but the patient tenderness that soothes by a touch. tears that were mute reminders of a greater grief than Jo's. for I'm all wrong. miserable state of mind which often comes when strong wills have to yield to the inevitable. Beth. and broken whispers. and heart and soul were purified by a sweet example." he answered. Sacred moments. but never got any reward. for she tried more than Amy to be good. "Father. and the duty that never seemed to grow any easier. the resentful sorrow for her loss. For the parents who had taught one child to meet death without fear." "My dear.CHAPTER FORTY 278 CHAPTER FORTY -TWO ALL ALONE It was easy to promise self-abnegation when self was wrapped up in another. recovered cheerfulness. the want of faith that made life look so dark. and when the sight of the little empty bed made her cry with the bitter cry of unsubmissive sorrow. and I know I shall break away and do something desperate if somebody doesn't come and help me. "I can't do it. troubled mind likewise found help. thoughtful times there in the old study which Jo called 'the church of one member'. more eloquent than prayers. with a falter in his voice. as if he too. the beloved presence gone. the fruitless efforts that discouraged her. But when the helpful voice was silent. Poor Jo. devoted to humdrum cares. though Jo did not recognize her good angels at once because they wore familiar shapes and used the simple spells best fitted to poor humanity. then Jo found her promise very hard to keep. happy work to do'. Feeling this. that would take the place of the loving service which had been its own reward? She tried in a blind. and life looked more endurable. the daily lesson over. needed help.

and how much they were all doing for each other. and to use its beautiful opportunities with gratitude and power. Grief is the best opener of some hearts." "Frost opens chestnut burrs. Meg laughed. if one can only get at it. though she didn't know it till Hannah said with an approving squeeze of the hand. trying to make home as happy to them as they had to her? And if difficulties were necessary to increase the splendor of the effort. and cheerfully live for others? Providence had taken her at her word. Brooms and dishcloths never could be as distasteful as they once had been. but we see it. down she dropped. Still another was given her. or energetic. and a sweet kernal. what could be harder for a restless. We don't say much. cross. but better because self had no part in it. ambitious girl than to give up her own hopes. so when the time came. if she had been the heroine of a moral storybook.. whom Jo loved tenderly. but we can't do it all at once. not a boy's impatient shake. a strong pull. but to do it cheerfully. imitating Beth's orderly ways. plans.. "You thoughtful creeter. and she took it. she was learning to do her duty. and in her first attempt she found the helps I have suggested. as she constructed a kite for Demi in the topsy-turvy nursery. you see. Now. ma'am.CHAPTER FORTY despondency or distrust. for she was glad to see a glimmer of Jo's old spirit. womanly impulses. If she suspected this. she would have shut up tight." As they sat sewing together. Here was the task. but as a comfort. for what could be more beautiful than to devote her life to Father and Mother. if I tried it?. after all. "Marriage is an excellent thing. as he climbed the hill called ." said Jo. and something of her housewifely spirit seemed to linger around the little mop and the old brush. and Jo's was nearly ready for the bag. fortunately she wasn't thinking about herself. and it takes a long pull. as the mood suggested. Jo found herself humming the songs Beth used to hum. as Christian took the refreshment afforded by the little arbor where he rested. and find the kernal sound and sweet. how much she knew about good. she ought at this period of her life to have become quite saintly. how happy she was in husband and children. pasting away at the kite which no wind that blows would ever carry up. Jo. and a pull all together before some of us even get our feet set in the right way. could she do it? She decided that she would try. thoughts. but she felt it her duty to enforce her opinion by every argument in her power. and feelings. and it takes a good shake to bring them down. and to feel unhappy if she did not. and which she slowly learned to see and value. and then the rough burr will fall off. But. and the sisterly chats were not wasted. and the Lord will bless you for't. and I don't care to be bagged by them. that was another thing! She had often said she wanted to do something splendid. Jo wasn't a heroine. and giving the little touches here and there that kept everything fresh and cozy. wholesome duties and delights that would not be denied their part in serving her. which was the first step toward making home happy. ah. and now she had her wish. and desires." returned Jo. she was only a struggling human girl like hundreds of others. It's highly virtuous to say we'll be good. As she used them. not what she had expected. A little more sunshine to ripen the nut. then. with tracts in her pocket. Jo discovered how much improved her sister Meg was. you're determined we shan't miss that dear lamb ef you can help it. prickly outside. and been more prickly than ever. not as a reward. how well she could talk. especially as two of Meg's most effective arguments were the babies. I wonder if I should blossom out half as well as you have. Love will make you show your heart one day. always 'perwisin' I could. 279 Other helps had Jo--humble. listless. but silky-soft within. and gone about doing good in a mortified bonnet. "It's just what you need to bring out the tender womanly half of your nature. but a man's hand reached up to pick it gently from the burr. for Daisy had tied herself on as a bob. You are like a chestnut burr. and she just acted out her nature. Now. Boys go nutting. renounced the world. Jo had got so far. never thrown away. see ef He don't. being sad. for Beth had presided over both. no matter how hard.

and sent home comfortable tokens to their mother. nobody cares for my things. like dutiful children whom good fortune overtakes. and if I had. quite bewildered. 280 "Why don't you write? That always used to make you happy." But Jo got out her desk and began to overhaul her half-finished manuscripts. I was half afraid to put the idea into your head. and sent them away to make friends for themselves and her. "I don't understand it. "You like it. that's the secret. much against her will. for though Jo looked grave at first. scratching away. I felt sure then that something better than what you call the 'mercenary spirit' had come over her. it was not only paid for. now comes the sweet. Jo. she took it very quietly. So taught by love and sorrow. but her fears were soon set at rest.CHAPTER FORTY Difficulty. and strangers as well as friends admired it. and an absorbed expression. March feared that Jo would find it difficult to rejoice over it. lest you should write and congratulate them before the thing was settled. "Yes. It was a sort of written duet. ever since Amy wrote that she had refused Fred. as they laid down the closely written sheets and looked at one another. for they were kindly welcomed. Letters from several persons. finding it a very charitable world to such humble wanderers. and never mind the rest of the world. for no one had any objection to make. which caused Mrs." "How sharp you are." "If there is anything good or true in what I write. You have had the bitter. newspapers copied it. and was full of hopes and plans for 'the children' before she read the letter twice." "Don't believe I can. Marmee. What can there be in a simple little story like that to make people praise it so?" she said." said Jo. to one of the popular magazines. and please us very much. Mrs. I owe it all to you and Mother and Beth. followed the appearance of the little story. An hour afterward her mother peeped in and there she was. "I've no heart to write. but others requested. When Amy and Laurie wrote of their engagement. Write something for us. whose praise was honor. and to her utter surprise. very pleasant to read and satisfactory to think of." "Mothers have need of sharp eyes and discreet tongues when they have girls to manage. more touched by her father's words than by any amount of praise from the world. well pleased with the success of her suggestion. I hoped it would be so. and Jo was more astonished than when her novel was commended and condemned all at once. and a hint here and there in her letters made me suspect that love and Laurie would win the day. it isn't mine. Try it. For a small thing it was a great success. Humor and pathos make it alive. but something got into that story that went straight to the hearts of those who read it. Jo never knew how it happened. dear. and you have found your style at last. March to smile and slip away. and grow as happy as we are in your success." "We do. my daughter. and how silent! You never said a word to me. wherein each glorified the other in loverlike fashion. with her black pinafore on. her father sent it. and put your heart into it. I'm sure it would do you good." said her mother once. when the desponding fit over-shadowed Jo. Do your best." . "There is truth in it. You wrote with no thoughts of fame and money. Mother?" said Jo. for when her family had laughed and cried over it. Jo wrote her little stories.

A restless spirit possessed her. dear. I don't understand it. but because I care more to be loved than when he went away. but a sorrowfully patient wonder why one sister should have all she asked. Mother. leaned her chin on the edge. I'd no idea hearts could take in so many. for it shows that you are getting on. Forgive me. not because I love him any more. for I love my gallant captain with all my heart and soul and might." "No. doesn't say much about it. and I used to be quite contented with my family. It's very curious. He says he feels as if he 'could make a prosperous voyage now with me aboard as mate." "I do. and never will desert him. for he lets me read his heart. March smiled her wise smile. when it was freshest. and Amy's happiness woke the hungry longing for someone to 'love with heart and soul. very happy they must be!" and Jo laid the rustling sheets together with a careful hand. you might perhaps. I'm sober and sensible enough for anyone's confidante now. till a bundle of old exercise books caught her eye.CHAPTER FORTY "I'm not the scatterbrain I was. only I fancied it might pain you to learn that your Teddy loved someone else. Mother. But you are right in one thing. not bitter as it once was. I pray he may. my dear. so try to be satisfied with Father and Mother. and he finds himself alone in the workaday world again. How very. and try to be all he believes me. There are plenty to love you. for it was rainy. and it makes me so happy and so humble that I don't seem to be the same girl I was. the other nothing. while God lets us be together. I can't help seeing that you are very lonely. and relived that pleasant winter at kind Mrs. So I fancied that your boy might fill the empty place if he tried now. She drew them out. reserved. and I should have made you mine. where Jo's unquiet wanderings ended stood four little wooden chests in a row. I am lonely. did you really think I could be so silly and selfish. I might have said 'Yes'. and worldly Amy! Truly. but the natural craving for affection was strong." and Mrs. but the more I try to satisfy myself with all sorts of natural affections. I never knew how much like heaven this world could be. the more I seem to want. after I'd refused his love. but lately I have thought that if he came back. Jo. and lots of love for ballast'. By-and-by Jo roamed away upstairs. He isn't sentimental. and I'm glad Amy has learned to love him. You may trust me. I never knew how good and generous and tender he was till now. and cling to while God let them be together'. and each filled with relics of the childhood and girlhood ended now for all. but I see and feel it in all he says and does. feel like giving another answer. Oh. turned them over. and she could not walk. and asked again. Jo. when two people love and live for one another!" "And that's our cool. but I don't mind whispering to Marmee that I'd like to try all kinds. and I find it full of noble impulses and hopes and purposes." 281 "So you are. . Jo glanced into them. as Jo turned back the leaves to read what Amy said of Laurie. Up in the garret. Mine is so elastic. love does work miracles. and am so proud to know it's mine. and the old feeling came again. Mother. she knew that and tried to put it away. as one might shut the covers of a lovely romance. "It is so beautiful to be loved as Laurie loves me." "I'm glad of that. sisters and brothers. It was not true. each marked with its owners name. if not best?" "I knew you were sincere then. and sometimes there is a hungry look in your eyes that goes to my heart. and when she came to her own." "Now. and stared absently at the chaotic collection. it never seems full now. friends and babies. till the best lover of all comes to give you your reward. which holds the reader fast till the end comes. it is better as it is. and perhaps if Teddy had tried again." "Mothers are the best lovers in the world.

" "Oh. or low spirits? Or was it the waking up of a sentiment which had bided its time as patiently as its inspirer? Who shall say? . and touched a tender spot in her heart. Was it all self-pity. and I'm all alone. so patient with me always. She had smiled at first. but I shall surely come. I didn't value him half enough when I had him. her lips began to tremble. so good. as if it were a promise yet to be fulfilled. Jo laid her head down on a comfortable rag bag. and when she came to a little message written in the Professor's hand. next sad. "Wait for me. loneliness. and cried. if he only would! So kind. then she looked thoughtful. the books slid out of her lap. and she sat looking at the friendly words. I may be a little late.CHAPTER FORTY 282 Kirke's. my friend. but now how I should love to see him. as if in opposition to the rain pattering on the roof." And holding the little paper fast. for everyone seems going away from me. my dear old Fritz. as they took a new meaning.

when. Well. like poor Johnson. dreaming dreams. and she was thinking how fast the years went by. crying joyfully. lying on the old sofa. Almost twenty-five. sour sisters should be kindly dealt with.. girls in their bloom should remember that they too may miss the blossom time. who has kept the warmest corner of her lonely old heart for 'the best nevvy in the world'. dear girls. Don't laugh at the spinsters. old maids are very comfortable when they get used to it. the tips they have given you from their small store. and if sensible. the stitches the patient old fingers have set for you. or thinking tender thoughts of the sister who never seemed far away. and thirty seems the end of all things to five-and-twenty. protect the feeble. but secretly resolve that they never will be.. and don't need it. till he stooped and kissed her." and there Jo sighed. and how little she seemed to have accomplished. I needn't be a sour saint nor a selfish sinner. and will like you all the better for them. and rather sad. and thinking. regardless of rank.. and one can get on quite happily if one has something in one's self to fall back upon. or color. for suddenly Laurie's ghost seemed to stand before her. for the only chivalry worth having is that which is the readiest to pay deference to the old. The bright-eyed girls are quick to see such traits. but. lifelike ghost.. you will be sure to find a tender welcome and maternal cherishing from some Aunt Priscilla. age. solitary. and many silent sacrifices of youth. but quietly accept the fact. A literary spinster. Her face looked tired. "An old maid. the scrapes they have helped you out of. make the faded faces beautiful in God's sight.. a substantial. and serve womankind. for often very tender. No one disturbed her. how old she was getting. . and. with a pen for a spouse. and was grateful for it. as if the prospect was not inviting. console themselves by remembering that they have twenty more useful. That rosy cheeks don't last forever. like Jenny in the ballad. kindness and respect will be as sweet as love and admiration now. by-and-by. I dare say. grave. almost the only power that can part mother and son. and can't share it. Then she knew him. Even the sad. There was a good deal to show. perhaps. and she used to lie there on Beth's little red pillow. at first. I'm old and can't enjoy it. But it's not as bad as it looks. that's what I'm to be. ambition. It seldom is. And looking at them with compassion. Jo must have fallen asleep (as I dare say my reader has during this little homily).CHAPTER FORTY 283 CHAPTER FORTY -THREE SURPRISES Jo was alone in the twilight. too often without thanks. the steps the willing old feet have taken. no matter how poor and plain and prim. looking at the fire. and twenty years hence a morsel of fame. Jo was mistaken in that. and if death. and nothing to show for it. but nursed and petted. Gentlemen. and that. that silver threads will come in the bonnie brown hair. which means boys. health. in which they may be learning to grow old gracefully. be courteous to the old maids. At thirty they say nothing about it. happy years. leaning over her with the very look he used to wear when he felt a good deal and didn't like to show it. love itself. and flew up. if for no other reason. She could not think it he and lay staring up at him in startled silence. should rob you of yours. At twenty-five. tragic romances are hidden away in the hearts that beat so quietly under the sober gowns. girls begin to talk about being old maids. and gratefully pay the dear old ladies the little attentions that women love to receive as long as they live. Just recollect the good aunts who have not only lectured and fussed. a family of stories for children. But. for tomorrow was her birthday.. and by-and-by she saw. independent. because they have missed the sweetest part of life. not contempt. It was her favorite way of spending the hour of dusk. planning stories.

"Actually married?" "Very much so. and you never will. So. It was gone directly however.. words can't express my gladness. We stopped there by the way." "Mercy on us. for Laurie uttered those two words with an unconscious pride and satisfaction which betrayed him.CHAPTER FORTY "Oh my Teddy! Oh my Teddy!" "Dear Jo. as she said in a cordial tone. and there was no getting my wife out of their clutches. congratulation. thank you. and letting cats out of bags like that? Get up." and he went down upon his knees. "Don't I look like a married man and the head of a family?" "Not a bit. then?" "Glad! My blessed boy. "What can you expect. and promise not to barricade." and Laurie sat down with an air of great content. creeping in like a burglar. but not exactly complimentary.. Both felt it." Jo laughed at that as she had not done for many a long day. absence. Well. raised by time. and tell me all about it. The pillow was gone. unless you let me come in my old place." and he looked so guilty that Jo was down on him like a flash. for Laurie said. You've grown bigger and bonnier. you look it." returned Laurie. please. "You've gone and got married!" "Yes." . with a penitent clasping of hands. but beaming with satisfaction. and change of heart. and triumph. still in an abject attitude. What dreadful thing will you do next?" and Jo fell into her seat with a gasp. and we don't need it now. Where's Amy?" 284 "Your mother has got her down at Meg's. and patted the sofa invitingly. you are glad to see me. "A characteristic. and for a minute looked at one another as if that invisible barrier cast a little shadow over them. "The old pillow is up garret." and Jo's eye plainly betrayed that she found her boy comelier than ever. nevertheless." "How good it sounds to hear you say 'Teddy'! No one ever calls me that but you. and a face full of mischief. "Oh. but there was a barricade. the dickens! Now I've done it." "Not a word. Teddy. you ridiculous boy. a natural one." "Your what?" cried Jo. with a vain attempt at dignity. "What does Amy call you?" "My lord." "That's like her. come and 'fess. mirth. but you are the same scapegrace as ever. but I never will again. when you take one's breath away.

she's such a captivating little woman I can't help being proud of her. and then settled down for a good talk. . in a fever of feminine interest and curiosity. "It's no use your going out in the cold to get Amy.. Well. where. then Uncle and Aunt were there to play propriety. for they are all coming up presently. but they suddenly changed their minds.. I'm pining to know.. I couldn't wait. but you all liked it." began Laurie. we talked her over. "Six weeks ago. Jo. and tell the truth. Isn't it jolly to hear her?" said Laurie to the fire." "When. There wasn't time to write and ask leave. "It's all the same. a month or more ago." Jo put her hand in his as he said that. so infectiously that they had another laugh. I wanted to be the one to tell you the grand surprise. as my wife says. "How did you ever get Aunt to agree?" "It was hard work. and watching with delight the happy light it seemed to kindle in the eyes that had been so tragically gloomy when she saw them last. and that charming arrangement would make everything easy all round. neither could I leave Amy. how?" asked Jo. and it was only 'taking time by the fetlock'. and Mrs. sir. and Laurie gently smoothed the little red pillow. a very quiet wedding of course. for she could not realize it a particle. in Paris.CHAPTER FORTY "Now really. you ought to treat me with more respect." and something in Laurie's voice made Jo say hastily. married and settled. she and I being one." "Of course you did." "Now she's beginning to marm it. "Fib number one. start right. Carrol had got English notions about chaperons and such nonsense." "Not always. but between us. But Grandpa wanted to come home." "Aren't we proud of those two words. Amy did it to please you. We were so absorbed in one another we were of no mortal use apart. Go on. So I just settled the difficulty by saying. perhaps. and then we can do as we like'. is so irresistibly funny that I can't keep sober!" answered Jo." "Well. Now. when the mere idea of you. and I couldn't let him go alone. 285 "How can I. if you can. you know. addressing the fire in her turn. and don't we like to say them?" interrupted Jo. We planned to come home with the Carrols. and decided to pass another winter in Paris. so we did it. for even in our happiness we didn't forget dear little Beth. You always have things to suit you. with a twinkle that made Jo exclaim. for we had heaps of good reasons on our side. who enjoyed it all immensely. and tell me how it all happened.. and spoiled your story by beginning at the wrong end. quite in the pleasant old fashion. and have 'first skim' as we used to say when we squabbled about the cream." "Of course you did. He went to please me. at the American consul's. "A trifle. which he remembered well. and wouldn't let Amy come with us. 'Let's be married. smiling all over her face." began Laurie. I did it to please Amy. had consented to it by-and-by. and the fire glowed and sparkled as if it quite agreed.

We are man and woman now. and sent us off to spend our honeymoon wherever we liked. and there's another. at one time. You both got into your right places. if I had waited. I had Father and Mother to help me. I want to say one thing. and tried to love you both alike. What a selfish beast I've been!" and Laurie pulled his own hair. and love them dearly. at first. and the dear babies to comfort me. to make the troubles here easier to bear. She tried to draw away her hand. The happy old times can't come back. But I couldn't. as you said. "No. Unless you smile. it seems only yesterday that I was buttoning Amy's pinafore. and you'll find it in me. Upon my word. and then we'll put it by forever. Teddy. and this last year has been such a hard one that I feel forty. Teddy. sometimes. I was a boy then.. you or Amy. and when you see Amy. and admire him more. Amy and you changed places in my heart. Jo. Presently Jo said cheerfully. Why. with all my heart. we never can be boy and girl again. You are older. and I have learned to see that it is better as it is. "Jo. with a remorseful look. and were as happy as people are but once in their lives. and when I touched the cushion. looking amused at her maternal air. But Jo only turned over the traitorous pillow. in a tone which she tried to make more cheerful. just now. at least. I was so tumbled up in my mind. As I told you in my letter when I wrote that Amy had been so kind to me. there had risen a beautiful. and would have come about naturally. feeling that out of the grave of a boyish passion. We can't be little playmates any longer. strong friendship to bless them both. and pulling your hair when you teased. and when I saw her in Switzerland. We thought we were coming directly home. but I shall love the man as much. "We wanted to surprise you. and said. and Jo was glad of it. in a quieter tone. I see the change in you. I never shall stop loving you. Amy had once called Valrosa a regular honeymoon home. Mercy me. but we will be brother and sister. and so I got a heartache. "You may be a little older in years. but the love is altered. while we went pleasuring. but I'm ever so much older in feeling. and it took a hard lesson to show me my mistake. I'm sure you feel this. and we mustn't expect it. to love and help one another all our lives. because he means to be what I hoped he would. You've had a great deal to bear. Will you believe it. that's all. after making a fool of myself. I shall miss my boy. and laid his face down on it for a minute. I am lonely. how time does fly!" "As one of the children is older than yourself. that I could honestly share my heart between sister Jo and wife Amy. as you tried to make me. and go back to the happy old times when we first knew one another?" "I'll believe it.. but took the hand she offered him. and answered.CHAPTER FORTY 286 "Why didn't you let us know afterward?" asked Jo. and had to bear it all alone. for playtime is over. Laurie?" He did not say a word. won't we. so we went there. headstrong and violent. but. "I can't make it true that you children are really married and going to set up housekeeping. For it was one. Laurie held it fast. you'll find her rather a precocious infant. but I never could be patient. and the thought that you and Amy were safe and happy." "Poor Jo! We left you to bear it alone. you needn't talk so like a grandma. for she didn't want the coming home to be a sad one. and I found it out. your eyes look sad. I think it was meant to be so. Women always are. that I didn't know which I loved best. for the fact that he told her these things so freely and so naturally assured her that he had quite forgiven and forgotten. but the dear old gentleman. but as if he guessed the thought that prompted the half-involuntary impulse. when they had sat quite still a minute. dear. Here's a line. found he couldn't be ready under a month. I found a tear on it." said Laurie. with a manly gravity she had never seen in him before. I flatter myself I'm a 'gentleman growed' as Peggotty said of David. My faith! Wasn't it love among the roses!" Laurie seemed to forget Jo for a minute. and I felt sure that it was well off with the old love before it was on with the new. everything seemed to clear up all at once. and we must give up frolicking. with sober work to do. but I dare say it's . as soon as we were married.

you remember. they say. By-and-by we shall take turns." "Like angels!" "Yes. because after telling me that she despised and was ashamed of me. I rather like it." "What baseness! Well. and laughing the next. just as we used to do. "Amy and I can't get on without you. but which rules?" "I don't mind telling you that she does now." "She can blow him up as well as shine on him." 287 "You never shall be again. but the boy seemed changing very fast into the man. in the fable. and regret mingled with her pleasure. and go halves in everything. It was good to see Laurie square his shoulders. she does it so imperceptibly that I don't think I shall mind much. getting up and striking an attitude which suddenly changed from the imposing to the rapturous. she never will." broke in Laurie. Grandma?" "I was wondering how you and Amy get on together. "You are the same Jo still. she lost her heart to the despicable party and married the good-for-nothing. wondering if she remembered the time. and let us pet you." "Well. halves one's rights and doubles one's duties. "such a lecture as I got at Nice! I give you my word it was a deal worse than any of your scoldings. I begin to feel quite young already. it pleases her. You always were a comfort. "Where is she? Where's my dear old Jo?" ." "That ever I should live to see you a henpecked husband and enjoying it!" cried Jo. don't I?" said Laurie. it would be very pleasant. Amy and you never did quarrel as we used to." Jo liked that. What is it. In fact. Teddy. for she winds one round her finger as softly and prettily as a skein of silk. dropping tears about one minute. just as she did years ago. but Jo was smiling to herself. "I am sure of that. and. with his "high and mighty" air. You look a little wicked now. with uplifted hands. and thought the new dignity very becoming. He looked down at her. as Amy's voice was heard calling. My wife and I respect ourselves and one another too much ever to tyrannize or quarrel. you know. and smile with masculine scorn at that insinuation. so you must come and teach 'the children' to keep house. come to me." "You'll go on as you begin. at least I let her think so. "Amy is too well-bred for that. and the sun managed the man best. and I am not the sort of man to submit to it. a regular rouser. and Amy will rule you all the days of your life. if she abuses you. and all be blissfully happy and friendly together. for somehow all my troubles seemed to fly away when you came. as if to fence out every human ill. of course. putting his arm about her.. for marriage." "If I shouldn't be in the way." "I look as if I needed it. and makes you feel as if she was doing you a favor all the while.. as he replied. She is the sort of woman who knows how to rule well. I'll tell you all about it sometime." laughed Laurie. and I'll defend you. as if in truth her troubles had all vanished at his coming." and Jo leaned her head on his shoulder.CHAPTER FORTY good for me. when Beth lay ill and Laurie told her to hold on to him. She is the sun and I the wind.

The minute she put her eyes upon Amy. Jo thought. Didn't they steal sips of tea. ain't it a relishin' sight to see her settin' there as fine as a fiddle. as she watched the pair. there to stick and . for it stamped her at once with the unmistakable sign of the true gentlewoman she had hoped to become. accomplished girl who will become his home better than clumsy old Jo." The twins pranced behind. then the other. didn't they each whisk a captivating little tart into their tiny pockets. to watch Laurie revolve about the two. her voice had a new tenderness in it. for they saw that their youngest had done well. It was good to see him beam at 'my children'. the three wanderers were set down to be looked at and exulted over. "How well they look together! I was right. and happiness." Mr. For Amy's face was full of the soft brightness which betokens a peaceful heart. Mercy on us. Such a happy procession as filed away into the little dining room! Mr. "You must be my girl now. my dear. and the old-fashioned courtliness had received a polish which made it kindlier than ever. The old gentleman took Jo. stuff gingerbread ad libitum. feeling that the millennium was at hand.CHAPTER FORTY 288 In trooped the whole family. and that 'her ladyship' was altogether a most elegant and graceful woman. and best of all. Now I demand the satisfaction of a gentleman. and Laurie has found the beautiful. Laurence. not a torment to him. as he called the young pair. Daisy found it impossible to keep her eyes off her 'pitty aunty'. confidence. both womanly and winning. and be a pride. then all burst out together--trying to tell the history of three years in half an hour. A flank movement produced an unconditional surrender. Laurence!'" muttered old Hannah. Laurence. that made Jo whisper back. and everyone was hugged and kissed all over again. March and her husband smiled and nodded at each other with happy faces. however. with a loving look at the worn face and gray head beside him. and hear folks calling little Amy 'Mis. Mofffat would be entirely eclipsed by young Mrs. "Love has done much for our little girl. "I'll try to fill her place. that young Mrs. March whispered back. March as proudly leaned on the arm of 'my son'. and you may be sure they made the most of the opportunity. hale and hearty as ever. but the better wealth of love. "Blest if she ain't in silk from head to foot. but attached herself like a lap dog to the wonderful chatelaine full of delightful charms. Mrs. Laurence. No little affectations marred it. for everyone was so busy with the newcomers that they were left to revel at their own sweet will. and the cordial sweetness of her manner was more charming than the new beauty or the old grace. and as a crowning trespass." and a glance at the empty corner by the fire. "Young man. Demi paused to consider the new relationship before he compromised himself by the rash acceptance of a bribe." Mrs. sir. as if never tired of enjoying the pretty picture they made. for Laurie knew where to have him. Meg became conscious that her own dress hadn't a Parisian air. Mr." said her mother softly." and with that the tall uncle proceeded to toss and tousle the small nephew in a way that damaged his philosophical dignity as much as it delighted his boyish soul. with a whispered. get a hot biscuit apiece. not only in worldly things. when I first had the honor of making your acquaintance you hit me in the face. for the crustiness seemed to be nearly gone. March proudly escorted Mrs. and after several vain attempts. was quite as much improved as the others by his foreign tour. to produce a lull and provide refreshment--for they would have been hoarse and faint if they had gone on much longer. It was fortunate that tea was at hand. who could not resist frequent "peeks" through the slide as she set the table in a most decidedly promiscuous manner. which took the tempting form of a family of wooden bears from Berne. It was better still to see Amy pay him the daughterly duty and affection which completely won his old heart. and the cool. how they did talk! first one. "She has had a good example before her all her life. prim carriage was changed to a gentle dignity.

She stood a minute looking at the party vanishing above. and make one of us. Bhaer. "Father. I am so glad to see you!" cried Jo. We have had trouble since I saw you last. "Oh. She opened with hospitable haste. and he saw a change in it. and started as if another ghost had come to surprise her. "Will Miss Amy ride in her coop (coupe). feeling that food was an uncongenial topic just then. for one of her boyish habits was never to know where her handkerchief was. my friend?" He put the question abruptly. and we are all very happy. Come in. for she lingered to answer Hannah's eager inquiry. as Jo hung up his coat." Though a very social man. It won't do to be dismal now. "No. "I don't care. and wore diamonds and point lace every day." she said. Teddy thinks nothing too good for her. I know. beaming on her from the darkness like a midnight sun." and Jo shut the door. The others paired off as before. warm hand. I will so gladly see them all. Bhaer would have gone decorously away. the light fell on her face. You haf been ill." and the Professor paused as the sound of voices and the tap of dancing feet came down to them. and bereft him of his hat? Perhaps her face had something to do with it. for there stood a tall bearded gentleman. the little sinners attached themselves to 'Dranpa'. she would not have said to herself. only the family. My sister and friends have just come home.CHAPTER FORTY 289 crumble treacherously." and he shook hands again. a sudden sense of loneliness came over her so strongly that she looked about her with dim eyes. with such a sympathetic face that Jo felt as if no comfort could equal the look of the kind eyes. yes. If she had known what birthday gift was coming every minute nearer and nearer. for. ate off gold plate." Then she drew her hand over her eyes. Amy. as if she feared the night would swallow him up before she could get him in. My heart was sore for you when I heard that. as if to find something to lean upon. we haven't. Professor Bhaer. and use all them lovely silver dishes that's stored away over yander?" "Shouldn't wonder if she drove six white horses. "No more there is! Will you have hash or fishballs for breakfast?" asked Hannah. and had just managed to call up a smile when there came a knock at the porch door. returned to the parlor on Father Laurence's arm. but how could he. for she forgot to hide her joy at seeing him. who hadn't his spectacles on. I think Mr. with a clutch. when Jo shut the door behind him. and fearing that Dodo's sharp eyes would pierce the thin disguise of cambric and merino which hid their booty. "And I to see Miss Marsch. whose welcome far exceeded his boldest hopes. and come again another day. who wisely mingled poetry and prose. but no. Mother. but tired and sorrowful. this is my friend. and as Demi's short plaid legs toiled up the last stair." returned Jo with infinite satisfaction." "Ah. for even Teddy had deserted her. who was handed about like refreshments. and showed it with a frankness that proved irresistible to the solitary man. "If I shall not be Monsieur de Trop. you haf a party. "I'll weep a little weep when I go to bed. Mr. She did not mind it at the minute. the grasp of the big. "Not ill. teaching them that both human nature and a pastry are frail? Burdened with the guilty consciousness of the sequestered tarts. with a face and tone of such irrepressible pride . and this arrangement left Jo companionless.

wishing they had not left them. Mr. for the sidelong peeps showed her several propitious omens. Laurence found it impossible to go to sleep. for he carried the talisman that opens all hearts. nodding like two rosy poppies. as he watched the young man in his prime. but very soon they liked him for his own. and go down after it to hide her face. March. made a move to go. and looked all alive with interest in the present moment. saw stars. and thought to herself. Bhaer sat looking about him with the air of a traveler who knocks at a strange door. Then he seemed quite inspired. and Jo liked it rampantly erect better than flat. Bhaer's face had lost the absent-minded expression. Then his eyes would turn to Jo so wistfully that she would have surely answered the mute inquiry if she had seen it. Mr. Bhaer was dressed in a new suit of black. Jo quite glowed with triumph when Teddy got quenched in an argument. The maneuver did not succeed as well as she expected. to resume their seats. whose maternal mind was impressed with a firm conviction that Daisy had tumbled out of bed. finds himself at home. till Meg. yet letting nothing escape her. His bushy hair had been cut and smoothly brushed. but he looked at him often. to which the conversation had strayed. 290 If the stranger had any doubts about his reception. though the burial customs of the ancients. utterly regardless of the lapse of time. Bhaer talked well in this genial atmosphere. If Jo had not been otherwise engaged. and then a sudden thought born of the words made her blush so dreadfully that she had to drop her ball. and when it opens. for Jo's sake at first. he rumpled it up in the droll way he used to do. and is a sure passport to truly hospitable spirits. and before he knew it. which made him look more like a gentleman than ever. For poverty enriches those who live above it. for in exciting moments. however. but said not a word. but didn't stay in order long. opened his choicest stores for his guest's benefit. was drawn into the circle. and both came up flushed and laughing. with juvenile audacity. like a model maiden aunt. she thought. and Mr. A stealthy glance now and then refreshed her like sips of fresh water after a dusty walk. The women telegraphed their approval to one another. and Demi set his nightgown afire studying the structure of matches. Nobody knew where the evening went to. as she watched her father's absorbed face." said Jo to herself. forgetting to compare him with Laurie. Mr. for a faint twinge. Laurence went home to rest. but something like suspicion. feeling that he had got a kindred spirit. and did himself justice. and Mr. they were set at rest in a minute by the cordial welcome he received. as she usually did strange men. Bhaer actually had gold sleeve-buttons in his immaculate wristbands. Everyone greeted him kindly. how she did glorify that plain man. and a shadow would pass across his face. for Hannah skillfully abstracted the babies at an early hour. and made a dive after the little blue ball. "Dear old fellow! He couldn't have got himself up with more care if he'd been going a-wooing. to their great detriment. she prudently kept them on the little sock she was knitting. without the ball. But it did not last long. actually young and handsome. For Mr. He got interested in spite of himself. Laurie's behavior would have amused her. Of course they bumped their heads smartly together. while silent John listened and enjoyed the talk. might not be considered an exhilarating topic. and establishing themselves on each knee. pulling his beard. as she sat knitting away so quietly. and Mr. for though just in the act of setting fire to a funeral pyre. The others sat round the fire. The children went to him like bees to a honeypot. feeling even the more friendly because he was poor. because she thought it gave his fine forehead a Jove-like aspect. not of jealousy. metaphorically speaking. They could not help it. But Jo had her own eyes to take care of. as if regretting his own lost youth. "How he would enjoy having such a man as my Professor to talk with every day!" Lastly. the Professor dropped his torch. caused that gentleman to stand aloof at first. not even the fact that Mr. talking away. and feeling that they could not be trusted. and these simple people warmed to him at once.CHAPTER FORTY and pleasure that she might as well have blown a trumpet and opened the door with a flourish. and observe the newcomer with brotherly circumspection. He seldom spoke to Laurie. Poor Jo. and investigating his watch. proceeded to captivate him by rifling his pockets. .

Amy. as in the early days. might I with thee. heartily and well. my beloved. for Jo had no more idea of music than a grasshopper." said Laurie. The little chair stood in its old place. "You will sing with me? We go excellently well together. The song was considered a great success. "Not tonight." "Play something. "Be happy. with pardonable pride in his promising pupil. It was hard to say. for she sang Beth's songs with a tender music in her voice which the best master could not have taught. Bhaer sings that. "Now. for Mr.CHAPTER FORTY 291 "We must have our sing. with the bit of work she left unfinished when the needle grew 'so heavy'. But no one found the words thougtless or untrue. The tidy basket. upon the words. for we are all together again once more. and warbled away. . when the clear voice failed suddenly at the last line of Beth's favorite hymn." But she did show something better than brilliancy or skill. I am here. I can't show off tonight. feeling that her welcome home was not quite perfect without Beth's kiss. oh there." said Jo. invisible. that she might listen to the mellow voice that seemed to sing for her alone. blissfully regardless of time and tune. with full eyes. for Beth still seemed among them. and touched the listener's hearts with a sweeter power than any other inspiration could have given her. O." said Jo. and no one had called her by her new name since he came. in his most gracious manner. by the way. feeling that a good shout would be a safe and pleasant vent for the jubilant emotions of her soul. seldom touched now had not been moved. Bhaer sang like a true German. for 'das land' meant Germany to him. There. looked down upon them. before the pause grew painful. a peaceful presence. The beloved instrument.. serene and smiling.. and Amy leaned against her husband. in the good old way. dear. They were not all there. and would joyfully depart thither whenever he liked. But Amy whispered. and stared at Amy putting on her bonnet. He forgot himself still further when Laurie said. he forgot his manners entirely. Let them hear how much you have improved.. at parting. used to be the Professor's favorite line.. and above it Beth's face. It didn't much matter. but dearer than ever. we must finish with Mignon's song. for she had been introduced simply as 'my sister'. and Jo soon subsided into a subdued hum.. But she would have consented if he had proposed to sing a whole opera. saying. with peculiar warmth and melody... Earth hath no sorrow that heaven cannot heal. was still on its accustomed shelf. Bhaer cleared his throat with a gratified "Hem!" as he stepped into the corner where Jo stood. and the singer retired covered with laurels. who stood behind her. but now he seemed to dwell. But a few minutes afterward." A pleasing fiction.. as she twirled the faded stool. go and one listener was so thrilled by the tender invitation that she longed to say she did know the land. for Mr. And Mr. seeming to say. Know'st thou the land where the citron blooms. The room was very still. since death could not break the household league that love made disoluble.

" was all Jo said. Bhaer to the city. that Laurie thought him the most delightfully demonstrative old fellow he ever met. if you will gif me leave. "I know he is a good one. . "I too shall go. dear madame.CHAPTER FORTY "My wife and I are very glad to meet you. but I shall gladly come again. it might have thrown some light upon the subject. with decided approval. March was not so blind to her children's interest as Mrs." added Mrs. and the mother's voice gave as cordial an assent as did the daughter's eyes. with a good deal of hair. as she slipped away to her bed. who appeared to be gazing darkly into futurity. Moffat supposed. If she had seen his face when. with placid satisfaction. and looked so suddenly illuminated with satisfaction. sir. he looked at the picture of a severe and rigid young lady. March. after the last guest had gone. March." remarked Mr. and kissed the picture in the dark. especially when he turned off the gas. for Mrs. safe in his own room. and finally decided that he had been appointed to some great honor." 292 Then the Professor thanked him so heartily. March. She wondered what the business was that brought Mr. from the hearthrug. "I suspect that is a wise man." He spoke to Mrs. for a little business in the city will keep me here some days. "I thought you'd like him. as she wound up the clock. Please remember that there is always a welcome waiting for you over the way. but had been too modest to mention the fact. but he looked at Jo. somewhere.

finding it difficult to become absorbed in his Aristotle after the young couple had gone. Impertinence. March. and prove to him that I'm not spoiled. well pleased at Laurie's decision and the energy with which he spoke.. my lady?" "Lovely weather so far. Mother. "Exactly. dear. but I'm not afraid of storms. as if asking pardon for her maternal covetousness. but I can't get on without my little woman any more than a. Jo had grown quite her own saucy self again since Teddy came home. and I haven't had an easterly spell since I was married. I don't know how long it will last. March." answered Amy. coming in the next day to find Mrs. I'm going into business with a devotion that shall delight Grandfather. Men are so helpless. "What are you going to do with yourselves after you get settled?" asked Jo. buttoning Amy's cloak as she used to button her pinafores. "I shouldn't have come over if I could have helped it. resolving that there should be a home with a good wife in it before she set up a salon as a queen of society. Madam Mother. Go. with a matronly air. for I'm learning how to sail my ship. . Don't know anything about the north. as if being made 'the baby' again. for Amy keeps me pointing due west most of the time. and the beneficial influence we shall exert over the world at large." said Amy. That's about it. I need something of the sort to keep me steady. could you lend me my wife for half an hour? The luggage has come. and airing our best bonnet. and I'll find your bootjack." said Laurie. "Yes. "We have our plans. March pressed the white hand that wore the wedding ring. I suppose that's what you are rummaging after among my things. the brilliant society we shall draw about us. but we don't intend to be idle." "Weathercock can without the wind. trying to find some things I want. "How happy those children seem together!" observed Mr.CHAPTER FORTY 293 CHAPTER FORTY -FOUR MY LORD AND LADY "Please. dear. hey. and mean to work like a man. isn't it. with the restful expression of a pilot who has brought a ship safely into port.. as he paused for a simile. I forgot that you have any home but this. but am altogether salubrious and balmy. and I think it will last. Come away. We don't mean to say much about them yet." suggested Jo. because we are such very new brooms. Come home. what is she going to do?" asked Mrs." added Mrs." and Mrs. with only an occasional whiffle round to the south. which delighted her husband." "And Amy. "After doing the civil all round. "Certainly. we shall astonish you by the elegant hospitalities of our mansion. Madame Recamier?" asked Laurie with a quizzical look at Amy. "Time will show. and I've been making hay of Amy's Paris finery. and don't shock my family by calling me names before their faces. I'm tired of dawdling. March. Laurence sitting in her mother's lap.

don't be too fastidious and worldly-minded. my love... but the happiest fellow alive. for the daughter was true to the mother's teaching. who was very dignified in public and very fond in private.. Later in the evening. Mrs. "Mrs. poor things. gave convincing proofs of the truth of her words. for your marrying a good-for-nothing like me. don't. and won't let me give you half I want to now. though fixed upon his face. then smiled brightly as Professor Bhaer opened the gate with an impatient push." "Am I an idiot and a brute? How could I think so. I assure you I can dance at Jo's wedding with a heart as light . You are not listening to my moral remarks. as he plainly showed though he did laugh at his wife's peculiar taste. I consider him a trump. Not being a dog in the manger." "Now. "May I ask you a question. dear?" "Well. when I have the right? Girls do it every day. If they love one another it doesn't matter a particle how old they are nor how poor. I'd have married you if you hadn't a penny. I told Mamma so yesterday. to be spent in charity. I don't wish to make you vain. while she said slowly. when his mind had been set at rest about the bootjack." And Amy. don't you. that's the trouble is it? I thought there was something in the dimple that didn't quite suit you. but I do wish he was a little younger and a good deal richer. you once thought it your duty to make a rich match. don't say that! I forgot you were rich when I said 'Yes'. I was not disappointed." and Laurie paused. Laurence. though you do hear charming girls say that they intend to do it sometimes. Don't laugh. but never one that suited him better. even if you had to get your living by rowing on the lake. and though I trembled for you at one time. when you refused a richer man for me. and she looked as glad and grateful as if I'd given her a check for a million. Laurie had received many compliments in his life. Laurie said suddenly to his wife. Laurie. dear?" "Of course. Laurence. but I must confess that I'm prouder of my handsome husband than of all his money. "Certainly not. Happy Amy!" and Jo sighed.. do you? It would break my heart if you didn't believe that I'd gladly pull in the same boat with you. "Yes." "Shall you care if Jo does marry Mr. you may." "My Lord!" "That man intends to marry our Jo!" "I hope so. If my memory serves me.CHAPTER FORTY 294 "I know it will. I am. "You don't really think I am such a mercenary creature as I tried to be once. my dearest boy. but you had better lessons. perhaps. with malicious gravity. and are taught to think it is their only salvation. Bhaer?" "Oh. That accounts. in the fullest sense of that expressive word. and admiring the mole in your chin at the same time." "Oh. and I sometimes wish you were poor that I might show how much I love you." Amy caught herself up short as the words escaped her. Women never should marry for money. for Amy's eyes had an absent look. and looked at her husband. but your nose is such a comfort to me." and Amy softly caressed the well-cut feature with artistic satisfaction. who replied.

People have been very kind to me. She is very proud of him. and longed to give them a right good lift. and people don't dare to offer charity." added the other member of the domestic admiration society. if you will be a brave St. Splendid fellows. and thanks to you. who shall obligingly die out there in Germany. as the king does the beggarmaid in the old story. as we used to do. But I was going to say that while I was dawdling about abroad. to found and endow an institution for the express benefit of young women with artistic tendencies. like an angel as you are!" cried Laurie. "Jo would find us out. Will you be a little Dorcas. Her little jealous fear vanished forever. and precious opportunities go by. arm in arm." "How delightful it is to be able to help others. just for want of a little help at the right minute. and not let it be lost or delayed for want of fuel to keep the pot boiling. and add an extra relish to our own pleasure by giving other people a generous taste." "Yes. and leave him a tidy little fortune?" said Laurie. and keep them from despair when they find it out. We'll have a good time ourselves. when they began to pace up and down the long drawing room. I saw a good many talented young fellows making all sorts of sacrifices. it's a pleasure to comfort the poor souls. indeed. Do you doubt it. the dream has come true. and she believes in people's paying their honest debts. though it is harder. but so full of courage. but watch our chance. patience. I suppose it's wrong. I must say. or let their money accumulate for others to waste. Those are people whom it's a satisfaction to help. Ambitious girls have a hard time. Laurie. for I belonged to it before you made a princess of me. but poor gentle folks fare badly. won't we? There's one sort of poverty that I particularly like to help. for if they've got genius. stopping as you ride gallantly through the world to share . health. and ambition that I was ashamed of myself." "Ah. as they were fond of doing. and there's another class who can't ask. We won't interfere now. and often have to see youth. and enjoy making one's fellow creatures happy with it. we'll do quantities of good. with a glow of philanthropic zeal. isn't it? That was always one of my dreams. just as he is." "And so you shall. If they haven't. I owe Jo for a part of my education. to have the power of giving freely. and do them a good turn in spite of themselves. and was satisfied. but I do. I know something of it. and said yesterday that she thought poverty was a beautiful thing. it's an honor to be allowed to serve them. and she thanked him. "Rich people have no right to sit down and enjoy themselves. "Thank you. and filling it up with good deeds?" "With all my heart.CHAPTER FORTY as my heels. poor and friendless. if one only knows how to do it so delicately that it does not offend. my darling?" 295 Amy looked up at him. so I'll get round her in that way. Out-and-out beggars get taken care of. It's not half so sensible to leave legacies when one dies as it is to use the money wisely while alive." "Bless her dear heart! She won't think so when she has a literary husband. some of them. resolving. and spoil it all. going about emptying a big basket of comforts. I like to serve a decayed gentleman better than a blarnerying beggar. Martin. and whenever I see girls struggling along. and who suffer in silence. that they might realize their dreams. "I wish we could do something for that capital old Professor. and enduring real hardships. in memory of the chateau garden. working like heros. Couldn't we invent a rich relation. with a face full of love and confidence." "Because it takes a gentleman to do it. because they won't ask. I want to put out my hand and help them. Yet there are a thousand ways of helping them. I'm afraid I don't deserve that pretty compliment. and a dozen little professors and professorins to support. as I was helped.

and then paced happily on again. feeling that their pleasant home was more homelike because they hoped to brighten other homes. if they smoothed rough ways for other feet. and feeling that their hearts were more closely knit together by a love which could tenderly remember those less blest than they.CHAPTER FORTY your cloak with the beggar. believing that their own feet would walk more uprightly along the flowery path before them. and we shall get the best of it!" 296 So the young pair shook hands upon it." "It's a bargain. .

was of an inquiring turn. and adored her brother as the one perfect being in the world. her mother began to feel that the Dovecote would be blessed by the presence of an inmate as serene and loving as that which had helped to make the old house home. who used to hold Socratic conversations with him. and behaved with a propriety which charmed all beholders. and get them. chubby. to the undisguised satisfaction of the womenfolk. "Oh. "Why. too. pitty day!" Everyone was a friend. as if trying to atone for some past mistake. with feminine devotion. At three. a mysterious structure of string. and kept the nursery in a chaotic condition. for he tried to imitate every machine he saw. chairs. Demi tyrannized over Daisy. for in this fast age babies of three or four assert their rights. who. and her mug in the other. A rosy. wanting to know everything. and managed a microscopic cooking stove with a skill that brought tears of pride to Hannah's eyes. One of the captivating children. and gallantly defended her from every other aggressor. to the great delight of his grandfather. ." she once said. Demi. Marmar. adorned and adored like little goddesses. oh. which no eye but her own could see. and spools. Her grandfather often called her 'Beth'. and seldom quarreled more than thrice a day. sunshiny little soul was Daisy. and actually made a bag with four stitches in it. without devoting at least one chapter to the two most precious and important members of it. It was all fair weather in her world. allowed her little head to be bumped till rescued. and produced for general approval on all festive occasions. talked fluently at twelve months. and often getting much disturbed because he could not get satisfactory answers to his perpetual "What for?" He also possessed a philosophic bent. it was these prattling Brookes. As she grew. as will be shown when I mention that they walked at eight months." Though utterly unlike in character. and every morning she scrambled up to the window in her little nightgown to look out.CHAPTER FORTY 297 CHAPTER FORTY -FIVE DAISY AND DEMI I cannot feel that I have done my duty as humble historian of the March family. who seem made to be kissed and cuddled. and baby-lovers became faithful worshipers. dat's my lellywaiter. and at two years they took their places at table. the twins got on remarkably well together. Also a basket hung over the back of a chair. for wheels to go 'wound and wound'. with her spoon in one hand. no matter whether it rained or shone. and she offered kisses to a stranger so confidingly that the most inveterate bachelor relented. pitty day. Daisy and Demi had now arrived at years of discretion. while Demi learned his letters with his grandfather. "Me loves evvybody. with his 'sewinsheen'. She likewise set up housekeeping in the sideboard. who invented a new mode of teaching the alphabet by forming letters with his arms and legs. as if eager to embrace and nourish the whole world. and her grandmother watched over her with untiring devotion. in which the precocious pupil occasionally posed his teacher. and nestled there. when the young inventor indignantly remarked. opening her arms. If there ever were a pair of twins in danger of being utterly spoiled by adoration. and me's trying to pull her up. like a true Yankee. thus uniting gymnastics for head and heels. Her small virtues were so sweet that she would have been quite angelic if a few small naughtinesses had not kept her delightfully human. Of course they were the most remarkable children ever born. and say. while Daisy made a galley slave of herself. The boy early developed a mechanical genius which delighted his father and distracted his mother. and to pray that she might be spared a loss like that which had lately taught them how long they had entertained an angel unawares. Daisy demanded a 'needler'. who found her way to everybody's heart. clothespins. in which he vainly tried to hoist his too confiding sister. Of course. which is more than many of their elders do.

I want to see it go wound. God winds you up. but his wrongs weigh upon his spirit. with ominous nods. but when." "Open me. I am not putting the thoughts into his head. as the spring made the wheels go in my watch when I showed it to you. I cannot tell. They'll make you sick. "I dess Dod does it when I's asleep. Meg made many moral rules." "I don't want to have you. and by-and-by when an opportunity comes to . tell me where you keep your mind. "Me likes to be sick. and I have no doubt the boy understands every word I have said to him." "I can't do that any more than you could open the watch." A careful explanation followed. surveying those active portions of his frame with a meditative air. Dranpa?" asked the young philosopher. to which he listened so attentively that his anxious grandmother said. "It's your little mind. as well as a budding philosopher. "Is I wounded up like the watch?" "Yes. after a discussion which caused Hannah to prophesy. and tried to keep them. and then gravely remarked. Demi. but what mother was ever proof against the winning wiles." he would turn about and set her fears at rest by some of the pranks with which dear. These children are wiser than we are. as if expecting to find it like that of the watch. There might have been cause for maternal anxiety. Socrates. and dismiss the class in metaphysics. so run away and help Daisy make patty cakes. if Demi had not given convincing proofs that he was a true boy. Demi. for often. or the tranquil audacity of the miniature men and women who so early show themselves accomplished Artful Dodgers? "No more raisins." his grandfather would not have been surprised. for it is done when we don't see. while resting after a go-to-bed frolic one night." "If he is old enough to ask the question he is old enough to receive true answers." replied the sage. and learning to ask the most unanswerable questions." "Does I?" and Demi's brown eyes grew big and bright as he took in the new thought." the old gentleman could only join in Grandma's laugh. Demi. after standing a moment on one leg. but helping him unfold those already there. dirty. but I can't show you how." Demi felt his back.CHAPTER FORTY 298 "What makes my legs go." He reluctantly departs. Now. "What is a little mine?" "It is something which makes your body move. stroking the yellow head respectfully. do you think it wise to talk about such things to that baby? He's getting great bumps over his eyes." If the boy had replied like Alcibiades. like a meditative young stork. naughty little rascals distract and delight their parent's souls. in a tone of calm conviction. "My dear. and you go till He stops you. "By the gods. he answered." says Mamma to the young person who offers his services in the kitchen with unfailing regularity on plum-pudding day. the ingenious evasions. "That child ain't long for this world. "In my little belly.

here's the Professor!" Down went the black legs and up came the gray head. or to take her family to "Buy a penny bun. and continued to patronize the 'the bear-man' with pensive affability. Demi. "Truly." says Meg. March. who was fond of going about peddling kisses." replies the shortsighted parent. But Demi corners her by the cool reply. after a few convulsive efforts. and the trio turned the little house topsy-turvy. 299 "Yes. with a brilliant idea in his well-powdered head. Dranpa. but this counterfeit philoprogenitiveness sits uneasily upon them.. and dismay and desolation fell upon their little souls. The excellent papa labored under the delusion that he was. so I suppose he was the attraction. He was one of the men who are at home with children. whatever it was. but Aunt Dodo was a living reality. for he hadn't the heart to insult a rival who kept a mine of chocolate drops in his waistcoat pocket. likewise prone. but Demi didn't see it in that light. Aunt Beth soon faded into a pleasantly vague memory.CHAPTER FORTY redress them. Bhaer came. preparing herself to sing. with his respectable legs in the air." regardless of wind or limb. Bhaer came in one evening to pause on the threshold of the study.. Aunt Amy was as yet only a name to them. with a scandalized face. Anything you say. Bhaer. he outwits Mamma by a shrewd bargain. Excuse me for a moment. and the intelligent pupil triumphantly shouted. detained him from day to day. and I'll play anything you like. Marmar?" asks Demi. Jo neglected her playfellows. and a watch that could be taken out of its case and freely shaken by ardent admirers. Gentlemen are sometimes seized with sudden fits of admiration for the young relatives of ladies whom they honor with their regard. "It's a We. But when Mr. Mr. Mr. the red legs took the shape of a pair of compasses. soon discovered that Dodo like to play with 'the bear-man' better than she did him. till a chance remark of his more observing grandson suddenly enlightened him. both grovelers so seriously absorbed that they were unconscious of spectators. "Then we'll go and eat up all the raisins. for which compliment she was deeply grateful. We are just finishing our lesson. March. Daisy. he concealed his anguish. trying to imitate the attitude with his own short. "Now you have been good children.. and they made the most of her. till Mr. he always asked for Mr. when the pudding is safely bouncing in the pot. with infantile penetration. Bhaer laughed his sonorous laugh. and beside him. his gifts treasures surpassing worth. truly. was Demi. Bhaer's devotion was sincere. "Good evening. as she leads her assistant cooks upstairs. and looked particularly well when little faces made a pleasant contrast with his manly one. Mr. "Father. Demi. his arm her refuge. while Daisy bestowed her small affections upon him at the third call." Aunt Dodo was chief playmate and confidante of both children. and Jo cried out. but evening seldom failed to bring him out to see--well. Prone upon the floor lay Mr. and does not deceive anybody a particle. and considered his shoulder her throne. however likewise effective--for honesty is the best policy in love as in law. His business. astonished by the spectacle that met his eye." "I knows him!" and.. Some persons might have considered these pleasing liberties as bribes. as the preceptor said. and reveled in long discussions with the kindred spirit. "The Three Little Kittens" half a dozen times over. it's a We!" . make the letter and tell its name. but though hurt. lost her best customer and became bankrupt. with undisturbed dignity. scarlet-stockinged legs. Father. Now.

mannling. Bhaer offered Jo some." answered literal Demi. "You precocious chick! Who put that into your head?" said Jo. she liked it. with a look that made her wonder if chocolate was not the nectar drunk by the gods. when she caught him in the china closet half an hour afterward. Why Dodo. March put down his clothesbrush. "Oh. 'Fessor?" Like young Washington. nearly squeezed the breath out of his little body with a tender embrace." began Demi. and then sink into his chair. it's in mine mouf. Mr. was impressed by it. and artlessy inquired. exploring the waistcoat pocket. not ideas. and she kissed me. Bhaer. Demi also saw the smile. putting out his tongue. continuing to confess the young sinner." and Mr. thinking she alluded to confectionery. glance at Jo's retiring face. bubchen?" asked Mr. and I liked it. . looking as if the 'precocious chick' had put an idea into his head that was both sweet and sour. and why she followed up this novel performance by the unexpected gift of a big slice of bread and jelly. "Do great boys like great girls. to. and her nephew tried to stand on his head. and an air of bland satisfaction. as her parent gathered himself up. with his mouth full." laughed Jo. enjoying the innocent revelation as much as the Professor. "Prut! Thou beginnest early. as the only mode of expressing his satisfaction that school was over. What did the little Mary say to that?" asked Mr. in a tone that made Mr. Don't little boys like little girls?" asked Demi.. with artless frankness. picking up the gymnast. remained one of the problems over which Demi puzzled his small wits. "Me went to see little Mary. "'Tisn't in mine head. who stood upon the knee. with a chocolate drop on it. instead of shaking him for being there. "What have you been at today.CHAPTER FORTY 300 "He's a born Weller. so he gave the somewhat vague reply that he believed they did sometimes. Sweets to the sweet." "And what did you there?" "I kissed her. . Bhaer 'couldn't tell a lie'. and was forced to leave unsolved forever. "Thou shouldst save some for the little friend. Bhaer.

do you want anything in town? I've got to run in and get some paper. Bhaer--doesn't like tea.CHAPTER FORTY 301 CHAPTER FORTY -SIX UNDER THE UNBRELLA While Laurie and Amy were taking conjugal strolls over velvet carpets. Laurie was her especial dread. He was always walking rapidly. but sternly tried to quench her feelings. and something warm under your cloak?" ." returned Jo." said Jo to herself. to Jo's improved appearance. as she put on her things for the customary walk one dull afternoon. either going or returning. led a somewhat agitated life. when he would look as if his short-sighted eyes had failed to recognize the approaching lady till that moment. "You'd better take the little umbrella. with a despairing look at the gate. of course. and was just returning. Bhaer and Jo were enjoying promenades of a different sort. along muddy roads and sodden fields. in the remotest manner. after her many and vehement declarations of independence. Marmee. "as Friedrich--I mean Mr. and took care that there should be coffee for supper. They never asked why she sang about her work. and planned a blissful future. never called Mr. and got so blooming with her evening exercise. and Jo to become pensive. yet everyone tried to look as if they were stone-blind to the changes in Jo's face. and made no sign. dear. Then. But he exulted in private and longed for the time to come when he could give Jo a piece of plate. Jo couldn't even lose her heart in a decorous manner. after two or three encounters. "Yes. If her face was turned homeward. and failing to do so. at first." By the second week. For a fortnight. everyone knew perfectly well what was going on. Then he stayed away for three whole days. a proceeding which caused everybody to look sober. just because I happen to meet the Professor on his way out. observing that she had on her new bonnet. was giving the daughter lessons in love. Under the circumstances. and then--alas for romance--very cross. for though there were two paths to Meg's whichever one she took she was sure to meet him. with a bear and a ragged staff on it as an appropriate coat of arms. Mr. but I should think he would have come and bid us goodbye like a gentleman. a paper of number nine needles. And no one seemed to have the slightest suspicion that Professor Bhaer. and never seemed to see her until quite close. and two yards of narrow lavender ribbon. as they set their house in order. I dare say. "I always do take a walk toward evening. I want some twilled silesia. never alluded. what could Jo do but greet him civilly. did up her hair three times a day. and gone home as suddenly as he came. while talking philosophy with the father." she said to herself. but not alluding to the fact. and I don't know why I should give it up. and invite him in? If she was tired of his visits. pulling out the bow under her chin before the glass as an excuse for not looking at her mother. he behaved with praiseworthy propriety. "Yes. Have you got your thick boots on. if she was going to Meg's he always had something for the babies. "Disgusted. or expressed the least surprise at seeing the Professor's hat on the Marches' table nearly every evening. It looks like rain. she concealed her weariness with perfect skill. he had merely strolled down to see the river. but thanks to the new manager. It's nothing to me. Bhaer 'a capital old fellow' in public. unless they were tired of his frequent calls. She was mortally afraid of being laughed at for surrendering. the Professor came and went with lover-like regularity." said her mother.

it's no more than you deserve. though it was too late to save her heart. and if you catch your death and ruin your bonnet. & Co. which she had forgotten to take in her hurry to be off. with 'Hoffmann. and nothing could be done but borrow one or submit to a drenching. spread her handkerchief over the devoted ribbons. my friend?" "I'm shopping. and she feared he might think the joy it betrayed unmaidenly. Bhaer looking down. March. that the world was all right again. but he only said politely. then one long. I quite long to see the dear man. . Her bonnet wasn't big enough to hide her face. but regret was unavailing. for she knew he was looking at her. She looked up at the lowering sky.. "I feel to know the strong-minded lady who goes so bravely under many horse noses. 302 Jo heard that. you shall not go there to borrow an umbrella." said Jo hastily. where gentlemen most do congregate. feeling as if the sun had suddenly burst out with uncommon brilliancy. Bhaer. "I beg pardon. but she didn't care.' over the door. or find out where he is. loitering along as if waiting for someone. "If you happen to meet Mr. hoping to see the Professor? Jo. and being a woman as well as a lover. and so fast through much mud. Now then!" With that she rushed across the street so impetuously that she narrowly escaped annihilation from a passing truck. at a certain grimy warehouse. but made no answer. she might her bonnet. Jo righted herself. You shall trudge away. Somewhat daunted. "It serves me right! what business had I to put on all my best things and come philandering down here.CHAPTER FORTY "I believe so." Jo's cheeks were as red as her ribbon. and take for you the bundles?" "Yes. and she wondered what he thought of her. and that one thoroughly happy woman was paddling through the wet that day. "How good she is to me! What do girls do who haven't any mothers to help them through their troubles?" The dry-goods stores were not down among the counting-houses. A drop of rain on her cheek recalled her thoughts from baffled hopes to ruined ribbons. and said to herself. I'm ashamed of you! No. thank you." and looked mortally offended. she felt that. forward along the muddy street. and precipitated herself into the arms of a stately old gentleman. and looking up. bring him home to tea. banks. in spite of her heartache. tumbling over barrels. Bhaer smiled. except to kiss her mother. and walk rapidly away. Now she remembered the little umbrella. ma'am. and do your errands in the rain. thinking with a glow of gratitude." answered Jo absently. Swartz. and wholesale warerooms. "We thought you had gone. being half-smothered by descending bales." Mr. for in a minute she found herself walking away arm in arm with her Professor. "You haf no umbrella. and much clashing of umbrellas overhead. down at the crimson bow already flecked with black. with a sternly reproachful air. but Jo found herself in that part of the city before she did a single errand. from his friends. and hustled unceremoniously by busy men who looked as if they wondered 'how the deuce she got there'.. What do you down here. with most unfeminine interest. examining engineering instruments in one window and samples of wool in another. with increasing dampness about the ankles. The fact that a somewhat dilapidated blue one remained stationary above the unprotected bonnet attracted her attention. who said. and putting temptation behind her." added Mrs. lingering look behind. May I go also. For the drops continued to fall. as he glanced from the pickle factory on one side to the wholesale hide and leather concern on the other. hurried on. she saw Mr.

When she met him she looked surprised. My friends find for me a place in a college. please! I like to know all about the--the boys. He flattered himself that he knew Jo pretty well. Jo made it rather cool.. I knew you were busy about your own affairs.. but when he asked if she missed him. But owing to the flutter she was in. this place is at the West. therefore." In her anxiety to keep her voice quite calm.CHAPTER FORTY 303 "Did you believe that I should go with no farewell to those who haf been so heavenly kind to me?" he asked so reproachfully that she felt as if she had insulted him by the suggestion. and be able to see you often. she said." "So far away!" and Jo left her skirts to their fate. and answered heartily. for I haf a way opened to me by which I can make my bread and gif my Junglings much help. For this I should be grateful. I gladly tell you. "So far away!" in a tone of despair that lifted him on to a pinnacle of hope. forgot the silesia was to be 'twilled' till it was cut off. and particularly wished to impress her escort with the neatness and dispatch with which she would accomplish the business. "I thank you. "That is so kind. everything went amiss. I fear. but we rather missed you. but he had not learned to read women yet. Was the joy all for the boys? Then on hearing his destination. and manner. though it was impossible to help suspecting that she had come for that express purpose. then?" "I haf no longer any business here. "I ought to think so. On learning his good fortune she almost clapped her hands. like one entirely absorbed in the matter. "Here's the place for my errands. for his smile vanished. it is done. where I teach as at home. How splendid it will be to have you doing what you like.. for the bitterness of disappointment was in that short reply of his. and the boys!" cried Jo. "Ah! But we shall not meet often. she took it with a look that filled him with delight. face." Jo rather prided herself upon her shopping capabilities. sir. . "No." "Successfully.. Father and Mother especially. Bhaer could read several languages. much amazed by the contradictions of voice. When he offered her his arm. for she was in half a dozen different moods in the course of half an hour. which she showed him in rapid succession that day. formal reply that despair fell upon him. and earn enough to make the way smooth for Franz and Emil. clinging to the lads as an excuse for the satisfaction she could not help betraying. and was. and the frosty little monosyllable at the end seemed to chill the Professor. and come one more time before I go. she gave such a chilly. as if it didn't matter now what became of her clothes or herself. as he said gravely." "You are going. She upset the tray of needles. Will you come in? It won't take long. I didn't. I hope?" said Jo.." "Tell me." said Jo eagerly. but the next minute she tumbled him down again by observing." "And you?" "I'm always glad to see you.. Mr. should I not?" "Indeed you should.

Mr." "I'll do it with pleasure. Mr." "Do you care for nuts?" "Like a squirrel. condescended to take an interest in the couple. being a married man. and sniffing the mingled odors with an affectation of delight as they went in. after a moist promenade of half a block. Will you kindly gif me a word of taste and help?" "Yes. "Miss Marsch. and they traveled on again. sir?" and Jo's heart began to beat so hard she was afraid he would hear it. because so short a time remains to me." and Jo nearly crushed the small flowerpot with the sudden squeeze she gave it. "May they haf oranges and figs?" asked Mr. "Yes. The clerk. then with a mental shake she entered into the business with an energy that was pleasant to behold. produced his own. and finished the marketing by buying several pounds of grapes. with a paternal air." added Jo to herself. so she chose a pretty gown for Tina. and then ordered out the shawls. Bhaer confiscated her purse. and the husband is such a care. and a pretty jar of honey. watching her blush and blunder. and haf a farewell feast tonight if I go for my last call at your so pleasant home?" he asked. and covered herself with confusion by asking for lavender ribbon at the calico counter. "They eat them when they can get them. Bhaer left it all to her. for he was beginning to see that on some occasions. stopping before a window full of fruit and flowers." "Yes. yes. Yes. go by contraries. we shall drink to the Fatherland in those?" Jo frowned upon that piece of extravagance. and asked why he didn't buy a frail of dates. to be regarded in the light of a demijohn. Bhaer." began the Professor. "What will we buy?" asked Jo. and splashed through the puddles as if he rather enjoyed it on the whole. sir. and I am too stupid to go alone. Bhaer stood by. I haf a great favor to ask of you. warm shawl would be a friendly thing to take the little mother. and be done with it? Whereat Mr. Mr. and as he watched. a thick. she is so poor and sick. a pot of rosy daisies. "I am bold to say it in spite of the rain. "I wish to get a little dress for my Tina. and a bag of almonds. he put the parcel under his arm with a more cheerful aspect. who appeared to be shopping for their family. ignoring the latter part of his speech. he put up the old umbrella." "I'm going very fast. like dreams.CHAPTER FORTY 304 gave the wrong change. his own bewilderment seemed to subside. women. Yes. and he's getting dearer every minute. "Should we no do a little what you call shopping for the babies." and Jo felt as calm and cool all of a sudden as if she had stepped into a refrigerator. and giving her the flowers to hold. "Perhaps also a shawl for Tina's mother. sir. a cask of raisins. Bhaer. Then distorting his pockets with knobby bundles. When they came out. ." "Hamburg grapes.

Mr. on account of the mud. and I waited to be sure that I was something more than a friend." "Ach. mein Gott. I can walk. Bhaer saw the drops on her cheeks. winking hard. and the world grew muddy and miserable again. Never mind. if Jo had not been new to this sort of thing she would have said she wasn't crying. it's late. "Does this suit you. Bhaer. Bhaer was going away. though she turned her head away." answered the Professor. "Oh. fuller of pain than the latter." Jo's voice was more pathetic than she knew. and looked up at him with an expression that plainly showed how happy she would be to walk through life beside him. for she folded both hands over his arm. Neither could he offer Jo his hand. and I'm so tired. and he was quite satisfied. For now the sun seemed to have gone in as suddenly as it came out. for she looked far from lovely. I'm used to plodding in the mud. yes!" said Jo. Mr. and stopping to pick up the poor little flowers. even though she had no better shelter than the old umbrella. . Fortunately. quite chaste and genteel. It was certainly proposing under difficulties. With this idea in her head. smiling to himself as he paid for it. and every finger of his gloves needed mending. that undignified creature answered. turning her back to him. I don't think he could have done it then. while Jo continued to rummage the counters like a confirmed bargain-hunter. for suddenly stooping down. her head ached. "Yes. and for the first time she discovered that her feet were cold. and feeling deeply grateful for the chance of hiding her face. a most desirable color. he only cared for her as a friend." returned Jo. "Jo. though his hatbrim was quite limp with the little rills trickling thence upon his shoulders (for he held the umbrella all over Jo). and throwing it over Jo's shoulders.CHAPTER FORTY 305 "Your lady may prefer this. or told any other feminine fib proper to the occasion. Am I? Can you make a little place in your heart for old Fritz?" he added. "Excellently well. though he was near it. and she found him more "Jove-like" than ever. Mr. So the only way in which he could express his rapture was to look at her. because she would have died rather than openly wipe her eyes. and her bonnet a ruin. except figuratively. The sight seemed to touch him very much. Bhaer?" she asked. "Now shall we go home?" he asked." he said. it was all a mistake. with her skirts in a deplorable state. for even if he had desired to do so." said the Professor. Mr. her rubber boots splashed to the ankle. I didn't see the name distinctly. with an expression which glorified his face to such a degree that there actually seemed to be little rainbows in the drops that sparkled on his beard. I haf nothing but much love to gif you. waving the loaded vehicle away. "Heart's dearest. If he had not loved Jo very much. managing to clasp his hands in spite of the umbrella and the bundles. Instead of which. that is so good!" cried Mr. "Because you are going away. and the sooner it was over the better. with an irrepressible sob. if he carried it. we will haf it. why do you cry?" Now. she hailed an approaching omnibus with such a hasty gesture that the daisies flew out of the pot and were badly damaged. for both were full. It's a superior article. had a cold in her head. Mr. all in one breath. "This is not our omniboos. "I beg your pardon. he asked in a tone that meant a great deal. shaking out a comfortable gray shawl. Bhaer considered her the most beautiful woman living. and that her heart was colder than the former. Much less could he indulge in tender remonstrations in the open street. as if the words were very pleasant to him. Bhaer could not go down upon his knees. I came to see if you could care for it.

Bhaer took a little worn paper out of his waistcoat pocket. why didn't thou tell me all this sooner?" asked Jo bashfully. funny little name--I had a wish to tell something the day I said goodbye in New York. I mean.. and I so gladly will.. she was the first to speak--intelligibly. then. feeling as if her place had always been there. Say 'thou'. if I had spoken?" "I don't know. and gives human hearts a foretaste of heaven. wealth on the poor. for I never had another. Of course. my Jo--ah. but that I should not expect. and soon got over his little fancy. The Professor looked as if he had conquered a kingdom. as thou wilt find. then. "Now tell me what brought you. at last." "I like that. and keep ourselves young mit it. "Well. heart's dearest." "Isn't 'thou' a little sentimental?" asked Jo. more like a romantic student than a grave professor. just when I wanted you?" "This. Professorin. Jo unfolded it. "I always call you so to myself--I forgot." said Jo. and looked much abashed. "How could that bring you?" she asked. and strolled leisurely along. delighted with her new name. privately thinking it a lovely monosyllable." and Mr. Your English 'you' is so cold. the first love is the best." cried Jo. anxious to correct the Professor's mistake. I am grown selfish. pausing in a puddle to regard her with grateful delight. and be sure that thou givest me all." "Like it? It is more sweet to me than I can tell. but be so contented. then." pleaded Mr. yes!" were not of a coherent or reportable character. for it was one of her own contributions to a paper that paid for poetry. because thou must take care of it hereafter. and wondering how she ever could have chosen any other lot. why didn't you.CHAPTER FORTY 306 Passers-by probably thought them a pair of harmless lunatics. "Good! Then I shall rest happy. say 'thou'. heaven." "Yes. I haf waited so long. she gifs me the name that no one speaks since Minna died!" cried the Professor. for they were enjoying the happy hour that seldom comes but once in any life. we Germans believe in sentiment. Wouldst thou have said 'Yes'. but I thought the handsome friend was betrothed to thee. and I shall say your language is almost as beautiful as mine. I'm afraid not. It was asleep till the fairy prince came through the wood. but I won't unless you like it. "Friedrich." "Prut! That I do not believe. for I didn't have any heart just then. for the emotional remarks which followed her impetuous "Oh. it means so much to me. . and so I spoke not. the magical moment which bestows youth on the old. also. "Sentimental? Yes. and the world had nothing more to offer him in the way of bliss. "Now I shall haf to show thee all my heart. 'Die erste Liebe ist die beste'. and waked it up. which accounted for her sending it an occasional attempt. Ah. beauty on the plain. for they entirely forgot to hail a bus. Teddy was only a boy. Bhaer. See. the dear. While Jo trudged beside him." "Ah. wondering what he meant. Little they cared what anybody thought. well. oblivious of deepening dusk and fog. Thank Gott.

" he added earnestly.Legend now both fair and true A gallant knight bears on his shield. And still we lay. one day when I was very lonely. "Let it go. she would find comfort in true love. And within a motley store Of headless dolls." said Mr. Hints of a woman early old.CHAPTER FORTY 307 "I found it by chance.The silver bell. 'If this is not too poor a thing to gif for what I shall hope to receive. "I read that. smooth and fair. The silver sound of bridal bells In the falling summer rain. By careful hands that often came. My Beth! the dust is always swept From the lid that bears your name. long ago. May they be rich in golden hours. And underneath there lieth hid Histories of the happpy band Once playing here. With faded ribbons. Gay valentines. Bhaer with a smile as he watched the fragments fly away on the wind. and I will haf a fresh one when I read all the brown book in which she keeps her little secrets. . The songs she sang. all ardent flames. Dreams of a future never found. lines to a wife. like a sweet refrain. scratched and worn. A tiny shoe. but I felt it when I wrote it. one on each lid. Ever less human than divine. with well-known care. parted for an hour. and pausing oft To hear the sweet refrain.Gifts to gentle child and girl. she is lonely. Hearing. As if by loving eyes that wept. Made by love's immortal power. dead Catherine that hung By angels borne above her door. I will see that you go not in the wet. a baby curl. Souls that shall gladly soar and sing In the long sunshine after rain. like a blithe refrain. Lullabies ever soft and low In the falling summer rain. Ah. when these hidden stores of ours Lie open to the Father's sight. to join again In another small Meg's play. one only gone before. Trifles that have borne their part In girlish hopes and fears and shames. Hearing. of schoolbooks torn. A goodly gathering lies. By children now in their prime. Memories of a past still sweet. Four little chests all in a row. and I think to myself. like a sad refrain-. Four little keys hung side by side. and worn by time. full for her. Forever are they sweetly blent With the falling summer rain. "Meg" on the first lid. Shall I not go and say. warm and cold. with childish pride. Nearest and dearest evermore. without lament." whispered Jo. Diaries of a wilful child. and worn by time. Four women. None lost. stories wild. I never thought it would go where it could tell tales. Relics in this household shrine-. it has done it's duty. For all are carried away. and love will come. I look in with loving eyes."Be worthy. Deeds that show fairer for the light. "Amy" in letters gold and blue. Read and find him. Half-writ poems. Lives whose brave music long shall ring. so seldom rung. Slippers that have danced their last. The record of a peaceful life-. Fans whose airy toils are past. take it in Gott's name?'" "And so you came to find that it was not too poor." In the falling summer rain. The fair. A bridal gown. No toys in this first chest remain. In their old