Th Projekt Gutenberg eBook of Litl Wimen

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Tietl: Litl Wimen

Author: Louisa Mae Alcott

Releess daet: Mae 1, 1996 [eBook #514]
Moest reesently updaeted: Noevember 4, 2022

Langgwej: Inglish

*** START OF Th Projekt GUTENBERG EBOOK Litl Wimen ***

Litl Wimen

bi Louisa Mae Alcott


CHAPTER SIX Baet Fiends Th Palis Buetiful
CHAPTER SEVEN AMY’S Valy OF Huemiliaeshon
CHAPTER Thurteen Casls IN Th Aer
CHAPTER Foerteen Seecrets
CHAPTER Nienteen AMY’S Wil
CHAPTER TWENTY-Wun LAURIE Maeks Mischif, AND JO Maeks Peess
CHAPTER Twenty-too Plezant Medoes

CHAPTER Twenty-fiev Th Furst Weding
CHAPTER TWENTY-Aet Domestik Expeeri’enses
CHAPTER Twenty-nien Cauls
CHAPTER Thurty Conseqenses
CHAPTER Thurty-Wun OUR Forin Corespondent
CHAPTER Thurty-Too TENDER Trubls
CHAPTER Thurty-Foer Frend
CHAPTER Thurty-fiev Hartaek
CHAPTER Thurty-SIX Baet’S Seecret
CHAPTER Thurty-SEVEN Nue Impreshons



“Christmas wun’t be Christmas without eny prezents,” grumbld Jo, lieing on th rug.

“It’s so dredful to be puur!” sied Meg, luuking doun at her oeld dres.

“I doen’t think it’s faer for sum gurls to hav plenty of prity things, and uther gurls nuthing at all,” aded litl Amy, with an injerd snif.

“We’v got Faather and Muther, and eech uther,” sed Baet contentedly from her corner.

Th foer yung faeses on which th fierliet shoen brietend at th cheerful wurds, but darkend agen as Jo sed sadly, “We haeven’t got Faather, and shal not hav him for a long tiem.” She didn’t sae “perhaps never,” but eech sielently aded it, thinking of Faather far awae, whaer th fieting wuz.

Noebody spoek for a mienuet; then Meg sed in an aulterd toen, “U noe th reezon Muther propoezd not having eny prezents this Christmas wuz becauz it is going to be a hard winter for everywun; and she thinks we aut not to spend muny for plezher, when our men ar sufering so in th army. We can’t do much, but we can maek our litl sacrifieses, and aut to do it gladly. But I am afraed I doen’t,” and Meg shuuk her hed, as she thaut regretfuly of all th prity things she wonted.

“But I doen’t think th litl we shuud spend wuud do eny guud. We’v eech got a dolar, and th army wuudn’t be much helpt bi our giving that. I agree not to expekt enything from Muther or U, but I do wont to bie Undine and Sintran for mieself. I’ve wonted it so long,” sed Jo, hoo wuz a buukwurm.

“I pland to spend mien in nue muezik,” sed Baet, with a litl sie, which no-wun hurd but th harth brush and ketl-hoelder.

“I shal get a niess box of Faber’s drawing pensils; I reealy need them,” sed Amy desiededly.

“Muther didn’t sae enything about our muny, and she wun’t wish us to giv up everything. Let’s eech bie whot we wont, and hav a litl fun; I’m shuur we wurk hard enuf to urn it,” cried Jo, examining th heels of her shoos in a jentlmanly maner.

“I noe I do—teeching thoes tiersum children neerly all dae, when I’m longing to enjoy mieself at hoem,” began Meg, in th complaening toen agen.

“U doen’t hav haf such a hard tiem as I do,” sed Jo. “How wuud U liek to be shut up for ours with a nurvus, fusy oeld laedy, hoo keeps U troting, is never satisfied, and wurys U til U’r redy to fli out th windo or cri?”

“It’s nauty to fret, but I do think woshing dishes and keeping things tiedy is th wurst wurk in th wurld. It maeks me cros, and mi hands get so stif, I can’t praktis wel at all.” And Baet luukt at her ruf hands with a sie that eny wun cuud heer that tiem.

“I doen’t beleev eny of U sufer as I do,” cried Amy, “for U doen’t hav to go to scool with impurtinent gurls, hoo plaeg U if U doen’t noe yuur lesons, and laf at yuur dreses, and laebel yuur faather if he isn’t rich, and insult U when yuur noez isn’t niess.”

“If U meen liebel, I’d sae so, and not tauk about laebels, as if Paapa wuz a pikl botl,” adviezd Jo, lafing.

“I noe whot I meen, and U needn’t be statirical about it. It’s proper to uez guud wurds, and improov yuur vocabilary,” returnd Amy, with dignity.

“Doen’t pek at wun anuther, children. Doen’t U wish we had th muny Paapa lost when we wer litl, Jo? Deer me! How hapy and guud we’d be, if we had no wurys!” sed Meg, hoo cuud remember beter tiems.

“U sed th uther dae U thaut we wer a deel hapyer than th King children, for thae wer fieting and freting all th tiem, in spiet of thaer muny.”

“So I did, Baet. Wel, I think we ar. For tho we do hav to wurk, we maek fun of ourselvs, and ar a prity joly set, as Jo wuud sae.”

“Jo duz uez such slang wurds!” obzurvd Amy, with a rerooving luuk at th long figuer strecht on th rug.

Jo imeediatly sat up, puut her hands in her pokets, and began to whisl.

“Doen’t, Jo. It’s so boyish!”

“That’s whi I do it.”

“I detest rood, unladylike gurls!”

“I haet afekted, niminy-piminy chits!”

“Burds in thaer litl nests agree,” sang Baet, th peesmaeker, with such a funy faess that boeth sharp voises sofend to a laf, and th “peking” ended for that tiem.

“Reealy, gurls, U ar boeth to be blaemd,” sed Meg, begining to lekcher in her elder-sisterly fashon. “U ar oeld enuf to leev off boyish triks, and to behaev beter, Josephine. It didn’t mater so much when U wer a litl gurl, but now U ar so taul, and turn up yuur haer, U shuud remember that U ar a yung laedy.”

“I’m not! And if turning up mi haer maeks me wun, I’ll waer it in too taels til I’m twenty,” cried Jo, puuling off her net, and shaeking doun a chestnut maen. “I haet to think I’ve got to gro up, and be Mis March, and waer long gouns, and luuk as prim as a Chiena Aster! It’s bad enuf to be a gurl, enywae, when I liek boy’s gaems and wurk and maners! I can’t get oever mi disapointment in not being a boy. And it’s wurss than ever now, for I’m dieing to go and fiet with Paapa. And I can oenly stae hoem and nit, liek a poeky oeld wuuman!”

And Jo shuuk th bloo army sok til th needls ratld liek castanets, and her baul bounded acros th room.

“Puur Jo! It’s too bad, but it can’t be helpt. So U must tri to be contented with maeking yuur naem boyish, and plaeing bruther to us gurls,” sed Baet, stroeking th ruf hed with a hand that all th dish woshing and dusting in th wurld cuud not maek ungentle in its tuch.

“As for U, Amy,” continued Meg, “U ar aultogether too particuelar and prim. Yuur aers ar funy now, but U’ll gro up an afekted litl gooss, if U doen’t taek caer. I liek yuur niess maners and refiend waes of speeking, when U doen’t tri to be elegant. But yuur absurd wurds ar as bad as Jo’s slang.”

“If Jo is a tomboy and Amy a gooss, whot am I, pleez?” askt Baet, redy to shaer th lekcher.

“U’r a deer, and nuthing elss,” anserd Meg wormly, and no-wun contradikted her, for th ‘Mous’ wuz th pet of th family.

As yung reeders liek to noe ‘how peepl luuk’, we wil taek this moement to giv them a litl skech of th foer sisters, hoo sat niting awae in th twieliet, whiel th December sno fel qieetly without, and th fier crakld cheerfuly within. It wuz a cumfortabl room, tho th carpet wuz faeded and th furnicher verry plaen, for a guud pikcher or too hung on th wauls, buuks fild th reseses, crisanthemums and Christmas roezes bloomd in th windoes, and a plezant atmosfeer of hoem peess pervaeded it.

Margaret, th eldest of th foer, wuz sixteen, and verry prity, being plump and faer, with larj ies, plenty of soft broun haer, a sweet mouth, and whiet hands, of which she wuz rather vaen. Fifteen-yeer-oeld Jo wuz verry taul, thin, and broun, and remiended wun of a coelt, for she never seemd to noe whot to do with her long lims, which wer verry much in her wae. She had a desieded mouth, a comikal noez, and sharp, grae ies, which apeerd to see everything, and wer by turns feerss, funy, or thautful. Her long, thik haer wuz her wun buety, but it wuz uezhualy bundld into a net, to be out of her wae. Round shoelders had Jo, big hands and feet, a flieawae luuk to her cloeths, and th uncumfortabl apeeranss of a gurl hoo wuz rapidly shooting up into a wuuman and didn’t liek it. Elizabeth, or Baet, as everywun cauld her, wuz a roezy, smooth-haerd, briet-ied gurl of thurteen, with a shi maner, a timid vois, and a peesful expreshon which wuz seldom disturbd. Her faather cauld her ‘Litl Mis Tranqility’, and th naem sooted her exselently, for she seemd to liv in a hapy wurld of her oen, oenly venchering out to meet th fue hoom she trusted and luvd. Amy, tho th yunggest, wuz a moest important purson, in her oen opinyon at leest. A reguelar sno maeden, with bloo ies, and yelo haer curling on her shoelders, pael and slender, and aulwaes carrying herself liek a yung laedy miendful of her maners. Whot th carrakters of th foer sisters wer we wil leev to be found out.

Th clok struk six and, having swept up th harth, Baet puut a paer of slipers doun to worm. Sumhow th siet of th oeld shoos had a guud efekt upon th gurls, for Muther wuz cuming, and everywun brietend to welcum her. Meg stopt lekchering, and lieted th lamp, Amy got out of th eezy chaer without being askt, and Jo forgot how tierd she wuz as she sat up to hoeld th slipers neerer to th blaez.

“Thae ar qiet worn out. Marmee must hav a nue paer.”

“I thaut I’d get her sum with mi dolar,” sed Baet.

“No, I shal!” cried Amy.

“I’m th oeldest,” began Meg, but Jo cut in with a desieded, “I’m th man of th family now Paapa is awae, and I shal provied th slipers, for he toeld me to taek speshal caer of Muther whiel he wuz gon.”

“I’ll tel U whot we’l do,” sed Baet, “let’s eech get her sumthing for Christmas, and not get enything for ourselvs.”

“That’s liek U, deer! Whot wil we get?” exclaemd Jo.

Everywun thaut soeberly for a mienuet, then Meg anounst, as if th iedeea wuz sugjested bi th siet of her oen prity hands, “I shal giv her a niess paer of gluvs.”

“Army shoos, best to be had,” cried Jo.

“Sum hankerchifs, all hemd,” sed Baet.

“I’ll get a litl botl of coloen. She lieks it, and it wun’t cost much, so I’ll hav sum left to bie mi pensils,” aded Amy.

“How wil we giv th things?” askt Meg.

“Puut them on th taebl, and bring her in and see her oepen th bundls. Doen’t U remember how we uezd to do on our burthdaes?” anserd Jo.

“I uezd to be so frietend when it wuz mi turn to sit in th chaer with th croun on, and see U all cum marching round to giv th prezents, with a kis. I liekt th things and th kises, but it wuz dredful to hav U sit luuking at me whiel I oepend th bundls,” sed Baet, hoo wuz toesting her faess and th bred for tee at th saem tiem.

“Let Marmee think we ar geting things for ourselvs, and then serpriez her. We must go shoping tomorro afternoon, Meg. Thaer is so much to do about th plae for Christmas niet,” sed Jo, marching up and doun, with her hands behiend her bak, and her noez in th aer.

“I doen’t meen to akt eny mor after this tiem. I’m geting too oeld for such things,” obzurvd Meg, hoo wuz as much a chield as ever about ‘dresing-up’ froliks.

“U wun’t stop, I noe, as long as U can trael round in a whiet goun with yuur haer doun, and waer goeld-paeper jooelry. U ar th best aktres we’v got, and thaer’l be an end of everything if U qit th bords,” sed Jo. “We aut to rehurss toniet. Cum heer, Amy, and do th faenting seen, for U ar as stif as a poeker in that.”

“I can’t help it. I never saw enywun faent, and I doen’t chooz to maek mieself all blak and bloo, tumbling flat as U do. If I can go doun eezily, I’ll drop. If I can’t, I shal faul into a chaer and be graesful. I doen’t caer if Hugo duz cum at me with a pistol,” returnd Amy, hoo wuz not gifted with dramatik power, but wuz choezen becauz she wuz smaul enuf to be born out shreeking bi th vilan of th peess.

“Do it this wae. Clasp yuur hands so, and stager acros th room, crieing frantikaly, ‘Roderigo! Saev me! Saev me!’” and awae went Jo, with a melodramatik screem which wuz trooly thriling.

Amy foloed, but she poekt her hands out stifly befor her, and jurkt herself along as if she went bi masheenery, and her “Ow!” wuz mor sugjestiv of pins being run into her than of feer and anggwish. Jo gaev a despaering groen, and Meg laft outriet, whiel Baet let her bred burn as she wocht th fun with interest. “It’s no uez! Do th best U can when th tiem cums, and if th audi’enss lafs, doen’t blaem me. Cum on, Meg.”

Then things went smoothly, for Don Pedro defied th wurld in a speech of too paejes without a singgl braek. Hagar, th wich, chanted an auful incantaeshon oever her kettleful of simering toeds, with weerd efekt. Roderigo rent his chaens asunder manfuly, and Hugo died in agonys of remorss and arsenik, with a wield, “Haa! Haa!”

“It’s th best we’v had yet,” sed Meg, as th ded vilan sat up and rubd his elboes.

“I doen’t see how U can riet and akt such splendid things, Jo. U’r a reguelar Shakespeare!” exclaemd Baet, hoo furmly beleevd that her sisters wer gifted with wunderful jeenyus in all things.

“Not qiet,” replied Jo modestly. “I do think Th Wiches Curss, an Operatik Trajedy is rather a niess thing, but I’d liek to tri Macbeth, if we oenly had a trapdor for Banquo. I aulwaes wonted to do th kiling part. ‘Is that a dager that I see befor me?” muterd Jo, roeling her ies and cluching at th aer, as she had seen a faemus tragedian do.

“No, it’s th toesting fork, with Muther’s shoo on it insted of th bred. Baet’s staej-struk!” cried Meg, and th rehursal ended in a jeneral burst of lafter.

“Glad to fiend U so merry, mi gurls,” sed a cheery vois at th dor, and aktors and audi’enss turnd to welcum a taul, mutherly laedy with a ‘can I help U’ luuk about her which wuz trooly delietful. She wuz not elegantly drest, but a noebl-luuking wuuman, and th gurls thaut th grae cloek and unfashonabl bonet cuverd th moest splendid muther in th wurld.

“Wel, deerys, how hav U got on todae? Thaer wuz so much to do, geting th boxes redy to go tomorro, that I didn’t cum hoem to diner. Has enywun cauld, Baet? How is yuur coeld, Meg? Jo, U luuk tierd to deth. Cum and kis me, baeby.”

Whiel maeking thees maturnal inqierys Mrs. March got her wet things off, her worm slipers on, and siting doun in th eezy chaer, droo Amy to her lap, prepaering to enjoy th hapyest our of her bizy dae. Th gurls floo about, trieing to maek things cumfortabl, eech in her oen wae. Meg araenjd th tee taebl, Jo braut wuud and set chaers, droping, oever-turning, and clatering everything she tucht. Baet troted to and fro between parlor kichen, qieet and bizy, whiel Amy gaev direkshons to everywun, as she sat with her hands foelded.

As thae gatherd about th taebl, Mrs. March sed, with a particuelarly hapy faess, “I’ve got a treet for U after super.”

A qik, briet smiel went round liek a streek of sunshien. Baet clapt her hands, regardles of th biskit she held, and Jo tost up her napkin, crieing, “A leter! A leter! Three cheers for Faather!”

“Yes, a niess long leter. He is wel, and thinks he shal get thru th coeld seezon beter than we feerd. He sends all sorts of luving wishes for Christmas, and an espeshal mesej to U gurls,” sed Mrs. March, pating her poket as if she had got a trezher thaer.

“Hurry and get dun! Doen’t stop to qurk yuur litl fingger and simper oever yuur plaet, Amy,” cried Jo, choeking on her tee and droping her bred, buter sied doun, on th carpet in her haest to get at th treet.

Baet aet no mor, but crept awae to sit in her shadoey corner and brood oever th deliet to cum, til th uthers wer redy.

“I think it wuz so splendid in Faather to go as chaplin when he wuz too oeld to be drafted, and not strong enuf for a soeljer,” sed Meg wormly.

“Doen’t I wish I cuud go as a drumer, a vivan—whot’s its naem? Or a nurss, so I cuud be neer him and help him,” exclaemd Jo, with a groen.

“It must be verry disagreeabl to sleep in a tent, and eet all sorts of bad-taesting things, and drink out of a tin mug,” sied Amy.

“When wil he cum hoem, Marmee?” askt Baet, with a litl qiver in her vois.

“Not for meny munths, deer, unles he is sik. He wil stae and do his wurk faethfuly as long as he can, and we wun’t ask for him bak a mienuet sooner than he can be spaerd. Now cum and heer th leter.”

Thae all droo to th fier, Muther in th big chaer with Baet at her feet, Meg and Amy purcht on eether arm of th chaer, and Jo leening on th bak, whaer no-wun wuud see eny sien of emoeshon if th leter shuud hapen to be tuching. Verry fue leters wer riten in thoes hard tiems that wer not tuching, espeshaly thoes which faathers sent hoem. In this wun litl wuz sed of th hardships enduurd, th daenjers faest, or th hoemsiknes conkerd. It wuz a cheerful, hoepful leter, fuul of lievly descripshons of camp lief, marches, and militaery nues, and oenly at th end did th rieter’s hart oever-flo with faatherly luv and longing for th litl gurls at hoem.

“Giv them all of mi deer luv and a kis. Tel them I think of them bi dae, prae for them bi niet, and fiend mi best cumfort in thaer afekshon at all tiems. A yeer seems verry long to waet befor I see them, but remiend them that whiel we waet we mae all wurk, so that thees hard daes need not be waested. I noe thae wil remember all I sed to them, that thae wil be luving children to U, wil do thaer duety faethfuly, fiet thaer buuzom enemys braevly, and conker themselvs so buetifuly that when I cum bak to them I mae be fonder and plouder than ever of mi litl wimen.” Evrybody snift when thae caem to that part. Jo wuzn’t ashaemd of th graet teer that dropt off th end of her noez, and Amy never miended th rumpling of her curls as she hid her faess on her muther’s shoelder and sobd out, “I am a selfish gurl! But I’ll trooly tri to be beter, so he maen't be disapointed in me bi-and-bi.”

“We all wil,” cried Meg. “I think too much of mi luuks and haet to wurk, but wun’t eny mor, if I can help it.”

“I’ll tri and be whot he luvs to caul me, ‘a litl wuuman’ and not be ruf and wield, but do mi duety heer insted of wonting to be sumwhaer elss,” sed Jo, thinking that keeping her temper at hoem wuz a much harder task than faesing a rebl or too doun South.

Baet sed nuthing, but wiept awae her teers with th bloo army sok and began to nit with all her miet, loozing no tiem in dooing th duety that lae neerest her, whiel she rezolvd in her qieet litl soel to be all that Faather hoept to fiend her when th yeer braut round th hapy cuming hoem.

Mrs. March broek th sielenss that foloed Jo’s wurds, bi saeing in her cheery vois, “Do U remember how U uezd to plae Pilgrims Progres when U wer litl things? Nuthing delieted U mor than to hav me tie mi peess bags on yuur baks for burdens, giv U hats and stiks and roels of paeper, and let U travel thru th hous from th selar, which wuz th Sity of Destrukshon, up, up, to th houstop, whaer U had all th luvly things U cuud colekt to maek a Seleschal Sity.”

“Whot fun it wuz, espeshaly going bi th lieons, fieting Apollyon, and pasing thru th valy whaer th hob-goblins wer,” sed Jo.

“I liekt th plaess whaer th bundls fel off and tumbld dounstaers,” sed Meg.

“I doen’t remember much about it, exsept that I wuz afraed of th selar and th dark entry, and aulwaes liekt th caek and milk we had up at th top. If I wuzn’t too oeld for such things, I’d rather liek to plae it oever agen,” sed Amy, hoo began to tauk of renounsing chieldish things at th matuur aej of twelv.

“We never ar too oeld for this, mi deer, becauz it is a plae we ar plaeing all th tiem in wun wae or anuther. Our burdens ar heer, our roed is befor us, and th longing for guudnes and hapynes is th gied that leeds us thru meny trubls and mistaeks to th peess which is a troo Seleschal Sity. Now, mi litl pilgrims, supoez U begin agen, not in plae, but in urnest, and see how far on U can get befor Faather cums hoem.”

“Reealy, Muther? Whaer ar our bundls?” askt Amy, hoo wuz a verry literal yung laedy.

“Eech of U toeld whot yuur burden wuz just now, exsept Baet. I rather think she hasn’t got eny,” sed her muther.

“Yes, I hav. Mien is dishes and dusters, and envying gurls with niess peanoes, and being afraed of peepl.”

Baet’s bundl wuz such a funy wun that evrybody wonted to laf, but noebody did, for it wuud hav hurt her feelings verry much.

“Let us do it,” sed Meg thautfuly. “It is oenly anuther naem for trieing to be guud, and th story mae help us, for tho we do wont to be guud, it’s hard wurk and we forget, and doen’t do our best.”

“We wer in th Sluf of Despond toniet, and Muther caem and puuld us out as Help did in th buuk. We aut to hav our roel of direkshons, liek Crischan. Whot shal we do about that?” askt Jo, delieted with th fansy which lent a litl roemanss to th verry dul task of dooing her duety.

“Luuk under yuur piloes Christmas morning, and U wil fiend yuur giedbuuk,” replied Mrs. March.

Thae taukt oever th nue plan whiel oeld Hannah cleerd th taebl, then out caem th foer litl wurk baskets, and th needls floo as th gurls maed sheets for Ant March. It wuz uninteresting soeing, but toniet no-wun grumbld. Thae adopted Jo’s plan of divieding th long seems into foer parts, and cauling th qorters Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, and in that wae got on capitaly, espeshaly when thae taukt about th diferent cuntrys as thae sticht thaer wae thru them.

At nien thae stopt wurk, and sang, as uezhual, befor thae went to bed. No-wun but Baet cuud get much muezik out of th oeld peano, but she had a wae of softly tuching th yelo kees and maeking a plezant acumpaniment to th simpl songs thae sang. Meg had a vois liek a floot, and she and her muther led th litl qier. Amy churpt liek a criket, and Jo waanderd thru th aers at her oen sweet wil, aulwaes cuming out at th rong plaess with a croek or a qaever that spoild th moest pensiv tuen. Thae had aulwaes dun this from th tiem thae cuud lisp...

Crinkl, crinkl, ’ittle ’tar,

and it had becum a hous-hoeld custom, for th muther wuz a born singer. Th furst sound in th morning wuz her vois as she went about th hous singing liek a lark, and th last sound at niet wuz th saem cheery sound, for th gurls never groo too oeld for that familyar lulabi.


Jo wuz th furst to waek in th grae daun of Christmas morning. No stokings hung at th fierplaess, and for a moement she felt as much disapointed as she did long ago, when her litl sok fel doun becauz it wuz cramd so fuul of guudys. Then she rememberd her muther’s promis and, sliping her hand under her pilo, droo out a litl crimson-cuverd buuk. She nue it verry wel, for it wuz that buetiful oeld story of th best lief ever livd, and Jo felt that it wuz a troo giedbuuk for eny pilgrim going on a long jurny. She woek Meg with a “Merry Christmas,” and bad her see whot wuz under her pilo. A green-cuverd buuk apeerd, with th saem pikcher insied, and a fue wurds riten bi thaer muther, which maed thaer wun prezent verry preshus in thaer ies. Prezently Baet and Amy woek to rumej and fiend thaer litl buuks aulso, wun duv-culord, th uther bloo, and all sat luuking at and tauking about them, whiel th eest groo roezy with th cuming dae.

In spiet of her smaul vanitys, Margaret had a sweet and pieus naecher, which unconshusly inflooenst her sisters, espeshaly Jo, hoo luvd her verry tenderly, and oebaed her becauz her adviess wuz so jently given.

“Gurls,” sed Meg seeriusly, luuking from th tumbld hed besied her to th too litl niet-capt wuns in th room beyond, “Muther wonts us to red and luv and miend thees buuks, and we must begin at wunss. We uezd to be faethful about it, but sinss Faather went awae and all this wor trubl unsetld us, we hav neglekted meny things. U can do as U pleez, but I shal keep mi buuk on th taebl heer and red a litl every morning as soon as I waek, for I noe it wil do me guud and help me thru th dae.”

Then she oepend her nue buuk and began to red. Jo puut her arm round her and, leening cheek to cheek, red aulso, with th qieet expreshon so seldom seen on her restles faess.

“How guud Meg is! Cum, Amy, let’s do as thae do. I’ll help U with th hard wurds, and thae’l explaen things if we doen’t understand,” whisperd Baet, verry much imprest bi th prity buuks and her sisters’ exampl.

“I’m glad mien is bloo,” sed Amy. and then th rooms wer verry stil whiel th paejes wer softly turnd, and th winter sunshien crept in to tuch th briet heds and seerius faeses with a Christmas greeting.

“Whaer is Muther?” askt Meg, as she and Jo ran doun to thank her for thaer gifts, haf an our laeter.

“Guudnes oenly noes. Sum puur creeter caem a-beggin’, and yuur maa went straet off to see whot wuz needed. Thaer never wuz such a wuuman for givin’ awae vittles and drink, cloeths and firin’,” replied Hannah, hoo had livd with th family sinss Meg wuz born, and wuz considerd bi them all mor as a frend than a survant.

“She wil be bak soon, I think, so fri yuur caeks, and hav everything redy,” sed Meg, luuking oever th prezents which wer colekted in a basket and kept under th soefa, redy to be produest at th proper tiem. “Whi, whaer is Amy’s botl of coloen?” she aded, as th litl flask did not apeer.

“She tuuk it out a mienuet ago, and went off with it to puut a ribon on it, or sum such noeshon,” replied Jo, dansing about th room to taek th furst stifnes off th nue army slipers.

“How niess mi hankerchifs luuk, doen’t thae? Hannah wosht and ieernd them for me, and I markt them all mieself,” sed Baet, luuking proudly at th sumwhot uneeven leters which had cost her such laebor.

“Bles th chield! She’s gon and puut ‘Muther’ on them insted of ‘M. March’. How funy!” cried Jo, taeking wun up.

“Isn’t that riet? I thaut it wuz beter to do it so, becauz Meg’s inishals ar M.M., and I doen’t wont enywun to uez thees but Marmee,” sed Baet, luuking trubld.

“It’s all riet, deer, and a verry prity iedeea, qiet sensibl too, for no-wun can ever mistaek now. It wil pleez her verry much, I noe,” sed Meg, with a froun for Jo and a smiel for Baet.

“Thaer’s Muther. Hied th basket, qik!” cried Jo, as a dor slamd and steps sounded in th haul.

Amy caem in haestily, and luukt rather abasht when she saw her sisters all waeting for her.

“Whaer hav U bin, and whot ar U hieding behiend U?” askt Meg, serpriezd to see, bi her huud and cloek, that laezy Amy had bin out so urly.

“Doen’t laf at me, Jo! I didn’t meen enywun shuud noe til th tiem caem. I oenly ment to chaenj th litl botl for a big wun, and I gaev all mi muny to get it, and I’m trooly trieing not to be selfish eny mor.”

As she spoek, Amy shoed th handsum flask which replaest th cheep wun, and luukt so urnest and humbl in her litl efort to forget herself that Meg hugd her on th spot, and Jo pronounst her ‘a trump’, whiel Baet ran to th windo, and pikt her fienest roez to ornament th staetly botl.

“U see I felt ashaemd of mi prezent, after reeding and tauking about being guud this morning, so I ran round th corner and chaenjd it th mienuet I wuz up, and I’m so glad, for mien is th hansumest now.”

Anuther bang of th street dor sent th basket under th soefa, and th gurls to th taebl, eeger for brekfast.

“Merry Christmas, Marmee! Meny of them! Thank U for our buuks. We red sum, and meen to every dae,” thae all cried in corus.

“Merry Christmas, litl dauters! I’m glad U began at wunss, and hoep U wil keep on. But I wont to sae wun wurd befor we sit doun. Not far awae from heer lies a puur wuuman with a litl nueborn baeby. Six children ar hudld into wun bed to keep from freezing, for thae hav no fier. Thaer is nuthing to eet oever thaer, and th oeldest boy caem to tel me thae wer sufering hungger and coeld. Mi gurls, wil U giv them yuur brekfast as a Christmas prezent?”

Thae wer all unuezhualy hunggry, having waeted neerly an our, and for a mienuet no-wun spoek, oenly a mienuet, for Jo exclaemd impechu’usly, “I’m so glad U caem befor we began!”

“Mae I go and help carry th things to th puur litl children?” askt Baet eegerly.

“I shal taek th creem and th muffings,” aded Amy, heroeikaly giving up th artikl she moest liekt.

Meg wuz aulredy cuvering th buckwheats, and pieling th bred into wun big plaet.

“I thaut U’d do it,” sed Mrs. March, smieling as if satisfied. “U shal all go and help me, and when we cum bak we wil hav bred and milk for brekfast, and maek it up at dinertiem.”

Thae wer soon redy, and th proseshon set out. Forchunatly it wuz urly, and thae went thru bak streets, so fue peepl saw them, and no-wun laft at th qeer party.

A puur, baer, mizerabl room it wuz, with broeken windoes, no fier, raged bedcloeths, a sik muther, waeling baeby, and a groop of pael, hunggry children cudld under wun oeld qilt, trieing to keep worm.

How th big ies staerd and th bloo lips smield as th gurls went in.

“Aakh, mein Gott! It is guud aenjels cum to us!” sed th puur wuuman, crieing for joy.

“Funy aenjels in huuds and mitens,” sed Jo, and set them to lafing.

In a fue minits it reealy did seem as if kiend spirits had bin at wurk thaer. Hannah, hoo had carryd wuud, maed a fier, and stopt up th broeken paens with oeld hats and her oen cloek. Mrs. March gaev th muther tee and grooel, and cumforted her with promises of help, whiel she drest th litl baeby as tenderly as if it had bin her oen. Th gurls meentiem spred th taebl, set th children round th fier, and fed them liek so meny hunggry burds, lafing, tauking, and trieing to understand th funy broeken Inglish.

“Das ist gut!” “Die Engel-kiender!” cried th puur things as thae aet and wormd thaer purpl hands at th cumfortabl blaez. Th gurls had never bin cauld aenjel children befor, and thaut it verry agreeabl, espeshaly Jo, hoo had bin considerd a ‘Sancho’ ever sinss she wuz born. That wuz a verry hapy brekfast, tho thae didn’t get eny of it. And when thae went awae, leeving cumfort behiend, I think thaer wer not in all th sity foer merryer peepl than th hunggry litl gurls hoo gaev awae thaer brekfasts and contented themselvs with bred and milk on Christmas morning.

“That’s luving our naebor beter than ourselvs, and I liek it,” sed Meg, as thae set out thaer prezents whiel thaer muther wuz upstaers colekting cloeths for th puur Hummels.

Not a verry splendid sho, but thaer wuz a graet deel of luv dun up in th fue litl bundls, and th taul vaess of red roezes, whiet crisanthemums, and traeling viens, which stuud in th midl, gaev qiet an elegant aer to th taebl.

“She’s cuming! Striek up, Baet! Oepen th dor, Amy! Three cheers for Marmee!” cried Jo, pransing about whiel Meg went to condukt Muther to th seet of onor.

Baet plaed her gayest march, Amy throo oepen th dor, and Meg enakted escort with graet dignity. Mrs. March wuz boeth serpriezd and tucht, and smield with her ies fuul as she examind her prezents and red th litl noets which acumpanyd them. Th slipers went on at wunss, a nue hankerchif wuz slipt into her poket, wel sented with Amy’s coloen, th roez wuz fasend in her buuzom, and th niess gluvs wer pronounst a purfekt fit.

Thaer wuz a guud deel of lafing and kissing and explaening, in th simpl, luving fashon which maeks thees hoem festivals so plezant at th tiem, so sweet to remember long afterward, and then all fel to wurk.

Th morning charritys and serremoenys tuuk so much tiem that th rest of th dae wuz devoeted to preparaeshons for th eevning festivitys. Being stil too yung to go ofen to th theeater, and not rich enuf to aford eny graet outlae for prievat performanses, th gurls puut thaer wits to wurk, and nesesity being th muther of invenshon, maed whotever thae needed. Verry clever wer sum of thaer produkshons, pasteboard gitars, anteek lamps maed of oeld-fashond buter boets cuverd with silver paeper, gorjus roebs of oeld coton, glitering with tin spangles from a pikl faktory, and armor cuverd with th saem uesful diemond shaept bits left in sheets when th lids of prezurv pots wer cut out. Th big chaember wuz th seen of meny inosent revels.

No jentlman wer admited, so Jo plaed mael parts to her hart’s content and tuuk imenss satisfakshon in a paer of ruset lether boots given her bi a frend, hoo nue a laedy hoo nue an aktor. Thees boots, an oeld foil, and a slasht dublet wunss uezd bi an artist for sum pikcher, wer Jo’s cheef trezhers and apeerd on all ocaezhons. Th smaulnes of th cumpany maed it nesesaery for th too prinsipal aktors to taek several parts apeess, and thae surtenly dezurvd sum credit for th hard wurk thae did in lurning three or foer diferent parts, whisking in and out of vaerius costuems, and manejing th staej besieds. It wuz exselent dril for thaer memorys, a harmles amuezment, and employd meny ours which utherwiez wuud hav bin iedl, loenly, or spent in les profitabl soesieety.

On Christmas niet, a duzen gurls pield onto th bed which wuz th dres surkl, and sat befor th bloo and yelo chints curtens in a moest flatering staet of expektansy. Thaer wuz a guud deel of rusling and whispering behiend th curten, a triefl of lamp smoek, and an ocaezhonal gigl from Amy, hoo wuz apt to get histerrikal in th exsietment of th moement. Prezently a bel sounded, th curtens floo apart, and th operatik trajedy began.

“A gloomy wuud,” acording to th wun playbill, wuz reprezented by a fue shrubs in pots, green baize on th flor, and a caev in th distanss. This caev wuz maed with a cloeths horss for a roof, bueroes for wauls, and in it wuz a smaul furnis in fuul blast, with a blak pot on it and an oeld wich bending oever it. Th staej wuz dark and th glo of th furnis had a fien efekt, espeshaly as reeal steem ishood from th ketl when th wich tuuk off th cuver. A moement wuz alowd for th furst thril to subsied, then Hugo, th vilan, staukt in with a clanking sord at his sied, a slouching hat, blak beerd, misteerius cloek, and th boots. After paesing to and fro in much ajitaeshon, he struk his forhed, and burst out in a wield straen, singing of his haetred for Roderigo, his luv for Zara, and his pleezing rezolooshon to kil th wun and win th uther. Th gruf toens of Hugo’s vois, with an ocaezhonal shout when his feelings oevercaem him, wer verry impresiv, and th audi’enss aplauded th moement he pauzd for breth. Bowing with th aer of wun acustomd to publik praez, he stoel to th cavern and orderd Hagar to cum forth with a comanding, “Whot ho, minyon! I need thee!”

Out caem Meg, with grae hors-haer hanging about her faess, a red and blak roeb, a staf, and cabalistik siens upon her cloek. Hugo demanded a poeshon to maek Zara ador him, and wun to destroy Roderigo. Hagar, in a fien dramatik melody, promist boeth, and proseeded to caul up th spirit hoo wuud bring th luv philter.

Hither, hither, from thi hoem,
Aery spriet, I bid thee cum!
Born of roezes, fed on due,
Charms and poeshons canst thow broo?
Bring me heer, with elfin speed,
Th fraegrant philter which I need.
Maek it sweet and swift and strong,
Spirit, anser now mi song!

A soft straen of muezik sounded, and then at th bak of th caev apeerd a litl figuer in cloudy whiet, with glitering wings, goelden haer, and a garland of roezes on its hed. Waeving a waand, it sang...

Hither I cum,
From mi aery hoem,
Afar in th silver moon.
Taek th majik spel,
And uez it wel,
Or its power wil vanish soon!

And droping a smaul, gilded botl at th wich’s feet, th spirit vanisht. Anuther chant from Hagar produest anuther aparishon, not a luvly wun, for with a bang an ugly blak imp apeerd and, having croekt a replie, tost a dark botl at Hugo and disapeerd with a moking laf. Having worbld his thanks and puut th poeshons in his boots, Hugo departed, and Hagar informd th audi’enss that as he had kild a fue of her frends in tiems past, she had curst him, and intends to thwort his plans, and be revenjd on him. Then th curten fel, and th audi’enss repoezd and aet candy whiel discusing th merits of th plae.

A guud deel of hamering went on befor th curten roez agen, but when it becaem evident whot a masterpeess of staej carpentery had bin got up, no-wun murmerd at th delae. It wuz trooly supurb. A tower roez to th seeling, hafwae up apeerd a windo with a lamp burning in it, and behiend th whiet curten apeerd Zara in a luvly bloo and silver dres, waeting for Roderigo. He caem in gorjus arae, with ploomd cap, red cloek, chestnut lovelocks, a gitar, and th boots, of corss. Neeling at th fuut of th tower, he sang a serenaed in melting toens. Zara replied and, after a muezikal diealog, consented to fli. Then caem th grand efekt of th plae. Roderigo produest a roep lader, with fiev steps to it, throo up wun end, and invieted Zara to desend. Timidly she crept from her latis, puut her hand on Roderigo’s shoelder, and wuz about to leep graesfuly doun when “Alas! Alas for Zara!” she forgot her traen. It caut in th windo, th tower toterd, leend forward, fel with a crash, and berryd th unhapy luvers in th rooins.

A uenivursal shreek aroez as th ruset boots waevd wieldly from th rek and a goelden hed emurjd, exclaeming, “I toeld U so! I toeld U so!” With wunderful prezenss of miend, Don Pedro, th crooel sier, rusht in, dragd out his dauter, with a hasty asied...

“Doen’t laf! Akt as if it wuz all riet!” and, ordering Roderigo up, banisht him from th kingdom with rath and scorn. Tho desiededly shaeken bi th faul from th tower upon him, Roderigo defied th oeld jentlman and refuezd to stur. This dauntles exampl fierd Zara. She aulso defied her sier, and he orderd them boeth to th deepest dunjons of th casl. A stout litl retaener caem in with chaens and led them awae, luuking verry much frietend and evidently forgeting th speech he aut to hav maed.

Akt thurd wuz th casl haul, and heer Hagar apeerd, having cum to free th luvers and finish Hugo. She heers him cuming and hieds, sees him puut th poeshons into too cups of wien and bid th timid litl survant, “Baer them to th captivs in thaer sels, and tel them I shal cum anon.” Th survant taeks Hugo asied to tel him sumthing, and Hagar chaenjes th cups for too uthers which ar harmles. Ferdinando, th ‘minyon’, carrys them awae, and Hagar puuts bak th cup which hoelds th poizon ment for Roderigo. Hugo, geting thursty after a long worbl, drinks it, loozes his wits, and after a guud deel of cluching and stamping, fauls flat and dies, whiel Hagar informs him whot she has dun in a song of exqizit power and melody.

This wuz a trooly thriling seen, tho sum pursons miet hav thaut that th suden tumbling doun of a qontity of long red haer rather mard th efekt of th vilan’s deth. He wuz cauld befor th curten, and with graet proprieety apeerd, leeding Hagar, hoos singing wuz considerd mor wunderful than all th rest of th performanss puut together.

Akt foerth displaed th despaering Roderigo on th pointer of stabing himself becauz he has bin toeld that Zara has dezurted him. Just as th dager is at his hart, a luvly song is sung under his windo, informing him that Zara is troo but in daenjer, and he can saev her if he wil. A kee is throen in, which unloks th dor, and in a spazm of rapcher he teers off his chaens and rushes awae to fiend and rescue his laedy luv.

Akt fifth oepend with a stormy seen between Zara and Don Pedro. He wishes her to go into a convent, but she wun’t heer of it, and after a tuching apeel, is about to faent when Roderigo dashes in and demands her hand. Don Pedro refuezes, becauz he is not rich. Thae shout and jesticuelaet tremendusly but cannot agree, and Rodrigo is about to baer awae th exausted Zara, when th timid survant enters with a leter and a bag from Hagar, hoo has misteeriusly disapeerd. Th later informs th party that she beqeeths untoeld welth to th yung paer and an auful doom to Don Pedro, if he duzn’t maek them hapy. Th bag is oepend, and several qorts of tin muny shower doun upon th staej til it is qiet glorified with th gliter. This entierly sofens th sturn sier. He consents without a murmer, all join in a joyful corus, and th curten fauls upon th luvers neeling to reseev Don Pedro’s blesings in atitoods of th moest roemantik graess.

Toomulchu'us aplauz foloed but reseevd an unexpekted chek, for th cot bed, on which th dres surkl wuz bilt, sudenly shut up and extinggwist th enthoozistik audi’enss. Roderigo and Don Pedro floo to th rescue, and all wer taeken out unhurt, tho meny wer speechles with lafter. Th exsietment had hardly subsieded when Hannah apeerd, with “Mrs. March’s compliments, and wuud th laedys wauk doun to super.”

This wuz a serpriez eeven to th aktors, and when thae saw th taebl, thae luukt at wun anuther in rapcherus amaezment. It wuz liek Marmee to get up a litl treet for them, but enything so fien as this wuz unhurd of sinss th departed daes of plenty. Thaer wuz iess creem, akchualy too dishes of it, pink and whiet, and caek and froot and distrakting French bonbons and, in th midl of th taebl, foer graet boekaes of hot hous flowers.

It qiet tuuk thaer breth awae, and thae staerd furst at th taebl and then at thaer muther, hoo luukt as if she enjoyd it imensly.

“Is it faerys?” askt Amy.

“Santa Claus,” sed Baet.

“Muther did it.” And Meg smield her sweetest, in spiet of her grae beerd and whiet iebrows.

“Ant March had a guud fit and sent th super,” cried Jo, with a suden inspiraeshon.

“All rong. Oeld Mr. Laurence sent it,” replied Mrs. March.

“Th Laurence boy’s grandfaather! Whot in th wurld puut such a thing into his hed? We doen’t noe him!” exclaemd Meg.

“Hannah toeld wun of his survants about yuur brekfast party. He is an od oeld jentlman, but that pleezd him. He nue mi faather yeers ago, and he sent me a poliet noet this afternoon, saeing he hoept I wuud alow him to expres his frendly feeling tord mi children bi sending them a fue triefls in onor of th dae. I cuud not refuez, and so U hav a litl feest at niet to maek up for th bred-and-milk brekfast.”

“That boy puut it into his hed, I noe he did! He's a capital felo, and I wish we cuud get aqaented. He luuks as if he'd liek to noe us but he's bashful, and Meg is so prim she wun’t let me speek to him when we pas,” sed Jo, as th plaets went round, and th iess began to melt out of siet, with ohs and ahs of satisfakshon.

“U meen th peepl hoo liv in th big hous next dor, doen’t U?” askt wun of th gurls. “Mi muther noes oeld Mr. Laurence, but sez he's verry proud and duzn’t liek to mix with his naebors. He keeps his grandson shut up, when he isn’t rieding or wauking with his tuetor, and maeks him study verry hard. We invieted him to our party, but he didn’t cum. Muther sez he's verry niess, tho he never speeks to us gurls.”

“Our cat ran awae wunss, and he braut her bak, and we taukt oever th fenss, and wer geting on capitaly, all about criket, and so on, when he saw Meg cuming, and waukt off. I meen to noe him sum dae, for he needs fun, I’m shuur he duz,” sed Jo desiededly.

“I liek his maners, and he luuks liek a litl jentlman, so I’ve no objekshon to yuur noeing him, if a proper oportuenity cums. He braut th flowers himself, and I shuud hav askt him in, if I had bin shuur whot wuz going on upstaers. He luukt so wistful as he went awae, heering th frolik and evidently having nun of his oen.”

“It’s a mursy U didn’t, Muther!” laft Jo, luuking at her boots. “But we’l hav anuther plae sumtiem that he can see. Perhaps he'l help akt. Wuudn’t that be joly?”

“I never had such a fien boekae befor! How prity it is!” And Meg examind her flowers with graet interest.

“Thae ar luvly. But Baet’s roezes ar sweeter to me,” sed Mrs. March, smeling th haf-ded posy in her belt.

Baet nesld up to her, and whisperd softly, “I wish I cuud send mi bunch to Faather. I’m afraed he isn’t having such a merry Christmas as we ar.”


“Jo! Jo! Whaer ar U?” cried Meg at th fuut of th garret staers.

“Heer!” anserd a husky vois from abuv, and, runing up, Meg found her sister eeting apls and crieing oever th Aer of Redclyffe, rapt up in a cumforter on an oeld three-leged soefa bi th suny windo. This wuz Jo’s faevorit refuej, and heer she luvd to retier with haf a duzen russets and a niess buuk, to enjoy th qieet and th soesieety of a pet rat hoo livd neer bi and didn’t miend her a partikl. As Meg apeerd, Scrabl whiskt into his hoel. Jo shuuk th teers off her cheeks and waeted to heer th nues.

“Such fun! Oenly see! A reguelar noet of invitaeshon from Mrs. Gardiner for tomorro niet!” cried Meg, waeving th preshus paeper and then proseeding to red it with gurlish deliet.

“‘Mrs. Gardiner wuud be hapy to see Mis March and Mis Josephine at a litl danss on Nue Yeer's Eev.’ Marmee is wiling we shuud go, now whot shal we waer?”

“Whot’s th uez of asking that, when U noe we shal waer our poplins, becauz we haeven’t got enything elss?” anserd Jo with her mouth fuul.

“If I oenly had a silk!” sied Meg. “Muther sez I mae when I’m aeteen perhaps, but too yeers is an everlasting tiem to waet.”

“I’m shuur our pops luuk liek silk, and thae ar niess enuf for us. Yuurs is as guud as nue, but I forgot th burn and th teer in mien. Whotever shal I do? Th burn shoes badly, and I can’t taek eny out.”

“U must sit stil all U can and keep yuur bak out of siet. Th frunt is all riet. I shal hav a nue ribon for mi haer, and Marmee wil lend me her litl purl pin, and mi nue slipers ar luvly, and mi gluvs wil do, tho thae aren’t as niess as I’d liek.”

“Mien ar spoild with lemonaed, and I can’t get eny nue wuns, so I shal hav to go without,” sed Jo, hoo never trubld herself much about dres.

“U must hav gluvs, or I wun’t go,” cried Meg desiededly. “Gluvs ar mor important than enything elss. U can’t danss without them, and if U doen’t I shuud be so mortified.”

“Then I’ll stae stil. I doen’t caer much for cumpany dansing. It’s no fun to go saeling round. I liek to fli about and cut caepers.”

“U can’t ask Muther for nue wuns, thae ar so expensiv, and U ar so caerles. She sed when U spoild th uthers that she shouldn’t get U eny mor this winter. Can’t U maek them do?”

“I can hoeld them crumpld up in mi hand, so no-wun wil noe how staend thae ar. That’s all I can do. No! I’ll tel U how we can manej, eech waer wun guud wun and carry a bad wun. Doen’t U see?”

“Yuur hands ar biger than mien, and U wil strech mi gluv dredfuly,” began Meg, hoos gluvs wer a tender pointer with her.

“Then I’ll go without. I doen’t caer whot peepl sae!” cried Jo, taeking up her buuk.

“U mae hav it, U mae! Oenly doen’t staen it, and do behaev niesly. Doen’t puut yuur hands behiend U, or staer, or sae ‘Christopher Columbus!’ wil U?”

“Doen’t wury about me. I’ll be as prim as I can and not get into eny scraeps, if I can help it. Now go and anser yuur noet, and let me finish this splendid story.”

So Meg went awae to ‘aksept with thanks’, luuk oever her dres, and sing bliethly as she did up her wun reeal laess fril, whiel Jo finisht her story, her foer apls, and had a gaem of romps with Scrabl.

On Nue Yeer's Eev th parlor wuz dezurted, for th too yungger gurls plaed dresing maeds and th too elder wer absorbd in th all-important biznes of ‘geting redy for th party’. Simpl as th toilets wer, thaer wuz a graet deel of runing up and doun, lafing and tauking, and at wun tiem a strong smel of burnd haer pervaeded th hous. Meg wonted a fue curls about her faess, and Jo undertuuk to pinch th paeperd loks with a paer of hot tongs.

“Aut thae to smoek liek that?” askt Baet from her purch on th bed.

“It’s th dampnes drieing,” replied Jo.

“Whot a qeer smel! It’s liek burnd fethers,” obzurvd Amy, smoothing her oen prity curls with a supeerior aer.

“Thaer, now I’ll taek off th paepers and U’ll see a cloud of litl ringlets,” sed Jo, puuting doun th tongs.

She did taek off th paepers, but no cloud of ringlets apeerd, for th haer caem with th paepers, and th horrified haerdreser laed a roe of litl scorcht bundls on th buero befor her viktim.

“O, o, o! Whot hav U dun? I’m spoild! I can’t go! Mi haer, o, mi haer!” waeld Meg, luuking with despaer at th uneeven frizl on her forhed.

“Just mi luk! U shouldn’t hav askt me to do it. I aulwaes spoil everything. I’m so sorry, but th tongs wer too hot, and so I’ve maed a mes,” groend puur Jo, regarding th litl blak pancaeks with teers of regret.

“It isn’t spoild. Just frizl it, and tie yuur ribon so th ends cum on yuur forhed a bit, and it wil luuk liek th last fashon. I’ve seen meny gurls do it so,” sed Amy consolingly.

“Survs me riet for trieing to be fien. I wish I’d let mi haer aloen,” cried Meg petulantly.

“So do I, it wuz so smooth and prity. But it wil soon gro out agen,” sed Baet, cuming to kis and cumfort th shorn sheep.

After vaerius leser mis-haps, Meg wuz finisht at last, and bi th uenieted exurshons of th entier family Jo’s haer wuz got up and her dres on. Thae luukt verry wel in thaer simpl soots, Meg’s in silvery drab, with a bloo velvet snood, laess frils, and th purl pin. Jo in maroon, with a stif, jentlmanly linen colar, and a whiet crisanthemum or too for her oenly ornament. Eech puut on wun niess liet gluv, and carryd wun soild wun, and all pronounst th efekt “qiet eezy and fien”. Meg’s hie-heeld slipers wer verry tiet and hurt her, tho she wuud not oen it, and Jo’s nienteen haerpins all seemd stuk straet into her hed, which wuz not exaktly cumfortabl, but, deer me, let us be elegant or die.

“Hav a guud tiem, deerys!” sed Mrs. March, as th sisters went daentily doun th wauk. “Doen’t eet much super, and cum awae at eleven when I send Hannah for U.” As th gaet clasht behiend them, a vois cried from a windo...

“Gurls, gurls! Hav U U boeth got niess poket hankerchifs?”

“Yes, yes, spandy niess, and Meg has coloen on hers,” cried Jo, ading with a laf as thae went on, “I do beleev Marmee wuud ask that if we wer all runing awae from an urthqaek.”

“It is wun of her aristocratik taests, and qiet proper, for a reeal laedy is aulwaes noen bi neet boots, gluvs, and hankerchif,” replied Meg, hoo had a guud meny litl ‘aristocratik taests’ of her oen.

“Now doen’t forget to keep th bad bredth out of siet, Jo. Is mi sash riet? And duz mi haer luuk verry bad?” sed Meg, as she turnd from th glas in Mrs. Gardiner’s dresing room after a prolongd prink.

“I noe I shal forget. If U see me dooing enything rong, just remiend me bi a wink, wil U?” returnd Jo, giving her colar a twich and her hed a hasty brush.

“No, winking isn’t laedyliek. I’ll lift mi iebrows if eny thing is rong, and nod if U ar all riet. Now hoeld yuur shoelder straet, and taek short steps, and doen’t shaek hands if U ar introduest to enywun. It isn’t th thing.”

“How do U lurn all th proper waes? I never can. Isn’t that muezik gae?”

Doun thae went, feeling a triefl timid, for thae seldom went to partys, and informal as this litl gathering wuz, it wuz an event to them. Mrs. Gardiner, a staetly oeld laedy, greeted them kiendly and handed them oever to th eldest of her six dauters. Meg nue Sallie and wuz at her eez verry soon, but Jo, hoo didn’t caer much for gurls or gurlish gosip, stuud about, with her bak caerfuly agenst th waul, and felt as much out of plaess as a coelt in a flower garden. Haf a duzen joevial lads wer tauking about skaets in anuther part of th room, and she longd to go and join them, for skaeting wuz wun of th joys of her lief. She telegraft her wish to Meg, but th iebrows went up so alarmingly that she daerd not stur. No-wun caem to tauk to her, and wun by wun th groop dwindld awae til she wuz left aloen. She cuud not roem about and amuez herself, for th burnd bredth wuud sho, so she staerd at peepl rather forlornly til th dansing began. Meg wuz askt at wunss, and th tiet slipers tript about so briskly that nun wuud hav gest th paen thaer waerer suferd smielingly. Jo saw a big red heded yooth aproeching her corner, and feering he ment to engaej her, she slipt into a curtend resess, intending to peep and enjoy herself in peess. Unforchunatly, anuther bashful purson had choezen th saem refuej, for, as th curten fel behiend her, she found herself faess to faess with th ‘Laurence boy’.

“Deer me, I didn’t noe enywun wuz heer!” stamerd Jo, prepaering to bak out as speedily as she had bounst in.

But th boy laft and sed plezantly, tho he luukt a litl startld, “Doen’t miend me, stae if U liek.”

“Shan’t I disturb U?”

“Not a bit. I oenly caem heer becauz I doen’t noe meny peepl and felt rather straenj at furst, U noe.”

“So did I. Doen’t go awae, pleez, unles U’d rather.”

Th boy sat doun agen and luukt at his pumps, til Jo sed, trieing to be poliet and eezy, “I think I’ve had th plezher of seeing U befor. U liv neer us, doen’t U?”

“Next dor.” And he luukt up and laft outriet, for Jo’s prim maner wuz rather funy when he rememberd how thae had chated about criket when he braut th cat hoem.

That puut Jo at her eez and she laft too, as she sed, in her hartyest wae, “We did hav such a guud tiem oever yuur niess Christmas prezent.”

“Grandpaa sent it.”

“But U puut it into his hed, didn’t U, now?”

“How is yuur cat, Mis March?” askt th boy, trieing to luuk soeber whiel his blak ies shoen with fun.

“Niesly, thank U, Mr. Laurence. But I am not Mis March, I’m oenly Jo,” returnd th yung laedy.

“I’m not Mr. Laurence, I’m oenly Laurie.”

“Laurie Laurence, whot an od naem.”

“Mi furst naem is Theodore, but I doen’t liek it, for th feloes cauld me Dora, so I maed them sae Laurie insted.”

“I haet mi naem, too, so sentimental! I wish every wun wuud sae Jo insted of Josephine. How did U maek th boys stop cauling U Dora?”

“I thrasht ’em.”

“I can’t thrash Ant March, so I supoez I shal hav to baer it.” And Jo reziend herself with a sie.

“Doen’t U liek to danss, Mis Jo?” askt Laurie, luuking as if he thaut th naem sooted her.

“I liek it wel enuf if thaer is plenty of room, and everywun is lievly. In a plaess liek this I’m shuur to upset sumthing, tred on peepl’s toes, or do sumthing dredful, so I keep out of mischif and let Meg sael about. Doen’t U danss?”

“Sumtiems. U see I’ve bin abraud a guud meny yeers, and haeven’t bin into cumpany enuf yet to noe how U do things heer.”

“Abraud!” cried Jo. “O, tel me about it! I luv deerly to heer peepl descrieb thaer travels.”

Laurie didn’t seem to noe whaer to begin, but Jo’s eeger qeschons soon set him going, and he toeld her how he had bin at scool in Vevay, whaer th boys never wor hats and had a fleet of boets on th laek, and for holidae fun went on wauking trips about Switzerland with thaer teechers.

“Doen’t I wish I’d bin thaer!” cried Jo. “Did U go to Paris?”

“We spent last winter thaer.”

“Can U tauk French?”

“We wer not alowd to speek enything elss at Vevay.”

“Do sae sum! I can red it, but can’t pronounss.”

“Quel nom a cette jeune demoiselle en les pantoufles jolis?”

“How niesly U do it! Let me see ... U sed, ‘Hoo is th yung laedy in th prity slipers’, didn’t U?”

“Oui, mademezel.”

“It’s mi sister Margaret, and U nue it wuz! Do U think she is prity?”

“Yes, she maeks me think of th Jurman gurls, she luuks so fresh and qieet, and danses liek a laedy.”

Jo qiet gloed with plezher at this boyish praez of her sister, and stord it up to repeet to Meg. Boeth peept and critisiezd and chated til thae felt liek oeld aqaentanses. Laurie’s bashfulnes soon wor off, for Jo’s jentlmanly demeenor amuezd and set him at his eez, and Jo wuz her merry self agen, becauz her dres wuz forgoten and noebody lifted thaer iebrows at her. She liekt th ‘Laurence boy’ beter than ever and tuuk several guud luuks at him, so that she miet descrieb him to th gurls, for thae had no bruthers, verry fue mael cuzins, and boys wer aulmoest unnoen creechers to them.

“Curly blak haer, broun skin, big blak ies, handsum noez, fien teeth, smaul hands and feet, tauler than I am, verry poliet, for a boy, and aultogether joly. Wunder how oeld he is?”

It wuz on th tip of Jo’s tung to ask, but she chekt herself in tiem and, with uenuezhual takt, tried to fiend out in a round-about wae.

“I supoez U ar going to colej soon? I see U peging awae at yuur buuks, no, I meen studying hard.” And Jo blusht at th dredful ‘peging’ which had escaept her.

Laurie smield but didn’t seem shokt, and anserd with a shrug. “Not for a yeer or too. I wun’t go befor seventeen, enywae.”

“Aren’t U but fifteen?” askt Jo, luuking at th taul lad, hoom she had imajind seventeen aulredy.

“Sixteen, next munth.”

“How I wish I wuz going to colej! U doen’t luuk as if U liekt it.”

“I haet it! Nuthing but griending or skielarking. And I doen’t liek th wae feloes do eether, in this cuntry.”

“Whot do U liek?”

“To liv in Italy, and to enjoy mieself in mi oen wae.”

Jo wonted verry much to ask whot his oen wae wuz, but his blak brows luukt rather thretening as he nit them, so she chaenjd th subjekt bi saeing, as her fuut kept tiem, “That’s a splendid poelca! Whi doen’t U go and tri it?”

“If U wil cum too,” he anserd, with a galant litl boe.

“I can’t, for I toeld Meg I wuudn’t, becauz...” Thaer Jo stopt, and luukt undesieded whether to tel or to laf.

“Becauz, whot?”

“U wun’t tel?”


“Wel, I hav a bad trik of standing befor th fier, and so I burn mi froks, and I scorcht this wun, and tho it’s niesly mended, it shoes, and Meg toeld me to keep stil so no-wun wuud see it. U mae laf, if U wont to. It is funy, I noe.”

But Laurie didn’t laf. He oenly luukt doun a mienuet, and th expreshon of his faess puzld Jo when he sed verry jently, “Never miend that. I’ll tel U how we can manej. Thaer’s a long haul out thaer, and we can danss grandly, and no-wun wil see us. Pleez cum.”

Jo thankt him and gladly went, wishing she had too neet gluvs when she saw th niess, purl-culord wuns her partner wor. Th haul wuz empty, and thae had a grand poelca, for Laurie danst wel, and taut her th Jurman step, which delieted Jo, being fuul of swing and spring. When th muezik stopt, thae sat doun on th staers to get thaer breth, and Laurie wuz in th midst of an acount of a stoodents’ festival at Heidelberg when Meg apeerd in surch of her sister. She becond, and Jo reluktantly foloed her into a sied room, whaer she found her on a soefa, hoelding her fuut, and luuking pael.

“I’ve spraend mi ankl. That stoopid hie heel turnd and gaev me a sad rench. It aeks so, I can hardly stand, and I doen’t noe how I’m ever going to get hoem,” she sed, roking to and fro in paen.

“I nue U’d hurt yuur feet with thoes sily shoos. I’m sorry. But I doen’t see whot U can do, exsept get a carrej, or stae heer all niet,” anserd Jo, softly rubing th puur ankl as she spoek.

“I can’t hav a carrej without its costing ever so much. I daer sae I can’t get wun at all, for moest peepl cum in thaer oen, and it’s a long wae to th staebl, and no-wun to send.”

“I’ll go.”

“No, indeed! It’s past nien, and dark as Egypt. I can’t stop heer, for th hous is fuul. Sallie has sum gurls staeing with her. I’ll rest til Hannah cums, and then do th best I can.”

“I’ll ask Laurie. He wil go,” sed Jo, luuking releevd as th iedeea ocurd to her.

“Mursy, no! Doen’t ask or tel enywun. Get me mi rubers, and puut thees slipers with our things. I can’t danss enymor, but as soon as super is oever, woch for Hannah and tel me th mienuet she cums.”

“Thae ar going out to super now. I’ll stae with U. I’d rather.”

“No, deer, run along, and bring me sum cofy. I’m so tierd I can’t stur.”

So Meg recliend, with rubers wel hiden, and Jo went blundering awae to th diening room, which she found after going into a chiena clozet, and oepening th dor of a room whaer oeld Mr. Gardiner wuz taeking a litl prievat refreshment. Maeking a dart at th taebl, she secuerd th cofy, which she imeediatly spild, thaerbi maeking th frunt of her dres as bad as th bak.

“O, deer, whot a blunderbus I am!” exclaemd Jo, finishing Meg’s gluv by scrubing her goun with it.

“Can I help U?” sed a frendly vois. And thaer wuz Laurie, with a fuul cup in wun hand and a plaet of iess in th uther.

“I wuz trieing to get sumthing for Meg, hoo is verry tierd, and sumwun shuuk me, and heer I am in a niess staet,” anserd Jo, glansing dizmaly from th staend scurt to th cofy-culord gluv.

“Too bad! I wuz luuking for sumwun to giv this to. Mae I taek it to yuur sister?”

“O, thank U! I’ll sho U whaer she is. I doen’t ofer to taek it mieself, for I shuud oenly get into anuther scraep if I did.”

Jo led th wae, and as if uezd to waeting on laedys, Laurie droo up a litl taebl, braut a second instaulment of cofy and iess for Jo, and wuz so obliejing that eeven particuelar Meg pronounst him a ‘niess boy’. Thae had a merry tiem oever th bonbons and motoes, and wer in th midst of a qieet gaem of Buz, with too or three uther yung peepl hoo had straed in, when Hannah apeerd. Meg forgot her fuut and roez so qikly that she wuz forst to cach hoeld of Jo, with an exclamaeshon of paen.

“Hush! Doen’t sae enything,” she whisperd, ading aloud, “It’s nuthing. I turnd mi fuut a litl, that’s all,” and limpt upstaers to puut her things on.

Hannah scoelded, Meg cried, and Jo wuz at her wits’ end, til she desieded to taek things into her oen hands. Sliping out, she ran doun and, fiending a survant, askt if he cuud get her a carrej. It hapend to be a hierd waeter hoo nue nuthing about th naeborhuud and Jo wuz luuking round for help when Laurie, hoo had hurd whot she sed, caem up and oferd his grandfaather’s carrej, which had just cum for him, he sed.

“It’s so urly! U can’t meen to go yet?” began Jo, luuking releevd but hezitaeting to aksept th ofer.

“I aulwaes go urly, I do, trooly! Pleez let me taek U hoem. It’s all on mi wae, U noe, and it raens, thae sae.”

That setld it, and teling him of Meg’s mis-hap, Jo graetfuly aksepted and rusht up to bring doun th rest of th party. Hannah haeted raen as much as a cat duz so she maed no trubl, and thae roeld awae in th lugzhuurius cloez carrej, feeling verry festiv and elegant. Laurie went on th box so Meg cuud keep her fuut up, and th gurls taukt oever thaer party in freedom.

“I had a capital tiem. Did U?” askt Jo, rumpling up her haer, and maeking herself cumfortabl.

“Yes, til I hurt mieself. Sallie’s frend, Annie Moffat, tuuk a fansy to me, and askt me to cum and spend a week with her when Sallie duz. She is going in th spring when th opera cums, and it wil be purfektly splendid, if Muther oenly lets me go,” anserd Meg, cheering up at th thaut.

“I saw U dansing with th red heded man I ran awae from. Wuz he niess?”

“O, verry! His haer is aubern, not red, and he wuz verry poliet, and I had a delishus redowa with him.”

“He luukt liek a gras-hoper in a fit when he did th nue step. Laurie and I cuudn’t help lafing. Did U heer us?”

“No, but it wuz verry rood. Whot wer U about all that tiem, hiden awae thaer?”

Jo toeld her advenchers, and bi th tiem she had finisht thae wer at hoem. With meny thanks, thae sed guud niet and crept in, hoeping to disturb no-wun, but th instant thaer dor creekt, too litl nightcaps bobd up, and too sleepy but eeger voises cried out...

“Tel about th party! Tel about th party!”

With whot Meg cauld ‘a graet wont of maners’ Jo had saevd sum bonbons for th litl gurls, and thae soon subsieded, after heering th moest thriling events of th eevning.

“I declaer, it reealy seems liek being a fien yung laedy, to cum hoem from th party in a carrej and sit in mi dresing goun with a maed to waet on me,” sed Meg, as Jo bound up her fuut with arnica and brusht her haer.

“I doen’t beleev fien yung laedys enjoy themselvs a bit mor than we do, in spiet of our burnd haer, oeld gouns, wun gluv apeess and tiet slipers that spraen our ankls when we ar sily enuf to waer them.” And I think Jo wuz qiet riet.


“O, deer, how hard it duz seem to taek up our paks and go on,” sied Meg th morning after th party, for now th holidaes wer oever, th week of merrymaeking did not fit her for going on eezily with th task she never liekt.

“I wish it wuz Christmas or Nue Yeer's all th tiem. Wuudn’t it be fun?” anserd Jo, yauning dizmaly.

“We shouldn’t enjoy ourselvs haf so much as we do now. But it duz seem so niess to hav litl supers and boekaes, and go to partys, and driev hoem, and red and rest, and not wurk. It’s liek uther peepl, U noe, and I aulwaes envy gurls hoo do such things, I’m so fond of lukshery,” sed Meg, trieing to desied which of too shaby gouns wuz th leest shaby.

“Wel, we can’t hav it, so doen’t let us grumbl but shoelder our bundls and truj along as cheerfuly as Marmee duz. I’m shuur Ant March is a reguelar Oeld Man of th See to me, but I supoez when I’ve lurnd to carry her without complaening, she wil tumbl off, or get so liet that I shan’t miend her.”

This iedeea tikld Jo’s fansy and puut her in guud spirits, but Meg didn’t brieten, for her burden, consisting of foer spoild children, seemd hevyer than ever. She had not hart enuf eeven to maek herself prity as uezhual bi puuting on a bloo nek ribon and dresing her haer in th moest becuming wae.

“Whaer’s th uez of luuking niess, when no-wun sees me but thoes cros mijets, and no-wun caers whether I’m prity or not?” she muterd, shuting her drawer with a jurk. “I shal hav to toil and moil all mi daes, with oenly litl bits of fun now and then, and get oeld and ugly and sour, becauz I’m puur and can’t enjoy mi lief as uther gurls do. It’s a shaem!”

So Meg went doun, waering an injerd luuk, and wuzn’t at all agreeabl at brekfast tiem. Everywun seemd rather out of sorts and incliend to croek.

Baet had a hedaek and lae on th soefa, trieing to cumfort herself with th cat and three kitens. Amy wuz freting becauz her lesons wer not lurnd, and she cuudn’t fiend her rubers. Jo wuud whisl and maek a graet raket geting redy.

Mrs. March wuz verry bizy trieing to finish a leter, which must go at wunss, and Hannah had th grumps, for being up laet didn’t soot her.

“Thaer never wuz such a cros family!” cried Jo, loozing her temper when she had upset an inkstand, broeken boeth boot lacings, and sat doun upon her hat.

“U’r th crossest purson in it!” returnd Amy, woshing out th sum that wuz all rong with th teers that had faulen on her slaet.

“Baet, if U doen’t keep thees horrid cats doun selar I’ll hav them dround,” exclaemd Meg anggrily as she tried to get rid of th kiten which had scrambld up her bak and stuk liek a bur just out of reech.

Jo laft, Meg scoelded, Baet implord, and Amy waeld becauz she cuudn’t remember how much nien tiems twelv wuz.

“Gurls, gurls, do be qieet wun mienuet! I must get this off bi th urly mael, and U driev me distrakted with yuur wury,” cried Mrs. March, crosing out th thurd spoild sentenss in her leter.

Thaer wuz a moementaery lul, broeken bi Hannah, hoo staukt in, laed too hot turnoevers on th taebl, and staukt out agen. Thees turnoevers wer an institooshon, and th gurls cauld them ‘mufs’, for thae had no uthers and found th hot pies verry cumforting to thaer hands on coeld mornings.

Hannah never forgot to maek them, no mater how bizy or grumpy she miet be, for th wauk wuz long and bleek. Th puur things got no uther lunch and wer seldom hoem befor too.

“Cudl yuur cats and get oever yuur hedaek, Bethy. Guudbi, Marmee. We ar a set of rascals this morning, but we’l cum hoem reguelar aenjels. Now then, Meg!” And Jo trampt awae, feeling that th pilgrims wer not setting out as thae aut to do.

Thae aulwaes luukt bak befor turning th corner, for thaer muther wuz aulwaes at th windo to nod and smiel, and waev her hand to them. Sumhow it seemd as if thae cuudn’t hav got thru th dae without that, for whotever thaer mood miet be, th last glimps of that mutherly faess wuz shuur to afekt them liek sunshien.

“If Marmee shuuk her fist insted of kissing her hand to us, it wuud surv us riet, for mor ungraetful reches than we ar wer never seen,” cried Jo, taeking a remorsful satisfakshon in th snoey wauk and biter wiend.

“Doen’t uez such dredful expreshons,” replied Meg from th depths of th vael in which she had shrouded herself liek a nun sik of th wurld.

“I liek guud strong wurds that meen sumthing,” replied Jo, caching her hat as it tuuk a leep off her hed preparratory to flieing awae aultogether.

“Caul yuurself eny naems U liek, but I am neether a rascal nor a rech and I doen’t chooz to be cauld so.”

“U’r a blieted being, and desiededly cros todae becauz U can’t sit in th lap of lukshery all th tiem. Puur deer, just waet til I maek mi forchun, and U shal revel in carrejs and iess creem and hie-heeld slipers, and posies, and red-heded boys to danss with.”

“How ridicuelus U ar, Jo!” But Meg laft at th nonsenss and felt beter in spiet of herself.

“Luky for U I am, for if I puut on crusht aers and tried to be dizmal, as U do, we shuud be in a niess staet. Thank guudnes, I can aulwaes fiend sumthing funy to keep me up. Doen’t croek eny mor, but cum hoem joly, thaer’s a deer.”

Jo gaev her sister an encurejing pat on th shoelder as thae parted for th dae, eech going a diferent wae, eech huging her litl worm turnoever, and eech trieing to be cheerful in spiet of wintry wether, hard wurk, and th unsatisfied deziers of plezher-luving yooth.

When Mr. March lost his property in trieing to help an unforchunat frend, th too oeldest gurls begd to be alowd to do sumthing tord thaer oen suport, at leest. Beleeving that thae cuud not begin too urly to cultivaet enerjy, industry, and independenss, thaer paerents consented, and boeth fel to wurk with th harty guud wil which in spiet of all obstakls is shuur to sukseed at last.

Margaret found a plaess as nursery guvernes and felt rich with her smaul salary. As she sed, she wuz ‘fond of lukshery’, and her cheef trubl wuz poverty. She found it harder to baer than th uthers becauz she cuud remember a tiem when hoem wuz buetiful, lief fuul of eez and plezher, and wont of eny kiend unnoen. She tried not to be envius or discontented, but it wuz verry nacheral that th yung gurl shuud long for prity things, gae frends, acomplishments, and a hapy lief. At th Kings’ she daely saw all she wonted, for th children’s oelder sisters wer just out, and Meg caut freeqent glimpses of daenty baul dreses and boekaes, hurd lievly gosip about theeaters, conserts, sleighing partys, and merrymakings of all kiends, and saw muny lavisht on triefls which wuud hav bin so preshus to her. Puur Meg seldom complaend, but a senss of injustis maed her feel biter tord everywun sumtiems, for she had not yet lurnd to noe how rich she wuz in th blesings which aloen can maek lief hapy.

Jo hapend to soot Ant March, hoo wuz laem and needed an aktiv purson to waet upon her. Th chieldles oeld laedy had oferd to adopt wun of th gurls when th trubls caem, and wuz much ofended becauz her ofer wuz decliend. Uther frends toeld th Marches that thae had lost all chanss of being rememberd in th rich oeld laedy’s wil, but th unwurldly Marches oenly sed...

“We can’t giv up our gurls for a duzen forchuns. Rich or puur, we wil keep together and be hapy in wun anuther.”

Th oeld laedy wuudn’t speek to them for a tiem, but hapening to meet Jo at a frend’s, sumthing in her comikal faess and blunt maners struk th oeld laedy’s fansy, and she propoezd to taek her for a companyon. This did not soot Jo at all, but she aksepted th plaess sinss nuthing beter apeerd and, to every wun’s serpriez, got on remarkably wel with her irasibl relativ. Thaer wuz an ocaezhonal tempest, and wunss Jo marcht hoem, declaering she cuudn’t baer it longger, but Ant March aulwaes cleerd up qikly, and sent for her to cum bak agen with such urjensy that she cuud not refuez, for in her hart she rather liekt th pepery oeld laedy.

I suspekt that th reeal atrakshon wuz a larj liebraery of fien buuks, which wuz left to dust and spieders sinss Unkl March died. Jo rememberd th kiend oeld jentlman, hoo uezd to let her bild raelroeds and brijes with his big dikshonaerys, tel her storys about qeer pikchers in his Latin buuks, and bie her cards of jinjerbred whenever he met her in th street. Th dim, dusty room, with th busts staering doun from th taul buukcaeses, th coezy chaers, th gloebs, and best of all, th wildernes of buuks in which she cuud waander whaer she liekt, maed th liebraery a reejon of blis to her.

Th moement Ant March tuuk her nap, or wuz bizy with cumpany, Jo huryd to this qieet plaess, and curling herself up in th eezy chaer, devourd poeetry, roemanss, history, travels, and pikchers liek a reguelar buukwurm. But, liek all hapynes, it did not last long, for as shuur as she had just reecht th hart of th story, th sweetest vurss of a song, or th moest perrilus advencher of her traveler, a shril vois cauld, “Josy-phine! Josy-phine!” and she had to leev her parradiess to wiend yarn, wosh th poodel, or red Belsham’s Esaes bi th our together.

Jo’s ambishon wuz to do sumthing verry splendid. Whot it wuz, she had no iedeea as yet, but left it for tiem to tel her, and meenwhiel, found her graetest aflikshon in th fakt that she cuudn’t red, run, and ried as much as she liekt. A qik temper, sharp tung, and restles spirit wer aulwaes geting her into scraeps, and her lief wuz a seerys of ups and douns, which wer boeth comik and pathetik. But th traening she reseevd at Ant March’s wuz just whot she needed, and th thaut that she wuz dooing sumthing to suport herself maed her hapy in spiet of th perpechual “Josy-phine!”

Baet wuz too bashful to go to scool. It had bin tried, but she suferd so much that it wuz given up, and she did her lesons at hoem with her faather. Eeven when he went awae, and her muther wuz cauld to devoet her skil and enerjy to Soeljers’ Aed Soesieetys, Baet went faethfuly on by herself and did th best she cuud. She wuz a housewifely litl creecher, and helpt Hannah keep hoem neet and cumfortabl for th wurkers, never thinking of eny reword but to be luvd. Long, qieet daes she spent, not loenly nor iedl, for her litl wurld wuz peepld with imajinaery frends, and she wuz by naecher a bizy bee. Thaer wer six dols to be taeken up and drest every morning, for Baet wuz a chield stil and luvd her pets as wel as ever. Not wun hoel or handsum wun amung them, all wer outcasts til Baet tuuk them in, for when her sisters outgroo thees iedols, thae past to her becauz Amy wuud hav nuthing oeld or ugly. Baet cherrisht them all th mor tenderly for that verry reezon, and set up a hospital for infurm dols. No pins wer ever stuk into thaer coton vietals, no harsh wurds or bloes wer ever given them, no neglekt ever sadend th hart of th moest repulsiv, but all wer fed and cloethd, nurst and carest with an afekshon which never faeld. Wun forlorn fragment of dollanity had belongd to Jo and, having led a tempeschu'us lief, wuz left a rek in th rag bag, from which dreery porhous it wuz rescued by Baet and taeken to her refuej. Having no top to its hed, she tied on a neet litl cap, and as boeth arms and legs wer gon, she hid thees defishensys by foelding it in a blanket and devoeting her best bed to this cronik invalid. If enywun had noen th caer lavisht on that doly, I think it wuud hav tucht thaer harts, eeven whiel thae laft. She braut it bits of boekaes, she red to it, tuuk it out to breeth fresh aer, hiden under her coet, she sang it lulabies and never went to bed without kissing its durty faess and whispering tenderly, “I hoep U’ll hav a guud niet, mi puur deer.”

Baet had her trubls as wel as th uthers, and not being an aenjel but a verry hueman litl gurl, she ofen ‘wept a litl weep’ as Jo sed, becauz she cuudn’t taek muezik lesons and hav a fien peano. She luvd muezik so deerly, tried so hard to lurn, and praktist awae so paeshently at th jingling oeld instrument, that it did seem as if sumwun (not to hint Ant March) aut to help her. Noebody did, however, and noebody saw Baet wiep th teers off th yelo kees, that wuudn’t keep in tuen, when she wuz all aloen. She sang liek a litl lark about her wurk, never wuz too tierd for Marmee and th gurls, and dae after dae sed hoepfuly to herself, “I noe I’ll get mi muezik sum tiem, if I’m guud.”

Thaer ar meny Beths in th wurld, shi and qieet, siting in corners til needed, and living for uthers so cheerfuly that no-wun sees th sacrifieses til th litl criket on th harth stops churping, and th sweet, sunshiny prezenss vanishes, leeving sielenss and shado behiend.

If enybody had askt Amy whot th graetest trieal of her lief wuz, she wuud hav anserd at wunss, “Mi noez.” When she wuz a baeby, Jo had aksidently dropt her into th coel hod, and Amy insisted that th faul had rooind her noez forever. It wuz not big nor red, liek puur ‘Petrea’s’, it wuz oenly rather flat, and all th pinching in th wurld cuud not giv it an aristocratik pointer. No-wun miended it but herself, and it wuz dooing its best to gro, but Amy felt deeply th wont of a Greeshan noez, and droo hoel sheets of handsum wuns to consoel herself.

“Litl Raphael,” as her sisters cauld her, had a desieded talent for drawing, and wuz never so hapy as when copying flowers, deziening faerys, or ilustraeting storys with qeer spesimens of art. Her teechers complaend that insted of dooing her sums she cuverd her slaet with animals, th blank paejes of her atlas wer uezd to copy maps on, and carricachuurs of th moest loodicrus descripshon caem flutering out of all her buuks at unluky moements. She got thru her lesons as wel as she cuud, and manejd to escaep reprimands bi being a model of deportment. She wuz a graet faevorit with her maets, being guud-temperd and pozesing th hapy art of pleezing without efort. Her litl aers and graeses wer much admierd, so wer her acomplishments, for besieds her drawing, she cuud plae twelv tuens, croeshae, and red French without mispronounsing mor than too-thurds of th wurds. She had a plaentiv wae of saeing, “When Paapa wuz rich we did so-and-so,” which wuz verry tuching, and her long wurds wer considerd ‘purfektly elegant’ bi th gurls.

Amy wuz in a faer wae to be spoild, for everywun peted her, and her smaul vanitys and selfishnesses wer groeing niesly. Wun thing, however, rather qencht th vanitys. She had to waer her cuzin’s cloeths. Now Florence’s maama hadn’t a partikl of taest, and Amy suferd deeply at having to waer a red insted of a bloo bonet, unbecuming gouns, and fusy aeprons that did not fit. Everything wuz guud, wel maed, and litl worn, but Amy’s artistik ies wer much aflikted, espeshaly this winter, when her scool dres wuz a dul purpl with yelo dots and no triming.

“Mi oenly cumfort,” she sed to Meg, with teers in her ies, “is that Muther duzn’t taek tuks in mi dreses whenever I’m nauty, as Maria Parks’s muther duz. Mi deer, it’s reealy dredful, for sumtiems she is so bad her frok is up to her nees, and she can’t cum to scool. When I think of this deggerredation, I feel that I can baer eeven mi flat noez and purpl goun with yelo ski-rokets on it.”

Meg wuz Amy’s confidant and monitor, and by sum straenj atrakshon of opozits Jo wuz jentl Baet’s. To Jo aloen did th shi chield tel her thauts, and oever her big haerum-scaerum sister Baet unconshusly exsersiezd mor inflooenss than enywun in th family. Th too oelder gurls wer a graet deel to wun anuther, but eech tuuk wun of th yungger sisters into her keeping and wocht oever her in her oen wae, ‘plaeing muther’ thae cauld it, and puut thaer sisters in th plaeses of discarded dols with th maturnal instinkt of litl wimen.

“Has enybody got enything to tel? It’s bin such a dizmal dae I’m reealy dieing for sum amuezment,” sed Meg, as thae sat soeing together that eevning.

“I had a qeer tiem with Ant todae, and, as I got th best of it, I’ll tel U about it,” began Jo, hoo deerly luvd to tel storys. “I wuz reeding that everlasting Belsham, and droening awae as I aulwaes do, for Ant soon drops off, and then I taek out sum niess buuk, and red liek fuery til she waeks up. I akchualy maed mieself sleepy, and befor she began to nod, I gaev such a gaep that she askt me whot I ment bi oepening mi mouth wied enuf to taek th hoel buuk in at wunss.”

“I wish I cuud, and be dun with it,” sed I, trieing not to be sausy.

“Then she gaev me a long lekcher on mi sins, and toeld me to sit and think them oever whiel she just ‘lost’ herself for a moement. She never fiends herself verry soon, so th mienuet her cap began to bob liek a top-hevy dalya, I whipt th Viker of Wakefield out of mi poket, and red awae, with wun ie on him and wun on Ant. I’d just got to whaer thae all tumbld into th wauter when I forgot and laft out loud. Ant woek up and, being mor guud-naecherd after her nap, toeld me to red a bit and sho whot frivolus wurk I prefurd to th wurthy and instruktiv Belsham. I did mi verry best, and she liekt it, tho she oenly sed...

“‘I doen’t understand whot it’s all about. Go bak and begin it, chield.’”

“Bak I went, and maed th Primroezes as interesting as ever I cuud. Wunss I wuz wiked enuf to stop in a thriling plaess, and sae meekly, ‘I’m afraed it tiers U, maa’am. Shan’t I stop now?’”

“She caut up her niting, which had dropt out of her hands, gaev me a sharp luuk thru her speks, and sed, in her short wae, ‘Finish th chapter, and doen’t be impurtinent, mis’.”

“Did she oen she liekt it?” askt Meg.

“O, bles U, no! But she let oeld Belsham rest, and when I ran bak after mi gluvs this afternoon, thaer she wuz, so hard at th Viker that she didn’t heer me laf as I danst a jig in th haul becauz of th guud tiem cuming. Whot a plezant lief she miet hav if oenly she choez! I doen’t envy her much, in spiet of her muny, for after all rich peepl hav about as meny wurys as puur wuns, I think,” aded Jo.

“That remiends me,” sed Meg, “that I’ve got sumthing to tel. It isn’t funy, liek Jo’s story, but I thaut about it a guud deel as I caem hoem. At th Kings’ todae I found evrybody in a flury, and wun of th children sed that her oeldest bruther had dun sumthing dredful, and Paapa had sent him awae. I hurd Mrs. King crieing and Mr. King tauking verry loud, and Graess and Ellen turnd awae thaer faeses when thae past me, so I shouldn’t see how red and swoelen thaer ies wer. I didn’t ask eny qeschons, of corss, but I felt so sorry for them and wuz rather glad I hadn’t eny wield bruthers to do wiked things and disgraess th family.”

“I think being disgraest in scool is a graet deel triinger than enything bad boys can do,” sed Amy, shaeking her hed, as if her expeeri’enss of lief had bin a deep wun. “Susie Perkins caem to scool todae with a luvly red carneelian ring. I wonted it dredfuly, and wisht I wuz her with all mi miet. Wel, she droo a pikcher of Mr. Davis, with a monstrus noez and a hump, and th wurds, ‘Yung laedys, mi ie is upon U!’ cuming out of his mouth in a baloon thing. We wer lafing oever it when all of a suden his ie wuz on us, and he orderd Susie to bring up her slaet. She wuz parrylized with friet, but she went, and o, whot do U think he did? He tuuk her bi th eer—th eer! Just fansy how horrid!—and led her to th resitaeshon platform, and maed her stand thaer haf an our, hoelding th slaet so everywun cuud see.”

“Didn’t th gurls laf at th pikcher?” askt Jo, hoo relisht th scraep.

“Laf? Not wun! Thae sat stil as miess, and Susie cried qorts, I noe she did. I didn’t envy her then, for I felt that milyons of carneelian rings wuudn’t hav maed me hapy after that. I never, never shuud hav got oever such a agoniezing mortificaeshon.” And Amy went on with her wurk, in th proud conshusnes of vurchoo and th suksesful uteranss of too long wurds in a breth.

“I saw sumthing I liekt this morning, and I ment to tel it at diner, but I forgot,” sed Baet, puuting Jo’s topsy-turvy basket in order as she taukt. “When I went to get sum oisters for Hannah, Mr. Laurence wuz in th fish shop, but he didn’t see me, for I kept behiend th fish barrel, and he wuz bizy with Mr. Cuter th fish-man. A puur wuuman caem in with a pael and a mop, and askt Mr. Cuter if he wuud let her do sum scrubing for a bit of fish, becauz she hadn’t eny diner for her children, and had bin disapointed of a dae’s wurk. Mr. Cuter wuz in a hurry and sed ‘No’, rather crosly, so she wuz going awae, luuking hunggry and sorry, when Mr. Laurence huukt up a big fish with th cruuked end of his caen and held it out to her. She wuz so glad and serpriezd she tuuk it riet into her arms, and thankt him oever and oever. He toeld her to ‘go along and cuuk it’, and she huryd off, so hapy! Wuzn’t it guud of him? O, she did luuk so funy, huging th big, slipery fish, and hoeping Mr. Laurence’s bed in heven wuud be ‘aisy’.”

When thae had laft at Baet’s story, thae askt thaer muther for wun, and after a moements thaut, she sed soeberly, “As I sat cuting out bloo flanel jakets todae at th rooms, I felt verry ankshus about Faather, and thaut how loenly and helples we shuud be, if enything hapend to him. It wuz not a wiez thing to do, but I kept on wurying til an oeld man caem in with an order for sum cloeths. He sat doun neer me, and I began to tauk to him, for he luukt puur and tierd and ankshus.

“‘Hav U suns in th army?’ I askt, for th noet he braut wuz not to me.”

“Yes, maa’am. I had foer, but too wer kild, wun is a prizoner, and I’m going to th uther, hoo is verry sik in a Washington hospital.’ he anserd qieetly.”

“‘U hav dun a graet deel for yuur cuntry, sur,’ I sed, feeling respekt now, insted of pity.”

“‘Not a miet mor than I aut, maa’am. I’d go mieself, if I wuz eny uez. As I ain’t, I giv mi boys, and giv ’em free.’”

“He spoek so cheerfuly, luukt so sinseer, and seemd so glad to giv his all, that I wuz ashaemd of mieself. I’d given wun man and thaut it too much, whiel he gaev foer without grujing them. I had all mi gurls to cumfort me at hoem, and his last sun wuz waeting, miels awae, to sae guud-bi to him, perhaps! I felt so rich, so hapy thinking of mi blesings, that I maed him a niess bundl, gaev him sum muny, and thankt him hartily for th leson he had taut me.”

“Tel anuther story, Muther, wun with a moral to it, liek this. I liek to think about them afterward, if thae ar reeal and not too preechy,” sed Jo, after a mienuet’s sielenss.

Mrs. March smield and began at wunss, for she had toeld storys to this litl audi’enss for meny yeers, and nue how to pleez them.

“Wunss upon a tiem, thaer wer foer gurls, hoo had enuf to eet and drink and waer, a guud meny cumforts and plezhers, kiend frends and paerents hoo luvd them deerly, and yet thae wer not contented.” (Heer th liseners stoel sli luuks at wun anuther, and began to soe dilijently.) “Thees gurls wer ankshus to be guud and maed meny exselent rezolooshons, but thae did not keep them verry wel, and wer constantly saeing, ‘If oenly we had this,’ or ‘If we cuud oenly do that,’ qiet forgeting how much thae aulredy had, and how meny things thae akchualy cuud do. So thae askt an oeld wuuman whot spel thae cuud uez to maek them hapy, and she sed, ‘When U feel discontented, think oever yuur blesings, and be graetful.’” (Heer Jo luukt up qikly, as if about to speek, but chaenjd her miend, seeing that th story wuz not dun yet.)

“Being sensibl gurls, thae desieded to tri her adviess, and soon wer serpriezd to see how wel off thae wer. Wun discuverd that muny cuudn’t keep shaem and sorro out of rich peepl’s houses, anuther that, tho she wuz puur, she wuz a graet deel hapyer, with her yooth, helth, and guud spirits, than a surten fretful, feebl oeld laedy hoo cuudn’t enjoy her cumforts, a thurd that, disagreeabl as it wuz to help get diner, it wuz harder stil to go beging for it and th foerth, that eeven carneelian rings wer not so valueable as guud behaevyor. So thae agreed to stop complaening, to enjoy th blesings aulredy pozest, and tri to dezurv them, lest thae shuud be taeken awae entierly, insted of increest, and I beleev thae wer never disapointed or sorry that thae tuuk th oeld wuuman’s adviess.”

“Now, Marmee, that is verry cuning of U to turn our oen storys agenst us, and giv us a surmon insted of a roemanss!” cried Meg.

“I liek that kiend of surmon. It’s th sort Faather uezd to tel us,” sed Baet thautfuly, puuting th needls straet on Jo’s cuushon.

“I doen’t complaen neer as much as th uthers do, and I shal be mor caerful than ever now, for I’ve had worning from Susie’s dounfaul,” sed Amy moraly.

“We needed that leson, and we wun’t forget it. If we do so, U just sae to us, as oeld Chloe did in Unkl Tom, ‘Tink ob yer marcies, chillen!’ ‘Tink ob yer marcies!’” aded Jo, hoo cuud not, for th lief of her, help geting a morsel of fun out of th litl surmon, tho she tuuk it to hart as much as eny of them.

BEING Naeborly

“Whot in th wurld ar U going to do now, Jo?” askt Meg wun snoey afternoon, as her sister caem tramping thru th haul, in ruber boots, oeld sak, and huud, with a broom in wun hand and a shuvel in th uther.

“Going out for exsersiez,” anserd Jo with a mischivus twinkl in her ies.

“I shuud think too long wauks this morning wuud hav bin enuf! It’s coeld and dul out, and I adviez U to stae worm and dri bi th fier, as I do,” sed Meg with a shiver.

“Never taek adviess! Can’t keep stil all dae, and not being a puusycat, I doen’t liek to doez bi th fier. I liek advenchers, and I’m going to fiend sum.”

Meg went bak to toest her feet and red Ivanhoe, and Jo began to dig paths with graet enerjy. Th sno wuz liet, and with her broom she soon swept a path all round th garden, for Baet to wauk in when th sun caem out and th invalid dols needed aer. Now, th garden separaeted th Marches’ hous from that of Mr. Laurence. Boeth stuud in a suburb of th sity, which wuz stil cuntry-liek, with groevs and launs, larj gardens, and qieet streets. A loe hej parted th too estaets. On wun sied wuz an oeld, broun hous, luuking rather baer and shaby, robd of th viens that in sumer cuverd its wauls and th flowers, which then serounded it. On th uther sied wuz a staetly stoen manshon, plaenly betoekening every sort of cumfort and lukshery, from th big coech hous and wel-kept grounds to th consurvatory and th glimpses of luvly things wun caut between th rich curtens.

Yet it seemd a loenly, liefles sort of hous, for no children frolikt on th laun, no mutherly faess ever smield at th windoes, and fue peepl went in and out, exsept th oeld jentlman and his grandson.

To Jo’s lievly fansy, this fien hous seemd a kiend of enchanted palis, fuul of splendors and deliets which no-wun enjoyd. She had long wonted to behoeld thees hiden glorys, and to noe th Laurence boy, hoo luukt as if he wuud liek to be noen, if he oenly nue how to begin. Sinss th party, she had bin mor eeger than ever, and had pland meny waes of maeking frends with him, but he had not bin seen laetly, and Jo began to think he had gon awae, when she wun dae spied a broun faess at an uper windo, luuking wistfuly doun into thaer garden, whaer Baet and Amy wer sno-bauling wun anuther.

“That boy is sufering for soesieety and fun,” she sed to herself. “His grandpaa duz not noe whot’s guud for him, and keeps him shut up all aloen. He needs a party of joly boys to plae with, or sumbody yung and lievly. I’ve a graet miend to go oever and tel th oeld jentlman so!”

Th iedeea amuezd Jo, hoo liekt to do daering things and wuz aulwaes scandalizing Meg bi her qeer performanses. Th plan of ‘going oever’ wuz not forgoten. And when th snoey afternoon caem, Jo rezolvd to tri whot cuud be dun. She saw Mr. Lawrence driev off, and then sallied out to dig her wae doun to th hej, whaer she pauzd and tuuk a survae. All qieet, curtens doun at th loeer windoes, survants out of siet, and nuthing hueman vizibl but a curly blak hed leening on a thin hand at th uper windo.

“Thaer he is,” thaut Jo, “Puur boy! All aloen and sik this dizmal dae. It’s a shaem! I’ll tos up a snoebaul and maek him luuk out, and then sae a kiend wurd to him.”

Up went a handfuul of soft sno, and th hed turnd at wunss, shoeing a faess which lost its listles luuk in a mienuet, as th big ies brietend and th mouth began to smiel. Jo noded and laft, and flurisht her broom as she cauld out...

“How do U do? Ar U sik?”

Laurie oepend th windo, and croekt out as horsly as a raeven...

“Beter, thank U. I’ve had a bad coeld, and bin shut up a week.”

“I’m sorry. Whot do U amuez yuurself with?”

“Nuthing. It’s dul as tooms up heer.”

“Doen’t U red?”

“Not much. Thae wun’t let me.”

“Can’t sumbody red to U?”

“Grandpaa duz sumtiems, but mi buuks doen’t interest him, and I haet to ask Brooke all th tiem.”

“Hav sumwun cum and see U then.”

“Thaer isn’t enywun I’d liek to see. Boys maek such a roe, and mi hed is week.”

“Isn’t thaer sum niess gurl hoo’d red and amuez U? Gurls ar qieet and liek to plae nurss.”

“Doen’t noe eny.”

“U noe us,” began Jo, then laft and stopt.

“So I do! Wil U cum, pleez?” cried Laurie.

“I’m not qieet and niess, but I’ll cum, if Muther wil let me. I’ll go ask her. Shut th windo, liek a guud boy, and waet til I cum.”

With that, Jo shoelderd her broom and marcht into th hous, wundering whot thae wuud all sae to her. Laurie wuz in a fluter of exsietment at th iedeea of having cumpany, and floo about to get redy, for as Mrs. March sed, he wuz ‘a litl jentlman’, and did onor to th cuming guessed bi brushing his curly paet, puuting on a fresh culor, and trieing to tiedy up th room, which in spiet of haf a duzen survants, wuz enything but neet. Prezently thaer caem a loud ring, then a desieded vois, asking for ‘Mr. Laurie’, and a serpriezd-luuking survant caem runing up to anounss a yung laedy.

“All riet, sho her up, it’s Mis Jo,” sed Laurie, going to th dor of his litl parlor to meet Jo, hoo apeerd, luuking roezy and qiet at her eez, with a cuverd dish in wun hand and Baet’s three kitens in th uther.

“Heer I am, bag and bagej,” she sed briskly. “Muther sent her luv, and wuz glad if I cuud do enything for U. Meg wonted me to bring sum of her blanc maenj, she maeks it verry niesly, and Baet thaut her cats wuud be cumforting. I nue U’d laf at them, but I cuudn’t refuez, she wuz so ankshus to do sumthing.”

It so hapend that Baet’s funy loen wuz just th thing, for in lafing oever th kits, Laurie forgot his bashfulnes, and groo soeshabl at wunss.

“That luuks too prity to eet,” he sed, smieling with plezher, as Jo uncuverd th dish, and shoed th blanc maenj, serounded bi a garland of green leevs, and th scarlet flowers of Amy’s pet jeraenium.

“It isn’t enything, oenly thae all felt kiendly and wonted to sho it. Tel th gurl to puut it awae for yuur tee. It’s so simpl U can eet it, and being soft, it wil slip doun without hurting yuur sor throet. Whot a coezy room this is!”

“It miet be if it wuz kept niess, but th maeds ar laezy, and I doen’t noe how to maek them miend. It wurys me tho.”

“I’ll riet it up in too minits, for it oenly needs to hav th harth brusht, so—and th things maed straet on th mantelpeess, so—and th buuks puut heer, and th botls thaer, and yuur soefa turnd from th liet, and th piloes plumpt up a bit. Now then, U’r fixt.”

And so he wuz, for, as she laft and taukt, Jo had whiskt things into plaess and given qiet a diferent aer to th room. Laurie wocht her in respektful sielenss, and when she becond him to his soefa, he sat doun with a sie of satisfakshon, saeing graetfuly...

“How kiend U ar! Yes, that’s whot it wonted. Now pleez taek th big chaer and let me do sumthing to amuez mi cumpany.”

“No, I caem to amuez U. Shal I red aloud?” and Jo luukt afekshonatly tord sum invieting buuks neer bi.

“Thank U! I’ve red all thoes, and if U doen’t miend, I’d rather tauk,” anserd Laurie.

“Not a bit. I’ll tauk all dae if U’ll oenly set me going. Baet sez I never noe when to stop.”

“Is Baet th roezy wun, hoo staes at hoem guud deel and sumtiems goes out with a litl basket?” askt Laurie with interest.

“Yes, that’s Baet. She’s mi gurl, and a reguelar guud wun she is, too.”

“Th prity wun is Meg, and th curly-haerd wun is Amy, I beleev?”

“How did U fiend that out?”

Laurie culord up, but anserd frankly, “Whi, U see I ofen heer U cauling to wun anuther, and when I’m aloen up heer, I can’t help luuking oever at yuur hous, U aulwaes seem to be having such guud tiems. I beg yuur pardon for being so rood, but sumtiems U forget to puut doun th curten at th windo whaer th flowers ar. And when th lamps ar lieted, it’s liek luuking at a pikcher to see th fier, and U all around th taebl with yuur muther. Her faess is riet opozit, and it luuks so sweet behiend th flowers, I can’t help woching it. I haeven’t got eny muther, U noe.” And Laurie poekt th fier to hied a litl twiching of th lips that he cuud not controel.

Th solitaery, hunggry luuk in his ies went straet to Jo’s worm hart. She had bin so simply taut that thaer wuz no nonsenss in her hed, and at fifteen she wuz as inosent and frank as eny chield. Laurie wuz sik and loenly, and feeling how rich she wuz in hoem and hapynes, she gladly tried to shaer it with him. Her faess wuz verry frendly and her sharp vois unuezhualy jentl as she sed...

“We’l never draw that curten eny mor, and I giv U leev to luuk as much as U liek. I just wish, tho, insted of peeping, U’d cum oever and see us. Muther is so splendid, she’d do U heeps of guud, and Baet wuud sing to U if I begd her to, and Amy wuud danss. Meg and I wuud maek U laf oever our funy staej propertys, and we’d hav joly tiems. Wuudn’t yuur grandpaa let U?”

“I think he wuud, if yuur muther askt him. He's verry kiend, tho he duz not luuk so, and he lets me do whot I liek, prity much, oenly he's afraed I miet be a bother to straenjers,” began Laurie, brietening mor and mor.

“We ar not straenjers, we ar naebors, and U needn’t think U’d be a bother. We wont to noe U, and I’ve bin trieing to do it this ever so long. We haeven’t bin heer a graet whiel, U noe, but we hav got aqaented with all our naebors but U.”

“U see, Grandpaa lievs amung his buuks, and duzn’t miend much whot hapens outsied. Mr. Brooke, mi tuetor, duzn’t stae heer, U noe, and I hav no-wun to go about with me, so I just stop at hoem and get on as I can.”

“That’s bad. U aut to maek an efort and go viziting everywhaer U ar askt, then U’ll hav plenty of frends, and plezant plaeses to go to. Never miend being bashful. It wun’t last long if U keep going.”

Laurie turnd red agen, but wuzn’t ofended at being acuezd of bashfulnes, for thaer wuz so much guud wil in Jo it wuz imposibl not to taek her blunt speeches as kiendly as thae wer ment.

“Do U liek yuur scool?” askt th boy, chaenjing th subjekt, after a litl pauz, duuring which he staerd at th fier and Jo luukt about her, wel pleezd.

“Doen’t go to scool, I’m a biznesman—gurl, I meen. I go to waet on mi graet-ant, and a deer, cros oeld soel she is, too,” anserd Jo.

Laurie oepend his mouth to ask anuther qeschon, but remembering just in tiem that it wuzn’t maners to maek too meny inqierys into peepl’s afaers, he shut it agen, and luukt uncumfortabl.

Jo liekt his guud breeding, and didn’t miend having a laf at Ant March, so she gaev him a lievly descripshon of th fijety oeld laedy, her fat poodel, th parrot that taukt Spanish, and th liebraery whaer she reveld.

Laurie enjoyd that imensly, and when she toeld about th prim oeld jentlman hoo caem wunss to woo Ant March, and in th midl of a fien speech, how Poel had tweekt his wig off to his graet dismae, th boy lae bak and laft til th teers ran doun his cheeks, and a maed popt her hed in to see whot wuz th mater.

“O! That duz me no end of guud. Tel on, pleez,” he sed, taeking his faess out of th soefa cuushon, red and shiening with merriment.

Much elaeted with her suksess, Jo did ‘tel on’, all about thaer plaes and plans, thaer hoeps and feers for Faather, and th moest interesting events of th litl wurld in which th sisters livd. Then thae got to tauking about buuks, and to Jo’s deliet, she found that Laurie luvd them as wel as she did, and had red eeven mor than herself.

“If U liek them so much, cum doun and see ours. Grandfaather is out, so U needn’t be afraed,” sed Laurie, geting up.

“I’m not afraed of enything,” returnd Jo, with a tos of th hed.

“I doen’t beleev U ar!” exclaemd th boy, luuking at her with much admeraeshon, tho he prievatly thaut she wuud hav guud reezon to be a triefl afraed of th oeld jentlman, if she met him in sum of his moods.

Th atmosfeer of th hoel hous being summerlike, Laurie led th wae from room to room, leting Jo stop to examin whotever struk her fansy. And so, at last thae caem to th liebraery, whaer she clapt her hands and pranst, as she aulwaes did when espeshaly delieted. It wuz liend with buuks, and thaer wer pikchers and stachoos, and distrakting litl cabinets fuul of coins and cueriositys, and Sleepy Holo chaers, and qeer taebls, and bronzes, and best of all, a graet oepen fierplaess with qaent tiels all round it.

“Whot richnes!” sied Jo, sinking into th depth of a veluur chaer and gaezing about her with an aer of intenss satisfakshon. “Theodore Laurence, U aut to be th hapyest boy in th wurld,” she aded impresivly.

“A felo can’t liv on buuks,” sed Laurie, shaeking his hed as he purcht on a taebl opozit.

Befor he cuud sae mor, a bel rang, and Jo floo up, exclaeming with alarm, “Mursy me! It’s yuur grandpaa!”

“Wel, whot if it is? U ar not afraed of enything, U noe,” returnd th boy, luuking wiked.

“I think I am a litl bit afraed of him, but I doen’t noe whi I shuud be. Marmee sed I miet cum, and I doen’t think U’r eny th wurss for it,” sed Jo, compoezing herself, tho she kept her ies on th dor.

“I’m a graet deel beter for it, and ever so much obliejd. I’m oenly afraed U ar verry tierd of tauking to me. It wuz so plezant, I cuudn’t baer to stop,” sed Laurie graetfuly.

“Th doktor to see U, sur,” and th maed becond as she spoek.

“Wuud U miend if I left U for a mienuet? I supoez I must see him,” sed Laurie.

“Doen’t miend me. I’m hapy as a criket heer,” anserd Jo.

Laurie went awae, and his guessed amuezd herself in her oen wae. She wuz standing befor a fien portraet of th oeld jentlman when th dor oepend agen, and without turning, she sed desiededly, “I’m shuur now that I shouldn’t be afraed of him, for he's got kiend ies, tho his mouth is grim, and he luuks as if he had a tremendus wil of his oen. He isn’t as handsum as mi grandfaather, but I liek him.”

“Thank U, maa’am,” sed a gruf vois behiend her, and thaer, to her graet dismae, stuud oeld Mr. Laurence.

Puur Jo blusht til she cuudn’t blush eny reder, and her hart began to beet uncumfortably fast as she thaut whot she had sed. For a mienuet a wield dezier to run awae pozest her, but that wuz cowardly, and th gurls wuud laf at her, so she rezolvd to stae and get out of th scraep as she cuud. A second luuk shoed her that th living ies, under th buushy iebrows, wer kiender eeven than th paented wuns, and thaer wuz a sli twinkl in them, which lesend her feer a guud deel. Th gruf vois wuz gruffer than ever, as th oeld jentlman sed abruptly, after th dredful pauz, “So U’r not afraed of me, hae?”

“Not much, sur.”

“And U doen’t think me as handsum as yuur grandfaather?”

“Not qiet, sur.”

“And I’ve got a tremendus wil, hav I?”

“I oenly sed I thaut so.”

“But U liek me in spiet of it?”

“Yes, I do, sur.”

That anser pleezd th oeld jentlman. He gaev a short laf, shuuk hands with her, and, puuting his fingger under her chin, turnd up her faess, examind it graevly, and let it go, saeing with a nod, “U’ve got yuur grandfaather’s spirit, if U haeven’t his faess. He wuz a fien man, mi deer, but whot is beter, he wuz a braev and an onest wun, and I wuz proud to be his frend.”

“Thank U, sur,” And Jo wuz qiet cumfortabl after that, for it sooted her exaktly.

“Whot hav U bin dooing to this boy of mien, hae?” wuz th next qeschon, sharply puut.

“Oenly trieing to be naeborly, sur.” And Jo toeld how her vizit caem about.

“U think he needs cheering up a bit, do U?”

“Yes, sur, he seems a litl loenly, and yung foeks wuud do him guud perhaps. We ar oenly gurls, but we shuud be glad to help if we cuud, for we doen’t forget th splendid Christmas prezent U sent us,” sed Jo eegerly.

“Tut, tut, tut! That wuz th boy’s afaer. How is th puur wuuman?”

“Dooing niesly, sur.” And off went Jo, tauking verry fast, as she toeld all about th Hummels, in hoom her muther had interested richer frends than thae wer.

“Just her faather’s wae of dooing guud. I shal cum and see yuur muther sum fien dae. Tel her so. Thaer’s th tee bel, we hav it urly on th boy’s acount. Cum doun and go on being naeborly.”

“If U’d liek to hav me, sur.”

“Shouldn’t ask U, if I didn’t.” And Mr. Laurence oferd her his arm with oeld-fashond curtesy.

“Whot wuud Meg sae to this?” thaut Jo, as she wuz marcht awae, whiel her ies danst with fun as she imajind herself teling th story at hoem.

“Hae! Whi, whot th dickens has cum to th felo?” sed th oeld jentlman, as Laurie caem runing dounstaers and braut up with a start of serpriez at th astounding siet of Jo arm in arm with his re-doutabl grandfaather.

“I didn’t noe U’d cum, sur,” he began, as Jo gaev him a trieumfant litl glanss.

“That’s evident, bi th wae U raket dounstaers. Cum to yuur tee, sur, and behaev liek a jentlman.” And having puuld th boy’s haer bi wae of a caers, Mr. Laurence waukt on, whiel Laurie went thru a seerys of comik evolooshons behiend thaer baks, which neerly produest an exploezhon of lafter from Jo.

Th oeld jentlman did not sae much as he drank his foer cups of tee, but he wocht th yung peepl, hoo soon chated awae liek oeld frends, and th chaenj in his grandson did not escaep him. Thaer wuz culor, liet, and lief in th boy’s faess now, vivacity in his maner, and jenuein merriment in his laf.

“She’s riet, th lad is loenly. I’ll see whot thees litl gurls can do for him,” thaut Mr. Laurence, as he luukt and lisend. He liekt Jo, for her od, blunt waes sooted him, and she seemd to understand th boy aulmoest as wel as if she had bin wun herself.

If th Laurences had bin whot Jo cauld ‘prim and poeky’, she wuud not hav got on at all, for such peepl aulwaes maed her shi and aukward. But fiending them free and eezy, she wuz so herself, and maed a guud impreshon. When thae roez she propoezd to go, but Laurie sed he had sumthing mor to sho her, and tuuk her awae to th consurvatory, which had bin lieted for her benefit. It seemd qiet fairylike to Jo, as she went up and doun th wauks, enjoying th blooming wauls on eether sied, th soft liet, th damp sweet aer, and th wunderful viens and trees that hung about her, whiel her nue frend cut th fienest flowers til his hands wer fuul. Then he tied them up, saeing, with th hapy luuk Jo liekt to see, “Pleez giv thees to yuur muther, and tel her I liek th medisin she sent me verry much.”

Thae found Mr. Laurence standing befor th fier in th graet drawing room, but Jo’s atenshon wuz entierly absorbd bi a grand peano, which stuud oepen.

“Do U plae?” she askt, turning to Laurie with a respektful expreshon.

“Sumtiems,” he anserd modestly.

“Pleez do now. I wont to heer it, so I can tel Baet.”

“Wun’t U furst?”

“Doen’t noe how. Too stoopid to lurn, but I luv muezik deerly.”

So Laurie plaed and Jo lisend, with her noez lugzhuriusly berryd in heeliotroep and tee roezes. Her respekt and regard for th ‘Laurence’ boy increest verry much, for he plaed remarkably wel and didn’t puut on eny aers. She wisht Baet cuud heer him, but she did not sae so, oenly praezd him til he wuz qiet abasht, and his grandfaather caem to his rescue.

“That wil do, that wil do, yung laedy. Too meny sugarplums ar not guud for him. His muezik isn’t bad, but I hoep he wil do as wel in mor important things. Going? wel, I’m much obliejd to U, and I hoep U’ll cum agen. Mi respekts to yuur muther. Guud niet, Doktor Jo.”

He shuuk hands kiendly, but luukt as if sumthing did not pleez him. When thae got into th haul, Jo askt Laurie if she had sed sumthing amis. He shuuk his hed.

“No, it wuz me. He duzn’t liek to heer me plae.”

“Whi not?”

“I’ll tel U sum dae. John is going hoem with U, as I can’t.”

“No need of that. I am not a yung laedy, and it’s oenly a step. Taek caer of yuurself, wun’t U?”

“Yes, but U wil cum agen, I hoep?”

“If U promis to cum and see us after U ar wel.”

“I wil.”

“Guud niet, Laurie!”

“Guud niet, Jo, guud niet!”

When all th afternoon’s advenchers had bin toeld, th family felt incliend to go viziting in a body, for eech found sumthing verry atraktiv in th big hous on th uther sied of th hej. Mrs. March wonted to tauk of her faather with th oeld man hoo had not forgoten him, Meg longd to wauk in th consurvatory, Baet sied for th grand peano, and Amy wuz eeger to see th fien pikchers and stachoos.

“Muther, whi didn’t Mr. Laurence liek to hav Laurie plae?” askt Jo, hoo wuz of an inqiering dispozishon.

“I am not shuur, but I think it wuz becauz his sun, Laurie’s faather, marryd an Ilalyan laedy, a muezishan, which displeezd th oeld man, hoo is verry proud. Th laedy wuz guud and luvly and acomplisht, but he did not liek her, and never saw his sun after he marryd. Thae boeth died when Laurie wuz a litl chield, and then his grandfaather tuuk him hoem. I fansy th boy, hoo wuz born in Italy, is not verry strong, and th oeld man is afraed of loozing him, which maeks him so caerful. Laurie cums nacheraly bi his luv of muezik, for he is liek his muther, and I daer sae his grandfaather feers that he mae wont to be a muezishan. At eny raet, his skil remiends him of th wuuman he did not liek, and so he ‘glowerd’ as Jo sed.”

“Deer me, how roemantik!” exclaemd Meg.

“How sily!” sed Jo. “Let him be a muezishan if he wonts to, and not plaeg his lief out sending him to colej, when he haets to go.”

“That’s whi he has such handsum blak ies and prity maners, I supoez. Italyans ar aulwaes niess,” sed Meg, hoo wuz a litl sentimental.

“Whot do U noe about his ies and his maners? U never spoek to him, hardly,” cried Jo, hoo wuz not sentimental.

“I saw him at th party, and whot U tel shoes that he noes how to behaev. That wuz a niess litl speech about th medisin Muther sent him.”

“He ment th blanc maenj, I supoez.”

“How stoopid U ar, chield! He ment U, of corss.”

“Did he?” And Jo oepend her ies as if it had never ocurd to her befor.

“I never saw such a gurl! U doen’t noe a compliment when U get it,” sed Meg, with th aer of a yung laedy hoo nue all about th mater.

“I think thae ar graet nonsenss, and I’ll thank U not to be sily and spoil mi fun. Laurie’s a niess boy and I liek him, and I wun’t hav eny sentimental stuf about compliments and such rubish. We’l all be guud to him becauz he hasn’t got eny muther, and he mae cum oever and see us, maen't he, Marmee?”

“Yes, Jo, yuur litl frend is verry welcum, and I hoep Meg wil remember that children shuud be children as long as thae can.”

“I doen’t caul mieself a chield, and I’m not in mi teens yet,” obzurvd Amy. “Whot do U sae, Baet?”

“I wuz thinking about our ‘Pilgrim’s Progres’,” anserd Baet, hoo had not hurd a wurd. “How we got out of th Sluf and thru th Wiket Gaet bi rezolving to be guud, and up th steep hil bi trieing, and that maebe th hous oever thaer, fuul of splendid things, is going to be our Palis Buetiful.”

“We hav got to get bi th lieons furst,” sed Jo, as if she rather liekt th prospekt.

Baet Fiends Th Palis Buetiful

Th big hous did proov a Palis Buetiful, tho it tuuk sum tiem for all to get in, and Baet found it verry hard to pas th lieons. Oeld Mr. Laurence wuz th bigest wun, but after he had cauld, sed sumthing funy or kiend to eech wun of th gurls, and taukt oever oeld tiems with thaer muther, noebody felt much afraed of him, exsept timid Baet. Th uther lieon wuz th fakt that thae wer puur and Laurie rich, for this maed them shi of aksepting faevors which thae cuud not return. But, after a whiel, thae found that he considerd them th benefaktors, and cuud not do enuf to sho how graetful he wuz for Mrs. March’s mutherly welcum, thaer cheerful soesieety, and th cumfort he tuuk in that humbl hoem of thaers. So thae soon forgot thaer pried and interchaenjd kiendneses without stoping to think which wuz th graeter.

All sorts of plezant things hapend about that tiem, for th nue frendship flurisht liek gras in spring. Every wun liekt Laurie, and he prievatly informd his tuetor that “th Marches wer reguelarly splendid gurls.” With th delietful enthooziazm of yooth, thae tuuk th solitaery boy into thaer midst and maed much of him, and he found sumthing verry charming in th inosent companyonship of thees simpl-harted gurls. Never having noen muther or sisters, he wuz qik to feel th inflooenses thae braut about him, and thaer bizy, lievly waes maed him ashaemd of th indolent lief he led. He wuz tierd of buuks, and found peepl so interesting now that Mr. Brooke wuz obliejd to maek verry unsatisfaktory reports, for Laurie wuz aulwaes plaeing trooant and runing oever to th Marches’.

“Never miend, let him taek a holidae, and maek it up afterward,” sed th oeld jentlman. “Th guud laedy next dor sez he is studying too hard and needs yung soesieety, amuezment, and exsersiez. I suspekt she is riet, and that I’ve bin codling th felo as if I’d bin his grandmuther. Let him do whot he lieks, as long as he is hapy. He can’t get into mischif in that litl nunery oever thaer, and Mrs. March is dooing mor for him than we can.”

Whot guud tiems thae had, to be shuur. Such plaes and tabloes, such slae rieds and skaeting froliks, such plezant eevnings in th oeld parlor, and now and then such gae litl partys at th graet hous. Meg cuud wauk in th consurvatory whenever she liekt and revel in boekaes, Jo brouzd oever th nue liebraery voraeshusly, and convulst th oeld jentlman with her critisizms, Amy copyd pikchers and enjoyd buety to her hart’s content, and Laurie plaed ‘lord of th manor’ in th moest delietful stiel.

But Baet, tho yurning for th grand peano, cuud not pluk up curej to go to th ‘Manshon of Blis’, as Meg cauld it. She went wunss with Jo, but th oeld jentlman, not being awaer of her infurmity, staerd at her so hard from under his hevy iebrows, and sed “Hae!” so loud, that he frietend her so much her ‘feet chaterd on th flor’, she never toeld her muther, and she ran awae, declaering she wuud never go thaer eny mor, not eeven for th deer peano. No perswaezhons or entiesments cuud oevercum her feer, til, th fakt cuming to Mr. Laurence’s eer in sum misteerius wae, he set about mending maters. Duuring wun of th breef cauls he maed, he artfuly led th conversaeshon to muezik, and taukt awae about graet singers hoom he had seen, fien organs he had hurd, and toeld such charming anekdoets that Baet found it imposibl to stae in her distant corner, but crept neerer and neerer, as if fasinaeted. At th bak of his chaer she stopt and stuud lisening, with her graet ies wied oepen and her cheeks red with exsietment of this uenuezhual performanss. Taeking no mor noetis of her than if she had bin a fli, Mr. Laurence taukt on about Laurie’s lesons and teechers. And prezently, as if th iedeea had just ocurd to him, he sed to Mrs. March...

“Th boy neglekts his muezik now, and I’m glad of it, for he wuz geting too fond of it. But th peano sufers for wont of uez. Wuudn’t sum of yuur gurls liek to run oever, and praktis on it now and then, just to keep it in tuen, U noe, maa’am?”

Baet tuuk a step forward, and prest her hands tietly together to keep from claping them, for this wuz an irezistibl temptaeshon, and th thaut of praktising on that splendid instrument qiet tuuk her breth awae. Befor Mrs. March cuud replie, Mr. Laurence went on with an od litl nod and smiel...

“Thae needn’t see or speek to enywun, but run in at eny tiem. For I’m shut up in mi study at th uther end of th hous, Laurie is out a graet deel, and th survants ar never neer th drawing room after nien oe’clok.”

Heer he roez, as if going, and Baet maed up her miend to speek, for that last araenjment left nuthing to be dezierd. “Pleez, tel th yung laedys whot I sae, and if thae doen’t caer to cum, whi, never miend.” Heer a litl hand slipt into his, and Baet luukt up at him with a faess fuul of gratitood, as she sed, in her urnest yet timid wae...

“O sur, thae do caer, verry verry much!”

“Ar U th muezikal gurl?” he askt, without eny startling “Hae!” as he luukt doun at her verry kiendly.

“I’m Baet. I luv it deerly, and I’ll cum, if U ar qiet shuur noebody wil heer me, and be disturbd,” she aded, feering to be rood, and trembling at her oen boeldnes as she spoek.

“Not a soel, mi deer. Th hous is empty haf th dae, so cum and drum awae as much as U liek, and I shal be obliejd to U.”

“How kiend U ar, sur!”

Baet blusht liek a roez under th frendly luuk he wor, but she wuz not frietend now, and gaev th hand a graetful sqeez becauz she had no wurds to thank him for th preshus gift he had given her. Th oeld jentlman softly stroekt th haer off her forhed, and, stooping doun, he kist her, saeing, in a toen fue peepl ever hurd...

“I had a litl gurl wunss, with ies liek thees. God bles U, mi deer! Guud dae, madam.” And awae he went, in a graet hurry.

Baet had a rapcher with her muther, and then rusht up to impart th glorius nues to her family of invalids, as th gurls wer not hoem. How bliethly she sang that eevning, and how thae all laft at her becauz she woek Amy in th niet bi plaeing th peano on her faess in her sleep. Next dae, having seen boeth th oeld and yung jentlman out of th hous, Baet, after too or three retreets, faerly got in at th sied dor, and maed her wae as noizlesly as eny mous to th drawing room whaer her iedol stuud. Qiet bi aksident, of corss, sum prity, eezy muezik lae on th peano, and with trembling finggers and freeqent stops to lisen and luuk about, Baet at last tucht th graet instrument, and straetwae forgot her feer, herself, and everything elss but th unspeekabl deliet which th muezik gaev her, for it wuz liek th vois of a beluved frend.

She staed til Hannah caem to taek her hoem to diner, but she had no apetiet, and cuud oenly sit and smiel upon everywun in a jeneral staet of beatitood.

After that, th litl broun huud slipt thru th hej neerly every dae, and th graet drawing room wuz haunted bi a tuenful spirit that caem and went unseen. She never nue that Mr. Laurence oepend his study dor to heer th oeld-fashond aers he liekt. She never saw Laurie mount gard in th haul to worn th survants awae. She never suspekted that th exsersiez buuks and nue songs which she found in th rak wer puut thaer for her espeshal benefit, and when he taukt to her about muezik at hoem, she oenly thaut how kiend he wuz to tel things that helpt her so much. So she enjoyd herself hartily, and found, whot isn’t aulwaes th caess, that her granted wish wuz all she had hoept. Perhaps it wuz becauz she wuz so graetful for this blesings that a graeter wuz given her. At eny raet she dezurvd boeth.

“Muther, I’m going to wurk Mr. Laurence a paer of slipers. He is so kiend to me, I must thank him, and I doen’t noe eny uther wae. Can I do it?” askt Baet, a fue weeks after that eventful caul of his.

“Yes, deer. It wil pleez him verry much, and be a niess wae of thanking him. Th gurls wil help U about them, and I wil pae for th maeking up,” replied Mrs. March, hoo tuuk pecueliar plezher in granting Baet’s reqests becauz she so seldom askt enything for herself.

After meny seerius discushons with Meg and Jo, th patern wuz choezen, th mateerials baut, and th slipers begun. A cluster of graev yet cheerful panzys on a deeper purpl ground wuz pronounst verry aproepriat and prity, and Baet wurkt awae urly and laet, with ocaezhonal lifts oever hard parts. She wuz a nimbl litl needlewoman, and thae wer finisht befor enywun got tierd of them. Then she roet a short, simpl noet, and with Laurie’s help, got them smugld onto th study taebl wun morning befor th oeld jentlman wuz up.

When this exsietment wuz oever, Baet waeted to see whot wuud hapen. All dae past and a part of th next befor eny aknolejment arievd, and she wuz begining to feer she had ofended her crochety frend. On th afternoon of th second dae, she went out to do an errand, and giv puur Joanna, th invalid dol, her daely exsersiez. As she caem up th street, on her return, she saw three, yes, foer heds poping in and out of th parlor windoes, and th moement thae saw her, several hands wer waevd, and several joyful voises screemd...

“Heer’s a leter from th oeld jentlman! Cum qik, and red it!”

“O, Baet, he's sent U...” began Amy, jesticuelaeting with unseely enerjy, but she got no further, for Jo qencht her bi slaming doun th windo.

Baet huryd on in a fluter of suspenss. At th dor her sisters seezd and bor her to th parlor in a trieumfal proseshon, all pointing and all saeing at wunss, “Luuk thaer! Luuk thaer!” Baet did luuk, and turnd pael with deliet and serpriez, for thaer stuud a litl cabinet peano, with a leter lieing on th glosy lid, direkted liek a sien bord to “Mis Elizabeth March.”

“For me?” gaspt Baet, hoelding onto Jo and feeling as if she shuud tumbl doun, it wuz such an oeverwhelming thing aultogether.

“Yes, all for U, mi preshus! Isn’t it splendid of him? Doen’t U think he's th deerest oeld man in th wurld? Heer’s th kee in th leter. We didn’t oepen it, but we ar dieing to noe whot he sez,” cried Jo, huging her sister and ofering th noet.

“U red it! I can’t, I feel so qeer! O, it is too luvly!” and Baet hid her faess in Jo’s aepron, qiet upset bi her prezent.

Jo oepend th paeper and began to laf, for th furst wurds she saw wer...

“Mis March: “Deer Madam—”

“How niess it sounds! I wish sumwun wuud riet to me so!” sed Amy, hoo thaut th oeld-fashond adres verry elegant.

“‘I hav had meny paers of slipers in mi lief, but I never had eny that sooted me so wel as yuurs,’” continues Jo. “‘Hart’s-eez is mi faevorit flower, and thees wil aulwaes remiend me of th jentl giver. I liek to pae mi dets, so I noe U wil alow ‘th oeld jentlman’ to send U sumthing which wunss belongd to th litl grand dauter he lost. With harty thanks and best wishes, I remaen “‘Yuur graetful frend and humbl survant, ‘JAMES LAURENCE’.”

“Thaer, Baet, that’s an onor to be proud of, I’m shuur! Laurie toeld me how fond Mr. Laurence uezd to be of th chield hoo died, and how he kept all her litl things caerfuly. Just think, he's given U her peano. That cums of having big bloo ies and luving muezik,” sed Jo, trieing to sooth Baet, hoo trembld and luukt mor exsieted than she had ever bin befor.

“See th cuning brakets to hoeld candls, and th niess green silk, pukerd up, with a goeld roez in th midl, and th prity rak and stool, all compleet,” aded Meg, oepening th instrument and displaeing its buetys.

“‘Yuur humbl survant, James Laurence’. Oenly think of his rieting that to U. I’ll tel th gurls. Thae’l think it’s splendid,” sed Amy, much imprest bi th noet.

“Tri it, huny. Let’s heer th sound of th baeby pianny,” sed Hannah, hoo aulwaes tuuk a shaer in th family joys and sorroes.

So Baet tried it, and everywun pronounst it th moest remarkabl peano ever hurd. It had evidently bin nuely tuend and puut in apl-pie order, but, purfekt as it wuz, I think th reeal charm lae in th hapyest of all hapy faeses which leend oever it, as Baet luvingly tucht th buetiful blak and whiet kees and prest th briet pedals.

“U’ll hav to go and thank him,” sed Jo, bi wae of a joek, for th iedeea of th chield’s reealy going never enterd her hed.

“Yes, I meen to. I ges I’ll go now, befor I get frietend thinking about it.” And, to th uter amaezment of th asembld family, Baet waukt deliberatly doun th garden, thru th hej, and in at th Laurences’ dor.

“Wel, I wish I mae die if it ain’t th qeerest thing I ever see! Th pianny has turnd her hed! She’d never hav gon in her riet miend,” cried Hannah, staering after her, whiel th gurls wer renderd qiet speechles bi th mirakl.

Thae wuud hav bin stil mor amaezd if thae had seen whot Baet did afterward. If U wil beleev me, she went and nokt at th study dor befor she gaev herself tiem to think, and when a gruf vois cauld out, “cum in!” she did go in, riet up to Mr. Laurence, hoo luukt qiet taeken abak, and held out her hand, saeing, with oenly a smaul qaever in her vois, “I caem to thank U, sur, for...” But she didn’t finish, for he luukt so frendly that she forgot her speech and, oenly remembering that he had lost th litl gurl he luvd, she puut boeth arms round his nek and kist him.

If th roof of th hous had sudenly floen off, th oeld jentlman wuudn’t hav bin mor astonisht. But he liekt it. O, deer, yes, he liekt it amaezingly! And wuz so tucht and pleezd bi that confieding litl kis that all his crustiness vanisht, and he just set her on his nae, and laed his rinkld cheek agenst her roezy wun, feeling as if he had got his oen litl granddauter bak agen. Baet seest to feer him from that moement, and sat thaer tauking to him as coezily as if she had noen him all her lief, for luv casts out feer, and gratitood can conker pried. When she went hoem, he waukt with her to her oen gaet, shuuk hands corjaly, and tucht his hat as he marcht bak agen, luuking verry staetly and erekt, liek a handsum, soeljerly oeld jentlman, as he wuz.

When th gurls saw that performanss, Jo began to danss a jig, bi wae of expresing her satisfakshon, Amy neerly fel out of th windo in her serpriez, and Meg exclaemd, with up-lifted hands, “Wel, I do beleev th wurld is cuming to an end.”

AMY’S Valy OF Huemiliaeshon

“That boy is a purfekt sieclops, isn’t he?” sed Amy wun dae, as Laurie claterd bi on horsbak, with a flurish of his whip as he past.

“How daer U sae so, when he's got boeth his ies? And verry handsum wuns thae ar, too,” cried Jo, hoo rezented eny slieting remarks about her frend.

“I didn’t sae enything about his ies, and I doen’t see whi U need fier up when I admier his rieding.”

“O, mi guudnes! That litl gooss meens a sentor, and she cauld him a Sieclops,” exclaemd Jo, with a burst of lafter.

“U needn’t be so rood, it’s oenly a ‘laps of lingy’, as Mr. Davis sez,” retorted Amy, finishing Jo with her Latin. “I just wish I had a litl of th muny Laurie spends on that horss,” she aded, as if to herself, yet hoeping her sisters wuud heer.

“Whi?” askt Meg kiendly, for Jo had gon off in anuther laf at Amy’s second blunder.

“I need it so much. I’m dredfuly in det, and it wun’t be mi turn to hav th rag muny for a munth.”

“In det, Amy? Whot do U meen?” And Meg luukt soeber.

“Whi, I oe at leest a duzen pikld liems, and I can’t pae them, U noe, til I hav muny, for Marmee forbaed mi having enything charjd at th shop.”

“Tel me all about it. Ar liems th fashon now? It uezd to be priking bits of ruber to maek bauls.” And Meg tried to keep her countenanss, Amy luukt so graev and important.

“Whi, U see, th gurls ar aulwaes bieing them, and unles U wont to be thaut meen, U must do it too. It’s nuthing but liems now, for everywun is suking them in thaer desks in schooltime, and traeding them off for pensils, beed rings, paeper dols, or sumthing elss, at resess. If wun gurl lieks anuther, she givs her a liem. If she’s mad with her, she eets wun befor her faess, and duzn’t ofer eeven a suk. Thae treet bi turns, and I’ve had ever so meny but haeven’t returnd them, and I aut for thae ar dets of onor, U noe.”

“How much wil pae them off and restor yuur credit?” askt Meg, taeking out her purss.

“A qorter wuud mor than do it, and leev a fue sents oever for a treet for U. Doen’t U liek liems?”

“Not much. U mae hav mi shaer. Heer’s th muny. Maek it last as long as U can, for it isn’t verry plenty, U noe.”

“O, thank U! It must be so niess to hav poket muny! I’ll hav a grand feest, for I haeven’t taested a liem this week. I felt delicat about taeking eny, as I cuudn’t return them, and I’m akchualy sufering for wun.”

Next dae Amy wuz rather laet at scool, but cuud not rezist th temptaeshon of displaeing, with pardonable pried, a moist broun-paeper parsel, befor she consiend it to th inmoest reseses of her desk. Duuring th next fue minits th roomor that Amy March had got twenty-foer delishus liems (she aet wun on th wae) and wuz going to treet surcuelaeted thru her ‘set’, and th atenshons of her frends becaem qiet oeverwhelming. Katy Broun invieted her to her next party on th spot. Mary Kingsley insisted on lending her her woch til resess, and Jeny Sno, a satirikal yung laedy, hoo had baesly twitted Amy upon her limeless staet, promptly berryd th hachet and oferd to furnish ansers to surten apauling sums. But Amy had not forgoten Mis Sno’s cuting remarks about ‘sum pursons hoos noezes wer not too flat to smel uther peepl’s liems, and stuk-up peepl hoo wer not too proud to ask for them’, and she instantly crusht ‘that Sno gurl’s’ hoeps bi th withering telegram, “U needn’t be so poliet all of a suden, for U wun’t get eny.”

A distingwhisht pursonej hapend to vizit th scool that morning, and Amy’s buetifuly drawn maps reseevd praez, which onor to her foe rankld in th soel of Mis Sno, and cauzd Mis March to asuem th aers of a stoodius yung peecok. But, alas, alas! Pried goes befor a faul, and th revenjful Sno turnd th taebls with dizastrus suksess. No sooner had th guessed paed th uezhual stael compliments and bowd himself out, than Jeny, under preetenss of asking an important qeschon, informd Mr. Davis, th teecher, that Amy March had pikld liems in her desk.

Now Mr. Davis had declaerd liems a contraband artikl, and solemly vowd to publikly ferrule th furst purson hoo wuz found braeking th law. This much-enduuring man had sukseeded in banishing chooing gum after a long and stormy wor, had maed a bonfier of th confiscaeted novels and nuezpaepers, had suprest a prievat poest ofis, had forbiden distorshons of th faess, niknaems, and carricachuurs, and dun all that wun man cuud do to keep haf a hundred rebelyus gurls in order. Boys ar trieing enuf to hueman paeshenss, guudnes noes, but gurls ar infinitly mor so, espeshaly to nurvus jentlmen with tiranikal tempers and no mor talent for teeching than Dr. Blimber. Mr. Davis nue eny qontity of Greek, Latin, aljebra, and ologies of all sorts so he wuz cauld a fien teecher, and maners, morals, feelings, and exampls wer not considerd of eny particuelar importanss. It wuz a moest unforchunat moement for denounsing Amy, and Jeny nue it. Mr. Davis had evidently taeken his cofy too strong that morning, thaer wuz an eest wiend, which aulwaes afekted his nuuralja, and his puepils had not dun him th credit which he felt he dezurvd. Thaerfor, to uez th expresiv, if not elegant, langgwej of a scoolgurl, “He wuz as nurvus as a wich and as cros as a baer”. Th wurd ‘liems’ wuz liek fier to pouder, his yelo faess flusht, and he rapt on his desk with an enerjy which maed Jeny skip to her seet with uenuezhual rapidity.

“Yung laedys, atenshon, if U pleez!”

At th sturn order th buz seest, and fifty paers of bloo, blak, grae, and broun ies wer oebeedi’ently fixt upon his auful countenanss.

“Mis March, cum to th desk.”

Amy roez to complie with outward compoezher, but a seecret feer oprest her, for th liems waed upon her conshenss.

“Bring with U th liems U hav in yuur desk,” wuz th unexpekted comand which arest her befor she got out of her seet.

“Doen’t taek all.” whisperd her naebor, a yung laedy of graet prezenss of miend.

Amy haestily shuuk out haf a duzen and laed th rest doun befor Mr. Davis, feeling that eny man pozesing a hueman hart wuud relent when that delishus perfuem met his noez. Unforchunatly, Mr. Davis particuelarly detested th oedor of th fashonabl pikl, and disgust aded to his rath.

“Is that all?”

“Not qiet,” stamerd Amy.

“Bring th rest imeediatly.”

With a despaering glanss at her set, she oebaed.

“U ar shuur thaer ar no mor?”

“I never lie, sur.”

“So I see. Now taek thees disgusting things too bi too, and thro them out of th windo.”

Thaer wuz a siemultaenius sie, which creaeted qiet a litl gust, as th last hoep fled, and th treet wuz ravisht from thaer longing lips. Scarlet with shaem and angger, Amy went to and fro six dredful tiems, and as eech doomd cupl, luuking o, so plump and joosy, fel from her reluktant hands, a shout from th street compleeted th anggwish of th gurls, for it toeld them that thaer feest wuz being exulted oever bi th litl Ierish children, hoo wer thaer sworn foes. This—this wuz too much. All flasht indignant or apeeling glanses at th inexsorabl Davis, and wun pashonat liem luver burst into teers.

As Amy returnd from her last trip, Mr. Davis gaev a portenshus “Hem!” and sed, in his moest impresiv maner...

“Yung laedys, U remember whot I sed to U a week ago. I am sorry this has hapend, but I never alow mi rools to be infrinjd, and I never braek mi wurd. Mis March, hoeld out yuur hand.”

Amy started, and puut boeth hands behiend her, turning on him an imploring luuk which pleeded for her beter than th wurds she cuud not uter. She wuz rather a faevorit with ‘oeld Davis’, as, of corss, he wuz cauld, and it’s mi prievat beleef that he wuud hav broeken his wurd if th indignaeshon of wun irepresibl yung laedy had not found vent in a hiss. That hiss, faent as it wuz, iritaeted th irasibl jentlman, and seeld th culprit’s faet.

“Yuur hand, Mis March!” wuz th oenly anser her muet apeel reseevd, and too proud to cri or beseech, Amy set her teeth, throo bak her hed defieantly, and bor without flinching several tinggling bloes on her litl paam. Thae wer neether meny nor hevy, but that maed no diferenss to her. For th furst tiem in her lief she had bin struk, and th disgraess, in her ies, wuz as deep as if he had nokt her doun.

“U wil now stand on th platform til resess,” sed Mr. Davis, rezolvd to do th thing thuroely, sinss he had begun.

That wuz dredful. It wuud hav bin bad enuf to go to her seet, and see th pitying faeses of her frends, or th satisfied wuns of her fue enemys, but to faess th hoel scool, with that shaem fresh upon her, seemd imposibl, and for a second she felt as if she cuud oenly drop doun whaer she stuud, and braek her hart with crieing. A biter senss of rong and th thaut of Jeny Sno helpt her to baer it, and, taeking th ignominus plaess, she fixt her ies on th stoev funel abuv whot now seemd a see of faeses, and stuud thaer, so moeshonles and whiet that th gurls found it hard to study with that pathetik figuer befor them.

Duuring th fifteen minits that foloed, th proud and sensitiv litl gurl suferd a shaem and paen which she never forgot. To uthers it miet seem a loodicrus or trivial afaer, but to her it wuz a hard expeeri’enss, for duuring th twelv yeers of her lief she had bin guvernd bi luv aloen, and a blo of that sort had never tucht her befor. Th smart of her hand and th aek of her hart wer forgoten in th sting of th thaut, “I shal hav to tel at hoem, and thae wil be so disapointed in me!”

Th fifteen minits seemd an our, but thae caem to an end at last, and th wurd ‘Resess!’ had never seemd so welcum to her befor.

“U can go, Mis March,” sed Mr. Davis, luuking, as he felt, uncumfortabl.

He did not soon forget th reproechful glanss Amy gaev him, as she went, without a wurd to enywun, straet into th antyroom, snacht her things, and left th plaess “forever,” as she pashonatly declaerd to herself. She wuz in a sad staet when she got hoem, and when th oelder gurls arievd, sum tiem laeter, an indignaeshon meeting wuz held at wunss. Mrs. March did not sae much but luukt disturbd, and cumforted her aflikted litl dauter in her tenderest maner. Meg baethd th insulted hand with gliserin and teers, Baet felt that eeven her beluved kitens wuud fael as a baam for greefs liek this, Jo rathfuly propoezd that Mr. Davis be arest without delae, and Hannah shuuk her fist at th ‘vilan’ and pounded potaetoes for diner as if she had him under her pesl.

No noetis wuz taeken of Amy’s fliet, exsept bi her maets, but th sharp-ied demoiselles discuverd that Mr. Davis wuz qiet benignant in th afternoon, aulso unuezhualy nurvus. Just befor scool cloezd, Jo apeerd, waering a grim expreshon as she staukt up to th desk, and deliverd a leter from her muther, then colekted Amy’s property, and departed, caerfuly scraeping th mud from her boots on th dor mat, as if she shuuk th dust of th plaess off her feet.

“Yes, U can hav a vaecaeshon from scool, but I wont U to study a litl every dae with Baet,” sed Mrs. March that eevning. “I doen’t aproov of corporal punishment, espeshaly for gurls. I disliek Mr. Davis’s maner of teeching and doen’t think th gurls U asoeshiat with ar dooing U eny guud, so I shal ask yuur faather’s adviess befor I send U enywhaer elss.”

“That’s guud! I wish all th gurls wuud leev, and spoil his oeld scool. It’s purfektly madening to think of thoes luvly liems,” sied Amy, with th aer of a marter.

“I am not sorry U lost them, for U broek th rools, and dezurvd sum punishment for disoebeedi’enss,” wuz th seveer replie, which rather disapointed th yung laedy, hoo expekted nuthing but simpathy.

“Do U meen U ar glad I wuz disgraest befor th hoel scool?” cried Amy.

“I shuud not hav choezen that wae of mending a fault,” replied her muther, “but I’m not shuur that it wun’t do U mor guud than a boelder method. U ar geting to be rather conseeted, mi deer, and it is qiet tiem U set about corekting it. U hav a guud meny litl gifts and vurchoos, but thaer is no need of paraeding them, for conseet spoils th fienest jeenyus. Thaer is not much daenjer that reeal talent or guudnes wil be oeverluukt long, eeven if it is, th conshusnes of pozesing and uezing it wel shuud satisfi wun, and th graet charm of all power is modesty.”

“So it is!” cried Laurie, hoo wuz plaeing ches in a corner with Jo. “I nue a gurl wunss, hoo had a reealy remarkabl talent for muezik, and she didn’t noe it, never gest whot sweet litl things she compoezd when she wuz aloen, and wuudn’t hav beleevd it if enywun had toeld her.”

“I wish I’d noen that niess gurl. Maebe she wuud hav helpt me, I’m so stoopid,” sed Baet, hoo stuud besied him, lisening eegerly.

“U do noe her, and she helps U beter than enywun elss cuud,” anserd Laurie, luuking at her with such mischivus meening in his merry blak ies that Baet sudenly turnd verry red, and hid her faess in th soefa cuushon, qiet oevercum bi such an unexpekted discuvery.

Jo let Laurie win th gaem to pae for that praez of her Baet, hoo cuud not be prevaeld upon to plae for them after her compliment. So Laurie did his best, and sang delietfuly, being in a particuelarly lievly huemor, for to th Marches he seldom shoed th moody sied of his carrakter. When he wuz gon, Amy, hoo had bin pensiv all eevning, sed sudenly, as if bizy oever sum nue iedeea, “Is Laurie an acomplisht boy?”

“Yes, he has had an exselent ejucaeshon, and has much talent. He wil maek a fien man, if not spoild bi peting,” replied her muther.

“And he isn’t conseeted, is he?” askt Amy.

“Not in th leest. That is whi he is so charming and we all liek him so much.”

“I see. It’s niess to hav acomplishments and be elegant, but not to sho off or get purkt up,” sed Amy thautfuly.

“Thees things ar aulwaes seen and felt in a purson’s maner and conversaeshons, if modestly uezd, but it is not nesesaery to displae them,” sed Mrs. March.

“Eny mor than it’s proper to waer all yuur bonets and gouns and ribons at wunss, that foeks mae noe U’ve got them,” aded Jo, and th lekcher ended in a laf.


“Gurls, whaer ar U going?” askt Amy, cuming into thaer room wun Saterdae afternoon, and fiending them geting redy to go out with an aer of seecresy which exsieted her cueriosity.

“Never miend. Litl gurls shouldn’t ask qeschons,” returnd Jo sharply.

Now if thaer is enything mortifying to our feelings when we ar yung, it is to be toeld that, and to be biden to “run awae, deer” is stil mor trieing to us. Amy briedld up at this insult, and deturmind to fiend out th seecret, if she teezd for an our. Turning to Meg, hoo never refuezd her enything verry long, she sed coaxingly, “Do tel me! I shuud think U miet let me go, too, for Baet is fusing oever her peano, and I haeven’t got enything to do, and am so loenly.”

“I can’t, deer, becauz U aren’t invieted,” began Meg, but Jo broek in impaeshently, “Now, Meg, be qieet or U wil spoil it all. U can’t go, Amy, so doen’t be a baeby and whien about it.”

“U ar going sumwhaer with Laurie, I noe U ar. U wer whispering and lafing together on th soefa last niet, and U stopt when I caem in. Aren’t U going with him?”

“Yes, we ar. Now do be stil, and stop bothering.”

Amy held her tung, but uezd her ies, and saw Meg slip a fan into her poket.

“I noe! I noe! U’r going to th theeater to see th Seven Casls!” she cried, ading rezolootly, “and I shal go, for Muther sed I miet see it, and I’ve got mi rag muny, and it wuz meen not to tel me in tiem.”

“Just lisen to me a mienuet, and be a guud chield,” sed Meg soothingly. “Muther duzn’t wish U to go this week, becauz yuur ies ar not wel enuf yet to baer th liet of this faery peess. Next week U can go with Baet and Hannah, and hav a niess tiem.”

“I doen’t liek that haf as wel as going with U and Laurie. Pleez let me. I’ve bin sik with this coeld so long, and shut up, I’m dieing for sum fun. Do, Meg! I’ll be ever so guud,” pleeded Amy, luuking as pathetik as she cuud.

“Supoez we taek her. I doen’t beleev Muther wuud miend, if we bundl her up wel,” began Meg.

“If she goes I shan’t, and if I doen’t, Laurie wun’t liek it, and it wil be verry rood, after he invieted oenly us, to go and drag in Amy. I shuud think she’d haet to poek herself whaer she isn’t wonted,” sed Jo crosly, for she disliekt th trubl of oeverseeing a fijety chield when she wonted to enjoy herself.

Her toen and maner anggerd Amy, hoo began to puut her boots on, saeing, in her moest agravaeting wae, “I shal go. Meg sez I mae, and if I pae for mieself, Laurie hasn’t enything to do with it.”

“U can’t sit with us, for our seets ar rezurvd, and U mustn’t sit aloen, so Laurie wil giv U his plaess, and that wil spoil our plezher. Or he'l get anuther seet for U, and that isn’t proper when U wern’t askt. U shan’t stur a step, so U mae just stae whaer U ar,” scoelded Jo, crosser than ever, having just prikt her fingger in her hurry.

Siting on th flor with wun boot on, Amy began to cri and Meg to reezon with her, when Laurie cauld from beloe, and th too gurls huryd doun, leeving thaer sister waeling. For now and then she forgot her groen-up waes and akted liek a spoild chield. Just as th party wuz setting out, Amy cauld oever th banisters in a thretening toen, “U’ll be sorry for this, Jo March, see if U ain’t.”

“Fidlstiks!” returnd Jo, slaming th dor.

Thae had a charming tiem, for Th Seven Casls Of Th Diemond Laek wuz as brilyant and wunderful as hart cuud wish. But in spiet of th comikal red imps, sparkling elvs, and th gorjus prinses and prinseses, Jo’s plezher had a drop of biternes in it. Th faery qeen’s yelo curls remiended her of Amy, and between th akts she amuezd herself with wundering whot her sister wuud do to maek her ‘sorry for it’. She and Amy had had meny lievly scurmishes in th corss of thaer lievs, for boeth had qik tempers and wer apt to be vieolent when faerly rouzd. Amy teezd Jo, and Jo iritaeted Amy, and semioccasional exploezhons ocurd, of which boeth wer much ashaemd afterward. Aultho th oeldest, Jo had th leest self-controel, and had hard tiems trieing to curb th fiery spirit which wuz continualy geting her into trubl. Her angger never lasted long, and having humbly confest her fault, she sinseerly repented and tried to do beter. Her sisters uezd to sae that thae rather liekt to get Jo into a fuery becauz she wuz such an aenjel afterward. Puur Jo tried desperatly to be guud, but her buuzom enemy wuz aulwaes redy to flaem up and defeet her, and it tuuk yeers of paeshent efort to subdue it.

When thae got hoem, thae found Amy reeding in th parlor. She asuemd an injerd aer as thae caem in, never lifted her ies from her buuk, or askt a singgl qeschon. Perhaps cueriosity miet hav conkerd rezentment, if Baet had not bin thaer to inqier and reseev a gloeing descripshon of th plae. On going up to puut awae her best hat, Jo’s furst luuk wuz tord th buero, for in thaer last qorrel Amy had soothd her feelings bi turning Jo’s top drawer upsied doun on th flor. Everything wuz in its plaess, however, and after a hasty glanss into her vaerius clozets, bags, and boxes, Jo desieded that Amy had forgiven and forgoten her rongs.

Thaer Jo wuz mistaeken, for next dae she maed a discuvery which produest a tempest. Meg, Baet, and Amy wer siting together, laet in th afternoon, when Jo burst into th room, luuking exsieted and demanding brethlesly, “Has enywun taeken mi buuk?”

Meg and Baet sed, “No.” at wunss, and luukt serpriezd. Amy poekt th fier and sed nuthing. Jo saw her culor riez and wuz doun upon her in a mienuet.

“Amy, U’ve got it!”

“No, I haeven’t.”

“U noe whaer it is, then!”

“No, I doen’t.”

“That’s a fib!” cried Jo, taeking her bi th shoelders, and luuking feerss enuf to frieten a much braever chield than Amy.

“It isn’t. I haeven’t got it, doen’t noe whaer it is now, and doen’t caer.”

“U noe sumthing about it, and U’d beter tel at wunss, or I’ll maek U.” And Jo gaev her a sliet shaek.

“Scoeld as much as U liek, U’ll never see yuur sily oeld buuk agen,” cried Amy, geting exsieted in her turn.

“Whi not?”

“I burnd it up.”

“Whot! Mi litl buuk I wuz so fond of, and wurkt oever, and ment to finish befor Faather got hoem? Hav U reealy burnd it?” sed Jo, turning verry pael, whiel her ies kindld and her hands clucht Amy nurvusly.

“Yes, I did! I toeld U I’d maek U pae for being so cros yesterdae, and I hav, so...”

Amy got no farther, for Jo’s hot temper masterd her, and she shuuk Amy til her teeth chaterd in her hed, crieing in a pashon of greef and angger...

“U wiked, wiked gurl! I never can riet it agen, and I’ll never forgiv U as long as I liv.”

Meg floo to rescue Amy, and Baet to pasifi Jo, but Jo wuz qiet besied herself, and with a parting box on her sister’s eer, she rusht out of th room up to th oeld soefa in th garret, and finisht her fiet aloen.

Th storm cleerd up beloe, for Mrs. March caem hoem, and, having hurd th story, soon braut Amy to a senss of th rong she had dun her sister. Jo’s buuk wuz th pried of her hart, and wuz regarded bi her family as a literaery sprout of graet promis. It wuz oenly haf a duzen litl faery taels, but Jo had wurkt oever them paeshently, puuting her hoel hart into her wurk, hoeping to maek sumthing guud enuf to print. She had just copyd them with graet caer, and had destroyd th oeld manuescript, so that Amy’s bonfier had consuemd th luving wurk of several yeers. It seemd a smaul lost to uthers, but to Jo it wuz a dredful calamity, and she felt that it never cuud be maed up to her. Baet mornd as for a departed kiten, and Meg refuezd to defend her pet. Mrs. March luukt graev and greevd, and Amy felt that no-wun wuud luv her til she had askt pardon for th akt which she now regreted mor than eny of them.

When th tee bel rang, Jo apeerd, luuking so grim and unaproechabl that it tuuk all Amy’s curej to sae meekly...

“Pleez forgiv me, Jo. I’m verry, verry sorry.”

“I never shal forgiv U,” wuz Jo’s sturn anser, and from that moement she ignord Amy entierly.

No-wun spoek of th graet trubl, not eeven Mrs. March, for all had lurnd bi expeeri’enss that when Jo wuz in that mood wurds wer waested, and th wiezest corss wuz to waet til sum litl aksident, or her oen jenerus naecher, sofend Jo’s rezentment and heeld th breech. It wuz not a hapy eevning, for tho thae soed as uezhual, whiel thaer muther red aloud from Bremer, Scott, or Edgeworth, sumthing wuz wonting, and th sweet hoem peess wuz disturbd. Thae felt this moest when singing tiem caem, for Baet cuud oenly plae, Jo stuud dum as a stoen, and Amy broek doun, so Meg and Muther sang aloen. But in spiet of thaer eforts to be as cheery as larks, th flutelike voises did not seem to cord as wel as uezhual, and all felt out of tuen.

As Jo reseevd her guud-niet kis, Mrs. March whisperd jently, “Mi deer, doen’t let th sun go doun upon yuur angger. Forgiv eech uther, help eech uther, and begin agen tomorro.”

Jo wonted to lae her hed doun on that mutherly buuzom, and cri her greef and angger all awae, but teers wer an unmanly weeknes, and she felt so deeply injerd that she reealy cuudn’t qiet forgiv yet. So she winkt hard, shuuk her hed, and sed grufly becauz Amy wuz lisening, “It wuz an abominabl thing, and she duzn’t dezurv to be forgiven.”

With that she marcht off to bed, and thaer wuz no merry or confidenshal gosip that niet.

Amy wuz much ofended that her oeverchers of peess had bin repulst, and began to wish she had not humbld herself, to feel mor injerd than ever, and to ploom herself on her supeerior vurchoo in a wae which wuz particuelarly exasperaeting. Jo stil luukt liek a thunder cloud, and nuthing went wel all dae. It wuz biter coeld in th morning, she dropt her preshus turnoever in th guter, Ant March had an atak of th fijets, Meg wuz sensitiv, Baet wuud luuk greevd and wistful when she got hoem, and Amy kept maeking remarks about peepl hoo wer aulwaes tauking about being guud and yet wuudn’t eeven tri when uther peepl set them a vurchu’us exampl.

“Evrybody is so haetful, I’ll ask Laurie to go skaeting. He is aulwaes kiend and joly, and wil puut me to riets, I noe,” sed Jo to herself, and off she went.

Amy hurd th clash of skaets, and luukt out with an impaeshent exclamaeshon.

“Thaer! She promist I shuud go next tiem, for this is th last iess we shal hav. But it’s no uez to ask such a crospach to taek me.”

“Doen’t sae that. U wer verry nauty, and it is hard to forgiv th lost of her preshus litl buuk, but I think she miet do it now, and I ges she wil, if U tri her at th riet mienuet,” sed Meg. “Go after them. Doen’t sae enything til Jo has got guud-naecherd with Laurie, than taek a qieet mienuet and just kis her, or do sum kiend thing, and I’m shuur she’l be frends agen with all her hart.”

“I’ll tri,” sed Amy, for th adviess sooted her, and after a flury to get redy, she ran after th frends, hoo wer just disapeering oever th hil.

It wuz not far to th river, but boeth wer redy befor Amy reecht them. Jo saw her cuming, and turnd her bak. Laurie did not see, for he wuz caerfuly skaeting along th shor, sounding th iess, for a worm spel had preseeded th coeld snap.

“I’ll go on to th furst bend, and see if it’s all riet befor we begin to raess,” Amy hurd him sae, as he shot awae, luuking liek a yung Rushan in his fur-trimd coet and cap.

Jo hurd Amy panting after her run, stamping her feet and bloeing on her finggers as she tried to puut her skaets on, but Jo never turnd and went sloely zagzaging doun th river, taeking a biter, unhapy sort of satisfakshon in her sister’s trubls. She had cherrisht her angger til it groo strong and tuuk pozeshon of her, as eevil thauts and feelings aulwaes do unles cast out at wunss. As Laurie turnd th bend, he shouted bak...

“Keep neer th shor. It isn’t saef in th midl.” Jo hurd, but Amy wuz strugling to her feet and did not cach a wurd. Jo glanst oever her shoelder, and th litl deemon she wuz harboring sed in her eer...

“No mater whether she hurd or not, let her taek caer of herself.”

Laurie had vanisht round th bend, Jo wuz just at th turn, and Amy, far behiend, strieking out tord th smoother iess in th midl of th river. For a mienuet Jo stuud stil with a straenj feeling in her hart, then she rezolvd to go on, but sumthing held and turnd her round, just in tiem to see Amy thro up her hands and go doun, with a suden crash of roten iess, th splash of wauter, and a cri that maed Jo’s hart stand stil with feer. She tried to caul Laurie, but her vois wuz gon. She tried to rush forward, but her feet seemd to hav no strength in them, and for a second, she cuud oenly stand moeshonles, staering with a terror-striken faess at th litl bloo huud abuv th blak wauter. Sumthing rusht swiftly bi her, and Laurie’s vois cried out...

“Bring a rael. Qik, qik!”

How she did it, she never nue, but for th next fue minits she wurkt as if pozest, bliendly oebaeing Laurie, hoo wuz qiet self-pozest, and lieing flat, held Amy up bi his arm and hoky stik til Jo dragd a rael from th fenss, and together thae got th chield out, mor frietend than hurt.

“Now then, we must wauk her hoem as fast as we can. Piel our things on her, whiel I get off thees confounded skaets,” cried Laurie, raping his coet round Amy, and tuging awae at th straps which never seemd so intricat befor.

Shivering, driping, and crieing, thae got Amy hoem, and after an exsieting tiem of it, she fel asleep, roeld in blankets befor a hot fier. Duuring th busl Jo had scaersly spoeken but floen about, luuking pael and wield, with her things haf off, her dres torn, and her hands cut and broozd by iess and raels and refraktory bukls. When Amy wuz cumfortably asleep, th hous qieet, and Mrs. March siting by th bed, she cauld Jo to her and began to biend up th hurt hands.

“Ar U shuur she is saef?” whisperd Jo, luuking remorsfuly at th goelden hed, which miet hav bin swept awae from her siet forever under th trecherus iess.

“Qiet saef, deer. She is not hurt, and wun’t eeven taek coeld, I think, U wer so sensibl in cuvering and geting her hoem qikly,” replied her muther cheerfuly.

“Laurie did it all. I oenly let her go. Muther, if she shuud die, it wuud be mi fault.” And Jo dropt doun besied th bed in a pashon of penitent teers, teling all that had hapend, biterly condeming her hardnes of hart, and sobing out her gratitood for being spaerd th hevy punishment which miet hav cum upon her.

“It’s mi dredful temper! I tri to cuer it, I think I hav, and then it braeks out wurss than ever. O, Muther, whot shal I do? Whot shal I do?” cried puur Jo, in despaer.

“Woch and prae, deer, never get tierd of trieing, and never think it is imposibl to conker yuur fault,” sed Mrs. March, drawing th blowzy hed to her shoelder and kissing th wet cheek so tenderly that Jo cried eeven harder.

“U doen’t noe, U can’t ges how bad it is! It seems as if I cuud do enything when I’m in a pashon. I get so savej, I cuud hurt enywun and enjoy it. I’m afraed I shal do sumthing dredful sum dae, and spoil mi lief, and maek evrybody haet me. O, Muther, help me, do help me!”

“I wil, mi chield, I wil. Doen’t cri so biterly, but remember this dae, and rezolv with all yuur soel that U wil never noe anuther liek it. Jo, deer, we all hav our temptaeshons, sum far graeter than yuurs, and it ofen taeks us all our lievs to conker them. U think yuur temper is th wurst in th wurld, but mien uezd to be just liek it.”

“Yuurs, Muther? Whi, U ar never anggry!” And for th moement Jo forgot remorss in serpriez.

“I’ve bin trieing to cuer it for forty yeers, and hav oenly sukseeded in controeling it. I am anggry neerly every dae of mi lief, Jo, but I hav lurnd not to sho it, and I stil hoep to lurn not to feel it, tho it mae taek me anuther forty yeers to do so.”

Th paeshenss and th huemility of th faess she luvd so wel wuz a beter leson to Jo than th wiezest lekcher, th sharpest reproof. She felt cumforted at wunss bi th simpathy and confidenss given her. Th nolej that her muther had a fault liek hers, and tried to mend it, maed her oen eezyer to baer and strengthend her rezolooshon to cuer it, tho forty yeers seemd rather a long tiem to woch and prae to a gurl of fifteen.

“Muther, ar U anggry when U foeld yuur lips tiet together and go out of th room sumtiems, when Ant March scoelds or peepl wury U?” askt Jo, feeling neerer and deerer to her muther than ever befor.

“Yes, I’ve lurnd to chek th hasty wurds that riez to mi lips, and when I feel that thae meen to braek out agenst mi wil, I just go awae for a mienuet, and giv mieself a litl shaek for being so week and wiked,” anserd Mrs. March with a sie and a smiel, as she smoothd and fasend up Jo’s disheveld haer.

“How did U lurn to keep stil? That is whot trubls me, for th sharp wurds fli out befor I noe whot I’m about, and th mor I sae th wurss I get, til it’s a plezher to hurt peepl’s feelings and sae dredful things. Tel me how U do it, Marmee deer.”

“Mi guud muther uezd to help me...”

“As U do us...” interupted Jo, with a graetful kis.

“But I lost her when I wuz a litl oelder than U ar, and for yeers had to strugl on aloen, for I wuz too proud to confes mi weeknes to enywun elss. I had a hard tiem, Jo, and shed a guud meny biter teers oever mi faeluers, for in spiet of mi eforts I never seemd to get on. Then yuur faather caem, and I wuz so hapy that I found it eezy to be guud. But by-and-by, when I had foer litl dauters round me and we wer puur, then th oeld trubl began agen, for I am not paeshent by naecher, and it tried me verry much to see mi children wonting enything.”

“Puur Muther! Whot helpt U then?”

“Yuur faather, Jo. He never loozes paeshenss, never douts or complaens, but aulwaes hoeps, and wurks and waets so cheerfuly that wun is ashaemd to do utherwiez befor him. He helpt and cumforted me, and shoed me that I must tri to praktis all th vurchoos I wuud hav mi litl gurls pozess, for I wuz thaer exampl. It wuz eezyer to tri for yuur saeks than for mi oen. A startld or serpriezd luuk from wun of U when I spoek sharply rebuekt me mor than eny wurds cuud hav dun, and th luv, respekt, and confidenss of mi children wuz th sweetest reword I cuud reseev for mi eforts to be th wuuman I wuud hav them copy.”

“O, Muther, if I’m ever haf as guud as U, I shal be satisfied,” cried Jo, much tucht.

“I hoep U wil be a graet deel beter, deer, but U must keep woch oever yuur ‘buuzom enemy’, as faather cauls it, or it mae sadden, if not spoil yuur lief. U hav had a worning. Remember it, and tri with hart and soel to master this qik temper, befor it brings U graeter sorro and regret than U hav noen todae.”

“I wil tri, Muther, I trooly wil. But U must help me, remiend me, and keep me from flieing out. I uezd to see Faather sumtiems puut his fingger on his lips, and luuk at U with a verry kiend but soeber faess, and U aulwaes foelded yuur lips tiet and went awae. Wuz he remiending U then?” askt Jo softly.

“Yes. I askt him to help me so, and he never forgot it, but saevd me from meny a sharp wurd bi that litl jescher and kiend luuk.”

Jo saw that her muther’s ies fild and her lips trembld as she spoek, and feering that she had sed too much, she whisperd anxshusly, “Wuz it rong to woch U and to speek of it? I didn’t meen to be rood, but it’s so cumfortabl to sae all I think to U, and feel so saef and hapy heer.”

“Mi Jo, U mae sae enything to yuur muther, for it is mi graetest hapynes and pried to feel that mi gurls confied in me and noe how much I luv them.”

“I thaut I’d greevd U.”

“No, deer, but speeking of Faather remiended me how much I mis him, how much I oe him, and how faethfuly I shuud woch and wurk to keep his litl dauters saef and guud for him.”

“Yet U toeld him to go, Muther, and didn’t cri when he went, and never complaen now, or seem as if U needed eny help,” sed Jo, wundering.

“I gaev mi best to th cuntry I luv, and kept mi teers til he wuz gon. Whi shuud I complaen, when we boeth hav meerly dun our duety and wil shuurly be th hapyer for it in th end? If I doen’t seem to need help, it is becauz I hav a beter frend, eeven than Faather, to cumfort and sustaen me. Mi chield, th trubls and temptaeshons of yuur lief ar begining and mae be meny, but U can oevercum and outliv them all if U lurn to feel th strength and tendernes of yuur Hevenly Faather as U do that of yuur urthly wun. Th mor U luv and trust Him, th neerer U wil feel to Him, and th les U wil depend on hueman power and wizdom. His luv and caer never tier or chaenj, can never be taeken from U, but mae becum th sorss of lieflong peess, hapynes, and strength. Beleev this hartily, and go to God with all yuur litl caers, and hoeps, and sins, and sorroes, as freely and confidingly as U cum to yuur muther.”

Jo’s oenly anser wuz to hoeld her muther cloez, and in th sielenss which foloed th sinseerest praer she had ever praed left her hart without wurds. For in that sad yet hapy our, she had lurnd not oenly th biternes of remorss and despaer, but th sweetnes of self-denieal and self-controel, and led by her muther’s hand, she had drawn neerer to th Frend hoo aulwaes welcums every chield with a luv strongger than that of eny faather, tenderer than that of eny muther.

Amy sturd and sied in her sleep, and as if eeger to begin at wunss to mend her fault, Jo luukt up with an expreshon on her faess which it had never worn befor.

“I let th sun go doun on mi angger. I wuudn’t forgiv her, and todae, if it hadn’t bin for Laurie, it miet hav bin too laet! How cuud I be so wiked?” sed Jo, haf aloud, as she leend oever her sister softly stroeking th wet haer scaterd on th pilo.

As if she hurd, Amy oepend her ies, and held out her arms, with a smiel that went straet to Jo’s hart. Neether sed a wurd, but thae hugd wun anuther cloez, in spiet of th blankets, and everything wuz forgiven and forgoten in wun harty kis.


“I do think it wuz th moest forchunat thing in th wurld that thoes children shuud hav th meezls just now,” sed Meg, wun April dae, as she stuud paking th ‘go abroady’ trunk in her room, serounded bi her sisters.

“And so niess of Annie Moffat not to forget her promis. A hoel fortniet of fun wil be reguelarly splendid,” replied Jo, luuking liek a windmil as she foelded scurts with her long arms.

“And such luvly wether, I’m so glad of that,” aded Baet, tidily sorting nek and haer ribons in her best box, lent for th graet ocaezhon.

“I wish I wuz going to hav a fien tiem and waer all thees niess things,” sed Amy with her mouth fuul of pins, as she artistikaly replenisht her sister’s cuushon.

“I wish U wer all going, but as U can’t, I shal keep mi advenchers to tel U when I cum bak. I’m shuur it’s th leest I can do when U hav bin so kiend, lending me things and helping me get redy,” sed Meg, glansing round th room at th verry simpl outfit, which seemd neerly purfekt in thaer ies.

“Whot did Muther giv U out of th trezher box?” askt Amy, hoo had not bin prezent at th oepening of a surten seedar chest in which Mrs. March kept a fue reliks of past splendor, as gifts for her gurls when th proper tiem caem.

“A paer of silk stokings, that prity carvd fan, and a luvly bloo sash. I wonted th vieolet silk, but thaer isn’t tiem to maek it oever, so I must be contented with mi oeld tarlaton.”

“It wil luuk niess oever mi nue muzlin scurt, and th sash wil set it off buetifuly. I wish I hadn’t smasht mi coral braeslet, for U miet hav had it,” sed Jo, hoo luvd to giv and lend, but hoos pozeshons wer uezhualy too dilapidaeted to be of much uez.

“Thaer is a luvly oeld-fashond purl set in th trezher chest, but Muther sed reeal flowers wer th prityest ornament for a yung gurl, and Laurie promist to send me all I wont,” replied Meg. “Now, let me see, thaer’s mi nue grae wauking soot, just curl up th fether in mi hat, Baet, then mi poplin for Sundae and th smaul party, it luuks hevy for spring, duzn’t it? Th vieolet silk wuud be so niess. O, deer!”

“Never miend, U’ve got th tarlaton for th big party, and U aulwaes luuk liek an aenjel in whiet,” sed Amy, brooding oever th litl stor of fienery in which her soel delieted.

“It isn’t loe-nekt, and it duzn’t sweep enuf, but it wil hav to do. Mi bloo housdres luuks so wel, turnd and freshly trimd, that I feel as if I’d got a nue wun. Mi silk sacque isn’t a bit th fashon, and mi bonet duzn’t luuk liek Sallie’s. I didn’t liek to sae enything, but I wuz sadly disapointed in mi umbrela. I toeld Muther blak with a whiet handl, but she forgot and baut a green wun with a yeloeish handl. It’s strong and neet, so I aut not to complaen, but I noe I shal feel ashaemd of it besied Annie’s silk wun with a goeld top,” sied Meg, survaeing th litl umbrela with graet disfaevor.

“Chaenj it,” adviezd Jo.

“I wun’t be so sily, or hurt Marmee’s feelings, when she tuuk so much paens to get mi things. It’s a nonsensikal noeshon of mien, and I’m not going to giv up to it. Mi silk stokings and too paers of nue gluvs ar mi cumfort. U ar a deer to lend me yuurs, Jo. I feel so rich and sort of elegant, with too nue paers, and th oeld wuns cleend up for comon.” And Meg tuuk a refreshing peep at her gluv box.

“Annie Moffat has bloo and pink boes on her nightcaps. Wuud U puut sum on mien?” she askt, as Baet braut up a piel of snoey muzlins, fresh from Hannah’s hands.

“No, I wuudn’t, for th smart caps wun’t mach th plaen gouns without eny triming on them. Puur foeks shouldn’t rig,” sed Jo desiededly.

“I wunder if I shal ever be hapy enuf to hav reeal laess on mi cloeths and boes on mi caps?” sed Meg impaeshently.

“U sed th uther dae that U’d be purfektly hapy if U cuud oenly go to Annie Moffat’s,” obzurvd Baet in her qieet wae.

“So I did! Wel, I am hapy, and I wun’t fret, but it duz seem as if th mor wun gets th mor wun wonts, duzn’t it? Thaer now, th traes ar redy, and everything in but mi baul dres, which I shal leev for Muther to pak,” sed Meg, cheering up, as she glanst from th haf-fild trunk to th meny tiems prest and mended whiet tarlaton, which she cauld her ‘baul dres’ with an important aer.

Th next dae wuz fien, and Meg departed in stiel for a fortniet of novelty and plezher. Mrs. March had consented to th vizit rather reluktantly, feering that Margaret wuud cum bak mor discontented than she went. But she begd so hard, and Sallie had promist to taek guud caer of her, and a litl plezher seemd so delietful after a winter of urksum wurk that th muther yeelded, and th dauter went to taek her furst taest of fashonabl lief.

Th Moffats wer verry fashonabl, and simpl Meg wuz rather daunted, at furst, bi th splendor of th hous and th eleganss of its ocuepants. But thae wer kiendly peepl, in spiet of th frivolus lief thae led, and soon puut thaer guessed at her eez. Perhaps Meg felt, without understanding whi, that thae wer not particuelarly cultivaeted or intelijent peepl, and that all thaer gilding cuud not qiet conseel th ordinaery mateerial of which thae wer maed. It surtenly wuz agreeabl to faer sumptuously, driev in a fien carrej, waer her best frok every dae, and do nuthing but enjoy herself. It sooted her exaktly, and soon she began to imitaet th maners and conversaeshon of thoes about her, to puut on litl aers and graeses, uez French fraezes, crimp her haer, taek in her dreses, and tauk about th fashons as wel as she cuud. Th mor she saw of Annie Moffat’s prity things, th mor she envyd her and sied to be rich. Hoem now luukt baer and dizmal as she thaut of it, wurk groo harder than ever, and she felt that she wuz a verry destitoot and much-injerd gurl, in spiet of th nue gluvs and silk stokings.

She had not much tiem for repiening, however, for th three yung gurls wer bizily employd in ‘having a guud tiem’. Thae shopt, waukt, roed, and cauld all dae, went to theeaters and operas or frolikt at hoem in th eevning, for Annie had meny frends and nue how to entertaen them. Her oelder sisters wer verry fien yung laedys, and wun wuz engaejd, which wuz extreemly interesting and roemantik, Meg thaut. Mr. Moffat wuz a fat, joly oeld jentlman, hoo nue her faather, and Mrs. Moffat, a fat, joly oeld laedy, hoo tuuk as graet a fansy to Meg as her dauter had dun. Everywun peted her, and ‘Daisey’, as thae cauld her, wuz in a faer wae to hav her hed turnd.

When th eevning for th smaul party caem, she found that th poplin wuudn’t do at all, for th uther gurls wer puuting on thin dreses and maeking themselvs verry fien indeed. So out caem th tarlatan, luuking oelder, limper, and shabyer than ever besied Sallie’s crisp nue wun. Meg saw th gurls glanss at it and then at wun anuther, and her cheeks began to burn, for with all her jentlnes she wuz verry proud. No-wun sed a wurd about it, but Sallie oferd to dres her haer, and Annie to tie her sash, and Bel, th engaejd sister, praezd her whiet arms. But in thaer kiendnes Meg saw oenly pity for her poverty, and her hart felt verry hevy as she stuud by herself, whiel th uthers laft, chaterd, and floo about liek gauzy buterflies. Th hard, biter feeling wuz geting prity bad, when th maed braut in a box of flowers. Befor she cuud speek, Annie had th cuver off, and all wer exclaeming at th luvly roezes, heeth, and furn within.

“It’s for Bel, of corss, George aulwaes sends her sum, but thees ar aultogether ravishing,” cried Annie, with a graet snif.

“Thae ar for Mis March, th man sed. And heer’s a noet,” puut in th maed, hoelding it to Meg.

“Whot fun! Hoo ar thae from? Didn’t noe U had a luver,” cried th gurls, flutering about Meg in a hie staet of cueriosity and serpriez.

“Th noet is from Muther, and th flowers from Laurie,” sed Meg simply, yet much gratified that he had not forgoten her.

“O, indeed!” sed Annie with a funy luuk, as Meg slipt th noet into her poket as a sort of talisman agenst envy, vanity, and faulss pried, for th fue luving wurds had dun her guud, and th flowers cheerd her up bi thaer buety.

Feeling aulmoest hapy agen, she laed bi a fue furns and roezes for herself, and qikly maed up th rest in daenty boekaes for th brests, haer, or scurts of her frends, ofering them so pritily that Clara, th elder sister, toeld her she wuz ‘th sweetest litl thing she ever saw’, and thae luukt qiet charmd with her smaul atenshon. Sumhow th kiend akt finisht her despondensy, and when all th rest went to sho themselvs to Mrs. Moffat, she saw a hapy, briet-ied faess in th miror, as she laed her furns agenst her ripling haer and fasend th roezes in th dres that didn’t striek her as so verry shaby now.

She enjoyd herself verry much that eevning, for she danst to her hart’s content. Everywun wuz verry kiend, and she had three compliments. Annie maed her sing, and sum wun sed she had a remarkably fien vois. Maejor Lincoln askt hoo ‘th fresh litl gurl with th buetiful ies’ wuz, and Mr. Moffat insisted on dansing with her becauz she ‘didn’t daudl, but had sum spring in her’, as he graesfuly exprest it. So aultogether she had a verry niess tiem, til she oeverhurd a bit of conversaeshon, which disturbd her extreemly. She wuz siting just insied th consurvatory, waeting for her partner to bring her an iess, when she hurd a vois ask on th uther sied of th flowery waul...

“How oeld is he?”

“Sixteen or seventeen, I shuud sae,” replied anuther vois.

“It wuud be a grand thing for wun of thoes gurls, wuudn’t it? Sallie sez thae ar verry intimat now, and th oeld man qiet doets on them.”

“Mrs. M. has maed her plans, I daer sae, and wil plae her cards wel, urly as it is. Th gurl evidently duzn’t think of it yet,” sed Mrs. Moffat.

“She toeld that fib about her moma, as if she did noe, and culord up when th flowers caem qiet pritily. Puur thing! She’d be so niess if she wuz oenly got up in stiel. Do U think she’d be ofended if we oferd to lend her a dres for Thurzdae?” askt anuther vois.

“She’s proud, but I doen’t beleev she’d miend, for that doudy tarlaton is all she has got. She mae teer it toniet, and that wil be a guud excuez for ofering a deesent wun.”

Heer Meg’s partner apeerd, to fiend her luuking much flusht and rather ajitaeted. She wuz proud, and her pried wuz uesful just then, for it helpt her hied her mortificaeshon, angger, and disgust at whot she had just hurd. For, inosent and unsuspicious as she wuz, she cuud not help understanding th gosip of her frends. She tried to forget it, but cuud not, and kept repeeting to herself, “Mrs. M. has maed her plans,” “that fib about her maama,” and “doudy tarlaton,” til she wuz redy to cri and rush hoem to tel her trubls and ask for adviess. As that wuz imposibl, she did her best to seem gae, and being rather exsieted, she sukseeded so wel that no-wun dreemd whot an efort she wuz maeking. She wuz verry glad when it wuz all oever and she wuz qieet in her bed, whaer she cuud think and wunder and fuem til her hed aekt and her hot cheeks wer coold bi a fue nacheral teers. Thoes foolish, yet wel ment wurds, had oepend a nue wurld to Meg, and much disturbd th peess of th oeld wun in which til now she had livd as hapily as a chield. Her inosent frendship with Laurie wuz spoild bi th sily speeches she had oeverhurd. Her faeth in her muther wuz a litl shaeken bi th wurldly plans atribueted to her bi Mrs. Moffat, hoo jujd uthers bi herself, and th sensibl rezolooshon to be contented with th simpl wordroeb which sooted a puur man’s dauter wuz weekend bi th unnesesaery pity of gurls hoo thaut a shaby dres wun of th graetest calamitys under heven.

Puur Meg had a restles niet, and got up hevy-ied, unhapy, haf rezentful tord her frends, and haf ashaemd of herself for not speeking out frankly and setting everything riet. Evrybody daudld that morning, and it wuz noon befor th gurls found enerjy enuf eeven to taek up thaer wursted wurk. Sumthing in th maner of her frends struk Meg at wunss. Thae treeted her with mor respekt, she thaut, tuuk qiet a tender interest in whot she sed, and luukt at her with ies that plaenly betraed cueriosity. All this serpriezd and flaterd her, tho she did not understand it til Mis Bel luukt up from her rieting, and sed, with a sentimental aer...

“Daezy, deer, I’ve sent an invitaeshon to yuur frend, Mr. Laurence, for Thurzdae. We shuud liek to noe him, and it’s oenly a proper compliment to U.”

Meg culord, but a mischivus fansy to teez th gurls maed her replie demuerly, “U ar verry kiend, but I’m afraed he wun’t cum.”

“Whi not, Cherie?” askt Mis Bel.

“He's too oeld.”

“Mi chield, whot do U meen? Whot is his aej, I beg to noe!” cried Mis Clara.

“Neerly seventy, I beleev,” anserd Meg, counting stiches to hied th merriment in her ies.

“U sli creecher! Of corss we ment th yung man,” exclaemd Mis Bel, lafing.

“Thaer isn’t eny, Laurie is oenly a litl boy.” And Meg laft aulso at th qeer luuk which th sisters exchaenjd as she thus descriebd her supoezd luver.

“About yuur aej,” Nan sed.

“Neerer mi sister Jo’s; I am seventeen in August,” returnd Meg, tosing her hed.

“It’s verry niess of him to send U flowers, isn’t it?” sed Annie, luuking wiez about nuthing.

“Yes, he ofen duz, to all of us, for thaer hous is fuul, and we ar so fond of them. Mi muther and oeld Mr. Laurence ar frends, U noe, so it is qiet nacheral that we children shuud plae together,” and Meg hoept thae wuud sae no mor.

“It’s evident Daezy isn’t out yet,” sed Mis Clara to Bel with a nod.

“Qiet a pastoral staet of inosenss all round,” returnd Mis Bel with a shrug.

“I’m going out to get sum litl maters for mi gurls. Can I do enything for U, yung laedys?” askt Mrs. Moffat, lumbering in liek an elefant in silk and laess.

“No, thank U, maa’am,” replied Sallie. “I’ve got mi nue pink silk for Thurzdae and doen’t wont a thing.”

“Nor I...” began Meg, but stopt becauz it ocurd to her that she did wont several things and cuud not hav them.

“Whot shal U waer?” askt Sallie.

“Mi oeld whiet wun agen, if I can mend it fit to be seen, it got sadly torn last niet,” sed Meg, trieing to speek qiet eezily, but feeling verry uncumfortabl.

“Whi doen’t U send hoem for anuther?” sed Sallie, hoo wuz not an obzurving yung laedy.

“I haeven’t got eny uther.” It cost Meg an efort to sae that, but Sallie did not see it and exclaemd in aemiabl serpriez, “Oenly that? How funy...” She did not finish her speech, for Bel shuuk her hed at her and broek in, saeing kiendly...

“Not at all. Whaer is th uez of having a lot of dreses when she isn’t out yet? Thaer’s no need of sending hoem, Daezy, eeven if U had a duzen, for I’ve got a sweet bloo silk laed awae, which I’ve outgroen, and U shal waer it to pleez me, wun’t U, deer?”

“U ar verry kiend, but I doen’t miend mi oeld dres if U doen’t, it duz wel enuf for a litl gurl liek me,” sed Meg.

“Now do let me pleez mieself bi dresing U up in stiel. I admier to do it, and U’d be a reguelar litl buety with a tuch heer and thaer. I shan’t let enywun see U til U ar dun, and then we’l burst upon them liek Cinderella and her godmuther going to th baul,” sed Bel in her perswaesiv toen.

Meg cuudn’t refuez th ofer so kiendly maed, for a dezier to see if she wuud be ‘a litl buety’ after tuching up cauzd her to aksept and forget all her former uncumfortabl feelings tord th Moffats.

On th Thurzdae eevning, Bel shut herself up with her maed, and between them thae turnd Meg into a fien laedy. Thae crimpt and curld her haer, thae polisht her nek and arms with sum fraegrant pouder, tucht her lips with coralline sav to maek them reder, and Hortense wuud hav aded ‘a soupcon of roozh’, if Meg had not rebeld. Thae laest her into a ski-bloo dres, which wuz so tiet she cuud hardly breeth and so loe in th nek that modest Meg blusht at herself in th miror. A set of silver filagree wuz aded, braeslets, neklas, broech, and eeven eerrings, for Hortense tied them on with a bit of pink silk which did not sho. A cluster of tee-roez buds at th buuzom, and a ruche, reconsield Meg to th displae of her prity, whiet shoelders, and a paer of hie-heeld silk boots satisfied th last wish of her hart. A laess hankerchif, a plumy fan, and a boekae in a shoelder hoelder finisht her off, and Mis Bel survaed her with th satisfakshon of a litl gurl with a nuely drest dol.

“Mademezel is charmante, tres jolie, is she not?” cried Hortense, clasping her hands in an afekted rapcher.

“Cum and sho yuurself,” sed Mis Bel, leeding th wae to th room whaer th uthers wer waeting.

As Meg went rusling after, with her long scurts traeling, her eerrings tinkling, her curls waeving, and her hart beeting, she felt as if her fun had reealy begun at last, for th miror had plaenly toeld her that she wuz ‘a litl buety’. Her frends repeeted th pleezing fraez enthooziastikaly, and for several minits she stuud, liek a jackdaw in th faebl, enjoying her borroed plooms, whiel th rest chaterd liek a party of magpies.

“Whiel I dres, do U dril her, Nan, in th manejment of her scurt and thoes French heels, or she wil trip herself up. Taek yuur silver buterfli, and cach up that long curl on th left sied of her hed, Clara, and doen’t eny of U disturb th charming wurk of mi hands,” sed Bel, as she huryd awae, luuking wel pleezd with her suksess.

“U doen’t luuk a bit liek yuurself, but U ar verry niess. I’m no-whaer besied U, for Bel has heeps of taest, and U’r qiet French, I ashuur U. Let yuur flowers hang, doen’t be so caerful of them, and be shuur U doen’t trip,” returnd Sallie, trieing not to caer that Meg wuz prityer than herself.

Keeping that worning caerfuly in miend, Margaret got saefly doun staers and saeld into th drawing rooms whaer th Moffats and a fue urly gests wer asembld. She verry soon discuverd that thaer is a charm about fien cloeths which atrakts a surten clas of peepl and secuers thaer respekt. Several yung laedys, hoo had taeken no noetis of her befor, wer verry afekshonat all of a suden. Several yung jentlmen, hoo had oenly staerd at her at th uther party, now not oenly staerd, but askt to be introduest, and sed all maner of foolish but agreeabl things to her, and several oeld laedys, hoo sat on th soefas, and critisiezd th rest of th party, inqierd hoo she wuz with an aer of interest. She hurd Mrs. Moffat replie to wun of them...

“Daezy March—faather a curnal in th army—wun of our furst familys, but revurses of forchun, U noe; intimat frends of th Laurences; sweet creecher, I ashuur U; mi Ned is qiet wield about her.”

“Deer me!” sed th oeld laedy, puuting up her glas for anuther obzervaeshon of Meg, hoo tried to luuk as if she had not hurd and bin rather shokt at Mrs. Moffat’s fibs. Th ‘qeer feeling’ did not pas awae, but she imajind herself akting th nue part of fien laedy and so got on prity wel, tho th tiet dres gaev her a sied-aek, th traen kept geting under her feet, and she wuz in constant feer lest her eerrings shuud fli off and get lost or broeken. She wuz flurting her fan and lafing at th feebl joeks of a yung jentlman hoo tried to be wity, when she sudenly stopt lafing and luukt confuezd, for just opozit, she saw Laurie. He wuz staering at her with undisgiezd serpriez, and disaprooval aulso, she thaut, for tho he bowd and smield, yet sumthing in his onest ies maed her blush and wish she had her oeld dres on. To compleet her confuezhon, she saw Bel nuj Annie, and boeth glanss from her to Laurie, hoo, she wuz hapy to see, luukt unuezhualy boyish and shi.

“Sily creechers, to puut such thauts into mi hed. I wun’t caer for it, or let it chaenj me a bit,” thaut Meg, and rusld acros th room to shaek hands with her frend.

“I’m glad U caem, I wuz afraed U wuudn’t.” she sed, with her moest groen-up aer.

“Jo wonted me to cum, and tel her how U luukt, so I did,” anserd Laurie, without turning his ies upon her, tho he haf smield at her maturnal toen.

“Whot shal U tel her?” askt Meg, fuul of cueriosity to noe his opinyon of her, yet feeling il at eez with him for th furst tiem.

“I shal sae I didn’t noe U, for U luuk so groen-up and unliek yuurself, I’m qiet afraed of U,” he sed, fumbling at his gluv buton.

“How absurd of U! Th gurls drest me up for fun, and I rather liek it. Wuudn’t Jo staer if she saw me?” sed Meg, bent on maeking him sae whether he thaut her improovd or not.

“Yes, I think she wuud,” returnd Laurie graevly.

“Doen’t U liek me so?” askt Meg.

“No, I doen’t,” wuz th blunt replie.

“Whi not?” in an ankshus toen.

He glanst at her frizld hed, baer shoelders, and fantastikaly trimd dres with an expreshon that abasht her mor than his anser, which had not a partikl of his uezhual polietnes in it.

“I doen’t liek fus and fethers.”

That wuz aultogether too much from a lad yungger than herself, and Meg waukt awae, saeing petulantly, “U ar th rudest boy I ever saw.”

Feeling verry much rufld, she went and stuud at a qieet windo to cool her cheeks, for th tiet dres gaev her an uncumfortably brilyant culor. As she stuud thaer, Maejor Lincoln past bi, and a mienuet after she hurd him saeing to his muther...

“Thae ar maeking a fool of that litl gurl. I wonted U to see her, but thae hav spoild her entierly. She’s nuthing but a dol toniet.”

“O, deer!” sied Meg. “I wish I’d bin sensibl and worn mi oen things, then I shuud not hav disgusted uther peepl, or felt so uncumfortabl and ashaemd of mieself.”

She leend her forhed on th cool paen, and stuud haf hiden bi th curtens, never miending that her faevorit waults had begun, til sum wun tucht her, and turning, she saw Laurie, luuking penitent, as he sed, with his verry best boe and his hand out...

“Pleez forgiv mi roodnes, and cum and danss with me.”

“I’m afraed it wil be too disagreeabl to U,” sed Meg, trieing to luuk ofended and faeling entierly.

“Not a bit of it, I’m dieing to do it. Cum, I’ll be guud. I doen’t liek yuur goun, but I do think U ar just splendid.” And he waevd his hands, as if wurds faeld to expres his admeraeshon.

Meg smield and relented, and whisperd as thae stuud waeting to cach th tiem, “Taek caer mi scurt duzn’t trip U up. It’s th plaeg of mi lief and I wuz a gooss to waer it.”

“Pin it round yuur nek, and then it wil be uesful,” sed Laurie, luuking doun at th litl bloo boots, which he evidently aproovd of.

Awae thae went fleetly and graesfuly, for having praktist at hoem, thae wer wel macht, and th blieth yung cupl wer a plezant siet to see, as thae twurld merrily round and round, feeling mor frendly than ever after thaer smaul tif.

“Laurie, I wont U to do me a faevor, wil U?” sed Meg, as he stuud faning her when her breth gaev out, which it did verry soon tho she wuud not oen whi.

“Wun’t I!” sed Laurie, with alacrity.

“Pleez doen’t tel them at hoem about mi dres toniet. Thae wun’t understand th joek, and it wil wury Muther.”

“Then whi did U do it?” sed Laurie’s ies, so plaenly that Meg haestily aded...

“I shal tel them mieself all about it, and ‘fes’ to Muther how sily I’ve bin. But I’d rather do it mieself. So U’ll not tel, wil U?”

“I giv U mi wurd I wun’t, oenly whot shal I sae when thae ask me?”

“Just sae I luukt prity wel and wuz having a guud tiem.”

“I’ll sae th furst with all mi hart, but how about th uther? U doen’t luuk as if U wer having a guud tiem. Ar U?” And Laurie luukt at her with an expreshon which maed her anser in a whisper...

“No, not just now. Doen’t think I’m horrid. I oenly wonted a litl fun, but this sort duzn’t pae, I fiend, and I’m geting tierd of it.”

“Heer cums Ned Moffat. Whot duz he wont?” sed Laurie, niting his blak brows as if he did not regard his yung hoest in th liet of a plezant adishon to th party.

“He puut his naem doun for three danses, and I supoez he's cuming for them. Whot a bor!” sed Meg, asueming a langgwid aer which amuezd Laurie imensly.

He did not speek to her agen til supertiem, when he saw her drinking shampaen with Ned and his frend Fisher, hoo wer behaeving ‘liek a paer of fools’, as Laurie sed to himself, for he felt a brutherly sort of riet to woch oever th Marches and fiet thaer batls whenever a defender wuz needed.

“U’ll hav a spliting hedaek tomorro, if U drink much of that. I wuudn’t, Meg, yuur muther duzn’t liek it, U noe,” he whisperd, leening oever her chaer, as Ned turnd to refil her glas and Fisher stoopt to pik up her fan.

“I’m not Meg toniet, I’m ‘a dol’ hoo duz all sorts of craezy things. Tomorro I shal puut awae mi ‘fus and fethers’ and be desperatly guud agen,” she anserd with an afekted litl laf.

“Wish tomorro wuz heer, then,” muterd Laurie, wauking off, il-pleezd at th chaenj he saw in her.

Meg danst and flurted, chaterd and gigld, as th uther gurls did. After super she undertuuk th Jurman, and blunderd thru it, neerly upseting her partner with her long scurt, and romping in a wae that scandaliezd Laurie, hoo luukt on and meditaeted a lekcher. But he got no chanss to deliver it, for Meg kept awae from him til he caem to sae guud niet.

“Remember!” she sed, trieing to smiel, for th spliting hedaek had aulredy begun.

“Sielenss a laa mort,” replied Laurie, with a melodramatik flurish, as he went awae.

This litl bit of byplay exsieted Annie’s cueriosity, but Meg wuz too tierd for gosip and went to bed, feeling as if she had bin to a maskeraed and hadn’t enjoyd herself as much as she expekted. She wuz sik all th next dae, and on Saterdae went hoem, qiet uezd up with her fortniet’s fun and feeling that she had ‘sat in th lap of lukshery’ long enuf.

“It duz seem plezant to be qieet, and not hav cumpany maners on all th tiem. Hoem is a niess plaess, tho it isn’t splendid,” sed Meg, luuking about her with a restful expreshon, as she sat with her muther and Jo on th Sundae eevning.

“I’m glad to heer U sae so, deer, for I wuz afraed hoem wuud seem dul and puur to U after yuur fien qorters,” replied her muther, hoo had given her meny ankshus luuks that dae. For mutherly ies ar qik to see eny chaenj in children’s faeses.

Meg had toeld her advenchers gaely and sed oever and oever whot a charming tiem she had had, but sumthing stil seemd to wae upon her spirits, and when th yungger gurls wer gon to bed, she sat thautfuly staering at th fier, saeing litl and luuking wuryd. As th clok struk nien and Jo propoezd bed, Meg sudenly left her chaer and, taeking Baet’s stool, leend her elboes on her muther’s nae, saeing braevly...

“Marmee, I wont to ‘fes’.”

“I thaut so. Whot is it, deer?”

“Shal I go awae?” askt Jo discreetly.

“Of corss not. Doen’t I aulwaes tel U everything? I wuz ashaemd to speek of it befor th yungger children, but I wont U to noe all th dredful things I did at th Moffats’.”

“We ar prepaerd,” sed Mrs. March, smieling but luuking a litl ankshus.

“I toeld U thae drest me up, but I didn’t tel U that thae pouderd and sqeezd and frizld, and maed me luuk liek a fashon-plaet. Laurie thaut I wuzn’t proper. I noe he did, tho he didn’t sae so, and wun man cauld me ‘a dol’. I nue it wuz sily, but thae flaterd me and sed I wuz a buety, and qontitys of nonsenss, so I let them maek a fool of me.”

“Is that all?” askt Jo, as Mrs. March luukt sielently at th douncast faess of her prity dauter, and cuud not fiend it in her hart to blaem her litl folys.

“No, I drank shampaen and rompt and tried to flurt, and wuz aultogether abominabl,” sed Meg self-reproechfuly.

“Thaer is sumthing mor, I think.” And Mrs. March smoothd th soft cheek, which sudenly groo roezy as Meg anserd sloely...

“Yes. It’s verry sily, but I wont to tel it, becauz I haet to hav peepl sae and think such things about us and Laurie.”

Then she toeld th vaerius bits of gosip she had hurd at th Moffats’, and as she spoek, Jo saw her muther foeld her lips tietly, as if il pleezd that such iedeeas shuud be puut into Meg’s inosent miend.

“Wel, if that isn’t th graetest rubish I ever hurd,” cried Jo indignantly. “Whi didn’t U pop out and tel them so on th spot?”

“I cuudn’t, it wuz so embarrasing for me. I cuudn’t help heering at furst, and then I wuz so anggry and ashaemd, I didn’t remember that I aut to go awae.”

“Just waet til I see Annie Moffat, and I’ll sho U how to setl such ridicuelus stuf. Th iedeea of having ‘plans’ and being kiend to Laurie becauz he's rich and mae marry us bi-and-bi! Wun’t he shout when I tel him whot thoes sily things sae about us puur children?” And Jo laft, as if on second thauts th thing struk her as a guud joek.

“If U tel Laurie, I’ll never forgiv U! She mustn’t, must she, Muther?” sed Meg, luuking distrest.

“No, never repeet that foolish gosip, and forget it as soon as U can,” sed Mrs. March graevly. “I wuz verry unwiez to let U go amung peepl of hoom I noe so litl, kiend, I daer sae, but wurldly, il-bred, and fuul of thees vulgar iedeeas about yung peepl. I am mor sorry than I can expres for th mischif this vizit mae hav dun U, Meg.”

“Doen’t be sorry, I wun’t let it hurt me. I’ll forget all th bad and remember oenly th guud, for I did enjoy a graet deel, and thank U verry much for leting me go. I’ll not be sentimental or disatisfied, Muther. I noe I’m a sily litl gurl, and I’ll stae with U til I’m fit to taek caer of mieself. But it is niess to be praezd and admierd, and I can’t help saeing I liek it,” sed Meg, luuking haf ashaemd of th confeshon.

“That is purfektly nacheral, and qiet harmles, if th lieking duz not becum a pashon and leed wun to do foolish or unmaidenly things. Lurn to noe and value th praez which is wurth having, and to exsiet th admeraeshon of exselent peepl bi being modest as wel as prity, Meg.”

Margaret sat thinking a moement, whiel Jo stuud with her hands behiend her, luuking boeth interested and a litl perplext, for it wuz a nue thing to see Meg blushing and tauking about admeraeshon, luvers, and things of that sort. And Jo felt as if duuring that fortniet her sister had groen up amaezingly, and wuz drifting awae from her into a wurld whaer she cuud not folo.

“Muther, do U hav ‘plans’, as Mrs. Moffat sed?” askt Meg bashfuly.

“Yes, mi deer, I hav a graet meny, all muthers do, but mien difer sumwhot from Mrs. Moffat’s, I suspekt. I wil tel U sum of them, for th tiem has cum when a wurd mae set this roemantik litl hed and hart of yuurs riet, on a verry seerius subjekt. U ar yung, Meg, but not too yung to understand me, and muthers’ lips ar th fitest to speek of such things to gurls liek U. Jo, yuur turn wil cum in tiem, perhaps, so lisen to mi ‘plans’ and help me carry them out, if thae ar guud.”

Jo went and sat on wun arm of th chaer, luuking as if she thaut thae wer about to join in sum verry solem afaer. Hoelding a hand of eech, and woching th too yung faeses wistfuly, Mrs. March sed, in her seerius yet cheery wae...

“I wont mi dauters to be buetiful, acomplisht, and guud. To be admierd, luvd, and respekted. To hav a hapy yooth, to be wel and wiezly marryd, and to leed uesful, plezant lievs, with as litl caer and sorro to tri them as God sees fit to send. To be luvd and choezen by a guud man is th best and sweetest thing which can hapen to a wuuman, and I sinseerly hoep mi gurls mae noe this buetiful expeeri’enss. It is nacheral to think of it, Meg, riet to hoep and waet for it, and wiez to prepaer for it, so that when th hapy tiem cums, U mae feel redy for th duetys and wurthy of th joy. Mi deer gurls, I am ambishus for U, but not to hav U maek a dash in th wurld, marry rich men meerly becauz thae ar rich, or hav splendid houses, which ar not hoems becauz luv is wonting. Muny is a needful and preshus thing, and when wel uezd, a noebl thing, but I never wont U to think it is th furst or oenly priez to striev for. I’d rather see U puur men’s wievs, if U wer hapy, beluved, contented, than qeens on throens, without self-respekt and peess.”

“Puur gurls doen’t stand eny chanss, Bel sez, unles thae puut themselvs forward,” sied Meg.

“Then we’l be oeld maeds,” sed Jo stoutly.

“Riet, Jo. Beter be hapy oeld maeds than unhapy wievs, or unmaidenly gurls, runing about to fiend huzbands,” sed Mrs. March desiededly. “Doen’t be trubld, Meg, poverty seldom daunts a sinseer luver. Sum of th best and moest onord wimen I noe wer puur gurls, but so luv-wurthy that thae wer not alowd to be oeld maeds. Leev thees things to tiem. Maek this hoem hapy, so that U mae be fit for hoems of yuur oen, if thae ar oferd U, and contented heer if thae ar not. Wun thing remember, mi gurls. Muther is aulwaes redy to be yuur confidant, Faather to be yuur frend, and boeth of us hoep and trust that our dauters, whether marryd or singgl, wil be th pried and cumfort of our lievs.”

“We wil, Marmee, we wil!” cried boeth, with all thaer harts, as she bad them guud niet.

Th P.C. AND P.O.

As spring caem on, a nue set of amuezments becaem th fashon, and th lengthening daes gaev long afternoons for wurk and plae of all sorts. Th garden had to be puut in order, and eech sister had a qorter of th litl plot to do whot she liekt with. Hannah uezd to sae, “I’d noe which eech of them gardings belongd to, ef I see ’em in Chiny,” and so she miet, for th gurls’ taests difered as much as thaer carrakters. Meg’s had roezes and heeliotroep, murtl, and a litl orenj tree in it. Jo’s bed wuz never aliek too seezons, for she wuz aulwaes trieing experriments. This yeer it wuz to be a plantaeshon of sun flowers, th seeds of which cheerful and aspiering plant wer to feed Ant Cokl-top and her family of chiks. Baet had oeld-fashond fraegrant flowers in her garden, sweet pees and mignonette, larkspur, pinks, panzys, and southernwood, with chikweed for th burds and capnip for th puusys. Amy had a bower in hers, rather smaul and earwiggy, but verry prity to luuk at, with hunysukl and morning-glorys hanging thaer culord horns and bels in graesful reeths all oever it, taul whiet lilys, delicat furns, and as meny brilyant, pikcheresk plants as wuud consent to blosom thaer.

Gardening, wauks, roes on th river, and flower hunts employd th fien daes, and for raeny wuns, thae had hous divurzhons, sum oeld, sum nue, all mor or les orijinal. Wun of thees wuz th ‘P.C.’, for as seecret soesieetys wer th fashon, it wuz thaut proper to hav wun, and as all of th gurls admierd Dickens, thae cauld themselvs th Pickwick Club. With a fue interupshons, thae had kept this up for a yeer, and met every Saterdae eevning in th big garret, on which ocaezhons th serremoenys wer as foloes: Three chaers wer araenjd in a roe befor a taebl on which wuz a lamp, aulso foer whiet bajes, with a big ‘P.C.’ in diferent culors on eech, and th weekly nuezpaeper cauld, Th Pickwick Portfoelio, to which all contribueted sumthing, whiel Jo, hoo reveld in pens and ink, wuz th editor. At seven oe’clok, th foer members asended to th clubroom, tied thaer bajes round thaer heds, and tuuk thaer seets with graet solemnity. Meg, as th eldest, wuz Samuel Pickwick, Jo, being of a literaery turn, Augustus Snodgrass, Baet, becauz she wuz round and roezy, Tracy Tupman, and Amy, hoo wuz aulwaes trieing to do whot she cuudn’t, wuz Nathaniel Winkle. Pickwick, th prezident, red th paeper, which wuz fild with orijinal taels, poeetry, loekal nues, funy advurtisments, and hints, in which thae guud-naturedly remiended eech uther of thaer faults and short cumings. On wun ocaezhon, Mr. Pickwick puut on a paer of spektakls without eny glas, rapt upon th taebl, hemd, and having staerd hard at Mr. Snodgrass, hoo wuz tilting bak in his chaer, til he araenjd himself properly, began to red:

“Th PICKWICK Portfoelio”

Mae 20, 18—

Poeet’s CORNER

Anivursery Oed

Agen we meet to selebraet
    With baj and solem riet,
Our fifty-second anivursery,
    In Pickwick Haul, toniet.

We all ar heer in purfekt helth,
    Nun gon from our smaul band:
Agen we see eech wel-noen faess,
    And pres eech frendly hand.

Our Pickwick, aulwaes at his poest,
    With reverenss we greet,
As, spektakls on noez, he reeds
    Our wel-fild weekly sheet.

Aultho he sufers from a coeld,
    We joy to heer him speek,
For wurds of wizdom from him faul,
    In spiet of croek or sqeek.

Oeld six-fuut Snodgrass looms on hie,
    With elephantine graess,
And beems upon th cumpany,
    With broun and joevial faess.

Poeetik fier liets up his ie,
    He strugls ’gainst his lot.
Behoeld ambishon on his brow,
    And on his noez, a blot.

Next our peesful Tupman cums,
    So roezy, plump, and sweet,
Hoo choeks with lafter at th puns,
    And tumbls off his seet.

Prim litl Winkle too is heer,
    With every haer in plaess,
A model of proprieety,
    Tho he haets to wosh his faess.

Th yeer is gon, we stil ueniet
    To joek and laf and red,
And tred th path of literachuur
    That duth to glory leed.

Long mae our paeper prosper wel,
    Our club unbroeken be,
And cuming yeers thaer blesings por
    On th uesful, gae ‘P. C.’.


Th Maskt Marrej
(A Tael Of Venice)

Gondola after gondola swept up to th marbl steps, and left its luvly loed to swel th brilyant throng that fild th staetly hauls of Count Adelon. Niets and laedys, elvs and paejes, munks and flower gurls, all minggld gaely in th danss. Sweet voises and rich melody fild th aer, and so with murth and muezik th maskeraed went on. “Has yuur Hienes seen th Laedy Veoela toniet?” askt a galant troobador of th faery qeen hoo floeted doun th haul upon his arm.

“Yes, is she not luvly, tho so sad! Her dres is wel choezen, too, for in a week she weds Count Antonio, hoom she pashonatly haets.”

“Bi mi faeth, I envy him. Yonder he cums, araed liek a briedgroom, exsept th blak mask. When that is off we shal see how he regards th faer maed hoos hart he cannot win, tho her sturn faather bestoes her hand,” returnd th troobador.

“Tis whisperd that she luvs th yung Inglish artist hoo haunts her steps, and is spurnd bi th oeld Count,” sed th laedy, as thae joind th danss. Th revel wuz at its hiet when a preest apeerd, and withdrawing th yung paer to an alcoev, hung with purpl velvet, he moeshond them to neel. Instant sielenss fel on th gae throng, and not a sound, but th dash of fountens or th rusl of orenj groevs sleeping in th moonliet, broek th hush, as Count de Adelon spoek thus:

“Mi lords and laedys, pardon th rooz bi which I hav gatherd U heer to witnes th marrej of mi dauter. Faather, we waet yuur survises.” All ies turnd tord th briedal party, and a murmer of amaezment went thru th throng, for neether bried nor groom remoovd thaer masks. Cueriosity and wunder pozest all harts, but respekt restraend all tungs til th hoely riet wuz oever. Then th eeger spektaetors gatherd round th count, demanding an explanaeshon.

“Gladly wuud I giv it if I cuud, but I oenly noe that it wuz th whim of mi timid Veoela, and I yeelded to it. Now, mi children, let th plae end. Unmask and reseev mi blesings.”

But neether bent th nae, for th yung briedgroom replied in a toen that startld all liseners as th mask fel, discloezing th noebl faess of Ferdinand Devereux, th artist luver, and leening on th brest whaer now flasht th star of an Inglish url wuz th luvly Veoela, raediant with joy and buety.

“Mi lord, U scornfuly bad me claem yuur dauter when I cuud boest as hie a naem and vast a forchun as th Count Antonio. I can do mor, for eeven yuur ambishus soel cannot refuez th Url of Devereux and De Vere, when he givs his aenshent naem and boundles welth in return for th beluved hand of this faer laedy, now mi wief.”

Th count stuud liek wun chaenjd to stoen, and turning to th bewilderd croud, Ferdinand aded, with a gae smiel of trieumf, “To U, mi galant frends, I can oenly wish that yuur wooing mae prosper as mien has dun, and that U mae all win as faer a bried as I hav bi this maskt marrej.”


Whi is th P. C. liek th Tower of Babel?
It is fuul of unrooly members.


Wunss upon a tiem a farmer planted a litl seed in his garden, and after a whiel it sprouted and becaem a vien and bor meny sqoshes. Wun dae in Oktoeber, when thae wer riep, he pikt wun and tuuk it to market. A grocerman baut and puut it in his shop. That saem morning, a litl gurl in a broun hat and bloo dres, with a round faess and snub noez, went and baut it for her muther. She lugd it hoem, cut it up, and boild it in th big pot, masht sum of it with sault and buter, for diner. And to th rest she aded a pient of milk, too egs, foer spoons of shigar, nutmeg, and sum crakers, puut it in a deep dish, and baekt it til it wuz broun and niess, and next dae it wuz eeten by a family naemd March.


Mr. Pickwick, Sur:
    I adres U upon th subjekt of sin th siner I meen is a man naemd Winkle hoo maeks trubl in his club bi lafing and sumtiems wun’t riet his peess in this fien paeper I hoep U wil pardon his badnes and let him send a French faebl becauz he can’t riet out of his hed as he has so meny lesons to do and no braens in fuecher I wil tri to taek tiem bi th fetlock and prepaer sum wurk which wil be all commy laa fo that meens all riet I am in haest as it is neerly scool tiem.

Yuurs respektably,

[Th abuv is a manly and handsum aknolejment of past misdemeenors. If our yung frend studyd punkchuaeshon, it wuud be wel.]

A SAD Aksident

On Friedae last, we wer startld bi a vieolent shok in our basement, foloed bi cries of distres. On rushing in a body to th selar, we discuverd our beluved Prezident prostraet upon th flor, having tript and faulen whiel geting wuud for domestik purposes. A purfekt seen of rooin met our ies, for in his faul Mr. Pickwick had plunjd his hed and shoelders into a tub of wauter, upset a keg of soft soep upon his manly form, and torn his garments badly. On being remoovd from this perrilus sichuaeshon, it wuz discuverd that he had suferd no injery but several broozes, and we ar hapy to ad, is now dooing wel.


Th Publik Bereevment

It is our paenful duety to record th suden and misteerius disapeeranss of our cherrisht frend, Mrs. Snoebaul Pat Paw. This luvly and beluved cat wuz th pet of a larj surkl of worm and admiering frends; for her buety atrakted all ies, her graeses and vurchoos endeerd her to all harts, and her lost is deeply felt bi th hoel comuenity.
    When last seen, she wuz siting at th gaet, woching th buucher’s cart, and it is feerd that sum vilan, tempted bi her charms, baesly stoel her. Weeks hav past, but no traess of her has bin discuverd, and we relinqish all hoep, tie a blak ribon to her basket, set asied her dish, and weep for her as wun lost to us forever.

A simpathiezing frend sends th foloeing jem:


We morn th lost of our litl pet,
    And sie o’er her haples faet,
For never mor bi th fier she’l sit,
    Nor plae bi th oeld green gaet.

Th litl graev whaer her infant sleeps
    Is ’neath th chestnut tree.
But o’er her graev we mae not weep,
    We noe not whaer it mae be.

Her empty bed, her iedl baul,
    Wil never see her mor;
No jentl tap, no luving pur
    Is hurd at th parlor dor.

Anuther cat cums after her miess,
    A cat with a durty faess,
But she duz not hunt as our darling did,
    Nor plae with her aery graess.

Her stelthy paws tred th verry haul
    Whaer Snoebaul uezd to plae,
But she oenly spits at th dogs our pet
    So galantly droev awae.

She is uesful and mield, and duz her best,
    But she is not faer to see,
And we cannot giv her yuur plaess deer,
    Nor wurship her as we wurship thee.



MISS ORANTHY BLugej, th acomplisht strong-miended lekcherer, wil deliver her faemus lekcher on “WOMAN AND HER POSITION” at Pickwick Haul, next Saterdae Eevning, after th uezhual performanses.

A WEEKLY MEETING wil be held at Kichen Plaess, to teech yung laedys how to cuuk. Hannah Broun wil prezied, and all ar invieted to atend.

THE DUSTPAN SOCIETY wil meet on Wenzdae next, and paraed in th uper story of th Club Hous. All members to apeer in ueniform and shoelder thaer brooms at nien presiesly.

MRS. BETH BOUNCER wil oepen her nue asortment of Dol’s Milinery next week. Th laetest Paris fashons hav arievd, and orders ar respektfuly solisited.

A NEW PLae wil apeer at th Barnville Theeater, in th corss of a fue weeks, which wil serpas enything ever seen on th Amerrican staej. “THE GREEK SLAVE, or Constantine th Avenjer,” is th naem of this thriling draama!!!


If S.P. didn’t uez so much soep on his hands, he wuudn’t aulwaes be laet at brekfast. A.S. is reqested not to whisl in th street. T.T. pleez doen’t forget Amy’s napkin. N.W. must not fret becauz his dres has not nien tuks.


Baet—Verry Guud.

As th Prezident finisht reeding th paeper (which I beg leev to ashuur mi reeders is a bona fide copy of wun riten bi bona fide gurls wunss upon a tiem), a round of aplauz foloed, and then Mr. Snodgrass roez to maek a propozishon.

“Mr. Prezident and jentlmen,” he began, asueming a parlamentary atitued and toen, “I wish to propoez th admishon of a nue member—wun hoo hiely dezurvs th onor, wuud be deeply graetful for it, and wuud ad imensly to th spirit of th club, th literaery value of th paeper, and be no end joly and niess. I propoez Mr. Theodore Laurence as an onoraery member of th P. C. Cum now, do hav him.”

Jo’s suden chaenj of toen maed th gurls laf, but all luukt rather ankshus, and no-wun sed a wurd as Snodgrass tuuk his seet.

“We’l puut it to a voet,” sed th Prezident. “All in faevor of this moeshon pleez to manifest it bi saeing, ‘Ie’.”

A loud responss from Snodgrass, foloed, to evrybody’s serpriez, bi a timid wun from Baet.

“Contraery-miended sae, ‘No’.”

Meg and Amy wer contraery-miended, and Mr. Winkle roez to sae with graet eleganss, “We doen’t wish eny boys, thae oenly joek and bounss about. This is a laedys’ club, and we wish to be prievat and proper.”

“I’m afraed he'l laf at our paeper, and maek fun of us afterward,” obzurvd Pickwick, puuling th litl curl on her forhed, as she aulwaes did when doutful.

Up roez Snodgrass, verry much in urnest. “Sur, I giv U mi wurd as a jentlman, Laurie wun’t do enything of th sort. He lieks to riet, and he'l giv a toen to our contribueshons and keep us from being sentimental, doen’t U see? We can do so litl for him, and he duz so much for us, I think th leest we can do is to ofer him a plaess heer, and maek him welcum if he cums.”

This artful aloozhon to benefits confurd braut Tupman to his feet, luuking as if he had qiet maed up his miend.

“Yes; we aut to do it, eeven if we ar afraed. I sae he mae cum, and his grandpaa, too, if he lieks.”

This spirited burst from Baet elektrified th club, and Jo left her seet to shaek hands aproovingly. “Now then, voet agen. Evrybody remember it’s our Laurie, and sae, ‘Ie!’” cried Snodgrass exsietedly.

“Ie! Ie! Ie!” replied three voises at wunss.

“Guud! Bles U! Now, as thaer’s nuthing liek ‘taeking tiem bi th fetlock’, as Winkle carrakteristikaly obzurvs, alow me to prezent th nue member.” And, to th dismae of th rest of th club, Jo throo oepen th dor of th clozet, and displaed Laurie siting on a rag bag, flusht and twinkling with suprest lafter.

“U roeg! U traetor! Jo, how cuud U?” cried th three gurls, as Snodgrass led her frend trieumfantly forth, and produesing boeth a chaer and a baj, instauld him in a jify.

“Th coolnes of U too rascals is amaezing,” began Mr. Pickwick, trieing to get up an auful froun and oenly sukseeding in produesing an aemiabl smiel. But th nue member wuz eeqal to th ocaezhon, and riezing, with a graetful saluetaeshon to th Chaer, sed in th moest engaejing maner, “Mr. Prezident and laedys—I beg pardon, jentlmen—alow me to introduess mieself as Sam Weller, th verry humbl survant of th club.”

“Guud! Guud!” cried Jo, pounding with th handl of th oeld worming paen on which she leend.

“Mi faethful frend and noebl paetron,” continued Laurie with a waev of th hand, “hoo has so flatteringly prezented me, is not to be blaemd for th baess stratejem of toniet. I pland it, and she oenly gaev in after lots of teezing.”

“Cum now, doen’t lae it all on yuurself. U noe I propoezd th cubord,” broek in Snodgrass, hoo wuz enjoying th joek amaezingly.

“Never miend whot she sez. I’m th rech that did it, sur,” sed th nue member, with a Welleresque nod to Mr. Pickwick. “But on mi onor, I never wil do so agen, and hensforth devoet mieself to th interest of this immortal club.”

“Heer! Heer!” cried Jo, clashing th lid of th worming paen liek a simbal.

“Go on, go on!” aded Winkle and Tupman, whiel th Prezident bowd benienly.

“I meerly wish to sae, that as a sliet toeken of mi gratitood for th onor dun me, and as a meens of promoeting frendly relaeshons between ajoining naeshons, I hav set up a poest ofis in th hej in th loeer corner of th garden, a fien, spaeshus bilding with padloks on th dors and every conveenyenss for th maels, aulso th feemaels, if I mae be alowd th expreshon. It’s th oeld martin hous, but I’ve stopt up th dor and maed th roof oepen, so it wil hoeld all sorts of things, and saev our valueable tiem. Leters, manuescripts, buuks, and bundls can be past in thaer, and as eech naeshon has a kee, it wil be uncomonly niess, I fansy. Alow me to prezent th club kee, and with meny thanks for yuur faevor, taek mi seet.”

Graet aplauz as Mr. Weller depozited a litl kee on th taebl and subsieded, th worming paen clasht and waevd wieldly, and it wuz sum tiem befor order cuud be restord. A long discushon foloed, and everywun caem out serpriezing, for everywun did her best. So it wuz an unuezhualy lievly meeting, and did not ajurn til a laet our, when it broek up with three shril cheers for th nue member.

No-wun ever regreted th admitanss of Sam Weller, for a mor devoeted, wel-behaevd, and joevial member no club cuud hav. He surtenly did ad ‘spirit’ to th meetings, and ‘a toen’ to th paeper, for his oraeshons convulst his heerers and his contribueshons wer exselent, being paetriotik, clasikal, comikal, or dramatik, but never sentimental. Jo regarded them as wurthy of Baecon, Milton, or Shakespeare, and re-modeld her oen wurks with guud efekt, she thaut.

Th P. O. wuz a capital litl institooshon, and flurisht wunderfuly, for neerly as meny qeer things past thru it as thru th reeal poest ofis. Trajedys and cravats, poeetry and pikls, garden seeds and long leters, muezik and jinjerbred, rubers, invitaeshons, scoldings, and pupys. Th oeld jentlman liekt th fun, and amuezd himself bi sending od bundls, misteerius mesejes, and funy telegrams, and his gardener, hoo wuz smiten with Hannah’s charms, akchualy sent a luv leter to Jo’s caer. How thae laft when th seecret caem out, never dreeming how meny luv leters that litl poest ofis wuud hoeld in th yeers to cum.


“Th furst of Joon! Th Kings ar off to th seeshor tomorro, and I’m free. Three munths’ vaecaeshon—how I shal enjoy it!” exclaemd Meg, cuming hoem wun worm dae to fiend Jo laed upon th soefa in an uenuezhual staet of exauschon, whiel Baet tuuk off her dusty boots, and Amy maed lemonaed for th refreshment of th hoel party.

“Ant March went todae, for which, o, be joyful!” sed Jo. “I wuz mortaly afraed she’d ask me to go with her. If she had, I shuud hav felt as if I aut to do it, but Plumfield is about as gae as a church-yard, U noe, and I’d rather be excuezd. We had a flury geting th oeld laedy off, and I had a friet every tiem she spoek to me, for I wuz in such a hurry to be thru that I wuz uncomonly helpful and sweet, and feerd she’d fiend it imposibl to part from me. I qaekt til she wuz faerly in th carrej, and had a fienal friet, for as it droev of, she popt out her hed, saeing, ‘Josyphine, wun’t U—?’ I didn’t heer eny mor, for I baesly turnd and fled. I did akchualy run, and whiskt round th corner whaer I felt saef.”

“Puur oeld Jo! She caem in luuking as if baers wer after her,” sed Baet, as she cudld her sister’s feet with a mutherly aer.

“Ant March is a reguelar samphire, is she not?” obzurvd Amy, taesting her mixcher critikaly.

“She meens vampire, not seeweed, but it duzn’t mater. It’s too worm to be particuelar about wun’s parts of speech,” murmerd Jo.

“Whot shal U do all yuur vaecaeshon?” askt Amy, chaenjing th subjekt with takt.

“I shal lie abed laet, and do nuthing,” replied Meg, from th depths of th roking chaer. “I’ve bin routed up urly all winter and had to spend mi daes wurking for uther peepl, so now I’m going to rest and revel to mi hart’s content.”

“No,” sed Jo, “that dozy wae wuudn’t soot me. I’ve laed in a heep of buuks, and I’m going to improov mi shiening ours reeding on mi purch in th oeld apl tree, when I’m not having l——”

“Doen’t sae ‘larks!’” implord Amy, as a return snub for th ‘samphire’ corekshon.

“I’ll sae ‘nietinggaels’ then, with Laurie. That’s proper and aproepriat, sinss he's a worbler.”

“Doen’t let us do eny lesons, Baet, for a whiel, but plae all th tiem and rest, as th gurls meen to,” propoezd Amy.

“Wel, I wil, if Muther duzn’t miend. I wont to lurn sum nue songs, and mi children need fiting up for th sumer. Thae ar dredfuly out of order and reealy sufering for cloeths.”

“Mae we, Muther?” askt Meg, turning to Mrs. March, hoo sat soeing in whot thae cauld ‘Marmee’s corner’.

“U mae tri yuur experriment for a week and see how U liek it. I think bi Saterdae niet U wil fiend that all plae and no wurk is as bad as all wurk and no plae.”

“O, deer, no! It wil be delishus, I’m shuur,” sed Meg complaesently.

“I now propoez a toest, as mi ‘frend and pardner, Sairy Gamp’, sez. Fun forever, and no grubing!” cried Jo, riezing, glas in hand, as th lemonaed went round.

Thae all drank it merrily, and began th experriment bi lounjing for th rest of th dae. Next morning, Meg did not apeer til ten oe’clok. Her solitaery brekfast did not taest guud, and th room seemd loenly and untiedy, for Jo had not fild th vaeses, Baet had not dusted, and Amy’s buuks lae scaterd about. Nuthing wuz neet and plezant but ‘Marmee’s corner’, which luukt as uezhual. And thaer Meg sat, to ‘rest and red’, which ment to yaun and imajin whot prity sumer dreses she wuud get with her salary. Jo spent th morning on th river with Laurie and th afternoon reeding and crieing oever Th Wied, Wied Wurld, up in th apl tree. Baet began by rumejing everything out of th big clozet whaer her family rezieded, but geting tierd befor haf dun, she left her establishment topsy-turvy and went to her muezik, rejoising that she had no dishes to wosh. Amy araenjd her bower, puut on her best whiet frok, smoothd her curls, and sat doun to draw under th hunysukl, hoeping sumwun wuud see and inqier hoo th yung artist wuz. As no-wun apeerd but an inqizitiv dady-longlegs, hoo examind her wurk with interest, she went to wauk, got caut in a shower, and caem hoem driping.

At teetiem thae compaerd noets, and all agreed that it had bin a delietful, tho unuezhualy long dae. Meg, hoo went shoping in th afternoon and got a ‘sweet bloo muzlin’, had discuverd, after she had cut th breadths off, that it wuudn’t wosh, which mis-hap maed her slietly cros. Jo had burnd th skin off her noez boeting, and got a raejing hedaek by reeding too long. Baet wuz wuryd by th confuezhon of her clozet and th dificulty of lurning three or foer songs at wunss, and Amy deeply regreted th damej dun her frok, for Katy Broun’s party wuz to be th next dae and now liek Flora McFlimsey, she had ‘nuthing to waer’. But thees wer meer triefls, and thae ashuurd thaer muther that th experriment wuz wurking fienly. She smield, sed nuthing, and with Hannah’s help did thaer neglekted wurk, keeping hoem plezant and th domestik masheenery runing smoothly. It wuz astonishing whot a pecueliar and uncumfortabl staet of things wuz produest by th ‘resting and reveling’ prosess. Th daes kept geting longger and longger, th wether wuz unuezhualy vaeriabl and so wer tempers; an unsetld feeling pozest everywun, and Saetan found plenty of mischif for th iedl hands to do. As th hiet of lukshery, Meg puut out sum of her soeing, and then found tiem hang so hevily, that she fel to sniping and spoiling her cloeths in her atempts to furbish them up a laa Moffat. Jo red til her ies gaev out and she wuz sik of buuks, got so fijety that eeven guud-naecherd Laurie had a qorrel with her, and so reduest in spirits that she desperatly wisht she had gon with Ant March. Baet got on prity wel, for she wuz constantly forgeting that it wuz to be all plae and no wurk, and fel bak into her oeld waes now and then. But sumthing in th aer afekted her, and mor than wunss her tranqility wuz much disturbd, so much so that on wun ocaezhon she akchualy shuuk puur deer Joanna and toeld her she wuz ‘a friet’. Amy faerd wurst of all, for her resorses wer smaul, and when her sisters left her to amuez herself, she soon found that acomplisht and important litl self a graet burden. She didn’t liek dols, faery taels wer chieldish, and wun cuudn’t draw all th tiem. Tee partys didn’t amount to much, neether did pikniks, unles verry wel condukted. “If wun cuud hav a fien hous, fuul of niess gurls, or go traveling, th sumer wuud be delietful, but to stae at hoem with three selfish sisters and a groen-up boy wuz enuf to tri th paeshenss of a Boaz,” complaend Mis Malaprop, after several daes devoeted to plezher, freting, and aanwee.

No-wun wuud oen that thae wer tierd of th experriment, but bi Friedae niet eech aknolejd to herself that she wuz glad th week wuz neerly dun. Hoeping to impres th leson mor deeply, Mrs. March, hoo had a guud deel of huemor, rezolvd to finish off th trieal in an aproepriat maner, so she gaev Hannah a holidae and let th gurls enjoy th fuul efekt of th plae sistem.

When thae got up on Saterdae morning, thaer wuz no fier in th kichen, no brekfast in th diening room, and no muther enywhaer to be seen.

“Mursy on us! Whot has hapend?” cried Jo, staering about her in dismae.

Meg ran upstaers and soon caem bak agen, luuking releevd but rather bewilderd, and a litl ashaemd.

“Muther isn’t sik, oenly verry tierd, and she sez she is going to stae qieetly in her room all dae and let us do th best we can. It’s a verry qeer thing for her to do, she duzn’t akt a bit liek herself. But she sez it has bin a hard week for her, so we mustn’t grumbl but taek caer of ourselvs.”

“That’s eezy enuf, and I liek th iedeea, I’m aeking for sumthing to do, that is, sum nue amuezment, U noe,” aded Jo qikly.

In fakt it wuz an imenss releef to them all to hav a litl wurk, and thae tuuk hoeld with a wil, but soon reealiezd th trooth of Hannah’s saeing, “Houskeeping ain’t no joek.” Thaer wuz plenty of food in th larder, and whiel Baet and Amy set th taebl, Meg and Jo got brekfast, wundering as thae did whi survants ever taukt about hard wurk.

“I shal taek sum up to Muther, tho she sed we wer not to think of her, for she’d taek caer of herself,” sed Meg, hoo prezieded and felt qiet maetronly behiend th teepot.

So a trae wuz fited out befor enywun began, and taeken up with th cuuk’s compliments. Th boild tee wuz verry biter, th omelet scorcht, and th biskits spekld with saleratus, but Mrs. March reseevd her repast with thanks and laft hartily oever it after Jo wuz gon.

“Puur litl soels, thae wil hav a hard tiem, I’m afraed, but thae wun’t sufer, and it wil do them guud,” she sed, produesing th mor palatabl vieands with which she had provieded herself, and dispoezing of th bad brekfast, so that thaer feelings miet not be hurt, a mutherly litl desepshon for which thae wer graetful.

Meny wer th complaents beloe, and graet th shagrin of th hed cuuk at her faeluers. “Never miend, I’ll get th diner and be survant, U be mistres, keep yuur hands niess, see cumpany, and giv orders,” sed Jo, hoo nue stil les than Meg about cuelinarry afaers.

This obliejing ofer wuz gladly aksepted, and Margaret retierd to th parlor, which she haestily puut in order bi whisking th liter under th soefa and shuting th bliends to saev th trubl of dusting. Jo, with purfekt faeth in her oen powers and a frendly dezier to maek up th qorrel, imeediatly puut a noet in th ofis, invieting Laurie to diner.

“U’d beter see whot U hav got befor U think of having cumpany,” sed Meg, when informd of th hospitabl but rash akt.

“O, thaer’s cornd beef and plenty of potaetoes, and I shal get sum asparragus and a lobster, ‘for a relish’, as Hannah sez. We’l hav letis and maek a salad. I doen’t noe how, but th buuk tels. I’ll hav blanc maenj and strawberrys for dezurt, and cofy too, if U wont to be elegant.”

“Doen’t tri too meny meses, Jo, for U can’t maek enything but jinjerbred and molases candy fit to eet. I wosh mi hands of th diner party, and sinss U hav askt Laurie on yuur oen responsibility, U mae just taek caer of him.”

“I doen’t wont U to do enything but be sivil to him and help to th puuding. U’ll giv me yuur adviess if I get in a mudl, wun’t U?” askt Jo, rather hurt.

“Yes, but I doen’t noe much, exsept about bred and a fue triefls. U had beter ask Muther’s leev befor U order enything,” returnd Meg proodently.

“Of corss I shal. I’m not a fool.” And Jo went off in a huf at th douts exprest of her powers.

“Get whot U liek, and doen’t disturb me. I’m going out to diner and can’t wury about things at hoem,” sed Mrs. March, when Jo spoek to her. “I never enjoyd houskeeping, and I’m going to taek a vaecaeshon todae, and red, riet, go viziting, and amuez mieself.”

Th uenuezhual spektakl of her bizy muther roking cumfortably and reeding urly in th morning maed Jo feel as if sum unnacheral fenomenon had ocurd, for an eclips, an urthqaek, or a volcanik erupshon wuud hardly hav seemd straenjer.

“Everything is out of sorts, sumhow,” she sed to herself, going dounstaers. “Thaer’s Baet crieing, that’s a shuur sien that sumthing is rong in this family. If Amy is bothering, I’ll shaek her.”

Feeling verry much out of sorts herself, Jo huryd into th parlor to fiend Baet sobing oever Pip, th canaery, hoo lae ded in th caej with his litl claws pathetikaly extended, as if imploring th food for wont of which he had died.

“It’s all mi fault, I forgot him, thaer isn’t a seed or a drop left. O, Pip! O, Pip! How cuud I be so crooel to U?” cried Baet, taeking th puur thing in her hands and trieing to restor him.

Jo peept into his haf-oepen ie, felt his litl hart, and fiending him stif and coeld, shuuk her hed, and oferd her domino box for a cofin.

“Puut him in th uven, and maebe he wil get worm and reviev,” sed Amy hoepfuly.

“He's bin starvd, and he shan’t be baekt now he's ded. I’ll maek him a shroud, and he shal be berryd in th garden, and I’ll never hav anuther burd, never, mi Pip! for I am too bad to oen wun,” murmerd Baet, siting on th flor with her pet foelded in her hands.

“Th fueneral shal be this afternoon, and we wil all go. Now, doen’t cri, Bethy. It’s a pity, but nuthing goes riet this week, and Pip has had th wurst of th experriment. Maek th shroud, and lae him in mi box, and after th diner party, we’l hav a niess litl fueneral,” sed Jo, begining to feel as if she had undertaeken a guud deel.

Leeving th uthers to consoel Baet, she departed to th kichen, which wuz in a moest discurejing staet of confuezhon. Puuting on a big aepron, she fel to wurk and got th dishes pield up redy for woshing, when she discuverd that th fier wuz out.

“Heer’s a sweet prospekt!” muterd Jo, slaming th stoev dor oepen, and poeking vigorusly amung th sinders.

Having re-kindld th fier, she thaut she wuud go to market whiel th wauter heeted. Th wauk revievd her spirits, and flatering herself that she had maed guud bargens, she trujd hoem agen, after bieing a verry yung lobster, sum verry oeld asparragus, and too boxes of asid strawberrys. Bi th tiem she got cleerd up, th diener arievd and th stoev wuz red-hot. Hannah had left a paen of bred to riez, Meg had wurkt it up urly, set it on th harth for a second riezing, and forgoten it. Meg wuz entertaeining Sallie Gardiner in th parlor, when th dor floo oepen and a floury, crocky, flusht, and disheveld figuer apeerd, demanding tartly...

“I sae, isn’t bred ‘riz’ enuf when it runs oever th pans?”

Sallie began to laf, but Meg noded and lifted her iebrows as hie as thae wuud go, which cauzd th aparishon to vanish and puut th sour bred into th uven without further delae. Mrs. March went out, after peeping heer and thaer to see how maters went, aulso saeing a wurd of cumfort to Baet, hoo sat maeking a wiending sheet, whiel th deer departed lae in staet in th domino box. A straenj senss of helplesnes fel upon th gurls as th grae bonet vanisht round th corner, and despaer seezd them when a fue minits laeter Mis Crocker apeerd, and sed she’d cum to diner. Now this laedy wuz a thin, yelo spinster, with a sharp noez and inqizitiv ies, hoo saw everything and gosipt about all she saw. Thae disliekt her, but had bin taut to be kiend to her, simply becauz she wuz oeld and puur and had fue frends. So Meg gaev her th eezy chaer and tried to entertaen her, whiel she askt qeschons, critisiezd everything, and toeld storys of th peepl hoom she nue.

Langgwej cannot descrieb th angzieitys, expeeri’enses, and exurshons which Jo underwent that morning, and th diner she survd up becaem a standing joek. Feering to ask eny mor adviess, she did her best aloen, and discuverd that sumthing mor than enerjy and guud wil is nesesaery to maek a cuuk. She boild th asparragus for an our and wuz greevd to fiend th heds cuukt off and th stauks harder than ever. Th bred burnd blak; for th salad dresing so agravaeted her that she cuud not maek it fit to eet. Th lobster wuz a scarlet mistery to her, but she hamerd and poekt til it wuz unsheld and its meeger proporshons conseeld in a groev of letis leevs. Th potaetoes had to be huryd, not to keep th asparragus waeting, and wer not dun at th last. Th blanc maenj wuz lumpy, and th strawberrys not as riep as thae luukt, having bin skilfully ‘deaconed’.

“Wel, thae can eet beef and bred and buter, if thae ar hunggry, oenly it’s mortifying to hav to spend yuur hoel morning for nuthing,” thaut Jo, as she rang th bel haf an our laeter than uezhual, and stuud, hot, tierd, and dispirited, survaeing th feest spred befor Laurie, acustomd to all sorts of eleganss, and Mis Crocker, hoos tatling tung wuud report them far and wied.

Puur Jo wuud gladly hav gon under th taebl, as wun thing after anuther wuz taested and left, whiel Amy gigld, Meg luukt distrest, Mis Crocker purst her lips, and Laurie taukt and laft with all his miet to giv a cheerful toen to th festiv seen. Jo’s wun strong pointer wuz th froot, for she had shuugerd it wel, and had a picher of rich creem to eet with it. Her hot cheeks coold a triefl, and she droo a long breth as th prity glas plaets went round, and everywun luukt graeshusly at th litl roezy ielands floeting in a see of creem. Mis Crocker taested furst, maed a rie faess, and drank sum wauter haestily. Jo, hoo refuezd, thinking thaer miet not be enuf, for thae dwindld sadly after th piking oever, glanst at Laurie, but he wuz eeting awae manfuly, tho thaer wuz a sliet puker about his mouth and he kept his ie fixt on his plaet. Amy, hoo wuz fond of delicat faer, tuuk a heeping spoonful, choekt, hid her faess in her napkin, and left th taebl precipitately.

“O, whot is it?” exclaemd Jo, trembling.

“Sault insted of shigar, and th creem is sour,” replied Meg with a trajik jescher.

Jo uterd a groen and fel bak in her chaer, remembering that she had given a last hasty poudering to th berrys out of wun of th too boxes on th kichen taebl, and had neglekted to puut th milk in th refrijeraetor. She turnd scarlet and wuz on th vurj of crieing, when she met Laurie’s ies, which wuud luuk merry in spiet of his heroeik eforts. Th comikal sied of th afaer sudenly struk her, and she laft til th teers ran doun her cheeks. So did everywun elss, eeven ‘Croeker’ as th gurls cauld th oeld laedy, and th unforchunat diner ended gaely, with bred and buter, olivs and fun.

“I haeven’t strength of miend enuf to cleer up now, so we wil soeber ourselvs with a fueneral,” sed Jo, as thae roez, and Mis Crocker maed redy to go, being eeger to tel th nue story at anuther frend’s diner taebl.

Thae did soeber themselvs for Baet’s saek. Laurie dug a graev under th furns in th groev, litl Pip wuz laed in, with meny teers bi his tender-harted mistres, and cuverd with mos, whiel a reeth of vieolets and chikweed wuz hung on th stoen which bor his epitaf, compoezd bi Jo whiel she strugld with th diner.

Heer lies Pip March,
Hoo died th 7th of Joon;
Luvd and lamented sor,
And not forgoten soon.

At th concloozhon of th serremoenys, Baet retierd to her room, oevercum with emoeshon and lobster, but thaer wuz no plaess of repoez, for th beds wer not maed, and she found her greef much aswaejd bi beeting up th piloes and puuting things in order. Meg helpt Jo cleer awae th remaens of th feest, which tuuk haf th afternoon and left them so tierd that thae agreed to be contented with tee and toest for super.

Laurie tuuk Amy to driev, which wuz a deed of charrity, for th sour creem seemd to hav had a bad efekt upon her temper. Mrs. March caem hoem to fiend th three oelder gurls hard at wurk in th midl of th afternoon, and a glanss at th clozet gaev her an iedeea of th suksess of wun part of th experriment.

Befor th houswievs cuud rest, several peepl cauld, and thaer wuz a scrambl to get redy to see them. Then tee must be got, errands dun, and wun or too nesesaery bits of soeing neglekted until th last mienuet. As twieliet fel, duey and stil, wun by wun thae gatherd on th porch whaer th Joon roezes wer buding buetifuly, and eech groend or sied as she sat doun, as if tierd or trubld.

“Whot a dredful dae this has bin!” began Jo, uezhualy th furst to speek.

“It has seemd shorter than uezhual, but so uncumfortabl,” sed Meg.

“Not a bit liek hoem,” aded Amy.

“It can’t seem so without Marmee and litl Pip,” sied Baet, glansing with fuul ies at th empty caej abuv her hed.

“Heer’s Muther, deer, and U shal hav anuther burd tomorro, if U wont it.”

As she spoek, Mrs. March caem and tuuk her plaess amung them, luuking as if her holidae had not bin much plezanter than thaers.

“Ar U satisfied with yuur experriment, gurls, or do U wont anuther week of it?” she askt, as Baet nesld up to her and th rest turnd tord her with brietening faeses, as flowers turn tord th sun.

“I doen’t!” cried Jo desiededly.

“Nor I,” ecoed th uthers.

“U think then, that it is beter to hav a fue duetys and liv a litl for uthers, do U?”

“Lounjing and larking duzn’t pae,” obzurvd Jo, shaeking her hed. “I’m tierd of it and meen to go to wurk at sumthing riet off.”

“Supoez U lurn plaen cuuking. That’s a uesful acomplishment, which no wuuman shuud be without,” sed Mrs. March, lafing inaudibly at th recolekshon of Jo’s diner party, for she had met Mis Crocker and hurd her acount of it.

“Muther, did U go awae and let everything be, just to see how we’d get on?” cried Meg, hoo had had suspishons all dae.

“Yes, I wonted U to see how th cumfort of all depends on eech dooing her shaer faethfuly. Whiel Hannah and I did yuur wurk, U got on prity wel, tho I doen’t think U wer verry hapy or aemiabl. So I thaut, as a litl leson, I wuud sho U whot hapens when everywun thinks oenly of herself. Doen’t U feel that it is plezanter to help wun anuther, to hav daely duetys which maek leezher sweet when it cums, and to baer and forbaer, that hoem mae be cumfortabl and luvly to us all?”

“We do, Muther, we do!” cried th gurls.

“Then let me adviez U to taek up yuur litl burdens agen, for tho thae seem hevy sumtiems, thae ar guud for us, and lieten as we lurn to carry them. Wurk is hoelsum, and thaer is plenty for everywun. It keeps us from aanwee and mischif, is guud for helth and spirits, and givs us a senss of power and independenss beter than muny or fashon.”

“We’l wurk liek bees, and luv it too, see if we doen’t,” sed Jo. “I’ll lurn plaen cuuking for mi holidae task, and th next diner party I hav shal be a suksess.”

“I’ll maek th set of shurts for faather, insted of leting U do it, Marmee. I can and I wil, tho I’m not fond of soeing. That wil be beter than fusing oever mi oen things, which ar plenty niess enuf as thae ar.” sed Meg.

“I’ll do mi lesons every dae, and not spend so much tiem with mi muezik and dols. I am a stoopid thing, and aut to be studying, not plaeing,” wuz Baet’s rezolooshon, whiel Amy foloed thaer exampl bi heroeikaly declaering, “I shal lurn to maek buttonholes, and atend to mi parts of speech.”

“Verry guud! Then I am qiet satisfied with th experriment, and fansy that we shal not hav to repeet it, oenly doen’t go to th uther extreem and delv liek slaevs. Hav reguelar ours for wurk and plae, maek eech dae boeth uesful and plezant, and proov that U understand th wurth of tiem bi employing it wel. Then yooth wil be delietful, oeld aej wil bring fue regrets, and lief becum a buetiful suksess, in spiet of poverty.”

“We’l remember, Muther!” and thae did.


Baet wuz postmistress, for, being moest at hoem, she cuud atend to it reguelarly, and deerly liekt th daely task of unloking th litl dor and distribueting th mael. Wun Joolie dae she caem in with her hands fuul, and went about th hous leeving leters and parsels liek th peny poest.

“Heer’s yuur posy, Muther! Laurie never forgets that,” she sed, puuting th fresh noezgae in th vaess that stuud in ‘Marmee’s corner’, and wuz kept suplied bi th afekshonat boy.

“Mis Meg March, wun leter and a gluv,” continued Baet, delivering th artikls to her sister, hoo sat neer her muther, stiching ristbands.

“Whi, I left a paer oever thaer, and heer is oenly wun,” sed Meg, luuking at th grae coton gluv. “Didn’t U drop th uther in th garden?”

“No, I’m shuur I didn’t, for thaer wuz oenly wun in th ofis.”

“I haet to hav od gluvs! Never miend, th uther mae be found. Mi leter is oenly a translaeshon of th Jurman song I wonted. I think Mr. Brooke did it, for this isn’t Laurie’s rieting.”

Mrs. March glanst at Meg, hoo wuz luuking verry prity in her gingam morning goun, with th litl curls bloeing about her forhed, and verry wuumanly, as she sat soeing at her litl wurktaebl, fuul of tiedy whiet roels, so unconshus of th thaut in her muther’s miend as she soed and sang, whiel her finggers floo and her thauts wer bizyd with gurlish fansys as inosent and fresh as th panzys in her belt, that Mrs. March smield and wuz satisfied.

“Too leters for Doktor Jo, a buuk, and a funy oeld hat, which cuverd th hoel poest ofis and stuk outsied,” sed Baet, lafing as she went into th study whaer Jo sat rieting.

“Whot a sli felo Laurie is! I sed I wisht biger hats wer th fashon, becauz I burn mi faess every hot dae. He sed, ‘Whi miend th fashon? Waer a big hat, and be cumfortabl!’ I sed I wuud if I had wun, and he has sent me this, to tri me. I’ll waer it for fun, and sho him I doen’t caer for th fashon.” And hanging th anteek braud-brim on a bust of Plato, Jo red her leters.

Wun from her muther maed her cheeks glo and her ies fil, for it sed to her...

Mi Deer:

I riet a litl wurd to tel U with how much satisfakshon I woch yuur eforts to controel yuur temper. U sae nuthing about yuur trieals, faeluers, or sukseses, and think, perhaps, that no-wun sees them but th Frend hoos help U daely ask, if I mae trust th wel-worn cuver of yuur giedbuuk. I, too, hav seen them all, and hartily beleev in th sinserrity of yuur rezolooshon, sinss it begins to baer froot. Go on, deer, paeshently and braevly, and aulwaes beleev that no-wun simpathiezes mor tenderly with U than yuur luving...


“That duz me guud! That’s wurth milyons of muny and peks of praez. O, Marmee, I do tri! I wil keep on trieing, and not get tierd, sinss I hav U to help me.”

Laeing her hed on her arms, Jo wet her litl roemanss with a fue hapy teers, for she had thaut that no-wun saw and apreeshiaeted her eforts to be guud, and this ashuuranss wuz dubly preshus, dubly encurejing, becauz unexpekted and from th purson hoos comendaeshon she moest valued. Feeling strongger than ever to meet and subdue her Apollyon, she pind th noet insied her frok, as a sheeld and a remiender, lest she be taeken unawaer, and proseeded to oepen her uther leter, qiet redy for eether guud or bad nues. In a big, dashing hand, Laurie roet...

Deer Jo, Whot ho!

Sum Inglish gurls and boys ar cuming to see me tomorro and I wont to hav a joly tiem. If it’s fien, I’m going to pich mi tent in Longmeadow, and roe up th hoel croo to lunch and croecae—hav a fier, maek meses, jipsy fashon, and all sorts of larks. Thae ar niess peepl, and liek such things. Brooke wil go to keep us boys stedy, and Kate Vaughn wil plae proprieety for th gurls. I wont U all to cum, can’t let Baet off at eny priess, and noebody shal wury her. Doen’t bother about rashons, I’ll see to that and everything elss, oenly do cum, thaer’s a guud felo!

In a teering hurry, Yuurs ever, Laurie.

“Heer’s richnes!” cried Jo, flieing in to tel th nues to Meg.

“Of corss we can go, Muther? It wil be such a help to Laurie, for I can roe, and Meg see to th lunch, and th children be uesful in sum wae.”

“I hoep th Vaughns ar not fien groen-up peepl. Do U noe enything about them, Jo?” askt Meg.

“Oenly that thaer ar foer of them. Kate is oelder than U, Fred and Frank (twins) about mi aej, and a litl gurl (Graess), hoo is nien or ten. Laurie nue them abraud, and liekt th boys. I fansyd, from th wae he primmed up his mouth in speeking of her, that he didn’t admier Kate much.”

“I’m so glad mi French print is cleen, it’s just th thing and so becuming!” obzurvd Meg complaesently. “Hav U enything deesent, Jo?”

“Scarlet and grae boeting soot, guud enuf for me. I shal roe and tramp about, so I doen’t wont eny starch to think of. U’ll cum, Betty?”

“If U wun’t let eny boys tauk to me.”

“Not a boy!”

“I liek to pleez Laurie, and I’m not afraed of Mr. Brooke, he is so kiend. But I doen’t wont to plae, or sing, or sae enything. I’ll wurk hard and not trubl enywun, and U’ll taek caer of me, Jo, so I’ll go.”

“That’s mi guud gurl. U do tri to fiet off yuur shienes, and I luv U for it. Fieting faults isn’t eezy, as I noe, and a cheery wurd kiend of givs a lift. Thank U, Muther,” And Jo gaev th thin cheek a graetful kis, mor preshus to Mrs. March than if it had given bak th roezy roundnes of her yooth.

“I had a box of chocolat drops, and th pikcher I wonted to copy,” sed Amy, shoeing her mael.

“And I got a noet from Mr. Laurence, asking me to cum oever and plae to him toniet, befor th lamps ar lieted, and I shal go,” aded Baet, hoos frendship with th oeld jentlman prosperd fienly.

“Now let’s fli round, and do dubl duety todae, so that we can plae tomorro with free miends,” sed Jo, prepaering to replaess her pen with a broom.

When th sun peept into th gurls’ room urly next morning to promis them a fien dae, he saw a comikal siet. Eech had maed such preparaeshon for th faet as seemd nesesaery and proper. Meg had an extra roe of litl curlpapers acros her forhed, Jo had coepiusly anointed her aflikted faess with coeld creem, Baet had taeken Joanna to bed with her to atoen for th aproeching separaeshon, and Amy had capt th cliemax bi puuting a clothespin on her noez to uplift th ofending feecher. It wuz wun of th kiend artists uez to hoeld th paeper on thaer drawing bords, thaerfor qiet aproepriat and efektiv for th purpos it wuz now being puut. This funy spektakl apeerd to amuez th sun, for he burst out with such raedianss that Jo woek up and rouzd her sisters bi a harty laf at Amy’s ornament.

Sunshien and lafter wer guud oemens for a plezher party, and soon a lievly busl began in boeth houses. Baet, hoo wuz redy furst, kept reporting whot went on next dor, and enlivend her sisters’ toilets bi freeqent telegrams from th windo.

“Thaer goes th man with th tent! I see Mrs. Barker dooing up th lunch in a hamper and a graet basket. Now Mr. Laurence is luuking up at th ski and th wethercok. I wish he wuud go too. Thaer’s Laurie, luuking liek a saelor, niess boy! O, mursy me! Heer’s a carrej fuul of peepl, a taul laedy, a litl gurl, and too dredful boys. Wun is laem, puur thing, he's got a cruch. Laurie didn’t tel us that. Be qik, gurls! It’s geting laet. Whi, thaer is Ned Moffat, I do declaer. Meg, isn’t that th man hoo bowd to U wun dae when we wer shoping?”

“So it is. How qeer that he shuud cum. I thaut he wuz at th mountens. Thaer is Sallie. I’m glad she got bak in tiem. Am I all riet, Jo?” cried Meg in a fluter.

“A reguelar daezy. Hoeld up yuur dres and puut yuur hat on straet, it luuks sentimental tipt that wae and wil fli off at th furst puf. Now then, cum on!”

“O, Jo, U ar not going to waer that auful hat? It’s too absurd! U shal not maek a gie of yuurself,” remonstraeted Meg, as Jo tied doun with a red ribon th braud-brimd, oeld-fashond leghorn Laurie had sent for a joek.

“I just wil, tho, for it’s capital, so shaedy, liet, and big. It wil maek fun, and I doen’t miend being a gie if I’m cumfortabl.” With that Jo marcht straet awae and th rest foloed, a briet litl band of sisters, all luuking thaer best in sumer soots, with hapy faeses under th jaunty hatbrims.

Laurie ran to meet and prezent them to his frends in th moest corjal maner. Th laun wuz th resepshon room, and for several minits a lievly seen wuz enakted thaer. Meg wuz graetful to see that Mis Kate, tho twenty, wuz drest with a simplisity which Amerrican gurls wuud do wel to imitaet, and hoo wuz much flaterd bi Mr. Ned’s ashuuranses that he caem espeshaly to see her. Jo understuud whi Laurie ‘primmed up his mouth’ when speeking of Kate, for that yung laedy had a standoff-doen’t-tuch-me aer, which constrasted strongly with th free and eezy demeenor of th uther gurls. Baet tuuk an obzervaeshon of th nue boys and desieded that th laem wun wuz not ‘dredful’, but jentl and feebl, and she wuud be kiend to him on that acount. Amy found Graess a wel-manerd, merry, litl purson, and after staering dumly at wun anuther for a fue minits, thae sudenly becaem verry guud frends.

Tents, lunch, and croecae uetensils having bin sent on beforhand, th party wuz soon embarkt, and th too boets puusht off together, leeving Mr. Laurence waeving his hat on th shor. Laurie and Jo roed wun boet, Mr. Brooke and Ned th uther, whiel Fred Vaughn, th rieotus twin, did his best to upset boeth bi padling about in a wherry liek a disturbd wauter bug. Jo’s funy hat dezurvd a voet of thanks, for it wuz of jeneral uetility. It broek th iess in th begining bi produesing a laf, it creaeted qiet a refreshing breez, flaping to and fro as she roed, and wuud maek an exselent umbrela for th hoel party, if a shower caem up, she sed. Mis Kate desieded that she wuz ‘od’, but rather clever, and smield upon her from afar.

Meg, in th uther boet, wuz delietfuly sichuaeted, faess to faess with th roeers, hoo boeth admierd th prospekt and fetherd thaer ors with uncomon ‘skil and dexterrity’. Mr. Brooke wuz a graev, sielent yung man, with handsum broun ies and a plezant vois. Meg liekt his qieet maners and considerd him a wauking ensieclopeedia of uesful nolej. He never taukt to her much, but he luukt at her a guud deel, and she felt shuur that he did not regard her with avurzhon. Ned, being in colej, of corss puut on all th aers which freshmen think it thaer bounden duety to asuem. He wuz not verry wiez, but verry guud-naecherd, and aultogether an exselent purson to carry on a piknik. Sallie Gardiner wuz absorbd in keeping her whiet peek dres cleen and chatering with th uebiqitus Fred, hoo kept Baet in constant terror by his pranks.

It wuz not far to Longmeadow, but th tent wuz picht and th wikets doun bi th tiem thae arievd. A plezant green feeld, with three wied-spreding oeks in th midl and a smooth strip of turf for croecae.

“Welcum to Camp Laurence!” sed th yung hoest, as thae landed with exclamaeshons of deliet.

“Brooke is comander in cheef, I am comisaery jeneral, th uther feloes ar staf ofisers, and U, laedys, ar cumpany. Th tent is for yuur espeshal benefit and that oek is yuur drawing room, this is th messroom and th thurd is th camp kichen. Now, let’s hav a gaem befor it gets hot, and then we’l see about diner.”

Frank, Baet, Amy, and Graess sat doun to woch th gaem plaed bi th uther aet. Mr. Brooke choez Meg, Kate, and Fred. Laurie tuuk Sallie, Jo, and Ned. Th Inglish plaed wel, but th Amerricans plaed beter, and contested every inch of th ground as strongly as if th spirit of ’76 inspired them. Jo and Fred had several scurmishes and wunss narroely escaept hie wurds. Jo wuz thru th last wiket and had mist th stroek, which faeluer rufld her a guud deel. Fred wuz cloez behiend her and his turn caem befor hers. He gaev a stroek, his baul hit th wiket, and stopt an inch on th rong sied. No-wun wuz verry neer, and runing up to examin, he gaev it a sli nuj with his toe, which puut it just an inch on th riet sied.

“I’m thru! Now, Mis Jo, I’ll setl U, and get in furst,” cried th yung jentlman, swinging his malet for anuther blo.

“U puusht it. I saw U. It’s mi turn now,” sed Jo sharply.

“Upon mi wurd, I didn’t moov it. It roeld a bit, perhaps, but that is alowd. So, stand off pleez, and let me hav a go at th staek.”

“We doen’t cheet in America, but U can, if U chooz,” sed Jo anggrily.

“Yankees ar a deel th moest triky, evrybody noes. Thaer U go!” returnd Fred, croqueting her baul far awae.

Jo oepend her lips to sae sumthing rood, but chekt herself in tiem, culord up to her forhed and stuud a mienuet, hamering doun a wiket with all her miet, whiel Fred hit th staek and declaerd himself out with much exultaeshon. She went off to get her baul, and wuz a long tiem fiending it amung th buushes, but she caem bak, luuking cool and qieet, and waeted her turn paeshently. It tuuk several stroeks to regaen th plaess she had lost, and when she got thaer, th uther sied had neerly wun, for Kate’s baul wuz th last but wun and lae neer th staek.

“Bi George, it’s all up with us! Guudbi, Kate. Mis Jo oes me wun, so U ar finisht,” cried Fred exsietedly, as thae all droo neer to see th finish.

“Yankees hav a trik of being jenerus to thaer enemys,” sed Jo, with a luuk that maed th lad reden, “espeshaly when thae beet them,” she aded, as, leeving Kate’s baul untucht, she wun th gaem bi a clever stroek.

Laurie throo up his hat, then rememberd that it wuudn’t do to exult oever th defeet of his gests, and stopt in th midl of th cheer to whisper to his frend, “Guud for U, Jo! He did cheet, I saw him. We can’t tel him so, but he wun’t do it agen, taek mi wurd for it.”

Meg droo her asied, under preetenss of pining up a looss braed, and sed aproovingly, “It wuz dredfuly provoeking, but U kept yuur temper, and I’m so glad, Jo.”

“Doen’t praez me, Meg, for I cuud box his eers this mienuet. I shuud surtenly hav boild oever if I hadn’t staed amung th netls til I got mi raej under controel enuf to hoeld mi tung. It’s simering now, so I hoep he'l keep out of mi wae,” returnd Jo, bieting her lips as she glowerd at Fred from under her big hat.

“Tiem for lunch,” sed Mr. Brooke, luuking at his woch. “Comisaery jeneral, wil U maek th fier and get wauter, whiel Mis March, Mis Sallie, and I spred th taebl? Hoo can maek guud cofy?”

“Jo can,” sed Meg, glad to recomend her sister. So Jo, feeling that her laet lesons in cuukery wer to do her onor, went to prezied oever th cofypot, whiel th children colekted dri stiks, and th boys maed a fier and got wauter from a spring neer bi. Mis Kate skecht and Frank taukt to Baet, hoo wuz maeking litl mats of braeded rushes to surv as plaets.

Th comander in cheef and his aeds soon spred th taeblcloth with an invieting arae of eetabls and drinkables, pritily decoraeted with green leevs. Jo anounst that th cofy wuz redy, and everywun setld themselvs to a harty meel, for yooth is seldom dispeptik, and exsersiez develops hoelsum apetiets. A verry merry lunch it wuz, for everything seemd fresh and funy, and freeqent peels of lafter startld a venerabl horss hoo fed neer bi. Thaer wuz a pleezing ineqolity in th taebl, which produest meny mis-haps to cups and plaets, aecorns dropt in th milk, litl blak ants partuuk of th refreshments without being invieted, and fuzy catepilars swung doun from th tree to see whot wuz going on. Three whiet-heded children peept oever th fenss, and an objekshonabl dog barkt at them from th uther sied of th river with all his miet and maen.

“Thaer’s sault heer,” sed Laurie, as he handed Jo a sauser of berrys.

“Thank U, I prefur spieders,” she replied, fishing up too unwaery litl wuns hoo had gon to a creemy deth. “How daer U remiend me of that horrid diner party, when yuurs is so niess in every wae?” aded Jo, as thae boeth laft and aet out of wun plaet, th chiena having run short.

“I had an uncomonly guud tiem that dae, and haeven’t got oever it yet. This is no credit to me, U noe, I doen’t do enything. It’s U and Meg and Brooke hoo maek it all go, and I’m no end obliejd to U. Whot shal we do when we can’t eet enymor?” askt Laurie, feeling that his trump card had bin plaed when lunch wuz oever.

“Hav gaems til it’s cooler. I braut Authors, and I daer sae Mis Kate noes sumthing nue and niess. Go and ask her. She’s cumpany, and U aut to stae with her mor.”

“Aren’t U cumpany too? I thaut she’d soot Brooke, but he keeps tauking to Meg, and Kate just staers at them thru that ridicuelus glas of hers. I’m going, so U needn’t tri to preech proprieety, for U can’t do it, Jo.”

Mis Kate did noe several nue gaems, and as th gurls wuud not, and th boys cuud not, eet eny mor, thae all ajurnd to th drawing room to plae Rig-marole.

“Wun purson begins a story, eny nonsenss U liek, and tels as long as he pleezes, oenly taeking caer to stop short at sum exsieting pointer, when th next taeks it up and duz th saem. It’s verry funy when wel dun, and maeks a purfekt jumbl of tragical comikal stuf to laf oever. Pleez start it, Mr. Brooke,” sed Kate, with a comanding aer, which serpriezd Meg, hoo treeted th tuetor with as much respekt as eny uther jentlman.

Lieing on th gras at th feet of th too yung laedys, Mr. Brooke oebeedi’ently began th story, with th handsum broun ies stedy fixt upon th sunshiny river.

“Wunss on a tiem, a niet went out into th wurld to seek his forchun, for he had nuthing but his sord and his sheeld. He traveld a long whiel, neerly aet-and-twenty yeers, and had a hard tiem of it, til he caem to th palis of a guud oeld king, hoo had oferd a reword to enywun hoo cuud taem and traen a fien but unbroeken coelt, of which he wuz verry fond. Th niet agreed to tri, and got on sloely but shuurly, for th coelt wuz a galant felo, and soon lurnd to luv his nue master, tho he wuz freekish and wield. Every dae, when he gaev his lesons to this pet of th king's, th niet roed him thru th sity, and as he roed, he luukt everywhaer for a surten buetiful faess, which he had seen meny tiems in his dreems, but never found. Wun dae, as he went pransing doun a qieet street, he saw at th windo of a rooinus casl th luvly faess. He wuz delieted, inqierd hoo livd in this oeld casl, and wuz toeld that several captiv prinseses wer kept thaer bi a spel, and spun all dae to lae up muny to bie thaer liberty. Th niet wisht intensely that he cuud free them, but he wuz puur and cuud oenly go bi eech dae, woching for th sweet faess and longing to see it out in th sunshien. At last he rezolvd to get into th casl and ask how he cuud help them. He went and nokt. Th graet dor floo oepen, and he beheld...”

“A ravishingly luvly laedy, hoo exclaemd, with a cri of rapcher, ‘At last! At last!’” continued Kate, hoo had red French novels, and admierd th stiel. “’Tis she!’ cried Count Gustave, and fel at her feet in an extasy of joy. ‘O, riez!’ she sed, extending a hand of marbl faernes. ‘Never! Til U tel me how I mae rescue U,’ swor th niet, stil neeling. ‘Alas, mi crooel faet condems me to remaen heer til mi tierant is destroyd.’ ‘Whaer is th vilan?’ ‘In th moev salon. Go, braev hart, and saev me from despaer.’ ‘I oebae, and return viktorius or ded!’ With thees thriling wurds he rusht awae, and flinging oepen th dor of th moev salon, wuz about to enter, when he reseevd...”

“A stuning blo from th big Greek lexsicon, which an oeld felo in a blak goun fierd at him,” sed Ned. “Instantly, Sur Whot’s-his-naem recuverd himself, picht th tierant out of th windo, and turnd to join th laedy, viktorius, but with a bump on his brow, found th dor lokt, tor up th curtens, maed a roep lader, got hafwae doun when th lader broek, and he went hedfurst into th moet, sixty feet beloe. Cuud swim liek a duk, padld round th casl til he caem to a litl dor garded by too stout feloes, nokt thaer heds together til thae crakt liek a cupl of nuts, then, by a triefling exurshon of his prodijus strength, he smasht in th dor, went up a paer of stoen steps cuverd with dust a fuut thik, toeds as big as yuur fist, and spieders that wuud frieten U into histerriks, Mis March. At th top of thees steps he caem plump upon a siet that tuuk his breth awae and child his blud...”

“A taul figuer, all in whiet with a vael oever its faess and a lamp in its waested hand,” went on Meg. “It becond, glieding noizlesly befor him doun a coridor as dark and coeld as eny toom. Shadoey efijys in armor stuud on eether sied, a ded sielenss raend, th lamp burnd bloo, and th goestly figuer ever and anon turnd its faess tord him, shoeing th gliter of auful ies thru its whiet vael. Thae reecht a curtend dor, behiend which sounded luvly muezik. He sprang forward to enter, but th specter plukt him bak, and waevd threteningly befor him a...”

“Snufbox,” sed Jo, in a sepulcral toen, which convulst th audi’enss. “‘Thankee,’ sed th niet polietly, as he tuuk a pinch and sneezd seven tiems so vieolently that his hed fel off. ‘Haa! Haa!’ laft th goest, and having peept thru th keehoel at th prinseses spining awae for deer lief, th eevil spirit pikt up her viktim and puut him in a larj tin box, whaer thaer wer eleven uther niets pakt together without thaer heds, liek sardeens, hoo all roez and began to...”

“Danss a hornpiep,” cut in Fred, as Jo pauzd for breth, “and, as thae danst, th rubishy oeld casl turnd to a man-of-wor in fuul sael. ‘Up with th jib, reef th tops’l halliards, helm hard alee, and man th guns!’ rord th capten, as a Porchugeez pierat hoev in siet, with a flag blak as ink flieing from her formast. ‘Go in and win, mi hartys!’ sez th capten, and a tremendus fiet began. Of corss th British beet—thae aulwaes do.”

“No, thae doen’t!” cried Jo, asied.

“Having taeken th pierat capten prizoner, saeld slap oever th scooner, hoos deks wer pield hie with ded and hoos lee scuppers ran blud, for th order had bin ‘Cutlases, and die hard!’ ‘Boesun’s maet, taek a biet of th flieing-jib sheet, and start this vilan if he duzn’t confes his sins dubl qik,’ sed th British capten. Th Porchugeez held his tung liek a brik, and waukt th plank, whiel th joly tars cheerd liek mad. But th sli dog dievd, caem up under th man-of-wor, scutld her, and doun she went, with all sael set, ‘To th botom of th see, see, see’ whaer...”

“O, graeshus! Whot shal I sae?” cried Sallie, as Fred ended his rigmarole, in which he had jumbld together pelmel nautikal fraezes and fakts out of wun of his faevorit buuks. “Wel, thae went to th botom, and a niess murmaed welcumd them, but wuz much greevd on fiending th box of hedles niets, and kiendly pikld them in brien, hoeping to discuver th mistery about them, for being a wuuman, she wuz cuerius. Bi-and-bi a diever caem doun, and th murmaed sed, ‘I’ll giv U a box of purls if U can taek it up,’ for she wonted to restor th puur things to lief, and cuudn’t raez th hevy loed herself. So th diever hoisted it up, and wuz much disapointed on oepening it to fiend no purls. He left it in a graet loenly feeld, whaer it wuz found bi a...”

“Litl gooss gurl, hoo kept a hundred fat geess in th feeld,” sed Amy, when Sallie’s invenshon gaev out. “Th litl gurl wuz sorry for them, and askt an oeld wuuman whot she shuud do to help them. ‘Yuur geess wil tel U, thae noe everything.’ sed th oeld wuuman. So she askt whot she shuud uez for nue heds, sinss th oeld wuns wer lost, and all th geess oepend thaer hundred mouths and screemd...”

“‘Cabejes!’” continued Laurie promptly. “‘Just th thing,’ sed th gurl, and ran to get twelv fien wuns from her garden. She puut them on, th niets revievd at wunss, thankt her, and went on thaer wae rejoising, never noeing th diferenss, for thaer wer so meny uther heds liek them in th wurld that no-wun thaut enything of it. Th niet in hoom I’m interested went bak to fiend th prity faess, and lurnd that th prinseses had spun themselvs free and all gon and marryd, but wun. He wuz in a graet staet of miend at that, and mounting th coelt, hoo stuud bi him thru thik and thin, rusht to th casl to see which wuz left. Peeping oever th hej, he saw th qeen of his afekshons piking flowers in her garden. ‘Wil U giv me a roez?’ sed he. ‘U must cum and get it. I can’t cum to U, it isn’t proper,’ sed she, as sweet as huny. He tried to cliem oever th hej, but it seemd to gro hieer and hieer. Then he tried to puush thru, but it groo thiker and thiker, and he wuz in despaer. So he paeshently broek twig after twig til he had maed a litl hoel thru which he peept, saeing imploringly, ‘Let me in! Let me in!’ But th prity prinsess did not seem to understand, for she pikt her roezes qieetly, and left him to fiet his wae in. Whether he did or not, Frank wil tel U.”

“I can’t. I’m not plaeing, I never do,” sed Frank, dismaed at th sentimental predicament out of which he wuz to rescue th absurd cupl. Baet had disapeerd behiend Jo, and Graess wuz asleep.

“So th puur niet is to be left stiking in th hej, is he?” askt Mr. Brooke, stil woching th river, and plaeing with th wield roez in his butonhoel.

“I ges th prinsess gaev him a posy, and oepend th gaet after a whiel,” sed Laurie, smieling to himself, as he throo aecorns at his tuetor.

“Whot a peess of nonsenss we hav maed! With praktis we miet do sumthing qiet clever. Do U noe Trooth?”

“I hoep so,” sed Meg soeberly.

“Th gaem, I meen?”

“Whot is it?” sed Fred.

“Whi, U piel up yuur hands, chooz a number, and draw out in turn, and th purson hoo draws at th number has to anser trooly eny qeschon puut bi th rest. It’s graet fun.”

“Let’s tri it,” sed Jo, hoo liekt nue experriments.

Mis Kate and Mr. Brooke, Meg, and Ned decliend, but Fred, Sallie, Jo, and Laurie pield and droo, and th lot fel to Laurie.

“Hoo ar yuur heeroes?” askt Jo.

“Grandfaather and Napoleon.”

“Which laedy heer do U think prityest?” sed Sallie.


“Which do U liek best?” from Fred.

“Jo, of corss.”

“Whot sily qeschons U ask!” And Jo gaev a disdaenful shrug as th rest laft at Laurie’s mater-of-fakt toen.

“Tri agen. Trooth isn’t a bad gaem,” sed Fred.

“It’s a verry guud wun for U,” retorted Jo in a loe vois. Her turn caem next.

“Whot is yuur graetest fault?” askt Fred, bi wae of testing in her th vurchoo he lakt himself.

“A qik temper.”

“Whot do U moest wish for?” sed Laurie.

“A paer of boot lacings,” returnd Jo, gesing and defeeting his purpos.

“Not a troo anser. U must sae whot U reealy do wont moest.”

“Jeenyus. Doen’t U wish U cuud giv it to me, Laurie?” And she sliely smield in his disapointed faess.

“Whot vurchoos do U moest admier in a man?” askt Sallie.

“Curej and onesty.”

“Now mi turn,” sed Fred, as his hand caem last.

“Let’s giv it to him,” whisperd Laurie to Jo, hoo noded and askt at wunss...

“Didn’t U cheet at croecae?”

“Wel, yes, a litl bit.”

“Guud! Didn’t U taek yuur story out of Th See Lieon?” sed Laurie.


“Doen’t U think th Inglish naeshon purfekt in every respekt?” askt Sallie.

“I shuud be ashaemd of mieself if I didn’t.”

“He's a troo John Buul. Now, Mis Sallie, U shal hav a chanss without waeting to draw. I’ll harrrow up yuur feelings furst bi asking if U doen’t think U ar sumthing of a flurt,” sed Laurie, as Jo noded to Fred as a sien that peess wuz declaerd.

“U impurtinent boy! Of corss I’m not,” exclaemd Sallie, with an aer that proovd th contraery.

“Whot do U haet moest?” askt Fred.

“Spieders and riess puuding.”

“Whot do U liek best?” askt Jo.

“Dansing and French gluvs.”

“Wel, I think Trooth is a verry sily plae. Let’s hav a sensibl gaem of Authors to refreshes our miends,” propoezd Jo.

Ned, Frank, and th litl gurls joind in this, and whiel it went on, th three elders sat apart, tauking. Mis Kate tuuk out her skech agen, and Margaret wocht her, whiel Mr. Brooke lae on th gras with a buuk, which he did not red.

“How buetifuly U do it! I wish I cuud draw,” sed Meg, with minggld admeraeshon and regret in her vois.

“Whi doen’t U lurn? I shuud think U had taest and talent for it,” replied Mis Kate graeshusly.

“I haeven’t tiem.”

“Yuur maama prefurs uther acomplishments, I fansy. So did mien, but I proovd to her that I had talent bi taeking a fue lesons prievatly, and then she wuz qiet wiling I shuud go on. Can’t U do th saem with yuur guvernes?”

“I hav nun.”

“I forgot yung laedys in America go to scool mor than with us. Verry fien scools thae ar, too, Paapa sez. U go to a prievat wun, I supoez?”

“I doen’t go at all. I am a guvernes mieself.”

“O, indeed!” sed Mis Kate, but she miet as wel hav sed, “Deer me, how dredful!” for her toen implied it, and sumthing in her faess maed Meg culor, and wish she had not bin so frank.

Mr. Brooke luukt up and sed qikly, “Yung laedys in America luv independenss as much as thaer ansestors did, and ar admierd and respekted for suporting themselvs.”

“O, yes, of corss it’s verry niess and proper in them to do so. We hav meny moest respektabl and wurthy yung wimen hoo do th saem and ar employd by th noebility, becauz, being th dauters of jentlmen, thae ar boeth wel bred and acomplisht, U noe,” sed Mis Kate in a paetroniezing toen that hurt Meg’s pried, and maed her wurk seem not oenly mor distaestful, but degraeding.

“Did th Jurman song soot, Mis March?” inqierd Mr. Brooke, braeking an aukward pauz.

“O, yes! It wuz verry sweet, and I’m much obliejd to hooever translaeted it for me.” And Meg’s douncast faess brietend as she spoek.

“Doen’t U red Jurman?” askt Mis Kate with a luuk of serpriez.

“Not verry wel. Mi faather, hoo taut me, is awae, and I doen’t get on verry fast aloen, for I’ve no-wun to corekt mi pronunsiaeshon.”

“Tri a litl now. Heer is Schiller’s Mary Stuart and a tuetor hoo luvs to teech.” And Mr. Brooke laed his buuk on her lap with an invieting smiel.

“It’s so hard I’m afraed to tri,” sed Meg, graetful, but bashful in th prezenss of th acomplisht yung laedy besied her.

“I’ll red a bit to encurej U.” And Mis Kate red wun of th moest buetiful pasejes in a purfektly corekt but purfektly expreshonles maner.

Mr. Brooke maed no coment as she returnd th buuk to Meg, hoo sed inosently, “I thaut it wuz poeetry.”

“Sum of it is. Tri this pasej.”

Thaer wuz a qeer smiel about Mr. Brooke’s mouth as he oepend at puur Mary’s lament.

Meg oebeedi’ently foloeing th long gras-blaed which her nue tuetor uezd to pointer with, red sloely and timidly, unconshusly maeking poeetry of th hard wurds bi th soft intoenaeshon of her muezikal vois. Doun th paej went th green gied, and prezently, forgeting her lisener in th buety of th sad seen, Meg red as if aloen, giving a litl tuch of trajedy to th wurds of th unhapy qeen. If she had seen th broun ies then, she wuud hav stopt short, but she never luukt up, and th leson wuz not spoild for her.

“Verry wel indeed!” sed Mr. Brooke, as she pauzd, qiet ignoring her meny mistaeks, and luuking as if he did indeed luv to teech.

Mis Kate puut up her glas, and, having taeken a survae of th litl tabloe befor her, shut her skech buuk, saeing with condesenshon, “U’ve a niess aksent and in tiem wil be a clever reeder. I adviez U to lurn, for Jurman is a valueable acomplishment to teechers. I must luuk after Graess, she is romping.” And Mis Kate stroeld awae, ading to herself with a shrug, “I didn’t cum to shaperoen a guvernes, tho she is yung and prity. Whot od peepl thees Yankees ar. I’m afraed Laurie wil be qiet spoild amung them.”

“I forgot that Inglish peepl rather turn up thaer noezes at guverneses and doen’t treet them as we do,” sed Meg, luuking after th retreeting figuer with an anoyd expreshon.

“Tuetors aulso hav rather a hard tiem of it thaer, as I noe to mi sorro. Thaer’s no plaess liek America for us wurkers, Mis Margaret.” And Mr. Brooke luukt so contented and cheerful that Meg wuz ashaemd to lament her hard lot.

“I’m glad I liv in it then. I doen’t liek mi wurk, but I get a guud deel of satisfakshon out of it after all, so I wun’t complaen. I oenly wisht I liekt teeching as U do.”

“I think U wuud if U had Laurie for a puepil. I shal be verry sorry to looz him next yeer,” sed Mr. Brooke, bizily punching hoels in th turf.

“Going to colej, I supoez?” Meg’s lips askt th qeschon, but her ies aded, “And whot becums of U?”

“Yes, it’s hie tiem he went, for he is redy, and as soon as he is off, I shal turn soeljer. I am needed.”

“I am glad of that!” exclaemd Meg. “I shuud think every yung man wuud wont to go, tho it is hard for th muthers and sisters hoo stae at hoem,” she aded sorroefuly.

“I hav neether, and verry fue frends to caer whether I liv or die,” sed Mr. Brooke rather biterly as he absently puut th ded roez in th hoel he had maed and cuverd it up, liek a litl graev.

“Laurie and his grandfaather wuud caer a graet deel, and we shuud all be verry sorry to hav eny harm hapen to U,” sed Meg hartily.

“Thank U, that sounds plezant,” began Mr. Brooke, luuking cheerful agen, but befor he cuud finish his speech, Ned, mounted on th oeld horss, caem lumbering up to displae his eqestrian skil befor th yung laedys, and thaer wuz no mor qieet that dae.

“Doen’t U luv to ried?” askt Graess of Amy, as thae stuud resting after a raess round th feeld with th uthers, led bi Ned.

“I doet upon it. Mi sister, Meg, uezd to ried when Paapa wuz rich, but we doen’t keep eny horses now, exsept Ellen Tree,” aded Amy, lafing.

“Tel me about Ellen Tree. Is it a donky?” askt Graess cueriusly.

“Whi, U see, Jo is craezy about horses and so am I, but we’v oenly got an oeld sidesaddle and no horss. Out in our garden is an apl tree that has a niess loe branch, so Jo puut th sadl on it, fixt sum raens on th part that turns up, and we bounss awae on Ellen Tree whenever we liek.”

“How funy!” laft Graess. “I hav a poeny at hoem, and ried neerly every dae in th park with Fred and Kate. It’s verry niess, for mi frends go too, and th Roe is fuul of laedys and jentlmen.”

“Deer, how charming! I hoep I shal go abraud sum dae, but I’d rather go to Rome than th Roe,” sed Amy, hoo had not th remoetest iedeea whot th Roe wuz and wuudn’t hav askt for th wurld.

Frank, siting just behiend th litl gurls, hurd whot thae wer saeing, and puusht his cruch awae from him with an impaeshent jescher as he wocht th aktiv lads going thru all sorts of comikal jimnastiks. Baet, hoo wuz colekting th scaterd Author cards, luukt up and sed, in her shi yet frendly wae, “I’m afraed U ar tierd. Can I do enything for U?”

“Tauk to me, pleez. It’s dul, siting bi mieself,” anserd Frank, hoo had evidently bin uezd to being maed much of at hoem.

If he askt her to deliver a Latin oraeshon, it wuud not hav seemd a mor imposibl task to bashful Baet, but thaer wuz no plaess to run to, no Jo to hied behiend now, and th puur boy luukt so wistfuly at her that she braevly rezolvd to tri.

“Whot do U liek to tauk about?” she askt, fumbling oever th cards and droping haf as she tried to tie them up.

“Wel, I liek to heer about criket and boeting and hunting,” sed Frank, hoo had not yet lurnd to soot his amuezments to his strength.

Mi hart! Whot shal I do? I doen’t noe enything about them, thaut Baet, and forgeting th boy’s misforchun in her flury, she sed, hoeping to maek him tauk, “I never saw eny hunting, but I supoez U noe all about it.”

“I did wunss, but I can never hunt agen, for I got hurt leeping a confounded fiev-bard gaet, so thaer ar no mor horses and hounds for me,” sed Frank with a sie that maed Baet haet herself for her inosent blunder.

“Yuur deer ar much prityer than our ugly bufaloes,” she sed, turning to th praerys for help and feeling glad that she had red wun of th boys’ buuks in which Jo delieted.

Bufaloes proovd soothing and satisfaktory, and in her eegernes to amuez anuther, Baet forgot herself, and wuz qiet unconshus of her sisters’ serpriez and deliet at th uenuezhual spektakl of Baet tauking awae to wun of th dredful boys, agenst hoom she had begd protekshon.

“Bles her hart! She pitys him, so she is guud to him,” sed Jo, beeming at her from th croecae ground.

“I aulwaes sed she wuz a litl saent,” aded Meg, as if thaer cuud be no further dout of it.

“I haeven’t hurd Frank laf so much for ever so long,” sed Graess to Amy, as thae sat discusing dols and maeking tee sets out of th aecorn cups.

“Mi sister Baet is a verry fastidius gurl, when she lieks to be,” sed Amy, wel pleezd at Baet’s suksess. She ment ‘facinating’, but as Graess didn’t noe th exakt meening of eether wurd, fastidius sounded wel and maed a guud impreshon.

An impromptoo surcus, fox and geess, and an amicabl gaem of croecae finisht th afternoon. At sunset th tent wuz struk, hampers pakt, wikets puuld up, boets loeded, and th hoel party floeted doun th river, singing at th tops of thaer voises. Ned, geting sentimental, worbld a serenaed with th pensiv refraen...

Aloen, aloen, aa! Wo, aloen,

and at th liens...

We eech ar yung, we eech hav a hart,
O, whi shuud we stand thus coeldly apart?

he luukt at Meg with such a lacadaezikal expreshon that she laft outriet and spoild his song.

“How can U be so crooel to me?” he whisperd, under cuver of a lievly corus. “U’ve kept cloez to that starcht-up Englishwoman all dae, and now U snub me.”

“I didn’t meen to, but U luukt so funy I reealy cuudn’t help it,” replied Meg, pasing oever th furst part of his reproech, for it wuz qiet troo that she had shund him, remembering th Moffat party and th tauk after it.

Ned wuz ofended and turnd to Sallie for consolaeshon, saeing to her rather petishly, “Thaer isn’t a bit of flurt in that gurl, is thaer?”

“Not a partikl, but she’s a deer,” returnd Sallie, defending her frend eeven whiel confesing her shortcumings.

“She’s not a striken deer enywae,” sed Ned, trieing to be wity, and sukseeding as wel as verry yung jentlmen uezhualy do.

On th laun whaer it had gatherd, th litl party separaeted with corjal guud niets and guud-byes, for th Vaughns wer going to Canada. As th foer sisters went hoem thru th garden, Mis Kate luukt after them, saeing, without th paetroniezing toen in her vois, “In spiet of thaer demonstrativ maners, Amerrican gurls ar verry niess when wun noes them.”

“I qiet agree with U,” sed Mr. Brooke.

CHAPTER Thurteen
Casls IN Th Aer

Laurie lae lugzhuriusly swinging to and fro in his hamok wun worm September afternoon, wundering whot his naebors wer about, but too laezy to go and fiend out. He wuz in wun of his moods, for th dae had bin boeth unprofitabl and unsatisfaktory, and he wuz wishing he cuud liv it oever agen. Th hot wether maed him indolent, and he had shurkt his studys, tried Mr. Brooke’s paeshenss to th utmoest, displeezd his grandfaather bi praktising haf th afternoon, frietend th maedsurvants haf out of thaer wits bi mischivusly hinting that wun of his dogs wuz going mad, and, after hie wurds with th stableman about sum fansyd neglekt of his horss, he had flung himself into his hamok to fuem oever th stoopidity of th wurld in jeneral, til th peess of th luvly dae qieeted him in spiet of himself. Staering up into th green gloom of th horss-chestnut trees abuv him, he dreemd dreems of all sorts, and wuz just imajining himself tosing on th oeshan in a voyej round th wurld, when th sound of voises braut him ashor in a flash. Peeping thru th meshes of th hamok, he saw th Marches cuming out, as if bound on sum expedishon.

“Whot in th wurld ar thoes gurls about now?” thaut Laurie, oepening his sleepy ies to taek a guud luuk, for thaer wuz sumthing rather pecueliar in th apeeranss of his naebors. Eech wor a larj, flaping hat, a broun linen pouch slung oever wun shoelder, and carryd a long staf. Meg had a cuushon, Jo a buuk, Baet a basket, and Amy a portfoelio. All waukt qieetly thru th garden, out at th litl bak gaet, and began to cliem th hil that lae between th hous and river.

“Wel, that’s cool,” sed Laurie to himself, “to hav a piknik and never ask me! Thae can’t be going in th boet, for thae haeven’t got th kee. Perhaps thae forgot it. I’ll taek it to them, and see whot’s going on.”

Tho pozest of haf a duzen hats, it tuuk him sum tiem to fiend wun, then thaer wuz a hunt for th kee, which wuz at last discuverd in his poket, so that th gurls wer qiet out of siet when he leept th fenss and ran after them. Taeking th shortest wae to th boet-hous, he waeted for them to apeer, but no-wun caem, and he went up th hil to taek an obzervaeshon. A groev of piens cuverd wun part of it, and from th hart of this green spot caem a cleerer sound than th soft sie of th piens or th drouzy churp of th crikets.

“Heer’s a landscaep!” thaut Laurie, peeping thru th buushes, and luuking wied-awaek and guud-naecherd aulredy.

It wuz a rather prity litl pikcher, for th sisters sat together in th shaedy nuuk, with sun and shado flikering oever them, th arroematik wiend lifting thaer haer and cooling thaer hot cheeks, and all th litl wuud peepl going on with thaer afaers as if thees wer no straenjers but oeld frends. Meg sat upon her cuushon, soeing daentily with her whiet hands, and luuking as fresh and sweet as a roez in her pink dres amung th green. Baet wuz sorting th coens that lae thik under th hemlok neer by, for she maed prity things with them. Amy wuz skeching a groop of furns, and Jo wuz niting as she red aloud. A shado past oever th boy’s faess as he wocht them, feeling that he aut to go awae becauz uninvieted; yet linggering becauz hoem seemd verry loenly and this qieet party in th wuuds moest atraktiv to his restles spirit. He stuud so stil that a squrel, bizy with its harvesting, ran doun a pien cloez besied him, saw him sudenly and skipt bak, scoelding so shrily that Baet luukt up, espied th wistful faess behiend th burches, and becond with a re-ashuuring smiel.

“Mae I cum in, pleez? Or shal I be a bother?” he askt, advansing sloely.

Meg lifted her iebrows, but Jo scould at her defieantly and sed at wunss, “Of corss U mae. We shuud hav askt U befor, oenly we thaut U wuudn’t caer for such a gurl’s gaem as this.”

“I aulwaes liek yuur gaems, but if Meg duzn’t wont me, I’ll go awae.”

“I’ve no objekshon, if U do sumthing. It’s agenst th rools to be iedl heer,” replied Meg graevly but graeshusly.

“Much obliejd. I’ll do enything if U’ll let me stop a bit, for it’s as dul as th Dezert of Sahara doun thaer. Shal I soe, red, coen, draw, or do all at wunss? Bring on yuur baers. I’m redy.” And Laurie sat doun with a submisiv expreshon delietful to behoeld.

“Finish this story whiel I set mi heel,” sed Jo, handing him th buuk.

“Yes’m.” wuz th meek anser, as he began, dooing his best to proov his gratitood for th faevor of admishon into th ‘Bizy Bee Soesieety’.

Th story wuz not a long wun, and when it wuz finisht, he vencherd to ask a fue qeschons as a reword of merrit.

“Pleez, maa’am, cuud I inqier if this hiely instruktiv and charming institooshon is a nue wun?”

“Wuud U tel him?” askt Meg of her sisters.

“He'l laf,” sed Amy warningly.

“Hoo caers?” sed Jo.

“I ges he'l liek it,” aded Baet.

“Of corss I shal! I giv U mi wurd I wun’t laf. Tel awae, Jo, and doen’t be afraed.”

“Th iedeea of being afraed of U! Wel, U see we uezd to plae Pilgrim’s Progres, and we hav bin going on with it in urnest, all winter and sumer.”

“Yes, I noe,” sed Laurie, noding wiezly.

“Hoo toeld U?” demanded Jo.


“No, I did. I wonted to amuez him wun niet when U wer all awae, and he wuz rather dizmal. He did liek it, so doen’t scoeld, Jo,” sed Baet meekly.

“U can’t keep a seecret. Never miend, it saevs trubl now.”

“Go on, pleez,” sed Laurie, as Jo becaem absorbd in her wurk, luuking a triefl displeezd.

“O, didn’t she tel U about this nue plan of ours? Wel, we hav tried not to waest our holidae, but eech has had a task and wurkt at it with a wil. Th vaecaeshon is neerly oever, th stints ar all dun, and we ar ever so glad that we didn’t daudl.”

“Yes, I shuud think so,” and Laurie thaut regretfuly of his oen iedl daes.

“Muther lieks to hav us out-of-dors as much as posibl, so we bring our wurk heer and hav niess tiems. For th fun of it we bring our things in thees bags, waer th oeld hats, uez poels to cliem th hil, and plae pilgrims, as we uezd to do yeers ago. We caul this hil th Delektabl Mounten, for we can luuk far awae and see th cuntry whaer we hoep to liv sum tiem.”

Jo pointed, and Laurie sat up to examin, for thru an oepening in th wuud wun cuud luuk cros th wied, bloo river, th medoes on th uther sied, far oever th outscurts of th graet sity, to th green hils that roez to meet th ski. Th sun wuz loe, and th hevens gloed with th splendor of an autum sunset. Goeld and purpl clouds lae on th hilltops, and riezing hie into th rudy liet wer silvery whiet peeks that shoen liek th aery spiers of sum Seleschal Sity.

“How buetiful that is!” sed Laurie softly, for he wuz qik to see and feel buety of eny kiend.

“It’s ofen so, and we liek to woch it, for it is never th saem, but aulwaes splendid,” replied Amy, wishing she cuud paent it.

“Jo tauks about th cuntry whaer we hoep to liv sumtiem—th reeal cuntry, she meens, with pigs and chikens and haymaking. It wuud be niess, but I wish th buetiful cuntry up thaer wuz reeal, and we cuud ever go to it,” sed Baet muezingly.

“Thaer is a luvlyer cuntry eeven than that, whaer we shal go, bi-and-bi, when we ar guud enuf,” anserd Meg with her sweetest vois.

“It seems so long to waet, so hard to do. I wont to fli awae at wunss, as thoes swauloes fli, and go in at that splendid gaet.”

“U’ll get thaer, Baet, sooner or laeter, no feer of that,” sed Jo. “I’m th wun that wil hav to fiet and wurk, and cliem and waet, and maebe never get in after all.”

“U’ll hav me for cumpany, if that’s eny cumfort. I shal hav to do a deel of traveling befor I cum in siet of yuur Seleschal Sity. If I ariev laet, U’ll sae a guud wurd for me, wun’t U, Baet?”

Sumthing in th boy’s faess trubld his litl frend, but she sed cheerfuly, with her qieet ies on th chaenjing clouds, “If peepl reealy wont to go, and reealy tri all thaer lievs, I think thae wil get in, for I doen’t beleev thaer ar eny loks on that dor or eny gards at th gaet. I aulwaes imajin it is as it is in th pikcher, whaer th shiening wuns strech out thaer hands to welcum puur Crischan as he cums up from th river.”

“Wuudn’t it be fun if all th casls in th aer which we maek cuud cum troo, and we cuud liv in them?” sed Jo, after a litl pauz.

“I’ve maed such qontitys it wuud be hard to chooz which I’d hav,” sed Laurie, lieing flat and throeing coens at th squrel hoo had betraed him.

“U’d hav to taek yuur faevorit wun. Whot is it?” askt Meg.

“If I tel mien, wil U tel yuurs?”

“Yes, if th gurls wil too.”

“We wil. Now, Laurie.”

“After I’d seen as much of th wurld as I wont to, I’d liek to setl in Germany and hav just as much muezik as I chooz. I’m to be a faemus muezishan mieself, and all creaeshon is to rush to heer me. And I’m never to be botherd about muny or biznes, but just enjoy mieself and liv for whot I liek. That’s mi faevorit casl. Whot’s yuurs, Meg?”

Margaret seemd to fiend it a litl hard to tel hers, and waevd a braek befor her faess, as if to dispurss imajinaery nats, whiel she sed sloely, “I shuud liek a luvly hous, fuul of all sorts of lugzhuurius things—niess food, prity cloeths, handsum furnicher, plezant peepl, and heeps of muny. I am to be mistres of it, and manej it as I liek, with plenty of survants, so I never need wurk a bit. How I shuud enjoy it! For I wuudn’t be iedl, but do guud, and maek everywun luv me deerly.”

“Wuudn’t U hav a master for yuur casl in th aer?” askt Laurie sliely.

“I sed ‘plezant peepl’, U noe,” and Meg caerfuly tied up her shoo as she spoek, so that no-wun saw her faess.

“Whi doen’t U sae U’d hav a splendid, wiez, guud huzband and sum anjelik litl children? U noe yuur casl wuudn’t be purfekt without,” sed blunt Jo, hoo had no tender fansys yet, and rather scornd roemanss, exsept in buuks.

“U’d hav nuthing but horses, inkstands, and novels in yuurs,” anserd Meg petulantly.

“Wuudn’t I tho? I’d hav a staebl fuul of Araebian steeds, rooms pield hie with buuks, and I’d riet out of a majik inkstand, so that mi wurks shuud be as faemus as Laurie’s muezik. I wont to do sumthing splendid befor I go into mi casl, sumthing heroeik or wunderful that wun’t be forgoten after I’m ded. I doen’t noe whot, but I’m on th woch for it, and meen to astonish U all sum dae. I think I shal riet buuks, and get rich and faemus, that wuud soot me, so that is mi faevorit dreem.”

“Mien is to stae at hoem saef with Faather and Muther, and help taek caer of th family,” sed Baet contentedly.

“Doen’t U wish for enything elss?” askt Laurie.

“Sinss I had mi litl peano, I am purfektly satisfied. I oenly wish we mae all keep wel and be together, nuthing elss.”

“I hav ever so meny wishes, but th pet wun is to be an artist, and go to Rome, and do fien pikchers, and be th best artist in th hoel wurld,” wuz Amy’s modest dezier.

“We’r an ambishus set, aren’t we? Every wun of us, but Baet, wonts to be rich and faemus, and gorjus in every respekt. I do wunder if eny of us wil ever get our wishes,” sed Laurie, chooing gras liek a meditaetiv caf.

“I’ve got th kee to mi casl in th aer, but whether I can unlok th dor remaens to be seen,” obzurvd Jo misteeriusly.

“I’ve got th kee to mien, but I’m not alowd to tri it. Hang colej!” muterd Laurie with an impaeshent sie.

“Heer’s mien!” and Amy waevd her pensil.

“I haeven’t got eny,” sed Meg forlornly.

“Yes, U hav,” sed Laurie at wunss.


“In yuur faess.”

“Nonsenss, that’s of no uez.”

“Waet and see if it duzn’t bring U sumthing wurth having,” replied th boy, lafing at th thaut of a charming litl seecret which he fansyd he nue.

Meg culord behiend th braek, but askt no qeschons and luukt acros th river with th saem expektant expreshon which Mr. Brooke had worn when he toeld th story of th niet.

“If we ar all aliev ten yeers henss, let’s meet, and see how meny of us hav got our wishes, or how much neerer we ar then than now,” sed Jo, aulwaes redy with a plan.

“Bles me! How oeld I shal be, twenty-seven!” exclaemd Meg, hoo felt groen up aulredy, having just reecht seventeen.

“U and I wil be twenty-six, Teddy, Baet twenty-foer, and Amy twenty-too. Whot a venerabl party!” sed Jo.

“I hoep I shal hav dun sumthing to be proud of bi that tiem, but I’m such a laezy dog, I’m afraed I shal daudl, Jo.”

“U need a moetiv, Muther sez, and when U get it, she is shuur U’ll wurk splendidly.”

“Is she? By Jupiter, I wil, if I oenly get th chanss!” cried Laurie, siting up with suden enerjy. “I aut to be satisfied to pleez Grandfaather, and I do tri, but it’s wurking agenst th graen, U see, and cums hard. He wonts me to be an India murchant, as he wuz, and I’d rather be shot. I haet tee and silk and spieses, and every sort of rubish his oeld ships bring, and I doen’t caer how soon thae go to th botom when I oen them. Going to colej aut to satisfi him, for if I giv him foer yeers he aut to let me off from th biznes. But he's set, and I’ve got to do just as he did, unles I braek awae and pleez mieself, as mi faather did. If thaer wuz enywun left to stae with th oeld jentlman, I’d do it tomorro.”

Laurie spoek exsietedly, and luukt redy to carry his thret into exsecueshon on th slietest provocaeshon, for he wuz groeing up verry fast and, in spiet of his indolent waes, had a yung man’s haetred of subjekshon, a yung man’s restles longing to tri th wurld for himself.

“I adviez U to sael awae in wun of yuur ships, and never cum hoem agen til U hav tried yuur oen wae,” sed Jo, hoos imajinaeshon wuz fierd bi th thaut of such a daering exploit, and hoos simpathy wuz exsieted bi whot she cauld ‘Teddy’s Rongs’.

“That’s not riet, Jo. U mustn’t tauk in that wae, and Laurie mustn’t taek yuur bad adviess. U shuud do just whot yuur grandfaather wishes, mi deer boy,” sed Meg in her moest maturnal toen. “Do yuur best at colej, and when he sees that U tri to pleez him, I’m shuur he wun’t be hard on U or unjust to U. As U sae, thaer is no-wun elss to stae with and luv him, and U’d never forgiv yuurself if U left him without his permishon. Doen’t be dizmal or fret, but do yuur duety and U’ll get yuur reword, as guud Mr. Brooke has, bi being respekted and luvd.”

“Whot do U noe about him?” askt Laurie, graetful for th guud adviess, but objekting to th lekcher, and glad to turn th conversaeshon from himself after his uenuezhual outbraek.

“Oenly whot yuur grandpaa toeld us about him, how he tuuk guud caer of his oen muther til she died, and wuudn’t go abraud as tuetor to sum niess purson becauz he wuudn’t leev her. And how he provieds now for an oeld wuuman hoo nurst his muther, and never tels enywun, but is just as jenerus and paeshent and guud as he can be.”

“So he is, deer oeld felo!” sed Laurie hartily, as Meg pauzd, luuking flusht and urnest with her story. “It’s liek Grandpaa to fiend out all about him without leting him noe, and to tel all his guudnes to uthers, so that thae miet liek him. Brooke cuudn’t understand whi yuur muther wuz so kiend to him, asking him oever with me and treeting him in her buetiful frendly wae. He thaut she wuz just purfekt, and taukt about it for daes and daes, and went on about U all in flaeming stiel. If ever I do get mi wish, U see whot I’ll do for Brooke.”

“Begin to do sumthing now bi not plaeging his lief out,” sed Meg sharply.

“How do U noe I do, Mis?”

“I can aulwaes tel bi his faess when he goes awae. If U hav bin guud, he luuks satisfied and wauks briskly. If U hav plaegd him, he's soeber and wauks sloely, as if he wonted to go bak and do his wurk beter.”

“Wel, I liek that? So U keep an acount of mi guud and bad marks in Brooke’s faess, do U? I see him boe and smiel as he pases yuur windo, but I didn’t noe U’d got up a telegraf.”

“We haeven’t. Doen’t be anggry, and o, doen’t tel him I sed enything! It wuz oenly to sho that I caerd how U get on, and whot is sed heer is sed in confidenss, U noe,” cried Meg, much alarmd at th thaut of whot miet folo from her caerles speech.

“I doen’t tel taels,” replied Laurie, with his ‘hie and miety’ aer, as Jo cauld a surten expreshon which he ocaezhonaly wor. “Oenly if Brooke is going to be a thermometer, I must miend and hav faer wether for him to report.”

“Pleez doen’t be ofended. I didn’t meen to preech or tel taels or be sily. I oenly thaut Jo wuz encurejing U in a feeling which U’d be sorry for bi-and-bi. U ar so kiend to us, we feel as if U wer our bruther and sae just whot we think. Forgiv me, I ment it kiendly.” And Meg oferd her hand with a jescher boeth afekshonat and timid.

Ashaemd of his moementaery peek, Laurie sqeezd th kiend litl hand, and sed frankly, “I’m th wun to be forgiven. I’m cros and hav bin out of sorts all dae. I liek to hav U tel me mi faults and be sisterly, so doen’t miend if I am grumpy sumtiems. I thank U all th saem.”

Bent on shoeing that he wuz not ofended, he maed himself as agreeabl as posibl, woond coton for Meg, resieted poeetry to pleez Jo, shuuk doun coens for Baet, and helpt Amy with her furns, prooving himself a fit purson to belong to th ‘Bizy Bee Soesieety’. In th midst of an animaeted discushon on th domestik habits of turtls (wun of thoes aemiabl creechers having stroeld up from th river), th faent sound of a bel wornd them that Hannah had puut th tee ‘to draw’, and thae wuud just hav tiem to get hoem to super.

“Mae I cum agen?” askt Laurie.

“Yes, if U ar guud, and luv yuur buuk, as th boys in th priemer ar toeld to do,” sed Meg, smieling.

“I’ll tri.”

“Then U mae cum, and I’ll teech U to nit as th Scotchmen do. Thaer’s a demand for soks just now,” aded Jo, waeving hers liek a big bloo wursted baner as thae parted at th gaet.

That niet, when Baet plaed to Mr. Laurence in th twieliet, Laurie, standing in th shado of th curten, lisend to th litl David, hoos simpl muezik aulwaes qieeted his moody spirit, and wocht th oeld man, hoo sat with his grae hed on his hand, thinking tender thauts of th ded chield he had luvd so much. Remembering th conversaeshon of th afternoon, th boy sed to himself, with th rezolv to maek th sacrifiess cheerfuly, “I’ll let mi casl go, and stae with th deer oeld jentlman whiel he needs me, for I am all he has.”

CHAPTER Foerteen

Jo wuz verry bizy in th garret, for th Oktoeber daes began to gro chily, and th afternoons wer short. For too or three ours th sun lae wormly in th hie windo, shoeing Jo seeted on th oeld soefa, rieting bizily, with her paepers spred out upon a trunk befor her, whiel Scrabl, th pet rat, promenaded th beems oeverhed, acumpanyd bi his oeldest sun, a fien yung felo, hoo wuz evidently verry proud of his whiskers. Qiet absorbd in her wurk, Jo scribld awae til th last paej wuz fild, when she siend her naem with a flurish and throo doun her pen, exclaeming...

“Thaer, I’ve dun mi best! If this wun’t soot I shal hav to waet til I can do beter.”

Lieing bak on th soefa, she red th manuescript caerfuly thru, maeking dashes heer and thaer, and puuting in meny exclamaeshon points, which luukt liek litl baloons. Then she tied it up with a smart red ribon, and sat a mienuet luuking at it with a soeber, wistful expreshon, which plaenly shoed how urnest her wurk had bin. Jo’s desk up heer wuz an oeld tin kichen which hung agenst th waul. In it she kept her paepers, and a fue buuks, saefly shut awae from Scrabl, hoo, being liekwiez of a literaery turn, wuz fond of maeking a surcuelaeting liebraery of such buuks as wer left in his wae bi eeting th leevs. From this tin reseptakl Jo produest anuther manuescript, and puuting boeth in her poket, crept qieetly dounstaers, leeving her frends to nibl on her pens and taest her ink.

She puut on her hat and jaket as noizlesly as posibl, and going to th bak entry windo, got out upon th roof of a loe porch, swung herself doun to th grasy bank, and tuuk a roundabout wae to th roed. Wunss thaer, she compoezd herself, haeld a pasing omnibus, and roeld awae to toun, luuking verry merry and misteerius.

If enywun had bin woching her, he wuud hav thaut her moovments desiededly pecueliar, for on alieting, she went off at a graet paess til she reecht a surten number in a surten bizy street. Having found th plaess with sum dificulty, she went into th dorwae, luukt up th durty staers, and after standing stok stil a mienuet, sudenly dievd into th street and waukt awae as rapidly as she caem. This manoover she repeeted several tiems, to th graet amuezment of a blak-ied yung jentlman lounjing in th windo of a bilding opozit. On returning for th thurd tiem, Jo gaev herself a shaek, puuld her hat oever her ies, and waukt up th staers, luuking as if she wer going to hav all her teeth out.

Thaer wuz a dentist’s sien, amung uthers, which adornd th entranss, and after staering a moement at th paer of artifishal jaws which sloely oepend and shut to draw atenshon to a fien set of teeth, th yung jentlman puut on his coet, tuuk his hat, and went doun to poest himself in th opozit dorwae, saeing with a smiel and a shiver, “It’s liek her to cum aloen, but if she has a bad tiem she’l need sumwun to help her hoem.”

In ten minits Jo caem runing dounstaers with a verry red faess and th jeneral apeeranss of a purson hoo had just past thru a trieing ordeel of sum sort. When she saw th yung jentlman she luukt enything but pleezd, and past him with a nod. But he foloed, asking with an aer of simpathy, “Did U hav a bad tiem?”

“Not verry.”

“U got thru qikly.”

“Yes, thank guudnes!”

“Whi did U go aloen?”

“Didn’t wont enywun to noe.”

“U’r th odest felo I ever saw. How meny did U hav out?”

Jo luukt at her frend as if she did not understand him, then began to laf as if mietily amuezd at sumthing.

“Thaer ar too which I wont to hav cum out, but I must waet a week.”

“Whot ar U lafing at? U ar up to sum mischif, Jo,” sed Laurie, luuking mistified.

“So ar U. Whot wer U dooing, sur, up in that bilyard saloon?”

“Beging yuur pardon, maa’am, it wuzn’t a bilyard saloon, but a jimnaezium, and I wuz taeking a leson in fensing.”

“I’m glad of that.”


“U can teech me, and then when we plae Hamlet, U can be Laertes, and we’l maek a fien thing of th fensing seen.”

Laurie burst out with a harty boy’s laf, which maed several pasers-bi smiel in spiet of themselvs.

“I’ll teech U whether we plae Hamlet or not. It’s grand fun and wil straeten U up capitaly. But I doen’t beleev that wuz yuur oenly reezon for saeing ‘I’m glad’ in that desieded wae, wuz it now?”

“No, I wuz glad that U wer not in th saloon, becauz I hoep U never go to such plaeses. Do U?”

“Not ofen.”

“I wish U wuudn’t.”

“It’s no harm, Jo. I hav bilyards at hoem, but it’s no fun unles U hav guud plaeers, so, as I’m fond of it, I cum sumtiems and hav a gaem with Ned Moffat or sum of th uther feloes.”

“O, deer, I’m so sorry, for U’ll get to lieking it beter and beter, and wil waest tiem and muny, and gro liek thoes dredful boys. I did hoep U’d stae respektabl and be a satisfakshon to yuur frends,” sed Jo, shaeking her hed.

“Can’t a felo taek a litl inosent amuezment now and then without loozing his respektability?” askt Laurie, luuking netld.

“That depends upon how and whaer he taeks it. I doen’t liek Ned and his set, and wish U’d keep out of it. Muther wun’t let us hav him at our hous, tho he wonts to cum. And if U gro liek him she wun’t be wiling to hav us frolik together as we do now.”

“Wun’t she?” askt Laurie anxshusly.

“No, she can’t baer fashonabl yung men, and she’d shut us all up in bandboxes rather than hav us asoeshiat with them.”

“Wel, she needn’t get out her bandboxes yet. I’m not a fashonabl party and doen’t meen to be, but I do liek harmles larks now and then, doen’t U?”

“Yes, noebody miends them, so lark awae, but doen’t get wield, wil U? Or thaer wil be an end of all our guud tiems.”

“I’ll be a dubl distild saent.”

“I can’t baer saents. Just be a simpl, onest, respektabl boy, and we’l never dezert U. I doen’t noe whot I shuud do if U akted liek Mr. King's sun. He had plenty of muny, but didn’t noe how to spend it, and got tipsy and gambld, and ran awae, and forjd his faather’s naem, I beleev, and wuz aultogether horrid.”

“U think I’m liekly to do th saem? Much obliejd.”

“No, I doen’t—o, deer, no!—but I heer peepl tauking about muny being such a temptaeshon, and I sumtiems wish U wer puur. I shouldn’t wury then.”

“Do U wury about me, Jo?”

“A litl, when U luuk moody and discontented, as U sumtiems do, for U’ve got such a strong wil, if U wunss get started rong, I’m afraed it wuud be hard to stop U.”

Laurie waukt in sielenss a fue minits, and Jo wocht him, wishing she had held her tung, for his ies luukt anggry, tho his lips smield as if at her wornings.

“Ar U going to deliver lekchers all th wae hoem?” he askt prezently.

“Of corss not. Whi?”

“Becauz if U ar, I’ll taek a bus. If U’r not, I’d liek to wauk with U and tel U sumthing verry interesting.”

“I wun’t preech eny mor, and I’d liek to heer th nues imensly.”

“Verry wel, then, cum on. It’s a seecret, and if I tel U, U must tel me yuurs.”

“I haeven’t got eny,” began Jo, but stopt sudenly, remembering that she had.

“U noe U hav—U can’t hied enything, so up and ’fes, or I wun’t tel,” cried Laurie.

“Is yuur seecret a niess wun?”

“O, isn’t it! All about peepl U noe, and such fun! U aut to heer it, and I’ve bin aeking to tel it this long tiem. Cum, U begin.”

“U’ll not sae enything about it at hoem, wil U?”

“Not a wurd.”

“And U wun’t teez me in prievat?”

“I never teez.”

“Yes, U do. U get everything U wont out of peepl. I doen’t noe how U do it, but U ar a born wheedler.”

“Thank U. Fier awae.”

“Wel, I’ve left too storys with a nuezpaeperman, and he's to giv his anser next week,” whisperd Jo, in her confidant’s eer.

“Hooraa for Mis March, th selebraeted Amerrican authoress!” cried Laurie, throeing up his hat and caching it agen, to th graet deliet of too duks, foer cats, fiev hens, and haf a duzen Ierish children, for thae wer out of th sity now.

“Hush! It wun’t cum to enything, I daer sae, but I cuudn’t rest til I had tried, and I sed nuthing about it becauz I didn’t wont enywun elss to be disapointed.”

“It wun’t fael. Whi, Jo, yuur storys ar wurks of Shakespeare compaerd to haf th rubish that is publisht every dae. Wun’t it be fun to see them in print, and shan’t we feel proud of our authoress?”

Jo’s ies sparkld, for it is aulwaes plezant to be beleevd in, and a frend’s praez is aulwaes sweeter than a duzen nuezpaeper pufs.

“Whaer’s yuur seecret? Plae faer, Teddy, or I’ll never beleev U agen,” she sed, trieing to extinggwish th brilyant hoeps that blaezd up at a wurd of encurejment.

“I mae get into a scraep for teling, but I didn’t promis not to, so I wil, for I never feel eezy in mi miend til I’ve toeld U eny plummy bit of nues I get. I noe whaer Meg’s gluv is.”

“Is that all?” sed Jo, luuking disapointed, as Laurie noded and twinkld with a faess fuul of misteerius intelijenss.

“It’s qiet enuf for th prezent, as U’ll agree when I tel U whaer it is.”

“Tel, then.”

Laurie bent, and whisperd three wurds in Jo’s eer, which produest a comikal chaenj. She stuud and staerd at him for a mienuet, luuking boeth serpriezd and displeezd, then waukt on, saeing sharply, “How do U noe?”

“Saw it.”



“All this tiem?”

“Yes, isn’t that roemantik?”

“No, it’s horrid.”

“Doen’t U liek it?”

“Of corss I doen’t. It’s ridicuelus, it wun’t be alowd. Mi paeshenss! Whot wuud Meg sae?”

“U ar not to tel enywun. Miend that.”

“I didn’t promis.”

“That wuz understuud, and I trusted U.”

“Wel, I wun’t for th prezent, enywae, but I’m disgusted, and wish U hadn’t toeld me.”

“I thaut U’d be pleezd.”

“At th iedeea of enybody cuming to taek Meg awae? No, thank U.”

“U’ll feel beter about it when sumbody cums to taek U awae.”

“I’d liek to see enywun tri it,” cried Jo feersly.

“So shuud I!” and Laurie chukld at th iedeea.

“I doen’t think seecrets agree with me, I feel rumpld up in mi miend sinss U toeld me that,” sed Jo rather ungraetfuly.

“Raess doun this hil with me, and U’ll be all riet,” sugjested Laurie.

No-wun wuz in siet, th smooth roed sloept invietingly befor her, and fiending th temptaeshon irezistibl, Jo darted awae, soon leeving hat and coem behiend her and scatering haerpins as she ran. Laurie reecht th goel furst and wuz qiet satisfied with th suksess of his treetment, for his Atlanta caem panting up with flieing haer, briet ies, rudy cheeks, and no siens of disatisfakshon in her faess.

“I wish I wuz a horss, then I cuud run for miels in this splendid aer, and not looz mi breth. It wuz capital, but see whot a gie it’s maed me. Go, pik up mi things, liek a cherrub, as U ar,” sed Jo, droping doun under a maepl tree, which wuz carpeting th bank with crimson leevs.

Laurie leezherly departed to recuver th lost property, and Jo bundld up her braeds, hoeping no-wun wuud pas bi til she wuz tiedy agen. But sumwun did pas, and hoo shuud it be but Meg, luuking particuelarly laedyliek in her staet and festival soot, for she had bin maeking cauls.

“Whot in th wurld ar U dooing heer?” she askt, regarding her disheveld sister with wel-bred serpriez.

“Geting leevs,” meekly anserd Jo, sorting th roezy handfuul she had just swept up.

“And haerpins,” aded Laurie, throeing haf a duzen into Jo’s lap. “Thae gro on this roed, Meg, so do coems and broun straw hats.”

“U hav bin runing, Jo. How cuud U? When wil U stop such romping waes?” sed Meg reproovingly, as she setld her cufs and smoothd her haer, with which th wiend had taeken libertys.

“Never til I’m stif and oeld and hav to uez a cruch. Doen’t tri to maek me gro up befor mi tiem, Meg. It’s hard enuf to hav U chaenj all of a suden. Let me be a litl gurl as long as I can.”

As she spoek, Jo bent oever th leevs to hied th trembling of her lips, for laetly she had felt that Margaret wuz fast geting to be a wuuman, and Laurie’s seecret maed her dred th separaeshon which must shuurly cum sum tiem and now seemd verry neer. He saw th trubl in her faess and droo Meg’s atenshon from it bi asking qikly, “Whaer hav U bin cauling, all so fien?”

“At th Gardiners’, and Sallie has bin teling me all about Bel Moffat’s weding. It wuz verry splendid, and thae hav gon to spend th winter in Paris. Just think how delietful that must be!”

“Do U envy her, Meg?” sed Laurie.

“I’m afraed I do.”

“I’m glad of it!” muterd Jo, tieing on her hat with a jurk.

“Whi?” askt Meg, luuking serpriezd.

“Becauz if U caer much about riches, U wil never go and marry a puur man,” sed Jo, frouning at Laurie, hoo wuz mutely worning her to miend whot she sed.

“I shal never ‘go and marry’ enywun,” obzurvd Meg, wauking on with graet dignity whiel th uthers foloed, lafing, whispering, skiping stoens, and ‘behaeving liek children’, as Meg sed to herself, tho she miet hav bin tempted to join them if she had not had her best dres on.

For a week or too, Jo behaevd so qeerly that her sisters wer qiet bewilderd. She rusht to th dor when th poestman rang, wuz rood to Mr. Brooke whenever thae met, wuud sit luuking at Meg with a wo-begone faess, ocaezhonaly jumping up to shaek and then kis her in a verry misteerius maner. Laurie and she wer aulwaes maeking siens to wun anuther, and tauking about ‘Spred Eegls'’ til th gurls declaerd thae had boeth lost thaer wits. On th second Saterdae after Jo got out of th windo, Meg, as she sat soeing at her windo, wuz scandaliezd bi th siet of Laurie chaesing Jo all oever th garden and fienaly capchering her in Amy’s bower. Whot went on thaer, Meg cuud not see, but shreeks of lafter wer hurd, foloed bi th murmer of voises and a graet flaping of nuezpaepers.

“Whot shal we do with that gurl? She never wil behaev liek a yung laedy,” sied Meg, as she wocht th raess with a disaprooving faess.

“I hoep she wun’t. She is so funy and deer as she is,” sed Baet, hoo had never betraed that she wuz a litl hurt at Jo’s having seecrets with enywun but her.

“It’s verry trieing, but we never can maek her commy laa fo,” aded Amy, hoo sat maeking sum nue frils for herself, with her curls tied up in a verry becuming wae, too agreeabl things that maed her feel unuezhualy elegant and laedyliek.

In a fue minits Jo bounst in, laed herself on th soefa, and afekted to red.

“Hav U enything interesting thaer?” askt Meg, with condesenshon.

“Nuthing but a story, wun’t amount to much, I ges,” returnd Jo, caerfuly keeping th naem of th paeper out of siet.

“U’d beter red it aloud. That wil amuez us and keep U out of mischif,” sed Amy in her moest groen-up toen.

“Whot’s th naem?” askt Baet, wundering whi Jo kept her faess behiend th sheet.

“Th Rieval Paenters.”

“That sounds wel. Red it,” sed Meg.

With a loud “Hem!” and a long breth, Jo began to red verry fast. Th gurls lisend with interest, for th tael wuz roemantik, and sumwhot pathetik, as moest of th carrakters died in th end. “I liek that about th splendid pikcher,” wuz Amy’s aprooving remark, as Jo pauzd.

“I prefur th lovering part. Veoela and Angelo ar too of our faevorit naems, isn’t that qeer?” sed Meg, wieping her ies, for th lovering part wuz tragical.

“Hoo roet it?” askt Baet, hoo had caut a glimps of Jo’s faess.

Th reeder sudenly sat up, cast awae th paeper, displaeing a flusht countenanss, and with a funy mixcher of solemnity and exsietment replied in a loud vois, “Yuur sister.”

“U?” cried Meg, droping her wurk.

“It’s verry guud,” sed Amy critikaly.

“I nue it! I nue it! O, mi Jo, I am so proud!” and Baet ran to hug her sister and exult oever this splendid suksess.

Deer me, how delieted thae all wer, to be shuur! How Meg wuudn’t beleev it til she saw th wurds. “Mis Josephine March,” akchualy printing in th paeper. How graeshusly Amy critisiezd th artistik parts of th story, and oferd hints for a seeqel, which unforchunatly cuudn’t be carryd out, as th heero and herroein wer ded. How Baet got exsieted, and skipt and sang with joy. How Hannah caem in to exclaem, “Saeks aliev, wel I never!” in graet astonishment at ‘that Jo’s dooin’s’. How proud Mrs. March wuz when she nue it. How Jo laft, with teers in her ies, as she declaerd she miet as wel be a peecok and dun with it, and how th ‘Spred Eegl’ miet be sed to flap his wings trieumfantly oever th Hous of March, as th paeper past from hand to hand.

“Tel us about it.” “When did it cum?” “How much did U get for it?” “Whot wil Faather sae?” “Wun’t Laurie laf?” cried th family, all in wun breth as thae clusters about Jo, for thees foolish, afekshonat peepl maed a joobilee of every litl hous-hoeld joy.

“Stop jabering, gurls, and I’ll tel U everything,” sed Jo, wundering if Mis Burney felt eny grander oever her Evelina than she did oever her ‘Rieval Paenters’. Having toeld how she dispoezd of her taels, Jo aded, “And when I went to get mi anser, th man sed he liekt them boeth, but didn’t pae beginers, oenly let them print in his paeper, and noetist th storys. It wuz guud praktis, he sed, and when th beginers improovd, enywun wuud pae. So I let him hav th too storys, and todae this wuz sent to me, and Laurie caut me with it and insisted on seeing it, so I let him. And he sed it wuz guud, and I shal riet mor, and he's going to get th next paed for, and I am so hapy, for in tiem I mae be aebl to suport mieself and help th gurls.”

Jo’s breth gaev out heer, and raping her hed in th paeper, she bedued her litl story with a fue nacheral teers, for to be independent and urn th praez of thoes she luvd wer th deerest wishes of her hart, and this seemd to be th furst step tord that hapy end.


“Noevember is th moest disagreeabl munth in th hoel yeer,” sed Margaret, standing at th windo wun dul afternoon, luuking out at th frostbiten garden.

“That’s th reezon I wuz born in it,” obzurvd Jo pensivly, qiet unconshus of th blot on her noez.

“If sumthing verry plezant shuud hapen now, we shuud think it a delietful munth,” sed Baet, hoo tuuk a hoepful vue of everything, eeven Noevember.

“I daer sae, but nuthing plezant ever duz hapen in this family,” sed Meg, hoo wuz out of sorts. “We go grubing along dae after dae, without a bit of chaenj, and verry litl fun. We miet as wel be in a tredmil.”

“Mi paeshenss, how bloo we ar!” cried Jo. “I doen’t much wunder, puur deer, for U see uther gurls having splendid tiems, whiel U griend, griend, yeer in and yeer out. O, doen’t I wish I cuud manej things for U as I do for mi herroeins! U’r prity enuf and guud enuf aulredy, so I’d hav sum rich relaeshon leev U a forchun unexpektedly. Then U’d dash out as an aeres, scorn everywun hoo has slieted U, go abraud, and cum hoem mi Laedy Sumthing in a blaez of splendor and eleganss.”

“Peepl doen’t hav forchuns left them in that stiel nowadaes, men hav to wurk and wimen marry for muny. It’s a dredfuly unjust wurld,” sed Meg biterly.

“Jo and I ar going to maek forchuns for U all. Just waet ten yeers, and see if we doen’t,” sed Amy, hoo sat in a corner maeking mud pies, as Hannah cauld her litl clae models of burds, froot, and faeses.

“Can’t waet, and I’m afraed I haeven’t much faeth in ink and durt, tho I’m graetful for yuur guud intenshons.”

Meg sied, and turnd to th frostbiten garden agen. Jo groend and leend boeth elboes on th taebl in a despondent atitued, but Amy spatted awae enerjetikaly, and Baet, hoo sat at th uther windo, sed, smieling, “Too plezant things ar going to hapen riet awae. Marmee is cuming doun th street, and Laurie is tramping thru th garden as if he had sumthing niess to tel.”

In thae boeth caem, Mrs. March with her uezhual qeschon, “Eny leter from Faather, gurls?” and Laurie to sae in his perswaesiv wae, “Wun’t sum of U cum for a driev? I’ve bin wurking awae at mathematiks til mi hed is in a mudl, and I’m going to freshen mi wits bi a brisk turn. It’s a dul dae, but th aer isn’t bad, and I’m going to taek Brooke hoem, so it wil be gae insied, if it isn’t out. Cum, Jo, U and Baet wil go, wun’t U?”

“Of corss we wil.”

“Much obliejd, but I’m bizy.” And Meg whiskt out her wurkbasket, for she had agreed with her muther that it wuz best, for her at leest, not to driev too ofen with th yung jentlman.

“We three wil be redy in a mienuet,” cried Amy, runing awae to wosh her hands.

“Can I do enything for U, Madam Muther?” askt Laurie, leening oever Mrs. March’s chaer with th afekshonat luuk and toen he aulwaes gaev her.

“No, thank U, exsept caul at th ofis, if U’ll be so kiend, deer. It’s our dae for a leter, and th poestman hasn’t bin. Faather is as reguelar as th sun, but thaer’s sum delae on th wae, perhaps.”

A sharp ring interupted her, and a mienuet after Hannah caem in with a leter.

“It’s wun of them horrid telegraf things, mum,” she sed, handling it as if she wuz afraed it wuud exploed and do sum damej.

At th wurd ‘telegraf’, Mrs. March snacht it, red th too liens it contaend, and dropt bak into her chaer as whiet as if th litl paeper had sent a bulet to her hart. Laurie dasht dounstaers for wauter, whiel Meg and Hannah suported her, and Jo red aloud, in a frietend vois...

Mrs. March:
Yuur huzband is verry il. Cum at wunss.
S. Hael
Blank Hospital, Washington.

How stil th room wuz as thae lisend brethlesly, how straenjly th dae darkend outsied, and how sudenly th hoel wurld seemd to chaenj, as th gurls gatherd about thaer muther, feeling as if all th hapynes and suport of thaer lievs wuz about to be taeken from them.

Mrs. March wuz herself agen direktly, red th mesej oever, and strecht out her arms to her dauters, saeing, in a toen thae never forgot, “I shal go at wunss, but it mae be too laet. O, children, children, help me to baer it!”

For several minits thaer wuz nuthing but th sound of sobing in th room, minggld with broeken wurds of cumfort, tender ashuuranses of help, and hoepful whispers that died awae in teers. Puur Hannah wuz th furst to recuver, and with unconshus wizdom she set all th rest a guud exampl, for with her, wurk wuz panaseea for moest aflikshons.

“Th Lord keep th deer man! I wun’t waest no tiem a-cryin’, but git yuur things redy riet awae, mum,” she sed hartily, as she wiept her faess on her aepron, gaev her mistres a worm shaek of th hand with her oen hard wun, and went awae to wurk liek three wimen in wun.

“She’s riet, thaer’s no tiem for teers now. Be caam, gurls, and let me think.”

Thae tried to be caam, puur things, as thaer muther sat up, luuking pael but stedy, and puut awae her greef to think and plan for them.

“Whaer’s Laurie?” she askt prezently, when she had colekted her thauts and desieded on th furst duetys to be dun.

“Heer, maa’am. O, let me do sumthing!” cried th boy, hurying from th next room whither he had withdrawn, feeling that thaer furst sorro wuz too saecred for eeven his frendly ies to see.

“Send a telegram saeing I wil cum at wunss. Th next traen goes urly in th morning. I’ll taek that.”

“Whot elss? Th horses ar redy. I can go enywhaer, do enything,” he sed, luuking redy to fli to th ends of th urth.

“Leev a noet at Ant March’s. Jo, giv me that pen and paeper.”

Teering off th blank sied of wun of her nuely copyd paejes, Jo droo th taebl befor her muther, wel noeing that muny for th long, sad jurny must be borroed, and feeling as if she cuud do enything to ad a litl to th sum for her faather.

“Now go, deer, but doen’t kil yuurself drieving at a desperat paess. Thaer is no need of that.”

Mrs. March’s worning wuz evidently throen awae, for fiev minits laeter Laurie tor bi th windo on his oen fleet horss, rieding as if for his lief.

“Jo, run to th rooms, and tel Mrs. King that I can’t cum. On th wae get thees things. I’ll puut them doun, thae’l be needed and I must go prepaerd for nursing. Hospital stors ar not aulwaes guud. Baet, go and ask Mr. Laurence for a cupl of botls of oeld wien. I’m not too proud to beg for Faather. He shal hav th best of everything. Amy, tel Hannah to get doun th blak trunk, and Meg, cum and help me fiend mi things, for I’m haf bewilderd.”

Rieting, thinking, and direkting all at wunss miet wel bewilder th puur laedy, and Meg begd her to sit qieetly in her room for a litl whiel, and let them wurk. Everywun scaterd liek leevs befor a gust of wiend, and th qieet, hapy hous-hoeld wuz broeken up as sudenly as if th paeper had bin an eevil spel.

Mr. Laurence caem hurying bak with Baet, bringing every cumfort th kiend oeld jentlman cuud think of for th invalid, and frendlyest promises of protekshon for th gurls duuring th muther’s absenss, which cumforted her verry much. Thaer wuz nuthing he didn’t ofer, from his oen dresing goun to himself as escort. But th last wuz imposibl. Mrs. March wuud not heer of th oeld jentlman’s undertaeking th long jurny, yet an expreshon of releef wuz vizibl when he spoek of it, for angzieity il fits wun for traveling. He saw th luuk, nit his hevy iebrows, rubd his hands, and marcht abruptly awae, saeing he'd be bak direktly. No-wun had tiem to think of him agen til, as Meg ran thru th entry, with a paer of rubers in wun hand and a cup of tee in th uther, she caem sudenly upon Mr. Brooke.

“I’m verry sorry to heer of this, Mis March,” he sed, in th kiend, qieet toen which sounded verry plezantly to her perturbd spirit. “I caem to ofer mieself as escort to yuur muther. Mr. Laurence has comishons for me in Washington, and it wil giv me reeal satisfakshon to be of survis to her thaer.”

Doun dropt th rubers, and th tee wuz verry neer foloeing, as Meg puut out her hand, with a faess so fuul of gratitood that Mr. Brooke wuud hav felt re-paed for a much graeter sacrifiess than th triefling wun of tiem and cumfort which he wuz about to taek.

“How kiend U all ar! Muther wil aksept, I’m shuur, and it wil be such a releef to noe that she has sumwun to taek caer of her. Thank U verry, verry much!”

Meg spoek urnestly, and forgot herself entierly til sumthing in th broun ies luuking doun at her maed her remember th cooling tee, and leed th wae into th parlor, saeing she wuud caul her muther.

Everything wuz araenjd bi th tiem Laurie returnd with a noet from Ant March, encloezing th dezierd sum, and a fue liens repeeting whot she had ofen sed befor, that she had aulwaes toeld them it wuz absurd for March to go into th army, aulwaes predikted that no guud wuud cum of it, and she hoept thae wuud taek her adviess th next tiem. Mrs. March puut th noet in th fier, th muny in her purss, and went on with her preparaeshons, with her lips foelded tietly in a wae which Jo wuud hav understuud if she had bin thaer.

Th short afternoon wor awae. All uther errands wer dun, and Meg and her muther bizy at sum nesesaery needlwurk, whiel Baet and Amy got tee, and Hannah finisht her ieerning with whot she cauld a ‘slap and a bang’, but stil Jo did not cum. Thae began to get ankshus, and Laurie went off to fiend her, for no-wun nue whot freek Jo miet taek into her hed. He mist her, however, and she caem wauking in with a verry qeer expreshon of countenanss, for thaer wuz a mixcher of fun and feer, satisfakshon and regret in it, which puzld th family as much as did th roel of bils she laed befor her muther, saeing with a litl choek in her vois, “That’s mi contribueshon tord maeking Faather cumfortabl and bringing him hoem!”

“Mi deer, whaer did U get it? Twenty-fiev dolars! Jo, I hoep U haeven’t dun enything rash?”

“No, it’s mien onestly. I didn’t beg, borro, or steel it. I urnd it, and I doen’t think U’ll blaem me, for I oenly soeld whot wuz mi oen.”

As she spoek, Jo tuuk off her bonet, and a jeneral outcri aroez, for all her abundant haer wuz cut short.

“Yuur haer! Yuur buetiful haer!” “O, Jo, how cuud U? Yuur wun buety.” “Mi deer gurl, thaer wuz no need of this.” “She duzn’t luuk liek mi Jo eny mor, but I luv her deerly for it!”

As everywun exclaemd, and Baet hugd th cropt hed tenderly, Jo asuemd an indiferent aer, which did not deseev enywun a partikl, and sed, rumpling up th broun buush and trieing to luuk as if she liekt it, “It duzn’t afekt th faet of th naeshon, so doen’t wael, Baet. It wil be guud for mi vanity, I wuz geting too proud of mi wig. It wil do mi braens guud to hav that mop taeken off. Mi hed feels delishusly liet and cool, and th barber sed I cuud soon hav a curly crop, which wil be boyish, becuming, and eezy to keep in order. I’m satisfied, so pleez taek th muny and let’s hav super.”

“Tel me all about it, Jo. I am not qiet satisfied, but I can’t blaem U, for I noe how wilingly U sacrifiest yuur vanity, as U caul it, to yuur luv. But, mi deer, it wuz not nesesaery, and I’m afraed U wil regret it wun of thees daes,” sed Mrs. March.

“No, I wun’t!” returnd Jo stoutly, feeling much releevd that her prank wuz not entierly condemd.

“Whot maed U do it?” askt Amy, hoo wuud as soon hav thaut of cuting off her hed as her prity haer.

“Wel, I wuz wield to do sumthing for Faather,” replied Jo, as thae gatherd about th taebl, for helthy yung peepl can eet eeven in th midst of trubl. “I haet to borro as much as Muther duz, and I nue Ant March wuud croek, she aulwaes duz, if U ask for a ninepence. Meg gaev all her qorterly salary tord th rent, and I oenly got sum cloeths with mien, so I felt wiked, and wuz bound to hav sum muny, if I soeld th noez off mi faess to get it.”

“U needn’t feel wiked, mi chield! U had no winter things and got th simplest with yuur oen hard urnestly,” sed Mrs. March with a luuk that wormd Jo’s hart.

“I hadn’t th leest iedeea of seling mi haer at furst, but as I went along I kept thinking whot I cuud do, and feeling as if I’d liek to diev into sum of th rich stors and help mieself. In a barber’s windo I saw taels of haer with th prieses markt, and wun blak tael, not so thik as mien, wuz forty dolars. It caem to me all of a suden that I had wun thing to maek muny out of, and without stoping to think, I waukt in, askt if thae baut haer, and whot thae wuud giv for mien.”

“I doen’t see how U daerd to do it,” sed Baet in a toen of aw.

“O, he wuz a litl man hoo luukt as if he meerly livd to oil his haer. He rather staerd at furst, as if he wuzn’t uezd to having gurls bounss into his shop and ask him to bie thaer haer. He sed he didn’t caer about mien, it wuzn’t th fashonabl culor, and he never paed much for it in th furst plaess. Th wurk puut into it maed it deer, and so on. It wuz geting laet, and I wuz afraed if it wuzn’t dun riet awae that I shouldn’t hav it dun at all, and U noe when I start to do a thing, I haet to giv it up. So I begd him to taek it, and toeld him whi I wuz in such a hurry. It wuz sily, I daer sae, but it chaenjd his miend, for I got rather exsieted, and toeld th story in mi topsy-turvy wae, and his wief hurd, and sed so kiendly, ‘Taek it, Thomas, and obliej th yung laedy. I’d do as much for our Jimy eny dae if I had a spier of haer wurth seling.”

“Hoo wuz Jimy?” askt Amy, hoo liekt to hav things explaend as thae went along.

“Her sun, she sed, hoo wuz in th army. How frendly such things maek straenjers feel, doen’t thae? She taukt awae all th tiem th man clipt, and divurted mi miend niesly.”

“Didn’t U feel dredfuly when th furst cut caem?” askt Meg, with a shiver.

“I tuuk a last luuk at mi haer whiel th man got his things, and that wuz th end of it. I never snivel oever triefls liek that. I wil confes, tho, I felt qeer when I saw th deer oeld haer laed out on th taebl, and felt oenly th short ruf ends of mi hed. It aulmoest seemd as if I’d an arm or leg off. Th wuuman saw me luuk at it, and pikt out a long lok for me to keep. I’ll giv it to U, Marmee, just to remember past glorys bi, for a crop is so cumfortabl I doen’t think I shal ever hav a maen agen.”

Mrs. March foelded th waevy chestnut lok, and laed it awae with a short grae wun in her desk. She oenly sed, “Thank U, deary,” but sumthing in her faess maed th gurls chaenj th subjekt, and tauk as cheerfuly as thae cuud about Mr. Brooke’s kiendnes, th prospekt of a fien dae tomorro, and th hapy tiems thae wuud hav when Faather caem hoem to be nurst.

No-wun wonted to go to bed when at ten oe’clok Mrs. March puut bi th last finisht job, and sed, “Cum gurls.” Baet went to th peano and plaed th faather’s faevorit him. All began braevly, but broek doun wun bi wun til Baet wuz left aloen, singing with all her hart, for to her muezik wuz aulwaes a sweet consoler.

“Go to bed and doen’t tauk, for we must be up urly and shal need all th sleep we can get. Guud niet, mi darlings,” sed Mrs. March, as th him ended, for no-wun caerd to tri anuther.

Thae kist her qieetly, and went to bed as sielently as if th deer invalid lae in th next room. Baet and Amy soon fel asleep in spiet of th graet trubl, but Meg lae awaek, thinking th moest seerius thauts she had ever noen in her short lief. Jo lae moeshonles, and her sister fansyd that she wuz asleep, til a stiefld sob maed her exclaem, as she tucht a wet cheek...

“Jo, deer, whot is it? Ar U crieing about faather?”

“No, not now.”

“Whot then?”

“Mi... Mi haer!” burst out puur Jo, trieing vainly to smuther her emoeshon in th pilo.

It did not seem at all comikal to Meg, hoo kist and carest th aflikted herroein in th tenderest maner.

“I’m not sorry,” protested Jo, with a choek. “I’d do it agen tomorro, if I cuud. It’s oenly th vaen part of me that goes and cries in this sily wae. Doen’t tel enywun, it’s all oever now. I thaut U wer asleep, so I just maed a litl prievat moen for mi wun buety. How caem U to be awaek?”

“I can’t sleep, I’m so ankshus,” sed Meg.

“Think about sumthing plezant, and U’ll soon drop off.”

“I tried it, but felt wieder awaek than ever.”

“Whot did U think of?”

“Handsum faeses—ies particuelarly,” anserd Meg, smieling to herself in th dark.

“Whot culor do U liek best?”

“Broun, that is, sumtiems. Bloo ar luvly.”

Jo laft, and Meg sharply orderd her not to tauk, then aemiably promist to maek her haer curl, and fel asleep to dreem of living in her casl in th aer.

Th cloks wer strieking midniet and th rooms wer verry stil as a figuer glieded qieetly from bed to bed, smoothing a cuverlet heer, setling a pilo thaer, and pauzing to luuk long and tenderly at eech unconshus faess, to kis eech with lips that mutely blest, and to prae th furvent praers which oenly muthers uter. As she lifted th curten to luuk out into th dreery niet, th moon broek sudenly from behiend th clouds and shoen upon her liek a briet, benignant faess, which seemd to whisper in th sielenss, “Be cumforted, deer soel! Thaer is aulwaes liet behiend th clouds.”


In th coeld grae daun th sisters lit thaer lamp and red thaer chapter with an urnestly never felt befor. For now th shado of a reeal trubl had cum, th litl buuks wer fuul of help and cumfort, and as thae drest, thae agreed to sae guudbi cheerfuly and hoepfuly, and send thaer muther on her ankshus jurny unsaddened by teers or complaents from them. Everything seemd verry straenj when thae went doun, so dim and stil outsied, so fuul of liet and busl within. Brekfast at that urly our seemd od, and eeven Hannah’s familyar faess luukt unnacheral as she floo about her kichen with her nietcap on. Th big trunk stuud redy in th haul, Muther’s cloek and bonet lae on th soefa, and Muther herself sat trieing to eet, but luuking so pael and worn with sleeplesnes and angzieity that th gurls found it verry hard to keep thaer rezolooshon. Meg’s ies kept filing in spiet of herself, Jo wuz obliejd to hied her faess in th kichen roeler mor than wunss, and th litl gurls wor a graev, trubld expreshon, as if sorro wuz a nue expeeri’enss to them.

Noebody taukt much, but as th tiem droo verry neer and thae sat waeting for th carrej, Mrs. March sed to th gurls, hoo wer all bizyd about her, wun foelding her shaul, anuther smoothing out th strings of her bonet, a thurd puuting on her oevershoos, and a foerth fasening up her traveling bag...

“Children, I leev U to Hannah’s caer and Mr. Laurence’s protekshon. Hannah is faethfulnes itself, and our guud naebor wil gard U as if U wer his oen. I hav no feers for U, yet I am ankshus that U shuud taek this trubl rietly. Doen’t greev and fret when I am gon, or think that U can be iedl and cumfort yuurselvs bi being iedl and trieing to forget. Go on with yuur wurk as uezhual, for wurk is a blest solis. Hoep and keep bizy, and whotever hapens, remember that U never can be faatherles.”

“Yes, Muther.”

“Meg, deer, be proodent, woch oever yuur sisters, consult Hannah, and in eny perplexity, go to Mr. Laurence. Be paeshent, Jo, doen’t get despondent or do rash things, riet to me ofen, and be mi braev gurl, redy to help and cheer all. Baet, cumfort yuurself with yuur muezik, and be faethful to th litl hoem duetys, and U, Amy, help all U can, be oebeedi’ent, and keep hapy saef at hoem.”

“We wil, Muther! We wil!”

Th ratl of an aproeching carrej maed them all start and lisen. That wuz th hard mienuet, but th gurls stuud it wel. No-wun cried, no-wun ran awae or uterd a lamentaeshon, tho thaer harts wer verry hevy as thae sent luving mesejes to Faather, remembering, as thae spoek that it miet be too laet to deliver them. Thae kist thaer muther qieetly, clung about her tenderly, and tried to waev thaer hands cheerfuly when she droev awae.

Laurie and his grandfaather caem oever to see her off, and Mr. Brooke luukt so strong and sensibl and kiend that th gurls crisend him ‘Mr. Greatheart’ on th spot.

“Guud-bi, mi darlings! God bles and keep us all!” whisperd Mrs. March, as she kist wun deer litl faess after th uther, and huryd into th carrej.

As she roeld awae, th sun caem out, and luuking bak, she saw it shiening on th groop at th gaet liek a guud oemen. Thae saw it aulso, and smield and waevd thaer hands, and th last thing she beheld as she turnd th corner wuz th foer briet faeses, and behiend them liek a bodygard, oeld Mr. Laurence, faethful Hannah, and devoeted Laurie.

“How kiend everywun is to us!” she sed, turning to fiend fresh proof of it in th respektful simpathy of th yung man’s faess.

“I doen’t see how thae can help it,” returnd Mr. Brooke, lafing so infectiously that Mrs. March cuud not help smieling. And so th jurny began with th guud oemens of sunshien, smiels, and cheerful wurds.

“I feel as if thaer had bin an urthqaek,” sed Jo, as thaer naebors went hoem to brekfast, leeving them to rest and refreshes themselvs.

“It seems as if haf th hous wuz gon,” aded Meg forlornly.

Baet oepend her lips to sae sumthing, but cuud oenly pointer to th piel of niesly mended hoez which lae on Muther’s taebl, shoeing that eeven in her last huryd moements she had thaut and wurkt for them. It wuz a litl thing, but it went straet to thaer harts, and in spiet of thaer braev rezolooshons, thae all broek doun and cried biterly.

Hannah wiezly alowd them to releev thaer feelings, and when th shower shoed siens of cleering up, she caem to th rescue, armd with a cofypot.

“Now, mi deer yung laedys, remember whot yuur maa sed, and doen’t fret. Cum and hav a cup of cofy all round, and then let’s faul to wurk and be a credit to th family.”

Cofy wuz a treet, and Hannah shoed graet takt in maeking it that morning. No wun cuud rezist her perswaesiv nods, or th fraegrant invitaeshon ishooing from th noez of th cofy pot. Thae droo up to th taebl, exchaenjd thaer hankerchifs for napkins, and in ten minits wer all riet agen.

“‘Hoep and keep bizy’, that’s th moto for us, so let’s see hoo wil remember it best. I shal go to Ant March, as uezhual. O, wun’t she lekcher tho!” sed Jo, as she sipt with returning spirit.

“I shal go to mi Kings, tho I’d much rather stae at hoem and atend to things heer,” sed Meg, wishing she hadn’t maed her ies so red.

“No need of that. Baet and I can keep hous purfektly wel,” puut in Amy, with an important aer.

“Hannah wil tel us whot to do, and we’l hav everything niess when U cum hoem,” aded Baet, geting out her mop and dish tub without delae.

“I think angzieity is verry interesting,” obzurvd Amy, eeting shigar pensivly.

Th gurls cuudn’t help lafing, and felt beter for it, tho Meg shuuk her hed at th yung laedy hoo cuud fiend consolaeshon in a shigar boel.

Th siet of th turnoevers maed Jo soeber agen; and when th too went out to thaer daely tasks, thae luukt sorroefuly bak at th windo whaer thae wer acustomd to see thaer muther’s faess. It wuz gon, but Baet had rememberd th litl hous-hoeld serremoeny, and thaer she wuz, noding awae at them liek a rosyfaced mandarin.

“That’s so liek mi Baet!” sed Jo, waeving her hat, with a graetful faess. “Guudbi, Meggy, I hoep th Kings wun’t straen todae. Doen’t fret about Faather, deer,” she aded, as thae parted.

“And I hoep Ant March wun’t croek. Yuur haer is becuming, and it luuks verry boyish and niess,” returnd Meg, trieing not to smiel at th curly hed, which luukt comikaly smaul on her taul sister’s shoelders.

“That’s mi oenly cumfort.” And, tuching her hat a laa Laurie, awae went Jo, feeling liek a shorn sheep on a wintry dae.

Nues from thaer faather cumforted th gurls verry much, for tho daenjerusly il, th prezenss of th best and tenderest of nurses had aulredy dun him guud. Mr. Brooke sent a buletin every dae, and as th hed of th family, Meg insisted on reeding th dispaches, which groo mor cheerful as th week past. At furst, everywun wuz eeger to riet, and plump aanveloeps wer caerfuly poekt into th leter box bi wun or uther of th sisters, hoo felt rather important with thaer Washington corespondenss. As wun of thees pakets contaend carrakteristik noets from th party, we wil rob an imajinaery mael, and red them.

Mi deerest Muther:

It is imposibl to tel U how hapy yuur last leter maed us, for th nues wuz so guud we cuudn’t help lafing and crieing oever it. How verry kiend Mr. Brooke is, and how forchunat that Mr. Laurence’s biznes detaens him neer U so long, sinss he is so uesful to U and Faather. Th gurls ar all as guud as goeld. Jo helps me with th soeing, and insists on dooing all sorts of hard jobs. I shuud be afraed she miet oeverdo, if I didn’t noe her ‘moral fit’ wuudn’t last long. Baet is as reguelar about her tasks as a clok, and never forgets whot U toeld her. She greevs about Faather, and luuks soeber exsept when she is at her litl peano. Amy miends me niesly, and I taek graet caer of her. She duz her oen haer, and I am teeching her to maek buttonholes and mend her stokings. She tries verry hard, and I noe U wil be pleezd with her improovment when U cum. Mr. Laurence woches oever us liek a mutherly oeld hen, as Jo sez, and Laurie is verry kiend and naeborly. He and Jo keep us merry, for we get prity bloo sumtiems, and feel liek orfans, with U so far awae. Hannah is a purfekt saent. She duz not scoeld at all, and aulwaes cauls me Mis Margaret, which is qiet proper, U noe, and treets me with respekt. We ar all wel and bizy, but we long, dae and niet, to hav U bak. Giv mi deerest luv to Faather, and beleev me, ever yuur oen...


This noet, pritily riten on sented paeper, wuz a graet contrast to th next, which wuz scribld on a big sheet of thin forin paeper, ornamented with blots and all maner of flurishes and curly-taeld leters.

Mi preshus Marmee:

Three cheers for deer Faather! Brooke wuz a trump to telegraf riet off, and let us noe th mienuet he wuz beter. I rusht up garret when th leter caem, and tried to thank God for being so guud to us, but I cuud oenly cri, and sae, “I’m glad! I’m glad!” Didn’t that do as wel as a reguelar praer? For I felt a graet meny in mi hart. We hav such funy tiems, and now I can enjoy them, for everywun is so desperatly guud, it’s liek living in a nest of turtledoves. U’d laf to see Meg hed th taebl and tri to be motherish. She gets prityer every dae, and I’m in luv with her sumtiems. Th children ar reguelar archaenjels, and I—wel, I’m Jo, and never shal be enything elss. O, I must tel U that I caem neer having a qorrel with Laurie. I freed mi miend about a sily litl thing, and he wuz ofended. I wuz riet, but didn’t speek as I aut, and he marcht hoem, saeing he wuudn’t cum agen til I begd pardon. I declaerd I wuudn’t and got mad. It lasted all dae. I felt bad and wonted U verry much. Laurie and I ar boeth so proud, it’s hard to beg pardon. But I thaut he'd cum to it, for I wuz in th riet. He didn’t cum, and just at niet I rememberd whot U sed when Amy fel into th river. I red mi litl buuk, felt beter, rezolvd not to let th sun set on mi angger, and ran oever to tel Laurie I wuz sorry. I met him at th gaet, cuming for th saem thing. We boeth laft, begd eech uther’s pardon, and felt all guud and cumfortabl agen.

I maed a ‘pome’ yesterdae, when I wuz helping Hannah wosh, and as Faather lieks mi sily litl things, I puut it in to amuez him. Giv him mi lovingest hug that ever wuz, and kis yuurself a duzen tiems for yuur...



Qeen of mi tub, I merrily sing,
Whiel th whiet foem riezes hie,
And sturdily wosh and rinss and ring,
And fasen th cloeths to dri.
Then out in th free fresh aer thae swing,
Under th suny ski.

I wish we cuud wosh from our harts and soels
Th staens of th week awae,
And let wauter and aer bi thaer majik maek
Ourselvs as puer as thae.
Then on th urth thaer wuud be indeed,
A glorius woshing dae!

Along th path of a uesful lief,
Wil hart’s-eez ever bloom.
Th bizy miend has no tiem to think
Of sorro or caer or gloom.
And ankshus thauts mae be swept awae,
As we braevly weeld a broom.

I am glad a task to me is given,
To laebor at dae bi dae,
For it brings me helth and strength and hoep,
And I cheerfuly lurn to sae,
“Hed, U mae think, Hart, U mae feel,
But, Hand, U shal wurk alway!”

Deer Muther,

Thaer is oenly room for me to send mi luv, and sum prest panzys from th root I hav bin keeping saef in th hous for Faather to see. I red every morning, tri to be guud all dae, and sing mieself to sleep with Faather’s tuen. I can’t sing ‘LAND OF Th LEAL’ now, it maeks me cri. Everywun is verry kiend, and we ar as hapy as we can be without U. Amy wonts th rest of th paej, so I must stop. I didn’t forget to cuver th hoelders, and I wiend th clok and aer th rooms every dae.

Kis deer Faather on th cheek he cauls mien. O, do cum soon to yuur luving...

Litl Baet

Maa Chere Maama,

We ar all wel I do mi lesons aulwaes and never corroberate th gurls—Meg sez I meen contradick so I puut in boeth wurds and U can taek th properest. Meg is a graet cumfort to me and lets me hav jely every niet at tee its so guud for me Jo sez becauz it keeps me sweet temperd. Laurie is not as respeckful as he aut to be now I am aulmoest in mi teens, he cauls me Chik and hurts mi feelings bi tauking French to me verry fast when I sae Merci or Bon jour as Hattie King duz. Th sleevs of mi bloo dres wer all worn out, and Meg puut in nue wuns, but th fuul frunt caem rong and thae ar mor bloo than th dres. I felt bad but did not fret I baer mi trubls wel but I do wish Hannah wuud puut mor starch in mi aeprons and hav buckwheats every dae. Can’t she? Didn’t I maek that interrigation pointer niess? Meg sez mi punchtuation and speling ar disgraesful and I am mortyfied but deer me I hav so meny things to do, I can’t stop. Adoo, I send heeps of luv to Paapa. Yuur afekshonat dauter...


Deer Mis March,

I jes drop a lien to sae we git on fust raet. Th gurls is clever and fli round riet smart. Mis Meg is going to maek a proper guud houskeeper. She hes th lieking for it, and gits th hang of things surprisin qik. Jo doos beet all for goin ahed, but she doen’t stop to cal’k’laet fust, and U never noe whaer she’s liek to bring up. She dun out a tub of cloeths on Mundae, but she starcht ’em afor thae wuz rencht, and blued a pink calico dres til I thaut I shuud a died a laughin. Baet is th best of litl creeters, and a siet of help to me, bein so forhanded and dependabl. She tries to lurn everything, and reealy goes to market beyond her yeers, liekwiez keeps acounts, with mi help, qiet wunderful. We hav got on verry economikal so fur. I doen’t let th gurls hev cofy oenly wunss a week, accordin to yuur wish, and keep em on plaen hoelsum vittles. Amy duz wel without frettin, wearin her best cloeths and eatin sweet stuf. Mr. Laurie is as fuul of didoes as uezhual, and turns th hous upsied doun freeqent, but he hartens th gurls, so I let em hev fuul swing. Th oeld jentlman sends heeps of things, and is rather wearin, but meens wal, and it aint mi plaess to sae nothin. Mi bred is riz, so no mor at this tiem. I send mi duety to Mr. March, and hoep he's seen th last of his Pewmonia.

Yuurs respektful,
Hannah Mulet

Hed Nurss of Word No. 2,

All sereen on th Rappahannock, troops in fien condishon, commisary department wel condukted, th Hoem Gard under Curnal Teddy aulwaes on duety, Comander in Cheef Jeneral Laurence revues th army daely, Qortermaster Mulet keeps order in camp, and Maejor Lieon duz piket duety at niet. A saloot of twenty-foer guns wuz fierd on reseet of guud nues from Washington, and a dres paraed tuuk plaess at hedqorters. Comander in cheef sends best wishes, in which he is hartily joind bi...

Curnal TEDDY

Deer Madam:

Th litl gurls ar all wel. Baet and mi boy report daely. Hannah is a model survant, and gards prity Meg liek a dragon. Glad th fien wether hoelds. Prae maek Brooke uesful, and draw on me for funds if expenses exseed yuur estimat. Doen’t let yuur huzband wont enything. Thank God he is mending.

Yuur sinseer frend and survant, JAMES LAURENCE

Litl Faethful

For a week th amount of vurchoo in th oeld hous wuud hav suplied th naeborhuud. It wuz reealy amaezing, for everywun seemd in a hevenly fraem of miend, and self-denieal wuz all th fashon. Releevd of thaer furst angzieity about thaer faather, th gurls insensibly relaxt thaer praezwurthy eforts a litl, and began to faul bak into oeld waes. Thae did not forget thaer moto, but hoeping and keeping bizy seemd to gro eezyer, and after such tremendus exurshons, thae felt that Endevor dezurvd a holidae, and gaev it a guud meny.

Jo caut a bad coeld thru neglekt to cuver th shorn hed enuf, and wuz orderd to stae at hoem til she wuz beter, for Ant March didn’t liek to heer peepl red with coelds in thaer heds. Jo liekt this, and after an enerjetik rumej from garret to selar, subsieded on th soefa to nurss her coeld with arsenicum and buuks. Amy found that houswurk and art did not go wel together, and returnd to her mud pies. Meg went daely to her puepils, and soed, or thaut she did, at hoem, but much tiem wuz spent in rieting long leters to her muther, or reeding th Washington dispaches oever and oever. Baet kept on, with oenly sliet relapses into iedlnes or greeving.

All th litl duetys wer faethfuly dun eech dae, and meny of her sisters’ aulso, for thae wer forgetful, and th hous seemd liek a clok hoos penjulum wuz gon a-viziting. When her hart got hevy with longings for Muther or feers for Faather, she went awae into a surten clozet, hid her faess in th foelds of a deer oeld goun, and maed her litl moen and praed her litl praer qieetly bi herself. Noebody nue whot cheerd her up after a soeber fit, but everywun felt how sweet and helpful Baet wuz, and fel into a wae of going to her for cumfort or adviess in thaer smaul afaers.

All wer unconshus that this expeeri’enss wuz a test of carrakter, and when th furst exsietment wuz oever, felt that thae had dun wel and dezurvd praez. So thae did, but thaer mistaek wuz in seesing to do wel, and thae lurnd this leson thru much angzieity and regret.

“Meg, I wish U’d go and see th Hummels. U noe Muther toeld us not to forget them.” sed Baet, ten daes after Mrs. March’s deparcher.

“I’m too tierd to go this afternoon,” replied Meg, roking cumfortably as she soed.

“Can’t U, Jo?” askt Baet.

“Too stormy for me with mi coeld.”

“I thaut it wuz aulmoest wel.”

“It’s wel enuf for me to go out with Laurie, but not wel enuf to go to th Hummels’,” sed Jo, lafing, but luuking a litl ashaemd of her inconsistency.

“Whi doen’t U go yuurself?” askt Meg.

“I hav bin every dae, but th baeby is sik, and I doen’t noe whot to do for it. Mrs. Hummel goes awae to wurk, and Lottchen taeks caer of it. But it gets siker and siker, and I think U or Hannah aut to go.”

Baet spoek urnestly, and Meg promist she wuud go tomorro.

“Ask Hannah for sum niess litl mes, and taek it round, Baet, th aer wil do U guud,” sed Jo, ading apolojetikaly, “I’d go but I wont to finish mi rieting.”

“Mi hed aeks and I’m tierd, so I thaut maebe sum of U wuud go,” sed Baet.

“Amy wil be in prezently, and she wil run doun for us,” sugjested Meg.

So Baet lae doun on th soefa, th uthers returnd to thaer wurk, and th Hummels wer forgoten. An our past. Amy did not cum, Meg went to her room to tri on a nue dres, Jo wuz absorbd in her story, and Hannah wuz sound asleep befor th kichen fier, when Baet qieetly puut on her huud, fild her basket with ods and ends for th puur children, and went out into th chily aer with a hevy hed and a greevd luuk in her paeshent ies. It wuz laet when she caem bak, and no-wun saw her creep upstaers and shut herself into her muther’s room. Haf an our after, Jo went to ‘Muther’s clozet’ for sumthing, and thaer found litl Baet siting on th medisin chest, luuking verry graev, with red ies and a camfor botl in her hand.

“Christopher Columbus! Whot’s th mater?” cried Jo, as Baet puut out her hand as if to worn her off, and askt qikly. . .

“U’ve had th scarlet feever, haeven’t U?”

“Yeers ago, when Meg did. Whi?”

“Then I’ll tel U. O, Jo, th baeby’s ded!”

“Whot baeby?”

“Mrs. Hummel’s. It died in mi lap befor she got hoem,” cried Baet with a sob.

“Mi puur deer, how dredful for U! I aut to hav gon,” sed Jo, taeking her sister in her arms as she sat doun in her muther’s big chaer, with a remorsful faess.

“It wuzn’t dredful, Jo, oenly so sad! I saw in a mienuet it wuz siker, but Lottchen sed her muther had gon for a doktor, so I tuuk Baeby and let Lotty rest. It seemd asleep, but all of a suden if gaev a litl cri and trembld, and then lae verry stil. I tried to worm its feet, and Lotty gaev it sum milk, but it didn’t stur, and I nue it wuz ded.”

“Doen’t cri, deer! Whot did U do?”

“I just sat and held it softly til Mrs. Hummel caem with th doktor. He sed it wuz ded, and luukt at Heinrich and Minna, hoo hav sor throets. ‘Scarlet feever, maa’am. Aut to hav cauld me befor,’ he sed crosly. Mrs. Hummel toeld him she wuz puur, and had tried to cuer baeby herself, but now it wuz too laet, and she cuud oenly ask him to help th uthers and trust to charrity for his pae. He smield then, and wuz kiender, but it wuz verry sad, and I cried with them til he turnd round all of a suden, and toeld me to go hoem and taek beladona riet awae, or I’d hav th feever.”

“No, U wun’t!” cried Jo, huging her cloez, with a frietend luuk. “O, Baet, if U shuud be sik I never cuud forgiv mieself! Whot shal we do?”

“Doen’t be frietend, I ges I shan’t hav it badly. I luukt in Muther’s buuk, and saw that it begins with hedaek, sor throet, and qeer feelings liek mien, so I did taek sum beladona, and I feel beter,” sed Baet, laeing her coeld hands on her hot forhed and trieing to luuk wel.

“If Muther wuz oenly at hoem!” exclaemd Jo, seezing th buuk, and feeling that Washington wuz an imenss wae off. She red a paej, luukt at Baet, felt her hed, peept into her throet, and then sed graevly, “U’ve bin oever th baeby every dae for mor than a week, and amung th uthers hoo ar going to hav it, so I’m afraed U ar going to hav it, Baet. I’ll caul Hannah, she noes all about siknes.”

“Doen’t let Amy cum. She never had it, and I shuud haet to giv it to her. Can’t U and Meg hav it oever agen?” askt Baet, anxshusly.

“I ges not. Doen’t caer if I do. Surv me riet, selfish pig, to let U go, and stae rieting rubish mieself!” muterd Jo, as she went to consult Hannah.

Th guud soel wuz wied awaek in a mienuet, and tuuk th leed at wunss, ashuuring that thaer wuz no need to wury; every wun had scarlet feever, and if rietly treeted, noebody died, all of which Jo beleevd, and felt much releevd as thae went up to caul Meg.

“Now I’ll tel U whot we’l do,” sed Hannah, when she had examind and qeschond Baet, “we wil hav Dr. Bangs, just to taek a luuk at U, deer, and see that we start riet. Then we’l send Amy off to Ant March’s for a spel, to keep her out of harm's wae, and wun of U gurls can stae at hoem and amuez Baet for a dae or too.”

“I shal stae, of corss, I’m oeldest,” began Meg, luuking ankshus and self-reproechful.

“I shal, becauz it’s mi fault she is sik. I toeld Muther I’d do th errands, and I haeven’t,” sed Jo desiededly.

“Which wil U hav, Baet? Thaer ain’t no need of but wun,” aed Hannah.

“Jo, pleez.” And Baet leend her hed agenst her sister with a contented luuk, which efekchualy setld that pointer.

“I’ll go and tel Amy,” sed Meg, feeling a litl hurt, yet rather releevd on th hoel, for she did not liek nursing, and Jo did.

Amy rebeld outriet, and pashonatly declaerd that she had rather hav th feever than go to Ant March. Meg reezond, pleeded, and comanded, all in vaen. Amy protested that she wuud not go, and Meg left her in despaer to ask Hannah whot shuud be dun. Befor she caem bak, Laurie waukt into th parlor to fiend Amy sobing, with her hed in th soefa cuushons. She toeld her story, expekting to be consoeld, but Laurie oenly puut his hands in his pokets and waukt about th room, whisling softly, as he nit his brows in deep thaut. Prezently he sat doun besied her, and sed, in his moest wheedlesome toen, “Now be a sensibl litl wuuman, and do as thae sae. No, doen’t cri, but heer whot a joly plan I’ve got. U go to Ant March’s, and I’ll cum and taek U out every dae, drieving or wauking, and we’l hav capital tiems. Wun’t that be beter than moeping heer?”

“I doen’t wish to be sent off as if I wuz in th wae,” began Amy, in an injerd vois.

“Bles yuur hart, chield, it’s to keep U wel. U doen’t wont to be sik, do U?”

“No, I’m shuur I doen’t, but I daer sae I shal be, for I’ve bin with Baet all th tiem.”

“That’s th verry reezon U aut to go awae at wunss, so that U mae escaep it. Chaenj of aer and caer wil keep U wel, I daer sae, or if it duz not entierly, U wil hav th feever mor lietly. I adviez U to be off as soon as U can, for scarlet feever is no joek, mis.”

“But it’s dul at Ant March’s, and she is so cros,” sed Amy, luuking rather frietend.

“It wun’t be dul with me poping in every dae to tel U how Baet is, and taek U out galivanting. Th oeld laedy lieks me, and I’ll be as sweet as posibl to her, so she wun’t pek at us, whotever we do.”

“Wil U taek me out in th troting wagon with Puk?”

“On mi onor as a jentlman.”

“And cum every singgl dae?”

“See if I doen’t!”

“And bring me bak th mienuet Baet is wel?”

“Th iedentikal mienuet.”

“And go to th theeater, trooly?”

“A duzen theeaters, if we mae.”

“Wel—I ges I wil,” sed Amy sloely.

“Guud gurl! Caul Meg, and tel her U’ll giv in,” sed Laurie, with an aprooving pat, which anoyd Amy mor than th ‘giving in’.

Meg and Jo caem runing doun to behoeld th mirakl which had bin raut, and Amy, feeling verry preshus and self-sacrifiesing, promist to go, if th doktor sed Baet wuz going to be il.

“How is th litl deer?” askt Laurie, for Baet wuz his espeshal pet, and he felt mor ankshus about her than he liekt to sho.

“She is lieing doun on Muther’s bed, and feels beter. Th baeby’s deth trubld her, but I daer sae she has oenly got coeld. Hannah sez she thinks so, but she luuks wuryd, and that maeks me fijety,” anserd Meg.

“Whot a trieing wurld it is!” sed Jo, rumpling up her haer in a fretful wae. “No sooner do we get out of wun trubl than doun cums anuther. Thaer duzn’t seem to be enything to hoeld on to when Muther’s gon, so I’m all at see.”

“Wel, doen’t maek a porcuepien of yuurself, it isn’t becuming. Setl yuur wig, Jo, and tel me if I shal telegraf to yuur muther, or do enything?” askt Laurie, hoo never had bin reconsield to th lost of his frend’s wun buety.

“That is whot trubls me,” sed Meg. “I think we aut to tel her if Baet is reealy il, but Hannah sez we mustn’t, for Muther can’t leev Faather, and it wil oenly maek them ankshus. Baet wun’t be sik long, and Hannah noes just whot to do, and Muther sed we wer to miend her, so I supoez we must, but it duzn’t seem qiet riet to me.”

“Hum, wel, I can’t sae. Supoez U ask Grandfaather after th doktor has bin.”

“We wil. Jo, go and get Dr. Bangs at wunss,” comanded Meg. “We can’t desied enything til he has bin.”

“Stae whaer U ar, Jo. I’m errand boy to this establishment,” sed Laurie, taeking up his cap.

“I’m afraed U ar bizy,” began Meg.

“No, I’ve dun mi lesons for th dae.”

“Do U study in vaecaeshon tiem?” askt Jo.

“I folo th guud exampl mi naebors set me,” wuz Laurie’s anser, as he swung himself out of th room.

“I hav graet hoeps for mi boy,” obzurvd Jo, woching him fli oever th fenss with an aprooving smiel.

“He duz verry wel, for a boy,” wuz Meg’s sumwhot ungraeshus anser, for th subjekt did not interest her.

Dr. Bangs caem, sed Baet had simptoms of th feever, but he thaut she wuud hav it lietly, tho he luukt soeber oever th Hummel story. Amy wuz orderd off at wunss, and provieded with sumthing to word off daenjer, she departed in graet staet, with Jo and Laurie as escort.

Ant March reseevd them with her uezhual hospitality.

“Whot do U wont now?” she askt, luuking sharply oever her spektakls, whiel th parrot, siting on th bak of her chaer, cauld out...

“Go awae. No boys alowd heer.”

Laurie retierd to th windo, and Jo toeld her story.

“No mor than I expekted, if U ar alowd to go poeking about amung puur foeks. Amy can stae and maek herself uesful if she isn’t sik, which I’ve no dout she wil be, luuks liek it now. Doen’t cri, chield, it wurys me to heer peepl snif.”

Amy wuz on th pointer of crieing, but Laurie sliely puuld th parrot’s tael, which cauzd Poly to uter an astonisht croek and caul out, “Bles mi boots!” in such a funy wae, that she laft insted.

“Whot do U heer from yuur muther?” askt th oeld laedy grufly.

“Faather is much beter,” replied Jo, trieing to keep soeber.

“O, is he? Wel, that wun’t last long, I fansy. March never had eny stamina,” wuz th cheerful replie.

“Haa, haa! Never sae die, taek a pinch of snuf, guudbi, guudbi!” squalled Poly, dansing on her purch, and clawing at th oeld laedy’s cap as Laurie tweekt him in th reer.

“Hoeld yuur tung, U disrespektful oeld burd! And, Jo, U’d beter go at wunss. It isn’t proper to be gading about so laet with a rattlepated boy liek...”

“Hoeld yuur tung, U disrespektful oeld burd!” cried Poly, tumbling off th chaer with a bounss, and runing to pek th ‘rattlepated’ boy, hoo wuz shaeking with lafter at th last speech.

“I doen’t think I can baer it, but I’ll tri,” thaut Amy, as she wuz left aloen with Ant March.

“Get along, U friet!” screemd Poly, and at that rood speech Amy cuud not restraen a snif.


Baet did hav th feever, and wuz much siker than enywun but Hannah and th doktor suspekted. Th gurls nue nuthing about ilnes, and Mr. Laurence wuz not alowd to see her, so Hannah had everything her oen wae, and bizy Dr. Bangs did his best, but left a guud deel to th exselent nurss. Meg staed at hoem, lest she shuud infekt th Kings, and kept hous, feeling verry ankshus and a litl gilty when she roet leters in which no menshon wuz maed of Baet’s ilnes. She cuud not think it riet to deseev her muther, but she had bin biden to miend Hannah, and Hannah wuudn’t heer of ‘Mrs. March bein’ toeld, and wuryd just for sech a triefl.’

Jo devoeted herself to Baet dae and niet, not a hard task, for Baet wuz verry paeshent, and bor her paen uncomplaeningly as long as she cuud controel herself. But thaer caem a tiem when duuring th feever fits she began to tauk in a horss, broeken vois, to plae on th cuverlet as if on her beluved litl peano, and tri to sing with a throet so swoelen that thaer wuz no muezik left, a tiem when she did not noe th familyar faeses around her, but adrest them bi rong naems, and cauld imploringly for her muther. Then Jo groo frietend, Meg begd to be alowd to riet th trooth, and eeven Hannah sed she ‘wuud think of it, tho thaer wuz no daenjer yet’. A leter from Washington aded to thaer trubl, for Mr. March had had a relaps, and cuud not think of cuming hoem for a long whiel.

How dark th daes seemd now, how sad and loenly th hous, and how hevy wer th harts of th sisters as thae wurkt and waeted, whiel th shado of deth huverd oever th wunss hapy hoem. Then it wuz that Margaret, siting aloen with teers droping ofen on her wurk, felt how rich she had bin in things mor preshus than eny luksherys muny cuud bie—in luv, protekshon, peess, and helth, th reeal blesings of lief. Then it wuz that Jo, living in th darkend room, with that sufering litl sister aulwaes befor her ies and that pathetik vois sounding in her eers, lurnd to see th buety and th sweetnes of Baet’s naecher, to feel how deep and tender a plaess she fild in all harts, and to aknolej th wurth of Baet’s unselfish ambishon to liv for uthers, and maek hoem hapy by that exsersiez of thoes simpl vurchoos which all mae pozess, and which all shuud luv and value mor than talent, welth, or buety. And Amy, in her exiel, longd eegerly to be at hoem, that she miet wurk for Baet, feeling now that no survis wuud be hard or urksum, and remembering, with regretful greef, how meny neglekted tasks thoes wiling hands had dun for her. Laurie haunted th hous liek a restles goest, and Mr. Laurence lokt th grand peano, becauz he cuud not baer to be remiended of th yung naebor hoo uezd to maek th twieliet plezant for him. Everywun mist Baet. Th milkman, baeker, groeser, and buucher inqierd how she did, puur Mrs. Hummel caem to beg pardon for her thoughtlessness and to get a shroud for Minna, th naebors sent all sorts of cumforts and guud wishes, and eeven thoes hoo nue her best wer serpriezd to fiend how meny frends shi litl Baet had maed.

Meenwhiel she lae on her bed with oeld Joanna at her sied, for eeven in her waanderings she did not forget her forlorn proetezhae. She longd for her cats, but wuud not hav them braut, lest thae shuud get sik, and in her qieet ours she wuz fuul of angzieity about Jo. She sent luving mesejes to Amy, bad them tel her muther that she wuud riet soon, and ofen begd for pensil and paeper to tri to sae a wurd, that Faather miet not think she had neglekted him. But soon eeven thees intervals of conshusnes ended, and she lae our after our, tosing to and fro, with incoeheerent wurds on her lips, or sank into a hevy sleep which braut her no refreshment. Dr. Bangs caem twiess a dae, Hannah sat up at niet, Meg kept a telegram in her desk all redy to send off at eny mienuet, and Jo never sturd from Baet’s sied.

Th furst of December wuz a wintry dae indeed to them, for a biter wiend bloo, sno fel fast, and th yeer seemd geting redy for its deth. When Dr. Bangs caem that morning, he luukt long at Baet, held th hot hand in boeth his oen for a mienuet, and laed it jently doun, saeing, in a loe vois to Hannah, “If Mrs. March can leev her huzband she’d beter be sent for.”

Hannah noded without speeking, for her lips twicht nurvusly, Meg dropt doun into a chaer as th strength seemd to go out of her lims at th sound of thoes wurds, and Jo, standing with a pael faess for a mienuet, ran to th parlor, snacht up th telegram, and throeing on her things, rusht out into th storm. She wuz soon bak, and whiel noizlesly taeking off her cloek, Laurie caem in with a leter, saeing that Mr. March wuz mending agen. Jo red it thankfuly, but th hevy waet did not seem lifted off her hart, and her faess wuz so fuul of mizery that Laurie askt qikly, “Whot is it? Is Baet wurss?”

“I’ve sent for Muther,” sed Jo, tuging at her ruber boots with a trajik expreshon.

“Guud for U, Jo! Did U do it on yuur oen responsibility?” askt Laurie, as he seeted her in th haul chaer and tuuk off th rebelyus boots, seeing how her hands shuuk.

“No. Th doktor toeld us to.”

“O, Jo, it’s not so bad as that?” cried Laurie, with a startld faess.

“Yes, it is. She duzn’t noe us, she duzn’t eeven tauk about th floks of green duvs, as she cauls th vien leevs on th waul. She duzn’t luuk liek mi Baet, and thaer’s noebody to help us baer it. Muther and faather boeth gon, and God seems so far awae I can’t fiend Him.”

As th teers streemd fast doun puur Jo’s cheeks, she strecht out her hand in a helples sort of wae, as if groeping in th dark, and Laurie tuuk it in his, whispering as wel as he cuud with a lump in his throet, “I’m heer. Hoeld on to me, Jo, deer!”

She cuud not speek, but she did ‘hoeld on’, and th worm grasp of th frendly hueman hand cumforted her sor hart, and seemd to leed her neerer to th Divien arm which aloen cuud uphoeld her in her trubl.

Laurie longd to sae sumthing tender and cumfortabl, but no fiting wurds caem to him, so he stuud sielent, jently stroeking her bent hed as her muther uezd to do. It wuz th best thing he cuud hav dun, far mor soothing than th moest eloqent wurds, for Jo felt th unspoeken simpathy, and in th sielenss lurnd th sweet solis which afekshon administers to sorro. Soon she dried th teers which had releevd her, and luukt up with a graetful faess.

“Thank U, Teddy, I’m beter now. I doen’t feel so forlorn, and wil tri to baer it if it cums.”

“Keep hoeping for th best, that wil help U, Jo. Soon yuur muther wil be heer, and then everything wil be all riet.”

“I’m so glad Faather is beter. Now she wun’t feel so bad about leeving him. O, me! It duz seem as if all th trubls caem in a heep, and I got th hevyest part on mi shoelders,” sied Jo, spreding her wet hankerchif oever her nees to dri.

“Duzn’t Meg puul faer?” askt Laurie, luuking indignant.

“O, yes, she tries to, but she can’t luv Bethy as I do, and she wun’t mis her as I shal. Baet is mi conshenss, and I can’t giv her up. I can’t! I can’t!”

Doun went Jo’s faess into th wet hankerchif, and she cried despaeringly, for she had kept up braevly til now and never shed a teer. Laurie droo his hand acros his ies, but cuud not speek til he had subdued th choky feeling in his throet and stedyd his lips. It miet be unmanly, but he cuudn’t help it, and I am glad of it. Prezently, as Jo’s sobs qieeted, he sed hoepfuly, “I doen’t think she wil die. She’s so guud, and we all luv her so much, I doen’t beleev God wil taek her awae yet.”

“Th guud and deer peepl aulwaes do die,” groend Jo, but she stopt crieing, for her frend’s wurds cheerd her up in spiet of her oen douts and feers.

“Puur gurl, U’r worn out. It isn’t liek U to be forlorn. Stop a bit. I’ll harten U up in a jify.”

Laurie went off too staers at a tiem, and Jo laed her weeryd hed doun on Baet’s litl broun huud, which no-wun had thaut of mooving from th taebl whaer she left it. It must hav pozest sum majik, for th submisiv spirit of its jentl oener seemd to enter into Jo, and when Laurie caem runing doun with a glas of wien, she tuuk it with a smiel, and sed braevly, “I drink— Helth to mi Baet! U ar a guud doktor, Teddy, and such a cumfortabl frend. How can I ever pae U?” she aded, as th wien refresht her body, as th kiend wurds had dun her trubld miend.

“I’ll send mi bil, by-and-by, and toniet I’ll giv U sumthing that wil worm th cokls of yuur hart beter than qorts of wien,” sed Laurie, beeming at her with a faess of suprest satisfakshon at sumthing.

“Whot is it?” cried Jo, forgeting her woes for a mienuet in her wunder.

“I telegraft to yuur muther yesterdae, and Brooke anserd she’d cum at wunss, and she’l be heer toniet, and everything wil be all riet. Aren’t U glad I did it?”

Laurie spoek verry fast, and turnd red and exsieted all in a mienuet, for he had kept his plot a seecret, for feer of disapointing th gurls or harming Baet. Jo groo qiet whiet, floo out of her chaer, and th moement he stopt speeking she elektrified him bi throeing her arms round his nek, and crieing out, with a joyful cri, “O, Laurie! O, Muther! I am so glad!” She did not weep agen, but laft histerrikaly, and trembld and clung to her frend as if she wuz a litl bewilderd bi th suden nues.

Laurie, tho desiededly amaezd, behaevd with graet prezenss of miend. He pated her bak soothingly, and fiending that she wuz recuvering, foloed it up bi a bashful kis or too, which braut Jo round at wunss. Hoelding on to th banisters, she puut him jently awae, saeing brethlesly, “O, doen’t! I didn’t meen to, it wuz dredful of me, but U wer such a deer to go and do it in spiet of Hannah that I cuudn’t help flieing at U. Tel me all about it, and doen’t giv me wien agen, it maeks me akt so.”

“I doen’t miend,” laft Laurie, as he setld his tie. “Whi, U see I got fijety, and so did Grandpaa. We thaut Hannah wuz oeverdooing th authority biznes, and yuur muther aut to noe. She’d never forgiv us if Baet... Wel, if enything hapend, U noe. So I got grandpaa to sae it wuz hie tiem we did sumthing, and off I pelted to th ofis yesterdae, for th doktor luukt soeber, and Hannah moest tuuk mi hed off when I propoezd a telegram. I never can baer to be ‘lorded oever’, so that setld mi miend, and I did it. Yuur muther wil cum, I noe, and th laet traen is in at too A.M. I shal go for her, and U’ve oenly got to botl up yuur rapcher, and keep Baet qieet til that blest laedy gets heer.”

“Laurie, U’r an aenjel! How shal I ever thank U?”

“Fli at me agen. I rather liekt it,” sed Laurie, luuking mischivus, a thing he had not dun for a fortniet.

“No, thank U. I’ll do it bi proxsy, when yuur grandpaa cums. Doen’t teez, but go hoem and rest, for U’ll be up haf th niet. Bles U, Teddy, bles U!”

Jo had bakt into a corner, and as she finisht her speech, she vanisht precipitately into th kichen, whaer she sat doun upon a dreser and toeld th asembld cats that she wuz “hapy, o, so hapy!” whiel Laurie departed, feeling that he had maed a rather neet thing of it.

“That’s th interferingest chap I ever see, but I forgiv him and do hoep Mrs. March is cuming riet awae,” sed Hannah, with an aer of releef, when Jo toeld th guud nues.

Meg had a qieet rapcher, and then brooded oever th leter, whiel Jo set th sickroom in order, and Hannah “nokt up a cupl of pies in caess of cumpany unexpekted”. A breth of fresh aer seemd to blo thru th hous, and sumthing beter than sunshien brietend th qieet rooms. Everything apeerd to feel th hoepful chaenj. Baet’s burd began to churp agen, and a haf-bloen roez wuz discuverd on Amy’s buush in th windo. Th fiers seemd to burn with uenuezhual cheerynes, and every tiem th gurls met, thaer pael faeses broek into smiels as thae hugd wun anuther, whispering encurejingly, “Muther’s cuming, deer! Muther’s cuming!” Every wun rejoist but Baet. She lae in that hevy stoopor, aliek unconshus of hoep and joy, dout and daenjer. It wuz a pitius siet, th wunss roezy faess so chaenjd and vaecant, th wunss bizy hands so week and waested, th wunss smieling lips qiet dum, and th wunss prity, wel-kept haer scaterd ruf and tanggld on th pilo. All dae she lae so, oenly rouzing now and then to muter, “Wauter!” with lips so parcht thae cuud hardly shaep th wurd. All dae Jo and Meg huverd oever her, woching, waeting, hoeping, and trusting in God and Muther, and all dae th sno fel, th biter wiend raejd, and th ours dragd sloely by. But niet caem at last, and every tiem th clok struk, th sisters, stil siting on eether sied of th bed, luukt at eech uther with brietening ies, for eech our braut help neerer. Th doktor had bin in to sae that sum chaenj, for beter or wurss, wuud probably taek plaess about midniet, at which tiem he wuud return.

Hannah, qiet worn out, lae doun on th soefa at th bed’s fuut and fel fast asleep, Mr. Laurence marcht to and fro in th parlor, feeling that he wuud rather faess a rebl batery than Mrs. March’s countenanss as she enterd. Laurie lae on th rug, pretending to rest, but staering into th fier with th thautful luuk which maed his blak ies buetifuly soft and cleer.

Th gurls never forgot that niet, for no sleep caem to them as thae kept thaer woch, with that dredful senss of powerlesnes which cums to us in ours liek thoes.

“If God spaers Baet, I never wil complaen agen,” whisperd Meg urnestly.

“If God spaers Baet, I’ll tri to luv and surv Him all mi lief,” anserd Jo, with eeqal furvor.

“I wish I had no hart, it aeks so,” sied Meg, after a pauz.

“If lief is ofen as hard as this, I doen’t see how we ever shal get thru it,” aded her sister despondently.

Heer th clok struk twelv, and boeth forgot themselvs in woching Baet, for thae fansyd a chaenj past oever her waan faess. Th hous wuz stil as deth, and nuthing but th waeling of th wiend broek th deep hush. Weery Hannah slept on, and no-wun but th sisters saw th pael shado which seemd to faul upon th litl bed. An our went bi, and nuthing hapend exsept Laurie’s qieet deparcher for th staeshon. Anuther our, stil no-wun caem, and ankshus feers of delae in th storm, or aksidents bi th wae, or, wurst of all, a graet greef at Washington, haunted th gurls.

It wuz past too, when Jo, hoo stuud at th windo thinking how dreery th wurld luukt in its wiending sheet of sno, hurd a moovment bi th bed, and turning qikly, saw Meg neeling befor thaer muther’s eezy chaer with her faess hiden. A dredful feer past coeldly oever Jo, as she thaut, “Baet is ded, and Meg is afraed to tel me.”

She wuz bak at her poest in an instant, and to her exsieted ies a graet chaenj seemd to hav taeken plaess. Th feever flush and th luuk of paen wer gon, and th beluved litl faess luukt so pael and peesful in its uter repoez that Jo felt no dezier to weep or to lament. Leening loe oever this deerest of her sisters, she kist th damp forhed with her hart on her lips, and softly whisperd, “Guud-bi, mi Baet. Guud-bi!”

As if awaked bi th stur, Hannah started out of her sleep, huryd to th bed, luukt at Baet, felt her hands, lisend at her lips, and then, throeing her aepron oever her hed, sat doun to rok to and fro, exclaeming, under her breth, “Th feever’s turnd, she’s sleepin’ nat’ral, her skin’s damp, and she breeths eezy. Praez be given! O, mi guudnes me!”

Befor th gurls cuud beleev th hapy trooth, th doktor caem to confurm it. He wuz a hoemly man, but thae thaut his faess qiet hevenly when he smield and sed, with a faatherly luuk at them, “Yes, mi deers, I think th litl gurl wil puul thru this tiem. Keep th hous qieet, let her sleep, and when she waeks, giv her...”

Whot thae wer to giv, neether hurd, for boeth crept into th dark haul, and, siting on th staers, held eech uther cloez, rejoising with harts too fuul for wurds. When thae went bak to be kist and cudld bi faethful Hannah, thae found Baet lieing, as she uezd to do, with her cheek pillowed on her hand, th dredful palor gon, and breething qieetly, as if just faulen asleep.

“If Muther wuud oenly cum now!” sed Jo, as th winter niet began to waen.

“See,” sed Meg, cuming up with a whiet, haf-oepend roez, “I thaut this wuud hardly be redy to lae in Baet’s hand tomorro if she—went awae from us. But it has blosomd in th niet, and now I meen to puut it in mi vaess heer, so that when th darling waeks, th furst thing she sees wil be th litl roez, and Muther’s faess.”

Never had th sun rizen so buetifuly, and never had th wurld seemd so luvly as it did to th hevy ies of Meg and Jo, as thae luukt out in th urly morning, when thaer long, sad vijil wuz dun.

“It luuks liek a faery wurld,” sed Meg, smieling to herself, as she stuud behiend th curten, woching th dazling siet.

“Hark!” cried Jo, starting to her feet.

Yes, thaer wuz a sound of bels at th dor beloe, a cri from Hannah, and then Laurie’s vois saeing in a joyful whisper, “Gurls, she’s cum! She’s cum!”

CHAPTER Nienteen

Whiel thees things wer hapening at hoem, Amy wuz having hard tiems at Ant March’s. She felt her exiel deeply, and for th furst tiem in her lief, reealiezd how much she wuz beluved and peted at hoem. Ant March never peted eny wun; she did not aproov of it, but she ment to be kiend, for th wel-behaevd litl gurl pleezd her verry much, and Ant March had a soft plaess in her oeld hart for her nuefue's children, tho she didn’t think it proper to confes it. She reealy did her best to maek Amy hapy, but, deer me, whot mistaeks she maed. Sum oeld peepl keep yung at hart in spiet of rinkls and grae haers, can simpathiez with children’s litl caers and joys, maek them feel at hoem, and can hied wiez lesons under plezant plaes, giving and reseeving frendship in th sweetest wae. But Ant March had not this gift, and she wuryd Amy verry much with her rools and orders, her prim waes, and long, proezy tauks. Fiending th chield mor dosil and aemiabl than her sister, th oeld laedy felt it her duety to tri and counterakt, as far as posibl, th bad efekts of hoem freedom and induljenss. So she tuuk Amy bi th hand, and taut her as she herself had bin taut sixty yeers ago, a prosess which carryd dismae to Amy’s soel, and maed her feel liek a fli in th web of a verry strikt spieder.

She had to wosh th cups every morning, and poelish up th oeld-fashond spoons, th fat silver teepot, and th glases til thae shoen. Then she must dust th room, and whot a trieing job that wuz. Not a spek escaept Ant March’s ie, and all th furnicher had claw legs and much carving, which wuz never dusted to soot. Then Poly had to be fed, th lap dog coemd, and a duzen trips upstaers and doun to get things or deliver orders, for th oeld laedy wuz verry laem and seldom left her big chaer. After thees tiersum laebors, she must do her lesons, which wuz a daely trieal of every vurchoo she pozest. Then she wuz alowd wun our for exsersiez or plae, and didn’t she enjoy it?

Laurie caem every dae, and wheedld Ant March til Amy wuz alowd to go out with him, when thae waukt and roed and had capital tiems. After diner, she had to red aloud, and sit stil whiel th oeld laedy slept, which she uezhualy did for an our, as she dropt off oever th furst paej. Then pachwurk or towels apeerd, and Amy soed with outward meeknes and inward rebelyon til dusk, when she wuz alowd to amuez herself as she liekt til teetiem. Th eevnings wer th wurst of all, for Ant March fel to teling long storys about her yooth, which wer so unuterably dul that Amy wuz aulwaes redy to go to bed, intending to cri oever her hard faet, but uezhualy going to sleep befor she had sqeezd out mor than a teer or too.

If it had not bin for Laurie, and oeld Esther, th maed, she felt that she never cuud hav got thru that dredful tiem. Th parrot aloen wuz enuf to driev her distrakted, for he soon felt that she did not admier him, and revenjd himself by being as mischivus as posibl. He puuld her haer whenever she caem neer him, upset his bred and milk to plaeg her when she had nuely cleend his caej, maed Mop bark by peking at him whiel Madam doezd, cauld her naems befor cumpany, and behaevd in all respekts liek an reprehensibl oeld burd. Then she cuud not enduur th dog, a fat, cros beest hoo snarld and yelpt at her when she maed his toilet, and hoo lae on his bak with all his legs in th aer and a moest idiotik expreshon of countenanss when he wonted sumthing to eet, which wuz about a duzen tiems a dae. Th cuuk wuz bad-temperd, th oeld coechman wuz def, and Esther th oenly wun hoo ever tuuk eny noetis of th yung laedy.

Esther wuz a Frenchwuuman, hoo had livd with ‘Madam’, as she cauld her mistres, for meny yeers, and hoo rather tyrannized oever th oeld laedy, hoo cuud not get along without her. Her reeal naem wuz Estelle, but Ant March orderd her to chaenj it, and she oebaed, on condishon that she wuz never askt to chaenj her relijon. She tuuk a fansy to Mademezel, and amuezd her verry much with od storys of her lief in France, when Amy sat with her whiel she got up Madam’s laeses. She aulso alowd her to roem about th graet hous, and examin th cuerius and prity things stord awae in th big wordroebs and th aenshent chests, for Ant March horded liek a magpie. Amy’s cheef deliet wuz an Indian cabinet, fuul of qeer drawers, litl pigeonholes, and seecret plaeses, in which wer kept all sorts of ornaments, sum preshus, sum meerly cuerius, all mor or les anteek. To examin and araenj thees things gaev Amy graet satisfakshon, espeshaly th jooel caeses, in which on velvet cuushons repoezd th ornaments which had adornd a bel forty yeers ago. Thaer wuz th garnet set which Ant March wor when she caem out, th purls her faather gaev her on her weding dae, her luver's diemonds, th jet morning rings and pins, th qeer lokets, with portraets of ded frends and weeping wiloes maed of haer insied, th baeby braeslets her wun litl dauter had worn, Unkl March’s big woch, with th red seel so meny chieldish hands had plaed with, and in a box all by itself lae Ant March’s weding ring, too smaul now for her fat fingger, but puut caerfuly awae liek th moest preshus jooel of them all.

“Which wuud Mademezel chooz if she had her wil?” askt Esther, hoo aulwaes sat neer to woch oever and lok up th valueabls.

“I liek th diemonds best, but thaer is no neklas amung them, and I’m fond of neklases, thae ar so becuming. I shuud chooz this if I miet,” replied Amy, luuking with graet admeraeshon at a string of goeld and ebony beeds from which hung a hevy cros of th saem.

“I, too, cuvet that, but not as a neklas. Aa, no! To me it is a roezary, and as such I shuud uez it liek a guud catholik,” sed Esther, ieing th handsum thing wistfuly.

“Is it ment to uez as U uez th string of guud-smeling wuuden beeds hanging oever yuur glas?” askt Amy.

“Trooly, yes, to prae with. It wuud be pleezing to th saents if wun uezd so fien a roezary as this, insted of waering it as a vaen beezhoo.”

“U seem to taek a graet deel of cumfort in yuur praers, Esther, and aulwaes cum doun luuking qieet and satisfied. I wish I cuud.”

“If Mademezel wuz a Catholik, she wuud fiend troo cumfort, but as that is not to be, it wuud be wel if U went apart eech dae to meditaet and prae, as did th guud mistres hoom I survd befor Madam. She had a litl chapel, and in it found solacement for much trubl.”

“Wuud it be riet for me to do so too?” askt Amy, hoo in her loenlynes felt th need of help of sum sort, and found that she wuz apt to forget her litl buuk, now that Baet wuz not thaer to remiend her of it.

“It wuud be exselent and charming, and I shal gladly araenj th litl dresing room for U if U liek it. Sae nuthing to Madam, but when she sleeps go U and sit aloen a whiel to think guud thauts, and prae th deer God prezurv yuur sister.”

Esther wuz trooly pieus, and qiet sinseer in her adviess, for she had an afekshonat hart, and felt much for th sisters in thaer angzieity. Amy liekt th iedeea, and gaev her leev to araenj th liet clozet next her room, hoeping it wuud do her guud.

“I wish I nue whaer all thees prity things wuud go when Ant March dies,” she sed, as she sloely replaest th shiening roezary and shut th jooel caeses wun bi wun.

“To U and yuur sisters. I noe it, Madam confieds in me. I witnest her wil, and it is to be so,” whisperd Esther smieling.

“How niess! But I wish she’d let us hav them now. Proecrastinaeshon is not agreeabl,” obzurvd Amy, taeking a last luuk at th diemonds.

“It is too soon yet for th yung laedys to waer thees things. Th furst wun hoo is afieanst wil hav th purls, Madam has sed it, and I hav a fansy that th litl turqoiz ring wil be given to U when U go, for Madam aproovs yuur guud behaevyor and charming maners.”

“Do U think so? O, I’ll be a lam, if I can oenly hav that luvly ring! It’s ever so much prityer than Kity Bryant’s. I do liek Ant March after all.” And Amy tried on th bloo ring with a delieted faess and a furm rezolv to urn it.

From that dae she wuz a model of oebeedi’enss, and th oeld laedy complaesently admierd th suksess of her traening. Esther fited up th clozet with a litl taebl, plaest a fuutstool befor it, and oever it a pikcher taeken from wun of th shut-up rooms. She thaut it wuz of no graet value, but, being aproepriat, she borroed it, wel noeing that Madam wuud never noe it, nor caer if she did. It wuz, however, a verry valueable copy of wun of th faemus pikchers of th wurld, and Amy’s buety-luving ies wer never tierd of luuking up at th sweet faess of th Divien Muther, whiel her tender thauts of her oen wer bizy at her hart. On th taebl she laed her litl testament and hymnbook, kept a vaess aulwaes fuul of th best flowers Laurie braut her, and caem every dae to ‘sit aloen’ thinking guud thauts, and praeing th deer God to prezurv her sister. Esther had given her a roezary of blak beeds with a silver cros, but Amy hung it up and did not uez it, feeling doutful as to its fitnes for Protestant praers.

Th litl gurl wuz verry sinseer in all this, for being left aloen outsied th saef hoem nest, she felt th need of sum kiend hand to hoeld bi so sorly that she instinktivly turnd to th strong and tender Frend, hoos faatherly luv moest cloesly serounds His litl children. She mist her muther’s help to understand and rool herself, but having bin taut whaer to luuk, she did her best to fiend th wae and wauk in it confidingly. But, Amy wuz a yung pilgrim, and just now her burden seemd verry hevy. She tried to forget herself, to keep cheerful, and be satisfied with dooing riet, tho no-wun saw or praezd her for it. In her furst efort at being verry, verry guud, she desieded to maek her wil, as Ant March had dun, so that if she did faul il and die, her pozeshons miet be justly and jenerusly divieded. It cost her a pang eeven to think of giving up th litl trezhers which in her ies wer as preshus as th oeld laedy’s jooels.

Duuring wun of her plae ours she roet out th important docuement as wel as she cuud, with sum help from Esther as to surten leegal turms, and when th guud-naecherd Frenchwuuman had siend her naem, Amy felt releevd and laed it bi to sho Laurie, hoom she wonted as a second witnes. As it wuz a raeny dae, she went upstaers to amuez herself in wun of th larj chaembers, and tuuk Poly with her for cumpany. In this room thaer wuz a wordroeb fuul of oeld-fashond costuems with which Esther alowd her to plae, and it wuz her faevorit amuezment to arae herself in th faeded broekaeds, and paraed up and doun befor th long miror, maeking staetly curtsies, and sweeping her traen about with a rusl which delieted her eers. So bizy wuz she on this dae that she did not heer Laurie’s ring nor see his faess peeping in at her as she graevly promenaded to and fro, flurting her fan and tosing her hed, on which she wor a graet pink turban, contrasting odly with her bloo broekaed dres and yelo qilted peticoet. She wuz obliejd to wauk caerfuly, for she had on hie-heeld shoos, and, as Laurie toeld Jo afterward, it wuz a comikal siet to see her minss along in her gae soot, with Poly siedling and briedling just behiend her, imitaeting her as wel as he cuud, and ocaezhonaly stoping to laf or exclaem, “Ain’t we fien? Get along, U friet! Hoeld yuur tung! Kis me, deer! Haa! Haa!”

Having with dificulty restraend an exploezhon of merriment, lest it shuud ofend her majestys, Laurie tapt and wuz graeshusly reseevd.

“Sit doun and rest whiel I puut thees things awae, then I wont to consult U about a verry seerius mater,” sed Amy, when she had shoen her splendor and driven Poly into a corner. “That burd is th trieal of mi lief,” she continued, remooving th pink mounten from her hed, whiel Laurie seeted himself astried a chaer.

“Yesterdae, when Ant wuz asleep and I wuz trieing to be as stil as a mous, Poly began to sqaul and flap about in his caej, so I went to let him out, and found a big spieder thaer. I poekt it out, and it ran under th buukcaess. Poly marcht straet after it, stoopt doun and peept under th buukcaess, saeing, in his funy wae, with a cok of his ie, ‘Cum out and taek a wauk, mi deer.’ I cuudn’t help lafing, which maed Poel swaer, and Ant woek up and scoelded us boeth.”

“Did th spieder aksept th oeld felo’s invitaeshon?” askt Laurie, yauning.

“Yes, out it caem, and awae ran Poly, frietend to deth, and scrambld up on Ant’s chaer, cauling out, ‘Cach her! Cach her! Cach her!’ as I chaest th spieder.”

“That’s a lie! O, lor!” cried th parrot, peking at Laurie’s toes.

“I’d ring yuur nek if U wer mien, U oeld torment,” cried Laurie, shaeking his fist at th burd, hoo puut his hed on wun sied and graevly croekt, “Allyluyer! bles yuur butons, deer!”

“Now I’m redy,” sed Amy, shuting th wordroeb and taeking a peess of paeper out of her poket. “I wont U to red that, pleez, and tel me if it is leegal and riet. I felt I aut to do it, for lief is unsurten and I doen’t wont eny il feeling oever mi toom.”

Laurie bit his lips, and turning a litl from th pensiv speeker, red th foloeing docuement, with praezwurthy gravity, considering th speling:


I, Amy Curtis March, being in mi saen miend, go giv and bequeethe all mi urthly property—viz. to wit:—naemly

To mi faather, mi best pikchers, skeches, maps, and wurks of art, inclooding fraems. Aulso mi $100, to do whot he lieks with.

To mi muther, all mi cloeths, exsept th bloo aepron with pokets—aulso mi lieknes, and mi medal, with much luv.

To mi deer sister Margaret, I giv mi turkquoise ring (if I get it), aulso mi green box with th duvs on it, aulso mi peess of reeal laess for her nek, and mi skech of her as a memorial of her ‘litl gurl’.

To Jo I leev mi breastpin, th wun mended with seeling wax, aulso mi bronz inkstand—she lost th cuver—and mi moest preshus plaster rabit, becauz I am sorry I burnd up her story.

To Baet (if she lievs after me) I giv mi dols and th litl buero, mi fan, mi linen colars and mi nue slipers if she can waer them being thin when she gets wel. And I heerwith aulso leev her mi regret that I ever maed fun of oeld Joanna.

To mi frend and naebor Theodore Laurence I bequeethe mi paeper mashay portfoelio, mi clae model of a horss tho he did sae it hadn’t eny nek. Aulso in return for his graet kiendnes in th our of aflikshon eny wun of mi artistik wurks he lieks, Noter Daem is th best.

To our venerabl benefaktor Mr. Laurence I leev mi purpl box with a luuking glas in th cuver which wil be niess for his pens and remiend him of th departed gurl hoo thanks him for his faevors to her family, espeshaly Baet.

I wish mi faevorit plaemaet Kity Bryant to hav th bloo silk aepron and mi goeld-beed ring with a kis.

To Hannah I giv th bandbox she wonted and all th pachwurk I leev hoeping she ‘wil remember me, when it U see’.

And now having dispoezd of mi moest valueable property I hoep all wil be satisfied and not blaem th ded. I forgiv everywun, and trust we mae all meet when th trump shal sound. Aamen.

To this wil and testiment I set mi hand and seel on this 20th dae of Nov. Anni Domino 1861.

Amy Curtis March


Estelle Valnor, Theodore Laurence.

Th last naem wuz riten in pensil, and Amy explaend that he wuz to re-riet it in ink and seel it up for her properly.

“Whot puut it into yuur hed? Did enywun tel U about Baet’s giving awae her things?” askt Laurie soeberly, as Amy laed a bit of red taep, with seeling wax, a taeper, and a standish befor him.

She explaend and then askt anxshusly, “Whot about Baet?”

“I’m sorry I spoek, but as I did, I’ll tel U. She felt so il wun dae that she toeld Jo she wonted to giv her peano to Meg, her cats to U, and th puur oeld dol to Jo, hoo wuud luv it for her saek. She wuz sorry she had so litl to giv, and left loks of haer to th rest of us, and her best luv to Grandpaa. She never thaut of a wil.”

Laurie wuz siening and seeling as he spoek, and did not luuk up til a graet teer dropt on th paeper. Amy’s faess wuz fuul of trubl, but she oenly sed, “Doen’t peepl puut sort of postscripts to thaer wils, sumtiems?”

“Yes, ‘codicils’, thae caul them.”

“Puut wun in mien then, that I wish all mi curls cut off, and given round to mi frends. I forgot it, but I wont it dun tho it wil spoil mi luuks.”

Laurie aded it, smieling at Amy’s last and graetest sacrifiess. Then he amuezd her for an our, and wuz much interested in all her trieals. But when he caem to go, Amy held him bak to whisper with trembling lips, “Is thaer reealy eny daenjer about Baet?”

“I’m afraed thaer is, but we must hoep for th best, so doen’t cri, deer.” And Laurie puut his arm about her with a brutherly jescher which wuz verry cumforting.

When he had gon, she went to her litl chapel, and siting in th twieliet, praed for Baet, with streeming teers and an aeking hart, feeling that a milyon turqoiz rings wuud not consoel her for th lost of her jentl litl sister.


I doen’t think I hav eny wurds in which to tel th meeting of th muther and dauters. Such ours ar buetiful to liv, but verry hard to descrieb, so I wil leev it to th imajinaeshon of mi reeders, meerly saeing that th hous wuz fuul of jenuein hapynes, and that Meg’s tender hoep wuz reealiezd, for when Baet woek from that long, heeling sleep, th furst objekts on which her ies fel wer th litl roez and Muther’s faess. Too week to wunder at enything, she oenly smield and nesld cloez in th luving arms about her, feeling that th hunggry longing wuz satisfied at last. Then she slept agen, and th gurls waeted upon thaer muther, for she wuud not unclasp th thin hand which clung to hers eeven in sleep.

Hannah had ‘disht up’ an astonishing brekfast for th traveler, fiending it imposibl to vent her exsietment in eny uther wae, and Meg and Jo fed thaer muther liek duetyful yung storks, whiel thae lisend to her whisperd acount of Faather’s staet, Mr. Brooke’s promis to stae and nurss him, th delaes which th storm ocaezhond on th hoemward jurny, and th unspeekabl cumfort Laurie’s hoepful faess had given her when she arievd, worn out with fateeg, angzieity, and coeld.

Whot a straenj yet plezant dae that wuz. So brilyant and gae without, for all th wurld seemd abraud to welcum th furst sno. So qieet and repoezful within, for everywun slept, spent with woching, and a Sabath stilnes raend thru th hous, whiel noding Hannah mounted gard at th dor. With a blisful senss of burdens lifted off, Meg and Jo cloezd thaer weery ies, and lae at rest, liek storm-beeten boets saef at ancor in a qieet harbor. Mrs. March wuud not leev Baet’s sied, but rested in th big chaer, waeking ofen to luuk at, tuch, and brood oever her chield, liek a miezer oever sum recuverd trezher.

Laurie meenwhiel poested off to cumfort Amy, and toeld his story so wel that Ant March akchualy ‘snift’ herself, and never wunss sed “I toeld U so”. Amy caem out so strong on this ocaezhon that I think th guud thauts in th litl chapel reealy began to baer froot. She dried her teers qikly, restraend her impaeshenss to see her muther, and never eeven thaut of th turqoiz ring, when th oeld laedy hartily agreed in Laurie’s opinyon, that she behaevd ‘liek a capital litl wuuman’. Eeven Poly seemd imprest, for he cauld her a guud gurl, blest her butons, and begd her to “cum and taek a wauk, deer”, in his moest afabl toen. She wuud verry gladly hav gon out to enjoy th briet wintry wether, but discuvering that Laurie wuz droping with sleep in spiet of manful eforts to conseel th fakt, she perswaeded him to rest on th soefa, whiel she roet a noet to her muther. She wuz a long tiem about it, and when she returnd, he wuz strecht out with boeth arms under his hed, sound asleep, whiel Ant March had puuld doun th curtens and sat dooing nuthing in an uenuezhual fit of benignity.

After a whiel, thae began to think he wuz not going to waek up til niet, and I’m not shuur that he wuud, had he not bin efekchualy rouzd bi Amy’s cri of joy at siet of her muther. Thaer probably wer a guud meny hapy litl gurls in and about th sity that dae, but it is mi prievat opinyon that Amy wuz th hapyest of all, when she sat in her muther’s lap and toeld her trieals, reseeving consolaeshon and compensaeshon in th shaep of aprooving smiels and fond careses. Thae wer aloen together in th chapel, to which her muther did not objekt when its purpos wuz explaend to her.

“On th contraery, I liek it verry much, deer,” luuking from th dusty roezary to th wel-worn litl buuk, and th luvly pikcher with its garland of evergreen. “It is an exselent plan to hav sum plaess whaer we can go to be qieet, when things vex or greev us. Thaer ar a guud meny hard tiems in this lief of ours, but we can aulwaes baer them if we ask help in th riet wae. I think mi litl gurl is lurning this.”

“Yes, Muther, and when I go hoem I meen to hav a corner in th big clozet to puut mi buuks and th copy of that pikcher which I’ve tried to maek. Th wuuman’s faess is not guud, it’s too buetiful for me to draw, but th baeby is dun beter, and I luv it verry much. I liek to think He wuz a litl chield wunss, for then I doen’t seem so far awae, and that helps me.”

As Amy pointed to th smieling Christ chield on his Muther’s nae, Mrs. March saw sumthing on th lifted hand that maed her smiel. She sed nuthing, but Amy understuud th luuk, and after a mienuet’s pauz, she aded graevly, “I wonted to speek to U about this, but I forgot it. Ant gaev me th ring todae. She cauld me to her and kist me, and puut it on mi fingger, and sed I wuz a credit to her, and she’d liek to keep me aulwaes. She gaev that funy gard to keep th turqoiz on, as it’s too big. I’d liek to waer them Muther, can I?”

“Thae ar verry prity, but I think U’r rather too yung for such ornaments, Amy,” sed Mrs. March, luuking at th plump litl hand, with th band of ski-bloo stoens on th forfingger, and th qaent gard formd of too tieny goelden hands claspt together.

“I’ll tri not to be vaen,” sed Amy. “I doen’t think I liek it oenly becauz it’s so prity, but I wont to waer it as th gurl in th story wor her braeslet, to remiend me of sumthing.”

“Do U meen Ant March?” askt her muther, lafing.

“No, to remiend me not to be selfish.” Amy luukt so urnest and sinseer about it that her muther stopt lafing, and lisend respektfuly to th litl plan.

“I’ve thaut a graet deel laetly about mi ‘bundl of naughties’, and being selfish is th larjest wun in it, so I’m going to tri hard to cuer it, if I can. Baet isn’t selfish, and that’s th reezon everywun luvs her and feels so bad at th thauts of loozing her. Peepl wuudn’t feel so bad about me if I wuz sik, and I doen’t dezurv to hav them, but I’d liek to be luvd and mist bi a graet meny frends, so I’m going to tri and be liek Baet all I can. I’m apt to forget mi rezolooshons, but if I had sumthing aulwaes about me to remiend me, I ges I shuud do beter. Mae we tri this wae?”

“Yes, but I hav mor faeth in th corner of th big clozet. Waer yuur ring, deer, and do yuur best. I think U wil prosper, for th sinseer wish to be guud is haf th batl. Now I must go bak to Baet. Keep up yuur hart, litl dauter, and we wil soon hav U hoem agen.”

That eevning whiel Meg wuz rieting to her faather to report th traveler’s saef arieval, Jo slipt upstaers into Baet’s room, and fiending her muther in her uezhual plaess, stuud a mienuet twisting her finggers in her haer, with a wuryd jescher and an undesieded luuk.

“Whot is it, deary?” askt Mrs. March, hoelding out her hand, with a faess which invieted confidenss.

“I wont to tel U sumthing, Muther.”

“About Meg?”

“How qikly U gest! Yes, it’s about her, and tho it’s a litl thing, it fijets me.”

“Baet is asleep. Speek loe, and tel me all about it. That Moffat hasn’t bin heer, I hoep?” askt Mrs. March rather sharply.

“No. I shuud hav shut th dor in his faess if he had,” sed Jo, setling herself on th flor at her muther’s feet. “Last sumer Meg left a paer of gluvs oever at th Laurences’ and oenly wun wuz returnd. We forgot about it, til Teddy toeld me that Mr. Brooke oend that he liekt Meg but didn’t daer sae so, she wuz so yung and he so puur. Now, isn’t it a dredful staet of things?”

“Do U think Meg caers for him?” askt Mrs. March, with an ankshus luuk.

“Mursy me! I doen’t noe enything about luv and such nonsenss!” cried Jo, with a funy mixcher of interest and contempt. “In novels, th gurls sho it by starting and blushing, faenting awae, groeing thin, and akting liek fools. Now Meg duz not do enything of th sort. She eets and drinks and sleeps liek a sensibl creecher, she luuks straet in mi faess when I tauk about that man, and oenly blushes a litl bit when Teddy joeks about luvers. I forbid him to do it, but he duzn’t miend me as he aut.”

“Then U fansy that Meg is not interested in John?”

“Hoo?” cried Jo, staering.

“Mr. Brooke. I caul him ‘John’ now. We fel into th wae of dooing so at th hospital, and he lieks it.”

“O, deer! I noe U’ll taek his part. He's bin guud to Faather, and U wun’t send him awae, but let Meg marry him, if she wonts to. Meen thing! To go peting Paapa and helping U, just to wheedl U into lieking him.” And Jo puuld her haer agen with a rathful tweek.

“Mi deer, doen’t get anggry about it, and I wil tel U how it hapend. John went with me at Mr. Laurence’s reqest, and wuz so devoeted to puur Faather that we cuudn’t help geting fond of him. He wuz purfektly oepen and onorabl about Meg, for he toeld us he luvd her, but wuud urn a cumfortabl hoem befor he askt her to marry him. He oenly wonted our leev to luv her and wurk for her, and th riet to maek her luv him if he cuud. He is a trooly exselent yung man, and we cuud not refuez to lisen to him, but I wil not consent to Meg’s engaejing herself so yung.”

“Of corss not. It wuud be idiotik! I nue thaer wuz mischif brooing. I felt it, and now it’s wurss than I imajind. I just wish I cuud marry Meg mieself, and keep her saef in th family.”

This od araenjment maed Mrs. March smiel, but she sed graevly, “Jo, I confied in U and doen’t wish U to sae enything to Meg yet. When John cums bak, and I see them together, I can juj beter of her feelings tord him.”

“She’l see thoes handsum ies that she tauks about, and then it wil be all up with her. She’s got such a soft hart, it wil melt liek buter in th sun if enywun luuks sentimentlly at her. She red th short reports he sent mor than she did yuur leters, and pincht me when I spoek of it, and lieks broun ies, and duzn’t think John an ugly naem, and she’l go and faul in luv, and thaer’s an end of peess and fun, and coezy tiems together. I see it all! Thae’l go lovering around th hous, and we shal hav to doj. Meg wil be absorbd and no guud to me eny mor. Brooke wil scrach up a forchun sumhow, carry her off, and maek a hoel in th family, and I shal braek mi hart, and everything wil be abominably uncumfortabl. O, deer me! Whi wern’t we all boys, then thaer wuudn’t be eny bother.”

Jo leend her chin on her nees in a disconsolat atitued and shuuk her fist at th reprehensibl John. Mrs. March sied, and Jo luukt up with an aer of releef.

“U doen’t liek it, Muther? I’m glad of it. Let’s send him about his biznes, and not tel Meg a wurd of it, but all be hapy together as we aulwaes hav bin.”

“I did rong to sie, Jo. It is nacheral and riet U shuud all go to hoems of yuur oen in tiem, but I do wont to keep mi gurls as long as I can, and I am sorry that this hapend so soon, for Meg is oenly seventeen and it wil be sum yeers befor John can maek a hoem for her. Yuur faather and I hav agreed that she shal not biend herself in eny wae, nor be marryd, befor twenty. If she and John luv wun anuther, thae can waet, and test th luv by dooing so. She is conshi'enshus, and I hav no feer of her treeting him unkiendly. Mi prity, tender harted gurl! I hoep things wil go hapily with her.”

“Hadn’t U rather hav her marry a rich man?” askt Jo, as her muther’s vois faulterd a litl oever th last wurds.

“Muny is a guud and uesful thing, Jo, and I hoep mi gurls wil never feel th need of it too biterly, nor be tempted by too much. I shuud liek to noe that John wuz furmly establisht in sum guud biznes, which gaev him an incum larj enuf to keep free from det and maek Meg cumfortabl. I’m not ambishus for a splendid forchun, a fashonabl pozishon, or a graet naem for mi gurls. If rank and muny cum with luv and vurchoo, aulso, I shuud aksept them graetfuly, and enjoy yuur guud forchun, but I noe, by expeeri’enss, how much jenuein hapynes can be had in a plaen litl hous, whaer th daely bred is urnd, and sum prievaeshons giv sweetnes to th fue plezhers. I am content to see Meg begin humbly, for if I am not mistaeken, she wil be rich in th pozeshon of a guud man’s hart, and that is beter than a forchun.”

“I understand, Muther, and qiet agree, but I’m disapointed about Meg, for I’d pland to hav her marry Teddy bi-and-bi and sit in th lap of lukshery all her daes. Wuudn’t it be niess?” askt Jo, luuking up with a brieter faess.

“He is yungger than she, U noe,” began Mrs. March, but Jo broek in...

“Oenly a litl, he's oeld for his aej, and taul, and can be qiet groen-up in his maners if he lieks. Then he's rich and jenerus and guud, and luvs us all, and I sae it’s a pity mi plan is spoild.”

“I’m afraed Laurie is hardly groen-up enuf for Meg, and aultogether too much of a wethercok just now for enywun to depend on. Doen’t maek plans, Jo, but let tiem and thaer oen harts maet yuur frends. We can’t medl saefly in such maters, and had beter not get ‘roemantik rubish’ as U caul it, into our heds, lest it spoil our frendship.”

“Wel, I wun’t, but I haet to see things going all criscros and geting snarld up, when a puul heer and a snip thaer wuud straeten it out. I wish waering flatierons on our heds wuud keep us from groeing up. But buds wil be roezes, and kitens cats, mor’s th pity!”

“Whot’s that about flatierons and cats?” askt Meg, as she crept into th room with th finisht leter in her hand.

“Oenly wun of mi stoopid speeches. I’m going to bed. Cum, Peggy,” sed Jo, unfoelding herself liek an animaeted puzl.

“Qiet riet, and buetifuly riten. Pleez ad that I send mi luv to John,” sed Mrs. March, as she glanst oever th leter and gaev it bak.

“Do U caul him ‘John’?” askt Meg, smieling, with her inosent ies luuking doun into her muther’s.

“Yes, he has bin liek a sun to us, and we ar verry fond of him,” replied Mrs. March, returning th luuk with a keen wun.

“I’m glad of that, he is so loenly. Guud niet, Muther, deer. It is so inexpresibly cumfortabl to hav U heer,” wuz Meg’s anser.

Th kis her muther gaev her wuz a verry tender wun, and as she went awae, Mrs. March sed, with a mixcher of satisfakshon and regret, “She duz not luv John yet, but wil soon lurn to.”

LAURIE Maeks Mischif, AND JO Maeks Peess

Jo’s faess wuz a study next dae, for th seecret rather waed upon her, and she found it hard not to luuk misteerius and important. Meg obzurvd it, but did not trubl herself to maek inqierys, for she had lurnd that th best wae to manej Jo wuz bi th law of contraries, so she felt shuur of being toeld everything if she did not ask. She wuz rather serpriezd, thaerfor, when th sielenss remaend unbroeken, and Jo asuemd a paetroniezing aer, which desiededly agravaeted Meg, hoo in turn asuemd an aer of dignified rezurv and devoeted herself to her muther. This left Jo to her oen devieses, for Mrs. March had taeken her plaess as nurss, and bad her rest, exsersiez, and amuez herself after her long confienment. Amy being gon, Laurie wuz her oenly refuej, and much as she enjoyd his soesieety, she rather dreded him just then, for he wuz an incorijibl teez, and she feerd he wuud coex th seecret from her.

She wuz qiet riet, for th mischif-luving lad no sooner suspekted a mistery than he set himself to fiend it out, and led Jo a trieing lief of it. He wheedld, briebd, ridicueld, thretend, and scoelded; afekted indiferenss, that he miet serpriez th trooth from her; declaerd he nue, then that he didn’t caer; and at last, bi dint of perseveeranss, he satisfied himself that it consurnd Meg and Mr. Brooke. Feeling indignant that he wuz not taeken into his tuetor’s confidenss, he set his wits to wurk to deviez sum proper retaliaeshon for th sliet.

Meg meenwhiel had aparrently forgoten th mater and wuz absorbd in preparaeshons for her faather’s return, but all of a suden a chaenj seemd to cum oever her, and, for a dae or too, she wuz qiet unliek herself. She started when spoeken to, blusht when luukt at, wuz verry qieet, and sat oever her soeing, with a timid, trubld luuk on her faess. To her muther’s inqierys she anserd that she wuz qiet wel, and Jo’s she sielenst bi beging to be let aloen.

“She feels it in th aer—luv, I meen—and she’s going verry fast. She’s got moest of th simptoms—is twittery and cros, duzn’t eet, lies awaek, and moeps in corners. I caut her singing that song he gaev her, and wunss she sed ‘John’, as U do, and then turnd as red as a popy. Whotever shal we do?” sed Jo, luuking redy for eny mezhers, however vieolent.

“Nuthing but waet. Let her aloen, be kiend and paeshent, and Faather’s cuming wil setl everything,” replied her muther.

“Heer’s a noet to U, Meg, all seeld up. How od! Teddy never seels mien,” sed Jo next dae, as she distribueted th contents of th litl poest ofis.

Mrs. March and Jo wer deep in thaer oen afaers, when a sound from Meg maed them luuk up to see her staering at her noet with a frietend faess.

“Mi chield, whot is it?” cried her muther, runing to her, whiel Jo tried to taek th paeper which had dun th mischif.

“It’s all a mistaek, he didn’t send it. O, Jo, how cuud U do it?” and Meg hid her faess in her hands, crieing as if her hart wer qiet broeken.

“Me! I’ve dun nuthing! Whot’s she tauking about?” cried Jo, bewilderd.

Meg’s mield ies kindld with angger as she puuld a crumpld noet from her poket and throo it at Jo, saeing reproechfuly, “U roet it, and that bad boy helpt U. How cuud U be so rood, so meen, and crooel to us boeth?”

Jo hardly hurd her, for she and her muther wer reeding th noet, which wuz riten in a pecueliar hand.

“Mi Deerest Margaret,

“I can no longger restraen mi pashon, and must noe mi faet befor I return. I daer not tel yuur paerents yet, but I think thae wuud consent if thae nue that we adord wun anuther. Mr. Laurence wil help me to sum guud plaess, and then, mi sweet gurl, U wil maek me hapy. I implor U to sae nuthing to yuur family yet, but to send wun wurd of hoep thru Laurie to,

“Yuur devoeted John.”

“O, th litl vilan! That’s th wae he ment to pae me for keeping mi wurd to Muther. I’ll giv him a harty scoelding and bring him oever to beg pardon,” cried Jo, burning to exsecuet imeediat justis. But her muther held her bak, saeing, with a luuk she seldom wor...

“Stop, Jo, U must cleer yuurself furst. U hav plaed so meny pranks that I am afraed U hav had a hand in this.”

“On mi wurd, Muther, I haeven’t! I never saw that noet befor, and doen’t noe enything about it, as troo as I liv!” sed Jo, so urnestly that thae beleevd her. “If I had taeken part in it I’d hav dun it beter than this, and hav riten a sensibl noet. I shuud think U’d hav noen Mr. Brooke wuudn’t riet such stuf as that,” she aded, scornfuly tosing doun th paeper.

“It’s liek his rieting,” faulterd Meg, compaering it with th noet in her hand.

“O, Meg, U didn’t anser it?” cried Mrs. March qikly.

“Yes, I did!” and Meg hid her faess agen, oevercum with shaem.

“Heer’s a scraep! Do let me bring that wiked boy oever to explaen and be lekcherd. I can’t rest til I get hoeld of him.” And Jo maed for th dor agen.

“Hush! Let me handl this, for it is wurss than I thaut. Margaret, tel me th hoel story,” comanded Mrs. March, siting doun bi Meg, yet keeping hoeld of Jo, lest she shuud fli off.

“I reseevd th furst leter from Laurie, hoo didn’t luuk as if he nue enything about it,” began Meg, without luuking up. “I wuz wuryd at furst and ment to tel U, then I rememberd how U liekt Mr. Brooke, so I thaut U wuudn’t miend if I kept mi litl seecret for a fue daes. I’m so sily that I liekt to think no-wun nue, and whiel I wuz desieding whot to sae, I felt liek th gurls in buuks, hoo hav such things to do. Forgiv me, Muther, I’m paed for mi silynes now. I never can luuk him in th faess agen.”

“Whot did U sae to him?” askt Mrs. March.

“I oenly sed I wuz too yung to do enything about it yet, that I didn’t wish to hav seecrets from U, and he must speek to faather. I wuz verry graetful for his kiendnes, and wuud be his frend, but nuthing mor, for a long whiel.”

Mrs. March smield, as if wel pleezd, and Jo clapt her hands, exclaeming, with a laf, “U ar aulmoest eeqal to Caroline Percy, hoo wuz a patern of proodenss! Tel on, Meg. Whot did he sae to that?”

“He riets in a diferent wae entierly, teling me that he never sent eny luv leter at all, and is verry sorry that mi roegish sister, Jo, shuud taek libertys with our naems. It’s verry kiend and respektful, but think how dredful for me!”

Meg leend agenst her muther, luuking th imej of despaer, and Jo trampt about th room, cauling Laurie naems. All of a suden she stopt, caut up th too noets, and after luuking at them cloesly, sed desiededly, “I doen’t beleev Brooke ever saw eether of thees leters. Teddy roet boeth, and keeps yuurs to cro oever me with becauz I wuudn’t tel him mi seecret.”

“Doen’t hav eny seecrets, Jo. Tel it to Muther and keep out of trubl, as I shuud hav dun,” sed Meg warningly.

“Bles U, chield! Muther toeld me.”

“That wil do, Jo. I’ll cumfort Meg whiel U go and get Laurie. I shal sift th mater to th botom, and puut a stop to such pranks at wunss.”

Awae ran Jo, and Mrs. March jently toeld Meg Mr. Brooke’s reeal feelings. “Now, deer, whot ar yuur oen? Do U luv him enuf to waet til he can maek a hoem for U, or wil U keep yuurself qiet free for th prezent?”

“I’ve bin so scaerd and wuryd, I doen’t wont to hav enything to do with luvers for a long whiel, perhaps never,” anserd Meg petulantly. “If John duzn’t noe enything about this nonsenss, doen’t tel him, and maek Jo and Laurie hoeld thaer tungs. I wun’t be deseevd and plaegd and maed a fool of. It’s a shaem!”

Seeing Meg’s uezhualy jentl temper wuz rouzd and her pried hurt bi this mischivus joek, Mrs. March soothd her bi promises of entier sielenss and graet discreshon for th fuecher. Th instant Laurie’s step wuz hurd in th haul, Meg fled into th study, and Mrs. March reseevd th culprit aloen. Jo had not toeld him whi he wuz wonted, feering he wuudn’t cum, but he nue th mienuet he saw Mrs. March’s faess, and stuud twurling his hat with a gilty aer which convikted him at wunss. Jo wuz dismist, but choez to march up and doun th haul liek a sentinel, having sum feer that th prizoner miet boelt. Th sound of voises in th parlor roez and fel for haf an our, but whot hapend duuring that intervue th gurls never nue.

When thae wer cauld in, Laurie wuz standing bi thaer muther with such a penitent faess that Jo forgaev him on th spot, but did not think it wiez to betrae th fakt. Meg reseevd his humbl apolojy, and wuz much cumforted bi th ashuuranss that Brooke nue nuthing of th joek.

“I’ll never tel him to mi dieing dae, wield horses shan’t drag it out of me, so U’ll forgiv me, Meg, and I’ll do enything to sho how out-and-out sorry I am,” he aded, luuking verry much ashaemd of himself.

“I’ll tri, but it wuz a verry ungentlemanly thing to do, I didn’t think U cuud be so sli and malishus, Laurie,” replied Meg, trieing to hied her maedenly confuezhon under a graevly reproechful aer.

“It wuz aultogether abominabl, and I doen’t dezurv to be spoeken to for a munth, but U wil, tho, wun’t U?” And Laurie foelded his hands together with such and imploring jescher, as he spoek in his irezistibly perswaesiv toen, that it wuz imposibl to froun upon him in spiet of his scandalus behaevyor.

Meg pardond him, and Mrs. March’s graev faess relaxt, in spiet of her eforts to keep soeber, when she hurd him declaer that he wuud atoen for his sins bi all sorts of penanses, and abaess himself liek a wurm befor th injerd damzel.

Jo stuud aloof, meenwhiel, trieing to harden her hart agenst him, and sukseeding oenly in primming up her faess into an expreshon of entier disapprobation. Laurie luukt at her wunss or twiess, but as she shoed no sien of relenting, he felt injerd, and turnd his bak on her til th uthers wer dun with him, when he maed her a loe boe and waukt off without a wurd.

As soon as he had gon, she wisht she had bin mor forgiving, and when Meg and her muther went upstaers, she felt loenly and longd for Teddy. After rezisting for sum tiem, she yeelded to th impulss, and armd with a buuk to return, went oever to th big hous.

“Is Mr. Laurence in?” askt Jo, of a housmaed, hoo wuz cuming dounstaers.

“Yes, Mis, but I doen’t beleev he's seeable just yet.”

“Whi not? Is he il?”

“Laa, no Mis, but he's had a seen with Mr. Laurie, hoo is in wun of his tantrums about sumthing, which vexes th oeld jentlman, so I dursn’t go nie him.”

“Whaer is Laurie?”

“Shut up in his room, and he wun’t anser, tho I’ve bin a-taping. I doen’t noe whot’s to becum of th diner, for it’s redy, and thaer’s no-wun to eet it.”

“I’ll go and see whot th mater is. I’m not afraed of eether of them.”

Up went Jo, and nokt smartly on th dor of Laurie’s litl study.

“Stop that, or I’ll oepen th dor and maek U!” cauld out th yung jentlman in a thretening toen.

Jo imeediatly nokt agen. Th dor floo oepen, and in she bounst befor Laurie cuud recuver from his serpriez. Seeing that he reealy wuz out of temper, Jo, hoo nue how to manej him, asuemd a contriet expreshon, and going artistikaly doun upon her nees, sed meekly, “Pleez forgiv me for being so cros. I caem to maek it up, and can’t go awae til I hav.”

“It’s all riet. Get up, and doen’t be a gooss, Jo,” wuz th cavaleer replie to her petishon.

“Thank U, I wil. Cuud I ask whot’s th mater? U doen’t luuk exaktly eezy in yuur miend.”

“I’ve bin shaeken, and I wun’t baer it!” grould Laurie indignantly.

“Hoo did it?” demanded Jo.

“Grandfaather. If it had bin enywun elss I’d hav...” And th injerd yooth finisht his sentenss bi an enerjetik jescher of th riet arm.

“That’s nuthing. I ofen shaek U, and U doen’t miend,” sed Jo soothingly.

“Pooh! U’r a gurl, and it’s fun, but I’ll alow no man to shaek me!”

“I doen’t think enywun wuud caer to tri it, if U luukt as much liek a thundercloud as U do now. Whi wer U treeted so?”

“Just becauz I wuudn’t sae whot yuur muther wonted me for. I’d promist not to tel, and of corss I wuzn’t going to braek mi wurd.”

“Cuudn’t U satisfi yuur grandpaa in eny uther wae?”

“No, he wuud hav th trooth, th hoel trooth, and nuthing but th trooth. I’d hav toeld mi part of th scraep, if I cuud without bringing Meg in. As I cuudn’t, I held mi tung, and bor th scoelding til th oeld jentlman colard me. Then I boelted, for feer I shuud forget mieself.”

“It wuzn’t niess, but he's sorry, I noe, so go doun and maek up. I’ll help U.”

“Hangd if I do! I’m not going to be lekcherd and pummelled by everywun, just for a bit of a frolik. I wuz sorry about Meg, and begd pardon liek a man, but I wun’t do it agen, when I wuzn’t in th rong.”

“He didn’t noe that.”

“He aut to trust me, and not akt as if I wuz a baeby. It’s no uez, Jo, he's got to lurn that I’m aebl to taek caer of mieself, and doen’t need enywun’s aepron string to hoeld on bi.”

“Whot peper pots U ar!” sied Jo. “How do U meen to setl this afaer?”

“Wel, he aut to beg pardon, and beleev me when I sae I can’t tel him whot th fus’s about.”

“Bles U! He wun’t do that.”

“I wun’t go doun til he duz.”

“Now, Teddy, be sensibl. Let it pas, and I’ll explaen whot I can. U can’t stae heer, so whot’s th uez of being melodramatik?”

“I doen’t intend to stae heer long, enywae. I’ll slip off and taek a jurny sumwhaer, and when Grandpaa mises me he'l cum round fast enuf.”

“I daer sae, but U aut not to go and wury him.”

“Doen’t preech. I’ll go to Washington and see Brooke. It’s gae thaer, and I’ll enjoy mieself after th trubls.”

“Whot fun U’d hav! I wish I cuud run off too,” sed Jo, forgeting her part of mentor in lievly vizhons of marshal lief at th capital.

“Cum on, then! Whi not? U go and serpriez yuur faather, and I’ll stur up oeld Brooke. It wuud be a glorius joek. Let’s do it, Jo. We’l leev a leter saeing we ar all riet, and trot off at wunss. I’ve got muny enuf. It wil do U guud, and no harm, as U go to yuur faather.”

For a moement Jo luukt as if she wuud agree, for wield as th plan wuz, it just sooted her. She wuz tierd of caer and confienment, longd for chaenj, and thauts of her faather blended temptingly with th novel charms of camps and hospitals, liberty and fun. Her ies kindld as thae turnd wistfuly tord th windo, but thae fel on th oeld hous opozit, and she shuuk her hed with sorroeful desizhon.

“If I wuz a boy, we’d run awae together, and hav a capital tiem, but as I’m a mizerabl gurl, I must be proper and stop at hoem. Doen’t tempt me, Teddy, it’s a craezy plan.”

“That’s th fun of it,” began Laurie, hoo had got a wilful fit on him and wuz pozest to braek out of bounds in sum wae.

“Hoeld yuur tung!” cried Jo, cuvering her eers. “‘Proons and prizms’ ar mi doom, and I mae as wel maek up mi miend to it. I caem heer to moraliez, not to heer things that maek me skip to think of.”

“I noe Meg wuud wet-blanket such a propoezal, but I thaut U had mor spirit,” began Laurie insinuatingly.

“Bad boy, be qieet! Sit doun and think of yuur oen sins, doen’t go maeking me ad to mien. If I get yuur grandpaa to apolojiez for th shaeking, wil U giv up runing awae?” askt Jo seeriusly.

“Yes, but U wun’t do it,” anserd Laurie, hoo wisht to maek up, but felt that his outraejd dignity must be apeezd furst.

“If I can manej th yung wun, I can th oeld wun,” muterd Jo, as she waukt awae, leeving Laurie bent oever a raelroed map with his hed propt up on boeth hands.

“Cum in!” and Mr. Laurence’s gruf vois sounded gruffer than ever, as Jo tapt at his dor.

“It’s oenly me, Sur, cum to return a buuk,” she sed blandly, as she enterd.

“Wont eny mor?” askt th oeld jentlman, luuking grim and vext, but trieing not to sho it.

“Yes, pleez. I liek oeld Sam so wel, I think I’ll tri th second voluem,” returnd Jo, hoeping to propitiate him bi aksepting a second doess of Boswell’s Johnson, as he had recomended that lievly wurk.

Th shagy iebrows unbent a litl as he roeld th steps tord th shelf whaer th Johnsonian literachuur wuz plaest. Jo skipt up, and siting on th top step, afekted to be surching for her buuk, but wuz reealy wundering how best to introduess th daenjerus objekt of her vizit. Mr. Laurence seemd to suspekt that sumthing wuz brooing in her miend, for after taeking several brisk turns about th room, he faest round on her, speeking so abruptly that Rasselas tumbld faess dounward on th flor.

“Whot has that boy bin about? Doen’t tri to sheeld him. I noe he has bin in mischif bi th wae he akted when he caem hoem. I can’t get a wurd from him, and when I thretend to shaek th trooth out of him he boelted upstaers and lokt himself into his room.”

“He did rong, but we forgaev him, and all promist not to sae a wurd to enywun,” began Jo reluktantly.

“That wun’t do. He shal not shelter himself behiend a promis from U softharted gurls. If he's dun enything amis, he shal confes, beg pardon, and be punisht. Out with it, Jo. I wun’t be kept in th dark.”

Mr. Laurence luukt so alarming and spoek so sharply that Jo wuud hav gladly run awae, if she cuud, but she wuz purcht aloft on th steps, and he stuud at th fuut, a lieon in th path, so she had to stae and braev it out.

“Indeed, Sur, I cannot tel. Muther forbaed it. Laurie has confest, askt pardon, and bin punisht qiet enuf. We doen’t keep sielenss to sheeld him, but sumwun elss, and it wil maek mor trubl if U interfeer. Pleez doen’t. It wuz partly mi fault, but it’s all riet now. So let’s forget it, and tauk about th Rambler or sumthing plezant.”

“Hang th Rambler! Cum doun and giv me yuur wurd that this haerum-scaerum boy of mien hasn’t dun enything ungraetful or impurtinent. If he has, after all yuur kiendnes to him, I’ll thrash him with mi oen hands.”

Th thret sounded auful, but did not alarm Jo, for she nue th irasibl oeld jentlman wuud never lift a fingger agenst his grandson, whotever he miet sae to th contraery. She oebeedi’ently desended, and maed as liet of th prank as she cuud without betraeing Meg or forgeting th trooth.

“Hum... haa... wel, if th boy held his tung becauz he promist, and not from obstinasy, I’ll forgiv him. He's a stuborn felo and hard to manej,” sed Mr. Laurence, rubing up his haer til it luukt as if he had bin out in a gael, and smoothing th froun from his brow with an aer of releef.

“So am I, but a kiend wurd wil guvern me when all th king's horses and all th king's men cuudn’t,” sed Jo, trieing to sae a kiend wurd for her frend, hoo seemd to get out of wun scraep oenly to faul into anuther.

“U think I’m not kiend to him, hae?” wuz th sharp anser.

“O, deer no, Sur. U ar rather too kiend sumtiems, and then just a triefl hasty when he tries yuur paeshenss. Doen’t U think U ar?”

Jo wuz deturmind to hav it out now, and tried to luuk qiet plasid, tho she qaekt a litl after her boeld speech. To her graet releef and serpriez, th oeld jentlman oenly throo his spektakls onto th taebl with a ratl and exclaemd frankly, “U’r riet, gurl, I am! I luv th boy, but he tries mi paeshenss past baering, and I noe how it wil end, if we go on so.”

“I’ll tel U, he'l run awae.” Jo wuz sorry for that speech th mienuet it wuz maed. She ment to worn him that Laurie wuud not baer much restraent, and hoept he wuud be mor forebearing with th lad.

Mr. Laurence’s rudy faess chaenjd sudenly, and he sat doun, with a trubld glanss at th pikcher of a handsum man, which hung oever his taebl. It wuz Laurie’s faather, hoo had run awae in his yooth, and marryd agenst th impeerius oeld man’s wil. Jo fansyd he rememberd and regreted th past, and she wisht she had held her tung.

“He wun’t do it unles he is verry much wuryd, and oenly thretens it sumtiems, when he gets tierd of studying. I ofen think I shuud liek to, espeshaly sinss mi haer wuz cut, so if U ever mis us, U mae advertiez for too boys and luuk amung th ships bound for India.”

She laft as she spoek, and Mr. Laurence luukt releevd, evidently taeking th hoel as a joek.

“U husy, how daer U tauk in that wae? Whaer’s yuur respekt for me, and yuur proper bringing up? Bles th boys and gurls! Whot torments thae ar, yet we can’t do without them,” he sed, pinching her cheeks guud-huemordly. “Go and bring that boy doun to his diner, tel him it’s all riet, and adviez him not to puut on trajedy aers with his grandfaather. I wun’t baer it.”

“He wun’t cum, Sur. He feels badly becauz U didn’t beleev him when he sed he cuudn’t tel. I think th shaeking hurt his feelings verry much.”

Jo tried to luuk pathetik but must hav faeld, for Mr. Laurence began to laf, and she nue th dae wuz wun.

“I’m sorry for that, and aut to thank him for not shaeking me, I supoez. Whot th dickens duz th felo expekt?” and th oeld jentlman luukt a triefl ashaemd of his oen testiness.

“If I wer U, I’d riet him an apolojy, Sur. He sez he wun’t cum doun til he has wun, and tauks about Washington, and goes on in an absurd wae. A formal apolojy wil maek him see how foolish he is, and bring him doun qiet aemiabl. Tri it. He lieks fun, and this wae is beter than tauking. I’ll carry it up, and teech him his duety.”

Mr. Laurence gaev her a sharp luuk, and puut on his spektakls, saeing sloely, “U’r a sli puus, but I doen’t miend being manejd by U and Baet. Heer, giv me a bit of paeper, and let us hav dun with this nonsenss.”

Th noet wuz riten in th turms which wun jentlman wuud uez to anuther after ofering sum deep insult. Jo dropt a kis on th top of Mr. Laurence’s bauld hed, and ran up to slip th apolojy under Laurie’s dor, adviezing him thru th keehoel to be submisiv, decorus, and a fue uther agreeabl imposibilitys. Fiending th dor lokt agen, she left th noet to do its wurk, and wuz going qieetly awae, when th yung jentlman slid doun th banisters, and waeted for her at th botom, saeing, with his moest vurchu’us expreshon of countenanss, “Whot a guud felo U ar, Jo! Did U get bloen up?” he aded, lafing.

“No, he wuz prity mield, on th hoel.”

“Aa! I got it all round. Eeven U cast me off oever thaer, and I felt just redy to go to th dooss,” he began apolojetikaly.

“Doen’t tauk that wae, turn oever a nue leef and begin agen, Teddy, mi sun.”

“I keep turning oever nue leevs, and spoiling them, as I uezd to spoil mi copybuuks, and I maek so meny beginings thaer never wil be an end,” he sed doelfuly.

“Go and eet yuur diner, U’ll feel beter after it. Men aulwaes croek when thae ar hunggry,” and Jo whiskt out at th frunt dor after that.

“That’s a ‘laebel’ on mi ‘sekt’,” anserd Laurie, qoeting Amy, as he went to partaek of humbl pie duetifuly with his grandfaather, hoo wuz qiet saently in temper and oeverwhelmingly respektful in maner all th rest of th dae.

Everywun thaut th mater ended and th litl cloud bloen oever, but th mischif wuz dun, for tho uthers forgot it, Meg rememberd. She never alooded to a surten purson, but she thaut of him a guud deel, dreemd dreems mor than ever, and wunss Jo, rumejing her sister’s desk for stamps, found a bit of paeper scribld oever with th wurds, ‘Mrs. John Brooke’, whaerat she groend trajikaly and cast it into th fier, feeling that Laurie’s prank had haesnd th eevil dae for her.

CHAPTER Twenty-too
Plezant Medoes

Liek sunshien after a storm wer th peesful weeks which foloed. Th invalids improovd rapidly, and Mr. March began to tauk of returning urly in th nue yeer. Baet wuz soon aebl to lie on th study soefa all dae, amuezing herself with th wel-beluved cats at furst, and in tiem with dol’s soeing, which had faulen sadly behiend-hand. Her wunss aktiv lims wer so stif and feebl that Jo tuuk her for a daely aering about th hous in her strong arms. Meg cheerfuly blakend and burnd her whiet hands cuuking delicat meses for ‘th deer’, whiel Amy, a loyal slaev of th ring, selebraeted her return bi giving awae as meny of her trezhers as she cuud prevael on her sisters to aksept.

As Christmas aproecht, th uezhual misterys began to haunt th hous, and Jo freeqently convulst th family by propoezing uterly imposibl or magnifisently absurd serremoenys, in onor of this unuezhualy merry Christmas. Laurie wuz eeqaly impraktikabl, and wuud hav had bonfiers, skyrockets, and trieumfal arches, if he had had his oen wae. After meny scurmishes and snubbings, th ambishus paer wer considerd efekchualy qencht and went about with forlorn faeses, which wer rather belied by exploezhons of lafter when th too got together.

Several daes of unuezhualy mield wether fitly usherd in a splendid Christmas Dae. Hannah ‘felt in her boens’ that it wuz going to be an unuezhualy fien dae, and she proovd herself a troo prophetess, for evrybody and everything seemd bound to produess a grand suksess. To begin with, Mr. March roet that he shuud soon be with them, then Baet felt uncomonly wel that morning, and, being drest in her muther’s gift, a soft crimson mereeno raper, wuz born in hie trieumf to th windo to behoeld th ofering of Jo and Laurie. Th Unquenchables had dun thaer best to be wurthy of th naem, for liek elvs thae had wurkt bi niet and conjerd up a comikal serpriez. Out in th garden stuud a staetly sno maeden, cround with holy, baering a basket of froot and flowers in wun hand, a graet roel of muezik in th uther, a purfekt raenbo of an Afgan round her chily shoelders, and a Christmas carrol ishooing from her lips on a pink paeper streemer.


God bles U, deer Qeen Bess!
Mae nuthing U dismae,
But helth and peess and hapynes
Be yuurs, this Christmas dae.

Heer’s froot to feed our bizy bee,
And flowers for her noez.
Heer’s muezik for her pianee,
An afgan for her toes,

A portraet of Joanna, see,
Bi Raphael No. 2,
Hoo laboured with graet industry
To maek it faer and troo.

Aksept a ribon red, I beg,
For Madam Purrer’s tael,
And iess creem maed bi luvly Peg,
A Mont Blanc in a pael.

Thaer deerest luv mi maekers laed
Within mi brest of sno.
Aksept it, and th Alpien maed,
From Laurie and from Jo.

How Baet laft when she saw it, how Laurie ran up and doun to bring in th gifts, and whot ridicuelus speeches Jo maed as she prezented them.

“I’m so fuul of hapynes, that if Faather wuz oenly heer, I cuudn’t hoeld wun drop mor,” sed Baet, qiet sieing with contentment as Jo carryd her off to th study to rest after th exsietment, and to refreshes herself with sum of th delishus graeps th ‘Jungfrau’ had sent her.

“So am I,” aded Jo, slaping th poket whaerin repoezd th long-dezierd Undine and Sintram.

“I’m shuur I am,” ecoed Amy, poring oever th engraevd copy of th Madonna and Chield, which her muther had given her in a prity fraem.

“Of corss I am!” cried Meg, smoothing th silvery foelds of her furst silk dres, for Mr. Laurence had insisted on giving it. “How can I be utherwiez?” sed Mrs. March graetfuly, as her ies went from her huzband's leter to Baet’s smieling faess, and her hand carest th broech maed of grae and goelden, chestnut and dark broun haer, which th gurls had just fasend on her brest.

Now and then, in this wurkadae wurld, things do hapen in th delietful storybuuk fashon, and whot a cumfort it is. Haf an our after everywun had sed thae wer so hapy thae cuud oenly hoeld wun drop mor, th drop caem. Laurie oepend th parlor dor and popt his hed in verry qieetly. He miet just as wel hav turnd a sumersault and uterd an Indian wor whoop, for his faess wuz so fuul of suprest exsietment and his vois so treacherously joyful that everywun jumpt up, tho he oenly sed, in a qeer, brethles vois, “Heer’s anuther Christmas prezent for th March family.”

Befor th wurds wer wel out of his mouth, he wuz whiskt awae sumhow, and in his plaess apeerd a taul man, mufld up to th ies, leening on th arm of anuther taul man, hoo tried to sae sumthing and cuudn’t. Of corss thaer wuz a jeneral stampeed, and for several minits evrybody seemd to looz thaer wits, for th straenjest things wer dun, and no-wun sed a wurd.

Mr. March becaem invizibl in th embraess of foer paers of luving arms. Jo disgraest herself bi neerly faenting awae, and had to be doktord bi Laurie in th chiena clozet. Mr. Brooke kist Meg entierly bi mistaek, as he sumwhot incoeheerently explaend. And Amy, th dignified, tumbld oever a stool, and never stoping to get up, hugd and cried oever her faather’s boots in th moest tuching maner. Mrs. March wuz th furst to recuver herself, and held up her hand with a worning, “Hush! Remember Baet.”

But it wuz too laet. Th study dor floo oepen, th litl red raper apeerd on th threshhoeld, joy puut strength into th feebl lims, and Baet ran straet into her faather’s arms. Never miend whot hapend just after that, for th fuul harts oeverfloed, woshing awae th biternes of th past and leeving oenly th sweetnes of th prezent.

It wuz not at all roemantik, but a harty laf set evrybody straet agen, for Hannah wuz discuverd behiend th dor, sobing oever th fat turky, which she had forgoten to puut doun when she rusht up from th kichen. As th laf subsieded, Mrs. March began to thank Mr. Brooke for his faethful caer of her huzband, at which Mr. Brooke sudenly rememberd that Mr. March needed rest, and seezing Laurie, he precipitately retierd. Then th too invalids wer orderd to repoez, which thae did, by boeth siting in wun big chaer and tauking hard.

Mr. March toeld how he had longd to serpriez them, and how, when th fien wether caem, he had bin alowd bi his doktor to taek advantej of it, how devoeted Brooke had bin, and how he wuz aultogether a moest estimabl and upriets yung man. Whi Mr. March pauzd a mienuet just thaer, and after a glanss at Meg, hoo wuz vieolently poeking th fier, luukt at his wief with an inqiering lift of th iebrows, I leev U to imajin. Aulso whi Mrs. March jently noded her hed and askt, rather abruptly, if he wuudn’t liek to hav sumthing to eet. Jo saw and understuud th luuk, and she staukt grimly awae to get wien and beef tee, mutering to herself as she slamd th dor, “I haet estimabl yung men with broun ies!”

Thaer never wuz such a Christmas diner as thae had that dae. Th fat turky wuz a siet to behoeld, when Hannah sent him up, stuft, bround, and decoraeted. So wuz th plum puuding, which melted in wun’s mouth, liekwiez th jelys, in which Amy reveld liek a fli in a honeypot. Everything turnd out wel, which wuz a mursy, Hannah sed, “For mi miend wuz that flusterd, Mum, that it’s a merrycle I didn’t roest th puuding, and stuf th turky with raezins, let aloen bilin’ of it in a cloth.”

Mr. Laurence and his grandson diend with them, aulso Mr. Brooke, at hoom Jo glowerd darkly, to Laurie’s infinit amuezment. Too eezy chaers stuud sied bi sied at th hed of th taebl, in which sat Baet and her faather, feesting modestly on chiken and a litl froot. Thae drank healths, toeld storys, sang songs, ‘reminist’, as th oeld foeks sae, and had a thuroely guud tiem. A slae ried had bin pland, but th gurls wuud not leev thaer faather, so th gests departed urly, and as twieliet gatherd, th hapy family sat together round th fier.

“Just a yeer ago we wer groening oever th dizmal Christmas we expekted to hav. Do U remember?” askt Jo, braeking a short pauz which had foloed a long conversaeshon about meny things.

“Rather a plezant yeer on th hoel!” sed Meg, smieling at th fier, and congrachulaeting herself on having treeted Mr. Brooke with dignity.

“I think it’s bin a prity hard wun,” obzurvd Amy, woching th liet shien on her ring with thautful ies.

“I’m glad it’s oever, becauz we’v got U bak,” whisperd Baet, hoo sat on her faather’s nae.

“Rather a ruf roed for U to travel, mi litl pilgrims, espeshaly th later part of it. But U hav got on braevly, and I think th burdens ar in a faer wae to tumbl off verry soon,” sed Mr. March, luuking with faatherly satisfakshon at th foer yung faeses gatherd round him.

“How do U noe? Did Muther tel U?” askt Jo.

“Not much. Straws sho which wae th wiend bloes, and I’ve maed several discuverys todae.”

“O, tel us whot thae ar!” cried Meg, hoo sat besied him.

“Heer is wun.” And taeking up th hand which lae on th arm of his chaer, he pointed to th rufend forfingger, a burn on th bak, and too or three litl hard spots on th paam. “I remember a tiem when this hand wuz whiet and smooth, and yuur furst caer wuz to keep it so. It wuz verry prity then, but to me it is much prityer now, for in this seeming blemishes I red a litl history. A burnt ofering has bin maed to vanity, this hardend paam has urnd sumthing beter than blisters, and I’m shuur th soeing dun bi thees prikt finggers wil last a long tiem, so much guud wil went into th stiches. Meg, mi deer, I value th wuumanly skil which keeps hoem hapy mor than whiet hands or fashonabl acomplishments. I’m proud to shaek this guud, industrius litl hand, and hoep I shal not soon be askt to giv it awae.”

If Meg had wonted a reword for ours of paeshent laebor, she reseevd it in th harty presher of her faather’s hand and th aprooving smiel he gaev her.

“Whot about Jo? Pleez sae sumthing niess, for she has tried so hard and bin so verry, verry guud to me,” sed Baet in her faather’s eer.

He laft and luukt acros at th taul gurl hoo sat opozit, with an unuezhualy mield expreshon in her faess.

“In spiet of th curly crop, I doen’t see th ‘sun Jo’ hoom I left a yeer ago,” sed Mr. March. “I see a yung laedy hoo pins her colar straet, laeses her boots neetly, and neether whisls, tauks slang, nor lies on th rug as she uezd to do. Her faess is rather thin and pael just now, with woching and angzieity, but I liek to luuk at it, for it has groen jentler, and her vois is loeer. She duzn’t bounss, but moovs qieetly, and taeks caer of a surten litl purson in a mutherly wae which deliets me. I rather mis mi wield gurl, but if I get a strong, helpful, tenderharted wuuman in her plaess, I shal feel qiet satisfied. I doen’t noe whether th sheering soeberd our blak sheep, but I do noe that in all Washington I cuudn’t fiend enything buetiful enuf to be baut with th fiev-and-twenty dolars mi guud gurl sent me.”

Jo’s keen ies wer rather dim for a mienuet, and her thin faess groo roezy in th fierliet as she reseevd her faather’s praez, feeling that she did dezurv a porshon of it.

“Now, Baet,” sed Amy, longing for her turn, but redy to waet.

“Thaer’s so litl of her, I’m afraed to sae much, for feer she wil slip awae aultogether, tho she is not so shi as she uezd to be,” began thaer faather cheerfuly. But recolekting how neerly he had lost her, he held her cloez, saeing tenderly, with her cheek agenst his oen, “I’ve got U saef, mi Baet, and I’ll keep U so, pleez God.”

After a mienuet’s sielenss, he luukt doun at Amy, hoo sat on th criket at his feet, and sed, with a caers of th shiening haer...

“I obzurvd that Amy tuuk drumstiks at diner, ran errands for her muther all th afternoon, gaev Meg her plaess toniet, and has waeted on every wun with paeshenss and guud huemor. I aulso obzurv that she duz not fret much nor luuk in th glas, and has not eeven menshond a verry prity ring which she waers, so I conclood that she has lurnd to think of uther peepl mor and of herself les, and has desieded to tri and moeld her carrakter as caerfuly as she moelds her litl clae figuers. I am glad of this, for tho I shuud be verry proud of a graesful stachoo maed bi her, I shal be infinitly plouder of a luvabl dauter with a talent for maeking lief buetiful to herself and uthers.”

“Whot ar U thinking of, Baet?” askt Jo, when Amy had thankt her faather and toeld about her ring.

“I red in Pilgrim’s Progres todae how, after meny trubls, Crischan and Hoepful caem to a plezant green medo whaer lilys bloomd all yeer round, and thaer thae rested hapily, as we do now, befor thae went on to thaer jurny’s end,” anserd Baet, ading, as she slipt out of her faather’s arms and went to th instrument, “It’s singing tiem now, and I wont to be in mi oeld plaess. I’ll tri to sing th song of th sheperd boy which th Pilgrims hurd. I maed th muezik for Faather, becauz he lieks th vurses.”

So, siting at th deer litl peano, Baet softly tucht th kees, and in th sweet vois thae had never thaut to heer agen, sang to her oen acumpaniment th qaent him, which wuz a singguelaerity fiting song for her.

He that is doun need feer no faul,
He that is loe no pried.
He that is humbl ever shal
Hav God to be his gied.

I am content with whot I hav,
Litl be it, or much.
And, Lord! Contentment stil I craev,
Becauz Thow savest such.

Fulness to them a burden is,
That go on pilgrimej.
Heer litl, and heerafter blis,
Is best from aej to aej!

Ant MARCH Setls Th Qeschon

Liek bees sworming after thaer qeen, muther and dauters huverd about Mr. March th next dae, neglekting everything to luuk at, waet upon, and lisen to th nue invalid, hoo wuz in a faer wae to be kild by kiendnes. As he sat propt up in a big chaer by Baet’s soefa, with th uther three cloez by, and Hannah poping in her hed now and then ‘to peek at th deer man’, nuthing seemd needed to compleet thaer hapynes. But sumthing wuz needed, and th elder wuns felt it, tho nun confest th fakt. Mr. and Mrs. March luukt at wun anuther with an ankshus expreshon, as thaer ies foloed Meg. Jo had suden fits of sobrieety, and wuz seen to shaek her fist at Mr. Brooke’s umbrela, which had bin left in th haul. Meg wuz absent-miended, shi, and sielent, started when th bel rang, and culord when John’s naem wuz menshond. Amy sed, “Everywun seemd waeting for sumthing, and cuudn’t setl doun, which wuz qeer, sinss Faather wuz saef at hoem,” and Baet inosently wunderd whi thaer naebors didn’t run oever as uezhual.

Laurie went bi in th afternoon, and seeing Meg at th windo, seemd sudenly pozest with a melodramatik fit, for he fel doun on wun nae in th sno, beet his brest, tor his haer, and claspt his hands imploringly, as if beging sum boon. And when Meg toeld him to behaev himself and go awae, he rung imajinaery teers out of his hankerchif, and stagerd round th corner as if in uter despaer.

“Whot duz th gooss meen?” sed Meg, lafing and trieing to luuk unconshus.

“He's shoeing U how yuur John wil go on bi-and-bi. Tuching, isn’t it?” anserd Jo scornfuly.

“Doen’t sae mi John, it isn’t proper or troo,” but Meg’s vois linggerd oever th wurds as if thae sounded plezant to her. “Pleez doen’t plaeg me, Jo, I’ve toeld U I doen’t caer much about him, and thaer isn’t to be enything sed, but we ar all to be frendly, and go on as befor.”

“We can’t, for sumthing has bin sed, and Laurie’s mischif has spoild U for me. I see it, and so duz Muther. U ar not liek yuur oeld self a bit, and seem ever so far awae from me. I doen’t meen to plaeg U and wil baer it liek a man, but I do wish it wuz all setld. I haet to waet, so if U meen ever to do it, maek haest and hav it oever qikly,” sed Jo petishly.

“I can’t sae enything til he speeks, and he wun’t, becauz Faather sed I wuz too yung,” began Meg, bending oever her wurk with a qeer litl smiel, which sugjested that she did not qiet agree with her faather on that pointer.

“If he did speek, U wuudn’t noe whot to sae, but wuud cri or blush, or let him hav his oen wae, insted of giving a guud, desieded no.”

“I’m not so sily and week as U think. I noe just whot I shuud sae, for I’ve pland it all, so I needn’t be taeken unawaers. Thaer’s no noeing whot mae hapen, and I wisht to be prepaerd.”

Jo cuudn’t help smieling at th important aer which Meg had unconshusly asuemd and which wuz as becuming as th prity culor vaerying in her cheeks.

“Wuud U miend teling me whot U’d sae?” askt Jo mor respektfuly.

“Not at all. U ar sixteen now, qiet oeld enuf to be mi confidant, and mi expeeri’enss wil be uesful to U bi-and-bi, perhaps, in yuur oen afaers of this sort.”

“Doen’t meen to hav eny. It’s fun to woch uther peepl philander, but I shuud feel liek a fool dooing it mieself,” sed Jo, luuking alarmd at th thaut.

“I think not, if U liekt enywun verry much, and he liekt U.” Meg spoek as if to herself, and glanst out at th laen whaer she had ofen seen luvers wauking together in th sumer twieliet.

“I thaut U wer going to tel yuur speech to that man,” sed Jo, roodly shortening her sister’s litl revery.

“O, I shuud meerly sae, qiet caamly and desiededly, ‘Thank U, Mr. Brooke, U ar verry kiend, but I agree with Faather that I am too yung to enter into eny engaejment at prezent, so pleez sae no mor, but let us be frends as we wer.’”

“Hum, that’s stif and cool enuf! I doen’t beleev U’ll ever sae it, and I noe he wun’t be satisfied if U do. If he goes on liek th rejekted luvers in buuks, U’ll giv in, rather than hurt his feelings.”

“No, I wun’t. I shal tel him I’ve maed up mi miend, and shal wauk out of th room with dignity.”

Meg roez as she spoek, and wuz just going to rehurss th dignified exsit, when a step in th haul maed her fli into her seet and begin to soe as fast as if her lief depended on finishing that particuelar seem in a given tiem. Jo smutherd a laf at th suden chaenj, and when sumwun gaev a modest tap, oepend th dor with a grim aspekt which wuz enything but hospitabl.

“Guud afternoon. I caem to get mi umbrela, that is, to see how yuur faather fiends himself todae,” sed Mr. Brooke, geting a triefl confuezd as his ies went from wun teltael faess to th uther.

“It’s verry wel, he's in th rak. I’ll get him, and tel it U ar heer.” And having jumbld her faather and th umbrela wel together in her replie, Jo slipt out of th room to giv Meg a chanss to maek her speech and aer her dignity. But th instant she vanisht, Meg began to siedl tord th dor, murmering...

“Muther wil liek to see U. Prae sit doun, I’ll caul her.”

“Doen’t go. Ar U afraed of me, Margaret?” and Mr. Brooke luukt so hurt that Meg thaut she must hav dun sumthing verry rood. She blusht up to th litl curls on her forhed, for he had never cauld her Margaret befor, and she wuz serpriezd to fiend how nacheral and sweet it seemd to heer him sae it. Ankshus to apeer frendly and at her eez, she puut out her hand with a confieding jescher, and sed graetfuly...

“How can I be afraed when U hav bin so kiend to Faather? I oenly wish I cuud thank U for it.”

“Shal I tel U how?” askt Mr. Brooke, hoelding th smaul hand fast in boeth his oen, and luuking doun at Meg with so much luv in th broun ies that her hart began to fluter, and she boeth longd to run awae and to stop and lisen.

“O no, pleez doen’t, I’d rather not,” she sed, trieing to withdraw her hand, and luuking frietend in spiet of her denieal.

“I wun’t trubl U. I oenly wont to noe if U caer for me a litl, Meg. I luv U so much, deer,” aded Mr. Brooke tenderly.

This wuz th moement for th caam, proper speech, but Meg didn’t maek it. She forgot every wurd of it, hung her hed, and anserd, “I doen’t noe,” so softly that John had to stoop doun to cach th foolish litl replie.

He seemd to think it wuz wurth th trubl, for he smield to himself as if qiet satisfied, prest th plump hand graetfuly, and sed in his moest perswaesiv toen, “Wil U tri and fiend out? I wont to noe so much, for I can’t go to wurk with eny hart until I lurn whether I am to hav mi reword in th end or not.”

“I’m too yung,” faulterd Meg, wundering whi she wuz so fluterd, yet rather enjoying it.

“I’ll waet, and in th meentiem, U cuud be lurning to liek me. Wuud it be a verry hard leson, deer?”

“Not if I choez to lurn it, but. . .”

“Pleez chooz to lurn, Meg. I luv to teech, and this is eezyer than Jurman,” broek in John, geting pozeshon of th uther hand, so that she had no wae of hieding her faess as he bent to luuk into it.

His toen wuz properly beseeching, but steeling a shi luuk at him, Meg saw that his ies wer merry as wel as tender, and that he wor th satisfied smiel of wun hoo had no dout of his suksess. This netld her. Annie Moffat’s foolish lesons in coeketry caem into her miend, and th luv of power, which sleeps in th buuzoms of th best of litl wimen, woek up all of a suden and tuuk pozeshon of her. She felt exsieted and straenj, and not noeing whot elss to do, foloed a capreeshus impulss, and, withdrawing her hands, sed petulantly, “I doen’t chooz. Pleez go awae and let me be!”

Puur Mr. Brooke luukt as if his luvly casl in th aer wuz tumbling about his eers, for he had never seen Meg in such a mood befor, and it rather bewilderd him.

“Do U reealy meen that?” he askt anxshusly, foloeing her as she waukt awae.

“Yes, I do. I doen’t wont to be wuryd about such things. Faather sez I needn’t, it’s too soon and I’d rather not.”

“Maen't I hoep U’ll chaenj yuur miend bi-and-bi? I’ll waet and sae nuthing til U hav had mor tiem. Doen’t plae with me, Meg. I didn’t think that of U.”

“Doen’t think of me at all. I’d rather U wuudn’t,” sed Meg, taeking a nauty satisfakshon in trieing her luver's paeshenss and her oen power.

He wuz graev and pael now, and luukt desiededly mor liek th novel heeroes hoom she admierd, but he neether slapt his forhed nor trampt about th room as thae did. He just stuud luuking at her so wistfuly, so tenderly, that she found her hart relenting in spiet of herself. Whot wuud hav hapend next I cannot sae, if Ant March had not cum hobbling in at this interesting mienuet.

Th oeld laedy cuudn’t rezist her longing to see her nefue, for she had met Laurie as she tuuk her aering, and heering of Mr. March’s arieval, droev straet out to see him. Th family wer all bizy in th bak part of th hous, and she had maed her wae qieetly in, hoeping to serpriez them. She did serpriez too of them so much that Meg started as if she had seen a goest, and Mr. Brooke vanisht into th study.

“Bles me, whot’s all this?” cried th oeld laedy with a rap of her caen as she glanst from th pael yung jentlman to th scarlet yung laedy.

“It’s Faather’s frend. I’m so serpriezd to see U!” stamerd Meg, feeling that she wuz in for a lekcher now.

“That’s evident,” returnd Ant March, siting doun. “But whot is Faather’s frend saeing to maek U luuk liek a peeony? Thaer’s mischif going on, and I insist upon noeing whot it is,” with anuther rap.

“We wer oenly tauking. Mr. Brooke caem for his umbrela,” began Meg, wishing that Mr. Brooke and th umbrela wer saefly out of th hous.

“Brooke? That boy’s tuetor? Aa! I understand now. I noe all about it. Jo blunderd into a rong mesej in wun of yuur Faather’s leters, and I maed her tel me. U haeven’t gon and aksepted him, chield?” cried Ant March, luuking scandaliezd.

“Hush! He'l heer. Shan’t I caul Muther?” sed Meg, much trubld.

“Not yet. I’ve sumthing to sae to U, and I must free mi miend at wunss. Tel me, do U meen to marry this Cuuk? If U do, not wun peny of mi muny ever goes to U. Remember that, and be a sensibl gurl,” sed th oeld laedy impresivly.

Now Ant March pozest in perfekshon th art of rouzing th spirit of opozishon in th jentlest peepl, and enjoyd dooing it. Th best of us hav a spiess of pervursity in us, espeshaly when we ar yung and in luv. If Ant March had begd Meg to aksept John Brooke, she wuud probably hav declaerd she cuudn’t think of it, but as she wuz preemptorily orderd not to liek him, she imeediatly maed up her miend that she wuud. Inclinaeshon as wel as pervursity maed th desizhon eezy, and being aulredy much exsieted, Meg opoezd th oeld laedy with uenuezhual spirit.

“I shal marry hoom I pleez, Ant March, and U can leev yuur muny to enywun U liek,” she sed, noding her hed with a rezoloot aer.

“Highty-tighty! Is that th wae U taek mi adviess, Mis? U’ll be sorry for it bi-and-bi, when U’ve tried luv in a cotej and found it a faeluer.”

“It can’t be a wurss wun than sum peepl fiend in big houses,” retorted Meg.

Ant March puut on her glases and tuuk a luuk at th gurl, for she did not noe her in this nue mood. Meg hardly nue herself, she felt so braev and independent, so glad to defend John and asurt her riet to luv him, if she liekt. Ant March saw that she had begun rong, and after a litl pauz, maed a fresh start, saeing as mieldly as she cuud, “Now, Meg, mi deer, be reezonabl and taek mi adviess. I meen it kiendly, and doen’t wont U to spoil yuur hoel lief bi maeking a mistaek at th begining. U aut to marry wel and help yuur family. It’s yuur duety to maek a rich mach and it aut to be imprest upon U.”

“Faather and Muther doen’t think so. Thae liek John tho he is puur.”

“Yuur paerents, mi deer, hav no mor wurldly wizdom than a paer of baebys.”

“I’m glad of it,” cried Meg stoutly.

Ant March tuuk no noetis, but went on with her lekcher. “This Ruuk is puur and hasn’t got eny rich relaeshons, has he?”

“No, but he has meny worm frends.”

“U can’t liv on frends, tri it and see how cool thae’l gro. He hasn’t eny biznes, has he?”

“Not yet. Mr. Laurence is going to help him.”

“That wun’t last long. James Laurence is a crochety oeld felo and not to be depended on. So U intend to marry a man without muny, pozishon, or biznes, and go on wurking harder than U do now, when U miet be cumfortabl all yuur daes bi miending me and dooing beter? I thaut U had mor senss, Meg.”

“I cuudn’t do beter if I waeted haf mi lief! John is guud and wiez, he's got heeps of talent, he's wiling to wurk and shuur to get on, he's so enerjetik and braev. Everywun lieks and respekts him, and I’m proud to think he caers for me, tho I’m so puur and yung and sily,” sed Meg, luuking prityer than ever in her urnestly.

“He noes U hav got rich relaeshons, chield. That’s th seecret of his lieking, I suspekt.”

“Ant March, how daer U sae such a thing? John is abuv such meennes, and I wun’t lisen to U a mienuet if U tauk so,” cried Meg indignantly, forgeting everything but th injustis of th oeld laedy’s suspishons. “Mi John wuudn’t marry for muny, eny mor than I wuud. We ar wiling to wurk and we meen to waet. I’m not afraed of being puur, for I’ve bin hapy so far, and I noe I shal be with him becauz he luvs me, and I...”

Meg stopt thaer, remembering all of a suden that she hadn’t maed up her miend, that she had toeld ‘her John’ to go awae, and that he miet be oeverheering her inconsistent remarks.

Ant March wuz verry anggry, for she had set her hart on having her prity neess maek a fien mach, and sumthing in th gurl’s hapy yung faess maed th loenly oeld wuuman feel boeth sad and sour.

“Wel, I wosh mi hands of th hoel afaer! U ar a wilful chield, and U’ve lost mor than U noe bi this peess of foly. No, I wun’t stop. I’m disapointed in U, and haeven’t spirits to see yuur faather now. Doen’t expekt enything from me when U ar marryd. Yuur Mr. Brooke’s frends must taek caer of U. I’m dun with U forever.”

And slaming th dor in Meg’s faess, Ant March droev off in hie dujon. She seemd to taek all th gurl’s curej with her, for when left aloen, Meg stuud for a moement, undesieded whether to laf or cri. Befor she cuud maek up her miend, she wuz taeken pozeshon of by Mr. Brooke, hoo sed all in wun breth, “I cuudn’t help heering, Meg. Thank U for defending me, and Ant March for prooving that U do caer for me a litl bit.”

“I didn’t noe how much til she abuezd U,” began Meg.

“And I needn’t go awae, but mae stae and be hapy, mae I, deer?”

Heer wuz anuther fien chanss to maek th crushing speech and th staetly exsit, but Meg never thaut of dooing eether, and disgraest herself forever in Jo’s ies bi meekly whispering, “Yes, John,” and hieding her faess on Mr. Brooke’s waestcoet.

Fifteen minits after Ant March’s deparcher, Jo caem softly dounstaers, pauzd an instant at th parlor dor, and heering no sound within, noded and smield with a satisfied expreshon, saeing to herself, “She has seen him awae as we pland, and that afaer is setld. I’ll go and heer th fun, and hav a guud laf oever it.”

But puur Jo never got her laf, for she wuz transfixt upon th threshhoeld bi a spektakl which held her thaer, staering with her mouth neerly as wied oepen as her ies. Going in to exult oever a faulen enemy and to praez a strong-miended sister for th banishment of an objekshonabl luver, it surtenly wuz a shok to behoeld th aforsed enemy sereenly siting on th soefa, with th strongminded sister enthroend upon his nae and waering an expreshon of th moest abjekt submishon. Jo gaev a sort of gasp, as if a coeld shower bath had sudenly faulen upon her, for such an unexpekted turning of th taebls akchualy tuuk her breth awae. At th od sound th luvers turnd and saw her. Meg jumpt up, luuking boeth proud and shi, but ‘that man’, as Jo cauld him, akchualy laft and sed coolly, as he kist th astonisht nuecumer, “Sister Jo, congrachulaet us!”

That wuz ading insult to injery, it wuz aultogether too much, and maeking sum wield demonstraeshon with her hands, Jo vanisht without a wurd. Rushing upstaers, she startld th invalids bi exclaeming trajikaly as she burst into th room, “O, do sumbody go doun qik! John Brooke is akting dredfuly, and Meg lieks it!”

Mr. and Mrs. March left th room with speed, and casting herself upon th bed, Jo cried and scoelded tempestuously as she toeld th auful nues to Baet and Amy. Th litl gurls, however, considerd it a moest agreeabl and interesting event, and Jo got litl cumfort from them, so she went up to her refuej in th garret, and confieded her trubls to th rats.

Noebody ever nue whot went on in th parlor that afternoon, but a graet deel of tauking wuz dun, and qieet Mr. Brooke astonisht his frends bi th eloqenss and spirit with which he pleeded his soot, toeld his plans, and perswaeded them to araenj everything just as he wonted it.

Th tee bel rang befor he had finisht descriebing th parradiess which he ment to urn for Meg, and he proudly tuuk her in to super, boeth luuking so hapy that Jo hadn’t th hart to be jelus or dizmal. Amy wuz verry much imprest by John’s devoeshon and Meg’s dignity, Baet beemd at them from a distanss, whiel Mr. and Mrs. March survaed th yung cupl with such tender satisfakshon that it wuz purfektly evident Ant March wuz riet in cauling them as ‘unwurldly as a paer of baebys’. No-wun aet much, but everywun luukt verry hapy, and th oeld room seemd to brieten up amaezingly when th furst roemanss of th family began thaer.

“U can’t sae nuthing plezant ever hapens now, can U, Meg?” sed Amy, trieing to desied how she wuud groop th luvers in a skech she wuz planing to maek.

“No, I’m shuur I can’t. How much has hapend sinss I sed that! It seems a yeer ago,” anserd Meg, hoo wuz in a blisful dreem lifted far abuv such comon things as bred and buter.

“Th joys cum cloez upon th sorroes this tiem, and I rather think th chaenjes hav begun,” sed Mrs. March. “In moest familys thaer cums, now and then, a yeer fuul of events. This has bin such a wun, but it ends wel, after all.”

“Hoep th next wil end beter,” muterd Jo, hoo found it verry hard to see Meg absorbd in a straenjer befor her faess, for Jo luvd a fue pursons verry deerly and dreded to hav thaer afekshon lost or lesend in eny wae.

“I hoep th thurd yeer from this wil end beter. I meen it shal, if I liv to wurk out mi plans,” sed Mr. Brooke, smieling at Meg, as if everything had becum posibl to him now.

“Duzn’t it seem verry long to waet?” askt Amy, hoo wuz in a hurry for th weding.

“I’ve got so much to lurn befor I shal be redy, it seems a short tiem to me,” anserd Meg, with a sweet gravity in her faess never seen thaer befor.

“U hav oenly to waet, I am to do th wurk,” sed John begining his laebors bi piking up Meg’s napkin, with an expreshon which cauzd Jo to shaek her hed, and then sae to herself with an aer of releef as th frunt dor bangd, “Heer cums Laurie. Now we shal hav sum sensibl conversaeshon.”

But Jo wuz mistaeken, for Laurie caem pransing in, oeverfloeing with guud spirits, baering a graet briedal-luuking boekae for ‘Mrs. John Brooke’, and evidently laeboring under th deloozhon that th hoel afaer had bin braut about bi his exselent manejment.

“I nue Brooke wuud hav it all his oen wae, he aulwaes duz, for when he maeks up his miend to acomplish enything, it’s dun tho th ski fauls,” sed Laurie, when he had prezented his ofering and his congrachulaeshons.

“Much obliejd for that recomendaeshon. I taek it as a guud oemen for th fuecher and inviet U to mi weding on th spot,” anserd Mr. Brooke, hoo felt at peess with all man-kiend, eeven his mischivus puepil.

“I’ll cum if I’m at th ends of th urth, for th siet of Jo’s faess aloen on that ocaezhon wuud be wurth a long jurny. U doen’t luuk festiv, maa’am, whot’s th mater?” askt Laurie, foloeing her into a corner of th parlor, whither all had ajurnd to greet Mr. Laurence.

“I doen’t aproov of th mach, but I’ve maed up mi miend to baer it, and shal not sae a wurd agenst it,” sed Jo solemly. “U can’t noe how hard it is for me to giv up Meg,” she continued with a litl qiver in her vois.

“U doen’t giv her up. U oenly go havs,” sed Laurie consolingly.

“It can never be th saem agen. I’ve lost mi deerest frend,” sied Jo.

“U’ve got me, enyhow. I’m not guud for much, I noe, but I’ll stand bi U, Jo, all th daes of mi lief. Upon mi wurd I wil!” and Laurie ment whot he sed.

“I noe U wil, and I’m ever so much obliejd. U ar aulwaes a graet cumfort to me, Teddy,” returnd Jo, graetfuly shaeking hands.

“Wel, now, doen’t be dizmal, thaer’s a guud felo. It’s all riet U see. Meg is hapy, Brooke wil fli round and get setld imeediatly, Grandpaa wil atend to him, and it wil be verry joly to see Meg in her oen litl hous. We’l hav capital tiems after she is gon, for I shal be thru colej befor long, and then we’l go abraud on sum niess trip or uther. Wuudn’t that consoel U?”

“I rather think it wuud, but thaer’s no noeing whot mae hapen in three yeers,” sed Jo thautfuly.

“That’s troo. Doen’t U wish U cuud taek a luuk forward and see whaer we shal all be then? I do,” returnd Laurie.

“I think not, for I miet see sumthing sad, and everywun luuks so hapy now, I doen’t beleev thae cuud be much improovd.” And Jo’s ies went sloely round th room, brietening as thae luukt, for th prospekt wuz a plezant wun.

Faather and Muther sat together, qieetly re-living th furst chapter of th roemanss which for them began sum twenty yeers ago. Amy wuz drawing th luvers, hoo sat apart in a buetiful wurld of thaer oen, th liet of which tucht thaer faeses with a graess th litl artist cuud not copy. Baet lae on her soefa, tauking cheerily with her oeld frend, hoo held her litl hand as if he felt that it pozest th power to leed him along th peesful wae she waukt. Jo lounjd in her faevorit loe seet, with th graev qieet luuk which best becaem her, and Laurie, leening on th bak of her chaer, his chin on a level with her curly hed, smield with his frendlyest aspekt, and noded at her in th long glas which reflekted them boeth.

So th curten fauls upon Meg, Jo, Baet, and Amy. Whether it ever riezes agen, depends upon th resepshon given th furst akt of th domestik draama cauld Litl Wimen.


In order that we mae start afresh and go to Meg’s weding...


In order that we mae start afresh and go to Meg’s weding with free miends, it wil be wel to begin with a litl gosip about th Marches. And heer let me premis that if eny of th elders think thaer is too much ‘lovering’ in th story, as I feer thae mae (I’m not afraed th yung foeks wil maek that objekshon), I can oenly sae with Mrs. March, “Whot can U expekt when I hav foer gae gurls in th hous, and a dashing yung naebor oever th wae?”

Th three yeers that hav past hav braut but fue chaenjes to th qieet family. Th wor is oever, and Mr. March saefly at hoem, bizy with his buuks and th smaul parrish which found in him a minister bi naecher as bi graess, a qieet, stoodius man, rich in th wizdom that is beter than lurning, th charrity which cauls all man-kiend ‘bruther’, th pieety that blosoms into carrakter, maeking it august and luvly.

Thees atribuets, in spiet of poverty and th strikt integrity which shut him out from th mor wurldly sukseses, atrakted to him meny admerabl pursons, as nacheraly as sweet urbs draw bees, and as nacheraly he gaev them th huny into which fifty yeers of hard expeeri’enss had distild no biter drop. Urnest yung men found th grae-heded scolar as yung at hart as thae; thautful or trubld wimen instinktivly braut thaer douts to him, shuur of fiending th jentlest simpathy, th wiezest counsel. Siners toeld thaer sins to th puer-harted oeld man and wer boeth rebuekt and saevd. Gifted men found a companyon in him. Ambishus men caut glimpses of noebler ambishons than thaer oen, and eeven worldlings confest that his beleefs wer buetiful and troo, aultho ‘thae wuudn’t pae’.

To outsieders th fiev enerjetik wimen seemd to rool th hous, and so thae did in meny things, but th qieet scolar, siting amung his buuks, wuz stil th hed of th family, th hous-hoeld conshenss, ancor, and cumforter, for to him th bizy, ankshus wimen aulwaes turnd in troublous tiems, fiending him, in th trooest senss of thoes saecred wurds, huzband and faather.

Th gurls gaev thaer harts into thaer muther’s keeping, thaer soels into thaer faather’s, and to boeth paerents, hoo livd and laebord so faethfuly for them, thae gaev a luv that groo with thaer groeth and bound them tenderly together bi th sweetest tie which bleses lief and outlivd deth.

Mrs. March is as brisk and cheery, tho rather graeer, than when we saw her last, and just now so absorbd in Meg’s afaers that th hospitals and hoems stil fuul of woonded ‘boys’ and soeljers’ widoes, desiededly mis th mutherly mishonaery’s vizits.

John Brooke did his duety manfuly for a yeer, got woonded, wuz sent hoem, and not alowd to return. He reseevd no stars or bars, but he dezurvd them, for he cheerfuly riskt all he had, and lief and luv ar verry preshus when boeth ar in fuul bloom. Purfektly reziend to his discharj, he devoeted himself to geting wel, prepaering for biznes, and urning a hoem for Meg. With th guud senss and sturdy independenss that carrakteriezd him, he refuezd Mr. Laurence’s mor jenerus ofers, and aksepted th plaess of buukkeeper, feeling beter satisfied to begin with an onestly urnd salary than bi runing eny risks with borroed muny.

Meg had spent th tiem in wurking as wel as waeting, groeing wuumanly in carrakter, wiez in housewifely arts, and prityer than ever, for luv is a graet beautifier. She had her gurlish ambishons and hoeps, and felt sum disapointment at th humbl wae in which th nue lief must begin. Ned Moffat had just marryd Sallie Gardiner, and Meg cuudn’t help contrasting thaer fien hous and carrej, meny gifts, and splendid outfit with her oen, and seecretly wishing she cuud hav th saem. But sumhow envy and discontent soon vanisht when she thaut of all th paeshent luv and laebor John had puut into th litl hoem awaeting her, and when thae sat together in th twieliet, tauking oever thaer smaul plans, th fuecher aulwaes groo so buetiful and briet that she forgot Sallie’s splendor and felt herself th richest, hapyest gurl in Crisendom.

Jo never went bak to Ant March, for th oeld laedy tuuk such a fansy to Amy that she briebd her with th ofer of drawing lesons from wun of th best teechers going, and for th saek of this advantej, Amy wuud hav survd a far harder mistres. So she gaev her mornings to duety, her afternoons to plezher, and prosperd fienly. Jo meentiem devoeted herself to literachuur and Baet, hoo remaend delicat long after th feever wuz a thing of th past. Not an invalid exaktly, but never agen th roezy, helthy creecher she had bin, yet aulwaes hoepful, hapy, and sereen, and bizy with th qieet duetys she luvd, everywun’s frend, and an aenjel in th hous, long befor thoes hoo luvd her moest had lurnd to noe it.

As long as Th Spred Eegl paed her a dolar a colum for her ‘rubish’, as she cauld it, Jo felt herself a wuuman of meens, and spun her litl roemanses dilijently. But graet plans fermented in her bizy braen and ambishus miend, and th oeld tin kichen in th garret held a sloely increesing piel of bloted manuescript, which wuz wun dae to plaess th naem of March upon th roel of faem.

Laurie, having duetifuly gon to colej to pleez his grandfaather, wuz now geting thru it in th eezyest posibl maner to pleez himself. A uenivursal faevorit, thanks to muny, maners, much talent, and th kiendest hart that ever got its oener into scraeps bi trieing to get uther peepl out of them, he stuud in graet daenjer of being spoild, and probably wuud hav bin, liek meny anuther promising boy, if he had not pozest a talisman agenst eevil in th memory of th kiend oeld man hoo wuz bound up in his suksess, th mutherly frend hoo wocht oever him as if he wer her sun, and last, but not leest bi eny meens, th nolej that foer inosent gurls luvd, admierd, and beleevd in him with all thaer harts.

Being oenly ‘a glorius hueman boy’, of corss he frolikt and flurted, groo dandified, aqotik, sentimental, or jimnastik, as colej fashons ordaend, haezd and wuz haezd, taukt slang, and mor than wunss caem perrilusly neer suspenshon and expulshon. But as hie spirits and th luv of fun wer th cauzes of thees pranks, he aulwaes manejd to saev himself bi frank confeshon, onorabl atoenment, or th irezistibl power of perswaezhon which he pozest in perfekshon. In fakt, he rather prieded himself on his narro escaeps, and liekt to thril th gurls with grafik acounts of his trieumfs oever rathful tuetors, dignified profesors, and vanqisht enemys. Th ‘men of mi clas’, wer heeroes in th ies of th gurls, hoo never weeryd of th exploits of ‘our feloes’, and wer freeqently alowd to bask in th smiels of thees graet creechers, when Laurie braut them hoem with him.

Amy espeshaly enjoyd this hie onor, and becaem qiet a bel amung them, for her laedyship urly felt and lurnd to uez th gift of fasinaeshon with which she wuz endowd. Meg wuz too much absorbd in her prievat and particuelar John to caer for eny uther lords of creaeshon, and Baet too shi to do mor than peep at them and wunder how Amy daerd to order them about so, but Jo felt qiet in her oen element, and found it verry dificult to refraen from imitaeting th jentlmanly atitoods, fraezes, and feets, which seemd mor nacheral to her than th decorums prescriebd for yung laedys. Thae all liekt Jo imensly, but never fel in luv with her, tho verry fue escaept without paeing th tribuet of a sentimental sie or too at Amy’s shrien. And speeking of sentiment brings us verry nacheraly to th ‘Dovecote’.

That wuz th naem of th litl broun hous Mr. Brooke had prepaerd for Meg’s furst hoem. Laurie had crisend it, saeing it wuz hiely aproepriat to th jentl luvers hoo ‘went on together liek a paer of turtledoves, with furst a bil and then a coo’. It wuz a tieny hous, with a litl garden behiend and a laun about as big as a poket hankerchif in th frunt. Heer Meg ment to hav a founten, shrubery, and a profuezhon of luvly flowers, tho just at prezent th founten wuz reprezented by a wether-beeten urn, verry liek a dilapidaeted slopbowl, th shrubery consisted of several yung larches, undesieded whether to liv or die, and th profuezhon of flowers wuz meerly hinted by rejiments of stiks to sho whaer seeds wer planted. But insied, it wuz aultogether charming, and th hapy bried saw no fault from garret to selar. To be shuur, th haul wuz so narro it wuz forchunat that thae had no peano, for wun never cuud hav bin got in hoel, th diening room wuz so smaul that six peepl wer a tiet fit, and th kichen staers seemd bilt for th expres purpos of presipitaeting boeth survants and chiena pelmel into th coalbin. But wunss get uezd to thees sliet blemishes and nuthing cuud be mor compleet, for guud senss and guud taest had prezieded oever th furnishing, and th rezult wuz hiely satisfaktory. Thaer wer no marbl-topt taebls, long mirors, or laess curtens in th litl parlor, but simpl furnicher, plenty of buuks, a fien pikcher or too, a stand of flowers in th bae windo, and, scaterd all about, th prity gifts which caem from frendly hands and wer th faerer for th luving mesejes thae braut.

I doen’t think th Parian Sieky Laurie gaev lost eny of its buety becauz John puut up th braket it stuud upon, that eny uphoesterer cuud hav draept th plaen muzlin curtens mor graesfuly than Amy’s artistik hand, or that eny stor-room wuz ever beter provieded with guud wishes, merry wurds, and hapy hoeps than that in which Jo and her muther puut awae Meg’s fue boxes, barrels, and bundls, and I am moraly surten that th spandy nue kichen never cuud hav luukt so coezy and neet if Hannah had not araenjd every pot and paen a duzen tiems oever, and laed th fier all redy for lieting th mienuet ‘Mis. Brooke caem hoem’. I aulso dout if eny yung maetron ever began lief with so rich a suplie of dusters, hoelders, and peess bags, for Baet maed enuf to last til th silver weding caem round, and invented three diferent kiends of dishcloths for th expres survis of th briedal chiena.

Peepl hoo hier all thees things dun for them never noe whot thae looz, for th homeliest tasks get buetified if luving hands do them, and Meg found so meny proofs of this that everything in her smaul nest, from th kichen roeler to th silver vaess on her parlor taebl, wuz eloqent of hoem luv and tender forthaut.

Whot hapy tiems thae had planing together, whot solem shoping excurzhons, whot funy mistaeks thae maed, and whot shouts of lafter aroez oever Laurie’s ridicuelus bargens. In his luv of joeks, this yung jentlman, tho neerly thru colej, wuz a much of a boy as ever. His last whim had bin to bring with him on his weekly vizits sum nue, uesful, and injeenius artikl for th yung houskeeper. Now a bag of remarkabl cloeths-pins, next, a wunderful nutmeg graeter which fel to peeses at th furst trieal, a nief cleener that spoild all th nievs, or a sweeper that pikt th nap neetly off th carpet and left th durt, laebor-saeving soep that tuuk th skin off wun’s hands, infalibl sements which stuk furmly to nuthing but th finggers of th delooded bieer, and every kiend of tinwaer, from a toy saevings bank for od penys, to a wunderful boiler which wuud wosh artikls in its oen steem with every prospekt of exploeding in th prosess.

In vaen Meg begd him to stop. John laft at him, and Jo cauld him ‘Mr. Toodls’. He wuz pozest with a maenia for paetroniezing Yankee injenueity, and seeing his frends fitly furnisht forth. So eech week beheld sum fresh absurdity.

Everything wuz dun at last, eeven to Amy’s araenjing diferent culord soeps to mach th diferent culord rooms, and Baet’s setting th taebl for th furst meel.

“Ar U satisfied? Duz it seem liek hoem, and do U feel as if U shuud be hapy heer?” askt Mrs. March, as she and her dauter went thru th nue kingdom arm in arm, for just then thae seemd to cling together mor tenderly than ever.

“Yes, Muther, purfektly satisfied, thanks to U all, and so hapy that I can’t tauk about it,” with a luuk that wuz far beter than wurds.

“If she oenly had a survant or too it wuud be all riet,” sed Amy, cuming out of th parlor, whaer she had bin trieing to desied whether th bronz Murkery luukt best on th whotnot or th mantlepiece.

“Muther and I hav taukt that oever, and I hav maed up mi miend to tri her wae furst. Thaer wil be so litl to do that with Lotty to run mi errands and help me heer and thaer, I shal oenly hav enuf wurk to keep me from geting laezy or hoemsik,” anserd Meg tranqily.

“Sallie Moffat has foer,” began Amy.

“If Meg had foer, th hous wuudn’t hoeld them, and master and missis wuud hav to camp in th garden,” broek in Jo, hoo, envelopt in a big bloo pinafor, wuz giving th last poelish to th dor handls.

“Sallie isn’t a puur man’s wief, and meny maeds ar in keeping with her fien establishment. Meg and John begin humbly, but I hav a feeling that thaer wil be qiet as much hapynes in th litl hous as in th big wun. It’s a graet mistaek for yung gurls liek Meg to leev themselvs nuthing to do but dres, giv orders, and gosip. When I wuz furst marryd, I uezd to long for mi nue cloeths to waer out or get torn, so that I miet hav th plezher of mending them, for I got hartily sik of dooing fansywurk and tending mi poket hankerchif.”

“Whi didn’t U go into th kichen and maek meses, as Sallie sez she duz to amuez herself, tho thae never turn out wel and th survants laf at her,” sed Meg.

“I did after a whiel, not to ‘mes’ but to lurn of Hannah how things shuud be dun, that mi survants need not laf at me. It wuz plae then, but thaer caem a tiem when I wuz trooly graetful that I not oenly pozest th wil but th power to cuuk hoelsum food for mi litl gurls, and help mieself when I cuud no longger aford to hier help. U begin at th uther end, Meg, deer, but th lesons U lurn now wil be of uez to U bi-and-bi when John is a richer man, for th mistres of a hous, however splendid, shuud noe how wurk aut to be dun, if she wishes to be wel and onestly survd.”

“Yes, Muther, I’m shuur of that,” sed Meg, lisening respektfuly to th litl lekcher, for th best of wimen wil hoeld forth upon th all absorbing subjekt of hous keeping. “Do U noe I liek this room moest of all in mi baeby hous,” aded Meg, a mienuet after, as thae went upstaers and she luukt into her wel-stord linen clozet.

Baet wuz thaer, laeing th snoey piels smoothly on th shelvs and exulting oever th guudly arae. All three laft as Meg spoek, for that linen clozet wuz a joek. U see, having sed that if Meg marryd ‘that Brooke’ she shouldn’t hav a sent of her muny, Ant March wuz rather in a qondary when tiem had apeezd her rath and maed her repent her vow. She never broek her wurd, and wuz much exsersiezd in her miend how to get round it, and at last deviezd a plan whaerbi she cuud satisfi herself. Mrs. Carrol, Florence’s maama, wuz orderd to bie, hav maed, and markt a jenerus suplie of hous and taebl linen, and send it as her prezent, all of which wuz faethfuly dun, but th seecret leekt out, and wuz graetly enjoyd bi th family, for Ant March tried to luuk uterly unconshus, and insisted that she cuud giv nuthing but th oeld-fashond purls long promist to th furst bried.

“That’s a housewifely taest which I am glad to see. I had a yung frend hoo set up houskeeping with six sheets, but she had fingger boels for cumpany and that satisfied her,” sed Mrs. March, pating th damask taeblcloths, with a trooly feminine apreeshiaeshon of thaer fiennes.

“I haeven’t a singgl fingger boel, but this is a setout that wil last me all mi daes, Hannah sez.” And Meg luukt qiet contented, as wel she miet.

A taul, braud-shoelderd yung felo, with a cropt hed, a felt baesin of a hat, and a flieawae coet, caem tramping doun th roed at a graet paess, waukt oever th loe fenss without stoping to oepen th gaet, straet up to Mrs. March, with boeth hands out and a harty...

“Heer I am, Muther! Yes, it’s all riet.”

Th last wurds wer in anser to th luuk th elder laedy gaev him, a kiendly qeschoning luuk which th handsum ies met so frankly that th litl serremoeny cloezd, as uezhual, with a mutherly kis.

“For Mrs. John Brooke, with th maeker’s congrachulaeshons and compliments. Bles U, Baet! Whot a refreshing spektakl U ar, Jo. Amy, U ar geting aultogether too handsum for a singgl laedy.”

As Laurie spoek, he deliverd a broun paeper parsel to Meg, puuld Baet’s haer ribon, staerd at Jo’s big pinafor, and fel into an atitued of mok rapcher befor Amy, then shuuk hands all round, and everywun began to tauk.

“Whaer is John?” askt Meg anxshusly.

“Stopt to get th liesenss for tomorro, maa’am.”

“Which sied wun th last mach, Teddy?” inqierd Jo, hoo persisted in feeling an interest in manly sports despiet her nienteen yeers.

“Ours, of corss. Wish U’d bin thaer to see.”

“How is th luvly Mis Randal?” askt Amy with a significant smiel.

“Mor crooel than ever. Doen’t U see how I’m piening awae?” and Laurie gaev his braud chest a sounding slap and heevd a melodramatik sie.

“Whot’s th last joek? Undo th bundl and see, Meg,” sed Baet, ieing th noby parsel with cueriosity.

“It’s a uesful thing to hav in th hous in caess of fier or theevs,” obzurvd Laurie, as a wochman’s ratl apeerd, amid th lafter of th gurls.

“Eny tiem when John is awae and U get frietend, Mrs. Meg, just swing that out of th frunt windo, and it wil rouz th naeborhuud in a jify. Niess thing, isn’t it?” and Laurie gaev them a sampl of its powers that maed them cuver up thaer eers.

“Thaer’s gratitood for U! And speeking of gratitood remiends me to menshon that U mae thank Hannah for saeving yuur weding caek from destrukshon. I saw it going into yuur hous as I caem bi, and if she hadn’t defended it manfuly I’d hav had a pik at it, for it luukt liek a remarkably plummy wun.”

“I wunder if U wil ever gro up, Laurie,” sed Meg in a maetronly toen.

“I’m dooing mi best, maa’am, but can’t get much hieer, I’m afraed, as six feet is about all men can do in thees dejeneraet daes,” responded th yung jentlman, hoos hed wuz about level with th litl shandeleer.

“I supoez it wuud be profanation to eet enything in this spick-and-span bower, so as I’m tremendusly hunggry, I propoez an ajurnment,” he aded prezently.

“Muther and I ar going to waet for John. Thaer ar sum last things to setl,” sed Meg, busling awae.

“Baet and I ar going oever to Kity Bryant’s to get mor flowers for tomorro,” aded Amy, tieing a pikcheresk hat oever her pikcheresk curls, and enjoying th efekt as much as enybody.

“Cum, Jo, doen’t dezert a felo. I’m in such a staet of exauschon I can’t get hoem without help. Doen’t taek off yuur aepron, whotever U do, it’s pecuelyarly becuming,” sed Laurie, as Jo bestoed his espeshal avurzhon in her capaeshus poket and oferd her arm to suport his feebl steps.

“Now, Teddy, I wont to tauk seeriusly to U about tomorro,” began Jo, as thae stroeld awae together. “U must promis to behaev wel, and not cut up eny pranks, and spoil our plans.”

“Not a prank.”

“And doen’t sae funy things when we aut to be soeber.”

“I never do. U ar th wun for that.”

“And I implor U not to luuk at me duuring th serremoeny. I shal surtenly laf if U do.”

“U wun’t see me, U’ll be crieing so hard that th thik fog round U wil obscuer th prospekt.”

“I never cri unles for sum graet aflikshon.”

“Such as feloes going to colej, hae?” cut in Laurie, with sugjestiv laf.

“Doen’t be a peecok. I oenly moend a triefl to keep th gurls cumpany.”

“Exaktly. I sae, Jo, how is Grandpaa this week? Prity aemiabl?”

“Verry. Whi, hav U got into a scraep and wont to noe how he'l taek it?” askt Jo rather sharply.

“Now, Jo, do U think I’d luuk yuur muther in th faess and sae ‘All riet’, if it wuzn’t?” and Laurie stopt short, with an injerd aer.

“No, I doen’t.”

“Then doen’t go and be suspishus. I oenly wont sum muny,” sed Laurie, wauking on agen, apeezd bi her harty toen.

“U spend a graet deel, Teddy.”

“Bles U, I doen’t spend it, it spends itself sumhow, and is gon befor I noe it.”

“U ar so jenerus and kiend-harted that U let peepl borro, and can’t sae ‘No’ to enywun. We hurd about Henshaw and all U did for him. If U aulwaes spent muny in that wae, no-wun wuud blaem U,” sed Jo wormly.

“O, he maed a mounten out of a moelhil. U wuudn’t hav me let that fien felo wurk himself to deth just for wont of a litl help, when he is wurth a duzen of us laezy chaps, wuud U?”

“Of corss not, but I doen’t see th uez of yuur having seventeen waestcoets, endles nekties, and a nue hat every tiem U cum hoem. I thaut U’d got oever th dandy peeriod, but every now and then it braeks out in a nue spot. Just now it’s th fashon to be hidius, to maek yuur hed luuk liek a scrubing brush, waer a straet jaket, orenj gluvs, and clumping sqaer-toed boots. If it wuz cheep uglynes, I’d sae nuthing, but it costs as much as th uther, and I doen’t get eny satisfakshon out of it.”

Laurie throo bak his hed, and laft so hartily at this atak, that th felt hat fel off, and Jo waukt on it, which insult oenly aforded him an oportuenity for expatiating on th advantejes of a ruf-and-redy costuem, as he foelded up th maltreted hat, and stuft it into his poket.

“Doen’t lekcher eny mor, thaer’s a guud soel! I hav enuf all thru th week, and liek to enjoy mieself when I cum hoem. I’ll get mieself up regardles of expenss tomorro and be a satisfakshon to mi frends.”

“I’ll leev U in peess if U’ll oenly let yuur haer gro. I’m not aristocratik, but I do objekt to being seen with a purson hoo luuks liek a yung priez fieter,” obzurvd Jo seveerly.

“This unasueming stiel promoets study, that’s whi we adopt it,” returnd Laurie, hoo surtenly cuud not be acuezd of vanity, having voluntaerily sacrifiest a handsum curly crop to th demand for qorter-inch-long stubl.

“Bi th wae, Jo, I think that litl Parker is reealy geting desperat about Amy. He tauks of her constantly, riets poeetry, and moons about in a moest suspishus maner. He'd beter nip his litl pashon in th bud, hadn’t he?” aded Laurie, in a confidenshal, elder brutherly toen, after a mienuet’s sielenss.

“Of corss he had. We doen’t wont eny mor marrying in this family for yeers to cum. Mursy on us, whot ar th children thinking of?” and Jo luukt as much scandaliezd as if Amy and litl Parker wer not yet in thaer teens.

“It’s a fast aej, and I doen’t noe whot we ar cuming to, maa’am. U ar a meer infant, but U’ll go next, Jo, and we’l be left lamenting,” sed Laurie, shaeking his hed oever th dejenerasy of th tiems.

“Doen’t be alarmd. I’m not wun of th agreeabl sort. Noebody wil wont me, and it’s a mursy, for thaer shuud aulwaes be wun oeld maed in a family.”

“U wun’t giv enywun a chanss,” sed Laurie, with a siedlong glanss and a litl mor culor than befor in his sunburnd faess. “U wun’t sho th soft sied of yuur carrakter, and if a felo gets a peep at it bi aksident and can’t help shoeing that he lieks it, U treet him as Mrs. Gummidge did her sweet-hart, thro coeld wauter oever him, and get so thorny no-wun daers tuch or luuk at U.”

“I doen’t liek that sort of thing. I’m too bizy to be wuryd with nonsenss, and I think it’s dredful to braek up familys so. Now doen’t sae eny mor about it. Meg’s weding has turnd all our heds, and we tauk of nuthing but luvers and such absurditys. I doen’t wish to get cros, so let’s chaenj th subjekt;” and Jo luukt qiet redy to fling coeld wauter on th slietest provocaeshon.

Whotever his feelings miet hav bin, Laurie found a vent for them in a long loe whisl and th feerful predikshon as thae parted at th gaet, “Mark mi wurds, Jo, U’ll go next.”

CHAPTER Twenty-fiev
Th Furst Weding

Th Joon roezes oever th porch wer awaek briet and urly on that morning, rejoising with all thaer harts in th cloudles sunshien, liek frendly litl naebors, as thae wer. Qiet flusht with exsietment wer thaer rudy faeses, as thae swung in th wiend, whispering to wun anuther whot thae had seen, for sum peept in at th diening room windoes whaer th feest wuz spred, sum cliemd up to nod and smiel at th sisters as thae drest th bried, uthers waevd a welcum to thoes hoo caem and went on vaerius errands in garden, porch, and haul, and all, from th roezyest fuul-bloen flower to th paelest baeby bud, oferd thaer tribuet of buety and fraegranss to th jentl mistres hoo had luvd and tended them so long.

Meg luukt verry liek a roez herself, for all that wuz best and sweetest in hart and soel seemd to bloom into her faess that dae, maeking it faer and tender, with a charm mor buetiful than buety. Neether silk, laess, nor orenj flowers wuud she hav. “I doen’t wont a fashonabl weding, but oenly thoes about me hoom I luv, and to them I wish to luuk and be mi familyar self.”

So she maed her weding goun herself, soeing into it th tender hoeps and inosent roemanses of a gurlish hart. Her sisters braeded up her prity haer, and th oenly ornaments she wor wer th lilys of th valy, which ‘her John’ liekt best of all th flowers that groo.

“U do luuk just liek our oen deer Meg, oenly so verry sweet and luvly that I shuud hug U if it wuudn’t crumpl yuur dres,” cried Amy, survaeing her with deliet when all wuz dun.

“Then I am satisfied. But pleez hug and kis me, everywun, and doen’t miend mi dres. I wont a graet meny crumpls of this sort puut into it todae,” and Meg oepend her arms to her sisters, hoo clung about her with April faeses for a mienuet, feeling that th nue luv had not chaenjd th oeld.

“Now I’m going to tie John’s cravat for him, and then to stae a fue minits with Faather qieetly in th study,” and Meg ran doun to perform thees litl serremoenys, and then to folo her muther whaerever she went, conshus that in spiet of th smiels on th mutherly faess, thaer wuz a seecret sorro hid in th mutherly hart at th fliet of th furst burd from th nest.

As th yungger gurls stand together, giving th last tuches to thaer simpl toilet, it mae be a guud tiem to tel of a fue chaenjes which three yeers hav raut in thaer apeeranss, for all ar luuking thaer best just now.

Jo’s anggls ar much sofend, she has lurnd to carry herself with eez, if not graess. Th curly crop has lengthend into a thik coil, mor becuming to th smaul hed atop of th taul figuer. Thaer is a fresh culor in her broun cheeks, a soft shien in her ies, and oenly jentl wurds faul from her sharp tung todae.

Baet has groen slender, pael, and mor qieet than ever. Th buetiful, kiend ies ar larjer, and in them lies an expreshon that sadens wun, aultho it is not sad itself. It is th shado of paen which tuches th yung faess with such pathetik paeshenss, but Baet seldom complaens and aulwaes speeks hoepfuly of ‘being beter soon’.

Amy is with trooth considerd ‘th flower of th family’, for at sixteen she has th aer and baering of a fuul-groen wuuman, not buetiful, but pozest of that indescriebabl charm cauld graess. Wun saw it in th liens of her figuer, th maek and moeshon of her hands, th flo of her dres, th droop of her haer, unconshus yet harmoenius, and as atraktiv to meny as buety itself. Amy’s noez stil aflikted her, for it never wuud gro Greeshan, so did her mouth, being too wied, and having a desieded chin. Thees ofending feechers gaev carrakter to her hoel faess, but she never cuud see it, and consoeld herself with her wunderfuly faer complexshon, keen bloo ies, and curls mor goelden and abundant than ever.

All three wor soots of thin silver grae (thaer best gouns for th sumer), with blush roezes in haer and buuzom, and all three luukt just whot thae wer, fresh-faest, hapy-harted gurls, pauzing a moement in thaer bizy lievs to red with wistful ies th sweetest chapter in th roemanss of wuumanhuud.

Thaer wer to be no serremoenius performanses, everything wuz to be as nacheral and homelike as posibl, so when Ant March arievd, she wuz scandaliezd to see th bried cum runing to welcum and leed her in, to fiend th briedgroom fasening up a garland that had faulen doun, and to cach a glimps of th paturnal minister marching upstaers with a graev countenanss and a wien botl under eech arm.

“Upon mi wurd, heer’s a staet of things!” cried th oeld laedy, taeking th seet of onor prepaerd for her, and setling th foelds of her lavender mwar with a graet rusl. “U autn't to be seen til th last mienuet, chield.”

“I’m not a sho, Aunty, and no-wun is cuming to staer at me, to critisiez mi dres, or count th cost of mi lunchon. I’m too hapy to caer whot enywun sez or thinks, and I’m going to hav mi litl weding just as I liek it. John, deer, heer’s yuur hamer.” And awae went Meg to help ‘that man’ in his hiely improper employment.

Mr. Brooke didn’t eeven sae, “Thank U,” but as he stoopt for th unromantik tool, he kist his litl bried behiend th foelding dor, with a luuk that maed Ant March whisk out her poket hankerchif with a suden due in her sharp oeld ies.

A crash, a cri, and a laf from Laurie, acumpanyd bi th indecorus exclamaeshon, “Jupiter Ammon! Jo’s upset th caek agen!” cauzd a moementaery flury, which wuz hardly oever when a flok of cuzins arievd, and ‘th party caem in’, as Baet uezd to sae when a chield.

“Doen’t let that yung jieant cum neer me, he wurys me wurss than moskeetoes,” whisperd th oeld laedy to Amy, as th rooms fild and Laurie’s blak hed towerd abuv th rest.

“He has promist to be verry guud todae, and he can be purfektly elegant if he lieks,” returnd Amy, and glieding awae to worn Hercules to bewaer of th dragon, which worning cauzd him to haunt th oeld laedy with a devoeshon that neerly distrakted her.

Thaer wuz no briedal proseshon, but a suden sielenss fel upon th room as Mr. March and th yung cupl tuuk thaer plaeses under th green arch. Muther and sisters gatherd cloez, as if loeth to giv Meg up. Th faatherly vois broek mor than wunss, which oenly seemd to maek th survis mor buetiful and solem. Th briedgroom’s hand trembld vizibly, and no-wun hurd his replies. But Meg luukt straet up in her huzband's ies, and sed, “I wil!” with such tender trust in her oen faess and vois that her muther’s hart rejoist and Ant March snift aubibly.

Jo did not cri, tho she wuz verry neer it wunss, and wuz oenly saevd from a demonstraeshon bi th conshusnes that Laurie wuz staering fixedly at her, with a comikal mixcher of merriment and emoeshon in his wiked blak ies. Baet kept her faess hiden on her muther’s shoelder, but Amy stuud liek a graesful stachoo, with a moest becuming rae of sunshien tuching her whiet forhed and th flower in her haer.

It wuzn’t at all th thing, I’m afraed, but th mienuet she wuz faerly marryd, Meg cried, “Th furst kis for Marmee!” and turning, gaev it with her hart on her lips. Duuring th next fifteen minits she luukt mor liek a roez than ever, for everywun availed themselvs of thaer privilejes to th fuulest extent, from Mr. Laurence to oeld Hannah, hoo, adornd with a heddres feerfuly and wunderfuly maed, fel upon her in th haul, crieing with a sob and a chukl, “Bles U, deary, a hundred tiems! Th caek ain’t hurt a miet, and everything luuks luvly.”

Evrybody cleerd up after that, and sed sumthing brilyant, or tried to, which did just as wel, for lafter is redy when harts ar liet. Thaer wuz no displae of gifts, for thae wer aulredy in th litl hous, nor wuz thaer an elaboraet brekfast, but a plentiful lunch of caek and froot, drest with flowers. Mr. Laurence and Ant March shrugd and smield at wun anuther when wauter, lemonaed, and cofy wer found to be to oenly sorts of nektar which th three Hebes carryd round. No-wun sed enything, til Laurie, hoo insisted on surving th bried, apeerd befor her, with a loeded salver in his hand and a puzld expreshon on his faess.

“Has Jo smasht all th botls bi aksident?” he whisperd, “or am I meerly laeboring under a deloozhon that I saw sum lieing about looss this morning?”

“No, yuur grandfaather kiendly oferd us his best, and Ant March akchualy sent sum, but Faather puut awae a litl for Baet, and dispacht th rest to th Soeljer’s Hoem. U noe he thinks that wien shuud be uezd oenly in ilnes, and Muther sez that neether she nor her dauters wil ever ofer it to eny yung man under her roof.”

Meg spoek seeriusly and expekted to see Laurie froun or laf, but he did neether, for after a qik luuk at her, he sed, in his impechu’us wae, “I liek that! For I’ve seen enuf harm dun to wish uther wimen wuud think as U do.”

“U ar not maed wiez bi expeeri’enss, I hoep?” and thaer wuz an ankshus aksent in Meg’s vois.

“No. I giv U mi wurd for it. Doen’t think too wel of me, eether, this is not wun of mi temptaeshons. Being braut up whaer wien is as comon as wauter and aulmoest as harmles, I doen’t caer for it, but when a prity gurl ofers it, wun duzn’t liek to refuez, U see.”

“But U wil, for th saek of uthers, if not for yuur oen. Cum, Laurie, promis, and giv me wun mor reezon to caul this th hapyest dae of mi lief.”

A demand so suden and so seerius maed th yung man hezitaet a moement, for ridicuel is ofen harder to baer than self-denieal. Meg nue that if he gaev th promis he wuud keep it at all costs, and feeling her power, uezd it as a wuuman mae for her frend’s guud. She did not speek, but she luukt up at him with a faess maed verry eloqent bi hapynes, and a smiel which sed, “No-wun can refuez me enything todae.”

Laurie surtenly cuud not, and with an ansering smiel, he gaev her his hand, saeing hartily, “I promis, Mrs. Brooke!”

“I thank U, verry, verry much.”

“And I drink ‘long lief to yuur rezolooshon’, Teddy,” cried Jo, baptiezing him with a splash of lemonaed, as she waevd her glas and beemd aproovingly upon him.

So th toest wuz drunk, th plej maed and loyaly kept in spiet of meny temptaeshons, for with instinktiv wizdom, th gurls seezd a hapy moement to do thaer frend a survis, for which he thankt them all his lief.

After lunch, peepl stroeld about, bi toos and threes, thru th hous and garden, enjoying th sunshien without and within. Meg and John hapend to be standing together in th midl of th gras plot, when Laurie wuz seezd with an inspiraeshon which puut th finishing tuch to this unfashonabl weding.

“All th marryd peepl taek hands and danss round th nue-maed huzband and wief, as th Jurmans do, whiel we bachelors and spinsters pranss in cupls outsied!” cried Laurie, promenading doun th path with Amy, with such infekshus spirit and skil that everywun elss foloed thaer exampl without a murmer. Mr. and Mrs. March, Ant and Unkl Carrol began it, uthers rapidly joind in, eeven Sallie Moffat, after a moement’s hezitaeshon, throo her traen oever her arm and whiskt Ned into th ring. But th crouning joek wuz Mr. Laurence and Ant March, for when th staetly oeld jentlman chasseed solemly up to th oeld laedy, she just tukt her caen under her arm, and hopt briskly awae to join hands with th rest and danss about th briedal paer, whiel th yung foeks pervaeded th garden liek buterflies on a midsumer dae.

Wont of breth braut th impromptoo baul to a cloez, and then peepl began to go.

“I wish U wel, mi deer, I hartily wish U wel, but I think U’ll be sorry for it,” sed Ant March to Meg, ading to th briedgroom, as he led her to th carrej, “U’ve got a trezher, yung man, see that U dezurv it.”

“That is th prityest weding I’ve bin to for an aej, Ned, and I doen’t see whi, for thaer wuzn’t a bit of stiel about it,” obzurvd Mrs. Moffat to her huzband, as thae droev awae.

“Laurie, mi lad, if U ever wont to indulj in this sort of thing, get wun of thoes litl gurls to help U, and I shal be purfektly satisfied,” sed Mr. Laurence, setling himself in his eezy chaer to rest after th exsietment of th morning.

“I’ll do mi best to gratifi U, Sur,” wuz Laurie’s unuezhualy duetyful replie, as he caerfuly unpinned th posy Jo had puut in his butonhoel.

Th litl hous wuz not far awae, and th oenly briedal jurny Meg had wuz th qieet wauk with John from th oeld hoem to th nue. When she caem doun, luuking liek a prity Quakeress in her duv-culord soot and straw bonet tied with whiet, thae all gatherd about her to sae ‘guud-bi’, as tenderly as if she had bin going to maek th grand tuur.

“Doen’t feel that I am separaeted from U, Marmee deer, or that I luv U eny th les for luving John so much,” she sed, clinging to her muther, with fuul ies for a moement. “I shal cum every dae, Faather, and expekt to keep mi oeld plaess in all yuur harts, tho I am marryd. Baet is going to be with me a graet deel, and th uther gurls wil drop in now and then to laf at mi houskeeping strugls. Thank U all for mi hapy weding dae. Guud-bi, guud-bi!”

Thae stuud woching her, with faeses fuul of luv and hoep and tender pried as she waukt awae, leening on her huzband's arm, with her hands fuul of flowers and th Joon sunshien brietening her hapy faess—and so Meg’s marryd lief began.

Artistik Atempts

It taeks peepl a long tiem to lurn th diferenss between talent and jeenyus, espeshaly ambishus yung men and wimen. Amy wuz lurning this distinkshon thru much tribuelaeshon, for mistaeking enthooziazm for inspiraeshon, she atempted every branch of art with yoothful audasity. For a long tiem thaer wuz a lul in th ‘mud-pie’ biznes, and she devoeted herself to th fienest pen-and-ink drawing, in which she shoed such taest and skil that her graesful handiwork proovd boeth plezant and profitabl. But oever-straend ies cauzd pen and ink to be laed asied for a boeld atempt at poeker-skeching. Whiel this atak lasted, th family livd in constant feer of a conflagraeshon, for th oedor of burning wuud pervaeded th hous at all ours, smoek ishood from atik and shed with alarming freeqensys, red-hot poekers lae about promiscuously, and Hannah never went to bed without a pael of wauter and th diner bel at her dor in caess of fier. Raphael’s faess wuz found boeldly exsecueted on th undersied of th moulding bord, and Bacchus on th hed of a beer barrel. A chanting cherrub adornd th cuver of th shigar buket, and atempts to portrae Romeo and Juliet suplied kindling for sum tiem.

From fier to oil wuz a nacheral tranzishon for burnd finggers, and Amy fel to paenting with undiminisht ardor. An artist frend fited her out with his castoff palets, brushes, and culors, and she daubd awae, produesing pastoral and mareen vues such as wer never seen on land or see. Her monstrositys in th wae of catl wuud hav taeken priezes at an agriculcheral faer, and th perrilus piching of her vesels wuud hav produest seesiknes in th moest nautikal obzurver, if th uter disregard to all noen rools of shipbilding and riging had not convulst him with lafter at th furst glanss. Swarthy boys and dark-ied Madonnas, staering at U from wun corner of th stoodio, sugjested Murillo; oily broun shadoes of faeses with a luurid streek in th rong plaess, ment Rembrandt; buxsom laedys and dropiscal infants, Rubens; and Turner apeerd in tempests of bloo thunder, orenj lietning, broun raen, and purpl clouds, with a tomaeto-culord splash in th midl, which miet be th sun or a bouy, a saelor’s shurt or a king's roeb, as th spektaetor pleezd.

Charcoel portraets caem next, and th entier family hung in a roe, luuking as wield and crocky as if just evoekt from a coalbin. Sofend into craeon skeches, thae did beter, for th liekneses wer guud, and Amy’s haer, Jo’s noez, Meg’s mouth, and Laurie’s ies wer pronounst ‘wunderfuly fien’. A return to clae and plaster foloed, and goestly casts of her aqaentanses haunted corners of th hous, or tumbld off clozet shelvs onto peepl’s heds. Children wer entiest in as models, til thaer incoeheerent acounts of her misteerius dooings cauzd Mis Amy to be regarded in th liet of a yung oegres. Her eforts in this lien, however, wer braut to an abrupt cloez by an untord aksident, which qencht her ardor. Uther models faeling her for a tiem, she undertuuk to cast her oen prity fuut, and th family wer wun dae alarmd by an unurthly bumping and screeming and runing to th rescue, found th yung enthooziast hoping wieldly about th shed with her fuut held fast in a paen fuul of plaster, which had hardend with unexpekted rapidity. With much dificulty and sum daenjer she wuz dug out, for Jo wuz so oevercum with lafter whiel she excavaeted that her nief went too far, cut th puur fuut, and left a lasting memorial of wun artistik atempt, at leest.

After this Amy subsieded, til a maenia for skeching from naecher set her to haunting river, feeld, and wuud, for pikcheresk studys, and sieing for rooins to copy. She caut endles coelds siting on damp gras to buuk ‘a delishus bit’, compoezd of a stoen, a stump, wun mushroom, and a broeken mullein stauk, or ‘a hevenly mas of clouds’, that luukt liek a chois displae of fetherbeds when dun. She sacrifiest her complexshon floeting on th river in th midsumer sun to study liet and shaed, and got a rinks oever her noez trieing after ‘points of siet’, or whotever th sqint-and-string performanss is cauld.

If ‘jeenyus is eturnal paeshenss’, as Michelangelo afurms, Amy had sum claem to th divien atribuet, for she perseveerd in spiet of all obstakls, faeluers, and discurejments, furmly beleeving that in tiem she shuud do sumthing wurthy to be cauld ‘hie art’.

She wuz lurning, dooing, and enjoying uther things, meenwhiel, for she had rezolvd to be an atraktiv and acomplisht wuuman, eeven if she never becaem a graet artist. Heer she sukseeded beter, for she wuz wun of thoes hapily creaeted beings hoo pleez without efort, maek frends everywhaer, and taek lief so graesfuly and eezily that les forchunat soels ar tempted to beleev that such ar born under a luky star. Evrybody liekt her, for amung her guud gifts wuz takt. She had an instinktiv senss of whot wuz pleezing and proper, aulwaes sed th riet thing to th riet purson, did just whot sooted th tiem and plaess, and wuz so self-pozest that her sisters uezd to sae, “If Amy went to cort without eny rehursal beforhand, she’d noe exaktly whot to do.”

Wun of her weekneses wuz a dezier to moov in ‘our best soesieety’, without being qiet shuur whot th best reealy wuz. Muny, pozishon, fashonabl acomplishments, and elegant maners wer moest dezierabl things in her ies, and she liekt to asoeshiat with thoes hoo pozest them, ofen mistaeking th faulss for th troo, and admiering whot wuz not admerabl. Never forgeting that by burth she wuz a jentlwuuman, she cultivaeted her aristocratik taests and feelings, so that when th oportuenity caem she miet be redy to taek th plaess from which poverty now exclooded her.

“Mi laedy,” as her frends cauld her, sinseerly dezierd to be a jenuein laedy, and wuz so at hart, but had yet to lurn that muny cannot bie refienment of naecher, that rank duz not aulwaes confur noebility, and that troo breeding maeks itself felt in spiet of exturnal drawbaks.

“I wont to ask a faevor of U, Maama,” Amy sed, cuming in with an important aer wun dae.

“Wel, litl gurl, whot is it?” replied her muther, in hoos ies th staetly yung laedy stil remaend ‘th baeby’.

“Our drawing clas braeks up next week, and befor th gurls separat for th sumer, I wont to ask them out heer for a dae. Thae ar wield to see th river, skech th broeken brij, and copy sum of th things thae admier in mi buuk. Thae hav bin verry kiend to me in meny waes, and I am graetful, for thae ar all rich and I noe I am puur, yet thae never maed eny diferenss.”

“Whi shuud thae?” and Mrs. March puut th qeschon with whot th gurls cauld her ‘Maria Theresa aer’.

“U noe as wel as I that it duz maek a diferenss with neerly everywun, so doen’t rufl up liek a deer, mutherly hen, when yuur chikens get pekt by smarter burds. Th ugly dukling turnd out a swaan, U noe.” and Amy smield without biternes, for she pozest a hapy temper and hoepful spirit.

Mrs. March laft, and smoothd doun her maturnal pried as she askt, “Wel, mi swaan, whot is yuur plan?”

“I shuud liek to ask th gurls out to lunch next week, to taek them for a driev to th plaeses thae wont to see, a roe on th river, perhaps, and maek a litl artistik faet for them.”

“That luuks feezibl. Whot do U wont for lunch? Caek, sandwiches, froot, and cofy wil be all that is nesesaery, I supoez?”

“O, deer, no! We must hav coeld tung and chiken, French chocolat and iess creem, besieds. Th gurls ar uezd to such things, and I wont mi lunch to be proper and elegant, tho I do wurk for mi living.”

“How meny yung laedys ar thaer?” askt her muther, begining to luuk soeber.

“Twelv or foerteen in th clas, but I daer sae thae wun’t all cum.”

“Bles me, chield, U wil hav to charter an omnibus to carry them about.”

“Whi, Muther, how can U think of such a thing? Not mor than six or aet wil probably cum, so I shal hier a beech wagon and borro Mr. Laurence’s cherry-bounss.” (Hannah’s pronunsiaeshon of char-a-bank.)

“All of this wil be expensiv, Amy.”

“Not verry. I’ve calcuelaeted th cost, and I’ll pae for it mieself.”

“Doen’t U think, deer, that as thees gurls ar uezd to such things, and th best we can do wil be nuthing nue, that sum simpler plan wuud be plezanter to them, as a chaenj if nuthing mor, and much beter for us than bieing or borroeing whot we doen’t need, and atempting a stiel not in keeping with our surcumstanses?”

“If I can’t hav it as I liek, I doen’t caer to hav it at all. I noe that I can carry it out purfektly wel, if U and th gurls wil help a litl, and I doen’t see whi I can’t if I’m wiling to pae for it,” sed Amy, with th desizhon which opozishon wuz apt to chaenj into obstinasy.

Mrs. March nue that expeeri’enss wuz an exselent teecher, and when it wuz posibl she left her children to lurn aloen th lesons which she wuud gladly hav maed eezyer, if thae had not objekted to taeking adviess as much as thae did saults and senna.

“Verry wel, Amy, if yuur hart is set upon it, and U see yuur wae thru without too graet an outlae of muny, tiem, and temper, I’ll sae no mor. Tauk it oever with th gurls, and whichever wae U desied, I’ll do mi best to help U.”

“Thanks, Muther, U ar aulwaes so kiend.” and awae went Amy to lae her plan befor her sisters.

Meg agreed at wunss, and promist her aed, gladly ofering enything she pozest, from her litl hous itself to her verry best saltspoons. But Jo fround upon th hoel projekt and wuud hav nuthing to do with it at furst.

“Whi in th wurld shuud U spend yuur muny, wury yuur family, and turn th hous upsied doun for a parsel of gurls hoo doen’t caer a sixpence for U? I thaut U had too much pried and senss to truckle to eny mortal wuuman just becauz she waers French boots and rieds in a coop,” sed Jo, hoo, being cauld from th trajik cliemax of her novel, wuz not in th best mood for soeshal enterpriezes.

“I doen’t truckle, and I haet being paetroniezd as much as U do!” returnd Amy indignantly, for th too stil janggld when such qeschons aroez. “Th gurls do caer for me, and I for them, and thaer’s a graet deel of kiendnes and senss and talent amung them, in spiet of whot U caul fashonabl nonsenss. U doen’t caer to maek peepl liek U, to go into guud soesieety, and cultivaet yuur maners and taests. I do, and I meen to maek th moest of every chanss that cums. U can go thru th wurld with yuur elboes out and yuur noez in th aer, and caul it independenss, if U liek. That’s not mi wae.”

When Amy had wheted her tung and freed her miend she uezhualy got th best of it, for she seldom faeld to hav comon senss on her sied, whiel Jo carryd her luv of liberty and haet of conventionalities to such an unlimited extent that she nacheraly found herself wursted in an arguement. Amy’s definishon of Jo’s iedeea of independenss wuz such a guud hit that boeth burst out lafing, and th discushon tuuk a mor aemiabl turn. Much agenst her wil, Jo at length consented to sacrifiess a dae to Mrs. Grundy, and help her sister thru whot she regarded as ‘a nonsensikal biznes’.

Th invitaeshons wer sent, neerly all aksepted, and th foloeing Mundae wuz set apart for th grand event. Hannah wuz out of huemor becauz her week’s wurk wuz deraenjd, and profesied that “ef th washin’ and ironin’ worn’t dun reg’lar, nothin’ wuud go wel anywheres”. This hich in th maenspring of th domestik masheenery had a bad efekt upon th hoel consurn, but Amy’s moto wuz ‘Nil desperandum’, and having maed up her miend whot to do, she proseeded to do it in spiet of all obstakls. To begin with, Hannah’s cuuking didn’t turn out wel. Th chiken wuz tuf, th tung too saulty, and th chocolat wuudn’t froth properly. Then th caek and iess cost mor than Amy expekted, so did th wagon, and vaerius uther expenses, which seemd triefling at th outset, counted up rather alarmingly afterward. Baet got a coeld and tuuk to her bed. Meg had an uenuezhual number of caulers to keep her at hoem, and Jo wuz in such a divieded staet of miend that her braekejes, aksidents, and mistaeks wer uncomonly nuemerus, seerius, and trieing.

If it wuz not faer on Mundae, th yung laedys wer to cum on Tuezdae, an araenjment which agravaeted Jo and Hannah to th last degree. On Mundae morning th wether wuz in that undesieded staet which is mor exasperaeting than a stedy por. It drizld a litl, shoen a litl, bloo a litl, and didn’t maek up its miend til it wuz too laet for enywun elss to maek up thaers. Amy wuz up at daun, husling peepl out of thaer beds and thru thaer brekfasts, that th hous miet be got in order. Th parlor struk her as luuking uncomonly shaby, but without stoping to sie for whot she had not, she skilfuly maed th best of whot she had, araenjing chaers oever th worn plaeses in th carpet, cuvering staens on th wauls with hoemmaed stachuaery, which gaev an artistik aer to th room, as did th luvly vaeses of flowers Jo scaterd about.

Th lunch luukt charming, and as she survaed it, she sinseerly hoept it wuud taest wel, and that th borroed glas, chiena, and silver wuud get saefly hoem agen. Th carrejs wer promist, Meg and Muther wer all redy to do th onors, Baet wuz aebl to help Hannah behiend th seens, Jo had engaejd to be as lievly and aemiabl as an absent miend, and aeking hed, and a verry desieded disaprooval of evrybody and everything wuud alow, and as she weerily drest, Amy cheerd herself with antisipaeshons of th hapy moement when, lunch saefly oever, she shuud driev awae with her frends for an afternoon of artistik deliets, for th ‘cherry bounss’ and th broeken brij wer her strong points.

Then caem th ours of suspenss, duuring which she viebraeted from parlor to porch, whiel publik opinyon vaeryd liek th wethercok. A smart shower at eleven had evidently qencht th enthooziazm of th yung laedys hoo wer to ariev at twelv, for noebody caem, and at too th exausted family sat doun in a blaez of sunshien to consuem th perrishabl porshons of th feest, that nuthing miet be lost.

“No dout about th wether todae, thae wil surtenly cum, so we must fli round and be redy for them,” sed Amy, as th sun woek her next morning. She spoek briskly, but in her seecret soel she wisht she had sed nuthing about Tuezdae, for her interest liek her caek wuz geting a litl stael.

“I can’t get eny lobsters, so U wil hav to do without salad todae,” sed Mr. March, cuming in haf an our laeter, with an expreshon of plasid despaer.

“Uez th chiken then, th tufnes wun’t mater in a salad,” adviezd his wief.

“Hannah left it on th kichen taebl a mienuet, and th kitens got at it. I’m verry sorry, Amy,” aded Baet, hoo wuz stil a patroness of cats.

“Then I must hav a lobster, for tung aloen wun’t do,” sed Amy desiededly.

“Shal I rush into toun and demand wun?” askt Jo, with th magnanimity of a marter.

“U’d cum bringing it hoem under yuur arm without eny paeper, just to tri me. I’ll go mieself,” anserd Amy, hoos temper wuz begining to fael.

Shrouded in a thik vael and armd with a jenteel traveling basket, she departed, feeling that a cool driev wuud sooth her rufld spirit and fit her for th laebors of th dae. After sum delae, th objekt of her dezier wuz proecuerd, liekwiez a botl of dresing to prevent further lost of tiem at hoem, and off she droev agen, wel pleezd with her oen forthaut.

As th omnibus contaend oenly wun uther pasenjer, a sleepy oeld laedy, Amy poketed her vael and begield th teedium of th wae bi trieing to fiend out whaer all her muny had gon to. So bizy wuz she with her card fuul of refraktory figuers that she did not obzurv a nuecumer, hoo enterd without stoping th veeikl, til a mascuelin vois sed, “Guud morning, Mis March,” and, luuking up, she beheld wun of Laurie’s moest elegant colej frends. Furvently hoeping that he wuud get out befor she did, Amy uterly ignord th basket at her feet, and congrachulaeting herself that she had on her nue traveling dres, returnd th yung man’s greeting with her uezhual suavity and spirit.

Thae got on exselently, for Amy’s cheef caer wuz soon set at rest bi lurning that th jentlman wuud leev furst, and she wuz chating awae in a pecuelyarly lofty straen, when th oeld laedy got out. In stumbling to th dor, she upset th basket, and—o horror!—th lobster, in all its vulgar siez and brilyansy, wuz reveeld to th hieborn ies of a Tudor!

“Bi Jove, she’s forgoten her diner!” cried th unconshus yooth, poeking th scarlet monster into its plaess with his caen, and prepaering to hand out th basket after th oeld laedy.

“Pleez doen’t—it’s—it’s mien,” murmerd Amy, with a faess neerly as red as her fish.

“O, reealy, I beg pardon. It’s an uncomonly fien wun, isn’t it?” sed Tudor, with graet prezenss of miend, and an aer of soeber interest that did credit to his breeding.

Amy recuverd herself in a breth, set her basket boeldly on th seet, and sed, lafing, “Doen’t U wish U wer to hav sum of th salad he's going to maek, and to see th charming yung laedys hoo ar to eet it?”

Now that wuz takt, for too of th rooling foibls of th mascuelin miend wer tucht. Th lobster wuz instantly serounded bi a haelo of pleezing reminisenses, and cueriosity about ‘th charming yung laedys’ divurted his miend from th comikal mis-hap.

“I supoez he'l laf and joek oever it with Laurie, but I shan’t see them, that’s a cumfort,” thaut Amy, as Tudor bowd and departed.

She did not menshon this meeting at hoem (tho she discuverd that, thanks to th upset, her nue dres wuz much damejd bi th rivulets of dresing that meanderd doun th scurt), but went thru with th preparaeshons which now seemd mor urksum than befor, and at twelv oe’clok all wuz redy agen. Feeling that th naebors wer interested in her moovments, she wisht to efaess th memory of yesterdae’s faeluer bi a grand suksess todae, so she orderd th ‘cherry bounss’, and droev awae in staet to meet and escort her gests to th banqet.

“Thaer’s th rumbl, thae’r cuming! I’ll go onto th porch and meet them. It luuks hospitabl, and I wont th puur chield to hav a guud tiem after all her trubl,” sed Mrs. March, sooting th akshon to th wurd. But after wun glanss, she retierd, with an indescriebabl expreshon, for luuking qiet lost in th big carrej, sat Amy and wun yung laedy.

“Run, Baet, and help Hannah cleer haf th things off th taebl. It wil be too absurd to puut a lunchon for twelv befor a singgl gurl,” cried Jo, hurying awae to th loeer reejons, too exsieted to stop eeven for a laf.

In caem Amy, qiet caam and delietfuly corjal to th wun guessed hoo had kept her promis. Th rest of th family, being of a dramatik turn, plaed thaer parts eeqaly wel, and Mis Eliott found them a moest hilaerius set, for it wuz imposibl to controel entierly th merriment which pozest them. Th re-modeld lunch being gaely partaken of, th stoodio and garden vizited, and art discust with enthooziazm, Amy orderd a buging (alas for th elegant cherry-bounss), and droev her frend qieetly about th naeborhuud til sunset, when ‘th party went out’.

As she caem wauking in, luuking verry tierd but as compoezd as ever, she obzurvd that every vestej of th unforchunat faet had disapeerd, exsept a suspishus puker about th corners of Jo’s mouth.

“U’ve had a loverly afternoon for yuur driev, deer,” sed her muther, as respektfuly as if th hoel twelv had cum.

“Mis Eliott is a verry sweet gurl, and seemd to enjoy herself, I thaut,” obzurvd Baet, with uenuezhual wormth.

“Cuud U spaer me sum of yuur caek? I reealy need sum, I hav so much cumpany, and I can’t maek such delishus stuf as yuurs,” askt Meg soeberly.

“Taek it all. I’m th oenly wun heer hoo lieks sweet things, and it wil moeld befor I can dispoez of it,” anserd Amy, thinking with a sie of th jenerus stor she had laed in for such an end as this.

“It’s a pity Laurie isn’t heer to help us,” began Jo, as thae sat doun to iess creem and salad for th second tiem in too daes.

A worning luuk from her muther chekt eny further remarks, and th hoel family aet in heroeik sielenss, til Mr. March mieldly obzurvd, “salad wuz wun of th faevorit dishes of th aenshents, and Evelyn...” Heer a jeneral exploezhon of lafter cut short th ‘history of salads’, to th graet serpriez of th lurnd jentlman.

“Bundl everything into a basket and send it to th Hummels. Jurmans liek meses. I’m sik of th siet of this, and thaer’s no reezon U shuud all die of a surfit becauz I’ve bin a fool,” cried Amy, wieping her ies.

“I thaut I shuud hav died when I saw U too gurls ratling about in th whot-U-caul-it, liek too litl curnels in a verry big nutshel, and Muther waeting in staet to reseev th throng,” sied Jo, qiet spent with lafter.

“I’m verry sorry U wer disapointed, deer, but we all did our best to satisfi U,” sed Mrs. March, in a toen fuul of mutherly regret.

“I am satisfied. I’ve dun whot I undertuuk, and it’s not mi fault that it faeld. I cumfort mieself with that,” sed Amy with a litl qiver in her vois. “I thank U all verry much for helping me, and I’ll thank U stil mor if U wun’t alood to it for a munth, at leest.”

No-wun did for several munths, but th wurd ‘faet’ aulwaes produest a jeneral smiel, and Laurie’s burthdae gift to Amy wuz a tieny coral lobster in th shaep of a charm for her woch gard.

Literaery Lesons

Forchun sudenly smield upon Jo, and dropt a guud luk peny in her path. Not a goelden peny, exaktly, but I dout if haf a milyon wuud hav given mor reeal hapynes then did th litl sum that caem to her in this wiez.

Every fue weeks she wuud shut herself up in her room, puut on her scribling soot, and ‘faul into a vortex’, as she exprest it, rieting awae at her novel with all her hart and soel, for til that wuz finisht she cuud fiend no peess. Her ‘scribling soot’ consisted of a blak wuulen pinafor on which she cuud wiep her pen at wil, and a cap of th saem mateerial, adornd with a cheerful red boe, into which she bundld her haer when th deks wer cleerd for akshon. This cap wuz a beecon to th inqiering ies of her family, hoo duuring thees peeriods kept thaer distanss, meerly poping in thaer heds semy-ocaezhonaly to ask, with interest, “Duz jeenyus burn, Jo?” Thae did not aulwaes vencher eeven to ask this qeschon, but tuuk an obzervaeshon of th cap, and jujd acordingly. If this expresiv artikl of dres wuz drawn loe upon th forhed, it wuz a sien that hard wurk wuz going on, in exsieting moements it wuz puusht raekishly ascue, and when despaer seezd th author it wuz plukt hoely off, and cast upon th flor. At such tiems th introoder sielently withdroo, and not until th red boe wuz seen gaely erekt upon th gifted brow, did enywun daer adres Jo.

She did not think herself a jeenyus bi eny meens, but when th rieting fit caem on, she gaev herself up to it with entier abandon, and led a blisful lief, unconshus of wont, caer, or bad wether, whiel she sat saef and hapy in an imajinaery wurld, fuul of frends aulmoest as reeal and deer to her as eny in th flesh. Sleep forsuuk her ies, meels stuud untasted, dae and niet wer all too short to enjoy th hapynes which blest her oenly at such tiems, and maed thees ours wurth living, eeven if thae bor no uther froot. Th divien afflatus uezhualy lasted a week or too, and then she emurjd from her ‘vortex’, hunggry, sleepy, cros, or despondent.

She wuz just recuvering from wun of thees ataks when she wuz prevaeld upon to escort Mis Crocker to a lekcher, and in return for her vurchoo wuz reworded with a nue iedeea. It wuz a Peepl’s Corss, th lekcher on th Piramids, and Jo rather wunderd at th chois of such a subjekt for such an audi’enss, but tuuk it for granted that sum graet soeshal eevil wuud be remedyd or sum graet wont suplied bi unfoelding th glorys of th Faeroes to an audi’enss hoos thauts wer bizy with th priess of coel and flour, and hoos lievs wer spent in trieing to solv harder ridls than that of th Sfinx.

Thae wer urly, and whiel Mis Crocker set th heel of her stoking, Jo amuezd herself bi examining th faeses of th peepl hoo ocuepied th seet with them. On her left wer too maetrons, with masiv forheds and bonets to mach, discusing Wimen’s Riets and maeking tating. Beyond sat a paer of humbl luvers, artlesly hoelding eech uther bi th hand, a somber spinster eeting pepermints out of a paeper bag, and an oeld jentlman taeking his preparratory nap behiend a yelo bandana. On her riet, her oenly naebor wuz a stoodius luuking lad absorbd in a nuezpaeper.

It wuz a piktorial sheet, and Jo examind th wurk of art neerest her, iedly wundering whot fortueitus concatenaeshon of surcumstanses needed th melodramatik ilustraeshon of an Indian in fuul wor costuem, tumbling oever a presipis with a wuulf at his throet, whiel too infueriaeted yung jentlmen, with unnacheraly smaul feet and big ies, wer stabing eech uther cloez by, and a disheveld feemael wuz flieing awae in th bakground with her mouth wied oepen. Pauzing to turn a paej, th lad saw her luuking and, with boyish guud naecher oferd haf his paeper, saeing bluntly, “wont to red it? That’s a furst-raet story.”

Jo aksepted it with a smiel, for she had never outgroen her lieking for lads, and soon found herself involvd in th uezhual laberinth of luv, mistery, and murder, for th story belongd to that clas of liet literachuur in which th pashons hav a holidae, and when th author’s invenshon faels, a grand catastrofy cleers th staej of wun haf th dramatis persoeny, leeving th uther haf to exult oever thaer dounfaul.

“Priem, isn’t it?” askt th boy, as her ie went doun th last parragraf of her porshon.

“I think U and I cuud do as wel as that if we tried,” returnd Jo, amuezd at his admeraeshon of th trash.

“I shuud think I wuz a prity luky chap if I cuud. She maeks a guud living out of such storys, thae sae.” and he pointed to th naem of Mrs. S.L.A.N.G. Northbury, under th tietl of th tael.

“Do U noe her?” askt Jo, with suden interest.

“No, but I red all her peeses, and I noe a felo hoo wurks in th ofis whaer this paeper is printing.”

“Do U sae she maeks a guud living out of storys liek this?” and Jo luukt mor respektfuly at th ajitaeted groop and thikly sprinkld exclamaeshon points that adornd th paej.

“Ges she duz! She noes just whot foeks liek, and gets paed wel for rieting it.”

Heer th lekcher began, but Jo hurd verry litl of it, for whiel Profesor Sands wuz prosing awae about Belzoni, Cheops, scarabei, and hieroglifiks, she wuz coevertly taeking doun th adres of th paeper, and boeldly rezolving to tri for th hundred-dolar priez oferd in its colums for a sensaeshonal story. Bi th tiem th lekcher ended and th audi’enss awoek, she had bilt up a splendid forchun for herself (not th furst founded on paeper), and wuz aulredy deep in th concokshon of her story, being unaebl to desied whether th dueel shuud cum befor th eloepment or after th murder.

She sed nuthing of her plan at hoem, but fel to wurk next dae, much to th disqieet of her muther, hoo aulwaes luukt a litl ankshus when ‘jeenyus tuuk to burning’. Jo had never tried this stiel befor, contenting herself with verry mield roemanses for Th Spred Eegl. Her expeeri’enss and miselaenius reeding wer of survis now, for thae gaev her sum iedeea of dramatik efekt, and suplied plot, langgwej, and costuems. Her story wuz as fuul of desperaeshon and despaer as her limited aqaentanss with thoes uncumfortabl emoeshons enaebld her to maek it, and having loecaeted it in Lisbon, she woond up with an urthqaek, as a strieking and aproepriat daenoomaan. Th manuescript wuz prievatly dispacht, acumpanyd bi a noet, modestly saeing that if th tael didn’t get th priez, which th rieter hardly daerd expekt, she wuud be verry glad to reseev eny sum it miet be considerd wurth.

Six weeks is a long tiem to waet, and a stil longger tiem for a gurl to keep a seecret, but Jo did boeth, and wuz just begining to giv up all hoep of ever seeing her manuescript agen, when a leter arievd which aulmoest tuuk her breth awae, for on oepening it, a chek for a hundred dolars fel into her lap. For a mienuet she staerd at it as if it had bin a snaek, then she red her leter and began to cri. If th aemiabl jentlman hoo roet that kiendly noet cuud hav noen whot intenss hapynes he wuz giving a felo creecher, I think he wuud devoet his leezher ours, if he has eny, to that amuezment, for Jo valued th leter mor than th muny, becauz it wuz encurejing, and after yeers of efort it wuz so plezant to fiend that she had lurnd to do sumthing, tho it wuz oenly to riet a sensaeshon story.

A plouder yung wuuman wuz seldom seen than she, when, having compoezd herself, she elektrified th family by apeering befor them with th leter in wun hand, th chek in th uther, anounsing that she had wun th priez. Of corss thaer wuz a graet joobilee, and when th story caem everywun red and praezd it, tho after her faather had toeld her that th langgwej wuz guud, th roemanss fresh and harty, and th trajedy qiet thriling, he shuuk his hed, and sed in his unwurldly wae...

“U can do beter than this, Jo. Aem at th hieest, and never miend th muny.”

“I think th muny is th best part of it. Whot wil U do with such a forchun?” askt Amy, regarding th majik slip of paeper with a reverenshal ie.

“Send Baet and Muther to th seesied for a munth or too,” anserd Jo promptly.

To th seesied thae went, after much discushon, and tho Baet didn’t cum hoem as plump and roezy as cuud be dezierd, she wuz much beter, whiel Mrs. March declaerd she felt ten yeers yungger. So Jo wuz satisfied with th investment of her priez muny, and fel to wurk with a cheery spirit, bent on urning mor of thoes delietful cheks. She did urn several that yeer, and began to feel herself a power in th hous, for by th majik of a pen, her ‘rubish’ turnd into cumforts for them all. Th Duek’s Dauter paed th buucher’s bil, A Fantom Hand puut doun a nue carpet, and th Curss of th Coventrys proovd th blesings of th Marches in th wae of groeserys and gouns.

Welth is surtenly a moest dezierabl thing, but poverty has its suny sied, and wun of th sweet uezes of advursity is th jenuein satisfakshon which cums from harty wurk of hed or hand, and to th inspiraeshon of nesesity, we oe haf th wiez, buetiful, and uesful blesings of th wurld. Jo enjoyd a taest of this satisfakshon, and seest to envy richer gurls, taeking graet cumfort in th nolej that she cuud suplie her oen wonts, and need ask no-wun for a peny.

Litl noetis wuz taeken of her storys, but thae found a market, and encurejd bi this fakt, she rezolvd to maek a boeld stroek for faem and forchun. Having copyd her novel for th foerth tiem, red it to all her confidenshal frends, and submited it with feer and trembling to three publishers, she at last dispoezd of it, on condishon that she wuud cut it doun wun thurd, and oemit all th parts which she particuelarly admierd.

“Now I must eether bundl it bak in to mi tin kichen to moeld, pae for printing it mieself, or chop it up to soot purchasers and get whot I can for it. Faem is a verry guud thing to hav in th hous, but cash is mor conveenyent, so I wish to taek th senss of th meeting on this important subjekt,” sed Jo, cauling a family counsil.

“Doen’t spoil yuur buuk, mi gurl, for thaer is mor in it than U noe, and th iedeea is wel wurkt out. Let it waet and riepen,” wuz her faather’s adviess, and he praktist whot he preecht, having waeted paeshently thurty yeers for froot of his oen to riepen, and being in no haest to gather it eeven now when it wuz sweet and melo.

“It seems to me that Jo wil profit mor bi taeking th trieal than bi waeting,” sed Mrs. March. “Critisizm is th best test of such wurk, for it wil sho her boeth unsuspekted merits and faults, and help her to do beter next tiem. We ar too parshal, but th praez and blaem of outsieders wil proov uesful, eeven if she gets but litl muny.”

“Yes,” sed Jo, niting her brows, “that’s just it. I’ve bin fusing oever th thing so long, I reealy doen’t noe whether it’s guud, bad, or indiferent. It wil be a graet help to hav cool, imparshal pursons taek a luuk at it, and tel me whot thae think of it.”

“I wuudn’t leev a wurd out of it. U’ll spoil it if U do, for th interest of th story is mor in th miends than in th akshons of th peepl, and it wil be all a mudl if U doen’t explaen as U go on,” sed Meg, hoo furmly beleevd that this buuk wuz th moest remarkabl novel ever riten.

“But Mr. Allen sez, ‘Leev out th explanaeshons, maek it breef and dramatik, and let th carrakters tel th story’,” interupted Jo, turning to th publisher's noet.

“Do as he tels U. He noes whot wil sel, and we doen’t. Maek a guud, popuelar buuk, and get as much muny as U can. Bi-and-bi, when U’ve got a naem, U can aford to diegres, and hav filosofikal and metafizikal peepl in yuur novels,” sed Amy, hoo tuuk a striktly praktikal vue of th subjekt.

“Wel,” sed Jo, lafing, “if mi peepl ar ‘filosofikal and metafizikal’, it isn’t mi fault, for I noe nuthing about such things, exsept whot I heer faather sae, sumtiems. If I’ve got sum of his wiez iedeeas jumbld up with mi roemanss, so much th beter for me. Now, Baet, whot do U sae?”

“I shuud so liek to see it printing soon,” wuz all Baet sed, and smield in saeing it. But thaer wuz an unconshus emfasis on th last wurd, and a wistful luuk in th ies that never lost thaer chieldliek candor, which chield Jo’s hart for a mienuet with a forboding feer, and desieded her to maek her litl vencher ‘soon’.

So, with Spartan furmnes, th yung authoress laed her furst-born on her taebl, and chopt it up as roothlesly as eny oeger. In th hoep of pleezing everywun, she tuuk everywun’s adviess, and liek th oeld man and his donky in th faebl sooted noebody.

Her faather liekt th metafizikal streek which had unconshusly got into it, so that wuz alowd to remaen tho she had her douts about it. Her muther thaut that thaer wuz a triefl too much descripshon. Out, thaerfor it caem, and with it meny nesesaery links in th story. Meg admierd th trajedy, so Jo pield up th agony to soot her, whiel Amy objekted to th fun, and, with th best intenshons in lief, Jo qencht th spritly seens which releevd th somber carrakter of th story. Then, to complicaet th rooin, she cut it doun wun thurd, and confidingly sent th puur litl roemanss, liek a pikt robin, out into th big, bizy wurld to tri its faet.

Wel, it wuz printing, and she got three hundred dolars for it, liekwiez plenty of praez and blaem, boeth so much graeter than she expekted that she wuz throen into a staet of bewilderment from which it tuuk her sum tiem to recuver.

“U sed, Muther, that critisizm wuud help me. But how can it, when it’s so contradiktory that I doen’t noe whether I’ve riten a promising buuk or broeken all th ten comandments?” cried puur Jo, turning oever a heep of noetises, th peroozal of which fild her with pried and joy wun mienuet, rath and dismae th next. “This man sez, ‘An exqizit buuk, fuul of trooth, buety, and urnestly.’ ‘All is sweet, puer, and helthy.’” continued th perplext authoress. “Th next, ‘Th theeory of th buuk is bad, fuul of morbid fansys, spiritualistic iedeeas, and unnacheral carrakters.’ Now, as I had no theeory of eny kiend, doen’t beleev in Spirichualizm, and copyd mi carrakters from lief, I doen’t see how this critik can be riet. Anuther sez, ‘It’s wun of th best Amerrican novels which has apeerd for yeers.’ (I noe beter than that), and th next asurts that ‘Tho it is orijinal, and riten with graet forss and feeling, it is a daenjerus buuk.’ ’Tisn’t! Sum maek fun of it, sum overpraise, and neerly all insist that I had a deep theeory to expound, when I oenly roet it for th plezher and th muny. I wish I’d printing th hoel or not at all, for I do haet to be so misjujd.”

Her family and frends administerd cumfort and comendaeshon liberaly. Yet it wuz a hard tiem for sensitiv, hie-spirited Jo, hoo ment so wel and had aparrently dun so il. But it did her guud, for thoes hoos opinyon had reeal value gaev her th critisizm which is an author’s best ejucaeshon, and when th furst sornes wuz oever, she cuud laf at her puur litl buuk, yet beleev in it stil, and feel herself th wiezer and strongger for th bufeting she had reseevd.

“Not being a jeenyus, liek Keats, it wun’t kil me,” she sed stoutly, “and I’ve got th joek on mi sied, after all, for th parts that wer taeken straet out of reeal lief ar denounst as imposibl and absurd, and th seens that I maed up out of mi oen sily hed ar pronounst ‘charmingly nacheral, tender, and troo’. So I’ll cumfort mieself with that, and when I’m redy, I’ll up agen and taek anuther.”

Domestik Expeeri’enses

Liek moest uther yung maetrons, Meg began her marryd lief with th deturminaeshon to be a model houskeeper. John shuud fiend hoem a parradiess, he shuud aulwaes see a smieling faess, shuud faer sumptuously every dae, and never noe th lost of a buton. She braut so much luv, enerjy, and cheerfulnes to th wurk that she cuud not but sukseed, in spiet of sum obstakls. Her parradiess wuz not a tranqil wun, for th litl wuuman fust, wuz oever-ankshus to pleez, and busld about liek a troo Martha, cumbered with meny caers. She wuz too tierd, sumtiems, eeven to smiel, John groo dispeptik after a corss of daenty dishes and ungraetfuly demanded plaen faer. As for butons, she soon lurnd to wunder whaer thae went, to shaek her hed oever th caerlesnes of men, and to threten to maek him soe them on himself, and see if his wurk wuud stand impaeshent and clumzy finggers eny beter than hers.

Thae wer verry hapy, eeven after thae discuverd that thae cuudn’t liv on luv aloen. John did not fiend Meg’s buety diminisht, tho she beemd at him from behiend th familyar cofy pot. Nor did Meg mis eny of th roemanss from th daely parting, when her huzband foloed up his kis with th tender inqiery, “Shal I send sum veel or muton for diner, darling?” Th litl hous seest to be a glorified bower, but it becaem a hoem, and th yung cupl soon felt that it wuz a chaenj for th beter. At furst thae plaed keep-hous, and frolikt oever it liek children. Then John tuuk stedy to biznes, feeling th caers of th hed of a family upon his shoelders, and Meg laed by her cambric rapers, puut on a big aepron, and fel to wurk, as befor sed, with mor enerjy than discreshon.

Whiel th cuuking maenia lasted she went thru Mrs. Cornelius’s Reseet Buuk as if it wer a mathematikal exsersiez, wurking out th problems with paeshenss and caer. Sumtiems her family wer invieted in to help eet up a too bountius feest of sukseses, or Lotty wuud be prievatly dispacht with a bach of faeluers, which wer to be conseeld from all ies in th conveenyent stumaks of th litl Hummels. An eevning with John oever th acount buuks uezhualy produest a temporaery lul in th cuelinarry enthooziazm, and a froogal fit wuud ensoo, duuring which th puur man wuz puut thru a corss of bred puuding, hash, and wormd-oever cofy, which tried his soel, aultho he bor it with praezwurthy fortitued. Befor th goelden meen wuz found, however, Meg aded to her domestik pozeshons whot yung cupls seldom get on long without, a family jar.

Fierd with a housewifely wish to see her stor-room stokt with hoemmaed prezurvs, she undertuuk to puut up her oen curant jely. John wuz reqested to order hoem a duzen or so of litl pots and an extra qontity of shigar, for thaer oen curants wer riep and wer to be atended to at wunss. As John furmly beleevd that ‘mi wief’ wuz eeqal to enything, and tuuk a nacheral pried in her skil, he rezolvd that she shuud be gratified, and thaer oenly crop of froot laed by in a moest pleezing form for winter uez. Hoem caem foer duzen delietful litl pots, haf a barrel of shigar, and a smaul boy to pik th curants for her. With her prity haer tukt into a litl cap, arms baerd to th elbo, and a chekt aepron which had a coeketish luuk in spiet of th bib, th yung houswief fel to wurk, feeling no douts about her suksess, for hadn’t she seen Hannah do it hundreds of tiems? Th arae of pots rather amaezd her at furst, but John wuz so fond of jely, and th niess litl jars wuud luuk so wel on th top shelf, that Meg rezolvd to fil them all, and spent a long dae piking, boiling, straening, and fusing oever her jely. She did her best, she askt adviess of Mrs. Cornelius, she rakt her braen to remember whot Hannah did that she left undun, she reboiled, resugared, and restraend, but that dredful stuf wuudn’t ‘jel’.

She longd to run hoem, bib and all, and ask Muther to lend her a hand, but John and she had agreed that thae wuud never anoy enywun with thaer prievat wurys, experriments, or qorrels. Thae had laft oever that last wurd as if th iedeea it sugjested wuz a moest preposterus wun, but thae had held to thaer rezolv, and whenever thae cuud get on without help thae did so, and no-wun interfeerd, for Mrs. March had adviezd th plan. So Meg resld aloen with th refraktory sweetmeets all that hot sumer dae, and at fiev oe’clok sat doun in her topsy-turvey kichen, rung her bedaubed hands, lifted up her vois and wept.

Now, in th furst flush of th nue lief, she had ofen sed, “Mi huzband shal aulwaes feel free to bring a frend hoem whenever he lieks. I shal aulwaes be prepaerd. Thaer shal be no flury, no scoelding, no discumfort, but a neet hous, a cheerful wief, and a guud diner. John, deer, never stop to ask mi leev, inviet hoom U pleez, and be shuur of a welcum from me.”

How charming that wuz, to be shuur! John qiet gloed with pried to heer her sae it, and felt whot a blest thing it wuz to hav a supeerior wief. But, aultho thae had had cumpany from tiem to tiem, it never hapend to be unexpekted, and Meg had never had an oportuenity to distingwish herself til now. It aulwaes hapens so in this vael of teers, thaer is an inevitability about such things which we can oenly wunder at, deplor, and baer as we best can.

If John had not forgoten all about th jely, it reealy wuud hav bin unpardonable in him to chooz that dae, of all th daes in th yeer, to bring a frend hoem to diner unexpektedly. Congrachulaeting himself that a handsum repast had bin orderd that morning, feeling shuur that it wuud be redy to th mienuet, and induljing in plezant antisipaeshons of th charming efekt it wuud produess, when his prity wief caem runing out to meet him, he escorted his frend to his manshon, with th irepresibl satisfakshon of a yung hoest and huzband.

It is a wurld of disapointments, as John discuverd when he reecht th Dovecote. Th frunt dor uezhualy stuud hospitably oepen. Now it wuz not oenly shut, but lokt, and yesterdae’s mud stil adornd th steps. Th parlor windoes wer cloezd and curtend, no pikcher of th prity wief soeing on th peaza, in whiet, with a distrakting litl boe in her haer, or a briet-ied hoestes, smieling a shi welcum as she greeted her guessed. Nuthing of th sort, for not a soel apeerd but a sanginary-luuking boy asleep under th curent buushes.

“I’m afraed sumthing has hapend. Step into th garden, Scott, whiel I luuk up Mrs. Brooke,” sed John, alarmd at th sielenss and solitued.

Round th hous he huryd, led bi a punjent smel of burnd shigar, and Mr. Scott stroeld after him, with a qeer luuk on his faess. He pauzd discreetly at a distanss when Brooke disapeerd, but he cuud boeth see and heer, and being a bachelors, enjoyd th prospekt mietily.

In th kichen raend confuezhon and despaer. Wun edishon of jely wuz trikld from pot to pot, anuther lae upon th flor, and a thurd wuz burning gaely on th stoev. Lotty, with Tuetonik flem, wuz caamly eeting bred and curant wien, for th jely wuz stil in a hoeplesly liqid staet, whiel Mrs. Brooke, with her aepron oever her hed, sat sobing dizmaly.

“Mi deerest gurl, whot is th mater?” cried John, rushing in, with auful vizhons of scaulded hands, suden nues of aflikshon, and seecret consternaeshon at th thaut of th guessed in th garden.

“O, John, I am so tierd and hot and cros and wuryd! I’ve bin at it til I’m all worn out. Do cum and help me or I shal die!” and th exausted houswief cast herself upon his brest, giving him a sweet welcum in every senss of th wurd, for her pinafor had bin baptiezd at th saem tiem as th flor.

“Whot wurys U deer? Has enything dredful hapend?” askt th ankshus John, tenderly kissing th croun of th litl cap, which wuz all ascue.

“Yes,” sobd Meg despaeringly.

“Tel me qik, then. Doen’t cri. I can baer enything beter than that. Out with it, luv.”

“Th... Th jely wun’t jel and I doen’t noe whot to do!”

John Brooke laft then as he never daerd to laf afterward, and th deriesiv Scott smield involuntarrily as he hurd th harty peel, which puut th finishing stroek to puur Meg’s wo.

“Is that all? Fling it out of th windo, and doen’t bother eny mor about it. I’ll bie U qorts if U wont it, but for heven's saek doen’t hav histerriks, for I’ve braut Jak Scott hoem to diner, and...”

John got no further, for Meg cast him off, and claspt her hands with a trajik jescher as she fel into a chaer, exclaeming in a toen of minggld indignaeshon, reproech, and dismae...

“A man to diner, and everything in a mes! John Brooke, how cuud U do such a thing?”

“Hush, he's in th garden! I forgot th confounded jely, but it can’t be helpt now,” sed John, survaeing th prospekt with an ankshus ie.

“U aut to hav sent wurd, or toeld me this morning, and U aut to hav rememberd how bizy I wuz,” continued Meg petulantly, for eeven turtledoves wil pek when rufld.

“I didn’t noe it this morning, and thaer wuz no tiem to send wurd, for I met him on th wae out. I never thaut of asking leev, when U hav aulwaes toeld me to do as I liekt. I never tried it befor, and hang me if I ever do agen!” aded John, with an agreevd aer.

“I shuud hoep not! Taek him awae at wunss. I can’t see him, and thaer isn’t eny diner.”

“Wel, I liek that! Whaer’s th beef and vejetabls I sent hoem, and th puuding U promist?” cried John, rushing to th larder.

“I hadn’t tiem to cuuk enything. I ment to dien at Muther’s. I’m sorry, but I wuz so bizy,” and Meg’s teers began agen.

John wuz a mield man, but he wuz hueman, and after a long dae’s wurk to cum hoem tierd, hunggry, and hoepful, to fiend a caeotik hous, an empty taebl, and a cros wief wuz not exaktly conduesiv to repoez of miend or maner. He restraend himself however, and th litl sqaul wuud hav bloen oever, but for wun unluky wurd.

“It’s a scraep, I aknolej, but if U wil lend a hand, we’l puul thru and hav a guud tiem yet. Doen’t cri, deer, but just exurt yuurself a bit, and fix us up sumthing to eet. We’r boeth as hunggry as hunters, so we shan’t miend whot it is. Giv us th coeld meet, and bred and cheez. We wun’t ask for jely.”

He ment it to be a guud-naecherd joek, but that wun wurd seeld his faet. Meg thaut it wuz too crooel to hint about her sad faeluer, and th last atom of paeshenss vanisht as he spoek.

“U must get yuurself out of th scraep as U can. I’m too uezd up to ‘exurt’ mieself for enywun. It’s liek a man to propoez a boen and vulgar bred and cheez for cumpany. I wun’t hav enything of th sort in mi hous. Taek that Scott up to Muther’s, and tel him I’m awae, sik, ded, enything. I wun’t see him, and U too can laf at me and mi jely as much as U liek. U wun’t hav enything elss heer.” and having deliverd her defieanss all on wun breth, Meg cast awae her pinafor and precipitately left th feeld to bemoen herself in her oen room.

Whot thoes too creechers did in her absenss, she never nue, but Mr. Scott wuz not taeken ‘up to Muther’s’, and when Meg desended, after thae had stroeld awae together, she found traeses of a promiscueus lunch which fild her with horror. Lotty reported that thae had eeten “a much, and graetly laft, and th master bid her thro awae all th sweet stuf, and hied th pots.”

Meg longd to go and tel Muther, but a senss of shaem at her oen short-cumings, of loyalty to John, “hoo miet be crooel, but noebody shuud noe it,” restraend her, and after a sumary cleening up, she drest herself pritily, and sat doun to waet for John to cum and be forgiven.

Unforchunatly, John didn’t cum, not seeing th mater in that liet. He had carryd it off as a guud joek with Scott, excuezd his litl wief as wel as he cuud, and plaed th hoest so hospitably that his frend enjoyd th impromptoo diner, and promist to cum agen, but John wuz anggry, tho he did not sho it, he felt that Meg had dezurted him in his our of need. “It wuzn’t faer to tel a man to bring foeks hoem eny tiem, with purfekt freedom, and when he tuuk U at yuur wurd, to flaem up and blaem him, and leev him in th lurch, to be laft at or pityd. No, bi George, it wuzn’t! And Meg must noe it.”

He had fuemd inwardly duuring th feest, but when th flury wuz oever and he stroeld hoem after seeing Scott off, a mielder mood caem oever him. “Puur litl thing! It wuz hard upon her when she tried so hartily to pleez me. She wuz rong, of corss, but then she wuz yung. I must be paeshent and teech her.” He hoept she had not gon hoem—he haeted gosip and interfeerenss. For a mienuet he wuz rufld agen at th meer thaut of it, and then th feer that Meg wuud cri herself sik sofend his hart, and sent him on at a qiker paess, rezolving to be caam and kiend, but furm, qiet furm, and sho her whaer she had faeld in her duety to her spous.

Meg liekwiez rezolvd to be ‘caam and kiend, but furm’, and sho him his duety. She longd to run to meet him, and beg pardon, and be kist and cumforted, as she wuz shuur of being, but, of corss, she did nuthing of th sort, and when she saw John cuming, began to hum qiet nacheraly, as she rokt and soed, liek a laedy of leezher in her best parlor.

John wuz a litl disapointed not to fiend a tender Niobe, but feeling that his dignity demanded th furst apolojy, he maed nun, oenly caem leezherly in and laed himself upon th soefa with th singguelaerity relevant remark, “We ar going to hav a nue moon, mi deer.”

“I’ve no objekshon,” wuz Meg’s eeqaly soothing remark. A fue uther topiks of jeneral interest wer introduest bi Mr. Brooke and wet-blanketed bi Mrs. Brooke, and conversaeshon langgwisht. John went to wun windo, unfoelded his paeper, and rapt himself in it, figerativly speeking. Meg went to th uther windo, and soed as if nue roezets for slipers wer amung th nesesaerys of lief. Neether spoek. Boeth luukt qiet ‘caam and furm’, and boeth felt desperatly uncumfortabl.

“O, deer,” thaut Meg, “marryd lief is verry trieing, and duz need infinit paeshenss as wel as luv, as Muther sez.” Th wurd ‘Muther’ sugjested uther maturnal counsels given long ago, and reseevd with unbeleeving proetests.

“John is a guud man, but he has his faults, and U must lurn to see and baer with them, remembering yuur oen. He is verry desieded, but never wil be obstinet, if U reezon kiendly, not opoez impaeshently. He is verry acurat, and particuelar about th trooth—a guud traet, tho U caul him ‘fusy’. Never deseev him by luuk or wurd, Meg, and he wil giv U th confidenss U dezurv, th suport U need. He has a temper, not liek ours—wun flash and then all oever—but th whiet, stil angger that is seldom sturd, but wunss kindld is hard to qench. Be caerful, be verry caerful, not to waek his angger agenst yuurself, for peess and hapynes depend on keeping his respekt. Woch yuurself, be th furst to ask pardon if U boeth ur, and gard agenst th litl piques, misunderstandings, and hasty wurds that ofen paev th wae for biter sorro and regret.”

Thees wurds caem bak to Meg, as she sat soeing in th sunset, espeshaly th last. This wuz th furst seerius disagreement, her oen hasty speeches sounded boeth sily and unkiend, as she recauld them, her oen angger luukt chieldish now, and thauts of puur John cuming hoem to such a seen qiet melted her hart. She glanst at him with teers in her ies, but he did not see them. She puut doun her wurk and got up, thinking, “I wil be th furst to sae, ‘Forgiv me’”, but he did not seem to heer her. She went verry sloely acros th room, for pried wuz hard to swaulo, and stuud bi him, but he did not turn his hed. For a mienuet she felt as if she reealy cuudn’t do it, then caem th thaut, “This is th begining. I’ll do mi part, and hav nuthing to reproech mieself with,” and stooping doun, she softly kist her huzband on th forhed. Of corss that setld it. Th penitent kis wuz beter than a wurld of wurds, and John had her on his nae in a mienuet, saeing tenderly...

“It wuz too bad to laf at th puur litl jely pots. Forgiv me, deer. I never wil agen!”

But he did, o bles U, yes, hundreds of tiems, and so did Meg, boeth declaering that it wuz th sweetest jely thae ever maed, for family peess wuz prezurvd in that litl family jar.

After this, Meg had Mr. Scott to diner bi speshal invitaeshon, and survd him up a plezant feest without a cuukt wief for th furst corss, on which ocaezhon she wuz so gae and graeshus, and maed everything go off so charmingly, that Mr. Scott toeld John he wuz a luky felo, and shuuk his hed oever th hardships of bachelorhood all th wae hoem.

In th autum, nue trieals and expeeri’enses caem to Meg. Sallie Moffat renued her frendship, wuz aulwaes runing out for a dish of gosip at th litl hous, or invieting ‘that puur deer’ to cum in and spend th dae at th big hous. It wuz plezant, for in dul wether Meg ofen felt loenly. All wer bizy at hoem, John absent til niet, and nuthing to do but soe, or red, or poter about. So it nacheraly fel out that Meg got into th wae of gading and gosiping with her frend. Seeing Sallie’s prity things maed her long for such, and pity herself becauz she had not got them. Sallie wuz verry kiend, and ofen oferd her th cuveted triefls, but Meg decliend them, noeing that John wuudn’t liek it, and then this foolish litl wuuman went and did whot John disliekt eeven wurss.

She nue her huzband's incum, and she luvd to feel that he trusted her, not oenly with his hapynes, but whot sum men seem to value mor—his muny. She nue whaer it wuz, wuz free to taek whot she liekt, and all he askt wuz that she shuud keep acount of every peny, pae bils wunss a munth, and remember that she wuz a puur man’s wief. Til now she had dun wel, bin proodent and exakt, kept her litl acount buuks neetly, and shoed them to him munthly without feer. But that autum th surpent got into Meg’s parradiess, and tempted her liek meny a modern Eev, not with apls, but with dres. Meg didn’t liek to be pityd and maed to feel puur. It iritaeted her, but she wuz ashaemd to confes it, and now and then she tried to consoel herself by bieing sumthing prity, so that Sallie needn’t think she had to economiez. She aulwaes felt wiked after it, for th prity things wer seldom nesesaerys, but then thae cost so litl, it wuzn’t wurth wurying about, so th triefls increest unconshusly, and in th shoping excurzhons she wuz no longger a pasiv luuker-on.

But th triefls cost mor than wun wuud imajin, and when she cast up her acounts at th end of th munth th sum toetal rather scaerd her. John wuz bizy that munth and left th bils to her, th next munth he wuz absent, but th thurd he had a grand qorterly setling up, and Meg never forgot it. A fue daes befor she had dun a dredful thing, and it waed upon her conshenss. Sallie had bin bieing silks, and Meg longd for a nue wun, just a handsum liet wun for partys, her blak silk wuz so comon, and thin things for eevning waer wer oenly proper for gurls. Ant March uezhualy gaev th sisters a prezent of twenty-fiev dolars apeess at Nue Yeer's. That wuz oenly a munth to waet, and heer wuz a luvly vieolet silk going at a bargen, and she had th muny, if she oenly daerd to taek it. John aulwaes sed whot wuz his wuz hers, but wuud he think it riet to spend not oenly th prospektiv fiev-and-twenty, but anuther fiev-and-twenty out of th hous-hoeld fund? That wuz th qeschon. Sallie had urjd her to do it, had oferd to lend th muny, and with th best intenshons in lief had tempted Meg beyond her strength. In an eevil moement th shopman held up th luvly, shimering foelds, and sed, “A bargen, I ashuur, U, maa’am.” She anserd, “I’ll taek it,” and it wuz cut off and paed for, and Sallie had exulted, and she had laft as if it wer a thing of no conseqenss, and driven awae, feeling as if she had stoelen sumthing, and th poleess wer after her.

When she got hoem, she tried to aswaej th pangs of remorss by spreding forth th luvly silk, but it luukt les silvery now, didn’t becum her, after all, and th wurds ‘fifty dolars’ seemd stampt liek a patern doun eech bredth. She puut it awae, but it haunted her, not delietfuly as a nue dres shuud, but dredfuly liek th goest of a foly that wuz not eezily laed. When John got out his buuks that niet, Meg’s hart sank, and for th furst tiem in her marryd lief, she wuz afraed of her huzband. Th kiend, broun ies luukt as if thae cuud be sturn, and tho he wuz unuezhualy merry, she fansyd he had found her out, but didn’t meen to let her noe it. Th hous bils wer all paed, th buuks all in order. John had praezd her, and wuz undoing th oeld poketbuuk which thae cauld th ‘bank’, when Meg, noeing that it wuz qiet empty, stopt his hand, saeing nurvusly...

“U haeven’t seen mi prievat expenss buuk yet.”

John never askt to see it, but she aulwaes insisted on his dooing so, and uezd to enjoy his mascuelin amaezment at th qeer things wimen wonted, and maed him ges whot pieping wuz, demand feersly th meening of a hug-me-tiet, or wunder how a litl thing compoezd of three roezbuds, a bit of velvet, and a paer of strings, cuud posibly be a bonet, and cost six dolars. That niet he luukt as if he wuud liek th fun of qizing her figuers and pretending to be horrified at her extravaganss, as he ofen did, being particuelarly proud of his proodent wief.

Th litl buuk wuz braut sloely out and laed doun befor him. Meg got behiend his chaer under preetenss of smoothing th rinkls out of his tierd forhed, and standing thaer, she sed, with her panik increesing with every wurd...

“John, deer, I’m ashaemd to sho U mi buuk, for I’ve reealy bin dredfuly extravagant laetly. I go about so much I must hav things, U noe, and Sallie adviezd mi geting it, so I did, and mi Nue Yeer's muny wil partly pae for it, but I wuz sorry after I had dun it, for I nue U’d think it rong in me.”

John laft, and droo her round besied him, saeing goodhumoredly, “Doen’t go and hied. I wun’t beet U if U hav got a paer of kiling boots. I’m rather proud of mi wief’s feet, and doen’t miend if she duz pae aet or nien dolars for her boots, if thae ar guud wuns.”

That had bin wun of her last ‘triefls’, and John’s ie had faulen on it as he spoek. “O, whot wil he sae when he cums to that auful fifty dolars!” thaut Meg, with a shiver.

“It’s wurss than boots, it’s a silk dres,” she sed, with th caamnes of desperaeshon, for she wonted th wurst oever.

“Wel, deer, whot is th ‘dem’d toetal’, as Mr. Mantalini sez?”

That didn’t sound liek John, and she nue he wuz luuking up at her with th straetforward luuk that she had aulwaes bin redy to meet and anser with wun as frank til now. She turnd th paej and her hed at th saem tiem, pointing to th sum which wuud hav bin bad enuf without th fifty, but which wuz apauling to her with that aded. For a mienuet th room wuz verry stil, then John sed sloely—but she cuud feel it cost him an efort to expres no displezher—. . .

“Wel, I doen’t noe that fifty is much for a dres, with all th furbelows and noeshons U hav to hav to finish it off thees daes.”

“It isn’t maed or trimd,” sied Meg, faently, for a suden recolekshon of th cost stil to be incurd qiet oeverwhelmd her.

“Twenty-fiev yards of silk seems a guud deel to cuver wun smaul wuuman, but I’ve no dout mi wief wil luuk as fien as Ned Moffat’s when she gets it on,” sed John driely.

“I noe U ar anggry, John, but I can’t help it. I doen’t meen to waest yuur muny, and I didn’t think thoes litl things wuud count up so. I can’t rezist them when I see Sallie bieing all she wonts, and pitying me becauz I doen’t. I tri to be contented, but it is hard, and I’m tierd of being puur.”

Th last wurds wer spoeken so loe she thaut he did not heer them, but he did, and thae woonded him deeply, for he had denied himself meny plezhers for Meg’s saek. She cuud hav biten her tung out th mienuet she had sed it, for John puusht th buuks awae and got up, saeing with a litl qiver in his vois, “I wuz afraed of this. I do mi best, Meg.” If he had scoelded her, or eeven shaeken her, it wuud not hav broeken her hart liek thoes fue wurds. She ran to him and held him cloez, crieing, with repentant teers, “O, John, mi deer, kiend, hard-wurking boy. I didn’t meen it! It wuz so wiked, so untroo and ungraetful, how cuud I sae it! O, how cuud I sae it!”

He wuz verry kiend, forgaev her redily, and did not uter wun reproech, but Meg nue that she had dun and sed a thing which wuud not be forgoten soon, aultho he miet never alood to it agen. She had promist to luv him for beter or wurss, and then she, his wief, had reproecht him with his poverty, after spending his urnestly rekles. It wuz dredful, and th wurst of it wuz John went on so qieetly afterward, just as if nuthing had hapend, exsept that he staed in toun laeter, and wurkt at niet when she had gon to cri herself to sleep. A week of remorss neerly maed Meg sik, and th discuvery that John had countermanded th order for his nue graetcoet reduest her to a staet of despaer which wuz pathetik to behoeld. He had simply sed, in anser to her serpriezd inqierys as to th chaenj, “I can’t aford it, mi deer.”

Meg sed no mor, but a fue minits after he found her in th haul with her faess berryd in th oeld graetcoet, crieing as if her hart wuud braek.

Thae had a long tauk that niet, and Meg lurnd to luv her huzband beter for his poverty, becauz it seemd to hav maed a man of him, given him th strength and curej to fiet his oen wae, and taut him a tender paeshenss with which to baer and cumfort th nacheral longings and faeluers of thoes he luvd.

Next dae she puut her pried in her poket, went to Sallie, toeld th trooth, and askt her to bie th silk as a faevor. Th guud-naecherd Mrs. Moffat wilingly did so, and had th delicasy not to maek her a prezent of it imeediatly afterward. Then Meg orderd hoem th graetcoet, and when John arievd, she puut it on, and askt him how he liekt her nue silk goun. Wun can imajin whot anser he maed, how he reseevd his prezent, and whot a blisful staet of things ensood. John caem hoem urly, Meg gaded no mor, and that graetcoet wuz puut on in th morning bi a verry hapy huzband, and taeken off at niet bi a moest devoeted litl wief. So th yeer roeld round, and at midsumer thaer caem to Meg a nue expeeri’enss, th deepest and tenderest of a wuuman’s lief.

Laurie caem sneeking into th kichen of th Dovecote wun Saterdae, with an exsieted faess, and wuz reseevd with th clash of simbals, for Hannah clapt her hands with a sauspan in wun and th cuver in th uther.

“How’s th litl maama? Whaer is evrybody? Whi didn’t U tel me befor I caem hoem?” began Laurie in a loud whisper.

“Hapy as a qeen, th deer! Every soel of ’em is upstaers a worshipin’. We didn’t wont no hurrycanes round. Now U go into th parlor, and I’ll send ’em doun to U,” with which sumwhot involvd replie Hannah vanisht, chukling extatikaly.

Prezently Jo apeerd, proudly baering a flanel bundl laed forth upon a larj pilo. Jo’s faess wuz verry soeber, but her ies twinkld, and thaer wuz an od sound in her vois of represt emoeshon of sum sort.

“Shut yuur ies and hoeld out yuur arms,” she sed invietingly.

Laurie bakt precipitately into a corner, and puut his hands behiend him with an imploring jescher. “No, thank U. I’d rather not. I shal drop it or smash it, as shuur as faet.”

“Then U shan’t see yuur nevvy,” sed Jo desiededly, turning as if to go.

“I wil, I wil! Oenly U must be responsibl for damejes.” and oebaeing orders, Laurie heroeikaly shut his ies whiel sumthing wuz puut into his arms. A peel of lafter from Jo, Amy, Mrs. March, Hannah, and John cauzd him to oepen them th next mienuet, to fiend himself invested with too baebys insted of wun.

No wunder thae laft, for th expreshon of his faess wuz droel enuf to convulss a Qaeker, as he stuud and staerd wieldly from th unconshus inosents to th hilaerius spektaetors with such dismae that Jo sat doun on th flor and screemd.

“Twins, bi Jupiter!” wuz all he sed for a mienuet, then turning to th wimen with an apeeling luuk that wuz comikaly pitius, he aded, “Taek ’em qik, sumbody! I’m going to laf, and I shal drop ’em.”

Jo rescued his baebys, and marcht up and doun, with wun on eech arm, as if aulredy inishiaeted into th misterys of babytending, whiel Laurie laft til th teers ran doun his cheeks.

“It’s th best joek of th seezon, isn’t it? I wuudn’t hav toeld U, for I set mi hart on serpriezing U, and I flater mieself I’ve dun it,” sed Jo, when she got her breth.

“I never wuz mor stagerd in mi lief. Isn’t it fun? Ar thae boys? Whot ar U going to naem them? Let’s hav anuther luuk. Hoeld me up, Jo, for upon mi lief it’s wun too meny for me,” returnd Laurie, regarding th infants with th aer of a big, benevolent Newfoundland luuking at a paer of infantiel kitens.

“Boy and gurl. Aren’t thae buetys?” sed th proud paapa, beeming upon th litl red squirmers as if thae wer unfledged aenjels.

“Moest remarkabl children I ever saw. Which is which?” and Laurie bent liek a wel-sweep to examin th prodijys.

“Amy puut a bloo ribon on th boy and a pink on th gurl, French fashon, so U can aulwaes tel. Besieds, wun has bloo ies and wun broun. Kis them, Unkl Teddy,” sed wiked Jo.

“I’m afraed thae mightn’t liek it,” began Laurie, with uenuezhual timidity in such maters.

“Of corss thae wil, thae ar uezd to it now. Do it this mienuet, sur!” comanded Jo, feering he miet propoez a proxsy.

Laurie scrood up his faess and oebaed with a jinjerly pek at eech litl cheek that produest anuther laf, and maed th baebys sqeel.

“Thaer, I nue thae didn’t liek it! That’s th boy, see him kik, he hits out with his fists liek a guud wun. Now then, yung Brooke, pich into a man of yuur oen siez, wil U?” cried Laurie, delieted with a poek in th faess from a tieny fist, flaping aemlesly about.

“He's to be naemd John Laurence, and th gurl Margaret, after muther and grandmuther. We shal caul her Daisey, so as not to hav too Megs, and I supoez th mannie wil be Jak, unles we fiend a beter naem,” sed Amy, with ant-liek interest.

“Naem him Demijon, and caul him Demi for short,” sed Laurie.

“Daezy and Demi, just th thing! I nue Teddy wuud do it,” cried Jo claping her hands.

Teddy surtenly had dun it that tiem, for th baebys wer ‘Daezy’ and ‘Demi’ to th end of th chapter.

CHAPTER Twenty-nien

“Cum, Jo, it’s tiem.”

“For whot?”

“U doen’t meen to sae U hav forgoten that U promist to maek haf a duzen cauls with me todae?”

“I’ve dun a guud meny rash and foolish things in mi lief, but I doen’t think I ever wuz mad enuf to sae I’d maek six cauls in wun dae, when a singgl wun upsets me for a week.”

“Yes, U did, it wuz a bargen between us. I wuz to finish th craeon of Baet for U, and U wer to go properly with me, and return our naebors’ vizits.”

“If it wuz faer, that wuz in th bond, and I stand to th leter of mi bond, Shylock. Thaer is a piel of clouds in th eest, it’s not faer, and I doen’t go.”

“Now, that’s shurking. It’s a luvly dae, no prospekt of raen, and U pried yuurself on keeping promises, so be onorabl, cum and do yuur duety, and then be at peess for anuther six munths.”

At that mienuet Jo wuz particuelarly absorbd in dresmaeking, for she wuz mantua-maeker jeneral to th family, and tuuk espeshal credit to herself becauz she cuud uez a needl as wel as a pen. It wuz verry provoeking to be arest in th akt of a furst trieing-on, and orderd out to maek cauls in her best arae on a worm Joolie dae. She haeted cauls of th formal sort, and never maed eny til Amy compeld her with a bargen, brieb, or promis. In th prezent instanss thaer wuz no escaep, and having clasht her sizors rebelyusly, whiel protesting that she smeld thunder, she gaev in, puut awae her wurk, and taeking up her hat and gluvs with an aer of rezignaeshon, toeld Amy th viktim wuz redy.

“Jo March, U ar pervurss enuf to provoek a saent! U doen’t intend to maek cauls in that staet, I hoep,” cried Amy, survaeing her with amaezment.

“Whi not? I’m neet and cool and cumfortabl, qiet proper for a dusty wauk on a worm dae. If peepl caer mor for mi cloeths than thae do for me, I doen’t wish to see them. U can dres for boeth, and be as elegant as U pleez. It paes for U to be fien. It duzn’t for me, and furbelows oenly wury me.”

“O, deer!” sied Amy, “now she’s in a contraery fit, and wil driev me distrakted befor I can get her properly redy. I’m shuur it’s no plezher to me to go todae, but it’s a det we oe soesieety, and thaer’s no-wun to pae it but U and me. I’ll do enything for U, Jo, if U’ll oenly dres yuurself niesly, and cum and help me do th sivil. U can tauk so wel, luuk so aristocratik in yuur best things, and behaev so buetifuly, if U tri, that I’m proud of U. I’m afraed to go aloen, do cum and taek caer of me.”

“U’r an artful litl puus to flater and wheedl yuur cros oeld sister in that wae. Th iedeea of mi being aristocratik and wel-bred, and yuur being afraed to go enywhaer aloen! I doen’t noe which is th moest absurd. Wel, I’ll go if I must, and do mi best. U shal be comander of th expedishon, and I’ll oebae bliendly, wil that satisfi U?” sed Jo, with a suden chaenj from pervursity to lamblike submishon.

“U’r a purfekt cherrub! Now puut on all yuur best things, and I’ll tel U how to behaev at eech plaess, so that U wil maek a guud impreshon. I wont peepl to liek U, and thae wuud if U’d oenly tri to be a litl mor agreeabl. Do yuur haer th prity wae, and puut th pink roez in yuur bonet. It’s becuming, and U luuk too soeber in yuur plaen soot. Taek yuur liet gluvs and th embroiderd hankerchif. We’l stop at Meg’s, and borro her whiet sunshade, and then U can hav mi duv-culord wun.”

Whiel Amy drest, she ishood her orders, and Jo oebaed them, not without entering her proetest, however, for she sied as she rusld into her nue organdie, fround darkly at herself as she tied her bonet strings in an ireproechabl boe, resld vishusly with pins as she puut on her colar, rinkld up her feechers jeneraly as she shuuk out th hankerchif, hoos embroidery wuz as iritaeting to her noez as th prezent mishon wuz to her feelings, and when she had sqeezd her hands into tiet gluvs with three butons and a tasel, as th last tuch of eleganss, she turnd to Amy with an imbisil expreshon of countenanss, saeing meekly...

“I’m purfektly mizerabl, but if U consider me prezentabl, I die hapy.”

“U’r hiely satisfaktory. Turn sloely round, and let me get a caerful vue.” Jo revolvd, and Amy gaev a tuch heer and thaer, then fel bak, with her hed on wun sied, obzurving graeshusly, “Yes, U’ll do. Yuur hed is all I cuud ask, for that whiet bonet with th roez is qiet ravishing. Hoeld bak yuur shoelders, and carry yuur hands eezily, no mater if yuur gluvs do pinch. Thaer’s wun thing U can do wel, Jo, that is, waer a shaul. I can’t, but it’s verry niess to see U, and I’m so glad Ant March gaev U that luvly wun. It’s simpl, but handsum, and thoes foelds oever th arm ar reealy artistik. Is th pointer of mi mantl in th midl, and hav I loopt mi dres eevenly? I liek to sho mi boots, for mi feet ar prity, tho mi noez isn’t.”

“U ar a thing of buety and a joy forever,” sed Jo, luuking thru her hand with th aer of a conosur at th bloo fether agenst th goelden haer. “Am I to drag mi best dres thru th dust, or loop it up, pleez, maa’am?”

“Hoeld it up when U wauk, but drop it in th hous. Th sweeping stiel soots U best, and U must lurn to trael yuur scurts graesfuly. U haeven’t haf butond wun cuf, do it at wunss. U’ll never luuk finisht if U ar not caerful about th litl deetaels, for thae maek up th pleezing hoel.”

Jo sied, and proseeded to burst th butons off her gluv, in dooing up her cuf, but at last boeth wer redy, and saeld awae, luuking as ‘prity as picters’, Hannah sed, as she hung out of th uper windo to woch them.

“Now, Jo deer, th Chesters consider themselvs verry elegant peepl, so I wont U to puut on yuur best deportment. Doen’t maek eny of yuur abrupt remarks, or do enything od, wil U? Just be caam, cool, and qieet, that’s saef and laedyliek, and U can eezily do it for fifteen minits,” sed Amy, as thae aproecht th furst plaess, having borroed th whiet parrasol and bin inspekted bi Meg, with a baeby on eech arm.

“Let me see. ‘Caam, cool, and qieet’, yes, I think I can promis that. I’ve plaed th part of a prim yung laedy on th staej, and I’ll tri it off. Mi powers ar graet, as U shal see, so be eezy in yuur miend, mi chield.”

Amy luukt releevd, but nauty Jo tuuk her at her wurd, for duuring th furst caul she sat with every lim graesfuly compoezd, every foeld corektly draept, caam as a sumer see, cool as a snoebank, and as sielent as th sfinx. In vaen Mrs. Chester alooded to her ‘charming novel’, and th Mises Chester introduest partys, pikniks, th opera, and th fashons. Eech and all wer anserd bi a smiel, a boe, and a demuer “Yes” or “No” with th chil on. In vaen Amy telegraft th wurd ‘tauk’, tried to draw her out, and administerd coevert poeks with her fuut. Jo sat as if blandly unconshus of it all, with deportment liek Maud’s faess, ‘iesily reguelar, splendidly nul’.

“Whot a hauty, uninteresting creecher that oeldest Mis March is!” wuz th unforchunatly audibl remark of wun of th laedys, as th dor cloezd upon thaer gests. Jo laft noizlesly all thru th haul, but Amy luukt disgusted at th faeluer of her instrukshons, and verry nacheraly laed th blaem upon Jo.

“How cuud U mistaek me so? I meerly ment U to be properly dignified and compoezd, and U maed yuurself a purfekt stok and stoen. Tri to be soeshabl at th Lams’. Gosip as uther gurls do, and be interested in dres and flurtaeshons and whotever nonsenss cums up. Thae moov in th best soesieety, ar valueable pursons for us to noe, and I wuudn’t fael to maek a guud impreshon thaer for enything.”

“I’ll be agreeabl. I’ll gosip and gigl, and hav horrors and rapchers oever eny triefl U liek. I rather enjoy this, and now I’ll imitaet whot is cauld ‘a charming gurl’. I can do it, for I hav Mae Chester as a model, and I’ll improov upon her. See if th Lams doen’t sae, ‘Whot a lievly, niess creecher that Jo March is!”

Amy felt ankshus, as wel she miet, for when Jo turnd freekish thaer wuz no noeing whaer she wuud stop. Amy’s faess wuz a study when she saw her sister skim into th next drawing room, kis all th yung laedys with efuezhon, beem graeshusly upon th yung jentlmen, and join in th chat with a spirit which amaezd th behoelder. Amy wuz taeken pozeshon of bi Mrs. Lam, with hoom she wuz a faevorit, and forst to heer a long acount of Lucretia’s last atak, whiel three delietful yung jentlmen huverd neer, waeting for a pauz when thae miet rush in and rescue her. So sichuaeted, she wuz powerles to chek Jo, hoo seemd pozest bi a spirit of mischif, and taukt awae as voluebly as th laedy. A not of heds gatherd about her, and Amy straend her eers to heer whot wuz going on, for broeken sentenses fild her with cueriosity, and freeqent peels of lafter maed her wield to shaer th fun. Wun mae imajin her sufering on oeverheering fragments of this sort of conversaeshon.

“She rieds splendidly. Hoo taut her?”

“No-wun. She uezd to praktis mounting, hoelding th raens, and siting straet on an oeld sadl in a tree. Now she rieds enything, for she duzn’t noe whot feer is, and th stableman lets her hav horses cheep becauz she traens them to carry laedys so wel. She has such a pashon for it, I ofen tel her if everything elss faels, she can be a horsebreaker, and get her living so.”

At this auful speech Amy contaend herself with dificulty, for th impreshon wuz being given that she wuz rather a fast yung laedy, which wuz her espeshal avurzhon. But whot cuud she do? For th oeld laedy wuz in th midl of her story, and long befor it wuz dun, Jo wuz off agen, maeking mor droel revelaeshons and comiting stil mor feerful blunders.

“Yes, Amy wuz in despaer that dae, for all th guud beests wer gon, and of three left, wun wuz laem, wun bliend, and th uther so bauky that U had to puut durt in his mouth befor he wuud start. Niess animal for a plezher party, wuzn’t it?”

“Which did she chooz?” askt wun of th lafing jentlmen, hoo enjoyd th subjekt.

“Nun of them. She hurd of a yung horss at th farm hous oever th river, and tho a laedy had never riden him, she rezolvd to tri, becauz he wuz handsum and spirited. Her strugls wer reealy pathetik. Thaer wuz no-wun to bring th horss to th sadl, so she tuuk th sadl to th horss. Mi deer creecher, she akchualy roed it oever th river, puut it on her hed, and marcht up to th barn to th uter amaezment of th oeld man!”

“Did she ried th horss?”

“Of corss she did, and had a capital tiem. I expekted to see her braut hoem in fragments, but she manejd him purfektly, and wuz th lief of th party.”

“Wel, I caul that pluky!” and yung Mr. Lam turnd an aprooving glanss upon Amy, wundering whot his muther cuud be saeing to maek th gurl luuk so red and uncumfortabl.

She wuz stil reder and mor uncumfortabl a moement after, when a suden turn in th conversaeshon introduest th subjekt of dres. Wun of th yung laedys askt Jo whaer she got th prity drab hat she wor to th piknik and stoopid Jo, insted of menshoning th plaess whaer it wuz baut too yeers ago, must needs anser with unnesesaery franknes, “O, Amy paented it. U can’t bie thoes soft shaeds, so we paent ours eny culor we liek. It’s a graet cumfort to hav an artistik sister.”

“Isn’t that an orijinal iedeea?” cried Mis Lam, hoo found Jo graet fun.

“That’s nuthing compaerd to sum of her brilyant performanses. Thaer’s nuthing th chield can’t do. Whi, she wonted a paer of bloo boots for Sallie’s party, so she just paented her soild whiet wuns th luvyest shaed of ski bloo U ever saw, and thae luukt exaktly liek satin,” aded Jo, with an aer of pried in her sister’s acomplishments that exasperaeted Amy til she felt that it wuud be a releef to thro her cardcase at her.

“We red a story of yuurs th uther dae, and enjoyd it verry much,” obzurvd th elder Mis Lam, wishing to compliment th literaery laedy, hoo did not luuk th carrakter just then, it must be confest.

Eny menshon of her ‘wurks’ aulwaes had a bad efekt upon Jo, hoo eether groo rijid and luukt ofended, or chaenjd th subjekt with a brusk remark, as now. “Sorry U cuud fiend nuthing beter to red. I riet that rubish becauz it sels, and ordinaery peepl liek it. Ar U going to Nue York this winter?”

As Mis Lam had ‘enjoyd’ th story, this speech wuz not exaktly graetful or complimentary. Th mienuet it wuz maed Jo saw her mistaek, but feering to maek th mater wurss, sudenly rememberd that it wuz for her to maek th furst moov tord deparcher, and did so with an abruptnes that left three peepl with haf-finisht sentenses in thaer mouths.

“Amy, we must go. Guud-bi, deer, do cum and see us. We ar piening for a vizit. I doen’t daer to ask U, Mr. Lam, but if U shuud cum, I doen’t think I shal hav th hart to send U awae.”

Jo sed this with such a droel imitaeshon of Mae Chester’s gushing stiel that Amy got out of th room as rapidly as posibl, feeling a strong dezier to laf and cri at th saem tiem.

“Didn’t I do wel?” askt Jo, with a satisfied aer as thae waukt awae.

“Nuthing cuud hav bin wurss,” wuz Amy’s crushing replie. “Whot pozest U to tel thoes storys about mi sadl, and th hats and boots, and all th rest of it?”

“Whi, it’s funy, and amuezes peepl. Thae noe we ar puur, so it’s no uez pretending that we hav grooms, bie three or foer hats a seezon, and hav things as eezy and fien as thae do.”

“U needn’t go and tel them all our litl shifts, and expoez our poverty in that purfektly unnesesaery wae. U haeven’t a bit of proper pried, and never wil lurn when to hoeld yuur tung and when to speek,” sed Amy despaeringly.

Puur Jo luukt abasht, and sielently chaeft th end of her noez with th stif hankerchif, as if performing a penanss for her misdemeenors.

“How shal I behaev heer?” she askt, as thae aproecht th thurd manshon.

“Just as U pleez. I wosh mi hands of U,” wuz Amy’s short anser.

“Then I’ll enjoy mieself. Th boys ar at hoem, and we’l hav a cumfortabl tiem. Guudnes noes I need a litl chaenj, for eleganss has a bad efekt upon mi constitueshon,” returnd Jo grufly, being disturbd bi her faeluer to soot.

An enthoozistik welcum from three big boys and several prity children speedily soothd her rufld feelings, and leeving Amy to entertaen th hoestes and Mr. Tudor, hoo hapend to be cauling liekwiez, Jo devoeted herself to th yung foeks and found th chaenj refreshing. She lisend to colej storys with deep interest, carest pointers and poodels without a murmer, agreed hartily that “Tom Broun wuz a brik,” regardles of th improper form of praez, and when wun lad propoezd a vizit to his turtl tank, she went with an alacrity which cauzd Maama to smiel upon her, as that mutherly laedy setld th cap which wuz left in a rooinus condishon by filial hugs, baerliek but afekshonat, and deerer to her than th moest faultles cwaafuer from th hands of an inspired Frenchwuuman.

Leeving her sister to her oen devieses, Amy proseeded to enjoy herself to her hart’s content. Mr. Tudor’s unkl had marryd an Inglish laedy hoo wuz thurd cuzin to a living lord, and Amy regarded th hoel family with graet respekt, for in spiet of her Amerrican burth and breeding, she pozest that reverenss for tietls which haunts th best of us—that unaknolejd loyalty to th urly faeth in kings which set th moest democratik naeshon under th sun in furment at th cuming of a royal yelo-haerd lady, sum yeers ago, and which stil has sumthing to do with th luv th yung cuntry baers th oeld, liek that of a big sun for an impeerius litl muther, hoo held him whiel she cuud, and let him go with a faerwel scoelding when he rebeld. But eeven th satisfakshon of tauking with a distant conekshon of th British noebility did not render Amy forgetful of tiem, and when th proper number of minits had past, she reluktantly tor herself from this aristocratik soesieety, and luukt about for Jo, furvently hoeping that her incorijibl sister wuud not be found in eny pozishon which shuud bring disgraess upon th naem of March.

It miet hav bin wurss, but Amy considerd it bad. For Jo sat on th gras, with an encampment of boys about her, and a durty-fuuted dog repoezing on th scurt of her staet and festival dres, as she relaeted wun of Laurie’s pranks to her admiering audi’enss. Wun smaul chield wuz poeking turtls with Amy’s cherrisht parrasol, a second wuz eeting jinjerbred oever Jo’s best bonet, and a thurd plaeing baul with her gluvs, but all wer enjoying themselvs, and when Jo colekted her damejd property to go, her escort acumpanyd her, beging her to cum agen, “It wuz such fun to heer about Laurie’s larks.”

“Capital boys, aren’t thae? I feel qiet yung and brisk agen after that.” sed Jo, stroeling along with her hands behiend her, partly from habit, partly to conseel th bespattered parrasol.

“Whi do U aulwaes avoid Mr. Tudor?” askt Amy, wiezly refraening from eny coment upon Jo’s dilapidaeted apeeranss.

“Doen’t liek him, he puuts on aers, snubs his sisters, wurys his faather, and duzn’t speek respektfuly of his muther. Laurie sez he is fast, and I doen’t consider him a dezierabl aqaentanss, so I let him aloen.”

“U miet treet him sivily, at leest. U gaev him a cool nod, and just now U bowd and smield in th politest wae to Tommy Chaemberlen, hoos faather keeps a groesery stor. If U had just revurst th nod and th boe, it wuud hav bin riet,” sed Amy reproovingly.

“No, it wuudn’t,” returnd Jo, “I neether liek, respekt, nor admier Tudor, tho his grandfaather’s unkl’s nuefue's neess wuz a thurd cuzin to a lord. Tommy is puur and bashful and guud and verry clever. I think wel of him, and liek to sho that I do, for he is a jentlman in spiet of th broun paeper parsels.”

“It’s no uez trieing to argue with U,” began Amy.

“Not th leest, mi deer,” interupted Jo, “so let us luuk aemiabl, and drop a card heer, as th Kings ar evidently out, for which I’m deeply graetful.”

Th family cardcase having dun its duety th gurls waukt on, and Jo uterd anuther thanksgiving on reeching th fifth hous, and being toeld that th yung laedys wer engaejd.

“Now let us go hoem, and never miend Ant March todae. We can run doun thaer eny tiem, and it’s reealy a pity to trael thru th dust in our best bibs and tuckers, when we ar tierd and cros.”

“Speek for yuurself, if U pleez. Ant March lieks to hav us pae her th compliment of cuming in stiel, and maeking a formal caul. It’s a litl thing to do, but it givs her plezher, and I doen’t beleev it wil hurt yuur things haf so much as leting durty dogs and clumping boys spoil them. Stoop doun, and let me taek th crums off of yuur bonet.”

“Whot a guud gurl U ar, Amy!” sed Jo, with a repentant glanss from her oen damejd costuem to that of her sister, which wuz fresh and spotles stil. “I wish it wuz as eezy for me to do litl things to pleez peepl as it is for U. I think of them, but it taeks too much tiem to do them, so I waet for a chanss to confur a graet faevor, and let th smaul wuns slip, but thae tel best in th end, I fansy.”

Amy smield and wuz molified at wunss, saeing with a maturnal aer, “Wimen shuud lurn to be agreeabl, particuelarly puur wuns, for thae hav no uther wae of re-paeing th kiendneses thae reseev. If U’d remember that, and praktis it, U’d be beter liekt than I am, becauz thaer is mor of U.”

“I’m a crochety oeld thing, and aulwaes shal be, but I’m wiling to oen that U ar riet, oenly it’s eezyer for me to risk mi lief for a purson than to be plezant to him when I doen’t feel liek it. It’s a graet misforchun to hav such strong lieks and dislieks, isn’t it?”

“It’s a graeter not to be aebl to hied them. I doen’t miend saeing that I doen’t aproov of Tudor eny mor than U do, but I’m not cauld upon to tel him so. Neether ar U, and thaer is no uez in maeking yuurself disagreeabl becauz he is.”

“But I think gurls aut to sho when thae disaproov of yung men, and how can thae do it exsept bi thaer maners? Preeching duz not do eny guud, as I noe to mi sorro, sinss I’ve had Teddie to manej. But thaer ar meny litl waes in which I can inflooenss him without a wurd, and I sae we aut to do it to uthers if we can.”

“Teddy is a remarkabl boy, and can’t be taeken as a sampl of uther boys,” sed Amy, in a toen of solem convikshon, which wuud hav convulst th ‘remarkabl boy’ if he had hurd it. “If we wer bels, or wimen of welth and pozishon, we miet do sumthing, perhaps, but for us to froun at wun set of yung jentlmen becauz we doen’t aproov of them, and smiel upon anuther set becauz we do, wuudn’t hav a partikl of efekt, and we shuud oenly be considerd od and pueritanikal.”

“So we ar to countenanss things and peepl which we detest, meerly becauz we ar not bels and milyonaers, ar we? That’s a niess sort of morality.”

“I can’t argue about it, I oenly noe that it’s th wae of th wurld, and peepl hoo set themselvs agenst it oenly get laft at for thaer paens. I doen’t liek reformers, and I hoep U never tri to be wun.”

“I do liek them, and I shal be wun if I can, for in spiet of th lafing th wurld wuud never get on without them. We can’t agree about that, for U belong to th oeld set, and I to th nue. U wil get on th best, but I shal hav th lievlyest tiem of it. I shuud rather enjoy th brikbats and hooting, I think.”

“Wel, compoez yuurself now, and doen’t wury Ant with yuur nue iedeeas.”

“I’ll tri not to, but I’m aulwaes pozest to burst out with sum particuelarly blunt speech or revolooshonaery sentiment befor her. It’s mi doom, and I can’t help it.”

Thae found Ant Carrol with th oeld laedy, boeth absorbd in sum verry interesting subjekt, but thae dropt it as th gurls caem in, with a conshus luuk which betraed that thae had bin tauking about thaer neeses. Jo wuz not in a guud huemor, and th pervurss fit returnd, but Amy, hoo had vurchu’usly dun her duety, kept her temper and pleezd evrybody, wuz in a moest anjelik fraem of miend. This aemiabl spirit wuz felt at wunss, and boeth ants ‘mi deared’ her afekshonatly, luuking whot thae afterward sed emfatikaly, “That chield improovs every dae.”

“Ar U going to help about th faer, deer?” askt Mrs. Carrol, as Amy sat doun besied her with th confieding aer elderly peepl liek so wel in th yung.

“Yes, Ant. Mrs. Chester askt me if I wuud, and I oferd to tend a taebl, as I hav nuthing but mi tiem to giv.”

“I’m not,” puut in Jo desiededly. “I haet to be paetroniezd, and th Chesters think it’s a graet faevor to alow us to help with thaer hiely conekted faer. I wunder U consented, Amy, thae oenly wont U to wurk.”

“I am wiling to wurk. It’s for th freedmen as wel as th Chesters, and I think it verry kiend of them to let me shaer th laebor and th fun. Paetronej duz not trubl me when it is wel ment.”

“Qiet riet and proper. I liek yuur graetful spirit, mi deer. It’s a plezher to help peepl hoo apreeshiaet our eforts. Sum do not, and that is trieing,” obzurvd Ant March, luuking oever her spektakls at Jo, hoo sat apart, roking herself, with a sumwhot moroess expreshon.

If Jo had oenly noen whot a graet hapynes wuz waevering in th balanss for wun of them, she wuud hav turnd duv-liek in a mienuet, but unforchunatly, we doen’t hav windoes in our brests, and cannot see whot goes on in th miends of our frends. Beter for us that we cannot as a jeneral thing, but now and then it wuud be such a cumfort, such a saeving of tiem and temper. Bi her next speech, Jo deprievd herself of several yeers of plezher, and reseevd a tiemly leson in th art of hoelding her tung.

“I doen’t liek faevors, thae opres and maek me feel liek a slaev. I’d rather do everything for mieself, and be purfektly independent.”

“Ahem!” coft Ant Carrol softly, with a luuk at Ant March.

“I toeld U so,” sed Ant March, with a desieded nod to Ant Carrol.

Mursyfuly unconshus of whot she had dun, Jo sat with her noez in th aer, and a revolooshonaery aspekt which wuz enything but invieting.

“Do U speek French, deer?” askt Mrs. Carrol, laeing a hand on Amy’s.

“Prity wel, thanks to Ant March, hoo lets Esther tauk to me as ofen as I liek,” replied Amy, with a graetful luuk, which cauzd th oeld laedy to smiel afably.

“How ar U about langgwejes?” askt Mrs. Carrol of Jo.

“Doen’t noe a wurd. I’m verry stoopid about studying enything, can’t baer French, it’s such a slipery, sily sort of langgwej,” wuz th brusk replie.

Anuther luuk past between th laedys, and Ant March sed to Amy, “U ar qiet strong and wel now, deer, I beleev? Ies doen’t trubl U eny mor, do thae?”

“Not at all, thank U, maa’am. I’m verry wel, and meen to do graet things next winter, so that I mae be redy for Rome, whenever that joyful tiem arievs.”

“Guud gurl! U dezurv to go, and I’m shuur U wil sum dae,” sed Ant March, with an aprooving pat on th hed, as Amy pikt up her baul for her.

Crospach, draw th lach,
Sit bi th fier and spin,

squalled Poly, bending doun from his purch on th bak of her chaer to peep into Jo’s faess, with such a comikal aer of impurtinent inqiery that it wuz imposibl to help lafing.

“Moest obzurving burd,” sed th oeld laedy.

“Cum and taek a wauk, mi deer?” cried Poly, hoping tord th chiena clozet, with a luuk sugjestiv of a lump of shigar.

“Thank U, I wil. Cum Amy.” and Jo braut th vizit to an end, feeling mor strongly than ever that cauls did hav a bad efekt upon her constitueshon. She shuuk hands in a jentlmanly maner, but Amy kist boeth th ants, and th gurls departed, leeving behiend them th impreshon of shado and sunshien, which impreshon cauzd Ant March to sae, as thae vanisht...

“U’d beter do it, Mary. I’ll suplie th muny.” and Ant Carrol to replie desiededly, “I surtenly wil, if her faather and muther consent.”


Mrs. Chester’s faer wuz so verry elegant and selekt that it wuz considerd a graet onor bi th yung laedys of th naeborhuud to be invieted to taek a taebl, and everywun wuz much interested in th mater. Amy wuz askt, but Jo wuz not, which wuz forchunat for all partys, as her elboes wer desiededly akimbo at this peeriod of her lief, and it tuuk a guud meny hard noks to teech her how to get on eezily. Th ‘hauty, uninteresting creecher’ wuz let seveerly aloen, but Amy’s talent and taest wer duely complimented bi th ofer of th art taebl, and she exurted herself to prepaer and secuer aproepriat and valueable contribueshons to it.

Everything went on smoothly til th dae befor th faer oepend, then thaer ocurd wun of th litl scurmishes which it is aulmoest imposibl to avoid, when sum fiev-and-twenty wimen, oeld and yung, with all thaer prievat piques and prejudises, tri to wurk together.

Mae Chester wuz rather jelus of Amy becauz th later wuz a graeter faevorit than herself, and just at this tiem several triefling surcumstanses ocurd to increess th feeling. Amy’s daenty pen-and-ink wurk entierly eclipst Mae’s paented vaeses—that wuz wun thorn. Then th all conkering Tudor had danst foer tiems with Amy at a laet party and oenly wunss with Mae—that wuz thorn number too. But th cheef greevanss that rankld in her soel, and gaev an excuez for her unfrendly condukt, wuz a roomor which sum obliejing gosip had whisperd to her, that th March gurls had maed fun of her at th Lams’. All th blaem of this shuud hav faulen upon Jo, for her nauty imitaeshon had bin too liefliek to escaep detekshon, and th froliksum Lams had permited th joek to escaep. No hint of this had reecht th culprits, however, and Amy’s dismae can be imajind, when, th verry eevning befor th faer, as she wuz puuting th last tuches to her prity taebl, Mrs. Chester, hoo, of corss, rezented th supoezd ridicuel of her dauter, sed, in a bland toen, but with a coeld luuk...

“I fiend, deer, that thaer is sum feeling amung th yung laedys about mi giving this taebl to enywun but mi gurls. As this is th moest prominent, and sum sae th moest atraktiv taebl of all, and thae ar th cheef getters-up of th faer, it is thaut best for them to taek this plaess. I’m sorry, but I noe U ar too sinseerly interested in th cauz to miend a litl pursonal disapointment, and U shal hav anuther taebl if U liek.”

Mrs. Chester fansyd beforhand that it wuud be eezy to deliver this litl speech, but when th tiem caem, she found it rather dificult to uter it nacheraly, with Amy’s unsuspicious ies luuking straet at her fuul of serpriez and trubl.

Amy felt that thaer wuz sumthing behiend this, but cuud not ges whot, and sed qieetly, feeling hurt, and shoeing that she did, “Perhaps U had rather I tuuk no taebl at all?”

“Now, mi deer, doen’t hav eny il feeling, I beg. It’s meerly a mater of expeedi’ensy, U see, mi gurls wil nacheraly taek th leed, and this taebl is considerd thaer proper plaess. I think it verry aproepriat to U, and feel verry graetful for yuur eforts to maek it so prity, but we must giv up our prievat wishes, of corss, and I wil see that U hav a guud plaess elswhaer. Wuudn’t U liek th flower taebl? Th litl gurls undertuuk it, but thae ar discurejd. U cuud maek a charming thing of it, and th flower taebl is aulwaes atraktiv U noe.”

“Espeshaly to jentlmen,” aded Mae, with a luuk which enlietend Amy as to wun cauz of her suden faul from faevor. She culord anggrily, but tuuk no uther noetis of that gurlish sarcazm, and anserd with unexpekted aemiability...

“It shal be as U pleez, Mrs. Chester. I’ll giv up mi plaess heer at wunss, and atend to th flowers, if U liek.”

“U can puut yuur oen things on yuur oen taebl, if U prefur,” began Mae, feeling a litl conshenss-striken, as she luukt at th prity raks, th paented shels, and qaent iloominaeshons Amy had so caerfuly maed and so graesfuly araenjd. She ment it kiendly, but Amy mistuuk her meening, and sed qikly...

“O, surtenly, if thae ar in yuur wae,” and sweeping her contribueshons into her aepron, pelmel, she waukt off, feeling that herself and her wurks of art had bin insulted past forgivnes.

“Now she’s mad. O, deer, I wish I hadn’t askt U to speek, Maama,” sed Mae, luuking disconsolatly at th empty spaeses on her taebl.

“Gurls’ qorrels ar soon oever,” returnd her muther, feeling a triefl ashaemd of her oen part in this wun, as wel she miet.

Th litl gurls haeld Amy and her trezhers with deliet, which corjal resepshon sumwhot soothd her perturbd spirit, and she fel to wurk, deturmind to sukseed florally, if she cuud not artistikaly. But everything seemd agenst her. It wuz laet, and she wuz tierd. Everywun wuz too bizy with thaer oen afaers to help her, and th litl gurls wer oenly hindranses, for th deers fust and chaterd liek so meny magpies, maeking a graet deel of confuezhon in thaer artles eforts to prezurv th moest purfekt order. Th evergreen arch wuudn’t stae furm after she got it up, but wigld and thretend to tumbl doun on her hed when th hanging baskets wer fild. Her best tiel got a splash of wauter, which left a seepia teer on th Cuepid’s cheek. She broozd her hands with hamering, and got coeld wurking in a draft, which last aflikshon fild her with aprehenshons for th morro. Eny gurl reeder hoo has suferd liek aflikshons wil simpathiez with puur Amy and wish her wel thru her task.

Thaer wuz graet indignaeshon at hoem when she toeld her story that eevning. Her muther sed it wuz a shaem, but toeld her she had dun riet. Baet declaerd she wuudn’t go to th faer at all, and Jo demanded whi she didn’t taek all her prity things and leev thoes meen peepl to get on without her.

“Becauz thae ar meen is no reezon whi I shuud be. I haet such things, and tho I think I’ve a riet to be hurt, I doen’t intend to sho it. Thae wil feel that mor than anggry speeches or hufy akshons, wun’t thae, Marmee?”

“That’s th riet spirit, mi deer. A kis for a blo is aulwaes best, tho it’s not verry eezy to giv it sumtiems,” sed her muther, with th aer of wun hoo had lurnd th diferenss between preeching and praktising.

In spiet of vaerius verry nacheral temptaeshons to rezent and retaliaet, Amy adheerd to her rezolooshon all th next dae, bent on conkering her enemy bi kiendnes. She began wel, thanks to a sielent remiender that caem to her unexpektedly, but moest opportunely. As she araenjd her taebl that morning, whiel th litl gurls wer in th antyroom filing th baskets, she tuuk up her pet produkshon, a litl buuk, th anteek cuver of which her faather had found amung his trezhers, and in which on leevs of velum she had buetifuly iloominaeted diferent texts. As she turnd th paejes rich in daenty devieses with verry pardonable pried, her ie fel upon wun vurss that maed her stop and think. Fraemd in a brilyant scroelwurk of scarlet, bloo and goeld, with litl spirits of guud wil helping wun anuther up and doun amung th thorns and flowers, wer th wurds, “Thow shalt luv thi naebor as thieself.”

“I aut, but I doen’t,” thaut Amy, as her ie went from th briet paej to Mae’s discontented faess behiend th big vaeses, that cuud not hied th vaecansys her prity wurk had wunss fild. Amy stuud a mienuet, turning th leevs in her hand, reeding on eech sum sweet rebuek for all heartburnings and uncharitableness of spirit. Meny wiez and troo surmons ar preecht us every dae by unconshus ministers in street, scool, ofis, or hoem. Eeven a faer taebl mae becum a pulpit, if it can ofer th guud and helpful wurds which ar never out of seezon. Amy’s conshenss preecht her a litl surmon from that text, then and thaer, and she did whot meny of us do not aulwaes do, tuuk th surmon to hart, and straetwae puut it in praktis.

A groop of gurls wer standing about Mae’s taebl, admiering th prity things, and tauking oever th chaenj of saelzwimen. Thae dropt thaer voises, but Amy nue thae wer speeking of her, heering wun sied of th story and jujing acordingly. It wuz not plezant, but a beter spirit had cum oever her, and prezently a chanss oferd for prooving it. She hurd Mae sae sorroefuly...

“It’s too bad, for thaer is no tiem to maek uther things, and I doen’t wont to fil up with ods and ends. Th taebl wuz just compleet then. Now it’s spoild.”

“I daer sae she’d puut them bak if U askt her,” sugjested sumwun.

“How cuud I after all th fus?” began Mae, but she did not finish, for Amy’s vois caem acros th haul, saeing plezantly...

“U mae hav them, and welcum, without asking, if U wont them. I wuz just thinking I’d ofer to puut them bak, for thae belong to yuur taebl rather than mien. Heer thae ar, pleez taek them, and forgiv me if I wuz hasty in carrying them awae last niet.”

As she spoek, Amy returnd her contribueshon, with a nod and a smiel, and huryd awae agen, feeling that it wuz eezyer to do a frendly thing than it wuz to stae and be thankt for it.

“Now, I caul that luvly of her, doen’t U?” cried wun gurl.

Mae’s anser wuz inaudibl, but anuther yung laedy, hoos temper wuz evidently a litl sourd bi maeking lemonaed, aded, with a disagreeabl laf, “Verry luvly, for she nue she wuudn’t sel them at her oen taebl.”

Now, that wuz hard. When we maek litl sacrifieses we liek to hav them apreeshiaeted, at leest, and for a mienuet Amy wuz sorry she had dun it, feeling that vurchoo wuz not aulwaes its oen reword. But it is, as she prezently discuverd, for her spirits began to riez, and her taebl to blosom under her skilful hands, th gurls wer verry kiend, and that wun litl akt seemd to hav cleerd th atmosfeer amaezingly.

It wuz a verry long dae and a hard wun for Amy, as she sat behiend her taebl, ofen qiet aloen, for th litl gurls dezurted verry soon. Fue caerd to bie flowers in sumer, and her boekaes began to droop long befor niet.

Th art taebl wuz th moest atraktiv in th room. Thaer wuz a croud about it all dae long, and th tenders wer constantly flieing to and fro with important faeses and ratling muny boxes. Amy ofen luukt wistfuly acros, longing to be thaer, whaer she felt at hoem and hapy, insted of in a corner with nuthing to do. It miet seem no hardship to sum of us, but to a prity, blieth yung gurl, it wuz not oenly teedius, but verry trieing, and th thaut of Laurie and his frends maed it a reeal marterdom.

She did not go hoem til niet, and then she luukt so pael and qieet that thae nue th dae had bin a hard wun, tho she maed no complaent, and did not eeven tel whot she had dun. Her muther gaev her an extra corjal cup of tee. Baet helpt her dres, and maed a charming litl reeth for her haer, whiel Jo astonisht her family bi geting herself up with uenuezhual caer, and hinting darkly that th taebls wer about to be turnd.

“Doen’t do enything rood, prae Jo; I wun’t hav eny fus maed, so let it all pas and behaev yuurself,” begd Amy, as she departed urly, hoeping to fiend a re-inforsment of flowers to refreshes her puur litl taebl.

“I meerly intend to maek mieself entrancingly agreeabl to every wun I noe, and to keep them in yuur corner as long as posibl. Teddy and his boys wil lend a hand, and we’l hav a guud tiem yet.” returnd Jo, leening oever th gaet to woch for Laurie. Prezently th familyar tramp wuz hurd in th dusk, and she ran out to meet him.

“Is that mi boy?”

“As shuur as this is mi gurl!” and Laurie tukt her hand under his arm with th aer of a man hoos every wish wuz gratified.

“O, Teddy, such dooings!” and Jo toeld Amy’s rongs with sisterly zeel.

“A flok of our feloes ar going to driev oever bi-and-bi, and I’ll be hangd if I doen’t maek them bie every flower she’s got, and camp doun befor her taebl afterward,” sed Laurie, espouzing her cauz with wormth.

“Th flowers ar not at all niess, Amy sez, and th fresh wuns mae not ariev in tiem. I doen’t wish to be unjust or suspishus, but I shouldn’t wunder if thae never caem at all. When peepl do wun meen thing thae ar verry liekly to do anuther,” obzurvd Jo in a disgusted toen.

“Didn’t Hayes giv U th best out of our gardens? I toeld him to.”

“I didn’t noe that, he forgot, I supoez, and, as yuur grandpaa wuz porly, I didn’t liek to wury him bi asking, tho I did wont sum.”

“Now, Jo, how cuud U think thaer wuz eny need of asking? Thae ar just as much yuurs as mien. Doen’t we aulwaes go havs in everything?” began Laurie, in th toen that aulwaes maed Jo turn thorny.

“Graeshus, I hoep not! Haf of sum of yuur things wuudn’t soot me at all. But we mustn’t stand filandering heer. I’ve got to help Amy, so U go and maek yuurself splendid, and if U’ll be so verry kiend as to let Hayes taek a fue niess flowers up to th Haul, I’ll bles U forever.”

“Cuudn’t U do it now?” askt Laurie, so sugjestivly that Jo shut th gaet in his faess with inhospitabl haest, and cauld thru th bars, “Go awae, Teddy, I’m bizy.”

Thanks to th conspirators, th taebls wer turnd that niet, for Hayes sent up a wildernes of flowers, with a luvly basket araenjd in his best maner for a senterpeess. Then th March family turnd out en masse, and Jo exurted herself to sum purpos, for peepl not oenly caem, but staed, lafing at her nonsenss, admiering Amy’s taest, and aparrently enjoying themselvs verry much. Laurie and his frends galantly throo themselvs into th breech, baut up th boekaes, encamped befor th taebl, and maed that corner th lievlyest spot in th room. Amy wuz in her element now, and out of gratitood, if nuthing mor, wuz as spritely and graeshus as posibl, cuming to th concloozhon, about that tiem, that vurchoo wuz its oen reword, after all.

Jo behaevd herself with exemplary proprieety, and when Amy wuz hapily serounded by her gard of onor, Jo surcuelaeted about th Haul, piking up vaerius bits of gosip, which enlietend her upon th subjekt of th Chester chaenj of baess. She reproecht herself for her shaer of th il feeling and rezolvd to exoneraet Amy as soon as posibl. She aulso discuverd whot Amy had dun about th things in th morning, and considerd her a model of magnanimity. As she past th art taebl, she glanst oever it for her sister’s things, but saw no sien of them. “Tukt awae out of siet, I daer sae,” thaut Jo, hoo cuud forgiv her oen rongs, but hotly rezented eny insult oferd her family.

“Guud eevning, Mis Jo. How duz Amy get on?” askt Mae with a consiliatory aer, for she wonted to sho that she aulso cuud be jenerus.

“She has soeld everything she had that wuz wurth seling, and now she is enjoying herself. Th flower taebl is aulwaes atraktiv, U noe, ‘espeshaly to jentlmen’.” Jo cuudn’t rezist giving that litl slap, but Mae tuuk it so meekly she regreted it a mienuet after, and fel to praezing th graet vaeses, which stil remaend unsoeld.

“Is Amy’s iloominaeshon enywhaer about? I tuuk a fansy to bie that for Faather,” sed Jo, verry ankshus to lurn th faet of her sister’s wurk.

“Everything of Amy’s soeld long ago. I tuuk caer that th riet peepl saw them, and thae maed a niess litl sum of muny for us,” returnd Mae, hoo had oevercum sundry smaul temptaeshons, as wel as Amy had, that dae.

Much gratified, Jo rusht bak to tel th guud nues, and Amy luukt boeth tucht and serpriezd bi th report of Mae’s wurd and maner.

“Now, jentlmen, I wont U to go and do yuur duety bi th uther taebls as jenerusly as U hav bi mien, espeshaly th art taebl,” she sed, ordering out ‘Teddy’s oen’, as th gurls cauld th colej frends.

“‘Charj, Chester, charj!’ is th moto for that taebl, but do yuur duety liek men, and U’ll get yuur muny’s wurth of art in every senss of th wurd,” sed th irepresibl Jo, as th devoeted falanx prepaerd to taek th feeld.

“To heer is to oebae, but March is faerer far than Mae,” sed litl Parker, maeking a frantik efort to be boeth wity and tender, and geting promptly qencht bi Laurie, hoo sed...

“Verry wel, mi sun, for a smaul boy!” and waukt him off, with a paturnal pat on th hed.

“Bie th vaeses,” whisperd Amy to Laurie, as a fienal heeping of coels of fier on her enemy’s hed.

To Mae’s graet deliet, Mr. Laurence not oenly baut th vaeses, but pervaeded th haul with wun under eech arm. Th uther jentlmen specuelaeted with eeqal rashnes in all sorts of frael triefls, and waanderd helplesly about afterward, burdend with wax flowers, paented fans, filigree portfoelioes, and uther uesful and aproepriat purchases.

Ant Carrol wuz thaer, hurd th story, luukt pleezd, and sed sumthing to Mrs. March in a corner, which maed th laeter laedy beem with satisfakshon, and woch Amy with a faess fuul of minggld pried and angzieity, tho she did not betrae th cauz of her plezher til several daes laeter.

Th faer wuz pronounst a suksess, and when Mae bad Amy guudniet, she did not gush as uezhual, but gaev her an afekshonat kis, and a luuk which sed ‘forgiv and forget’. That satisfied Amy, and when she got hoem she found th vaeses paraeded on th parlor chimny peess with a graet boekae in eech. “Th reword of merrit for a magnanimus March,” as Laurie anounst with a flurish.

“U’ve a deel mor prinsipl and jenerosity and nobleness of carrakter than I ever gaev U credit for, Amy. U’ve behaevd sweetly, and I respekt U with all mi hart,” sed Jo wormly, as thae brusht thaer haer together laet that niet.

“Yes, we all do, and luv her for being so redy to forgiv. It must hav bin dredfuly hard, after wurking so long and setting yuur hart on seling yuur oen prity things. I doen’t beleev I cuud hav dun it as kiendly as U did,” aded Baet from her pilo.

“Whi, gurls, U needn’t praez me so. I oenly did as I’d be dun bi. U laf at me when I sae I wont to be a laedy, but I meen a troo jentlwuuman in miend and maners, and I tri to do it as far as I noe how. I can’t explaen exaktly, but I wont to be abuv th litl meannesses and folys and faults that spoil so meny wimen. I’m far from it now, but I do mi best, and hoep in tiem to be whot Muther is.”

Amy spoek urnestly, and Jo sed, with a corjal hug, “I understand now whot U meen, and I’ll never laf at U agen. U ar geting on faster than U think, and I’ll taek lesons of U in troo polietnes, for U’ve lurnd th seecret, I beleev. Tri awae, deary, U’ll get yuur reword sum dae, and no-wun wil be mor delieted than I shal.”

A week laeter Amy did get her reword, and puur Jo found it hard to be delieted. A leter caem from Ant Carrol, and Mrs. March’s faess wuz iloominaeted to such a degree when she red it that Jo and Baet, hoo wer with her, demanded whot th glad tiedings wer.

“Ant Carrol is going abraud next munth, and wonts...”

“Me to go with her!” burst in Jo, flieing out of her chaer in an uncontroelabl rapcher.

“No, deer, not U. It’s Amy.”

“O, Muther! She’s too yung, it’s mi turn furst. I’ve wonted it so long. It wuud do me so much guud, and be so aultogether splendid. I must go!”

“I’m afraed it’s imposibl, Jo. Ant sez Amy, desiededly, and it is not for us to diktaet when she ofers such a faevor.”

“It’s aulwaes so. Amy has all th fun and I hav all th wurk. It isn’t faer, o, it isn’t faer!” cried Jo pashonatly.

“I’m afraed it’s partly yuur oen fault, deer. When Ant spoek to me th uther dae, she regreted yuur blunt maners and too independent spirit, and heer she riets, as if qoeting sumthing U had sed—‘I pland at furst to ask Jo, but as ‘faevors burden her’, and she ‘haets French’, I think I wun’t vencher to inviet her. Amy is mor dosil, wil maek a guud companyon for Flo, and reseev graetfuly eny help th trip mae giv her.”

“O, mi tung, mi abominabl tung! Whi can’t I lurn to keep it qieet?” groend Jo, remembering wurds which had bin her undoing. When she had hurd th explanaeshon of th qoeted fraezes, Mrs. March sed sorroefuly...

“I wish U cuud hav gon, but thaer is no hoep of it this tiem, so tri to baer it cheerfuly, and doen’t sadden Amy’s plezher bi reproeches or regrets.”

“I’ll tri,” sed Jo, winking hard as she nelt doun to pik up th basket she had joyfuly upset. “I’ll taek a leef out of her buuk, and tri not oenly to seem glad, but to be so, and not gruj her wun mienuet of hapynes. But it wun’t be eezy, for it is a dredful disapointment,” and puur Jo bedued th litl fat pincuushon she held with several verry biter teers.

“Jo, deer, I’m verry selfish, but I cuudn’t spaer U, and I’m glad U ar not going qiet yet,” whisperd Baet, embraesing her, basket and all, with such a clinging tuch and luving faess that Jo felt cumforted in spiet of th sharp regret that maed her wont to box her oen eers, and humbly beg Ant Carrol to burden her with this faevor, and see how graetfuly she wuud baer it.

By th tiem Amy caem in, Jo wuz aebl to taek her part in th family joobilaeshon, not qiet as hartily as uezhual, perhaps, but without re-pienings at Amy’s guud forchun. Th yung laedy herself reseevd th nues as tiedings of graet joy, went about in a solem sort of rapcher, and began to sort her culors and pak her pensils that eevning, leeving such triefls as cloeths, muny, and pasports to thoes les absorbd in vizhons of art than herself.

“It isn’t a meer plezher trip to me, gurls,” she sed impresivly, as she scraept her best palet. “It wil desied mi career, for if I hav eny jeenyus, I shal fiend it out in Rome, and wil do sumthing to proov it.”

“Supoez U haeven’t?” sed Jo, soeing awae, with red ies, at th nue colars which wer to be handed oever to Amy.

“Then I shal cum hoem and teech drawing for mi living,” replied th aspirant for faem, with filosofik compoezher. But she maed a rie faess at th prospekt, and scracht awae at her palet as if bent on vigorus mezhers befor she gaev up her hoeps.

“No, U wun’t. U haet hard wurk, and U’ll marry sum rich man, and cum hoem to sit in th lap of lukshery all yuur daes,” sed Jo.

“Yuur predikshons sumtiems cum to pas, but I doen’t beleev that wun wil. I’m shuur I wish it wuud, for if I can’t be an artist mieself, I shuud liek to be aebl to help thoes hoo ar,” sed Amy, smieling, as if th part of Laedy Bountiful wuud soot her beter than that of a puur drawing teecher.

“Hum!” sed Jo, with a sie. “If U wish it U’ll hav it, for yuur wishes ar aulwaes granted—mien never.”

“Wuud U liek to go?” askt Amy, thautfuly pating her noez with her nief.


“Wel, in a yeer or too I’ll send for U, and we’l dig in th Forum for reliks, and carry out all th plans we’v maed so meny tiems.”

“Thank U. I’ll remiend U of yuur promis when that joyful dae cums, if it ever duz,” returnd Jo, aksepting th vaeg but magnifisent ofer as graetfuly as she cuud.

Thaer wuz not much tiem for preparaeshon, and th hous wuz in a furment til Amy wuz off. Jo bor up verry wel til th last fluter of bloo ribon vanisht, when she retierd to her refuej, th garret, and cried til she cuudn’t cri eny mor. Amy liekwiez bor up stoutly til th steemer saeld. Then just as th ganwae wuz about to be withdrawn, it sudenly caem oever her that a hoel oeshan wuz soon to roel between her and thoes hoo luvd her best, and she clung to Laurie, th last linggerer, saeing with a sob...

“O, taek caer of them for me, and if enything shuud hapen...”

“I wil, deer, I wil, and if enything hapens, I’ll cum and cumfort U,” whisperd Laurie, litl dreeming that he wuud be cauld upon to keep his wurd.

So Amy saeld awae to fiend th Oeld Wurld, which is aulwaes nue and buetiful to yung ies, whiel her faather and frend wocht her from th shor, furvently hoeping that nun but jentl forchuns wuud befaul th hapy-harted gurl, hoo waevd her hand to them til thae cuud see nuthing but th sumer sunshien dazling on th see.

CHAPTER Thurty-Wun
OUR Forin Corespondent


Deerest Peepl, Heer I reealy sit at a frunt windo of th Bath Hoetel, Piccadilly. It’s not a fashonabl plaess, but Unkl stopt heer yeers ago, and wun’t go enywhaer elss. However, we doen’t meen to stae long, so it’s no graet mater. O, I can’t begin to tel U how I enjoy it all! I never can, so I’ll oenly giv U bits out of mi noetbuuk, for I’ve dun nuthing but skech and scribl sinss I started.

I sent a lien from Halifax, when I felt prity mizerabl, but after that I got on delietfuly, seldom il, on dek all dae, with plenty of plezant peepl to amuez me. Everywun wuz verry kiend to me, espeshaly th ofisers. Doen’t laf, Jo, jentlmen reealy ar verry nesesaery abord ship, to hoeld on to, or to waet upon wun, and as thae hav nuthing to do, it’s a mursy to maek them uesful, utherwiez thae wuud smoek themselvs to deth, I’m afraed.

Ant and Flo wer porly all th wae, and liekt to be let aloen, so when I had dun whot I cuud for them, I went and enjoyd mieself. Such wauks on dek, such sunsets, such splendid aer and waevs! It wuz aulmoest as exsieting as rieding a fast horss, when we went rushing on so grandly. I wish Baet cuud hav cum, it wuud hav dun her so much guud. As for Jo, she wuud hav gon up and sat on th maintop jib, or whotever th hie thing is cauld, maed frends with th enjineers, and tooted on th capten’s speeking trumpet, she’d hav bin in such a staet of rapcher.

It wuz all hevenly, but I wuz glad to see th Ierish coest, and found it verry luvly, so green and suny, with broun cabins heer and thaer, rooins on sum of th hils, and jentlmen’s countryseats in th valys, with deer feeding in th parks. It wuz urly in th morning, but I didn’t regret geting up to see it, for th bae wuz fuul of litl boets, th shor so pikcheresk, and a roezy ski oeverhed. I never shal forget it.

At Queenstown wun of mi nue aqaentanses left us, Mr. Lennox, and when I sed sumthing about th Laeks of Killarney, he sied, and sung, with a luuk at me...

“O, hav U e’er hurd of Kate Kearney?
She lievs on th banks of Killarney;
From th glanss of her ie,
Shun daenjer and fli,
For faetal’s th glanss of Kate Kearney.”

Wuzn’t that nonsensikal?

We oenly stopt at Liverpool a fue ours. It’s a durty, noizy plaess, and I wuz glad to leev it. Unkl rusht out and baut a paer of dogskin gluvs, sum ugly, thik shoos, and an umbrela, and got shaevd à laa muton chop, th furst thing. Then he flaterd himself that he luukt liek a troo Briton, but th furst tiem he had th mud cleend off his shoos, th litl bootblak nue that an Amerrican stuud in them, and sed, with a grin, “Thaer yer har, sur. I’ve given ’em th laetest Yankee shien.” It amuezd Unkl imensly. O, I must tel U whot that absurd Lennox did! He got his frend Word, hoo caem on with us, to order a boekae for me, and th furst thing I saw in mi room wuz a luvly wun, with “Robert Lennox’s compliments,” on th card. Wuzn’t that fun, gurls? I liek traveling.

I never shal get to London if I doen’t hurry. Th trip wuz liek rieding thru a long pikcher galery, fuul of luvly landscaeps. Th farmhouzes wer mi deliet, with thacht roofs, ievy up to th eevs, latist windoes, and stout wimen with roezy children at th dors. Th verry catl luukt mor tranqil than ours, as thae stuud nae-deep in cloever, and th hens had a contented cluk, as if thae never got nurvus liek Yankee bidys. Such purfekt culor I never saw, th gras so green, ski so bloo, graen so yelo, wuuds so dark, I wuz in a rapcher all th wae. So wuz Flo, and we kept bounsing from wun sied to th uther, trieing to see everything whiel we wer whisking along at th raet of sixty miels an our. Ant wuz tierd and went to sleep, but Unkl red his giedbuuk, and wuudn’t be astonisht at enything. This is th wae we went on. Amy, flieing up—“O, that must be Kenilworth, that grae plaess amung th trees!” Flo, darting to mi windo—“How sweet! We must go thaer sumtiem, wun’t we Paapa?” Unkl, caamly admiering his boots—“No, mi deer, not unles U wont beer, that’s a brooery.”

A pauz—then Flo cried out, “Bles me, thaer’s a galoes and a man going up.” “Whaer, whaer?” shreeks Amy, staering out at too taul poests with a crossbeam and sum danggling chaens. “A colliery,” remarks Unkl, with a twinkl of th ie. “Heer’s a luvly flok of lams all lieing doun,” sez Amy. “See, Paapa, aren’t thae prity?” aded Flo sentimentaly. “Geess, yung laedys,” returns Unkl, in a toen that keeps us qieet til Flo setls doun to enjoy th Flurtaeshons of Capten Cavendish, and I hav th seenery all to mieself.

Of corss it raend when we got to London, and thaer wuz nuthing to be seen but fog and umbrelas. We rested, unpakt, and shopt a litl between th showers. Ant Mary got me sum nue things, for I caem off in such a hurry I wuzn’t haf redy. A whiet hat and bloo fether, a muzlin dres to mach, and th luvyest mantl U ever saw. Shoping in Reejent Street is purfektly splendid. Things seem so cheep, niess ribons oenly sixpence a yard. I laed in a stok, but shal get mi gluvs in Paris. Duzn’t that sound sort of elegant and rich?

Flo and I, for th fun of it, orderd a hansom cab, whiel Ant and Unkl wer out, and went for a driev, tho we lurnd afterward that it wuzn’t th thing for yung laedys to ried in them aloen. It wuz so droel! For when we wer shut in bi th wuuden aepron, th man droev so fast that Flo wuz frietend, and toeld me to stop him, but he wuz up outsied behiend sumwhaer, and I cuudn’t get at him. He didn’t heer me caul, nor see me flap mi parrasol in frunt, and thaer we wer, qiet helples, ratling awae, and whurling around corners at a braeknek paess. At last, in mi despaer, I saw a litl dor in th roof, and on poeking it oepen, a red ie apeerd, and a beery vois sed...

“Now, then, mum?”

I gaev mi order as soeberly as I cuud, and slaming doun th dor, with an “Ie, ie, mum,” th man maed his horss wauk, as if going to a fueneral. I poekt agen and sed, “A litl faster,” then off he went, helter-skelter as befor, and we reziend ourselvs to our faet.

Todae wuz faer, and we went to Hyde Park, cloez bi, for we ar mor aristocratik than we luuk. Th Duek of Devonshire lievs neer. I ofen see his fuutmen lounjing at th bak gaet, and th Duek of Wellington’s hous is not far off. Such siets as I saw, mi deer! It wuz as guud as Punch, for thaer wer fat dowagers roeling about in thaer red and yelo coeches, with gorjus Jeameses in silk stokings and velvet coets, up behiend, and pouderd coachmen in frunt. Smart maeds, with th roezyest children I ever saw, handsum gurls, luuking haf asleep, dandys in qeer Inglish hats and lavender kid lounjing about, and taul soeljers, in short red jakets and mufin caps stuk on wun sied, luuking so funy I longd to skech them.

Roten Roe meens ‘Root de Roi’, or th king's wae, but now it’s mor liek a rieding scool than enything elss. Th horses ar splendid, and th men, espeshaly th grooms, ried wel, but th wimen ar stif, and bounss, which isn’t acording to our rools. I longd to sho them a teering Amerrican galop, for thae troted solemly up and doun, in thaer scant habits and hie hats, luuking liek th wimen in a toy Noah’s Ark. Everywun rieds—oeld men, stout laedys, litl children—and th yung foeks do a deel of flurting heer, I saw a paer exchaenj roez buds, for it’s th thing to waer wun in th buton-hoel, and I thaut it rather a niess litl iedeea.

In th P.M. to Westminster Aby, but doen’t expekt me to descrieb it, that’s imposibl, so I’ll oenly sae it wuz subliem! This eevning we ar going to see Fechter, which wil be an aproepriat end to th hapyest dae of mi lief.

It’s verry laet, but I can’t let mi leter go in th morning without teling U whot hapend last eevning. Hoo do U think caem in, as we wer at tee? Laurie’s Inglish frends, Fred and Frank Vaughn! I wuz so serpriezd, for I shouldn’t hav noen them but for th cards. Boeth ar taul feloes with whiskers, Fred handsum in th Inglish stiel, and Frank much beter, for he oenly limps slietly, and uezes no cruches. Thae had hurd from Laurie whaer we wer to be, and caem to ask us to thaer hous, but Unkl wun’t go, so we shal return th caul, and see them as we can. Thae went to th theeater with us, and we did hav such a guud tiem, for Frank devoeted himself to Flo, and Fred and I taukt oever past, prezent, and fuecher fun as if we had noen eech uther all our daes. Tel Baet Frank askt for her, and wuz sorry to heer of her il helth. Fred laft when I spoek of Jo, and sent his ‘respektful compliments to th big hat’. Neether of them had forgoten Camp Laurence, or th fun we had thaer. Whot aejes ago it seems, duzn’t it?

Ant is taping on th waul for th thurd tiem, so I must stop. I reealy feel liek a disipaeted London fien laedy, rieting heer so laet, with mi room fuul of prity things, and mi hed a jumbl of parks, theeaters, nue gouns, and galant creechers hoo sae “Aa!” and twurl thaer blond mustashes with th troo Inglish lordliness. I long to see U all, and in spiet of mi nonsenss am, as ever, yuur luving...



Deer gurls,

In mi last I toeld U about our London vizit, how kiend th Vaughns wer, and whot plezant partys thae maed for us. I enjoyd th trips to Hampton Cort and th Kensington Muezeeum mor than enything elss, for at Hampton I saw Raphael’s cartoons, and at th Muezeeum, rooms fuul of pikchers bi Turner, Lawrence, Reynolds, Hogarth, and th uther graet creechers. Th dae in Richmond Park wuz charming, for we had a reguelar Inglish piknik, and I had mor splendid oeks and groops of deer than I cuud copy, aulso hurd a nietinggael, and saw larks go up. We ‘did’ London to our hart’s content, thanks to Fred and Frank, and wer sorry to go awae, for tho Inglish peepl ar slo to taek U in, when thae wunss maek up thaer miends to do it thae cannot be outdun in hospitality, I think. Th Vaughns hoep to meet us in Rome next winter, and I shal be dredfuly disapointed if thae doen’t, for Graess and I ar graet frends, and th boys verry niess feloes, espeshaly Fred.

Wel, we wer hardly setld heer, when he turnd up agen, saeing he had cum for a holidae, and wuz going to Switzerland. Ant luukt soeber at furst, but he wuz so cool about it she cuudn’t sae a wurd. And now we get on niesly, and ar verry glad he caem, for he speeks French liek a naetiv, and I doen’t noe whot we shuud do without him. Unkl duzn’t noe ten wurds, and insists on tauking Inglish verry loud, as if it wuud maek peepl understand him. Ant’s pronunsiaeshon is oeld-fashond, and Flo and I, tho we flaterd ourselvs that we nue a guud deel, fiend we doen’t, and ar verry graetful to hav Fred do th ‘parly vooing’, as Unkl cauls it.

Such delietful tiems as we ar having! Siet-seeing from morning til niet, stoping for niess lunches in th gae cafaes, and meeting with all sorts of droel advenchers. Raeny daes I spend in th Louvre, reveling in pikchers. Jo wuud turn up her nauty noez at sum of th fienest, becauz she has no soel for art, but I hav, and I’m cultivaeting ie and taest as fast as I can. She wuud liek th reliks of graet peepl beter, for I’ve seen her Napoleon’s cokt hat and grae coet, his baeby’s craedl and his oeld toothbrush, aulso Marie Antoinette’s litl shoo, th ring of Saent Denis, Charlemagne’s sord, and meny uther interesting things. I’ll tauk for ours about them when I cum, but haeven’t tiem to riet.

Th Palais Royale is a hevenly plaess, so fuul of beezhootery and luvly things that I’m neerly distrakted becauz I can’t bie them. Fred wonted to get me sum, but of corss I didn’t alow it. Then th Bois and Champs Elysees ar tres magnifique. I’ve seen th impeerial family several tiems, th emperor an ugly, hard-luuking man, th empres pael and prity, but drest in bad taest, I thaut—purpl dres, green hat, and yelo gluvs. Litl Nap is a handsum boy, hoo sits chating to his tuetor, and kises his hand to th peepl as he pases in his foer-horss baroosh, with postilions in red satin jakets and a mounted gard befor and behiend.

We ofen wauk in th Tuileries Gardens, for thae ar luvly, tho th anteek Luxembourg Gardens soot me beter. Pere laa Shaez is verry cuerius, for meny of th tooms ar liek smaul rooms, and luuking in, wun sees a taebl, with imejes or pikchers of th ded, and chaers for th morners to sit in when thae cum to lament. That is so Frenchy.

Our rooms ar on th Rue de Rivoli, and siting on th balcony, we luuk up and doun th long, brilyant street. It is so plezant that we spend our eevnings tauking thaer when too tierd with our dae’s wurk to go out. Fred is verry entertaeining, and is aultogether th moest agreeabl yung man I ever nue—exsept Laurie, hoos maners ar mor charming. I wish Fred wuz dark, for I doen’t fansy liet men, however, th Vaughns ar verry rich and cum of an exselent family, so I wun’t fiend fault with thaer yelo haer, as mi oen is yellower.

Next week we ar off to Germany and Switzerland, and as we shal travel fast, I shal oenly be aebl to giv U hasty leters. I keep mi dieary, and tri to ‘remember corektly and descrieb cleerly all that I see and admier’, as Faather adviezd. It is guud praktis for me, and with mi skechbuuk wil giv U a beter iedeea of mi tuur than thees scribls.

Adoo, I embraess U tenderly. “Votre Amie.”


Mi deer Maama,

Having a qieet our befor we leev for Berne, I’ll tri to tel U whot has hapend, for sum of it is verry important, as U wil see.

Th sael up th Rhine wuz purfekt, and I just sat and enjoyd it with all mi miet. Get Faather’s oeld giedbuuks and red about it. I haeven’t wurds buetiful enuf to descrieb it. At Coblentz we had a luvly tiem, for sum stoodents from Bonn, with hoom Fred got aqaented on th boet, gaev us a serenaed. It wuz a moonliet niet, and about wun oe’clok Flo and I wer waekt bi th moest delishus muezik under our windoes. We floo up, and hid behiend th curtens, but sli peeps shoed us Fred and th stoodents singing awae doun beloe. It wuz th moest roemantik thing I ever saw—th river, th brij of boets, th graet fortres opozit, moonliet everywhaer, and muezik fit to melt a hart of stoen.

When thae wer dun we throo doun sum flowers, and saw them scrambl for them, kis thaer hands to th invizibl laedys, and go lafing awae, to smoek and drink beer, I supoez. Next morning Fred shoed me wun of th crumpld flowers in his vest poket, and luukt verry sentimental. I laft at him, and sed I didn’t thro it, but Flo, which seemd to disgust him, for he tost it out of th windo, and turnd sensibl agen. I’m afraed I’m going to hav trubl with that boy, it begins to luuk liek it.

Th baths at Nassau wer verry gae, so wuz Baden-Baden, whaer Fred lost sum muny, and I scoelded him. He needs sumwun to luuk after him when Frank is not with him. Kate sed wunss she hoept he'd marry soon, and I qiet agree with her that it wuud be wel for him. Frankfurt wuz delietful. I saw Goethe’s hous, Schiller’s stachoo, and Dannecker’s faemus ‘Ariadne.’ It wuz verry luvly, but I shuud hav enjoyd it mor if I had noen th story beter. I didn’t liek to ask, as everywun nue it or pretended thae did. I wish Jo wuud tel me all about it. I aut to hav red mor, for I fiend I doen’t noe enything, and it mortifies me.

Now cums th seerius part, for it hapend heer, and Fred has just gon. He has bin so kiend and joly that we all got qiet fond of him. I never thaut of enything but a traveling frendship til th serenaed niet. Sinss then I’ve begun to feel that th moonliet wauks, balcony tauks, and daely advenchers wer sumthing mor to him than fun. I haeven’t flurted, Muther, trooly, but rememberd whot U sed to me, and hav dun mi verry best. I can’t help it if peepl liek me. I doen’t tri to maek them, and it wurys me if I doen’t caer for them, tho Jo sez I haeven’t got eny hart. Now I noe Muther wil shaek her hed, and th gurls sae, “O, th mursenaery litl rech!”, but I’ve maed up mi miend, and if Fred asks me, I shal aksept him, tho I’m not madly in luv. I liek him, and we get on cumfortably together. He is handsum, yung, clever enuf, and verry rich—ever so much richer than th Laurences. I doen’t think his family wuud objekt, and I shuud be verry hapy, for thae ar all kiend, wel-bred, jenerus peepl, and thae liek me. Fred, as th eldest twin, wil hav th estaet, I supoez, and such a splendid wun it is! A sity hous in a fashonabl street, not so shoey as our big houses, but twiess as cumfortabl and fuul of solid lukshery, such as Inglish peepl beleev in. I liek it, for it’s jenuein. I’ve seen th plaet, th family jooels, th oeld survants, and pikchers of th cuntry plaess, with its park, graet hous, luvly grounds, and fien horses. O, it wuud be all I shuud ask! And I’d rather hav it than eny tietl such as gurls snap up so redily, and fiend nuthing behiend. I mae be mursenaery, but I haet poverty, and doen’t meen to baer it a mienuet longger than I can help. Wun of us must marry wel. Meg didn’t, Jo wun’t, Baet can’t yet, so I shal, and maek everything oecae all round. I wuudn’t marry a man I haeted or despiezd. U mae be shuur of that, and tho Fred is not mi model heero, he duz verry wel, and in tiem I shuud get fond enuf of him if he wuz verry fond of me, and let me do just as I liekt. So I’ve bin turning th mater oever in mi miend th last week, for it wuz imposibl to help seeing that Fred liekt me. He sed nuthing, but litl things shoed it. He never goes with Flo, aulwaes gets on mi sied of th carrej, taebl, or promenaed, luuks sentimental when we ar aloen, and frouns at enywun elss hoo venchers to speek to me. Yesterdae at diner, when an Austrian ofiser staerd at us and then sed sumthing to his frend, a raekish-luuking barron, about ‘ein wonderschones Blondchen’, Fred luukt as feerss as a lieon, and cut his meet so savejly it neerly floo off his plaet. He isn’t wun of th cool, stif Inglishman, but is rather pepery, for he has Scoch blud in him, as wun miet ges from his bony bloo ies.

Wel, last eevning we went up to th casl about sunset, at leest all of us but Fred, hoo wuz to meet us thaer after going to th Poest Restante for leters. We had a charming tiem poeking about th rooins, th vaults whaer th monster tun is, and th buetiful gardens maed by th elektor long ago for his Inglish wief. I liekt th graet terris best, for th vue wuz divien, so whiel th rest went to see th rooms insied, I sat thaer trieing to skech th grae stoen lieon’s hed on th waul, with scarlet wuudbien spraes hanging round it. I felt as if I’d got into a roemanss, siting thaer, woching th Neckar roeling thru th valy, lisening to th muezik of th Austrian band beloe, and waeting for mi luver, liek a reeal storybuuk gurl. I had a feeling that sumthing wuz going to hapen and I wuz redy for it. I didn’t feel blushy or quakey, but qiet cool and oenly a litl exsieted.

Bi-and-bi I hurd Fred’s vois, and then he caem hurying thru th graet arch to fiend me. He luukt so trubld that I forgot all about mieself, and askt whot th mater wuz. He sed he'd just got a leter beging him to cum hoem, for Frank wuz verry il. So he wuz going at wunss on th niet traen and oenly had tiem to sae guud-bi. I wuz verry sorry for him, and disapointed for mieself, but oenly for a mienuet becauz he sed, as he shuuk hands, and sed it in a wae that I cuud not mistaek, “I shal soon cum bak, U wun’t forget me, Amy?”

I didn’t promis, but I luukt at him, and he seemd satisfied, and thaer wuz no tiem for enything but mesejes and guud-byes, for he wuz off in an our, and we all mis him verry much. I noe he wonted to speek, but I think, from sumthing he wunss hinted, that he had promist his faather not to do enything of th sort yet a whiel, for he is a rash boy, and th oeld jentlman dreds a forin dauter-in-law. We shal soon meet in Rome, and then, if I doen’t chaenj mi miend, I’ll sae “Yes, thank U,” when he sez “Wil U, pleez?”

Of corss this is all verry prievat, but I wisht U to noe whot wuz going on. Doen’t be ankshus about me, remember I am yuur ‘proodent Amy’, and be shuur I wil do nuthing rashly. Send me as much adviess as U liek. I’ll uez it if I can. I wish I cuud see U for a guud tauk, Marmee. Luv and trust me.

Ever yuur AMY

CHAPTER Thurty-Too

“Jo, I’m ankshus about Baet.”

“Whi, Muther, she has seemd unuezhualy wel sinss th baebys caem.”

“It’s not her helth that trubls me now, it’s her spirits. I’m shuur thaer is sumthing on her miend, and I wont U to discuver whot it is.”

“Whot maeks U think so, Muther?”

“She sits aloen a guud deel, and duzn’t tauk to her faather as much as she uezd. I found her crieing oever th baebys th uther dae. When she sings, th songs ar aulwaes sad wuns, and now and then I see a luuk in her faess that I doen’t understand. This isn’t liek Baet, and it wurys me.”

“Hav U askt her about it?”

“I hav tried wunss or twiess, but she eether evaeded mi qeschons or luukt so distrest that I stopt. I never forss mi children’s confidenss, and I seldom hav to waet for long.”

Mrs. March glanst at Jo as she spoek, but th faess opozit seemd qiet unconshus of eny seecret disquietude but Baet’s, and after soeing thautfuly for a mienuet, Jo sed, “I think she is groeing up, and so begins to dreem dreems, and hav hoeps and feers and fijets, without noeing whi or being aebl to explaen them. Whi, Muther, Baet’s aeteen, but we doen’t reealiez it, and treet her liek a chield, forgeting she’s a wuuman.”

“So she is. Deer hart, how fast U do gro up,” returnd her muther with a sie and a smiel.

“Can’t be helpt, Marmee, so U must rezien yuurself to all sorts of wurys, and let yuur burds hop out of th nest, wun by wun. I promis never to hop verry far, if that is eny cumfort to U.”

“It’s a graet cumfort, Jo. I aulwaes feel strong when U ar at hoem, now Meg is gon. Baet is too feebl and Amy too yung to depend upon, but when th tug cums, U ar aulwaes redy.”

“Whi, U noe I doen’t miend hard jobs much, and thaer must aulwaes be wun scrub in a family. Amy is splendid in fien wurks and I’m not, but I feel in mi element when all th carpets ar to be taeken up, or haf th family faul sik at wunss. Amy is distingwishing herself abraud, but if enything is amis at hoem, I’m yuur man.”

“I leev Baet to yuur hands, then, for she wil oepen her tender litl hart to her Jo sooner than to enywun elss. Be verry kiend, and doen’t let her think enywun woches or tauks about her. If she oenly wuud get qiet strong and cheerful agen, I shouldn’t hav a wish in th wurld.”

“Hapy wuuman! I’ve got heeps.”

“Mi deer, whot ar thae?”

“I’ll setl Bethy’s trubls, and then I’ll tel U mien. Thae ar not verry waering, so thae’l keep.” and Jo sticht awae, with a wiez nod which set her muther’s hart at rest about her for th prezent at leest.

Whiel aparrently absorbd in her oen afaers, Jo wocht Baet, and after meny conflikting conjekchers, fienaly setld upon wun which seemd to explaen th chaenj in her. A sliet insident gaev Jo th cloo to th mistery, she thaut, and lievly fansy, luving hart did th rest. She wuz afekting to riet bizily wun Saterdae afternoon, when she and Baet wer aloen together. Yet as she scribld, she kept her ie on her sister, hoo seemd unuezhualy qieet. Siting at th windo, Baet’s wurk ofen dropt into her lap, and she leend her hed upon her hand, in a dejekted atitued, whiel her ies rested on th dul, autumnal landscaep. Sudenly sum wun past beloe, whisling liek an operatik blakburd, and a vois cauld out, “All sereen! Cuming in toniet.”

Baet started, leend forward, smield and noded, wocht th paser-bi til his qik tramp died awae, then sed softly as if to herself, “How strong and wel and hapy that deer boy luuks.”

“Hum!” sed Jo, stil intent upon her sister’s faess, for th briet culor faeded as qikly as it caem, th smiel vanisht, and prezently a teer lae shiening on th windo lej. Baet whiskt it off, and in her haf-avurted faess red a tender sorro that maed her oen ies fil. Feering to betrae herself, she slipt awae, murmering sumthing about needing mor paeper.

“Mursy on me, Baet luvs Laurie!” she sed, siting doun in her oen room, pael with th shok of th discuvery which she beleevd she had just maed. “I never dreemd of such a thing. Whot wil Muther sae? I wunder if her...” thaer Jo stopt and turnd scarlet with a suden thaut. “If he shouldn’t luv bak agen, how dredful it wuud be. He must. I’ll maek him!” and she shuuk her hed threteningly at th pikcher of th mischivus-luuking boy lafing at her from th waul. “O deer, we ar groeing up with a venjenss. Heer’s Meg marryd and a maama, Amy flurishing awae at Paris, and Baet in luv. I’m th oenly wun that has senss enuf to keep out of mischif.” Jo thaut intently for a mienuet with her ies fixt on th pikcher, then she smoothd out her rinkld forhed and sed, with a desieded nod at th faess opozit, “No thank U, sur, U’r verry charming, but U’ve no mor staebility than a wethercok. So U needn’t riet tuching noets and smiel in that insinueaeting wae, for it wun’t do a bit of guud, and I wun’t hav it.”

Then she sied, and fel into a revery from which she did not waek til th urly twieliet sent her doun to taek nue obzervaeshons, which oenly confurmd her suspishon. Tho Laurie flurted with Amy and joekt with Jo, his maner to Baet had aulwaes bin pecuelyarly kiend and jentl, but so wuz evrybody’s. Thaerfor, no-wun thaut of imajining that he caerd mor for her than for th uthers. Indeed, a jeneral impreshon had prevaeld in th family of laet that ‘our boy’ wuz geting fonder than ever of Jo, hoo, however, wuudn’t heer a wurd upon th subjekt and scoelded vieolently if enywun daerd to sugjest it. If thae had noen th vaerius tender pasejes which had bin nipt in th bud, thae wuud hav had th imenss satisfakshon of saeing, “I toeld U so.” But Jo haeted ‘filandering’, and wuudn’t alow it, aulwaes having a joek or a smiel redy at th leest sien of impending daenjer.

When Laurie furst went to colej, he fel in luv about wunss a munth, but thees smaul flaems wer as breef as ardent, did no damej, and much amuezd Jo, hoo tuuk graet interest in th aulternaeshons of hoep, despaer, and rezignaeshon, which wer confieded to her in thaer weekly conferenses. But thaer caem a tiem when Laurie seest to wurship at meny shriens, hinted darkly at wun all-absorbing pashon, and induljd ocaezhonaly in Byronic fits of gloom. Then he avoided th tender subjekt aultogether, roet filosofikal noets to Jo, turnd stoodius, and gaev out that he wuz going to ‘dig’, intending to grajuaet in a blaez of glory. This sooted th yung laedy beter than twieliet confidenses, tender preshers of th hand, and eloqent glanses of th ie, for with Jo, braen developt urlyer than hart, and she prefurd imajinaery heeroes to reeal wuns, becauz when tierd of them, th former cuud be shut up in th tin kichen til cauld for, and th later wer les manejabl.

Things wer in this staet when th grand discuvery wuz maed, and Jo wocht Laurie that niet as she had never dun befor. If she had not got th nue iedeea into her hed, she wuud hav seen nuthing uenuezhual in th fakt that Baet wuz verry qieet, and Laurie verry kiend to her. But having given th raen to her lievly fansy, it galopt awae with her at a graet paess, and comon senss, being rather weekend bi a long corss of roemanss rieting, did not cum to th rescue. As uezhual Baet lae on th soefa and Laurie sat in a loe chaer cloez bi, amuezing her with all sorts of gosip, for she depended on her weekly ‘spin’, and he never disapointed her. But that eevning Jo fansyd that Baet’s ies rested on th lievly, dark faess besied her with pecueliar plezher, and that she lisend with intenss interest to an acount of sum exsieting criket mach, tho th fraezes, ‘caut off a tice’, ‘stumpt off his ground’, and ‘th leg hit for three’, wer as intelijibl to her as Sanskrit. She aulso fansyd, having set her hart upon seeing it, that she saw a surten increess of jentlnes in Laurie’s maner, that he dropt his vois now and then, laft les than uezhual, wuz a litl absent-miended, and setld th afgan oever Baet’s feet with an asidueity that wuz reealy aulmoest tender.

“Hoo noes? Straenjer things hav hapend,” thaut Jo, as she fust about th room. “She wil maek qiet an aenjel of him, and he wil maek lief delietfuly eezy and plezant for th deer, if thae oenly luv eech uther. I doen’t see how he can help it, and I do beleev he wuud if th rest of us wer out of th wae.”

As everywun wuz out of th wae but herself, Jo began to feel that she aut to dispoez of herself with all speed. But whaer shuud she go? And burning to lae herself upon th shrien of sisterly devoeshon, she sat doun to setl that pointer.

Now, th oeld soefa wuz a reguelar paetriark of a soefa—long, braud, wel-cuushond, and loe, a triefl shaby, as wel it miet be, for th gurls had slept and sprauld on it as baebys, fisht oever th bak, roed on th arms, and had menajerys under it as children, and rested tierd heds, dreemd dreems, and lisend to tender tauk on it as yung wimen. Thae all luvd it, for it wuz a family refuej, and wun corner had aulwaes bin Jo’s faevorit lounjing plaess. Amung th meny piloes that adornd th venerabl couch wuz wun, hard, round, cuverd with prikly hors-haer, and furnisht with a noby buton at eech end. This repulsiv pilo wuz her espeshal property, being uezd as a wepon of defenss, a barricaed, or a sturn preventiv of too much slumber.

Laurie nue this pilo wel, and had cauz to regard it with deep avurzhon, having bin unmursifuly pumeld with it in former daes when romping wuz alowd, and now freeqently debard bi it from th seet he moest cuveted next to Jo in th soefa corner. If ‘th sausej’ as thae cauld it, stuud on end, it wuz a sien that he miet aproech and repoez, but if it lae flat acros th soefa, wo to man, wuuman, or chield hoo daerd disturb it! That eevning Jo forgot to barricaed her corner, and had not bin in her seet fiev minits, befor a masiv form apeerd besied her, and with boeth arms spred oever th soefa bak, boeth long legs strecht out befor him, Laurie exclaemd, with a sie of satisfakshon...

“Now, this is filing at th priess.”

“No slang,” snapt Jo, slaming doun th pilo. But it wuz too laet, thaer wuz no room for it, and coesting onto th flor, it disapeerd in a moest misteerius maner.

“Cum, Jo, doen’t be thorny. After studying himself to a skeleton all th week, a felo dezurvs peting and aut to get it.”

“Baet wil pet U. I’m bizy.”

“No, she’s not to be botherd with me, but U liek that sort of thing, unles U’ve sudenly lost yuur taest for it. Hav U? Do U haet yuur boy, and wont to fier piloes at him?”

Enything mor wheedlesome than that tuching apeel wuz seldom hurd, but Jo qencht ‘her boy’ bi turning on him with a sturn qeery, “How meny boekaes hav U sent Mis Randal this week?”

“Not wun, upon mi wurd. She’s engaejd. Now then.”

“I’m glad of it, that’s wun of yuur foolish extraveganses, sending flowers and things to gurls for hoom U doen’t caer too pins,” continued Jo reproovingly.

“Sensibl gurls for hoom I do caer hoel paepers of pins wun’t let me send them ‘flowers and things’, so whot can I do? Mi feelings need a ‘vent’.”

“Muther duzn’t aproov of flurting eeven in fun, and U do flurt desperatly, Teddy.”

“I’d giv enything if I cuud anser, ‘So do U’. As I can’t, I’ll meerly sae that I doen’t see eny harm in that plezant litl gaem, if all partys understand that it’s oenly plae.”

“Wel, it duz luuk plezant, but I can’t lurn how it’s dun. I’ve tried, becauz wun feels aukward in cumpany not to do as evrybody elss is dooing, but I doen’t seem to get on”, sed Jo, forgeting to plae mentor.

“Taek lesons of Amy, she has a reguelar talent for it.”

“Yes, she duz it verry pritily, and never seems to go too far. I supoez it’s nacheral to sum peepl to pleez without trieing, and uthers to aulwaes sae and do th rong thing in th rong plaess.”

“I’m glad U can’t flurt. It’s reealy refreshing to see a sensibl, straetforward gurl, hoo can be joly and kiend without maeking a fool of herself. Between ourselvs, Jo, sum of th gurls I noe reealy do go on at such a raet I’m ashaemd of them. Thae doen’t meen eny harm, I’m shuur, but if thae nue how we feloes taukt about them afterward, thae’d mend thaer waes, I fansy.”

“Thae do th saem, and as thaer tungs ar th sharpest, U feloes get th wurst of it, for U ar as sily as thae, every bit. If U behaevd properly, thae wuud, but noeing U liek thaer nonsenss, thae keep it up, and then U blaem them.”

“Much U noe about it, maa’am,” sed Laurie in a supeerior toen. “We doen’t liek romps and flurts, tho we mae akt as if we did sumtiems. Th prity, modest gurls ar never taukt about, exsept respektfuly, amung jentlman. Bles yuur inosent soel! If U cuud be in mi plaess for a munth U’d see things that wuud astonish U a triefl. Upon mi wurd, when I see wun of thoes haerum-scaerum gurls, I aulwaes wont to sae with our frend Cok Robin...

“Out upon U, fie upon U,
Boeld-faest jig!”

It wuz imposibl to help lafing at th funy conflikt between Laurie’s shivalrus reluktanss to speek il of wuumankiend, and his verry nacheral disliek of th unfeminine foly of which fashonabl soesieety shoed him meny sampls. Jo nue that ‘yung Laurence’ wuz regarded as a moest elijibl parti bi wurldly maamas, wuz much smield upon bi thaer dauters, and flaterd enuf bi laedys of all aejes to maek a coxcomb of him, so she wocht him rather jelusly, feering he wuud be spoild, and rejoist mor than she confest to fiend that he stil beleevd in modest gurls. Returning sudenly to her admonitory toen, she sed, droping her vois, “If U must hav a ‘vent’, Teddy, go and devoet yuurself to wun of th ‘prity, modest gurls’ hoom U do respekt, and not waest yuur tiem with th sily wuns.”

“U reealy adviez it?” and Laurie luukt at her with an od mixcher of angzieity and merriment in his faess.

“Yes, I do, but U’d beter waet til U ar thru colej, on th hoel, and be fiting yuurself for th plaess meentiem. U’r not haf guud enuf for—wel, hooever th modest gurl mae be.” and Jo luukt a litl qeer liekwiez, for a naem had aulmoest escaept her.

“That I’m not!” aqi’est Laurie, with an expreshon of huemility qiet nue to him, as he dropt his ies and absently woond Jo’s aepron tasel round his fingger.

“Mursy on us, this wil never do,” thaut Jo, ading aloud, “Go and sing to me. I’m dieing for sum muezik, and aulwaes liek yuurs.”

“I’d rather stae heer, thank U.”

“Wel, U can’t, thaer isn’t room. Go and maek yuurself uesful, sinss U ar too big to be ornamental. I thaut U haeted to be tied to a wuuman’s aepron string?” retorted Jo, qoeting surten rebelyus wurds of his oen.

“Aa, that depends on hoo waers th aepron!” and Laurie gaev an audaeshus tweek at th tasel.

“Ar U going?” demanded Jo, dieving for th pilo.

He fled at wunss, and th mienuet it wuz wel, “Up with th bonets of bony Dundee,” she slipt awae to return no mor til th yung jentlman departed in hie dujon.

Jo lae long awaek that niet, and wuz just droping off when th sound of a stiefld sob maed her fli to Baet’s bedsied, with th ankshus inqiery, “Whot is it, deer?”

“I thaut U wer asleep,” sobd Baet.

“Is it th oeld paen, mi preshus?”

“No, it’s a nue wun, but I can baer it,” and Baet tried to chek her teers.

“Tel me all about it, and let me cuer it as I ofen did th uther.”

“U can’t, thaer is no cuer.” Thaer Baet’s vois gaev wae, and clinging to her sister, she cried so despaeringly that Jo wuz frietend.

“Whaer is it? Shal I caul Muther?”

“No, no, doen’t caul her, doen’t tel her. I shal be beter soon. Lie doun heer and ‘puur’ mi hed. I’ll be qieet and go to sleep, indeed I wil.”

Jo oebaed, but as her hand went softly to and fro acros Baet’s hot forhed and wet ielids, her hart wuz verry fuul and she longd to speek. But yung as she wuz, Jo had lurnd that harts, liek flowers, cannot be roodly handld, but must oepen nacheraly, so tho she beleevd she nue th cauz of Baet’s nue paen, she oenly sed, in her tenderest toen, “Duz enything trubl U, deary?”

“Yes, Jo,” after a long pauz.

“Wuudn’t it cumfort U to tel me whot it is?”

“Not now, not yet.”

“Then I wun’t ask, but remember, Bethy, that Muther and Jo ar aulwaes glad to heer and help U, if thae can.”

“I noe it. I’ll tel U bi-and-bi.”

“Is th paen beter now?”

“O, yes, much beter, U ar so cumfortabl, Jo.”

“Go to sleep, deer. I’ll stae with U.”

So cheek to cheek thae fel asleep, and on th morro Baet seemd qiet herself agen, for at aeteen neether heds nor harts aek long, and a luving wurd can medisin moest ils.

But Jo had maed up her miend, and after pondering oever a projekt for sum daes, she confieded it to her muther.

“U askt me th uther dae whot mi wishes wer. I’ll tel U wun of them, Marmee,” she began, as thae sat along together. “I wont to go awae sumwhaer this winter for a chaenj.”

“Whi, Jo?” and her muther luukt up qikly, as if th wurds sugjested a dubl meening.

With her ies on her wurk Jo anserd soeberly, “I wont sumthing nue. I feel restles and ankshus to be seeing, dooing, and lurning mor than I am. I brood too much oever mi oen smaul afaers, and need sturing up, so as I can be spaerd this winter, I’d liek to hop a litl wae and tri mi wings.”

“Whaer wil U hop?”

“To Nue York. I had a briet iedeea yesterdae, and this is it. U noe Mrs. Kirke roet to U for sum respektabl yung purson to teech her children and soe. It’s rather hard to fiend just th thing, but I think I shuud soot if I tried.”

“Mi deer, go out to survis in that graet bording hous!” and Mrs. March luukt serpriezd, but not displeezd.

“It’s not exaktly going out to survis, for Mrs. Kirke is yuur frend—th kiendest soel that ever livd—and wuud maek things plezant for me, I noe. Her family is separat from th rest, and no-wun noes me thaer. Doen’t caer if thae do. It’s onest wurk, and I’m not ashaemd of it.”

“Nor I. But yuur rieting?”

“All th beter for th chaenj. I shal see and heer nue things, get nue iedeeas, and eeven if I haeven’t much tiem thaer, I shal bring hoem qontitys of mateerial for mi rubish.”

“I hav no dout of it, but ar thees yuur oenly reezons for this suden fansy?”

“No, Muther.”

“Mae I noe th uthers?”

Jo luukt up and Jo luukt doun, then sed sloely, with suden culor in her cheeks. “It mae be vaen and rong to sae it, but—I’m afraed—Laurie is geting too fond of me.”

“Then U doen’t caer for him in th wae it is evident he begins to caer for U?” and Mrs. March luukt ankshus as she puut th qeschon.

“Mursy, no! I luv th deer boy, as I aulwaes hav, and am imensly proud of him, but as for enything mor, it’s out of th qeschon.”

“I’m glad of that, Jo.”

“Whi, pleez?”

“Becauz, deer, I doen’t think U sooted to wun anuther. As frends U ar verry hapy, and yuur freeqent qorrels soon blo oever, but I feer U wuud boeth rebl if U wer maeted for lief. U ar too much aliek and too fond of freedom, not to menshon hot tempers and strong wils, to get on hapily together, in a relaeshon which needs infinit paeshenss and forbaeranss, as wel as luv.”

“That’s just th feeling I had, tho I cuudn’t expres it. I’m glad U think he is oenly begining to caer for me. It wuud trubl me sadly to maek him unhapy, for I cuudn’t faul in luv with th deer oeld felo meerly out of gratitood, cuud I?”

“U ar shuur of his feeling for U?”

Th culor deepend in Jo’s cheeks as she anserd, with th luuk of minggld plezher, pried, and paen which yung gurls waer when speeking of furst luvers, “I’m afraed it is so, Muther. He hasn’t sed enything, but he luuks a graet deel. I think I had beter go awae befor it cums to enything.”

“I agree with U, and if it can be manejd U shal go.”

Jo luukt releevd, and after a pauz, sed, smieling, “How Mrs. Moffat wuud wunder at yuur wont of manejment, if she nue, and how she wil rejois that Annie mae stil hoep.”

“Aa, Jo, muthers mae difer in thaer manejment, but th hoep is th saem in all—th dezier to see thaer children hapy. Meg is so, and I am content with her suksess. U I leev to enjoy yuur liberty til U tier of it, for oenly then wil U fiend that thaer is sumthing sweeter. Amy is mi cheef caer now, but her guud senss wil help her. For Baet, I indulj no hoeps exsept that she mae be wel. Bi th wae, she seems brieter this last dae or too. Hav U spoeken to her?’

“Yes, she oend she had a trubl, and promist to tel me bi-and-bi. I sed no mor, for I think I noe it,” and Jo toeld her litl story.

Mrs. March shuuk her hed, and did not taek so roemantik a vue of th caess, but luukt graev, and repeeted her opinyon that for Laurie’s saek Jo shuud go awae for a tiem.

“Let us sae nuthing about it to him til th plan is setld, then I’ll run awae befor he can colekt his wits and be trajik. Baet must think I’m going to pleez mieself, as I am, for I can’t tauk about Laurie to her. But she can pet and cumfort him after I’m gon, and so cuer him of this roemantik noeshon. He's bin thru so meny litl trieals of th sort, he's uezd to it, and wil soon get oever his lovelornity.”

Jo spoek hoepfuly, but cuud not rid herself of th forboeding feer that this ‘litl trieal’ wuud be harder than th uthers, and that Laurie wuud not get oever his ‘lovelornity’ as eezily as heertofor.

Th plan wuz taukt oever in a family counsil and agreed upon, for Mrs. Kirke gladly aksepted Jo, and promist to maek a plezant hoem for her. Th teeching wuud render her independent, and such leezher as she got miet be maed profitabl bi rieting, whiel th nue seens and soesieety wuud be boeth uesful and agreeabl. Jo liekt th prospekt and wuz eeger to be gon, for th hoem nest wuz groeing too narro for her restles naecher and advencherus spirit. When all wuz setld, with feer and trembling she toeld Laurie, but to her serpriez he tuuk it verry qieetly. He had bin graever than uezhual of laet, but verry plezant, and when joekingly acuezd of turning oever a nue leef, he anserd soeberly, “So I am, and I meen this wun shal stae turnd.”

Jo wuz verry much releevd that wun of his vurchu’us fits shuud cum on just then, and maed her preparaeshons with a lietend hart, for Baet seemd mor cheerful, and hoept she wuz dooing th best for all.

“Wun thing I leev in yuur espeshal caer,” she sed, th niet befor she left.

“U meen yuur paepers?” askt Baet.

“No, mi boy. Be verry guud to him, wun’t U?”

“Of corss I wil, but I can’t fil yuur plaess, and he'l mis U sadly.”

“It wun’t hurt him, so remember, I leev him in yuur charj, to plaeg, pet, and keep in order.”

“I’ll do mi best, for yuur saek,” promist Baet, wundering whi Jo luukt at her so qeerly.

When Laurie sed guud-by, he whisperd significantly, “It wun’t do a bit of guud, Jo. Mi ie is on U, so miend whot U do, or I’ll cum and bring U hoem.”

JO’S Jurnal

Nue York, Noevember

Deer Marmee and Baet,

I’m going to riet U a reguelar voluem, for I’ve got heeps to tel, tho I’m not a fien yung laedy traveling on th continent. When I lost siet of Faather’s deer oeld faess, I felt a triefl bloo, and miet hav shed a brieny drop or too, if an Ierish laedy with foer smaul children, all crieing mor or les, hadn’t divurted mi miend, for I amuezd mieself bi droping jinjerbred nuts oever th seet every tiem thae oepend thaer mouths to ror.

Soon th sun caem out, and taeking it as a guud oemen, I cleerd up liekwiez and enjoyd mi jurny with all mi hart.

Mrs. Kirke welcumd me so kiendly I felt at hoem at wunss, eeven in that big hous fuul of straenjers. She gaev me a funy litl ski parlor—all she had, but thaer is a stoev in it, and a niess taebl in a suny windo, so I can sit heer and riet whenever I liek. A fien vue and a church tower opozit atoen for th meny staers, and I tuuk a fansy to mi den on th spot. Th nursery, whaer I am to teech and soe, is a plezant room next Mrs. Kirke’s prievat parlor, and th too litl gurls ar prity children, rather spoild, I fansy, but thae tuuk to me after teling them Th Seven Bad Pigs, and I’ve no dout I shal maek a model guvernes.

I am to hav mi meels with th children, if I prefur it to th graet taebl, and for th prezent I do, for I am bashful, tho no-wun wil beleev it.

“Now, mi deer, maek yuurself at hoem,” sed Mrs. K. in her mutherly wae, “I’m on th driev from morning to niet, as U mae supoez with such a family, but a graet angzieity wil be off mi miend if I noe th children ar saef with U. Mi rooms ar aulwaes oepen to U, and yuur oen shal be as cumfortabl as I can maek it. Thaer ar sum plezant peepl in th hous if U feel soeshabl, and yuur eevnings ar aulwaes free. Cum to me if enything goes rong, and be as hapy as U can. Thaer’s th tee bel, I must run and chaenj mi cap.” And off she busld, leeving me to setl mieself in mi nue nest.

As I went dounstaers soon after, I saw sumthing I liekt. Th fiets ar verry long in this taul hous, and as I stuud waeting at th hed of th thurd wun for a litl survant gurl to lumber up, I saw a jentlman cum along behiend her, taek th hevy hod of coel out of her hand, carry it all th wae up, puut it doun at a dor neer bi, and wauk awae, saeing, with a kiend nod and a forin aksent, “It goes beter so. Th litl bak is too yung to haf such hevynes.”

Wuzn’t it guud of him? I liek such things, for as Faather sez, triefls sho carrakter. When I menshond it to Mrs. K., that eevning, she laft, and sed, “That must hav bin Profesor Bhaer, he's aulwaes dooing things of that sort.”

Mrs. K. toeld me he wuz from Berlin, verry lurnd and guud, but puur as a church mous, and givs lesons to suport himself and too litl orfan nefues hoom he is ejucaeting heer, acording to th wishes of his sister, hoo marryd an Amerrican. Not a verry roemantik story, but it interested me, and I wuz glad to heer that Mrs. K. lends him her parlor for sum of his scolars. Thaer is a glas dor between it and th nursery, and I meen to peep at him, and then I’ll tel U how he luuks. He's aulmoest forty, so it’s no harm, Marmee.

After tee and a go-to-bed romp with th litl gurls, I atakt th big wurkbasket, and had a qieet eevning chating with mi nue frend. I shal keep a jurnal-leter, and send it wunss a week, so guudniet, and mor tomorro.

Tuezdae Eev

Had a lievly tiem in mi seminarry this morning, for th children akted liek Sancho, and at wun tiem I reealy thaut I shuud shaek them all round. Sum guud aenjel inspired me to tri jimnastiks, and I kept it up til thae wer glad to sit doun and keep stil. After lunchon, th gurl tuuk them out for a wauk, and I went to mi needlwurk liek litl Mabel ‘with a wiling miend’. I wuz thanking mi stars that I’d lurnd to maek niess buttonholes, when th parlor dor oepend and shut, and sumwun began to hum, Kennst Du Das Land, liek a big bumblbee. It wuz dredfuly improper, I noe, but I cuudn’t rezist th temptaeshon, and lifting wun end of th curten befor th glas dor, I peept in. Profesor Bhaer wuz thaer, and whiel he araenjd his buuks, I tuuk a guud luuk at him. A reguelar Jurman—rather stout, with broun haer tumbld all oever his hed, a buushy beerd, guud noez, th kiendest ies I ever saw, and a splendid big vois that duz wun’s eers guud, after our sharp or slipshod Amerrican gabl. His cloeths wer rusty, his hands wer larj, and he hadn’t a reealy handsum feecher in his faess, exsept his buetiful teeth, yet I liekt him, for he had a fien hed, his linen wuz verry niess, and he luukt liek a jentlman, tho too butons wer off his coet and thaer wuz a pach on wun shoo. He luukt soeber in spiet of his huming, til he went to th windo to turn th hieasinth bulbs tord th sun, and stroek th cat, hoo reseevd him liek an oeld frend. Then he smield, and when a tap caem at th dor, cauld out in a loud, brisk toen, “Heerin!”

I wuz just going to run, when I caut siet of a morsel of a chield carrying a big buuk, and stopt, to see whot wuz going on.

“Me wonts me Bhaer,” sed th miet, slaming doun her buuk and runing to meet him.

“Thow shalt haf thi Bhaer. Cum, then, and taek a goot hug from him, mi Tina,” sed th Profesor, caching her up with a laf, and hoelding her so hie oever his hed that she had to stoop her litl faess to kis him.

“Now me mus tuddy mi lessin,” went on th funy litl thing. So he puut her up at th taebl, oepend th graet dikshonaery she had braut, and gaev her a paeper and pensil, and she scribld awae, turning a leef now and then, and pasing her litl fat fingger doun th paej, as if fiending a wurd, so soeberly that I neerly betraed mieself bi a laf, whiel Mr. Bhaer stuud stroeking her prity haer with a faatherly luuk that maed me think she must be his oen, tho she luukt mor French than Jurman.

Anuther nok and th apeeranss of too yung laedys sent me bak to mi wurk, and thaer I vurchu’usly remaend thru all th noiz and gabling that went on next dor. Wun of th gurls kept lafing affectedly, and saeing, “Now Profesor,” in a coeketish toen, and th uther pronounst her Jurman with an aksent that must hav maed it hard for him to keep soeber.

Boeth seemd to tri his paeshenss sorly, for mor than wunss I hurd him sae emfatikaly, “No, no, it is not so, U haf not atend to whot I sae,” and wunss thaer wuz a loud rap, as if he struk th taebl with his buuk, foloed bi th despaering exclamaeshon, “Prut! It all goes bad this dae.”

Puur man, I pityd him, and when th gurls wer gon, tuuk just wun mor peep to see if he servievd it. He seemd to hav throen himself bak in his chaer, tierd out, and sat thaer with his ies shut til th clok struk too, when he jumpt up, puut his buuks in his poket, as if redy for anuther leson, and taeking litl Tina hoo had faulen asleep on th soefa in his arms, he carryd her qieetly awae. I fansy he has a hard lief of it. Mrs. Kirke askt me if I wuudn’t go doun to th fiev oe’clok diner, and feeling a litl bit hoemsik, I thaut I wuud, just to see whot sort of peepl ar under th saem roof with me. So I maed mieself respektabl and tried to slip in behiend Mrs. Kirke, but as she is short and I’m taul, mi eforts at conseelment wer rather a faeluer. She gaev me a seet by her, and after mi faess coold off, I plukt up curej and luukt about me. Th long taebl wuz fuul, and every wun intent on geting thaer diner, th jentlmen espeshaly, hoo seemd to be eeting on tiem, for thae boelted in every senss of th wurd, vanishing as soon as thae wer dun. Thaer wuz th uezhual asortment of yung men absorbd in themselvs, yung cupls absorbd in eech uther, marryd laedys in thaer baebys, and oeld jentlmen in politiks. I doen’t think I shal caer to hav much to do with eny of them, exsept wun sweetfaced maeden laedy, hoo luuks as if she had sumthing in her.

Cast awae at th verry botom of th taebl wuz th Profesor, shouting ansers to th qeschons of a verry inqizitiv, def oeld jentlman on wun sied, and tauking filosofy with a Frenchman on th uther. If Amy had bin heer, she’d hav turnd her bak on him forever becauz, sad to relaet, he had a graet apetiet, and shuveld in his diner in a maner which wuud hav horrified ‘her laedyship’. I didn’t miend, for I liek ‘to see foeks eet with a relish’, as Hannah sez, and th puur man must hav needed a deel of food after teeching idiots all dae.

As I went upstaers after diner, too of th yung men wer setling thaer hats befor th haul miror, and I hurd wun sae loe to th uther, “Hoo’s th nue party?”

“Guvernes, or sumthing of that sort.”

“Whot th dooss is she at our taebl for?”

“Frend of th oeld laedy’s.”

“Handsum hed, but no stiel.”

“Not a bit of it. Giv us a liet and cum on.”

I felt anggry at furst, and then I didn’t caer, for a guvernes is as guud as a clurk, and I’ve got senss, if I haeven’t stiel, which is mor than sum peepl hav, jujing from th remarks of th elegant beings hoo claterd awae, smoeking liek bad chimnys. I haet ordinaery peepl!


Yesterdae wuz a qieet dae spent in teeching, soeing, and rieting in mi litl room, which is verry coezy, with a liet and fier. I pikt up a fue bits of nues and wuz introduest to th Profesor. It seems that Tina is th chield of th Frenchwuuman hoo duz th fien ieerning in th laundry heer. Th litl thing has lost her hart to Mr. Bhaer, and foloes him about th hous liek a dog whenever he is at hoem, which deliets him, as he is verry fond of children, tho a ‘bacheldore’. Kity and Minnie Kirke liekwiez regard him with afekshon, and tel all sorts of storys about th plaes he invents, th prezents he brings, and th splendid taels he tels. Th yungger men qiz him, it seems, caul him Oeld Fritz, Laeger Beer, Ursa Maejor, and maek all maner of joeks on his naem. But he enjoys it liek a boy, Mrs. Kirke sez, and taeks it so guud-naturedly that thae all liek him in spiet of his forin waes.

Th maeden laedy is a Mis Norton, rich, cultivaeted, and kiend. She spoek to me at diner todae (for I went to taebl agen, it’s such fun to woch peepl), and askt me to cum and see her at her room. She has fien buuks and pikchers, noes interesting pursons, and seems frendly, so I shal maek mieself agreeabl, for I do wont to get into guud soesieety, oenly it isn’t th saem sort that Amy lieks.

I wuz in our parlor last eevning when Mr. Bhaer caem in with sum nuezpaepers for Mrs. Kirke. She wuzn’t thaer, but Minnie, hoo is a litl oeld wuuman, introduest me verry pritily. “This is Maama's frend, Mis March.”

“Yes, and she’s joly and we liek her lots,” aded Kity, hoo is an ‘enfant terribl’.

We boeth bowd, and then we laft, for th prim introdukshon and th blunt adishon wer rather a comikal contrast.

“Aa, yes, I heer thees nauty wuns go to vex U, Mees Marsch. If so agen, caul at me and I cum,” he sed, with a thretening froun that delieted th litl reches.

I promist I wuud, and he departed, but it seems as if I wuz doomd to see a guud deel of him, for todae as I past his dor on mi wae out, by aksident I nokt agenst it with mi umbrela. It floo oepen, and thaer he stuud in his dresing goun, with a big bloo sok on wun hand and a darning needl in th uther. He didn’t seem at all ashaemd of it, for when I explaend and huryd on, he waevd his hand, sok and all, saeing in his loud, cheerful wae...

“U haf a fien dae to maek yuur wauk. Bon voyej, Mademezel.”

I laft all th wae dounstaers, but it wuz a litl pathetik, aulso to think of th puur man having to mend his oen cloeths. Th Jurman jentlmen embroider, I noe, but darning hoez is anuther thing and not so prity.


Nuthing has hapend to riet about, exsept a caul on Mis Norton, hoo has a room fuul of prity things, and hoo wuz verry charming, for she shoed me all her trezhers, and askt me if I wuud sumtiems go with her to lekchers and conserts, as her escort, if I enjoyd them. She puut it as a faevor, but I’m shuur Mrs. Kirke has toeld her about us, and she duz it out of kiendnes to me. I’m as proud as Lucifer, but such faevors from such peepl doen’t burden me, and I aksepted graetfuly.

When I got bak to th nursery thaer wuz such an upror in th parlor that I luukt in, and thaer wuz Mr. Bhaer doun on his hands and nees, with Tina on his bak, Kity leeding him with a jump roep, and Minnie feeding too smaul boys with seedcakes, as thae rord and rampt in caejes bilt of chaers.

“We ar plaeing nargerie,” explaend Kity.

“Dis is mien effalunt!” aded Tina, hoelding on bi th Profesor’s haer.

“Maama aulwaes alows us to do whot we liek Saterdae afternoon, when Franz and Emil cum, duzn’t she, Mr. Bhaer?” sed Minnie.

Th ‘effalunt’ sat up, luuking as much in urnest as eny of them, and sed soeberly to me, “I gif U mi wort it is so, if we maek too larj a noiz U shal sae Hush! to us, and we go mor softly.”

I promist to do so, but left th dor oepen and enjoyd th fun as much as thae did, for a mor glorius frolik I never witnest. Thae plaed tag and soeljers, danst and sang, and when it began to gro dark thae all pield onto th soefa about th Profesor, whiel he toeld charming faery storys of th storks on th chimny tops, and th litl ‘koblods’, hoo ried th snoeflaeks as thae faul. I wish Amerricans wer as simpl and nacheral as Jurmans, doen’t U?

I’m so fond of rieting, I shuud go spining on forever if moetivs of economy didn’t stop me, for tho I’ve uezd thin paeper and riten fien, I trembl to think of th stamps this long leter wil need. Prae forward Amy’s as soon as U can spaer them. Mi smaul nues wil sound verry flat after her splendors, but U wil liek them, I noe. Is Teddy studying so hard that he can’t fiend tiem to riet to his frends? Taek guud caer of him for me, Baet, and tel me all about th baebys, and giv heeps of luv to everywun. From yuur faethful Jo.

P.S. On reeding oever mi leter, it strieks me as rather Bhaery, but I am aulwaes interested in od peepl, and I reealy had nuthing elss to riet about. Bles U!


Mi Preshus Betsey,

As this is to be a scribl-scrabl leter, I direkt it to U, for it mae amuez U, and giv U sum iedeea of mi goings on, for tho qieet, thae ar rather amuezing, for which, o, be joyful! After whot Amy wuud caul Herculaneum eforts, in th wae of mental and moral agriculcher, mi yung iedeeas begin to shoot and mi litl twigs to bend as I cuud wish. Thae ar not so interesting to me as Tina and th boys, but I do mi duety bi them, and thae ar fond of me. Franz and Emil ar joly litl lads, qiet after mi oen hart, for th mixcher of Jurman and Amerrican spirit in them produeses a constant staet of efervesenss. Saterdae afternoons ar rieotus tiems, whether spent in th hous or out, for on plezant daes thae all go to wauk, liek a seminarry, with th Profesor and mieself to keep order, and then such fun!

We ar verry guud frends now, and I’ve begun to taek lesons. I reealy cuudn’t help it, and it all caem about in such a droel wae that I must tel U. To begin at th begining, Mrs. Kirke cauld to me wun dae as I past Mr. Bhaer’s room whaer she wuz rumejing.

“Did U ever see such a den, mi deer? Just cum and help me puut thees buuks to riets, for I’ve turnd everything upsied doun, trieing to discuver whot he has dun with th six nue hankerchifs I gaev him not long ago.”

I went in, and whiel we wurkt I luukt about me, for it wuz ‘a den’ to be shuur. Buuks and paepers everywhaer, a broeken meershaum, and an oeld floot oever th mantlepiece as if dun with, a raged burd without eny tael churpt on wun windo seet, and a box of whiet miess adornd th uther. Haf-finisht boets and bits of string lae amung th manuescripts. Durty litl boots stuud drieing befor th fier, and traeses of th deerly beluved boys, for hoom he maeks a slaev of himself, wer to be seen all oever th room. After a grand rumej three of th mising artikls wer found, wun oever th burd caej, wun cuverd with ink, and a thurd burnd broun, having bin uezd as a hoelder.

“Such a man!” laft guud-naecherd Mrs. K., as she puut th reliks in th rag bag. “I supoez th uthers ar torn up to rig ships, bandej cut finggers, or maek kiet taels. It’s dredful, but I can’t scoeld him. He's so absent-miended and goodnatured, he lets thoes boys ried oever him rufshod. I agreed to do his woshing and mending, but he forgets to giv out his things and I forget to luuk them oever, so he cums to a sad pas sumtiems.”

“Let me mend them,” sed I. “I doen’t miend it, and he needn’t noe. I’d liek to, he's so kiend to me about bringing mi leters and lending buuks.”

So I hav got his things in order, and nit heels into too paers of th soks, for thae wer bogld out of shaep with his qeer darns. Nuthing wuz sed, and I hoept he wuudn’t fiend it out, but wun dae last week he caut me at it. Heering th lesons he givs to uthers has interested and amuezd me so much that I tuuk a fansy to lurn, for Tina runs in and out, leeving th dor oepen, and I can heer. I had bin siting neer this dor, finishing off th last sok, and trieing to understand whot he sed to a nue scolar, hoo is as stoopid as I am. Th gurl had gon, and I thaut he had aulso, it wuz so stil, and I wuz bizily gabling oever a vurb, and roking to and fro in a moest absurd wae, when a litl cro maed me luuk up, and thaer wuz Mr. Bhaer luuking and lafing qieetly, whiel he maed siens to Tina not to betrae him.

“So!” he sed, as I stopt and staerd liek a gooss, “U peep at me, I peep at U, and this is not bad, but see, I am not pleasanting when I sae, haf U a wish for Jurman?”

“Yes, but U ar too bizy. I am too stoopid to lurn,” I blunderd out, as red as a peeony.

“Prut! We wil maek th tiem, and we fael not to fiend th senss. At efening I shal gif a litl leson with much gladnes, for luuk U, Mees Marsch, I haf this det to pae.” And he pointed to mi wurk ‘Yes,’ thae sae to wun anuther, thees so kiend laedys, ‘he is a stoopid oeld felo, he wil see not whot we do, he wil never obzurv that his sok heels go not in hoels eny mor, he wil think his butons gro out nue when thae faul, and beleev that strings maek theirselves.’ “Aa! But I haf an ie, and I see much. I haf a hart, and I feel thanks for this. Cum, a litl leson then and now, or—no mor guud faery wurks for me and mien.”

Of corss I cuudn’t sae enything after that, and as it reealy is a splendid oportuenity, I maed th bargen, and we began. I tuuk foer lesons, and then I stuk fast in a gramatikal bog. Th Profesor wuz verry paeshent with me, but it must hav bin torment to him, and now and then he'd luuk at me with such an expreshon of mield despaer that it wuz a tos-up with me whether to laf or cri. I tried boeth waes, and when it caem to a snif or uter mortificaeshon and wo, he just throo th gramar on to th flor and marcht out of th room. I felt mieself disgraest and dezurted forever, but didn’t blaem him a partikl, and wuz scrambling mi paepers together, meening to rush upstaers and shaek mieself hard, when in he caem, as brisk and beeming as if I’d cuverd mieself in glory.

“Now we shal tri a nue wae. U and I wil red thees plezant litl marchen together, and dig no mor in that dri buuk, that goes in th corner for maeking us trubl.”

He spoek so kiendly, and oepend Hans Anderson’s faery taels so invietingly befor me, that I wuz mor ashaemd than ever, and went at mi leson in a nek-or-nuthing stiel that seemd to amuez him imensly. I forgot mi bashfulnes, and pegd awae (no uther wurd wil expres it) with all mi miet, tumbling oever long wurds, pronounsing acording to inspiraeshon of th mienuet, and dooing mi verry best. When I finisht reeding mi furst paej, and stopt for breth, he clapt his hands and cried out in his harty wae, “Das ist gut! Now we go wel! Mi turn. I do him in Jurman, gif me yuur eer.” And awae he went, rumbling out th wurds with his strong vois and a relish which wuz guud to see as wel as heer. Forchunatly th story wuz Th Constant Tin Soeljer, which is droel, U noe, so I cuud laf, and I did, tho I didn’t understand haf he red, for I cuudn’t help it, he wuz so urnest, I so exsieted, and th hoel thing so comikal.

After that we got on beter, and now I red mi lesons prity wel, for this wae of studying soots me, and I can see that th gramar gets tukt into th taels and poeetry as wun givs pils in jely. I liek it verry much, and he duzn’t seem tierd of it yet, which is verry guud of him, isn’t it? I meen to giv him sumthing on Christmas, for I daer not ofer muny. Tel me sumthing niess, Marmee.

I’m glad Laurie seems so hapy and bizy, that he has given up smoeking and lets his haer gro. U see Baet manejes him beter than I did. I’m not jelus, deer, do yuur best, oenly doen’t maek a saent of him. I’m afraed I cuudn’t liek him without a spiess of hueman nautynes. Red him bits of mi leters. I haeven’t tiem to riet much, and that wil do just as wel. Thank Heven Baet continues so cumfortabl.


A Hapy Nue Yeer to U all, mi deerest family, which of corss incloods Mr. L. and a yung man by th naem of Teddy. I can’t tel U how much I enjoyd yuur Christmas bundl, for I didn’t get it til niet and had given up hoeping. Yuur leter caem in th morning, but U sed nuthing about a parsel, meening it for a serpriez, so I wuz disapointed, for I’d had a ‘kiend of feeling’ that U wuudn’t forget me. I felt a litl loe in mi miend as I sat up in mi room after tee, and when th big, mudy, baterd-luuking bundl wuz braut to me, I just hugd it and pranst. It wuz so hoemy and refreshing that I sat doun on th flor and red and luukt and aet and laft and cried, in mi uezhual absurd wae. Th things wer just whot I wonted, and all th beter for being maed insted of baut. Baet’s nue ‘ink bib’ wuz capital, and Hannah’s box of hard jinjerbred wil be a trezher. I’ll be shuur and waer th niess flannels U sent, Marmee, and red caerfuly th buuks Faather has markt. Thank U all, heeps and heeps!

Speeking of buuks remiends me that I’m geting rich in that lien, for on Nue Yeer's Dae Mr. Bhaer gaev me a fien Shakespeare. It is wun he values much, and I’ve ofen admierd it, set up in th plaess of onor with his Jurman Biebl, Plato, Hoemer, and Milton, so U mae imajin how I felt when he braut it doun, without its cuver, and shoed me mi oen naem in it, “from mi frend Friedrich Bhaer”.

“U sae ofen U wish a liebraery. Heer I gif U wun, for between thees lids (he ment cuvers) is meny buuks in wun. Red him wel, and he wil help U much, for th study of carrakter in this buuk wil help U to red it in th wurld and paent it with yuur pen.”

I thankt him as wel as I cuud, and tauk now about ‘mi liebraery’, as if I had a hundred buuks. I never nue how much thaer wuz in Shakespeare befor, but then I never had a Bhaer to explaen it to me. Now doen’t laf at his horrid naem. It isn’t pronounst eether Baer or Beer, as peepl wil sae it, but sumthing between th too, as oenly Jurmans can giv it. I’m glad U boeth liek whot I tel U about him, and hoep U wil noe him sum dae. Muther wuud admier his worm hart, Faather his wiez hed. I admier boeth, and feel rich in mi nue ‘frend Friedrich Bhaer’.

Not having much muny, or noeing whot he'd liek, I got several litl things, and puut them about th room, whaer he wuud fiend them unexpektedly. Thae wer uesful, prity, or funy, a nue standish on his taebl, a litl vaess for his flower, he aulwaes has wun, or a bit of green in a glas, to keep him fresh, he sez, and a hoelder for his bloeer, so that he needn’t burn up whot Amy cauls ‘mouchoirs’. I maed it liek thoes Baet invented, a big buterfli with a fat body, and blak and yelo wings, wursted feelers, and beed ies. It tuuk his fansy imensly, and he puut it on his mantlepiece as an artikl of vurchoo, so it wuz rather a faeluer after all. Puur as he is, he didn’t forget a survant or a chield in th hous, and not a soel heer, from th French laundrywoman to Mis Norton forgot him. I wuz so glad of that.

Thae got up a maskeraed, and had a gae tiem Nue Yeer's Eev. I didn’t meen to go doun, having no dres. But at th last mienuet, Mrs. Kirke rememberd sum oeld broekaeds, and Mis Norton lent me laess and fethers. So I drest up as Mrs. Malaprop, and saeld in with a mask on. No-wun nue me, for I disgiezd mi vois, and no-wun dreemd of th sielent, hauty Mis March (for thae think I am verry stif and cool, moest of them, and so I am to whippersnappers) cuud danss and dres, and burst out into a ‘niess deraenjment of epitafs, liek an alegory on th banks of th Nile’. I enjoyd it verry much, and when we unmaskt it wuz fun to see them staer at me. I hurd wun of th yung men tel anuther that he nue I’d bin an aktres, in fakt, he thaut he rememberd seeing me at wun of th mienor theeaters. Meg wil relish that joek. Mr. Bhaer wuz Nik Botom, and Tina wuz Titania, a purfekt litl faery in his arms. To see them danss wuz ‘qiet a landscaep’, to uez a Teddyism.

I had a verry hapy Nue Yeer, after all, and when I thaut it oever in mi room, I felt as if I wuz geting on a litl in spiet of mi meny faeluers, for I’m cheerful all th tiem now, wurk with a wil, and taek mor interest in uther peepl than I uezd to, which is satisfaktory. Bles U all! Ever yuur luving... Jo

CHAPTER Thurty-Foer

Tho verry hapy in th soeshal atmosfeer about her, and verry bizy with th daely wurk that urnd her bred and maed it sweeter for th efort, Jo stil found tiem for literaery laebors. Th purpos which now tuuk pozeshon of her wuz a nacheral wun to a puur and ambishus gurl, but th meens she tuuk to gaen her end wer not th best. She saw that muny confurd power, muny and power, thaerfor, she rezolvd to hav, not to be uezd for herself aloen, but for thoes hoom she luvd mor than lief. Th dreem of filing hoem with cumforts, giving Baet everything she wonted, from strawberrys in winter to an organ in her bedroom, going abraud herself, and aulwaes having mor than enuf, so that she miet indulj in th lukshery of charrity, had bin for yeers Jo’s moest cherrisht casl in th aer.

Th priez-story expeeri’enss had seemd to oepen a wae which miet, after long traveling and much uphil wurk, leed to this delietful shatoe en Espagne. But th novel dizaster qencht her curej for a tiem, for publik opinyon is a jieant which has frietend stouter-harted Jaks on biger beanstalks than hers. Liek that immortal heero, she repoezd awhiel after th furst atempt, which rezulted in a tumbl and th leest luvly of th jieant’s trezhers, if I remember rietly. But th ‘up agen and taek anuther’ spirit wuz as strong in Jo as in Jak, so she scrambld up on th shaedy sied this tiem and got mor booty, but neerly left behiend her whot wuz far mor preshus than th munybags.

She tuuk to rieting sensaeshon storys, for in thoes dark aejes, eeven all-purfekt America red rubish. She toeld no-wun, but concokted a ‘thriling tael’, and boeldly carryd it herself to Mr. Dashwood, editor of th Weekly Volcaeno. She had never red Sartor Resartus, but she had a wuumanly instinkt that cloeths pozess an inflooenss mor powerful oever meny than th wurth of carrakter or th majik of maners. So she drest herself in her best, and trieing to perswaed herself that she wuz neether exsieted nor nurvus, braevly cliemd too paers of dark and durty staers to fiend herself in a disorderly room, a cloud of sigar smoek, and th prezenss of three jentlmen, siting with thaer heels rather hieer than thaer hats, which artikls of dres nun of them tuuk th trubl to remoov on her apeeranss. Sumwhot daunted by this resepshon, Jo hezitaeted on th threshhoeld, murmering in much embarrasment...

“Excuez me, I wuz luuking for th Weekly Volcaeno ofis. I wisht to see Mr. Dashwood.”

Doun went th hieest paer of heels, up roez th smoekyest jentlman, and caerfuly cherrishing his sigar between his finggers, he advanst with a nod and a countenanss expresiv of nuthing but sleep. Feeling that she must get thru th mater sumhow, Jo produest her manuescript and, blushing reder and reder with eech sentenss, blunderd out fragments of th litl speech caerfuly prepaerd for th ocaezhon.

“A frend of mien dezierd me to ofer—a story—just as an experriment—wuud liek yuur opinyon—be glad to riet mor if this soots.”

Whiel she blusht and blunderd, Mr. Dashwood had taeken th manuescript, and wuz turning oever th leevs with a paer of rather durty finggers, and casting critikal glanses up and doun th neet paejes.

“Not a furst atempt, I taek it?” obzurving that th paejes wer numberd, cuverd oenly on wun sied, and not tied up with a ribon—shuur sien of a novis.

“No, sur. She has had sum expeeri’enss, and got a priez for a tael in th Blarneystone Baner.”

“O, did she?” and Mr. Dashwood gaev Jo a qik luuk, which seemd to taek noet of everything she had on, from th boe in her bonet to th butons on her boots. “Wel, U can leev it, if U liek. We’v mor of this sort of thing on hand than we noe whot to do with at prezent, but I’ll run mi ie oever it, and giv U an anser next week.”

Now, Jo did not liek to leev it, for Mr. Dashwood didn’t soot her at all, but, under th surcumstanses, thaer wuz nuthing for her to do but boe and wauk awae, luuking particuelarly taul and dignified, as she wuz apt to do when netld or abasht. Just then she wuz boeth, for it wuz purfektly evident from th noeing glanses exchaenjd amung th jentlmen that her litl fikshon of ‘mi frend’ wuz considerd a guud joek, and a laf, produest bi sum inaudibl remark of th editor, as he cloezd th dor, compleeted her discumficher. Haf rezolving never to return, she went hoem, and wurkt off her iritaeshon bi stiching pinafores vigorusly, and in an our or too wuz cool enuf to laf oever th seen and long for next week.

When she went agen, Mr. Dashwood wuz aloen, whaerat she rejoist. Mr. Dashwood wuz much wieder awaek than befor, which wuz agreeabl, and Mr. Dashwood wuz not too deeply absorbd in a sigar to remember his maners, so th second intervue wuz much mor cumfortabl than th furst.

“We’l taek this (editors never sae I), if U doen’t objekt to a fue aulteraeshons. It’s too long, but oemiting th pasejes I’ve markt wil maek it just th riet length,” he sed, in a biznesliek toen.

Jo hardly nue her oen MS. agen, so crumpld and underscord wer its paejes and parragrafs, but feeling as a tender paerent miet on being askt to cut off her baeby’s legs in order that it miet fit into a nue craedl, she luukt at th markt pasejes and wuz serpriezd to fiend that all th moral reflekshons—which she had caerfuly puut in as balast for much roemanss—had bin striken out.

“But, Sur, I thaut every story shuud hav sum sort of a moral, so I tuuk caer to hav a fue of mi siners repent.”

Mr. Dashwoods’s editorial gravity relaxt into a smiel, for Jo had forgoten her ‘frend’, and spoeken as oenly an author cuud.

“Peepl wont to be amuezd, not preecht at, U noe. Morals doen’t sel nowadaes.” Which wuz not qiet a corekt staetment, bi th wae.

“U think it wuud do with thees aulteraeshons, then?”

“Yes, it’s a nue plot, and prity wel wurkt up—langgwej guud, and so on,” wuz Mr. Dashwood’s afabl replie.

“Whot do U—that is, whot compensaeshon—” began Jo, not exaktly noeing how to expres herself.

“O, yes, wel, we giv from twenty-fiev to thurty for things of this sort. Pae when it cums out,” returnd Mr. Dashwood, as if that pointer had escaept him. Such triefls do escaep th editorial miend, it is sed.

“Verry wel, U can hav it,” sed Jo, handing bak th story with a satisfied aer, for after th dolar-a-colum wurk, eeven twenty-fiev seemd guud pae.

“Shal I tel mi frend U wil taek anuther if she has wun beter than this?” askt Jo, unconshus of her litl slip of th tung, and emboeldend bi her suksess.

“Wel, we’l luuk at it. Can’t promis to taek it. Tel her to maek it short and spiesy, and never miend th moral. Whot naem wuud yuur frend liek to puut on it?” in a caerles toen.

“Nun at all, if U pleez, she duzn’t wish her naem to apeer and has no nom de ploom,” sed Jo, blushing in spiet of herself.

“Just as she lieks, of corss. Th tael wil be out next week. Wil U caul for th muny, or shal I send it?” askt Mr. Dashwood, hoo felt a nacheral dezier to noe hoo his nue contribuetor miet be.

“I’ll caul. Guud morning, Sur.”

As she departed, Mr. Dashwood puut up his feet, with th graesful remark, “Puur and proud, as uezhual, but she’l do.”

Foloeing Mr. Dashwood’s direkshons, and maeking Mrs. Northbury her model, Jo rashly tuuk a plunj into th frothy see of sensaeshonal literachuur, but thanks to th lief prezurver throen her bi a frend, she caem up agen not much th wurss for her duking.

Liek moest yung scriblers, she went abraud for her carrakters and seenery, and banditti, counts, jipsys, nuns, and ducheses apeerd upon her staej, and plaed thaer parts with as much acurasy and spirit as cuud be expekted. Her reeders wer not particuelar about such triefls as gramar, punkchuaeshon, and probability, and Mr. Dashwood graeshusly permited her to fil his colums at th loeest prieses, not thinking it nesesaery to tel her that th reeal cauz of his hospitality wuz th fakt that wun of his haks, on being oferd hieer waejes, had baesly left him in th lurch.

She soon becaem interested in her wurk, for her emaeshiaeted purss groo stout, and th litl hord she wuz maeking to taek Baet to th mountens next sumer groo sloely but shuurly as th weeks past. Wun thing disturbd her satisfakshon, and that wuz that she did not tel them at hoem. She had a feeling that Faather and Muther wuud not aproov, and prefurd to hav her oen wae furst, and beg pardon afterward. It wuz eezy to keep her seecret, for no naem apeerd with her storys. Mr. Dashwood had of corss found it out verry soon, but promist to be dum, and for a wunder kept his wurd.

She thaut it wuud do her no harm, for she sinseerly ment to riet nuthing of which she wuud be ashaemd, and qieeted all priks of conshenss bi antisipaeshons of th hapy mienuet when she shuud sho her urnestly and laf oever her wel-kept seecret.

But Mr. Dashwood rejekted eny but thriling taels, and as thrils cuud not be produest exsept bi harroeing up th soels of th reeders, history and roemanss, land and see, sieenss and art, poleess records and loonatik asielums, had to be ransakt for th purpos. Jo soon found that her inosent expeeri’enss had given her but fue glimpses of th trajik wurld which underlies soesieety, so regarding it in a biznes liet, she set about suplieing her defishensys with carrakteristik enerjy. Eeger to fiend mateerial for storys, and bent on maeking them orijinal in plot, if not masterly in exsecueshon, she surcht nuezpaepers for aksidents, insidents, and criems. She exsieted th suspishons of publik liebraerians bi asking for wurks on poizons. She studyd faeses in th street, and carrakters, guud, bad, and indiferent, all about her. She delvd in th dust of aenshent tiems for fakts or fikshons so oeld that thae wer as guud as nue, and introduest herself to foly, sin, and mizery, as wel as her limited oportuenitys alowd. She thaut she wuz prospering fienly, but unconshusly she wuz begining to desecraet sum of th womanliest atribuets of a wuuman’s carrakter. She wuz living in bad soesieety, and imajinaery tho it wuz, its inflooenss afekted her, for she wuz feeding hart and fansy on daenjerus and unsubstantial food, and wuz fast brushing th inosent bloom from her naecher bi a preemachuur aqaentanss with th darker sied of lief, which cums soon enuf to all of us.

She wuz begining to feel rather than see this, for much descriebing of uther peepl’s pashons and feelings set her to studying and specuelaeting about her oen, a morbid amuezment in which helthy yung miends do not voluntaerily indulj. Rongdooing aulwaes brings its oen punishment, and when Jo moest needed hers, she got it.

I doen’t noe whether th study of Shakespeare helpt her to red carrakter, or th nacheral instinkt of a wuuman for whot wuz onest, braev, and strong, but whiel endowing her imajinaery heeroes with every perfekshon under th sun, Jo wuz discuvering a liv heero, hoo interested her in spiet of meny hueman imperfekshons. Mr. Bhaer, in wun of thaer conversaeshons, had adviezd her to study simpl, troo, and luvly carrakters, whaerever she found them, as guud traening for a rieter. Jo tuuk him at his wurd, for she coolly turnd round and studyd him—a proseeding which wuud hav much serpriezd him, had he noen it, for th wurthy Profesor wuz verry humbl in his oen conseet.

Whi evrybody liekt him wuz whot puzld Jo, at furst. He wuz neether rich nor graet, yung nor handsum, in no respekt whot is cauld fasinaeting, impoezing, or brilyant, and yet he wuz as atraktiv as a jeenial fier, and peepl seemd to gather about him as nacheraly as about a worm harth. He wuz puur, yet aulwaes apeerd to be giving sumthing awae; a straenjer, yet everywun wuz his frend; no longger yung, but as hapy-harted as a boy; plaen and pecueliar, yet his faess luukt buetiful to meny, and his oditys wer freely forgiven for his saek. Jo ofen wocht him, trieing to discuver th charm, and at last desieded that it wuz benevolenss which wurkt th mirakl. If he had eny sorro, ‘it sat with its hed under its wing’, and he turnd oenly his suny sied to th wurld. Thaer wer liens upon his forhed, but Tiem seemd to hav tucht him jently, remembering how kiend he wuz to uthers. Th plezant curvs about his mouth wer th memorials of meny frendly wurds and cheery lafs, his ies wer never coeld or hard, and his big hand had a worm, strong grasp that wuz mor expresiv than wurds.

His verry cloeths seemd to partaek of th hospitabl naecher of th waerer. Thae luukt as if thae wer at eez, and liekt to maek him cumfortabl. His capaeshus waestcoet wuz sugjestiv of a larj hart underneeth. His rusty coet had a soeshal aer, and th bagy pokets plaenly proovd that litl hands ofen went in empty and caem out fuul. His verry boots wer benevolent, and his colars never stif and raspy liek uther peepl’s.

“That’s it!” sed Jo to herself, when she at length discuverd that jenuein guud wil tord wun’s felo men cuud buetifi and dignifi eeven a stout Jurman teecher, hoo shuveld in his diner, darnd his oen soks, and wuz burdend with th naem of Bhaer.

Jo valued guudnes hiely, but she aulso pozest a moest feminine respekt for intelekt, and a litl discuvery which she maed about th Profesor aded much to her regard for him. He never spoek of himself, and no-wun ever nue that in his naetiv sity he had bin a man much onord and esteemd for lurning and integrity, til a cuntryman caem to see him. He never spoek of himself, and in a conversaeshon with Mis Norton divuljd th pleezing fakt. From her Jo lurnd it, and liekt it all th beter becauz Mr. Bhaer had never toeld it. She felt proud to noe that he wuz an onord Profesor in Berlin, tho oenly a puur langgwej-master in America, and his hoemly, hard-wurking lief wuz much buetified by th spiess of roemanss which this discuvery gaev it. Anuther and a beter gift than intelekt wuz shoen her in a moest unexpekted maner. Mis Norton had th aantrae into moest soesieety, which Jo wuud hav had no chanss of seeing but for her. Th solitaery wuuman felt an interest in th ambishus gurl, and kiendly confurd meny faevors of this sort boeth on Jo and th Profesor. She tuuk them with her wun niet to a selekt simpoezium, held in onor of several selebritys.

Jo went prepaerd to boe doun and ador th miety wuns hoom she had wurshipt with yoothful enthooziazm afar off. But her reverenss for jeenyus reseevd a seveer shok that niet, and it tuuk her sum tiem to recuver from th discuvery that th graet creechers wer oenly men and wimen after all. Imajin her dismae, on steeling a glanss of timid admeraeshon at th poeet hoos liens sugjested an etheerial being fed on ‘spirit, fier, and due’, to behoeld him devouring his super with an ardor which flusht his intelekchual countenanss. Turning as from a faulen iedol, she maed uther discuverys which rapidly dispeld her roemantik iloozhons. Th graet novelist viebraeted between too decanters with th reguelarrity of a penjulum; th faemus divien flurted oepenly with wun of th Madam de Staels of th aej, hoo luukt dagers at anuther Corinne, hoo wuz aemiably satiriezing her, after outmanoovering her in eforts to absorb th profound filosofer, hoo imbiebed tee Johnsonianly and apeerd to slumber, th loeqasity of th laedy rendering speech imposibl. Th sieentifikly selebritys, forgeting thaer molusks and glaeshal peeriods, gosipt about art, whiel devoeting themselvs to oisters and ieses with carrakteristik enerjy; th yung muezishan, hoo wuz charming th sity liek a second Orpheus, taukt horses; and th spesimen of th British noebility prezent hapend to be th moest ordinaery man of th party.

Befor th eevning wuz haf oever, Jo felt so compleetly disiloozhoned, that she sat doun in a corner to recuver herself. Mr. Bhaer soon joind her, luuking rather out of his element, and prezently several of th filosofers, eech mounted on his hoby, caem ambling up to hoeld an intelekchual tuurnament in th resess. Th conversaeshons wer miels beyond Jo’s comprehenshon, but she enjoyd it, tho Kant and Hegel wer unnoen gods, th Subjektiv and Objektiv unintelijibl turms, and th oenly thing ‘evolvd from her iner conshusnes’ wuz a bad hedaek after it wuz all oever. It daund upon her grajualy that th wurld wuz being pikt to peeses, and puut together on nue and, acording to th taekers, on infinitly beter prinsipls than befor, that relijon wuz in a faer wae to be reezond into nuthingnes, and intelekt wuz to be th oenly God. Jo nue nuthing about filosofy or metafiziks of eny sort, but a cuerius exsietment, haf plezherabl, haf paenful, caem oever her as she lisend with a senss of being turnd adrift into tiem and spaess, liek a yung baloon out on a holidae.

She luukt round to see how th Profesor liekt it, and found him luuking at her with th grimest expreshon she had ever seen him waer. He shuuk his hed and becond her to cum awae, but she wuz fasinaeted just then bi th freedom of Specuelaetiv Filosofy, and kept her seet, trieing to fiend out whot th wiez jentlmen intended to relie upon after thae had anieilaeted all th oeld beleefs.

Now, Mr. Bhaer wuz a difident man and slo to ofer his oen opinyons, not becauz thae wer unsetld, but too sinseer and urnest to be lietly spoeken. As he glanst from Jo to several uther yung peepl, atrakted bi th brilyansy of th filosofik pierotekniks, he nit his brows and longd to speek, feering that sum inflamabl yung soel wuud be led astrae bi th rokets, to fiend when th displae wuz oever that thae had oenly an empty stik or a scorcht hand.

He bor it as long as he cuud, but when he wuz apeeld to for an opinyon, he blaezd up with onest indignaeshon and defended relijon with all th eloqenss of trooth—an eloqenss which maed his broeken Inglish muezikal and his plaen faess buetiful. He had a hard fiet, for th wiez men argued wel, but he didn’t noe when he wuz beeten and stuud to his culors liek a man. Sumhow, as he taukt, th wurld got riet agen to Jo. Th oeld beleefs, that had lasted so long, seemd beter than th nue. God wuz not a bliend forss, and imortality wuz not a prity faebl, but a blest fakt. She felt as if she had solid ground under her feet agen, and when Mr. Bhaer pauzd, outtalked but not wun whit convinst, Jo wonted to clap her hands and thank him.

She did neether, but she rememberd th seen, and gaev th Profesor her hartyest respekt, for she nue it cost him an efort to speek out then and thaer, becauz his conshenss wuud not let him be sielent. She began to see that carrakter is a beter pozeshon than muny, rank, intelekt, or buety, and to feel that if graetnes is whot a wiez man has defiend it to be, ‘trooth, reverenss, and guud wil’, then her frend Friedrich Bhaer wuz not oenly guud, but graet.

This beleef strengthend daely. She valued his esteem, she cuveted his respekt, she wonted to be wurthy of his frendship, and just when th wish wuz sinseerest, she caem neer to loozing everything. It all groo out of a cokt hat, for wun eevning th Profesor caem in to giv Jo her leson with a paeper soeljer cap on his hed, which Tina had puut thaer and he had forgoten to taek off.

“It’s evident he duzn’t luuk in his glas befor cuming doun,” thaut Jo, with a smiel, as he sed “Goot efening,” and sat soeberly doun, qiet unconshus of th loodicrus contrast between his subjekt and his hedgeer, for he wuz going to red her th Deth of Wallenstein.

She sed nuthing at furst, for she liekt to heer him laf out his big, harty laf when enything funy hapend, so she left him to discuver it for himself, and prezently forgot all about it, for to heer a Jurman red Schiller is rather an absorbing ocuepaeshon. After th reeding caem th leson, which wuz a lievly wun, for Jo wuz in a gae mood that niet, and th cokt hat kept her ies dansing with merriment. Th Profesor didn’t noe whot to maek of her, and stopt at last to ask with an aer of mield serpriez that wuz irezistibl. . .

“Mees Marsch, for whot do U laf in yuur master's faess? Haf U no respekt for me, that U go on so bad?”

“How can I be respektful, Sur, when U forget to taek yuur hat off?” sed Jo.

Lifting his hand to his hed, th absent-miended Profesor graevly felt and remoovd th litl cokt hat, luukt at it a mienuet, and then throo bak his hed and laft liek a merry bas vieol.

“Aa! I see him now, it is that imp Tina hoo maeks me a fool with mi cap. Wel, it is nuthing, but see U, if this leson goes not wel, U too shal waer him.”

But th leson did not go at all for a fue minits becauz Mr. Bhaer caut siet of a pikcher on th hat, and unfoelding it, sed with graet disgust, “I wish thees paepers did not cum in th hous. Thae ar not for children to see, nor yung peepl to red. It is not wel, and I haf no paeshenss with thoes hoo maek this harm.”

Jo glanst at th sheet and saw a pleezing ilustraeshon compoezd of a loonatik, a cor, a vilan, and a vieper. She did not liek it, but th impulss that maed her turn it oever wuz not wun of displezher but feer, becauz for a mienuet she fansyd th paeper wuz th Volcaeno. It wuz not, however, and her panik subsieded as she rememberd that eeven if it had bin and wun of her oen taels in it, thaer wuud hav bin no naem to betrae her. She had betraed herself, however, bi a luuk and a blush, for tho an absent man, th Profesor saw a guud deel mor than peepl fansyd. He nue that Jo roet, and had met her doun amung th nuezpaeper ofises mor than wunss, but as she never spoek of it, he askt no qeschons in spiet of a strong dezier to see her wurk. Now it ocurd to him that she wuz dooing whot she wuz ashaemd to oen, and it trubld him. He did not sae to himself, “It is nun of mi biznes. I’ve no riet to sae enything,” as meny peepl wuud hav dun. He oenly rememberd that she wuz yung and puur, a gurl far awae from muther’s luv and faather’s caer, and he wuz moovd to help her with an impulss as qik and nacheral as that which wuud prompt him to puut out his hand to saev a baeby from a pudl. All this flasht thru his miend in a mienuet, but not a traess of it apeerd in his faess, and bi th tiem th paeper wuz turnd, and Jo’s needl threded, he wuz redy to sae qiet nacheraly, but verry graevly...

“Yes, U ar riet to puut it from U. I do not think that guud yung gurls shuud see such things. Thae ar maed plezant to sum, but I wuud mor rather giv mi boys gunpowder to plae with than this bad trash.”

“All mae not be bad, oenly sily, U noe, and if thaer is a demand for it, I doen’t see eny harm in suplieing it. Meny verry respektabl peepl maek an onest living out of whot ar cauld sensaeshon storys,” sed Jo, scraching gathers so enerjetikaly that a roe of litl slits foloed her pin.

“Thaer is a demand for whisky, but I think U and I do not caer to sel it. If th respektabl peepl nue whot harm thae did, thae wuud not feel that th living wuz onest. Thae haf no riet to puut poizon in th sugarplum, and let th smaul wuns eet it. No, thae shuud think a litl, and sweep mud in th street befor thae do this thing.”

Mr. Bhaer spoek wormly, and waukt to th fier, crumpling th paeper in his hands. Jo sat stil, luuking as if th fier had cum to her, for her cheeks burnd long after th cokt hat had turnd to smoek and gon harmlessly up th chimny.

“I shuud liek much to send all th rest after him,” muterd th Profesor, cuming bak with a releevd aer.

Jo thaut whot a blaez her piel of paepers upstaers wuud maek, and her hard-urnd muny lae rather hevily on her conshenss at that mienuet. Then she thaut consolingly to herself, “Mien ar not liek that, thae ar oenly sily, never bad, so I wun’t be wuryd,” and taeking up her buuk, she sed, with a stoodius faess, “Shal we go on, Sur? I’ll be verry guud and proper now.”

“I shal hoep so,” wuz all he sed, but he ment mor than she imajind, and th graev, kiend luuk he gaev her maed her feel as if th wurds Weekly Volcaeno wer printing in larj tiep on her forhed.

As soon as she went to her room, she got out her paepers, and caerfuly re-red every wun of her storys. Being a litl shortsieted, Mr. Bhaer sumtiems uezd ie glases, and Jo had tried them wunss, smieling to see how thae magnified th fien print of her buuk. Now she seemd to hav on th Profesor’s mental or moral spektakls aulso, for th faults of thees puur storys glaerd at her dredfuly and fild her with dismae.

“Thae ar trash, and wil soon be wurss trash if I go on, for eech is mor sensaeshonal than th last. I’ve gon bliendly on, hurting mieself and uther peepl, for th saek of muny. I noe it’s so, for I can’t red this stuf in soeber urnest without being horribly ashaemd of it, and whot shuud I do if thae wer seen at hoem or Mr. Bhaer got hoeld of them?”

Jo turnd hot at th baer iedeea, and stuft th hoel bundl into her stoev, neerly setting th chimny afier with th blaez.

“Yes, that’s th best plaess for such inflamabl nonsenss. I’d beter burn th hous doun, I supoez, than let uther peepl blo themselvs up with mi gunpowder,” she thaut as she wocht th Deemon of th Jura whisk awae, a litl blak sinder with fiery ies.

But when nuthing remaend of all her three munth's wurk exsept a heep of ashes and th muny in her lap, Jo luukt soeber, as she sat on th flor, wundering whot she aut to do about her waejes.

“I think I haeven’t dun much harm yet, and mae keep this to pae for mi tiem,” she sed, after a long meditaeshon, ading impaeshently, “I aulmoest wish I hadn’t eny conshenss, it’s so inconveeni’ent. If I didn’t caer about dooing riet, and didn’t feel uncumfortabl when dooing rong, I shuud get on capitaly. I can’t help wishing sumtiems, that Muther and Faather hadn’t bin so particuelar about such things.”

Aa, Jo, insted of wishing that, thank God that ‘Faather and Muther wer particuelar’, and pity from yuur hart thoes hoo hav no such gardians to hej them round with prinsipls which mae seem liek prizon wauls to impaeshent yooth, but which wil proov shuur foundaeshons to bild carrakter upon in wuumanhuud.

Jo roet no mor sensaeshonal storys, desieding that th muny did not pae for her shaer of th sensaeshon, but going to th uther extreem, as is th wae with peepl of her stamp, she tuuk a corss of Mrs. Sherwood, Mis Edgeworth, and Hannah Mor, and then produest a tael which miet hav bin mor properly cauld an esae or a surmon, so intensely moral wuz it. She had her douts about it from th begining, for her lievly fansy and gurlish roemanss felt as il at eez in th nue stiel as she wuud hav dun maskeraeding in th stif and cumbrus costuem of th last senchery. She sent this diedaktik jem to several markets, but it found no purchaser, and she wuz incliend to agree with Mr. Dashwood that morals didn’t sel.

Then she tried a chield’s story, which she cuud eezily hav dispoezd of if she had not bin mursenaery enuf to demand filthy looker for it. Th oenly purson hoo oferd enuf to maek it wurth her whiel to tri jooveniel literachuur wuz a wurthy jentlman hoo felt it his mishon to convurt all th wurld to his particuelar beleef. But much as she liekt to riet for children, Jo cuud not consent to depikt all her nauty boys as being eeten bi baers or tost bi mad buuls becauz thae did not go to a particuelar Sabath scool, nor all th guud infants hoo did go as reworded bi every kiend of blis, from gilded jinjerbred to escorts of aenjels when thae departed this lief with saams or surmons on thaer lisping tungs. So nuthing caem of thees trieals, and Jo corkt up her inkstand, and sed in a fit of verry hoelsum huemility...

“I doen’t noe enything. I’ll waet until I do befor I tri agen, and meentiem, ‘sweep mud in th street’ if I can’t do beter, that’s onest, at leest.” Which desizhon proovd that her second tumbl doun th beenstauk had dun her sum guud.

Whiel thees inturnal revolooshons wer going on, her exturnal lief had bin as bizy and uneventful as uezhual, and if she sumtiems luukt seerius or a litl sad no-wun obzurvd it but Profesor Bhaer. He did it so qieetly that Jo never nue he wuz woching to see if she wuud aksept and profit bi his reproof, but she stuud th test, and he wuz satisfied, for tho no wurds past between them, he nue that she had given up rieting. Not oenly did he ges it bi th fakt that th second fingger of her riet hand wuz no longger inky, but she spent her eevnings dounstaers now, wuz met no mor amung nuezpaeper ofises, and studyd with a dogd paeshenss, which ashuurd him that she wuz bent on ocuepieing her miend with sumthing uesful, if not plezant.

He helpt her in meny waes, prooving himself a troo frend, and Jo wuz hapy, for whiel her pen lae iedl, she wuz lurning uther lesons besieds Jurman, and laeing a foundaeshon for th sensaeshon story of her oen lief.

It wuz a plezant winter and a long wun, for she did not leev Mrs. Kirke til Joon. Everywun seemd sorry when th tiem caem. Th children wer inconsolabl, and Mr. Bhaer’s haer stuk straet up all oever his hed, for he aulwaes rumpld it wieldly when disturbd in miend.

“Going hoem? Aa, U ar hapy that U haf a hoem to go in,” he sed, when she toeld him, and sat sielently puuling his beerd in th corner, whiel she held a litl levee on that last eevning.

She wuz going urly, so she bad them all guudbi oeverniet, and when his turn caem, she sed wormly, “Now, Sur, U wun’t forget to cum and see us, if U ever travel our wae, wil U? I’ll never forgiv U if U do, for I wont them all to noe mi frend.”

“Do U? Shal I cum?” he askt, luuking doun at her with an eeger expreshon which she did not see.

“Yes, cum next munth. Laurie grajuatts then, and U’d enjoy comensment as sumthing nue.”

“That is yuur best frend, of hoom U speek?” he sed in an aulterd toen.

“Yes, mi boy Teddy. I’m verry proud of him and shuud liek U to see him.”

Jo luukt up then, qiet unconshus of enything but her oen plezher in th prospekt of shoeing them to wun anuther. Sumthing in Mr. Bhaer’s faess sudenly recauld th fakt that she miet fiend Laurie mor than a ‘best frend’, and simply becauz she particuelarly wisht not to luuk as if enything wuz th mater, she involuntarrily began to blush, and th mor she tried not to, th reder she groo. If it had not bin for Tina on her nae. She didn’t noe whot wuud hav becum of her. Forchunatly th chield wuz moovd to hug her, so she manejd to hied her faess an instant, hoeping th Profesor did not see it. But he did, and his oen chaenjd agen from that moementaery angzieity to its uezhual expreshon, as he sed corjaly...

“I feer I shal not maek th tiem for that, but I wish th frend much suksess, and U all hapynes. Gott bles U!” And with that, he shuuk hands wormly, shoelderd Tina, and went awae.

But after th boys wer abed, he sat long befor his fier with th tierd luuk on his faess and th ‘heimweh’, or hoemsiknes, lieing hevy at his hart. Wunss, when he rememberd Jo as she sat with th litl chield in her lap and that nue softnes in her faess, he leend his hed on his hands a mienuet, and then roemd about th room, as if in surch of sumthing that he cuud not fiend.

“It is not for me, I must not hoep it now,” he sed to himself, with a sie that wuz aulmoest a groen. Then, as if reproeching himself for th longing that he cuud not repres, he went and kist th too touzld heds upon th pilo, tuuk doun his seldom-uezd meershaum, and oepend his Plato.

He did his best and did it manfuly, but I doen’t think he found that a paer of rampant boys, a piep, or eeven th divien Plato, wer verry satisfaktory substitoots for wief and chield at hoem.

Urly as it wuz, he wuz at th staeshon next morning to see Jo off, and thanks to him, she began her solitaery jurny with th plezant memory of a familyar faess smieling its faerwel, a bunch of vieolets to keep her cumpany, and best of all, th hapy thaut, “Wel, th winter’s gon, and I’ve riten no buuks, urnd no forchun, but I’ve maed a frend wurth having and I’ll tri to keep him all mi lief.”

CHAPTER Thurty-fiev

Whotever his moetiv miet hav bin, Laurie studyd to sum purpos that yeer, for he grajuaeted with onor, and gaev th Latin oraeshon with th graess of a Phillips and th eloqenss of a Demosthenes, so his frends sed. Thae wer all thaer, his grandfaather—o, so proud—Mr. and Mrs. March, John and Meg, Jo and Baet, and all exulted oever him with th sinseer admeraeshon which boys maek liet of at th tiem, but fael to win from th wurld bi eny after-trieumfs.

“I’ve got to stae for this confounded super, but I shal be hoem urly tomorro. U’ll cum and meet me as uezhual, gurls?” Laurie sed, as he puut th sisters into th carrej after th joys of th dae wer oever. He sed ‘gurls’, but he ment Jo, for she wuz th oenly wun hoo kept up th oeld custom. She had not th hart to refuez her splendid, suksesful boy enything, and anserd wormly...

“I’ll cum, Teddy, raen or shien, and march befor U, plaeing ‘Hael th conkering heero cums’ on a joo’s-harp.”

Laurie thankt her with a luuk that maed her think in a suden panik, “O, deary me! I noe he'l sae sumthing, and then whot shal I do?”

Eevning meditaeshon and morning wurk sumwhot alaed her feers, and having desieded that she wuudn’t be vaen enuf to think peepl wer going to propoez when she had given them every reezon to noe whot her anser wuud be, she set forth at th apointed tiem, hoeping Teddy wuudn’t do enything to maek her hurt his puur feelings. A caul at Meg’s, and a refreshing snif and sip at th Daezy and Demijon, stil further fortified her for th tete-a-tete, but when she saw a staulwart figuer looming in th distanss, she had a strong dezier to turn about and run awae.

“Whaer’s th joo’s-harp, Jo?” cried Laurie, as soon as he wuz within speeking distanss.

“I forgot it.” And Jo tuuk hart agen, for that saluetaeshon cuud not be cauld luver-liek.

She aulwaes uezd to taek his arm on thees ocaezhons, now she did not, and he maed no complaent, which wuz a bad sien, but taukt on rapidly about all sorts of farawae subjekts, til thae turnd from th roed into th litl path that led hoemward thru th groev. Then he waukt mor sloely, sudenly lost his fien flo of langgwej, and now and then a dredful pauz ocurd. To rescue th conversaeshon from wun of th wels of sielenss into which it kept fauling, Jo sed haestily, “Now U must hav a guud long holidae!”

“I intend to.”

Sumthing in his rezoloot toen maed Jo luuk up qikly to fiend him luuking doun at her with an expreshon that ashuurd her th dreded moement had cum, and maed her puut out her hand with an imploring, “No, Teddy. Pleez doen’t!”

“I wil, and U must heer me. It’s no uez, Jo, we’v got to hav it out, and th sooner th beter for boeth of us,” he anserd, geting flusht and exsieted all at wunss.

“Sae whot U liek then. I’ll lisen,” sed Jo, with a desperat sort of paeshenss.

Laurie wuz a yung luver, but he wuz in urnest, and ment to ‘hav it out’, if he died in th atempt, so he plunjd into th subjekt with carrakteristik impetuousity, saeing in a vois that wuud get choky now and then, in spiet of manful eforts to keep it stedy...

“I’ve luvd U ever sinss I’ve noen U, Jo, cuudn’t help it, U’ve bin so guud to me. I’ve tried to sho it, but U wuudn’t let me. Now I’m going to maek U heer, and giv me an anser, for I can’t go on so eny longger.”

“I wonted to saev U this. I thaut U’d understand...” began Jo, fiending it a graet deel harder than she expekted.

“I noe U did, but th gurls ar so qeer U never noe whot thae meen. Thae sae no when thae meen yes, and driev a man out of his wits just for th fun of it,” returnd Laurie, entrenching himself behiend an undenieabl fakt.

“I doen’t. I never wonted to maek U caer for me so, and I went awae to keep U from it if I cuud.”

“I thaut so. It wuz liek U, but it wuz no uez. I oenly luvd U all th mor, and I wurkt hard to pleez U, and I gaev up bilyards and everything U didn’t liek, and waeted and never complaend, for I hoept U’d luv me, tho I’m not haf guud enuf...” Heer thaer wuz a choek that cuudn’t be controeld, so he decapitaeted butercups whiel he cleerd his ‘confounded throet’.

“U, U ar, U’r a graet deel too guud for me, and I’m so graetful to U, and so proud and fond of U, I doen’t noe whi I can’t luv U as U wont me to. I’ve tried, but I can’t chaenj th feeling, and it wuud be a lie to sae I do when I doen’t.”

“Reealy, trooly, Jo?”

He stopt short, and caut boeth her hands as he puut his qeschon with a luuk that she did not soon forget.

“Reealy, trooly, deer.”

Thae wer in th groev now, cloez bi th stiel, and when th last wurds fel reluktantly from Jo’s lips, Laurie dropt her hands and turnd as if to go on, but for wunss in his lief th fenss wuz too much for him. So he just laed his hed doun on th mosy poest, and stuud so stil that Jo wuz frietend.

“O, Teddy, I’m sorry, so desperatly sorry, I cuud kil mieself if it wuud do eny guud! I wish U wuudn’t taek it so hard, I can’t help it. U noe it’s imposibl for peepl to maek themselvs luv uther peepl if thae doen’t,” cried Jo inelegantly but remorsfuly, as she softly pated his shoelder, remembering th tiem when he had cumforted her so long ago.

“Thae do sumtiems,” sed a mufld vois from th poest. “I doen’t beleev it’s th riet sort of luv, and I’d rather not tri it,” wuz th desieded anser.

Thaer wuz a long pauz, whiel a blakburd sung bliethly on th wilo by th river, and th taul gras rusld in th wiend. Prezently Jo sed verry soeberly, as she sat doun on th step of th stiel, “Laurie, I wont to tel U sumthing.”

He started as if he had bin shot, throo up his hed, and cried out in a feerss toen, “Doen’t tel me that, Jo, I can’t baer it now!”

“Tel whot?” she askt, wundering at his vieolenss.

“That U luv that oeld man.”

“Whot oeld man?” demanded Jo, thinking he must meen his grandfaather.

“That devilish Profesor U wer aulwaes rieting about. If U sae U luv him, I noe I shal do sumthing desperat;” and he luukt as if he wuud keep his wurd, as he clencht his hands with a rathful spark in his ies.

Jo wonted to laf, but restraend herself and sed wormly, for she too, wuz geting exsieted with all this, “Doen’t swaer, Teddy! He isn’t oeld, nor enything bad, but guud and kiend, and th best frend I’ve got, next to U. Prae, doen’t fli into a pashon. I wont to be kiend, but I noe I shal get anggry if U abuez mi Profesor. I haeven’t th leest iedeea of luving him or enybody elss.”

“But U wil after a whiel, and then whot wil becum of me?”

“U’ll luv sumwun elss too, liek a sensibl boy, and forget all this trubl.”

“I can’t luv enywun elss, and I’ll never forget U, Jo, Never! Never!” with a stamp to emfasiez his pashonat wurds.

“Whot shal I do with him?” sied Jo, fiending that emoeshons wer mor unmanagable than she expekted. “U haeven’t hurd whot I wonted to tel U. Sit doun and lisen, for indeed I wont to do riet and maek U hapy,” she sed, hoeping to sooth him with a litl reezon, which proovd that she nue nuthing about luv.

Seeing a rae of hoep in that last speech, Laurie throo himself doun on th gras at her feet, leend his arm on th loeer step of th stiel, and luukt up at her with an expektant faess. Now that araenjment wuz not conduesiv to caam speech or cleer thaut on Jo’s part, for how cuud she sae hard things to her boy whiel he wocht her with ies fuul of luv and longing, and lashes stil wet with th biter drop or too her hardnes of hart had rung from him? She jently turnd his hed awae, saeing, as she stroekt th waevy haer which had bin alowd to gro for her saek—how tuching that wuz, to be shuur! “I agree with Muther that U and I ar not sooted to eech uther, becauz our qik tempers and strong wils wuud probably maek us verry mizerabl, if we wer so foolish as to...” Jo pauzd a litl oever th last wurd, but Laurie uterd it with a rapcherus expreshon.

“Marry—no we shouldn’t! If U luvd me, Jo, I shuud be a purfekt saent, for U cuud maek me enything U liek.”

“No, I can’t. I’ve tried and faeld, and I wun’t risk our hapynes bi such a seerius experriment. We doen’t agree and we never shal, so we’l be guud frends all our lievs, but we wun’t go and do enything rash.”

“Yes, we wil if we get th chanss,” muterd Laurie rebelyusly.

“Now do be reezonabl, and taek a sensibl vue of th caess,” implord Jo, aulmoest at her wit's end.

“I wun’t be reezonabl. I doen’t wont to taek whot U caul ‘a sensibl vue’. It wun’t help me, and it oenly maeks it harder. I doen’t beleev U’ve got eny hart.”

“I wish I hadn’t.”

Thaer wuz a litl qiver in Jo’s vois, and thinking it a guud oemen, Laurie turnd round, bringing all his perswaesiv powers to baer as he sed, in th wheedlesome toen that had never bin so daenjerusly wheedlesome befor, “Doen’t disapoint us, deer! Everywun expekts it. Grandpaa has set his hart upon it, yuur peepl liek it, and I can’t get on without U. Sae U wil, and let’s be hapy. Do, do!”

Not until munths afterward did Jo understand how she had th strength of miend to hoeld fast to th rezolooshon she had maed when she desieded that she did not luv her boy, and never cuud. It wuz verry hard to do, but she did it, noeing that delae wuz boeth uesles and crooel.

“I can’t sae ‘yes’ trooly, so I wun’t sae it at all. U’ll see that I’m riet, bi-and-bi, and thank me for it...” she began solemly.

“I’ll be hangd if I do!” and Laurie bounst up off th gras, burning with indignaeshon at th verry iedeea.

“Yes, U wil!” persisted Jo. “U’ll get oever this after a whiel, and fiend sum luvly acomplisht gurl, hoo wil ador U, and maek a fien mistres for yuur fien hous. I shouldn’t. I’m hoemly and aukward and od and oeld, and U’d be ashaemd of me, and we shuud qorrel—we can’t help it eeven now, U see—and I shouldn’t liek elegant soesieety and U wuud, and U’d haet mi scribling, and I cuudn’t get on without it, and we shuud be unhapy, and wish we hadn’t dun it, and everything wuud be horrid!”

“Enything mor?” askt Laurie, fiending it hard to lisen paeshently to this profetik burst.

“Nuthing mor, exsept that I doen’t beleev I shal ever marry. I’m hapy as I am, and luv mi liberty too wel to be in a hurry to giv it up for eny mortal man.”

“I noe beter!” broek in Laurie. “U think so now, but thaer’l cum a tiem when U wil caer for sumbody, and U’ll luv him tremendusly, and liv and die for him. I noe U wil, it’s yuur wae, and I shal hav to stand bi and see it,” and th despaering luver cast his hat upon th ground with a jescher that wuud hav seemd comikal, if his faess had not bin so trajik.

“Yes, I wil liv and die for him, if he ever cums and maeks me luv him in spiet of mieself, and U must do th best U can!” cried Jo, loozing paeshenss with puur Teddy. “I’ve dun mi best, but U wun’t be reezonabl, and it’s selfish of U to keep teezing for whot I can’t giv. I shal aulwaes be fond of U, verry fond indeed, as a frend, but I’ll never marry U, and th sooner U beleev it th beter for boeth of us—so now!”

That speech wuz liek gunpowder. Laurie luukt at her a mienuet as if he did not qiet noe whot to do with himself, then turnd sharply awae, saeing in a desperat sort of toen, “U’ll be sorry sum dae, Jo.”

“O, whaer ar U going?” she cried, for his faess frietend her.

“To th devil!” wuz th consoeling anser.

For a mienuet Jo’s hart stuud stil, as he swung himself doun th bank tord th river, but it taeks much foly, sin or mizery to send a yung man to a vieolent deth, and Laurie wuz not wun of th week sort hoo ar conkerd bi a singgl faeluer. He had no thaut of a melodramatik plunj, but sum bliend instinkt led him to fling hat and coet into his boet, and roe awae with all his miet, maeking beter tiem up th river than he had dun in eny raess. Jo droo a long breth and unclaspt her hands as she wocht th puur felo trieing to outstrip th trubl which he carryd in his hart.

“That wil do him guud, and he'l cum hoem in such a tender, penitent staet of miend, that I shan’t daer to see him,” she sed, ading, as she went sloely hoem, feeling as if she had murderd sum inosent thing, and berryd it under th leevs. “Now I must go and prepaer Mr. Laurence to be verry kiend to mi puur boy. I wish he'd luv Baet, perhaps he mae in tiem, but I begin to think I wuz mistaeken about her. O deer! How can gurls liek to hav luvers and refuez them? I think it’s dredful.”

Being shuur that no-wun cuud do it so wel as herself, she went straet to Mr. Laurence, toeld th hard story braevly thru, and then broek doun, crieing so dizmaly oever her oen insensibility that th kiend oeld jentlman, tho sorly disapointed, did not uter a reproech. He found it dificult to understand how eny gurl cuud help luving Laurie, and hoept she wuud chaenj her miend, but he nue eeven beter than Jo that luv cannot be forst, so he shuuk his hed sadly and rezolvd to carry his boy out of harm's wae, for Yung Impechuosity’s parting wurds to Jo disturbd him mor than he wuud confes.

When Laurie caem hoem, ded tierd but qiet compoezd, his grandfaather met him as if he nue nuthing, and kept up th deloozhon verry suksesfuly for an our or too. But when thae sat together in th twieliet, th tiem thae uezd to enjoy so much, it wuz hard wurk for th oeld man to rambl on as uezhual, and harder stil for th yung wun to lisen to praezes of th last yeer's suksess, which to him now seemd liek luv's laebor lost. He bor it as long as he cuud, then went to his peano and began to plae. Th windoes wer oepen, and Jo, wauking in th garden with Baet, for wunss understuud muezik beter than her sister, for he plaed th ‘Sonaata Pathetique’, and plaed it as he never did befor.

“That’s verry fien, I daer sae, but it’s sad enuf to maek wun cri. Giv us sumthing gayer, lad,” sed Mr. Laurence, hoos kiend oeld hart wuz fuul of simpathy, which he longd to sho but nue not how.

Laurie dasht into a lievlyer straen, plaed stormily for several minits, and wuud hav got thru braevly, if in a moementaery lul Mrs. March’s vois had not bin hurd cauling, “Jo, deer, cum in. I wont U.”

Just whot Laurie longd to sae, with a diferent meening! As he lisend, he lost his plaess, th muezik ended with a broeken cord, and th muezishan sat sielent in th dark.

“I can’t stand this,” muterd th oeld jentlman. Up he got, groept his wae to th peano, laed a kiend hand on eether of th braud shoelders, and sed, as jently as a wuuman, “I noe, mi boy, I noe.”

No anser for an instant, then Laurie askt sharply, “Hoo toeld U?”

“Jo herself.”

“Then thaer’s an end of it!” And he shuuk off his grandfaather’s hands with an impaeshent moeshon, for tho graetful for th simpathy, his man’s pried cuud not baer a man’s pity.

“Not qiet. I wont to sae wun thing, and then thaer shal be an end of it,” returnd Mr. Laurence with uenuezhual mieldnes. “U wun’t caer to stae at hoem now, perhaps?”

“I doen’t intend to run awae from a gurl. Jo can’t prevent mi seeing her, and I shal stae and do it as long as I liek,” interupted Laurie in a defieant toen.

“Not if U ar th jentlman I think U. I’m disapointed, but th gurl can’t help it, and th oenly thing left for U to do is to go awae for a tiem. Whaer wil U go?”

“Enywhaer. I doen’t caer whot becums of me,” and Laurie got up with a rekles laf that graeted on his grandfaather’s eer.

“Taek it liek a man, and doen’t do enything rash, for God’s saek. Whi not go abraud, as U pland, and forget it?”

“I can’t.”

“But U’ve bin wield to go, and I promist U shuud when U got thru colej.”

“Aa, but I didn’t meen to go aloen!” and Laurie waukt fast thru th room with an expreshon which it wuz wel his grandfaather did not see.

“I doen’t ask U to go aloen. Thaer’s sumwun redy and glad to go with U, enywhaer in th wurld.”

“Hoo, Sur?” stoping to lisen.


Laurie caem bak as qikly as he went, and puut out his hand, saeing huskily, “I’m a selfish broot, but—U noe—Grandfaather—”

“Lord help me, yes, I do noe, for I’ve bin thru it all befor, wunss in mi oen yung daes, and then with yuur faather. Now, mi deer boy, just sit qieetly doun and heer mi plan. It’s all setld, and can be carryd out at wunss,” sed Mr. Laurence, keeping hoeld of th yung man, as if feerful that he wuud braek awae as his faather had dun befor him.

“Wel, sur, whot is it?” and Laurie sat doun, without a sien of interest in faess or vois.

“Thaer is biznes in London that needs luuking after. I ment U shuud atend to it, but I can do it beter mieself, and things heer wil get on verry wel with Brooke to manej them. Mi partners do aulmoest everything, I’m meerly hoelding on until U taek mi plaess, and can be off at eny tiem.”

“But U haet traveling, Sur. I can’t ask it of U at yuur aej,” began Laurie, hoo wuz graetful for th sacrifiess, but much prefurd to go aloen, if he went at all.

Th oeld jentlman nue that purfektly wel, and particuelarly dezierd to prevent it, for th mood in which he found his grandson ashuurd him that it wuud not be wiez to leev him to his oen devieses. So, stiefling a nacheral regret at th thaut of th hoem cumforts he wuud leev behiend him, he sed stoutly, “Bles yuur soel, I’m not superannuated yet. I qiet enjoy th iedeea. It wil do me guud, and mi oeld boens wun’t sufer, for traveling nowadaes is aulmoest as eezy as siting in a chaer.”

A restles moovment from Laurie sugjested that his chaer wuz not eezy, or that he did not liek th plan, and maed th oeld man ad haestily, “I doen’t meen to be a marplot or a burden. I go becauz I think U’d feel hapyer than if I wuz left behiend. I doen’t intend to gad about with U, but leev U free to go whaer U liek, whiel I amuez mieself in mi oen wae. I’ve frends in London and Paris, and shuud liek to vizit them. Meentiem U can go to Italy, Germany, Switzerland, whaer U wil, and enjoy pikchers, muezik, seenery, and advenchers to yuur hart’s content.”

Now, Laurie felt just then that his hart wuz entierly broeken and th wurld a houling wildernes, but at th sound of surten wurds which th oeld jentlman artfuly introduest into his cloezing sentenss, th broeken hart gaev an unexpekted leep, and a green oeaesis or too sudenly apeerd in th houling wildernes. He sied, and then sed, in a spiritles toen, “Just as U liek, Sur. It duzn’t mater whaer I go or whot I do.”

“It duz to me, remember that, mi lad. I giv U entier liberty, but I trust U to maek an onest uez of it. Promis me that, Laurie.”

“Enything U liek, Sur.”

“Guud,” thaut th oeld jentlman. “U doen’t caer now, but thaer’l cum a tiem when that promis wil keep U out of mischif, or I’m much mistaeken.”

Being an enerjetik indivijual, Mr. Laurence struk whiel th ieern wuz hot, and befor th blieted being recuverd spirit enuf to rebl, thae wer off. Duuring th tiem nesesaery for preparaeshon, Laurie bor himself as yung jentlman uezhualy do in such caeses. He wuz moody, iritabl, and pensiv bi turns, lost his apetiet, neglekted his dres and devoeted much tiem to plaeing tempestuously on his peano, avoided Jo, but consoeld himself bi staering at her from his windo, with a trajik faess that haunted her dreems bi niet and oprest her with a hevy senss of gilt bi dae. Unliek sum suferers, he never spoek of his unreqieted pashon, and wuud alow no-wun, not eeven Mrs. March, to atempt consolaeshon or ofer simpathy. On sum acounts, this wuz a releef to his frends, but th weeks befor his deparcher wer verry uncumfortabl, and everywun rejoist that th ‘puur, deer felo wuz going awae to forget his trubl, and cum hoem hapy’. Of corss, he smield darkly at thaer deloozhon, but past it bi with th sad supeeriority of wun hoo nue that his fiedelity liek his luv wuz unaulterabl.

When th parting caem he afekted hie spirits, to conseel surten inconveeni’ent emoeshons which seemd incliend to asurt themselvs. This gaeety did not impoez upon enybody, but thae tried to luuk as if it did for his saek, and he got on verry wel til Mrs. March kist him, with a whisper fuul of mutherly solisitued. Then feeling that he wuz going verry fast, he haestily embraest them all round, not forgeting th aflikted Hannah, and ran dounstaers as if for his lief. Jo foloed a mienuet after to waev her hand to him if he luukt round. He did luuk round, caem bak, puut his arms about her as she stuud on th step abuv him, and luukt up at her with a faess that maed his short apeel eloqent and pathetik.

“O, Jo, can’t U?”

“Teddy, deer, I wish I cuud!”

That wuz all, exsept a litl pauz. Then Laurie straetend himself up, sed, “It’s all riet, never miend,” and went awae without anuther wurd. Aa, but it wuzn’t all riet, and Jo did miend, for whiel th curly hed lae on her arm a mienuet after her hard anser, she felt as if she had stabd her deerest frend, and when he left her without a luuk behiend him, she nue that th boy Laurie never wuud cum agen.

Baet’S Seecret

When Jo caem hoem that spring, she had bin struk with th chaenj in Baet. No wun spoek of it or seemd awaer of it, for it had cum too grajualy to startl thoes hoo saw her daely, but to ies sharpend bi absenss, it wuz verry plaen and a hevy waet fel on Jo’s hart as she saw her sister’s faess. It wuz no paeler and but litler thiner than in th autum, yet thaer wuz a straenj, transpaerent luuk about it, as if th mortal wuz being sloely refiend awae, and th immortal shiening thru th frael flesh with an indescriebably pathetik buety. Jo saw and felt it, but sed nuthing at th tiem, and soon th furst impreshon lost much of its power, for Baet seemd hapy, no-wun apeerd to dout that she wuz beter, and prezently in uther caers Jo for a tiem forgot her feer.

But when Laurie wuz gon, and peess prevaeld agen, th vaeg angzieity returnd and haunted her. She had confest her sins and bin forgiven, but when she shoed her saevings and propoezd a mounten trip, Baet had thankt her hartily, but begd not to go so far awae from hoem. Anuther litl vizit to th seeshor wuud soot her beter, and as Grandmaa cuud not be prevaeld upon to leev th baebys, Jo tuuk Baet doun to th qieet plaess, whaer she cuud liv much in th oepen aer, and let th fresh see breezes blo a litl culor into her pael cheeks.

It wuz not a fashonabl plaess, but eeven amung th plezant peepl thaer, th gurls maed fue frends, prefuring to liv for wun anuther. Baet wuz too shi to enjoy soesieety, and Jo too rapt up in her to caer for enywun elss. So thae wer all in all to eech uther, and caem and went, qiet unconshus of th interest thae exsieted in thoes about them, hoo wocht with simpathetik ies th strong sister and th feebl wun, aulwaes together, as if thae felt instinktivly that a long separaeshon wuz not far awae.

Thae did feel it, yet neether spoek of it, for ofen between ourselvs and thoes neerest and deerest to us thaer exists a rezurv which it is verry hard to oevercum. Jo felt as if a vael had faulen between her hart and Baet’s, but when she puut out her hand to lift it up, thaer seemd sumthing saecred in th sielenss, and she waeted for Baet to speek. She wunderd, and wuz thankful aulso, that her paerents did not seem to see whot she saw, and duuring th qieet weeks when th shadoes groo so plaen to her, she sed nuthing of it to thoes at hoem, beleeving that it wuud tel itself when Baet caem bak no beter. She wunderd stil mor if her sister reealy gest th hard trooth, and whot thauts wer pasing thru her miend duuring th long ours when she lae on th worm roks with her hed in Jo’s lap, whiel th wiends bloo helthfuly oever her and th see maed muezik at her feet.

Wun dae Baet toeld her. Jo thaut she wuz asleep, she lae so stil, and puuting doun her buuk, sat luuking at her with wistful ies, trieing to see siens of hoep in th faent culor on Baet’s cheeks. But she cuud not fiend enuf to satisfi her, for th cheeks wer verry thin, and th hands seemd too feebl to hoeld eeven th roezy litl shels thae had bin colekting. It caem to her then mor biterly than ever that Baet wuz sloely drifting awae from her, and her arms instinktivly tietend thaer hoeld upon th deerest trezher she pozest. For a mienuet her ies wer too dim for seeing, and when thae cleerd, Baet wuz luuking up at her so tenderly that thaer wuz hardly eny need for her to sae, “Jo, deer, I’m glad U noe it. I’ve tried to tel U, but I cuudn’t.”

Thaer wuz no anser exsept her sister’s cheek agenst her oen, not eeven teers, for when moest deeply moovd, Jo did not cri. She wuz th weeker then, and Baet tried to cumfort and sustaen her, with her arms about her and th soothing wurds she whisperd in her eer.

“I’ve noen it for a guud whiel, deer, and now I’m uezd to it, it isn’t hard to think of or to baer. Tri to see it so and doen’t be trubld about me, becauz it’s best, indeed it is.”

“Is this whot maed U so unhapy in th autum, Baet? U did not feel it then, and keep it to yuurself so long, did U?” askt Jo, refuezing to see or sae that it wuz best, but glad to noe that Laurie had no part in Baet’s trubl.

“Yes, I gaev up hoeping then, but I didn’t liek to oen it. I tried to think it wuz a sik fansy, and wuud not let it trubl enywun. But when I saw U all so wel and strong and fuul of hapy plans, it wuz hard to feel that I cuud never be liek U, and then I wuz mizerabl, Jo.”

“O, Baet, and U didn’t tel me, didn’t let me cumfort and help U? How cuud U shut me out, baer it all aloen?”

Jo’s vois wuz fuul of tender reproech, and her hart aekt to think of th solitaery strugl that must hav gon on whiel Baet lurnd to sae guudbi to helth, luv, and lief, and taek up her cros so cheerfuly.

“Perhaps it wuz rong, but I tried to do riet. I wuzn’t shuur, no wun sed enything, and I hoept I wuz mistaeken. It wuud hav bin selfish to frieten U all when Marmee wuz so ankshus about Meg, and Amy awae, and U so hapy with Laurie—at leest I thaut so then.”

“And I thaut U luvd him, Baet, and I went awae becauz I cuudn’t,” cried Jo, glad to sae all th trooth.

Baet luukt so amaezd at th iedeea that Jo smield in spiet of her paen, and aded softly, “Then U didn’t, deery? I wuz afraed it wuz so, and imajind yuur puur litl hart fuul of lovelornity all that whiel.”

“Whi, Jo, how cuud I, when he wuz so fond of U?” askt Baet, as inosently as a chield. “I do luv him deerly. He is so guud to me, how can I help It? But he cuud never be enything to me but mi bruther. I hoep he trooly wil be, sumtiem.”

“Not thru me,” sed Jo desiededly. “Amy is left for him, and thae wuud soot exselently, but I hav no hart for such things, now. I doen’t caer whot becums of enybody but U, Baet. U must get wel.”

“I wont to, o, so much! I tri, but every dae I looz a litl, and feel mor shuur that I shal never gaen it bak. It’s liek th tied, Jo, when it turns, it goes sloely, but it can’t be stopt.”

“It shal be stopt, yuur tied must not turn so soon, nienteen is too yung, Baet. I can’t let U go. I’ll wurk and prae and fiet agenst it. I’ll keep U in spiet of everything. Thaer must be waes, it can’t be too laet. God wun’t be so crooel as to taek U from me,” cried puur Jo rebelyusly, for her spirit wuz far les pieusly submisiv than Baet’s.

Simpl, sinseer peepl seldom speek much of thaer pieety. It shoes itself in akts rather than in wurds, and has mor inflooenss than homilys or protestaeshons. Baet cuud not reezon upon or explaen th faeth that gaev her curej and paeshenss to giv up lief, and cheerfuly waet for deth. Liek a confieding chield, she askt no qeschons, but left everything to God and naecher, Faather and Muther of us all, feeling shuur that thae, and thae oenly, cuud teech and strengthen hart and spirit for this lief and th lief to cum. She did not rebuek Jo with saently speeches, oenly luvd her beter for her pashonat afekshon, and clung mor cloesly to th deer hueman luv, from which our Faather never meens us to be weend, but thru which He draws us cloeser to Himself. She cuud not sae, “I’m glad to go,” for lief wuz verry sweet for her. She cuud oenly sob out, “I tri to be wiling,” whiel she held fast to Jo, as th furst biter waev of this graet sorro broek oever them together.

Bi and bi Baet sed, with recuverd serenity, “U’ll tel them this when we go hoem?”

“I think thae wil see it without wurds,” sied Jo, for now it seemd to her that Baet chaenjd every dae.

“Perhaps not. I’ve hurd that th peepl hoo luv best ar ofen bliendest to such things. If thae doen’t see it, U wil tel them for me. I doen’t wont eny seecrets, and it’s kiender to prepaer them. Meg has John and th baebys to cumfort her, but U must stand by Faather and Muther, wun’t U Jo?”

“If I can. But, Baet, I doen’t giv up yet. I’m going to beleev that it is a sik fansy, and not let U think it’s troo.” sed Jo, trieing to speek cheerfuly.

Baet lae a mienuet thinking, and then sed in her qieet wae, “I doen’t noe how to expres mieself, and shouldn’t tri to enywun but U, becauz I can’t speek out exsept to mi Jo. I oenly meen to sae that I hav a feeling that it never wuz intended I shuud liv long. I’m not liek th rest of U. I never maed eny plans about whot I’d do when I groo up. I never thaut of being marryd, as U all did. I cuudn’t seem to imajin mieself enything but stoopid litl Baet, troting about at hoem, of no uez enywhaer but thaer. I never wonted to go awae, and th hard part now is th leeving U all. I’m not afraed, but it seems as if I shuud be hoemsik for U eeven in heven.”

Jo cuud not speek, and for several minits thaer wuz no sound but th sie of th wiend and th laping of th tied. A whiet-wingd gul floo by, with th flash of sunshien on its silvery brest. Baet wocht it til it vanisht, and her ies wer fuul of sadnes. A litl grae-coeted sand burd caem triping oever th beech ‘peeping’ softly to itself, as if enjoying th sun and see. It caem qiet cloez to Baet, and luukt at her with a frendly ie and sat upon a worm stoen, dresing its wet fethers, qiet at hoem. Baet smield and felt cumforted, for th tieny thing seemd to ofer its smaul frendship and remiend her that a plezant wurld wuz stil to be enjoyd.

“Deer litl burd! See, Jo, how taem it is. I liek peeps beter than th guls. Thae ar not so wield and handsum, but thae seem hapy, confieding litl things. I uezd to caul them mi burds last sumer, and Muther sed thae remiended her of me—bizy, qaeker-culord creechers, aulwaes neer th shor, and aulwaes churping that contented litl song of thaers. U ar th gul, Jo, strong and wield, fond of th storm and th wiend, flieing far out to see, and hapy all aloen. Meg is th turtledove, and Amy is liek th lark she riets about, trieing to get up amung th clouds, but aulwaes droping doun into its nest agen. Deer litl gurl! She’s so ambishus, but her hart is guud and tender, and no mater how hie she flies, she never wil forget hoem. I hoep I shal see her agen, but she seems so far awae.”

“She is cuming in th spring, and I meen that U shal be all redy to see and enjoy her. I’m going to hav U wel and roezy bi that tiem,” began Jo, feeling that of all th chaenjes in Baet, th tauking chaenj wuz th graetest, for it seemd to cost no efort now, and she thaut aloud in a wae qiet unliek bashful Baet.

“Jo, deer, doen’t hoep eny mor. It wun’t do eny guud. I’m shuur of that. We wun’t be mizerabl, but enjoy being together whiel we waet. We’l hav hapy tiems, for I doen’t sufer much, and I think th tied wil go out eezily, if U help me.”

Jo leend doun to kis th tranqil faess, and with that sielent kis, she dedicaeted herself soel and body to Baet.

She wuz riet. Thaer wuz no need of eny wurds when thae got hoem, for Faather and Muther saw plaenly now whot thae had praed to be saevd from seeing. Tierd with her short jurny, Baet went at wunss to bed, saeing how glad she wuz to be hoem, and when Jo went doun, she found that she wuud be spaerd th hard task of teling Baet’s seecret. Her faather stuud leening his hed on th mantelpeess and did not turn as she caem in, but her muther strecht out her arms as if for help, and Jo went to cumfort her without a wurd.

Nue Impreshons

At three oe’clok in th afternoon, all th fashonabl wurld at Niess mae be seen on th Promenaed des Anglais—a charming plaess, for th wied wauk, borderd with paams, flowers, and tropikaly shrubs, is bounded on wun sied bi th see, on th uther bi th grand driev, liend with hoetels and vilas, whiel beyond lie orenj orchards and th hils. Meny naeshons ar reprezented, meny langgwejes spoeken, meny costuems worn, and on a suny dae th spektakl is as gae and brilyant as a carnival. Hauty Inglish, lievly French, soeber Jurmans, handsum Spanyards, ugly Rushans, meek Joos, free-and-eezy Amerricans, all driev, sit, or saunter heer, chating oever th nues, and critisiezing th laetest selebrity hoo has arievd—Ristori or Dickens, Viktor Emmanuel or th Qeen of th Sandwich Ielands. Th equipages ar as vaeryd as th cumpany and atrakt as much atenshon, espeshaly th loe basket barooshes in which laedys driev themselvs, with a paer of dashing poenys, gae nets to keep thaer volueminus flounses from oeverfloeing th diminuetiv veeikls, and litl grooms on th purch behiend.

Along this wauk, on Christmas Dae, a taul yung man waukt sloely, with his hands behiend him, and a sumwhot absent expreshon of countenanss. He luukt liek an Ilalyan, wuz drest liek an Inglishman, and had th independent aer of an Amerrican—a combinaeshon which cauzd sundry paers of feminine ies to luuk aproovingly after him, and sundry dandys in blak velvet soots, with roez-culord nekties, buf gluvs, and orenj flowers in thaer buttonholes, to shrug thaer shoelders, and then envy him his inches. Thaer wer plenty of prity faeses to admier, but th yung man tuuk litl noetis of them, exsept to glanss now and then at sum blond gurl in bloo. Prezently he stroeld out of th promenaed and stuud a moement at th crosing, as if undesieded whether to go and lisen to th band in th Jardin Publique, or to waander along th beech tord Casl Hil. Th qik trot of poenys’ feet maed him luuk up, as wun of th litl carrejs, contaening a singgl yung laedy, caem rapidly doun th street. Th laedy wuz yung, blond, and drest in bloo. He staerd a mienuet, then his hoel faess woek up, and, waeving his hat liek a boy, he huryd forward to meet her.

“O, Laurie, is it reealy U? I thaut U’d never cum!” cried Amy, droping th raens and hoelding out boeth hands, to th graet scandalization of a French maama, hoo haesnd her dauter’s steps, lest she shuud be demoraliezed bi behoelding th free maners of thees ‘mad Inglish’.

“I wuz detaend bi th wae, but I promist to spend Christmas with U, and heer I am.”

“How is yuur grandfaather? When did U cum? Whaer ar U staeing?”

“Verry wel—last niet—at th Chauvain. I cauld at yuur hoetel, but U wer out.”

“I hav so much to sae, I doen’t noe whaer to begin! Get in and we can tauk at our eez. I wuz going for a driev and longing for cumpany. Flo’s saeving up for toniet.”

“Whot hapens then, a baul?”

“A Christmas party at our hoetel. Thaer ar meny Amerricans thaer, and thae giv it in onor of th dae. U’ll go with us, of corss? Ant wil be charmd.”

“Thank U. Whaer now?” askt Laurie, leening bak and foelding his arms, a proseeding which sooted Amy, hoo prefurd to driev, for her parrasol whip and bloo raens oever th whiet poenys’ baks aforded her infinit satisfakshon.

“I’m going to th bankers furst for leters, and then to Casl Hil. Th vue is so luvly, and I liek to feed th peecoks. Hav U ever bin thaer?”

“Ofen, yeers ago, but I doen’t miend having a luuk at it.”

“Now tel me all about yuurself. Th last I hurd of U, yuur grandfaather roet that he expekted U from Berlin.”

“Yes, I spent a munth thaer and then joind him in Paris, whaer he has setld for th winter. He has frends thaer and fiends plenty to amuez him, so I go and cum, and we get on capitaly.”

“That’s a soeshabl araenjment,” sed Amy, mising sumthing in Laurie’s maner, tho she cuudn’t tel whot.

“Whi, U see, he haets to travel, and I haet to keep stil, so we eech soot ourselvs, and thaer is no trubl. I am ofen with him, and he enjoys mi advenchers, whiel I liek to feel that sumwun is glad to see me when I get bak from mi waanderings. Durty oeld hoel, isn’t it?” he aded, with a luuk of disgust as thae droev along th buulevard to th Plaess Napoleon in th oeld sity.

“Th durt is pikcheresk, so I doen’t miend. Th river and th hils ar delishus, and thees glimpses of th narro cros streets ar mi deliet. Now we shal hav to waet for that proseshon to pas. It’s going to th Church of St. John.”

Whiel Laurie listlesly wocht th proseshon of preests under thaer canopys, whiet-vaeld nuns baering lieted taepers, and sum brutherhuud in bloo chanting as thae waukt, Amy wocht him, and felt a nue sort of shienes steel oever her, for he wuz chaenjd, and she cuud not fiend th merry-faest boy she left in th moody-luuking man besied her. He wuz hansumer than ever and graetly improovd, she thaut, but now that th flush of plezher at meeting her wuz oever, he luukt tierd and spiritles—not sik, nor exaktly unhapy, but oelder and graever than a yeer or too of prosperus lief shuud hav maed him. She cuudn’t understand it and did not vencher to ask qeschons, so she shuuk her hed and tucht up her poenys, as th proseshon woond awae acros th arches of th Paglioni brij and vanisht in th church.

“Que pensez-vous?” she sed, aering her French, which had improovd in qontity, if not in qolity, sinss she caem abraud.

“That mademezel has maed guud uez of her tiem, and th rezult is charming,” replied Laurie, bowing with his hand on his hart and an admiering luuk.

She blusht with plezher, but sumhow th compliment did not satisfi her liek th blunt praezes he uezd to giv her at hoem, when he promenaded round her on festival ocaezhons, and toeld her she wuz ‘aultogether joly’, with a harty smiel and an aprooving pat on th hed. She didn’t liek th nue toen, for tho not blaazae, it sounded indiferent in spiet of th luuk.

“If that’s th wae he's going to gro up, I wish he'd stae a boy,” she thaut, with a cuerius senss of disapointment and discumfort, trieing meentiem to seem qiet eezy and gae.

At Avigdor’s she found th preshus hoem leters and, giving th raens to Laurie, red them lugzhuriusly as thae woond up th shaedy roed between green hejes, whaer tee roezes bloomd as freshly as in Joon.

“Baet is verry porly, Muther sez. I ofen think I aut to go hoem, but thae all sae ‘stae’. So I do, for I shal never hav anuther chanss liek this,” sed Amy, luuking soeber oever wun paej.

“I think U ar riet, thaer. U cuud do nuthing at hoem, and it is a graet cumfort to them to noe that U ar wel and hapy, and enjoying so much, mi deer.”

He droo a litl neerer, and luukt mor liek his oeld self as he sed that, and th feer that sumtiems waed on Amy’s hart wuz lietend, for th luuk, th akt, th brutherly ‘mi deer’, seemd to ashuur her that if eny trubl did cum, she wuud not be aloen in a straenj land. Prezently she laft and shoed him a smaul skech of Jo in her scribling soot, with th boe rampantly erekt upon her cap, and ishooing from her mouth th wurds, ‘Jeenyus burns!’.

Laurie smield, tuuk it, puut it in his vest poket ‘to keep it from bloeing awae’, and lisend with interest to th lievly leter Amy red him.

“This wil be a reguelarly merry Christmas to me, with prezents in th morning, U and leters in th afternoon, and a party at niet,” sed Amy, as thae alieted amung th rooins of th oeld fort, and a flok of splendid peecoks caem trooping about them, tamely waeting to be fed. Whiel Amy stuud lafing on th bank abuv him as she scaterd crums to th brilyant burds, Laurie luukt at her as she had luukt at him, with a nacheral cueriosity to see whot chaenjes tiem and absenss had raut. He found nuthing to perplex or disapoint, much to admier and aproov, for oeverluuking a fue litl afektaeshons of speech and maner, she wuz as sprietly and graesful as ever, with th adishon of that indescriebabl sumthing in dres and baering which we caul eleganss. Aulwaes matuur for her aej, she had gaend a surten aplom in boeth carrej and conversaeshon, which maed her seem mor of a wuuman of th wurld than she wuz, but her oeld pechulanss now and then shoed itself, her strong wil stil held its oen, and her naetiv franknes wuz unspoild by forin poelish.

Laurie did not red all this whiel he wocht her feed th peecoks, but he saw enuf to satisfi and interest him, and carryd awae a prity litl pikcher of a briet-faest gurl standing in th sunshien, which braut out th soft hue of her dres, th fresh culor of her cheeks, th goelden glos of her haer, and maed her a prominent figuer in th plezant seen.

As thae caem up onto th stoen platoe that crouns th hil, Amy waevd her hand as if welcuming him to her faevorit haunt, and sed, pointing heer and thaer, “Do U remember th Catheedral and th Corso, th fishermen draging thaer nets in th bae, and th luvly roed to Vila Franca, Schubert’s Tower, just beloe, and best of all, that spek far out to see which thae sae is Corsica?”

“I remember. It’s not much chaenjd,” he anserd without enthooziazm.

“Whot Jo wuud giv for a siet of that faemus spek!” sed Amy, feeling in guud spirits and ankshus to see him so aulso.

“Yes,” wuz all he sed, but he turnd and straend his ies to see th ieland which a graeter uesurper than eeven Napoleon now maed interesting in his siet.

“Taek a guud luuk at it for her saek, and then cum and tel me whot U hav bin dooing with yuurself all this whiel,” sed Amy, seeting herself, redy for a guud tauk.

But she did not get it, for tho he joind her and anserd all her qeschons freely, she cuud oenly lurn that he had roevd about th Continent and bin to Greece. So after iedling awae an our, thae droev hoem agen, and having paed his respekts to Mrs. Carrol, Laurie left them, promising to return in th eevning.

It must be recorded of Amy that she deliberatly prinked that niet. Tiem and absenss had dun its wurk on boeth th yung peepl. She had seen her oeld frend in a nue liet, not as ‘our boy’, but as a handsum and agreeabl man, and she wuz conshus of a verry nacheral dezier to fiend faevor in his siet. Amy nue her guud points, and maed th moest of them with th taest and skil which is a forchun to a puur and prity wuuman.

Tarlatan and tool wer cheep at Niess, so she envelopt herself in them on such ocaezhons, and foloeing th sensibl Inglish fashon of simpl dres for yung gurls, got up charming litl toilettes with fresh flowers, a fue trinkets, and all maner of daenty devieses, which wer boeth inexpensiv and efektiv. It must be confest that th artist sumtiems got pozeshon of th wuuman, and induljd in anteek coiffures, stachu'esk atitoods, and clasik draeperys. But, deer hart, we all hav our litl weekneses, and fiend it eezy to pardon such in th yung, hoo satisfi our ies with thaer comeliness, and keep our harts merry with thaer artles vanitys.

“I do wont him to think I luuk wel, and tel them so at hoem,” sed Amy to herself, as she puut on Flo’s oeld whiet silk baul dres, and cuverd it with a cloud of fresh iloozhon, out of which her whiet shoelders and goelden hed emurjd with a moest artistik efekt. Her haer she had th senss to let aloen, after gathering up th thik waevs and curls into a Hebe-liek not at th bak of her hed.

“It’s not th fashon, but it’s becuming, and I can’t aford to maek a friet of mieself,” she uezd to sae, when adviezd to frizl, puf, or braed, as th laetest stiel comanded.

Having no ornaments fien enuf for this important ocaezhon, Amy loopt her fleesy scurts with roezy clusters of azaelia, and fraemd th whiet shoelders in delicat green viens. Remembering th paented boots, she survaed her whiet satin slipers with gurlish satisfakshon, and chasseed doun th room, admiering her aristocratik feet all bi herself.

“Mi nue fan just maches mi flowers, mi gluvs fit to a charm, and th reeal laess on Ant’s mouchoir givs an aer to mi hoel dres. If I oenly had a clasikal noez and mouth I shuud be purfektly hapy,” she sed, survaeing herself with a critikal ie and a candl in eech hand.

In spiet of this aflikshon, she luukt unuezhualy gae and graesful as she glieded awae. She seldom ran—it did not soot her stiel, she thaut, for being taul, th staetly and Junoesque wuz mor aproepriat than th sportive or piquante. She waukt up and doun th long saloon whiel waeting for Laurie, and wunss araenjd herself under th shandeleer, which had a guud efekt upon her haer, then she thaut beter of it, and went awae to th uther end of th room, as if ashaemd of th gurlish dezier to hav th furst vue a propishus wun. It so hapend that she cuud not hav dun a beter thing, for Laurie caem in so qieetly she did not heer him, and as she stuud at th distant windo, with her hed haf turnd and wun hand gathering up her dres, th slender, whiet figuer agenst th red curtens wuz as efektiv as a wel-plaest stachoo.

“Guud eevning, Diana!” sed Laurie, with th luuk of satisfakshon she liekt to see in his ies when thae rested on her.

“Guud eevning, Apollo!” she anserd, smieling bak at him, for he too luukt unuezhualy debonaer, and th thaut of entering th baulroom on th arm of such a pursonabl man cauzd Amy to pity th foer plaen Mises Davis from th botom of her hart.

“Heer ar yuur flowers. I araenjd them mieself, remembering that U didn’t liek whot Hannah cauls a ‘sot-bookay’,” sed Laurie, handing her a delicat noezgae, in a hoelder that she had long cuveted as she daely past it in Cardiglia’s windo.

“How kiend U ar!” she exclaemd graetfuly. “If I’d noen U wer cuming I’d hav had sumthing redy for U todae, tho not as prity as this, I’m afraed.”

“Thank U. It isn’t whot it shuud be, but U hav improovd it,” he aded, as she snapt th silver braeslet on her rists.

“Pleez doen’t.”

“I thaut U liekt that sort of thing.”

“Not from U, it duzn’t sound nacheral, and I liek yuur oeld bluntnes beter.”

“I’m glad of it,” he anserd, with a luuk of releef, then butond her gluvs for her, and askt if his tie wuz straet, just as he uezd to do when thae went to partys together at hoem.

Th cumpany asembld in th long salle a maenjer, that eevning, wuz such as wun sees no-whaer but on th Continent. Th hospitabl Amerricans had invieted every aqaentanss thae had in Niess, and having no prejudis agenst tietls, secuerd a fue to ad luster to thaer Christmas baul.

A Rushan prinss condescended to sit in a corner for an our and tauk with a masiv laedy, drest liek Hamlet's muther in blak velvet with a purl briedl under her chin. A Poelish count, aejed aeteen, devoeted himself to th laedys, hoo pronounst him, ‘a fasinaeting deer’, and a Jurman Sereen Sumthing, having cum to super aloen, roemd vaegly about, seeking whot he miet devour. Barron Rothschild’s prievat secretaery, a larj-noezd Joo in tiet boots, afably beemd upon th wurld, as if his master's naem cround him with a goelden haelo. A stout Frenchman, hoo nue th Emperor, caem to indulj his maenia for dansing, and Laedy de Jones, a British maetron, adornd th seen with her litl family of aet. Of corss, thaer wer meny liet-fuuted, shril-voist Amerrican gurls, handsum, liefles-luuking Inglish ditto, and a fue plaen but piquante French demoiselles, liekwiez th uezhual set of traveling yung jentlmen hoo disported themselvs gaely, whiel maamas of all naeshons liend th wauls and smield upon them benienly when thae danst with thaer dauters.

Eny yung gurl can imajin Amy’s staet of miend when she ‘tuuk th staej’ that niet, leening on Laurie’s arm. She nue she luukt wel, she luvd to danss, she felt that her fuut wuz on her naetiv heeth in a baulroom, and enjoyd th delietful senss of power which cums when yung gurls furst discuver th nue and luvly kingdom thae ar born to rool bi vurchoo of buety, yooth, and wuumanhuud. She did pity th Davis gurls, hoo wer aukward, plaen, and destitoot of escort, exsept a grim paapa and three grimer maeden ants, and she bowd to them in her frendlyest maner as she past, which wuz guud of her, as it permited them to see her dres, and burn with cueriosity to noe hoo her distingwhisht-luuking frend miet be. With th furst burst of th band, Amy’s culor roez, her ies began to sparkl, and her feet to tap th flor impaeshently, for she danst wel and wonted Laurie to noe it. Thaerfor th shok she reseevd can beter be imajind than descriebd, when he sed in a purfektly tranqil toen, “Do U caer to danss?”

“Wun uezhualy duz at a baul.”

Her amaezd luuk and qik anser cauzd Laurie to repaer his error as fast as posibl.

“I ment th furst danss. Mae I hav th onor?”

“I can giv U wun if I puut off th Count. He danses divienly, but he wil excuez me, as U ar an oeld frend,” sed Amy, hoeping that th naem wuud hav a guud efekt, and sho Laurie that she wuz not to be trifled with.

“Niess litl boy, but rather a short Poel to suport...

A dauter of th gods,
Devinely taul, and moest divienly faer,”

wuz all th satisfakshon she got, however.

Th set in which thae found themselvs wuz compoezd of Inglish, and Amy wuz compeld to wauk decorusly thru a cotillion, feeling all th whiel as if she cuud danss th tarrantela with relish. Laurie reziend her to th ‘niess litl boy’, and went to do his duety to Flo, without secuering Amy for th joys to cum, which reprehensibl wont of forthaut wuz properly punisht, for she imeediatly engaejd herself til super, meening to relent if he then gaev eny siens penitenss. She shoed him her baul buuk with demuer satisfakshon when he stroeld insted of rusht up to claem her for th next, a glorius poelca redowa. But his poliet regrets didn’t impoez upon her, and when she galopt awae with th Count, she saw Laurie sit doun bi her ant with an akchual expreshon of releef.

That wuz unpardonable, and Amy tuuk no mor noetis of him for a long whiel, exsept a wurd now and then when she caem to her shaperoen between th danses for a nesesaery pin or a moement’s rest. Her angger had a guud efekt, however, for she hid it under a smieling faess, and seemd unuezhualy blieth and brilyant. Laurie’s ies foloed her with plezher, for she neether rompt nor saunterd, but danst with spirit and graess, maeking th delightsome pastiem whot it shuud be. He verry nacheraly fel to studying her from this nue pointer of vue, and befor th eevning wuz haf oever, had desieded that ‘litl Amy wuz going to maek a verry charming wuuman’.

It wuz a lievly seen, for soon th spirit of th soeshal seezon tuuk pozeshon of everywun, and Christmas merriment maed all faeses shien, harts hapy, and heels liet. Th muezishans fidld, tooted, and bangd as if thae enjoyd it, evrybody danst hoo cuud, and thoes hoo cuudn’t admierd thaer naebors with uncomon wormth. Th aer wuz dark with Davises, and meny Joneses gambold liek a flok of yung jirafs. Th goelden secretaery darted thru th room liek a meetior with a dashing French-wuuman hoo carpeted th flor with her pink satin traen. Th sereen Teuton found th super-taebl and wuz hapy, eeting stedy thru th bil of faer, and dismaed th garcons by th ravejes he comited. But th Emperor’s frend cuverd himself with glory, for he danst everything, whether he nue it or not, and introduest impromptoo pirouettes when th figuers bewilderd him. Th boyish abandon of that stout man wuz charming to behoeld, for tho he ‘carryd waet’, he danst liek an India-ruber baul. He ran, he floo, he pranst, his faess gloed, his bauld hed shoen, his coettaels waevd wieldly, his pumps akchualy twinkld in th aer, and when th muezik stopt, he wiept th drops from his brow, and beemd upon his felo men liek a French Pickwick without glases.

Amy and her Poel distingwhisht themselvs bi eeqal enthooziazm but mor graesful ajility, and Laurie found himself involuntarrily keeping tiem to th rithmik riez and faul of th whiet slipers as thae floo bi as indefatigably as if wingd. When litl Vladimir fienaly relinqisht her, with ashuuranses that he wuz ‘desolated to leev so urly’, she wuz redy to rest, and see how her recriant niet had born his punishment.

It had bin suksesful, for at three-and-twenty, blieted afekshons fiend a baam in frendly soesieety, and yung nurvs wil thril, yung blud danss, and helthy yung spirits riez, when subjekted to th enchantment of buety, liet, muezik, and moeshon. Laurie had a waekt-up luuk as he roez to giv her his seet, and when he huryd awae to bring her sum super, she sed to herself, with a satisfied smiel, “Aa, I thaut that wuud do him guud!”

“U luuk liek Balzac’s ‘Fem Peinte Par Elle-Meems’,” he sed, as he fand her with wun hand and held her cofy cup in th uther.

“Mi roozh wun’t cum off.” and Amy rubd her brilyant cheek, and shoed him her whiet gluv with a soeber simplisity that maed him laf outriet.

“Whot do U caul this stuf?” he askt, tuching a foeld of her dres that had bloen oever his nae.


“Guud naem for it. It’s verry prity—nue thing, isn’t it?”

“It’s as oeld as th hils. U hav seen it on duzens of gurls, and U never found out that it wuz prity til now—stupide!”

“I never saw it on U befor, which acounts for th mistaek, U see.”

“Nun of that, it is forbiden. I’d rather taek cofy than compliments just now. No, doen’t lounj, it maeks me nurvus.”

Laurie sat boeld upriets, and meekly tuuk her empty plaet feeling an od sort of plezher in having ‘litl Amy’ order him about, for she had lost her shienes now, and felt an irrestible dezier to trampl on him, as gurls hav a delietful wae of dooing when lords of creaeshon sho eny siens of subjekshon.

“Whaer did U lurn all this sort of thing?” he askt with a qizikal luuk.

“As ‘this sort of thing’ is rather a vaeg expreshon, wuud U kiendly explaen?” returnd Amy, noeing purfektly wel whot he ment, but wickedly leeving him to descrieb whot is indescriebabl.

“Wel—th jeneral aer, th stiel, th self-pozeshon, th—th—iloozhon—U noe”, laft Laurie, braeking doun and helping himself out of his qondary with th nue wurd.

Amy wuz gratified, but of corss didn’t sho it, and demuerly anserd, “Forin lief polishes wun in spiet of wun’s self. I study as wel as plae, and as for this”—with a litl jescher tord her dres—“whi, tool is cheep, posies to be had for nuthing, and I am uezd to maeking th moest of mi puur litl things.”

Amy rather regreted that last sentenss, feering it wuzn’t in guud taest, but Laurie liekt her beter for it, and found himself boeth admiering and respekting th braev paeshenss that maed th moest of oportuenity, and th cheerful spirit that cuverd poverty with flowers. Amy did not noe whi he luukt at her so kiendly, nor whi he fild up her buuk with his oen naem, and devoeted himself to her for th rest of th eevning in th moest delietful maner; but th impulss that raut this agreeabl chaenj wuz th rezult of wun of th nue impreshons which boeth of them wer unconshusly giving and reseeving.

CHAPTER Thurty-Aet

In France th yung gurls hav a dul tiem of it til thae ar marryd, when ‘Vive laa liberte!’ becums thaer moto. In America, as everywun noes, gurls urly sien th declaeraeshon of independenss, and enjoy thaer freedom with republican zest, but th yung maetrons uezhualy abdicaet with th furst aer to th throen and go into a secloozhon aulmoest as cloez as a French nunery, tho bi no meens as qieet. Whether thae liek it or not, thae ar vurchualy puut upon th shelf as soon as th weding exsietment is oever, and moest of them miet exclaem, as did a verry prity wuuman th uther dae, “I’m as handsum as ever, but no-wun taeks eny noetis of me becauz I’m marryd.”

Not being a bel or eeven a fashonabl laedy, Meg did not expeeri’enss this aflikshon til her baebys wer a yeer oeld, for in her litl wurld primitiv customs prevaeld, and she found herself mor admierd and beluved than ever.

As she wuz a wuumanly litl wuuman, th maturnal instinkt wuz verry strong, and she wuz entierly absorbd in her children, to th uter excloozhon of everything and evrybody elss. Dae and niet she brooded oever them with tierles devoeshon and angzieity, leeving John to th tender mursy of th help, for an Ierish laedy now prezieded oever th kichen department. Being a domestik man, John desiededly mist th wiefly atenshons he had bin acustomd to reseev, but as he adord his baebys, he cheerfuly relinqisht his cumfort for a tiem, supoezing with mascuelin ignoranss that peess wuud soon be restord. But three munths past, and thaer wuz no return of repoez. Meg luukt worn and nurvus, th baebys absorbd every mienuet of her tiem, th hous wuz neglekted, and Kity, th cuuk, hoo tuuk lief ‘aisy’, kept him on short comons. When he went out in th morning he wuz bewilderd by smaul comishons for th captiv maama, if he caem gaely in at niet, eeger to embraess his family, he wuz qencht by a “Hush! Thae ar just asleep after wurying all dae.” If he propoezd a litl amuezment at hoem, “No, it wuud disturb th baebys.” If he hinted at a lekcher or a consert, he wuz anserd with a reproechful luuk, and a desieded—“Leev mi children for plezher, never!” His sleep wuz broeken by infant waels and vizhons of a fantom figuer paesing noizlesly to and fro in th woches of th niet. His meels wer interupted by th freeqent fliet of th prezieding jeenyus, hoo dezurted him, haf-helpt, if a mufld churp sounded from th nest abuv. And when he red his paeper of an eevning, Demi’s colik got into th shiping list and Daezy’s faul afekted th priess of stoks, for Mrs. Brooke wuz oenly interested in domestik nues.

Th puur man wuz verry uncumfortabl, for th children had bereft him of his wief, hoem wuz meerly a nursery and th perpechual ‘hushing’ maed him feel liek a brootal introoder whenever he enterd th saecred preesinkts of Babyland. He bor it verry paeshently for six munths, and when no siens of amendment apeerd, he did whot uther paturnal exsiels do—tried to get a litl cumfort elswhaer. Scott had marryd and gon to houskeeping not far off, and John fel into th wae of runing oever for an our or too of an eevning, when his oen parlor wuz empty, and his oen wief singing lulabies that seemd to hav no end. Mrs. Scott wuz a lievly, prity gurl, with nuthing to do but be agreeabl, and she performd her mishon moest suksesfuly. Th parlor wuz aulwaes briet and atraktiv, th chesbord redy, th peano in tuen, plenty of gae gosip, and a niess litl super set forth in tempting stiel.

John wuud hav prefurd his oen fiersied if it had not bin so loenly, but as it wuz he graetfuly tuuk th next best thing and enjoyd his naebor’s soesieety.

Meg rather aproovd of th nue araenjment at furst, and found it a releef to noe that John wuz having a guud tiem insted of doezing in th parlor, or tramping about th hous and waeking th children. But bi-and-bi, when th teething wury wuz oever and th iedols went to sleep at proper ours, leeving Maama tiem to rest, she began to mis John, and fiend her wurkbasket dul cumpany, when he wuz not siting opozit in his oeld dresing goun, cumfortably scorching his slipers on th fender. She wuud not ask him to stae at hoem, but felt injerd becauz he did not noe that she wonted him without being toeld, entierly forgeting th meny eevnings he had waeted for her in vaen. She wuz nurvus and worn out with woching and wury, and in that unreezonabl fraem of miend which th best of muthers ocaezhonaly expeeri’enss when domestik caers opres them. Wont of exsersiez robs them of cheerfulnes, and too much devoeshon to that iedol of Amerrican wimen, th teepot, maeks them feel as if thae wer all nurv and no musl.

“Yes,” she wuud sae, luuking in th glas, “I’m geting oeld and ugly. John duzn’t fiend me interesting eny longger, so he leevs his faeded wief and goes to see his prity naebor, hoo has no incumbrances. Wel, th baebys luv me, thae doen’t caer if I am thin and pael and haeven’t tiem to crimp mi haer, thae ar mi cumfort, and sum dae John wil see whot I’ve gladly sacrifiest for them, wun’t he, mi preshus?”

To which pathetik apeel Daezy wuud anser with a coo, or Demi with a cro, and Meg wuud puut bi her lamentaeshons for a maturnal revel, which soothd her solitued for th tiem being. But th paen increest as politiks absorbd John, hoo wuz aulwaes runing oever to discus interesting points with Scott, qiet unconshus that Meg mist him. Not a wurd did she sae, however, til her muther found her in teers wun dae, and insisted on noeing whot th mater wuz, for Meg’s drooping spirits had not escaept her obzervaeshon.

“I wuudn’t tel enywun exsept U, Muther, but I reealy do need adviess, for if John goes on much longger I miet as wel be widoed,” replied Mrs. Brooke, drieing her teers on Daezy’s bib with an injerd aer.

“Goes on how, mi deer?” askt her muther anxshusly.

“He's awae all dae, and at niet when I wont to see him, he is continualy going oever to th Scotts’. It isn’t faer that I shuud hav th hardest wurk, and never eny amuezment. Men ar verry selfish, eeven th best of them.”

“So ar wimen. Doen’t blaem John til U see whaer U ar rong yuurself.”

“But it can’t be riet for him to neglekt me.”

“Doen’t U neglekt him?”

“Whi, Muther, I thaut U’d taek mi part!”

“So I do, as far as simpathiezing goes, but I think th fault is yuurs, Meg.”

“I doen’t see how.”

“Let me sho U. Did John ever neglekt U, as U caul it, whiel U maed it a pointer to giv him yuur soesieety of an eevning, his oenly leezher tiem?”

“No, but I can’t do it now, with too baebys to tend.”

“I think U cuud, deer, and I think U aut. Mae I speek qiet freely, and wil U remember that it’s Muther hoo blaems as wel as Muther hoo simpathiezes?”

“Indeed I wil! Speek to me as if I wer litl Meg agen. I ofen feel as if I needed teeching mor than ever sinss thees baebys luuk to me for everything.”

Meg droo her loe chaer besied her muther’s, and with a litl interupshon in eether lap, th too wimen rokt and taukt luvingly together, feeling that th tie of mutherhuud maed them mor wun than ever.

“U hav oenly maed th mistaek that moest yung wievs maek—forgoten yuur duety to yuur huzband in yuur luv for yuur children. A verry nacheral and forgivabl mistaek, Meg, but wun that had beter be remedyd befor U taek to diferent waes, for children shuud draw U neerer than ever, not separat U, as if thae wer all yuurs, and John had nuthing to do but suport them. I’ve seen it for sum weeks, but hav not spoeken, feeling shuur it wuud cum riet in tiem.”

“I’m afraed it wun’t. If I ask him to stae, he'l think I’m jelus, and I wuudn’t insult him bi such an iedeea. He duzn’t see that I wont him, and I doen’t noe how to tel him without wurds.”

“Maek it so plezant he wun’t wont to go awae. Mi deer, he's longing for his litl hoem, but it isn’t hoem without U, and U ar aulwaes in th nursery.”

“Autn't I to be thaer?”

“Not all th tiem, too much confienment maeks U nurvus, and then U ar unfited for everything. Besieds, U oe sumthing to John as wel as to th baebys. Doen’t neglekt huzband for children, doen’t shut him out of th nursery, but teech him how to help in it. His plaess is thaer as wel as yuurs, and th children need him. Let him feel that he has a part to do, and he wil do it gladly and faethfuly, and it wil be beter for U all.”

“U reealy think so, Muther?”

“I noe it, Meg, for I’ve tried it, and I seldom giv adviess unles I’ve proovd its practicability. When U and Jo wer litl, I went on just as U ar, feeling as if I didn’t do mi duety unles I devoeted mieself hoely to U. Puur Faather tuuk to his buuks, after I had refuezd all ofers of help, and left me to tri mi experriment aloen. I strugld along as wel as I cuud, but Jo wuz too much for me. I neerly spoild her by induljenss. U wer porly, and I wuryd about U til I fel sik mieself. Then Faather caem to th rescue, qieetly manejd everything, and maed himself so helpful that I saw mi mistaek, and never hav bin aebl to get on without him sinss. That is th seecret of our hoem hapynes. He duz not let biznes ween him from th litl caers and duetys that afekt us all, and I tri not to let domestik wurys destroy mi interest in his persoots. Eech do our part aloen in meny things, but at hoem we wurk together, aulwaes.”

“It is so, Muther, and mi graet wish is to be to mi huzband and children whot U hav bin to yuurs. Sho me how, I’ll do enything U sae.”

“U aulwaes wer mi dosil dauter. Wel, deer, if I wer U, I’d let John hav mor to do with th manejment of Demi, for th boy needs traening, and it’s nun too soon to begin. Then I’d do whot I hav ofen propoezd, let Hannah cum and help U. She is a capital nurss, and U mae trust th preshus baebys to her whiel U do mor houswurk. U need th exsersiez, Hannah wuud enjoy th rest, and John wuud fiend his wief agen. Go out mor, keep cheerful as wel as bizy, for U ar th sunshien-maeker of th family, and if U get dizmal thaer is no faer wether. Then I’d tri to taek an interest in whotever John lieks—tauk with him, let him red to U, exchaenj iedeeas, and help eech uther in that wae. Doen’t shut yuurself up in a bandbox becauz U ar a wuuman, but understand whot is going on, and ejucaet yuurself to taek yuur part in th wurld’s wurk, for it all afekts U and yuurs.”

“John is so sensibl, I’m afraed he wil think I’m stoopid if I ask qeschons about politiks and things.”

“I doen’t beleev he wuud. Luv cuvers a multitued of sins, and of hoom cuud U ask mor freely than of him? Tri it, and see if he duzn’t fiend yuur soesieety far mor agreeabl than Mrs. Scott’s supers.”

“I wil. Puur John! I’m afraed I hav neglekted him sadly, but I thaut I wuz riet, and he never sed enything.”

“He tried not to be selfish, but he has felt rather forlorn, I fansy. This is just th tiem, Meg, when yung marryd peepl ar apt to gro apart, and th verry tiem when thae aut to be moest together, for th furst tendernes soon waers off, unles caer is taeken to prezurv it. And no tiem is so buetiful and preshus to paerents as th furst yeers of th litl lievs given to them to traen. Doen’t let John be a straenjer to th baebys, for thae wil do mor to keep him saef and hapy in this wurld of trieal and temptaeshon than enything elss, and thru them U wil lurn to noe and luv wun anuther as U shuud. Now, deer, guud-by. Think oever Muther’s preechment, akt upon it if it seems guud, and God bles U all.”

Meg did think it oever, found it guud, and akted upon it, tho th furst atempt wuz not maed exaktly as she pland to hav it. Of corss th children tyrannized oever her, and roold th hous as soon as thae found out that kiking and sqauling braut them whotever thae wonted. Maama wuz an abjekt slaev to thaer capreeses, but Paapa wuz not so eezily subjugaeted, and ocaezhonaly aflikted his tender spous bi an atempt at paturnal disiplin with his obstreperus sun. For Demi inherrited a triefl of his sier’s furmnes of carrakter, we wun’t caul it obstinasy, and when he maed up his litl miend to hav or to do enything, all th king's horses and all th king's men cuud not chaenj that pertinacious litl miend. Maama thaut th deer too yung to be taut to conker his prejudises, but Paapa beleevd that it never wuz too soon to lurn oebeedi’enss. So Master Demi urly discuverd that when he undertuuk to ‘wrastle’ with ‘Parpar’, he aulwaes got th wurst of it, yet liek th Inglishman, baeby respekted th man hoo conkerd him, and luvd th faather hoos graev “No, no,” wuz mor impresiv than all Maama's luv pats.

A fue daes after th tauk with her muther, Meg rezolvd to tri a soeshal eevning with John, so she orderd a niess super, set th parlor in order, drest herself pritily, and puut th children to bed urly, that nuthing shuud interfeer with her experriment. But unforchunatly Demi’s moest unconkerabl prejudis wuz agenst going to bed, and that niet he desieded to go on a rampej. So puur Meg sang and rokt, toeld storys and tried every sleep-prevoking wiel she cuud deviez, but all in vaen, th big ies wuudn’t shut, and long after Daezy had gon to byelow, liek th chuby litl bunch of guud naecher she wuz, nauty Demi lae staering at th liet, with th moest discurejingly wied-awaek expreshon of countenanss.

“Wil Demi lie stil liek a guud boy, whiel Maama runs doun and givs puur Paapa his tee?” askt Meg, as th haul dor softly cloezd, and th wel-noen step went tip-toeing into th diening room.

“Me has tee!” sed Demi, prepaering to join in th revel.

“No, but I’ll saev U sum litl cakies for brekfast, if U’ll go bie-bie liek Daezy. Wil U, lovey?”

“Iss!” and Demi shut his ies tiet, as if to cach sleep and hurry th dezierd dae.

Taeking advantej of th propishus moement, Meg slipt awae and ran doun to greet her huzband with a smieling faess and th litl bloo boe in her haer which wuz his espeshal admeraeshon. He saw it at wunss and sed with pleezd serpriez, “Whi, litl muther, how gae we ar toniet. Do U expekt cumpany?”

“Oenly U, deer.”

“Is it a burthdae, anivursery, or enything?”

“No, I’m tierd of being doudy, so I drest up as a chaenj. U aulwaes maek yuurself niess for taebl, no mater how tierd U ar, so whi shouldn’t I when I hav th tiem?”

“I do it out of respekt for U, mi deer,” sed oeld-fashond John.

“Ditto, ditto, Mr. Brooke,” laft Meg, luuking yung and prity agen, as she noded to him oever th teepot.

“Wel, it’s aultogether delietful, and liek oeld tiems. This taests riet. I drink yuur helth, deer.” and John sipt his tee with an aer of repoezful rapcher, which wuz of verry short duuraeshon however, for as he puut doun his cup, th dor handl ratld misteeriusly, and a litl vois wuz hurd, saeing impaeshently...

“Opy doy. Me’s tummin!”

“It’s that nauty boy. I toeld him to go to sleep aloen, and heer he is, dounstaers, geting his deth a-coeld patering oever that canvas,” sed Meg, ansering th caul.

“Mornin’ now,” anounst Demi in joyful toen as he enterd, with his long nietgoun graesfuly festoond oever his arm and every curl bobing gaely as he pranst about th taebl, ieing th ‘cakies’ with luving glanses.

“No, it isn’t morning yet. U must go to bed, and not trubl puur Maama. Then U can hav th litl caek with shigar on it.”

“Me luvs Parpar,” sed th artful wun, prepaering to cliem th paturnal nae and revel in forbiden joys. But John shuuk his hed, and sed to Meg...

“If U toeld him to stae up thaer, and go to sleep aloen, maek him do it, or he wil never lurn to miend U.”

“Yes, of corss. Cum, Demi,” and Meg led her sun awae, feeling a strong dezier to spank th litl marplot hoo hopt besied her, laeboring under th deloozhon that th brieb wuz to be administerd as soon as thae reecht th nursery.

Nor wuz he disapointed, for that shortsieted wuuman akchualy gaev him a lump of shigar, tukt him into his bed, and forbaed eny mor promenades til morning.

“Iss!” sed Demi th perjured, blisfuly suking his shigar, and regarding his furst atempt as eminently suksesful.

Meg returnd to her plaess, and super wuz progresing plezantly, when th litl goest waukt agen, and expoezd th maturnal delinqensys bi boeldly demanding, “Mor sudar, Marmar.”

“Now this wun’t do,” sed John, hardening his hart agenst th engaejing litl siner. “We shal never noe eny peess til that chield lurns to go to bed properly. U hav maed a slaev of yuurself long enuf. Giv him wun leson, and then thaer wil be an end of it. Puut him in his bed and leev him, Meg.”

“He wun’t stae thaer, he never duz unles I sit bi him.”

“I’ll manej him. Demi, go upstaers, and get into yuur bed, as Maama bids U.”

“S’ant!” replied th yung rebl, helping himself to th cuveted ‘cakie’, and begining to eet th saem with caam audasity.

“U must never sae that to Paapa. I shal carry U if U doen’t go yuurself.”

“Go ’wae, me doen’t luv Parpar.” and Demi retierd to his muther’s scurts for protekshon.

But eeven that refuej proovd unavaeling, for he wuz deliverd oever to th enemy, with a “Be jentl with him, John,” which struk th culprit with dismae, for when Maama dezurted him, then th jujment dae wuz at hand. Bereft of his caek, defrauded of his frolik, and born awae by a strong hand to that detested bed, puur Demi cuud not restraen his rath, but oepenly defied Paapa, and kikt and screemd lustily all th wae upstaers. Th mienuet he wuz puut into bed on wun sied, he roeld out on th uther, and maed for th dor, oenly to be ignominusly caut up by th tael of his litl toega and puut bak agen, which lievly performanss wuz kept up til th yung man’s strength gaev out, when he devoeted himself to roring at th top of his vois. This voekal exsersiez uezhualy conkerd Meg, but John sat as unmoovd as th poest which is popuelarly beleevd to be def. No coexing, no shigar, no lulabi, no story, eeven th liet wuz puut out and oenly th red glo of th fier enlivend th ‘big dark’ which Demi regarded with cueriosity rather than feer. This nue order of things disgusted him, and he hould dizmaly for ‘Marmar’, as his anggry pashons subsieded, and recolekshons of his tender bondwoman returnd to th captiv autocrat. Th plaentiv wael which sukseeded th pashonat ror went to Meg’s hart, and she ran up to sae beseechingly...

“Let me stae with him, he'l be guud now, John.”

“No, mi deer. I’ve toeld him he must go to sleep, as U bid him, and he must, if I stae heer all niet.”

“But he'l cri himself sik,” pleeded Meg, reproeching herself for dezurting her boy.

“No, he wun’t, he's so tierd he wil soon drop off and then th mater is setld, for he wil understand that he has got to miend. Doen’t interfeer, I’ll manej him.”

“He's mi chield, and I can’t hav his spirit broeken bi harshnes.”

“He's mi chield, and I wun’t hav his temper spoild bi induljenss. Go doun, mi deer, and leev th boy to me.”

When John spoek in that masterful toen, Meg aulwaes oebaed, and never regreted her dosility.

“Pleez let me kis him wunss, John?”

“Surtenly. Demi, sae guud niet to Maama, and let her go and rest, for she is verry tierd with taeking caer of U all dae.”

Meg aulwaes insisted upon it that th kis wun th viktory, for after it wuz given, Demi sobd mor qieetly, and lae qiet stil at th botom of th bed, whither he had rigld in his anggwish of miend.

“Puur litl man, he's worn out with sleep and crieing. I’ll cuver him up, and then go and set Meg’s hart at rest,” thaut John, creeping to th bedsied, hoeping to fiend his rebelyus aer asleep.

But he wuzn’t, for th moement his faather peept at him, Demi’s ies oepend, his litl chin began to qiver, and he puut up his arms, saeing with a penitent hicup, “Me’s dood, now.”

Siting on th staers outsied Meg wunderd at th long sielenss which foloed th upror, and after imajining all sorts of imposibl aksidents, she slipt into th room to set her feers at rest. Demi lae fast asleep, not in his uezhual spreadeagle atitued, but in a subdued bunch, cudld cloez in th surkl of his faather’s arm and hoelding his faather’s fingger, as if he felt that justis wuz temperd with mursy, and had gon to sleep a sader and wiezer baeby. So held, John had waeted with a wuumanly paeshenss til th litl hand relaxt its hoeld, and whiel waeting had faulen asleep, mor tierd bi that tusl with his sun than with his hoel dae’s wurk.

As Meg stuud woching th too faeses on th pilo, she smield to herself, and then slipt awae agen, saeing in a satisfied toen, “I never need feer that John wil be too harsh with mi baebys. He duz noe how to manej them, and wil be a graet help, for Demi is geting too much for me.”

When John caem doun at last, expekting to fiend a pensiv or reproechful wief, he wuz agreeably serpriezd to fiend Meg plasidly triming a bonet, and to be greeted with th reqest to red sumthing about th elekshon, if he wuz not too tierd. John saw in a mienuet that a revolooshon of sum kiend wuz going on, but wiezly askt no qeschons, noeing that Meg wuz such a transpaerent litl purson, she cuudn’t keep a seecret to saev her lief, and thaerfor th cloo wuud soon apeer. He red a long debaet with th moest aemiabl redynes and then explaend it in his moest loosid maner, whiel Meg tried to luuk deeply interested, to ask intelijent qeschons, and keep her thauts from waandering from th staet of th naeshon to th staet of her bonet. In her seecret soel, however, she desieded that politiks wer as bad as mathematiks, and that th mishon of politishans seemd to be cauling eech uther naems, but she kept thees feminine iedeeas to herself, and when John pauzd, shuuk her hed and sed with whot she thaut diplomatik ambigueity, “Wel, I reealy doen’t see whot we ar cuming to.”

John laft, and wocht her for a mienuet, as she poizd a prity litl preparaeshon of laess and flowers on her hand, and regarded it with th jenuein interest which his harang had faeld to waeken.

“She is trieing to liek politiks for mi saek, so I’ll tri and liek milinery for hers, that’s oenly faer,” thaut John th Just, ading aloud, “That’s verry prity. Is it whot U caul a brekfast cap?”

“Mi deer man, it’s a bonet! Mi verry best go-to-consert-and-theeater bonet.”

“I beg yuur pardon, it wuz so smaul, I nacheraly mistuuk it for wun of th flieawae things U sumtiems waer. How do U keep it on?”

“Thees bits of laess ar fasend under th chin with a roezbud, so,” and Meg ilustraeted by puuting on th bonet and regarding him with an aer of caam satisfakshon that wuz irezistibl.

“It’s a luv of a bonet, but I prefur th faess insied, for it luuks yung and hapy agen,” and John kist th smieling faess, to th graet detriment of th roezbud under th chin.

“I’m glad U liek it, for I wont U to taek me to wun of th nue conserts sum niet. I reealy need sum muezik to puut me in tuen. Wil U, pleez?”

“Of corss I wil, with all mi hart, or enywhaer elss U liek. U hav bin shut up so long, it wil do U no end of guud, and I shal enjoy it, of all things. Whot puut it into yuur hed, litl muther?”

“Wel, I had a tauk with Marmee th uther dae, and toeld her how nurvus and cros and out of sorts I felt, and she sed I needed chaenj and les caer, so Hannah is to help me with th children, and I’m to see to things about th hous mor, and now and then hav a litl fun, just to keep me from geting to be a fijety, broeken-doun oeld wuuman befor mi tiem. It’s oenly an experriment, John, and I wont to tri it for yuur saek as much as for mien, becauz I’ve neglekted U shaemfuly laetly, and I’m going to maek hoem whot it uezd to be, if I can. U doen’t objekt, I hoep?”

Never miend whot John sed, or whot a verry narro escaep th litl bonet had from uter rooin. All that we hav eny biznes to noe is that John did not apeer to objekt, jujing from th chaenjes which grajualy tuuk plaess in th hous and its inmaets. It wuz not all Parradiess by eny meens, but everywun wuz beter for th divizhon of laebor sistem. Th children throve under th paturnal rool, for acurat, stedfast John braut order and oebeedi’enss into Babydom, whiel Meg recuverd her spirits and compoezd her nurvs by plenty of hoelsum exsersiez, a litl plezher, and much confidenshal conversaeshon with her sensibl huzband. Hoem groo homelike agen, and John had no wish to leev it, unles he tuuk Meg with him. Th Scotts caem to th Brookes’ now, and everywun found th litl hous a cheerful plaess, fuul of hapynes, content, and family luv. Eeven Sallie Moffatt liekt to go thaer. “It is aulwaes so qieet and plezant heer, it duz me guud, Meg,” she uezd to sae, luuking about her with wistful ies, as if trieing to discuver th charm, that she miet uez it in her graet hous, fuul of splendid loenlynes, for thaer wer no rieotus, suny-faest baebys thaer, and Ned livd in a wurld of his oen, whaer thaer wuz no plaess for her.

This hous-hoeld hapynes did not cum all at wunss, but John and Meg had found th kee to it, and eech yeer of marryd lief taut them how to uez it, unloking th trezhers of reeal hoem luv and muechual helpfulnes, which th puurest mae pozess, and th richest cannot bie. This is th sort of shelf on which yung wievs and muthers mae consent to be laed, saef from th restles fret and feever of th wurld, fiending loyal luvers in th litl suns and dauters hoo cling to them, undaunted bi sorro, poverty, or aej, wauking sied bi sied, thru faer and stormy wether, with a faethful frend, hoo is, in th troo senss of th guud oeld Saxson wurd, th ‘hous-band’, and lurning, as Meg lurnd, that a wuuman’s hapyest kingdom is hoem, her hieest onor th art of rooling it not as a qeen, but as a wiez wief and muther.

CHAPTER Thurty-Nien

Laurie went to Niess intending to stae a week, and remaend a munth. He wuz tierd of waandering about aloen, and Amy’s familyar prezenss seemd to giv a homelike charm to th forin seens in which she bor a part. He rather mist th ‘peting’ he uezd to reseev, and enjoyd a taest of it agen, for no atenshons, however flatering, from straenjers, wer haf so plezant as th sisterly adoraeshon of th gurls at hoem. Amy never wuud pet him liek th uthers, but she wuz verry glad to see him now, and qiet clung to him, feeling that he wuz th reprezentativ of th deer family for hoom she longd mor than she wuud confes. Thae nacheraly tuuk cumfort in eech uther’s soesieety and wer much together, rieding, wauking, dansing, or daudling, for at Niess no-wun can be verry industrius duuring th gae seezon. But, whiel aparrently amuezing themselvs in th moest caerles fashon, thae wer haf-conshusly maeking discuverys and forming opinyons about eech uther. Amy roez daely in th estimaeshon of her frend, but he sank in hers, and eech felt th trooth befor a wurd wuz spoeken. Amy tried to pleez, and sukseeded, for she wuz graetful for th meny plezhers he gaev her, and re-paed him with th litl survises to which wuumanly wimen noe how to lend an indescriebabl charm. Laurie maed no efort of eny kiend, but just let himself drift along as cumfortably as posibl, trieing to forget, and feeling that all wimen oed him a kiend wurd becauz wun had bin coeld to him. It cost him no efort to be jenerus, and he wuud hav given Amy all th trinkets in Niess if she wuud hav taeken them, but at th saem tiem he felt that he cuud not chaenj th opinyon she wuz forming of him, and he rather dreded th keen bloo ies that seemd to woch him with such haf-sorroeful, haf-scornful serpriez.

“All th rest hav gon to Monaco for th dae. I prefurd to stae at hoem and riet leters. Thae ar dun now, and I am going to Valrosa to skech, wil U cum?” sed Amy, as she joind Laurie wun luvly dae when he lounjd in as uezhual, about noon.

“Wel, yes, but isn’t it rather worm for such a long wauk?” he anserd sloely, for th shaeded salon luukt invieting after th glaer without.

“I’m going to hav th litl carrej, and Baptiste can driev, so U’ll hav nuthing to do but hoeld yuur umbrela, and keep yuur gluvs niess,” returnd Amy, with a sarcastik glanss at th imacuelet kid, which wer a week pointer with Laurie.

“Then I’ll go with plezher.” and he puut out his hand for her skechbuuk. But she tukt it under her arm with a sharp...

“Doen’t trubl yuurself. It’s no exurshon to me, but U doen’t luuk eeqal to it.”

Laurie lifted his iebrows and foloed at a leezherly paess as she ran dounstaers, but when thae got into th carrej he tuuk th raens himself, and left litl Baptiste nuthing to do but foeld his arms and faul asleep on his purch.

Th too never qorreld. Amy wuz too wel-bred, and just now Laurie wuz too laezy, so in a mienuet he peept under her hatbrim with an inqiering aer. She anserd him with a smiel, and thae went on together in th moest amicabl maner.

It wuz a luvly driev, along wiending roeds rich in th pikcheresk seens that deliet buety-luving ies. Heer an aenshent monasterry, whenss th solem chanting of th munks caem doun to them. Thaer a baer-leged sheperd, in wuuden shoos, pointed hat, and ruf jaket oever wun shoelder, sat pieping on a stoen whiel his goets skipt amung th roks or lae at his feet. Meek, mous-culord donkys, laeden with panyers of freshly cut gras past bi, with a prity gurl in a capaline siting between th green piels, or an oeld wuuman spining with a distaf as she went. Broun, soft-ied children ran out from th qaent stoen huvels to ofer noezgaes, or bunches of orenjes stil on th bow. Narld oliv trees cuverd th hils with thaer dusky foelej, froot hung goelden in th orchard, and graet scarlet anemonys frinjd th roedsied, whiel beyond green sloeps and cragy hiets, th Marritiem Alps roez sharp and whiet agenst th bloo Ilalyan ski.

Valrosa wel dezurvd its naem, for in that cliemat of perpechual sumer roezes blosomd everywhaer. Thae oeverhung th archwae, thrust themselvs between th bars of th graet gaet with a sweet welcum to pasers-bi, and liend th avenu, wiending thru lemon trees and fethery paams up to th vila on th hil. Every shadoey nuuk, whaer seets invieted wun to stop and rest, wuz a mas of bloom, every cool groto had its marbl nimf smieling from a vael of flowers and every founten reflekted crimson, whiet, or pael pink roezes, leening doun to smiel at thaer oen buety. Roezes cuverd th wauls of th hous, draept th cornises, cliemd th pilars, and ran rieot oever th balustraed of th wied terris, whenss wun luukt doun on th suny Mediteraenian, and th whiet-wauld sity on its shor.

“This is a reguelar hunymoon parradiess, isn’t it? Did U ever see such roezes?” askt Amy, pauzing on th terris to enjoy th vue, and a lugzhuurius whif of perfuem that caem waandering bi.

“No, nor felt such thorns,” returnd Laurie, with his thum in his mouth, after a vaen atempt to capcher a solitaery scarlet flower that groo just beyond his reech.

“Tri loeer doun, and pik thoes that hav no thorns,” sed Amy, gathering three of th tieny creem-culord wuns that stard th waul behiend her. She puut them in his butonhoel as a peess ofering, and he stuud a mienuet luuking doun at them with a cuerius expreshon, for in th Ilalyan part of his naecher thaer wuz a tuch of sooperstishon, and he wuz just then in that staet of haf-sweet, haf-biter melancoly, when imajinativ yung men fiend significanss in triefls and food for roemanss everywhaer. He had thaut of Jo in reeching after th thorny red roez, for vivid flowers becaem her, and she had ofen worn wuns liek that from th greenhous at hoem. Th pael roezes Amy gaev him wer th sort that th Italyans lae in ded hands, never in briedal reeths, and for a moement he wunderd if th oemen wuz for Jo or for himself, but th next instant his Amerrican comon senss got th beter of sentimentality, and he laft a hartyer laf than Amy had hurd sinss he caem.

“It’s guud adviess, U’d beter taek it and saev yuur finggers,” she sed, thinking her speech amuezd him.

“Thank U, I wil,” he anserd in jest, and a fue munths laeter he did it in urnest.

“Laurie, when ar U going to yuur grandfaather?” she askt prezently, as she setld herself on a rustik seet.

“Verry soon.”

“U hav sed that a duzen tiems within th last three weeks.”

“I daer sae, short ansers saev trubl.”

“He expekts U, and U reealy aut to go.”

“Hospitabl creecher! I noe it.”

“Then whi doen’t U do it?”

“Nacheral depravity, I supoez.”

“Nacheral indolenss, U meen. It’s reealy dredful!” and Amy luukt seveer.

“Not so bad as it seems, for I shuud oenly plaeg him if I went, so I miet as wel stae and plaeg U a litl longger, U can baer it beter, in fakt I think it agrees with U exselently,” and Laurie compoezd himself for a lounj on th braud lej of th balustraed.

Amy shuuk her hed and oepend her skechbuuk with an aer of rezignaeshon, but she had maed up her miend to lekcher ‘that boy’ and in a mienuet she began agen.

“Whot ar U dooing just now?”

“Woching lizards.”

“No, no. I meen whot do U intend and wish to do?”

“Smoek a sigaret, if U’ll alow me.”

“How provoeking U ar! I doen’t aproov of sigars and I wil oenly alow it on condishon that U let me puut U into mi skech. I need a figuer.”

“With all th plezher in lief. How wil U hav me, fuul length or three-qorters, on mi hed or mi heels? I shuud respektfuly sugjest a recumbent poscher, then puut yuurself in aulso and caul it ‘Dolce far niente’.”

“Stae as U ar, and go to sleep if U liek. I intend to wurk hard,” sed Amy in her moest enerjetik toen.

“Whot delietful enthooziazm!” and he leend agenst a taul urn with an aer of entier satisfakshon.

“Whot wuud Jo sae if she saw U now?” askt Amy impaeshently, hoeping to stur him up bi th menshon of her stil mor enerjetik sister’s naem.

“As uezhual, ‘Go awae, Teddy. I’m bizy!’” He laft as he spoek, but th laf wuz not nacheral, and a shaed past oever his faess, for th uteranss of th familyar naem tucht th woond that wuz not heeld yet. Boeth toen and shado struk Amy, for she had seen and hurd them befor, and now she luukt up in tiem to cach a nue expreshon on Laurie’s faess—a hard biter luuk, fuul of paen, disatisfakshon, and regret. It wuz gon befor she cuud study it and th listles expreshon bak agen. She wocht him for a moement with artistik plezher, thinking how liek an Ilalyan he luukt, as he lae basking in th sun with uncuverd hed and ies fuul of suthern dreaminess, for he seemd to hav forgoten her and faulen into a revery.

“U luuk liek th efijy of a yung niet asleep on his toom,” she sed, caerfuly traesing th wel-cut proefiel defiend agenst th dark stoen.

“Wish I wuz!”

“That’s a foolish wish, unles U hav spoild yuur lief. U ar so chaenjd, I sumtiems think—” thaer Amy stopt, with a haf-timid, haf-wistful luuk, mor significant than her unfinisht speech.

Laurie saw and understuud th afekshonat angzieity which she hezitaeted to expres, and luuking straet into her ies, sed, just as he uezd to sae it to her muther, “It’s all riet, maa’am.”

That satisfied her and set at rest th douts that had begun to wury her laetly. It aulso tucht her, and she shoed that it did, bi th corjal toen in which she sed...

“I’m glad of that! I didn’t think U’d bin a verry bad boy, but I fansyd U miet hav waested muny at that wiked Baden-Baden, lost yuur hart to sum charming Frenchwuuman with a huzband, or got into sum of th scraeps that yung men seem to consider a nesesaery part of a forin tuur. Doen’t stae out thaer in th sun, cum and lie on th gras heer and ‘let us be frendly’, as Jo uezd to sae when we got in th soefa corner and toeld seecrets.”

Laurie oebeedi’ently throo himself doun on th turf, and began to amuez himself bi stiking daezys into th ribons of Amy’s hat, that lae thaer.

“I’m all redy for th seecrets.” and he glanst up with a desieded expreshon of interest in his ies.

“I’ve nun to tel. U mae begin.”

“Haeven’t wun to bles mieself with. I thaut perhaps U’d had sum nues from hoem..”

“U hav hurd all that has cum laetly. Doen’t U heer ofen? I fansyd Jo wuud send U voluems.”

“She’s verry bizy. I’m roeving about so, it’s imposibl to be reguelar, U noe. When do U begin yuur graet wurk of art, Raphaella?” he askt, chaenjing th subjekt abruptly after anuther pauz, in which he had bin wundering if Amy nue his seecret and wonted to tauk about it.

“Never,” she anserd, with a despondent but desieded aer. “Rome tuuk all th vanity out of me, for after seeing th wunders thaer, I felt too insignificant to liv and gaev up all mi foolish hoeps in despaer.”

“Whi shuud U, with so much enerjy and talent?”

“That’s just whi, becauz talent isn’t jeenyus, and no amount of enerjy can maek it so. I wont to be graet, or nuthing. I wun’t be a comon-plaess dauber, so I doen’t intend to tri eny mor.”

“And whot ar U going to do with yuurself now, if I mae ask?”

“Poelish up mi uther talents, and be an ornament to soesieety, if I get th chanss.”

It wuz a carrakteristik speech, and sounded daering, but audasity becums yung peepl, and Amy’s ambishon had a guud foundaeshon. Laurie smield, but he liekt th spirit with which she tuuk up a nue purpos when a long-cherrisht wun died, and spent no tiem lamenting.

“Guud! And heer is whaer Fred Vaughn cums in, I fansy.”

Amy prezurvd a discrete sielenss, but thaer wuz a conshus luuk in her douncast faess that maed Laurie sit up and sae graevly, “Now I’m going to plae bruther, and ask qeschons. Mae I?”

“I doen’t promis to anser.”

“Yuur faess wil, if yuur tung wun’t. U aren’t wuuman of th wurld enuf yet to hied yuur feelings, mi deer. I hurd roomors about Fred and U last yeer, and it’s mi prievat opinyon that if he had not bin cauld hoem so sudenly and detaend so long, sumthing wuud hav cum of it, hae?”

“That’s not for me to sae,” wuz Amy’s grim replie, but her lips wuud smiel, and thaer wuz a tlaetorus sparkl of th ie which betraed that she nue her power and enjoyd th nolej.

“U ar not engaejd, I hoep?” and Laurie luukt verry elder-brutherly and graev all of a suden.


“But U wil be, if he cums bak and goes properly doun on his nees, wun’t U?”

“Verry liekly.”

“Then U ar fond of oeld Fred?”

“I cuud be, if I tried.”

“But U doen’t intend to tri til th proper moement? Bles mi soel, whot unurthly proodenss! He's a guud felo, Amy, but not th man I fansyd U’d liek.”

“He is rich, a jentlman, and has delietful maners,” began Amy, trieing to be qiet cool and dignified, but feeling a litl ashaemd of herself, in spiet of th sinserrity of her intenshons.

“I understand. Qeens of soesieety can’t get on without muny, so U meen to maek a guud mach, and start in that wae? Qiet riet and proper, as th wurld goes, but it sounds od from th lips of wun of yuur muther’s gurls.”

“Troo, nevertheles.”

A short speech, but th qieet desizhon with which it wuz uterd constrasted cueriusly with th yung speeker. Laurie felt this instinktivly and laed himself doun agen, with a senss of disapointment which he cuud not explaen. His luuk and sielenss, as wel as a surten inward self-disaprooval, rufld Amy, and maed her rezolv to deliver her lekcher without delae.

“I wish U’d do me th faevor to rouz yuurself a litl,” she sed sharply.

“Do it for me, thaer’s a deer gurl.”

“I cuud, if I tried.” and she luukt as if she wuud liek dooing it in th moest sumary stiel.

“Tri, then. I giv U leev,” returnd Laurie, hoo enjoyd having sumwun to teez, after his long abstinenss from his faevorit pastiem.

“U’d be anggry in fiev minits.”

“I’m never anggry with U. It taeks too flints to maek a fier. U ar as cool and soft as sno.”

“U doen’t noe whot I can do. Sno produeses a glo and a tinggl, if aplied rietly. Yuur indiferenss is haf afektaeshon, and a guud sturing up wuud proov it.”

“Stur awae, it wun’t hurt me and it mae amuez U, as th big man sed when his litl wief beet him. Regard me in th liet of a huzband or a carpet, and beet til U ar tierd, if that sort of exsersiez agrees with U.”

Being desiededly netld herself, and longing to see him shaek off th apathy that so aulterd him, Amy sharpend boeth tung and pensil, and began.

“Flo and I hav got a nue naem for U. It’s Laezy Laurence. How do U liek it?”

She thaut it wuud anoy him, but he oenly foelded his arms under his hed, with an imperturbabl, “That’s not bad. Thank U, laedys.”

“Do U wont to noe whot I onestly think of U?”

“Piening to be toeld.”

“Wel, I despiez U.”

If she had eeven sed ‘I haet U’ in a pechulant or coeketish toen, he wuud hav laft and rather liekt it, but th graev, aulmoest sad, aksent in her vois maed him oepen his ies, and ask qikly...

“Whi, if U pleez?”

“Becauz, with every chanss for being guud, uesful, and hapy, U ar faulty, laezy, and mizerabl.”

“Strong langgwej, mademezel.”

“If U liek it, I’ll go on.”

“Prae do, it’s qiet interesting.”

“I thaut U’d fiend it so. Selfish peepl aulwaes liek to tauk about themselvs.”

“Am I selfish?” th qeschon slipt out involuntarrily and in a toen of serpriez, for th wun vurchoo on which he prieded himself wuz jenerosity.

“Yes, verry selfish,” continued Amy, in a caam, cool vois, twiess as efektiv just then as an anggry wun. “I’ll sho U how, for I’ve studyd U whiel we wer froliking, and I’m not at all satisfied with U. Heer U hav bin abraud neerly six munths, and dun nuthing but waest tiem and muny and disapoint yuur frends.”

“Isn’t a felo to hav eny plezher after a foer-yeer griend?”

“U doen’t luuk as if U’d had much. At eny raet, U ar nun th beter for it, as far as I can see. I sed when we furst met that U had improovd. Now I taek it all bak, for I doen’t think U haf so niess as when I left U at hoem. U hav groen abominably laezy, U liek gosip, and waest tiem on frivolus things, U ar contented to be peted and admierd bi sily peepl, insted of being luvd and respekted bi wiez wuns. With muny, talent, pozishon, helth, and buety, aa U liek that oeld Vanity! But it’s th trooth, so I can’t help saeing it, with all thees splendid things to uez and enjoy, U can fiend nuthing to do but daudl, and insted of being th man U aut to be, U ar oenly...” thaer she stopt, with a luuk that had boeth paen and pity in it.

“Saent Laurence on a gridieron,” aded Laurie, blandly finishing th sentenss. But th lekcher began to taek efekt, for thaer wuz a wied-awaek sparkl in his ies now and a haf-anggry, haf-injerd expreshon replaest th former indiferenss.

“I supoezd U’d taek it so. U men tel us we ar aenjels, and sae we can maek U whot we wil, but th instant we onestly tri to do U guud, U laf at us and wun’t lisen, which proovs how much yuur flatery is wurth.” Amy spoek biterly, and turnd her bak on th exasperaeting marter at her feet.

In a mienuet a hand caem doun oever th paej, so that she cuud not draw, and Laurie’s vois sed, with a droel imitaeshon of a penitent chield, “I wil be guud, o, I wil be guud!”

But Amy did not laf, for she wuz in urnest, and taping on th outspred hand with her pensil, sed soeberly, “Aren’t U ashaemd of a hand liek that? It’s as soft and whiet as a wuuman’s, and luuks as if it never did enything but waer Jouvin’s best gluvs and pik flowers for laedys. U ar not a dandy, thank Heven, so I’m glad to see thaer ar no diemonds or big seel rings on it, oenly th litl oeld wun Jo gaev U so long ago. Deer soel, I wish she wuz heer to help me!”

“So do I!”

Th hand vanisht as sudenly as it caem, and thaer wuz enerjy enuf in th eco of her wish to soot eeven Amy. She glanst doun at him with a nue thaut in her miend, but he wuz lieing with his hat haf oever his faess, as if for shaed, and his mustash hid his mouth. She oenly saw his chest riez and faul, with a long breth that miet hav bin a sie, and th hand that wor th ring nesld doun into th gras, as if to hied sumthing too preshus or too tender to be spoeken of. All in a mienuet vaerius hints and triefls asuemd shaep and significanss in Amy’s miend, and toeld her whot her sister never had confieded to her. She rememberd that Laurie never spoek voluntaerily of Jo, she recauld th shado on his faess just now, th chaenj in his carrakter, and th waering of th litl oeld ring which wuz no ornament to a handsum hand. Gurls ar qik to red such siens and feel thaer eloqenss. Amy had fansyd that perhaps a luv trubl wuz at th botom of th aulteraeshon, and now she wuz shuur of it. Her keen ies fild, and when she spoek agen, it wuz in a vois that cuud be buetifuly soft and kiend when she choez to maek it so.

“I noe I hav no riet to tauk so to U, Laurie, and if U wern’t th sweetest-temperd felo in th wurld, U’d be verry anggry with me. But we ar all so fond and proud of U, I cuudn’t baer to think thae shuud be disapointed in U at hoem as I hav bin, tho, perhaps thae wuud understand th chaenj beter than I do.”

“I think thae wuud,” caem from under th hat, in a grim toen, qiet as tuching as a broeken wun.

“Thae aut to hav toeld me, and not let me go blundering and scoelding, when I shuud hav bin mor kiend and paeshent than ever. I never did liek that Mis Randal and now I haet her!” sed artful Amy, wishing to be shuur of her fakts this tiem.

“Hang Mis Randal!” and Laurie nokt th hat off his faess with a luuk that left no dout of his sentiments tord that yung laedy.

“I beg pardon, I thaut...” and thaer she pauzd diplomatikaly.

“No, U didn’t, U nue purfektly wel I never caerd for enywun but Jo,” Laurie sed that in his oeld, impechu’us toen, and turnd his faess awae as he spoek.

“I did think so, but as thae never sed enything about it, and U caem awae, I supoezd I wuz mistaeken. And Jo wuudn’t be kiend to U? Whi, I wuz shuur she luvd U deerly.”

“She wuz kiend, but not in th riet wae, and it’s luky for her she didn’t luv me, if I’m th guud-for-nuthing felo U think me. It’s her fault tho, and U mae tel her so.”

Th hard, biter luuk caem bak agen as he sed that, and it trubld Amy, for she did not noe whot baam to aplie.

“I wuz rong, I didn’t noe. I’m verry sorry I wuz so cros, but I can’t help wishing U’d baer it beter, Teddy, deer.”

“Doen’t, that’s her naem for me!” and Laurie puut up his hand with a qik jescher to stop th wurds spoeken in Jo’s haf-kiend, haf-reproechful toen. “Waet til U’ve tried it yuurself,” he aded in a loe vois, as he puuld up th gras bi th handfuul.

“I’d taek it manfuly, and be respekted if I cuudn’t be luvd,” sed Amy, with th desizhon of wun hoo nue nuthing about it.

Now, Laurie flaterd himself that he had born it remarkably wel, maeking no moen, asking no simpathy, and taeking his trubl awae to liv it doun aloen. Amy’s lekcher puut th mater in a nue liet, and for th furst tiem it did luuk week and selfish to looz hart at th furst faeluer, and shut himself up in moody indiferenss. He felt as if sudenly shaeken out of a pensiv dreem and found it imposibl to go to sleep agen. Prezently he sat up and askt sloely, “Do U think Jo wuud despiez me as U do?”

“Yes, if she saw U now. She haets laezy peepl. Whi doen’t U do sumthing splendid, and maek her luv U?”

“I did mi best, but it wuz no uez.”

“Grajuaeting wel, U meen? That wuz no mor than U aut to hav dun, for yuur grandfaather’s saek. It wuud hav bin shaemful to fael after spending so much tiem and muny, when everywun nue that U cuud do wel.”

“I did fael, sae whot U wil, for Jo wuudn’t luv me,” began Laurie, leening his hed on his hand in a despondent atitued.

“No, U didn’t, and U’ll sae so in th end, for it did U guud, and proovd that U cuud do sumthing if U tried. If U’d oenly set about anuther task of sum sort, U’d soon be yuur harty, hapy self agen, and forget yuur trubl.”

“That’s imposibl.”

“Tri it and see. U needn’t shrug yuur shoelders, and think, ‘Much she noes about such things’. I doen’t pretend to be wiez, but I am obzurving, and I see a graet deel mor than U’d imajin. I’m interested in uther peepl’s expeeri’enses and inconsistensys, and tho I can’t explaen, I remember and uez them for mi oen benefit. Luv Jo all yuur daes, if U chooz, but doen’t let it spoil U, for it’s wiked to thro awae so meny guud gifts becauz U can’t hav th wun U wont. Thaer, I wun’t lekcher eny mor, for I noe U’ll waek up and be a man in spiet of that hardharted gurl.”

Neether spoek for several minits. Laurie sat turning th litl ring on his fingger, and Amy puut th last tuches to th hasty skech she had bin wurking at whiel she taukt. Prezently she puut it on his nae, meerly saeing, “How do U liek that?”

He luukt and then he smield, as he cuud not wel help dooing, for it wuz capitaly dun, th long, laezy figuer on th gras, with listles faess, haf-shut ies, and wun hand hoelding a sigar, from which caem th litl reeth of smoek that ensurkld th dreemer’s hed.

“How wel U draw!” he sed, with a jenuein serpriez and plezher at her skil, ading, with a haf-laf, “Yes, that’s me.”

“As U ar. This is as U wer.” and Amy laed anuther skech besied th wun he held.

It wuz not neerly so wel dun, but thaer wuz a lief and spirit in it which atoend for meny faults, and it recauld th past so vividly that a suden chaenj swept oever th yung man’s faess as he luukt. Oenly a ruf skech of Laurie taeming a horss. Hat and coet wer off, and every lien of th aktiv figuer, rezoloot faess, and comanding atitued wuz fuul of enerjy and meening. Th handsum broot, just subdued, stuud arching his nek under th tietly drawn raen, with wun fuut impaeshently pawing th ground, and eers prikt up as if lisening for th vois that had masterd him. In th rufld maen, th rieder’s breezy haer and erekt atitued, thaer wuz a sugjeschon of sudenly arest moeshon, of strength, curej, and yoothful boyansy that constrasted sharply with th soopien graess of th ‘Dolce far Niente’ skech. Laurie sed nuthing but as his ie went from wun to th uther, Amy saw him flush up and foeld his lips together as if he red and aksepted th litl leson she had given him. That satisfied her, and without waeting for him to speek, she sed, in her sprietly wae...

“Doen’t U remember th dae U plaed Rarey with Puk, and we all luukt on? Meg and Baet wer frietend, but Jo clapt and pranst, and I sat on th fenss and droo U. I found that skech in mi portfoelio th uther dae, tucht it up, and kept it to sho U.”

“Much obliejd. U’ve improovd imensly sinss then, and I congrachulaet U. Mae I vencher to sugjest in ‘a hunymoon parradiess’ that fiev oe’clok is th diner our at yuur hoetel?”

Laurie roez as he spoek, returnd th pikchers with a smiel and a boe and luukt at his woch, as if to remiend her that eeven moral lekchers shuud hav an end. He tried to rezoom his former eezy, indiferent aer, but it wuz an afektaeshon now, for th rouzing had bin mor effacious than he wuud confes. Amy felt th shaed of coeldnes in his maner, and sed to herself...

“Now, I’ve ofended him. Wel, if it duz him guud, I’m glad, if it maeks him haet me, I’m sorry, but it’s troo, and I can’t taek bak a wurd of it.”

Thae laft and chated all th wae hoem, and litl Baptiste, up behiend, thaut that mesyuur and madamoiselle wer in charming spirits. But boeth felt il at eez. Th frendly franknes wuz disturbd, th sunshien had a shado oever it, and despiet thaer aparrent gaeety, thaer wuz a seecret discontent in th hart of eech.

“Shal we see U this eevning, mon frere?” askt Amy, as thae parted at her ant’s dor.

“Unforchunatly I hav an engaejment. Au revoir, madamoiselle,” and Laurie bent as if to kis her hand, in th forin fashon, which becaem him beter than meny men. Sumthing in his faess maed Amy sae qikly and wormly...

“No, be yuurself with me, Laurie, and part in th guud oeld wae. I’d rather hav a harty Inglish handshaek than all th sentimental saluetaeshons in France.”

“Guudbi, deer,” and with thees wurds, uterd in th toen she liekt, Laurie left her, after a handshaek aulmoest paenful in its hartynes.

Next morning, insted of th uezhual caul, Amy reseevd a noet which maed her smiel at th begining and sie at th end.

Mi Deer Mentor, Pleez maek mi adieux to yuur ant, and exult within yuurself, for ‘Laezy Laurence’ has gon to his grandpaa, liek th best of boys. A plezant winter to U, and mae th gods grant U a blisful hunymoon at Valrosa! I think Fred wuud be benefited bi a rouser. Tel him so, with mi congrachulaeshons.

Yuurs graetfuly, Telemachus

“Guud boy! I’m glad he's gon,” sed Amy, with an aprooving smiel. Th next mienuet her faess fel as she glanst about th empty room, ading, with an involuntaery sie, “Yes, I am glad, but how I shal mis him.”

Th Valy OF Th Shado

When th furst biternes wuz oever, th family aksepted th inevitabl, and tried to baer it cheerfuly, helping wun anuther by th increest afekshon which cums to biend hous-hoelds tenderly together in tiems of trubl. Thae puut awae thaer greef, and eech did his or her part tord maeking that last yeer a hapy wun.

Th plezantest room in th hous wuz set apart for Baet, and in it wuz gatherd everything that she moest luvd, flowers, pikchers, her peano, th litl wurktaebl, and th beluved puusys. Faather’s best buuks found thaer wae thaer, Muther’s eezy chaer, Jo’s desk, Amy’s fienest skeches, and every dae Meg braut her baebys on a luving pilgrimej, to maek sunshien for Aunty Baet. John qieetly set apart a litl sum, that he miet enjoy th plezher of keeping th invalid suplied with th froot she luvd and longd for. Oeld Hannah never weeryd of concokting daenty dishes to tempt a capreeshus apetiet, droping teers as she wurkt, and from acros th see caem litl gifts and cheerful leters, seeming to bring breths of wormth and fraegranss from lands that noe no winter.

Heer, cherrisht liek a hous-hoeld saent in its shrien, sat Baet, tranqil and bizy as ever, for nuthing cuud chaenj th sweet, unselfish naecher, and eeven whiel prepaering to leev lief, she tried to maek it hapyer for thoes hoo shuud remaen behiend. Th feebl finggers wer never iedl, and wun of her plezhers wuz to maek litl things for th scool children daely pasing to and fro, to drop a paer of mitens from her windo for a paer of purpl hands, a needlebook for sum smaul muther of meny dols, penwipers for yung penmen toiling thru forests of pothooks, scrapbuuks for pikcher-luving ies, and all maner of plezant devieses, til th reluktant cliemers of th lader of lurning found thaer wae stroon with flowers, as it wer, and caem to regard th jentl giver as a sort of faery godmuther, hoo sat abuv thaer, and showerd doun gifts miracuelusly sooted to thaer taests and needs. If Baet had wonted eny reword, she found it in th briet litl faeses aulwaes turnd up to her windo, with nods and smiels, and th droel litl leters which caem to her, fuul of blots and gratitood.

Th furst fue munths wer verry hapy wuns, and Baet ofen uezd to luuk round, and sae “How buetiful this is!” as thae all sat together in her suny room, th baebys kiking and croeing on th flor, muther and sisters wurking neer, and faather reeding, in his plezant vois, from th wiez oeld buuks which seemd rich in guud and cumfortabl wurds, as aplicabl now as when riten sencherys ago, a litl chapel, whaer a paturnal preest taut his flok th hard lesons all must lurn, trieing to sho them that hoep can cumfort luv, and faeth maek rezignaeshon posibl. Simpl surmons, that went straet to th soels of thoes hoo lisend, for th faather’s hart wuz in th minister's relijon, and th freeqent faulter in th vois gaev a dubl eloqenss to th wurds he spoek or red.

It wuz wel for all that this peesful tiem wuz given them as preparaeshon for th sad ours to cum, for by-and-by, Baet sed th needl wuz ‘so hevy’, and puut it doun forever. Tauking weeryd her, faeses trubld her, paen claemd her for its oen, and her tranqil spirit wuz sorroefuly perturbd by th ils that vext her feebl flesh. Aa me! Such hevy daes, such long, long niets, such aeking harts and imploring praers, when thoes hoo luvd her best wer forst to see th thin hands strecht out to them beseechingly, to heer th biter cri, “Help me, help me!” and to feel that thaer wuz no help. A sad eclips of th sereen soel, a sharp strugl of th yung lief with deth, but boeth wer mursyfuly breef, and then th nacheral rebelyon oever, th oeld peess returnd mor buetiful than ever. With th rek of her frael body, Baet’s soel groo strong, and tho she sed litl, thoes about her felt that she wuz redy, saw that th furst pilgrim cauld wuz liekwiez th fitest, and waeted with her on th shor, trieing to see th Shiening Wuns cuming to reseev her when she crost th river.

Jo never left her for an our sinss Baet had sed “I feel strongger when U ar heer.” She slept on a couch in th room, waeking ofen to renue th fier, to feed, lift, or waet upon th paeshent creecher hoo seldom askt for enything, and ‘tried not to be a trubl’. All dae she haunted th room, jelus of eny uther nurss, and plouder of being choezen then than of eny onor her lief ever braut her. Preshus and helpful ours to Jo, for now her hart reseevd th teeching that it needed. Lesons in paeshenss wer so sweetly taut her that she cuud not fael to lurn them, charrity for all, th luvly spirit that can forgiv and trooly forget unkiendnes, th loyalty to duety that maeks th hardest eezy, and th sinseer faeth that feers nuthing, but trusts undoubtingly.

Ofen when she woek Jo found Baet reeding in her wel-worn litl buuk, hurd her singing softly, to begiel th sleeples niet, or saw her leen her faess upon her hands, whiel slo teers dropt thru th transpaerent finggers, and Jo wuud lie woching her with thauts too deep for teers, feeling that Baet, in her simpl, unselfish wae, wuz trieing to ween herself from th deer oeld lief, and fit herself for th lief to cum, bi saecred wurds of cumfort, qieet praers, and th muezik she luvd so wel.

Seeing this did mor for Jo than th wiezest surmons, th saintliest hims, th moest furvent praers that eny vois cuud uter. For with ies maed cleer by meny teers, and a hart sofend by th tenderest sorro, she recogniezd th buety of her sister’s lief—uneventful, unambitious, yet fuul of th jenuein vurchoos which ‘smel sweet, and blosom in th dust’, th self-forgetfulnes that maeks th humblest on urth rememberd soonest in heven, th troo suksess which is posibl to all.

Wun niet when Baet luukt amung th buuks upon her taebl, to fiend sumthing to maek her forget th mortal weerynes that wuz aulmoest as hard to baer as paen, as she turnd th leevs of her oeld faevorit, Pilgrims’s Progres, she found a litl paeper, scribld oever in Jo’s hand. Th naem caut her ie and th blurd luuk of th liens maed her shuur that teers had faulen on it.

“Puur Jo! She’s fast asleep, so I wun’t waek her to ask leev. She shoes me all her things, and I doen’t think she’l miend if I luuk at this”, thaut Baet, with a glanss at her sister, hoo lae on th rug, with th tongs besied her, redy to waek up th mienuet th log fel apart.

Mi Baet

Siting paeshent in th shado
Til th blest liet shal cum,
A sereen and saently prezenss
Sanktifies our trubld hoem.
Urthly joys and hoeps and sorroes
Braek liek ripls on th strand
Of th deep and solem river
Whaer her wiling feet now stand.

O mi sister, pasing from me,
Out of hueman caer and strief,
Leev me, as a gift, thoes vurchoos
Which hav buetified yuur lief.
Deer, beqeeth me that graet paeshenss
Which has power to sustaen
A cheerful, uncomplaening spirit
In its prizon-hous of paen.

Giv me, for I need it sorly,
Of that curej, wiez and sweet,
Which has maed th path of duety
Green beneeth yuur wiling feet.
Giv me that unselfish naecher,
That with charrity divien
Can pardon rong for luv's deer saek—
Meek hart, forgiv me mien!

Thus our parting daely loseth
Sumthing of its biter paen,
And whiel lurning this hard leson,
Mi graet lost becums mi gaen.
For th tuch of greef wil render
Mi wield naecher mor sereen,
Giv to lief nue aspiraeshons,
A nue trust in th unseen.

Hensforth, saef acros th river,
I shal see forever mor
A beluved, hous-hoeld spirit
Waeting for me on th shor.
Hoep and faeth, born of mi sorro,
Gardian aenjels shal becum,
And th sister gon befor me
Bi thaer hands shal leed me hoem.

Blurd and bloted, faulty and feebl as th liens wer, thae braut a luuk of inexpresibl cumfort to Baet’s faess, for her wun regret had bin that she had dun so litl, and this seemd to ashuur her that her lief had not bin uesles, that her deth wuud not bring th despaer she feerd. As she sat with th paeper foelded between her hands, th chard log fel asunder. Jo started up, revievd th blaez, and crept to th bedsied, hoeping Baet slept.

“Not asleep, but so hapy, deer. See, I found this and red it. I nue U wuudn’t caer. Hav I bin all that to U, Jo?” she askt, with wistful, humbl urnestly.

O, Baet, so much, so much!” and Jo’s hed went doun upon th pilo besied her sister’s.

“Then I doen’t feel as if I’d waested mi lief. I’m not so guud as U maek me, but I hav tried to do riet. And now, when it’s too laet to begin eeven to do beter, it’s such a cumfort to noe that sumwun luvs me so much, and feels as if I’d helpt them.”

“Mor than eny wun in th wurld, Baet. I uezd to think I cuudn’t let U go, but I’m lurning to feel that I doen’t looz U, that U’ll be mor to me than ever, and deth can’t part us, tho it seems to.”

“I noe it cannot, and I doen’t feer it eny longger, for I’m shuur I shal be yuur Baet stil, to luv and help U mor than ever. U must taek mi plaess, Jo, and be everything to Faather and Muther when I’m gon. Thae wil turn to U, doen’t fael them, and if it’s hard to wurk aloen, remember that I doen’t forget U, and that U’ll be hapyer in dooing that than rieting splendid buuks or seeing all th wurld, for luv is th oenly thing that we can carry with us when we go, and it maeks th end so eezy.”

“I’ll tri, Baet.” and then and thaer Jo renounst her oeld ambishon, plejd herself to a nue and beter wun, aknolejing th poverty of uther deziers, and feeling th blest solis of a beleef in th imortality of luv.

So th spring daes caem and went, th ski groo cleerer, th urth greener, th flowers wer up faerly urly, and th burds caem bak in tiem to sae guudbi to Baet, hoo, liek a tierd but trustful chield, clung to th hands that had led her all her lief, as Faather and Muther gieded her tenderly thru th Valy of th Shado, and gaev her up to God.

Seldom exsept in buuks do th dieing uter memorabl wurds, see vizhons, or depart with beatified countenances, and thoes hoo hav sped meny parting soels noe that to moest th end cums as nacheraly and simply as sleep. As Baet had hoept, th ‘tied went out eezily’, and in th dark our befor daun, on th buuzom whaer she had drawn her furst breth, she qieetly droo her last, with no faerwel but wun luving luuk, wun litl sie.

With teers and praers and tender hands, Muther and sisters maed her redy for th long sleep that paen wuud never mar agen, seeing with graetful ies th buetiful serenity that soon replaest th pathetik paeshenss that had rung thaer harts so long, and feeling with reverent joy that to thaer darling deth wuz a benignant aenjel, not a fantom fuul of dred.

When morning caem, for th furst tiem in meny munths th fier wuz out, Jo’s plaess wuz empty, and th room wuz verry stil. But a burd sang bliethly on a buding bow, cloez by, th snoedrops blosomd freshly at th windo, and th spring sunshien streemd in liek a benedikshon oever th plasid faess upon th pilo, a faess so fuul of paenles peess that thoes hoo luvd it best smield thru thaer teers, and thankt God that Baet wuz wel at last.


Amy’s lekcher did Laurie guud, tho, of corss, he did not oen it til long afterward. Men seldom do, for when wimen ar th adviezers, th lords of creaeshon doen’t taek th adviess til thae hav perswaeded themselvs that it is just whot thae intended to do. Then thae akt upon it, and, if it sukseeds, thae giv th weeker vesel haf th credit of it. If it faels, thae jenerusly giv her th hoel. Laurie went bak to his grandfaather, and wuz so duetifuly devoeted for several weeks that th oeld jentlman declaerd th cliemat of Niess had improovd him wunderfuly, and he had beter tri it agen. Thaer wuz nuthing th yung jentlman wuud hav liekt beter, but elefants cuud not hav dragd him bak after th scoelding he had reseevd. Pried forbid, and whenever th longing groo verry strong, he fortified his rezolooshon by repeeting th wurds that had maed th deepest impreshon—“I despiez U.” “Go and do sumthing splendid that wil maek her luv U.”

Laurie turnd th mater oever in his miend so ofen that he soon braut himself to confes that he had bin selfish and laezy, but then when a man has a graet sorro, he shuud be induljd in all sorts of vaegarys til he has livd it doun. He felt that his blieted afekshons wer qiet ded now, and tho he shuud never seess to be a faethful morner, thaer wuz no ocaezhon to waer his weeds ostentaeshusly. Jo wuudn’t luv him, but he miet maek her respekt and admier him bi dooing sumthing which shuud proov that a gurl’s ‘No’ had not spoild his lief. He had aulwaes ment to do sumthing, and Amy’s adviess wuz qiet unnesesaery. He had oenly bin waeting til th aforsed blieted afekshons wer deesently inturd. That being dun, he felt that he wuz redy to ‘hied his striken hart, and stil toil on’.

As Goethe, when he had a joy or a greef, puut it into a song, so Laurie rezolvd to embalm his luv sorro in muezik, and to compoez a Reqi’em which shuud harro up Jo’s soel and melt th hart of every heerer. Thaerfor th next tiem th oeld jentlman found him geting restles and moody and orderd him off, he went to Vienna, whaer he had muezikal frends, and fel to wurk with th furm deturminaeshon to distingwish himself. But whether th sorro wuz too vast to be embodyd in muezik, or muezik too etheerial to uplift a mortal wo, he soon discuverd that th Reqi’em wuz beyond him just at prezent. It wuz evident that his miend wuz not in wurking order yet, and his iedeeas needed claerifieing, for ofen in th midl of a plaentiv straen, he wuud fiend himself huming a dansing tuen that vividly recauld th Christmas baul at Niess, espeshaly th stout Frenchman, and puut an effectual stop to trajik compozishon for th tiem being.

Then he tried an opera, for nuthing seemd imposibl in th begining, but heer agen unforseen dificultys beset him. He wonted Jo for his herroein, and cauld upon his memory to suplie him with tender recolekshons and roemantik vizhons of his luv. But memory turnd traetor, and as if pozest bi th pervurss spirit of th gurl, wuud oenly recaul Jo’s oditys, faults, and freeks, wuud oenly sho her in th moest unsentimental aspekts—beeting mats with her hed tied up in a bandana, barricaeding herself with th soefa pilo, or throeing coeld wauter oever his pashon a laa Gummidge—and an irresistable laf spoild th pensiv pikcher he wuz endevoring to paent. Jo wuudn’t be puut into th opera at eny priess, and he had to giv her up with a “Bles that gurl, whot a torment she is!” and a cluch at his haer, as becaem a distrakted compoezer.

When he luukt about him for anuther and a les intraktabl damzel to imortaliez in melody, memory produest wun with th moest obliejing redynes. This fantom wor meny faeses, but it aulwaes had goelden haer, wuz envelopt in a dieafanus cloud, and floeted aerily befor his miend’s ie in a pleezing caeos of roezes, peecoks, whiet poenys, and bloo ribons. He did not giv th complaesent raeth eny naem, but he tuuk her for his herroein and groo qiet fond of her, as wel he miet, for he gifted her with every gift and graess under th sun, and escorted her, unscaethd, thru trieals which wuud hav anieilaeted eny mortal wuuman.

Thanks to this inspiraeshon, he got on swimingly for a tiem, but grajualy th wurk lost its charm, and he forgot to compoez, whiel he sat muezing, pen in hand, or roemd about th gae sity to get sum nue iedeeas and refreshes his miend, which seemd to be in a sumwhot unsetld staet that winter. He did not do much, but he thaut a graet deel and wuz conshus of a chaenj of sum sort going on in spiet of himself. “It’s jeenyus simering, perhaps. I’ll let it simer, and see whot cums of it,” he sed, with a seecret suspishon all th whiel that it wuzn’t jeenyus, but sumthing far mor comon. Whotever it wuz, it simerd to sum purpos, for he groo mor and mor discontented with his desultory lief, began to long for sum reeal and urnest wurk to go at, soel and body, and fienaly caem to th wiez concloozhon that everywun hoo luvd muezik wuz not a compoezer. Returning from wun of Mozart’s grand operas, splendidly performd at th Royal Theeater, he luukt oever his oen, plaed a fue of th best parts, sat staering at th busts of Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and Bach, hoo staerd benienly bak agen. Then sudenly he tor up his muezik sheets, wun bi wun, and as th last fluterd out of his hand, he sed soeberly to himself...

“She is riet! Talent isn’t jeenyus, and U can’t maek it so. That muezik has taeken th vanity out of me as Rome tuuk it out of her, and I wun’t be a humbug eny longger. Now whot shal I do?”

That seemd a hard qeschon to anser, and Laurie began to wish he had to wurk for his daely bred. Now if ever, ocurd an elijibl oportuenity for ‘going to th devil’, as he wunss forsibly exprest it, for he had plenty of muny and nuthing to do, and Saetan is provurbialy fond of provieding employment for fuul and iedl hands. Th puur felo had temptaeshons enuf from without and from within, but he withstuud them prity wel, for much as he valued liberty, he valued guud faeth and confidenss mor, so his promis to his grandfaather, and his dezier to be aebl to luuk onestly into th ies of th wimen hoo luvd him, and sae “All’s wel,” kept him saef and stedy.

Verry liekly sum Mrs. Grundy wil obzurv, “I doen’t beleev it, boys wil be boys, yung men must soe thaer wield oets, and wimen must not expekt mirakls.” I daer sae U doen’t, Mrs. Grundy, but it’s troo nevertheles. Wimen wurk a guud meny mirakls, and I hav a perswaezhon that thae mae perform eeven that of raezing th standard of manhuud by refuezing to eco such saeings. Let th boys be boys, th longger th beter, and let th yung men soe thaer wield oets if thae must. But muthers, sisters, and frends mae help to maek th crop a smaul wun, and keep meny tares from spoiling th harvest, by beleeving, and shoeing that thae beleev, in th posibility of loyalty to th vurchoos which maek men manlyest in guud wimen’s ies. If it is a feminine deloozhon, leev us to enjoy it whiel we mae, for without it haf th buety and th roemanss of lief is lost, and sorroeful forebodings wuud embitter all our hoeps of th braev, tenderharted litl lads, hoo stil luv thaer muthers beter than themselvs and ar not ashaemd to oen it.

Laurie thaut that th task of forgeting his luv for Jo wuud absorb all his powers for yeers, but to his graet serpriez he discuverd it groo eezyer every dae. He refuezd to beleev it at furst, got anggry with himself, and cuudn’t understand it, but thees harts of ours ar cuerius and contraery things, and tiem and naecher wurk thaer wil in spiet of us. Laurie’s hart wuudn’t aek. Th woond persisted in heeling with a rapidity that astonisht him, and insted of trieing to forget, he found himself trieing to remember. He had not forseen this turn of afaers, and wuz not prepaerd for it. He wuz disgusted with himself, serpriezd at his oen fiklnes, and fuul of a qeer mixcher of disapointment and releef that he cuud recuver from such a tremendus blo so soon. He caerfuly sturd up th embers of his lost luv, but thae refuezd to burst into a blaez. Thaer wuz oenly a cumfortabl glo that wormd and did him guud without puuting him into a feever, and he wuz reluktantly obliejd to confes that th boyish pashon wuz sloely subsieding into a mor tranqil sentiment, verry tender, a litl sad and rezentful stil, but that wuz shuur to pas awae in tiem, leeving a brutherly afekshon which wuud last unbroeken to th end.

As th wurd ‘brutherly’ past thru his miend in wun of his reverys, he smield, and glanst up at th pikcher of Mozart that wuz befor him...

“Wel, he wuz a graet man, and when he cuudn’t hav wun sister he tuuk th uther, and wuz hapy.”

Laurie did not uter th wurds, but he thaut them, and th next instant kist th litl oeld ring, saeing to himself, “No, I wun’t! I haeven’t forgoten, I never can. I’ll tri agen, and if that faels, whi then...”

Leeving his sentenss unfinisht, he seezd pen and paeper and roet to Jo, teling her that he cuud not setl to enything whiel thaer wuz th leest hoep of her chaenjing her miend. Cuudn’t she, wuudn’t she—and let him cum hoem and be hapy? Whiel waeting for an anser he did nuthing, but he did it enerjetikaly, for he wuz in a feever of impaeshenss. It caem at last, and setld his miend efekchualy on wun pointer, for Jo desiededly cuudn’t and wuudn’t. She wuz rapt up in Baet, and never wisht to heer th wurd luv agen. Then she begd him to be hapy with sumbody elss, but aulwaes keep a litl corner of his hart for his luving sister Jo. In a poestscript she dezierd him not to tel Amy that Baet wuz wurss, she wuz cuming hoem in th spring and thaer wuz no need of saddening th remaender of her stae. That wuud be tiem enuf, pleez God, but Laurie must riet to her ofen, and not let her feel loenly, hoemsik or ankshus.

“So I wil, at wunss. Puur litl gurl, it wil be a sad going hoem for her, I’m afraed,” and Laurie oepend his desk, as if rieting to Amy had bin th proper concloozhon of th sentenss left unfinisht sum weeks befor.

But he did not riet th leter that dae, for as he rumejd out his best paeper, he caem acros sumthing which chaenjd his purpos. Tumbling about in wun part of th desk amung bils, pasports, and biznes docuements of vaerius kiends wer several of Jo’s leters, and in anuther compartment wer three noets from Amy, caerfuly tied up with wun of her bloo ribons and sweetly sugjestiv of th litl ded roezes puut awae insied. With a haf-repentant, haf-amuezd expreshon, Laurie gatherd up all Jo’s leters, smoothd, foelded, and puut them neetly into a smaul drawer of th desk, stuud a mienuet turning th ring thautfuly on his fingger, then sloely droo it off, laed it with th leters, lokt th drawer, and went out to heer Hie Mas at Saent Stefan’s, feeling as if thaer had bin a fueneral, and tho not oeverwhelmd with aflikshon, this seemd a mor proper wae to spend th rest of th dae than in rieting leters to charming yung laedys.

Th leter went verry soon, however, and wuz promptly anserd, for Amy wuz hoemsik, and confest it in th moest delietfuly confieding maner. Th corespondenss flurisht faemusly, and leters floo to and fro with unfaeling reguelarrity all thru th urly spring. Laurie soeld his busts, maed allumettes of his opera, and went bak to Paris, hoeping sumbody wuud ariev befor long. He wonted desperatly to go to Niess, but wuud not til he wuz askt, and Amy wuud not ask him, for just then she wuz having litl expeeri’enses of her oen, which maed her rather wish to avoid th qizikal ies of ‘our boy’.

Fred Vaughn had returnd, and puut th qeschon to which she had wunss desieded to anser, “Yes, thank U,” but now she sed, “No, thank U,” kiendly but stedy, for when th tiem caem, her curej faeld her, and she found that sumthing mor than muny and pozishon wuz needed to satisfi th nue longing that fild her hart so fuul of tender hoeps and feers. Th wurds, “Fred is a guud felo, but not at all th man I fansyd U wuud ever liek,” and Laurie’s faess when he uterd them, kept returning to her as pertinaciously as her oen did when she sed in luuk, if not in wurds, “I shal marry for muny.” It trubld her to remember that now, she wisht she cuud taek it bak, it sounded so unwuumanly. She didn’t wont Laurie to think her a hartles, wurldly creecher. She didn’t caer to be a qeen of soesieety now haf so much as she did to be a luvabl wuuman. She wuz so glad he didn’t haet her for th dredful things she sed, but tuuk them so buetifuly and wuz kiender than ever. His leters wer such a cumfort, for th hoem leters wer verry ireguelar and not haf so satisfaktory as his when thae did cum. It wuz not oenly a plezher, but a duety to anser them, for th puur felo wuz forlorn, and needed peting, sinss Jo persisted in being stoenyharted. She aut to hav maed an efort and tried to luv him. It cuudn’t be verry hard, meny peepl wuud be proud and glad to hav such a deer boy caer for them. But Jo never wuud akt liek uther gurls, so thaer wuz nuthing to do but be verry kiend and treet him liek a bruther.

If all bruthers wer treeted as wel as Laurie wuz at this peeriod, thae wuud be a much hapyer raess of beings than thae ar. Amy never lekcherd now. She askt his opinyon on all subjekts, she wuz interested in everything he did, maed charming litl prezents for him, and sent him too leters a week, fuul of lievly gosip, sisterly confidenses, and captivaeting skeches of th luvly seens about her. As fue bruthers ar complimented bi having thaer leters carryd about in thaer sister’s pokets, red and re-red dilijently, cried oever when short, kist when long, and trezherd caerfuly, we wil not hint that Amy did eny of thees fond and foolish things. But she surtenly did gro a litl pael and pensiv that spring, lost much of her relish for soesieety, and went out skeching aloen a guud deel. She never had much to sho when she caem hoem, but wuz studying naecher, I daer sae, whiel she sat for ours, with her hands foelded, on th terris at Valrosa, or absently skecht eny fansy that ocurd to her, a staulwart niet carvd on a toom, a yung man asleep in th gras, with his hat oever his ies, or a curly haerd gurl in gorjus arae, promenading doun a baulroom on th arm of a taul jentlman, boeth faeses being left a blur acording to th last fashon in art, which wuz saef but not aultogether satisfaktory.

Her ant thaut that she regreted her anser to Fred, and fiending denieals uesles and explanaeshons imposibl, Amy left her to think whot she liekt, taeking caer that Laurie shuud noe that Fred had gon to Egypt. That wuz all, but he understuud it, and luukt releevd, as he sed to himself, with a venerabl aer...

“I wuz shuur she wuud think beter of it. Puur oeld felo! I’ve bin thru it all, and I can simpathiez.”

With that he heevd a graet sie, and then, as if he had discharjd his duety to th past, puut his feet up on th soefa and enjoyd Amy’s leter lugzhuriusly.

Whiel thees chaenjes wer going on abraud, trubl had cum at hoem. But th leter teling that Baet wuz faeling never reecht Amy, and when th next found her th gras wuz green abuv her sister. Th sad nues met her at Vevay, for th heet had driven them from Niess in Mae, and thae had traveld sloely to Switzerland, bi wae of Genoa and th Ilalyan laeks. She bor it verry wel, and qieetly submited to th family decree that she shuud not shorten her vizit, for sinss it wuz too laet to sae guudbi to Baet, she had beter stae, and let absenss sofen her sorro. But her hart wuz verry hevy, she longd to be at hoem, and every dae luukt wistfuly acros th laek, waeting for Laurie to cum and cumfort her.

He did cum verry soon, for th saem mael braut leters to them boeth, but he wuz in Germany, and it tuuk sum daes to reech him. Th moement he red it, he pakt his napsak, bad adoo to his felo pedestrians, and wuz off to keep his promis, with a hart fuul of joy and sorro, hoep and suspenss.

He nue Vevay wel, and as soon as th boet tucht th litl kee, he huryd along th shor to Laa Tuur, whaer th Carrols wer living en penshon. Th garcon wuz in despaer that th hoel family had gon to taek a promenaed on th laek, but no, th blond mademezel miet be in th shatoe garden. If mesyuur wuud giv himself th paen of siting doun, a flash of tiem shuud prezent her. But mesyuur cuud not waet eeven a ‘flash of tiem’, and in th midl of th speech departed to fiend mademezel himself.

A plezant oeld garden on th borders of th luvly laek, with chestnuts rusling oeverhed, ievy clieming everywhaer, and th blak shado of th tower fauling far acros th suny wauter. At wun corner of th wied, loe waul wuz a seet, and heer Amy ofen caem to red or wurk, or consoel herself with th buety all about her. She wuz siting heer that dae, leening her hed on her hand, with a hoemsik hart and hevy ies, thinking of Baet and wundering whi Laurie did not cum. She did not heer him cros th cort-yard beyond, nor see him pauz in th archwae that led from th subteraenian path into th garden. He stuud a mienuet luuking at her with nue ies, seeing whot no-wun had ever seen befor, th tender sied of Amy’s carrakter. Everything about her mutely sugjested luv and sorro, th bloted leters in her lap, th blak ribon that tied up her haer, th wuumanly paen and paeshenss in her faess, eeven th litl ebony cros at her throet seemd pathetik to Laurie, for he had given it to her, and she wor it as her oenly ornament. If he had eny douts about th resepshon she wuud giv him, thae wer set at rest th mienuet she luukt up and saw him, for droping everything, she ran to him, exclaeming in a toen of unmistaekably luv and longing...

“O, Laurie, Laurie, I nue U’d cum to me!”

I think everything wuz sed and setld then, for as thae stuud together qiet sielent for a moement, with th dark hed bent doun protectingly oever th liet wun, Amy felt that no-wun cuud cumfort and sustaen her so wel as Laurie, and Laurie desieded that Amy wuz th oenly wuuman in th wurld hoo cuud fil Jo’s plaess and maek him hapy. He did not tel her so, but she wuz not disapointed, for boeth felt th trooth, wer satisfied, and gladly left th rest to sielenss.

In a mienuet Amy went bak to her plaess, and whiel she dried her teers, Laurie gatherd up th scaterd paepers, fiending in th siet of sundry wel-worn leters and sugjestiv skeches guud oemens for th fuecher. As he sat doun besied her, Amy felt shi agen, and turnd roezy red at th recolekshon of her impulsiv greeting.

“I cuudn’t help it, I felt so loenly and sad, and wuz so verry glad to see U. It wuz such a serpriez to luuk up and fiend U, just as I wuz begining to feer U wuudn’t cum,” she sed, trieing in vaen to speek qiet nacheraly.

“I caem th mienuet I hurd. I wish I cuud sae sumthing to cumfort U for th lost of deer litl Baet, but I can oenly feel, and...” He cuud not get eny further, for he too turnd bashful all of a suden, and did not qiet noe whot to sae. He longd to lae Amy’s hed doun on his shoelder, and tel her to hav a guud cri, but he did not daer, so tuuk her hand insted, and gaev it a simpathetik sqeez that wuz beter than wurds.

“U needn’t sae enything, this cumforts me,” she sed softly. “Baet is wel and hapy, and I mustn’t wish her bak, but I dred th going hoem, much as I long to see them all. We wun’t tauk about it now, for it maeks me cri, and I wont to enjoy U whiel U stae. U needn’t go riet bak, need U?”

“Not if U wont me, deer.”

“I do, so much. Ant and Flo ar verry kiend, but U seem liek wun of th family, and it wuud be so cumfortabl to hav U for a litl whiel.”

Amy spoek and luukt so liek a hoemsik chield hoos hart wuz fuul that Laurie forgot his bashfulnes all at wunss, and gaev her just whot she wonted—th peting she wuz uezd to and th cheerful conversaeshon she needed.

“Puur litl soel, U luuk as if U’d greevd yuurself haf sik! I’m going to taek caer of U, so doen’t cri eny mor, but cum and wauk about with me, th wiend is too chily for U to sit stil,” he sed, in th haf-caresing, haf-comanding wae that Amy liekt, as he tied on her hat, droo her arm thru his, and began to paess up and doun th suny wauk under th nue-leaved chestnuts. He felt mor at eez upon his legs, and Amy found it plezant to hav a strong arm to leen upon, a familyar faess to smiel at her, and a kiend vois to tauk delietfuly for her aloen.

Th qaent oeld garden had shelterd meny paers of luvers, and seemd expresly maed for them, so suny and seclooded wuz it, with nuthing but th tower to oeverluuk them, and th wied laek to carry awae th eco of thaer wurds, as it ripld bi beloe. For an our this nue paer waukt and taukt, or rested on th waul, enjoying th sweet inflooenses which gaev such a charm to tiem and plaess, and when an unromantik diner bel wornd them awae, Amy felt as if she left her burden of loenlynes and sorro behiend her in th shatoe garden.

Th moement Mrs. Carrol saw th gurl’s aulterd faess, she wuz iloominaeted with a nue iedeea, and exclaemd to herself, “Now I understand it all—th chield has bin piening for yung Laurence. Bles mi hart, I never thaut of such a thing!”

With praezwurthy discreshon, th guud laedy sed nuthing, and betraed no sien of enlietenment, but corjaly urjd Laurie to stae and begd Amy to enjoy his soesieety, for it wuud do her mor guud than so much solitued. Amy wuz a model of dosility, and as her ant wuz a guud deel ocuepied with Flo, she wuz left to entertaen her frend, and did it with mor than her uezhual suksess.

At Niess, Laurie had lounjd and Amy had scoelded. At Vevay, Laurie wuz never iedl, but aulwaes wauking, rieding, boeting, or studying in th moest enerjetik maner, whiel Amy admierd everything he did and foloed his exampl as far and as fast as she cuud. He sed th chaenj wuz oeing to th cliemat, and she did not contradikt him, being glad of a liek excuez for her oen recuverd helth and spirits.

Th invigoraeting aer did them boeth guud, and much exsersiez wurkt hoelsum chaenjes in miends as wel as bodys. Thae seemd to get cleerer vues of lief and duety up thaer amung th everlasting hils. Th fresh wiends bloo awae desponding douts, deloosiv fansys, and moody mists. Th worm spring sunshien braut out all sorts of aspiering iedeeas, tender hoeps, and hapy thauts. Th laek seemd to wosh awae th trubls of th past, and th grand oeld mountens to luuk benienly doun upon them saeing, “Litl children, luv wun anuther.”

In spiet of th nue sorro, it wuz a verry hapy tiem, so hapy that Laurie cuud not baer to disturb it by a wurd. It tuuk him a litl whiel to recuver from his serpriez at th cuer of his furst, and as he had furmly beleevd, his last and oenly luv. He consoeld himself for th seeming disloyalty by th thaut that Jo’s sister wuz aulmoest th saem as Jo’s self, and th convikshon that it wuud hav bin imposibl to luv eny uther wuuman but Amy so soon and so wel. His furst wooing had bin of th tempeschu'us order, and he luukt bak upon it as if thru a long vista of yeers with a feeling of compashon blended with regret. He wuz not ashaemd of it, but puut it awae as wun of th biter-sweet expeeri’enses of his lief, for which he cuud be graetful when th paen wuz oever. His second wooing, he rezolvd, shuud be as caam and simpl as posibl. Thaer wuz no need of having a seen, hardly eny need of teling Amy that he luvd her, she nue it without wurds and had given him his anser long ago. It all caem about so nacheraly that no-wun cuud complaen, and he nue that evrybody wuud be pleezd, eeven Jo. But when our furst litl pashon has bin crusht, we ar apt to be waery and slo in maeking a second trieal, so Laurie let th daes pas, enjoying every our, and leeving to chanss th uteranss of th wurd that wuud puut an end to th furst and sweetest part of his nue roemanss.

He had rather imajind that th denoument wuud taek plaess in th shatoe garden bi moonliet, and in th moest graesful and decorus maner, but it turnd out exaktly th revurss, for th mater wuz setld on th laek at noondae in a fue blunt wurds. Thae had bin floeting about all th morning, from gloomy St. Gingolf to suny Montreux, with th Alps of Savoy on wun sied, Mont St. Bernard and th Dent du Midi on th uther, prity Vevay in th valy, and Lausanne upon th hil beyond, a cloudles bloo ski oeverhed, and th bluer laek beloe, doted with th pikcheresk boets that luuk liek whiet-wingd guls.

Thae had bin tauking of Bonnivard, as thae glieded past Chillon, and of Rousseau, as thae luukt up at Clarens, whaer he roet his Heloise. Neether had red it, but thae nue it wuz a luv story, and eech prievatly wunderd if it wuz haf as interesting as thaer oen. Amy had bin dabling her hand in th wauter duuring th litl pauz that fel between them, and when she luukt up, Laurie wuz leening on his ors with an expreshon in his ies that maed her sae haestily, meerly for th saek of saeing sumthing...

“U must be tierd. Rest a litl, and let me roe. It wil do me guud, for sinss U caem I hav bin aultogether laezy and lugzhuurius.”

“I’m not tierd, but U mae taek an or, if U liek. Thaer’s room enuf, tho I hav to sit neerly in th midl, elss th boet wun’t trim,” returnd Laurie, as if he rather liekt th araenjment.

Feeling that she had not mended maters much, Amy tuuk th oferd thurd of a seet, shuuk her haer oever her faess, and aksepted an or. She roed as wel as she did meny uther things, and tho she uezd boeth hands, and Laurie but wun, th ors kept tiem, and th boet went smoothly thru th wauter.

“How wel we puul together, doen’t we?” sed Amy, hoo objekted to sielenss just then.

“So wel that I wish we miet aulwaes puul in th saem boet. Wil U, Amy?” verry tenderly.

“Yes, Laurie,” verry loe.

Then thae boeth stopt roeing, and unconshusly aded a prity litl tabloe of hueman luv and hapynes to th dizolving vues reflekted in th laek.

ALL Aloen

It wuz eezy to promis self-abnegaeshon when self wuz rapt up in anuther, and hart and soel wer puerified bi a sweet exampl. But when th helpful vois wuz sielent, th daely leson oever, th beluved prezenss gon, and nuthing remaend but loenlynes and greef, then Jo found her promis verry hard to keep. How cuud she ‘cumfort Faather and Muther’ when her oen hart aekt with a seesles longing for her sister, how cuud she ‘maek th hous cheerful’ when all its liet and wormth and buety seemd to hav dezurted it when Baet left th oeld hoem for th nue, and whaer in all th wurld cuud she ‘fiend sum uesful, hapy wurk to do’, that wuud taek th plaess of th luving survis which had bin its oen reword? She tried in a bliend, hoeples wae to do her duety, seecretly rebeling agenst it all th whiel, for it seemd unjust that her fue joys shuud be lesend, her burdens maed hevyer, and lief get harder and harder as she toild along. Sum peepl seemd to get all sunshien, and sum all shado. It wuz not faer, for she tried mor than Amy to be guud, but never got eny reword, oenly disapointment, trubl and hard wurk.

Puur Jo, thees wer dark daes to her, for sumthing liek despaer caem oever her when she thaut of spending all her lief in that qieet hous, devoeted to humdrum caers, a fue smaul plezhers, and th duety that never seemd to gro eny eezyer. “I can’t do it. I wuzn’t ment for a lief liek this, and I noe I shal braek awae and do sumthing desperat if sumbody duzn’t cum and help me,” she sed to herself, when her furst eforts faeld and she fel into th moody, mizerabl staet of miend which ofen cums when strong wils hav to yeeld to th inevitabl.

But sumwun did cum and help her, tho Jo did not recogniez her guud aenjels at wunss becauz thae wor familyar shaeps and uezd th simpl spels best fited to puur huemanity. Ofen she started up at niet, thinking Baet cauld her, and when th siet of th litl empty bed maed her cri with th biter cri of unsubmissive sorro, “O, Baet, cum bak! Cum bak!” she did not strech out her yurning arms in vaen. For, as qik to heer her sobing as she had bin to heer her sister’s faentest whisper, her muther caem to cumfort her, not with wurds oenly, but th paeshent tendernes that sooths by a tuch, teers that wer muet remienders of a graeter greef than Jo’s, and broeken whispers, mor eloqent than praers, becauz hoepful rezignaeshon went hand-in-hand with nacheral sorro. Saecred moements, when hart taukt to hart in th sielenss of th niet, turning aflikshon to a blesings, which chaesend greef and strengthend luv. Feeling this, Jo’s burden seemd eezyer to baer, duety groo sweeter, and lief luukt mor endurable, seen from th saef shelter of her muther’s arms.

When aeking hart wuz a litl cumforted, trubld miend liekwiez found help, for wun dae she went to th study, and leening oever th guud grae hed lifted to welcum her with a tranqil smiel, she sed verry humbly, “Faather, tauk to me as U did to Baet. I need it mor than she did, for I’m all rong.”

“Mi deer, nuthing can cumfort me liek this,” he anserd, with a faulter in his vois, and boeth arms round her, as if he too, needed help, and did not feer to ask for it.

Then, siting in Baet’s litl chaer cloez besied him, Jo toeld her trubls, th rezentful sorro for her lost, th frootles eforts that discurejd her, th wont of faeth that maed lief luuk so dark, and all th sad bewilderment which we caul despaer. She gaev him entier confidenss, he gaev her th help she needed, and boeth found consolaeshon in th akt. For th tiem had cum when thae cuud tauk together not oenly as faather and dauter, but as man and wuuman, aebl and glad to surv eech uther with muechual simpathy as wel as muechual luv. Hapy, thautful tiems thaer in th oeld study which Jo cauld ‘th church of wun member’, and from which she caem with fresh curej, recuverd cheerfulnes, and a mor submisiv spirit. For th paerents hoo had taut wun chield to meet deth without feer, wer trieing now to teech anuther to aksept lief without despondensy or distrust, and to uez its buetiful oportuenitys with gratitood and power.

Uther helps had Jo—humbl, hoelsum duetys and deliets that wuud not be denied thaer part in surving her, and which she sloely lurnd to see and value. Brooms and dishcloths never cuud be as distaestful as thae wunss had bin, for Baet had prezieded oever boeth, and sumthing of her housewifely spirit seemd to lingger around th litl mop and th oeld brush, never throen awae. As she uezd them, Jo found herself huming th songs Baet uezd to hum, imitaeting Baet’s orderly waes, and giving th litl tuches heer and thaer that kept everything fresh and coezy, which wuz th furst step tord maeking hoem hapy, tho she didn’t noe it til Hannah sed with an aprooving sqeez of th hand...

“U thautful creeter, U’r deturmind we shan’t mis that deer lam ef U can help it. We doen’t sae much, but we see it, and th Lord wil bles U for’t, see ef He doen’t.”

As thae sat soeing together, Jo discuverd how much improovd her sister Meg wuz, how wel she cuud tauk, how much she nue about guud, wuumanly impulses, thauts, and feelings, how hapy she wuz in huzband and children, and how much thae wer all dooing for eech uther.

“Marrej is an exselent thing, after all. I wunder if I shuud blosom out haf as wel as U hav, if I tried it?, aulwaes ‘perwisin’ I cuud,” sed Jo, as she construkted a kiet for Demi in th topsy-turvy nursery.

“It’s just whot U need to bring out th tender wuumanly haf of yuur naecher, Jo. U ar liek a chestnut bur, prikly outsied, but silky-soft within, and a sweet kernal, if wun can oenly get at it. Luv wil maek U sho yuur hart wun dae, and then th ruf bur wil faul off.”

“Frost oepens chestnut burs, maa’am, and it taeks a guud shaek to bring them doun. Boys go nutting, and I doen’t caer to be bagd bi them,” returnd Jo, paesting awae at th kiet which no wiend that bloes wuud ever carry up, for Daezy had tied herself on as a bob.

Meg laft, for she wuz glad to see a glimer of Jo’s oeld spirit, but she felt it her duety to enforss her opinyon by every arguement in her power, and th sisterly chats wer not waested, espeshaly as too of Meg’s moest efektiv arguements wer th baebys, hoom Jo luvd tenderly. Greef is th best oepener of sum harts, and Jo’s wuz neerly redy for th bag. A litl mor sunshien to riepen th nut, then, not a boy’s impaeshent shaek, but a man’s hand reecht up to pik it jently from th bur, and fiend th kernal sound and sweet. If she suspekted this, she wuud hav shut up tiet, and bin mor prikly than ever, forchunatly she wuzn’t thinking about herself, so when th tiem caem, doun she dropt.

Now, if she had bin th herroein of a moral storybuuk, she aut at this peeriod of her lief to hav becum qiet saently, renounst th wurld, and gon about dooing guud in a mortified bonet, with trakts in her poket. But, U see, Jo wuzn’t a herroein, she wuz oenly a strugling hueman gurl liek hundreds of uthers, and she just akted out her naecher, being sad, cros, listles, or enerjetik, as th mood sugjested. It’s hiely vurchu’us to sae we’l be guud, but we can’t do it all at wunss, and it taeks a long puul, a strong puul, and a puul all together befor sum of us eeven get our feet set in th riet wae. Jo had got so far, she wuz lurning to do her duety, and to feel unhapy if she did not, but to do it cheerfuly, aa, that wuz anuther thing! She had ofen sed she wonted to do sumthing splendid, no mater how hard, and now she had her wish, for whot cuud be mor buetiful than to devoet her lief to Faather and Muther, trieing to maek hoem as hapy to them as thae had to her? And if dificultys wer nesesaery to increess th splendor of th efort, whot cuud be harder for a restles, ambishus gurl than to giv up her oen hoeps, plans, and deziers, and cheerfuly liv for uthers?

Providenss had taeken her at her wurd. Heer wuz th task, not whot she had expekted, but beter becauz self had no part in it. Now, cuud she do it? She desieded that she wuud tri, and in her furst atempt she found th helps I hav sugjested. Stil anuther wuz given her, and she tuuk it, not as a reword, but as a cumfort, as Crischan tuuk th refreshment aforded bi th litl arbor whaer he rested, as he cliemd th hil cauld Dificulty.

“Whi doen’t U riet? That aulwaes uezd to maek U hapy,” sed her muther wunss, when th desponding fit oever-shadoed Jo.

“I’ve no hart to riet, and if I had, noebody caers for mi things.”

“We do. Riet sumthing for us, and never miend th rest of th wurld. Tri it, deer. I’m shuur it wuud do U guud, and pleez us verry much.”

“Doen’t beleev I can.” But Jo got out her desk and began to oeverhaul her haf-finisht manuescripts.

An our afterward her muther peept in and thaer she wuz, scraching awae, with her blak pinafor on, and an absorbd expreshon, which cauzd Mrs. March to smiel and slip awae, wel pleezd with th suksess of her sugjeschon. Jo never nue how it hapend, but sumthing got into that story that went straet to th harts of thoes hoo red it, for when her family had laft and cried oever it, her faather sent it, much agenst her wil, to wun of th popuelar magazeens, and to her uter serpriez, it wuz not oenly paed for, but uthers reqested. Leters from several pursons, hoos praez wuz onor, foloed th apeeranss of th litl story, nuezpaepers copyd it, and straenjers as wel as frends admierd it. For a smaul thing it wuz a graet suksess, and Jo wuz mor astonisht than when her novel wuz comended and condemd all at wunss.

“I doen’t understand it. Whot can thaer be in a simpl litl story liek that to maek peepl praez it so?” she sed, qiet bewilderd.

“Thaer is trooth in it, Jo, that’s th seecret. Huemor and paethos maek it aliev, and U hav found yuur stiel at last. U roet with no thauts of faem and muny, and puut yuur hart into it, mi dauter. U hav had th biter, now cums th sweet. Do yuur best, and gro as hapy as we ar in yuur suksess.”

“If thaer is enything guud or troo in whot I riet, it isn’t mien. I oe it all to U and Muther and Baet,” sed Jo, mor tucht bi her faather’s wurds than bi eny amount of praez from th wurld.

So taut bi luv and sorro, Jo roet her litl storys, and sent them awae to maek frends for themselvs and her, fiending it a verry charritabl wurld to such humbl waanderers, for thae wer kiendly welcumd, and sent hoem cumfortabl toekens to thaer muther, liek duetyful children hoom guud forchun oevertaeks.

When Amy and Laurie roet of thaer engaejment, Mrs. March feerd that Jo wuud fiend it dificult to rejois oever it, but her feers wer soon set at rest, for tho Jo luukt graev at furst, she tuuk it verry qieetly, and wuz fuul of hoeps and plans for ‘th children’ befor she red th leter twiess. It wuz a sort of riten dueet, whaerin eech glorified th uther in loverlike fashon, verry plezant to red and satisfaktory to think of, for no wun had eny objekshon to maek.

“U liek it, Muther?” sed Jo, as thae laed doun th cloesly riten sheets and luukt at wun anuther.

“Yes, I hoept it wuud be so, ever sinss Amy roet that she had refuezd Fred. I felt shuur then that sumthing beter than whot U caul th ‘mursenaery spirit’ had cum oever her, and a hint heer and thaer in her leters maed me suspekt that luv and Laurie wuud win th dae.”

“How sharp U ar, Marmee, and how sielent! U never sed a wurd to me.”

“Muthers hav need of sharp ies and discrete tungs when thae hav gurls to manej. I wuz haf afraed to puut th iedeea into yuur hed, lest U shuud riet and congrachulaet them befor th thing wuz setld.”

“I’m not th scaterbraen I wuz. U mae trust me. I’m soeber and sensibl enuf for enywun’s confidaant now.”

“So U ar, mi deer, and I shuud hav maed U mien, oenly I fansyd it miet paen U to lurn that yuur Teddy luvd sumwun elss.”

“Now, Muther, did U reealy think I cuud be so sily and selfish, after I’d refuezd his luv, when it wuz freshest, if not best?”

“I nue U wer sinseer then, Jo, but laetly I hav thaut that if he caem bak, and askt agen, U miet perhaps, feel liek giving anuther anser. Forgiv me, deer, I can’t help seeing that U ar verry loenly, and sumtiems thaer is a hunggry luuk in yuur ies that goes to mi hart. So I fansyd that yuur boy miet fil th empty plaess if he tried now.”

“No, Muther, it is beter as it is, and I’m glad Amy has lurnd to luv him. But U ar riet in wun thing. I am loenly, and perhaps if Teddy had tried agen, I miet hav sed ‘Yes’, not becauz I luv him eny mor, but becauz I caer mor to be luvd than when he went awae.”

“I’m glad of that, Jo, for it shoes that U ar geting on. Thaer ar plenty to luv U, so tri to be satisfied with Faather and Muther, sisters and bruthers, frends and baebys, til th best luver of all cums to giv U yuur reword.”

“Muthers ar th best luvers in th wurld, but I doen’t miend whispering to Marmee that I’d liek to tri all kiends. It’s verry cuerius, but th mor I tri to satisfi mieself with all sorts of nacheral afekshons, th mor I seem to wont. I’d no iedeea harts cuud taek in so meny. Mien is so elastik, it never seems fuul now, and I uezd to be qiet contented with mi family. I doen’t understand it.”

“I do,” and Mrs. March smield her wiez smiel, as Jo turnd bak th leevs to red whot Amy sed of Laurie.

“It is so buetiful to be luvd as Laurie luvs me. He isn’t sentimental, duzn’t sae much about it, but I see and feel it in all he sez and duz, and it maeks me so hapy and so humbl that I doen’t seem to be th saem gurl I wuz. I never nue how guud and jenerus and tender he wuz til now, for he lets me red his hart, and I fiend it fuul of noebl impulses and hoeps and purposes, and am so proud to noe it’s mien. He sez he feels as if he ‘cuud maek a prosperus voyej now with me abord as maet, and lots of luv for balast’. I prae he mae, and tri to be all he beleevs me, for I luv mi galant capten with all mi hart and soel and miet, and never wil dezert him, whiel God lets us be together. O, Muther, I never nue how much liek heven this wurld cuud be, when too peepl luv and liv for wun anuther!”

“And that’s our cool, rezurvd, and wurldly Amy! Trooly, luv duz wurk mirakls. How verry, verry hapy thae must be!” and Jo laed th rusling sheets together with a caerful hand, as wun miet shut th cuvers of a luvly roemanss, which hoelds th reeder fast til th end cums, and he fiends himself aloen in th wurkadae wurld agen.

By-and-by Jo roemd awae upstaers, for it wuz raeny, and she cuud not wauk. A restles spirit pozest her, and th oeld feeling caem agen, not biter as it wunss wuz, but a sorroefuly paeshent wunder whi wun sister shuud hav all she askt, th uther nuthing. It wuz not troo, she nue that and tried to puut it awae, but th nacheral craeving for afekshon wuz strong, and Amy’s hapynes woek th hunggry longing for sumwun to ‘luv with hart and soel, and cling to whiel God let them be together’. Up in th garret, whaer Jo’s unqieet waanderings ended stuud foer litl wuuden chests in a roe, eech markt with its oeners naem, and eech fild with reliks of th chieldhuud and gurlhuud ended now for all. Jo glanst into them, and when she caem to her oen, leend her chin on th ej, and staerd absently at th caeotik colekshon, til a bundl of oeld exsersiez buuks caut her ie. She droo them out, turnd them oever, and re-livd that plezant winter at kiend Mrs. Kirke’s. She had smield at furst, then she luukt thautful, next sad, and when she caem to a litl mesej riten in th Profesor’s hand, her lips began to trembl, th buuks slid out of her lap, and she sat luuking at th frendly wurds, as thae tuuk a nue meening, and tucht a tender spot in her hart.

“Waet for me, mi frend. I mae be a litl laet, but I shal shuurly cum.”

“O, if he oenly wuud! So kiend, so guud, so paeshent with me aulwaes, mi deer oeld Fritz. I didn’t value him haf enuf when I had him, but now how I shuud luv to see him, for everywun seems going awae from me, and I’m all aloen.”

And hoelding th litl paeper fast, as if it wer a promis yet to be fuulfild, Jo laed her hed doun on a cumfortabl rag bag, and cried, as if in opozishon to th raen patering on th roof.

Wuz it all self-pity, loenlynes, or loe spirits? Or wuz it th waeking up of a sentiment which had bided its tiem as paeshently as its inspirer? Hoo shal sae?


Jo wuz aloen in th twieliet, lieing on th oeld soefa, luuking at th fier, and thinking. It wuz her faevorit wae of spending th our of dusk. No-wun disturbd her, and she uezd to lie thaer on Baet’s litl red pilo, planing storys, dreeming dreems, or thinking tender thauts of th sister hoo never seemd far awae. Her faess luukt tierd, graev, and rather sad, for tomorro wuz her burthdae, and she wuz thinking how fast th yeers went by, how oeld she wuz geting, and how litl she seemd to hav acomplisht. Aulmoest twenty-fiev, and nuthing to sho for it. Jo wuz mistaeken in that. Thaer wuz a guud deel to sho, and by-and-by she saw, and wuz graetful for it.

“An oeld maed, that’s whot I’m to be. A literaery spinster, with a pen for a spous, a family of storys for children, and twenty yeers henss a morsel of faem, perhaps, when, liek puur Johnson, I’m oeld and can’t enjoy it, solitaery, and can’t shaer it, independent, and doen’t need it. Wel, I needn’t be a sour saent nor a selfish siner, and, I daer sae, oeld maeds ar verry cumfortabl when thae get uezd to it, but...” and thaer Jo sied, as if th prospekt wuz not invieting.

It seldom is, at furst, and thurty seems th end of all things to fiev-and-twenty. But it’s not as bad as it luuks, and wun can get on qiet hapily if wun has sumthing in wun’s self to faul bak upon. At twenty-fiev, gurls begin to tauk about being oeld maeds, but seecretly rezolv that thae never wil be. At thurty thae sae nuthing about it, but qieetly aksept th fakt, and if sensibl, consoel themselvs by remembering that thae hav twenty mor uesful, hapy yeers, in which thae mae be lurning to gro oeld graesfuly. Doen’t laf at th spinsters, deer gurls, for ofen verry tender, trajik roemanses ar hiden awae in th harts that beet so qieetly under th soeber gouns, and meny sielent sacrifieses of yooth, helth, ambishon, luv itself, maek th faeded faeses buetiful in God’s siet. Eeven th sad, sour sisters shuud be kiendly delt with, becauz thae hav mist th sweetest part of lief, if for no uther reezon. And luuking at them with compashon, not contempt, gurls in thaer bloom shuud remember that thae too mae mis th blosom tiem. That roezy cheeks doen’t last forever, that silver threds wil cum in th bony broun haer, and that, by-and-by, kiendnes and respekt wil be as sweet as luv and admeraeshon now.

Jentlmen, which meens boys, be curtius to th oeld maeds, no mater how puur and plaen and prim, for th oenly shivalry wurth having is that which is th redyest to pae deferenss to th oeld, protekt th feebl, and surv wuumankiend, regardles of rank, aej, or culor. Just recolekt th guud ants hoo hav not oenly lekcherd and fust, but nurst and peted, too ofen without thanks, th scraeps thae hav helpt U out of, th tips thae hav given U from thaer smaul stor, th stiches th paeshent oeld finggers hav set for U, th steps th wiling oeld feet hav taeken, and graetfuly pae th deer oeld laedys th litl atenshons that wimen luv to reseev as long as thae liv. Th briet-ied gurls ar qik to see such traets, and wil liek U all th beter for them, and if deth, aulmoest th oenly power that can part muther and sun, shuud rob U of yuurs, U wil be shuur to fiend a tender welcum and maturnal cherrishing from sum Ant Priscilla, hoo has kept th wormest corner of her loenly oeld hart for ‘th best nevvy in th wurld’.

Jo must hav faulen asleep (as I daer sae mi reeder has duuring this litl homily), for sudenly Laurie’s goest seemd to stand befor her, a substanshal, liefliek goest, leening oever her with th verry luuk he uezd to waer when he felt a guud deel and didn’t liek to sho it. But, liek Jeny in th balad...

“She cuud not think it he,”

and lae staering up at him in startld sielenss, til he stoopt and kist her. Then she nue him, and floo up, crieing joyfuly...

“O mi Teddy! O mi Teddy!”

“Deer Jo, U ar glad to see me, then?”

“Glad! Mi blest boy, wurds can’t expres mi gladnes. Whaer’s Amy?”

“Yuur muther has got her doun at Meg’s. We stopt thaer bi th wae, and thaer wuz no geting mi wief out of thaer cluches.”

“Yuur whot?” cried Jo, for Laurie uterd thoes too wurds with an unconshus pried and satisfakshon which betraed him.

“O, th dickens! Now I’ve dun it,” and he luukt so gilty that Jo wuz doun on him liek a flash.

“U’ve gon and got marryd!”

“Yes, pleez, but I never wil agen,” and he went doun upon his nees, with a penitent clasping of hands, and a faess fuul of mischif, murth, and trieumf.

“Akchualy marryd?”

“Verry much so, thank U.”

“Mursy on us. Whot dredful thing wil U do next?” and Jo fel into her seet with a gasp.

“A carrakteristik, but not exaktly complimentary, congrachulaeshon,” returnd Laurie, stil in an abjekt atitued, but beeming with satisfakshon.

“Whot can U expekt, when U taek wun’s breth awae, creeping in liek a burglar, and leting cats out of bags liek that? Get up, U ridicuelus boy, and tel me all about it.”

“Not a wurd, unles U let me cum in mi oeld plaess, and promis not to barricaed.”

Jo laft at that as she had not dun for meny a long dae, and pated th soefa invietingly, as she sed in a corjal toen, “Th oeld pilo is up garret, and we doen’t need it now. So, cum and ’fes, Teddy.”

“How guud it sounds to heer U sae ‘Teddy’! No-wun ever cauls me that but U,” and Laurie sat doun with an aer of graet content.

“Whot duz Amy caul U?”

“Mi lord.”

“That’s liek her. Wel, U luuk it,” and Jo’s ie plaenly betraed that she found her boy comelier than ever.

Th pilo wuz gon, but thaer wuz a barricaed, nevertheles, a nacheral wun, raezd bi tiem, absenss, and chaenj of hart. Boeth felt it, and for a mienuet luukt at wun anuther as if that invizibl barryer cast a litl shado oever them. It wuz gon direktly however, for Laurie sed, with a vaen atempt at dignity...

“Doen’t I luuk liek a marryd man and th hed of a family?”

“Not a bit, and U never wil. U’ve groen biger and bonnier, but U ar th saem scaepgraess as ever.”

“Now reealy, Jo, U aut to treet me with mor respekt,” began Laurie, hoo enjoyd it all imensly.

“How can I, when th meer iedeea of U, marryd and setld, is so irezistibly funy that I can’t keep soeber!” anserd Jo, smieling all oever her faess, so infectiously that thae had anuther laf, and then setld doun for a guud tauk, qiet in th plezant oeld fashon.

“It’s no uez yuur going out in th coeld to get Amy, for thae ar all cuming up prezently. I cuudn’t waet. I wonted to be th wun to tel U th grand serpriez, and hav ‘furst skim’ as we uezd to sae when we sqobld about th creem.”

“Of corss U did, and spoild yuur story bi begining at th rong end. Now, start riet, and tel me how it all hapend. I’m piening to noe.”

“Wel, I did it to pleez Amy,” began Laurie, with a twinkl that maed Jo exclaem...

“Fib number wun. Amy did it to pleez U. Go on, and tel th trooth, if U can, sur.”

“Now she’s begining to marm it. Isn’t it joly to heer her?” sed Laurie to th fier, and th fier gloed and sparkld as if it qiet agreed. “It’s all th saem, U noe, she and I being wun. We pland to cum hoem with th Carrols, a munth or mor ago, but thae sudenly chaenjd thaer miends, and desieded to pas anuther winter in Paris. But Grandpaa wonted to cum hoem. He went to pleez me, and I cuudn’t let him go aloen, neether cuud I leev Amy, and Mrs. Carrol had got Inglish noeshons about shaperoens and such nonsenss, and wuudn’t let Amy cum with us. So I just setld th dificulty bi saeing, ‘Let’s be marryd, and then we can do as we liek’.”

“Of corss U did. U aulwaes hav things to soot U.”

“Not aulwaes,” and sumthing in Laurie’s vois maed Jo sae haestily...

“How did U ever get Ant to agree?”

“It wuz hard wurk, but between us, we taukt her oever, for we had heeps of guud reezons on our sied. Thaer wuzn’t tiem to riet and ask leev, but U all liekt it, had consented to it bi-and-bi, and it wuz oenly ‘taeking tiem bi th fetlock’, as mi wief sez.”

“Aren’t we proud of thoes too wurds, and doen’t we liek to sae them?” interupted Jo, adresing th fier in her turn, and woching with deliet th hapy liet it seemd to kindl in th ies that had bin so trajikaly gloomy when she saw them last.

“A triefl, perhaps, she’s such a captivaeting litl wuuman I can’t help being proud of her. Wel, then Unkl and Ant wer thaer to plae proprieety. We wer so absorbd in wun anuther we wer of no mortal uez apart, and that charming araenjment wuud maek everything eezy all round, so we did it.”

“When, whaer, how?” askt Jo, in a feever of feminine interest and cueriosity, for she cuud not reealiez it a partikl.

“Six weeks ago, at th Amerrican consul’s, in Paris, a verry qieet weding of corss, for eeven in our hapynes we didn’t forget deer litl Baet.”

Jo puut her hand in his as he sed that, and Laurie jently smoothd th litl red pilo, which he rememberd wel.

“Whi didn’t U let us noe afterward?” askt Jo, in a qieeter toen, when thae had sat qiet stil a mienuet.

“We wonted to serpriez U. We thaut we wer cuming direktly hoem, at furst, but th deer oeld jentlman, as soon as we wer marryd, found he cuudn’t be redy under a munth, at leest, and sent us off to spend our hunymoon whaerever we liekt. Amy had wunss cauld Valrosa a reguelar hunymoon hoem, so we went thaer, and wer as hapy as peepl ar but wunss in thaer lievs. Mi faeth! Wuzn’t it luv amung th roezes!”

Laurie seemd to forget Jo for a mienuet, and Jo wuz glad of it, for th fakt that he toeld her thees things so freely and so nacheraly ashuurd her that he had qiet forgiven and forgoten. She tried to draw awae her hand, but as if he gest th thaut that prompted th haf-involuntaery impulss, Laurie held it fast, and sed, with a manly gravity she had never seen in him befor...

“Jo, deer, I wont to sae wun thing, and then we’l puut it bi forever. As I toeld U in mi leter when I roet that Amy had bin so kiend to me, I never shal stop luving U, but th luv is aulterd, and I hav lurnd to see that it is beter as it is. Amy and U chaenjd plaeses in mi hart, that’s all. I think it wuz ment to be so, and wuud hav cum about nacheraly, if I had waeted, as U tried to maek me, but I never cuud be paeshent, and so I got a hartaek. I wuz a boy then, hedstrong and vieolent, and it tuuk a hard leson to sho me mi mistaek. For it wuz wun, Jo, as U sed, and I found it out, after maeking a fool of mieself. Upon mi wurd, I wuz so tumbld up in mi miend, at wun tiem, that I didn’t noe which I luvd best, U or Amy, and tried to luv U boeth aliek. But I cuudn’t, and when I saw her in Switzerland, everything seemd to cleer up all at wunss. U boeth got into yuur riet plaeses, and I felt shuur that it wuz wel off with th oeld luv befor it wuz on with th nue, that I cuud onestly shaer mi hart between sister Jo and wief Amy, and luv them deerly. Wil U beleev it, and go bak to th hapy oeld tiems when we furst nue wun anuther?”

“I’ll beleev it, with all mi hart, but, Teddy, we never can be boy and gurl agen. Th hapy oeld tiems can’t cum bak, and we mustn’t expekt it. We ar man and wuuman now, with soeber wurk to do, for plaetiem is oever, and we must giv up froliking. I’m shuur U feel this. I see th chaenj in U, and U’ll fiend it in me. I shal mis mi boy, but I shal luv th man as much, and admier him mor, becauz he meens to be whot I hoept he wuud. We can’t be litl plaemaets eny longger, but we wil be bruther and sister, to luv and help wun anuther all our lievs, wun’t we, Laurie?”

He did not sae a wurd, but tuuk th hand she oferd him, and laed his faess doun on it for a mienuet, feeling that out of th graev of a boyish pashon, thaer had rizen a buetiful, strong frendship to bles them boeth. Prezently Jo sed cheerfuly, for she didn’t wont th cuming hoem to be a sad wun, “I can’t maek it troo that U children ar reealy marryd and going to set up houskeeping. Whi, it seems oenly yesterdae that I wuz butoning Amy’s pinafor, and puuling yuur haer when U teezd. Mursy me, how tiem duz fli!”

“As wun of th children is oelder than yuurself, U needn’t tauk so liek a grandmaa. I flater mieself I’m a ‘jentlman growed’ as Peggotty sed of David, and when U see Amy, U’ll fiend her rather a precoeshus infant,” sed Laurie, luuking amuezd at her maturnal aer.

“U mae be a litl oelder in yeers, but I’m ever so much oelder in feeling, Teddy. Wimen aulwaes ar, and this last yeer has bin such a hard wun that I feel forty.”

“Puur Jo! We left U to baer it aloen, whiel we went pleasuring. U ar oelder. Heer’s a lien, and thaer’s anuther. Unles U smiel, yuur ies luuk sad, and when I tucht th cuushon, just now, I found a teer on it. U’ve had a graet deel to baer, and had to baer it all aloen. Whot a selfish beest I’ve bin!” and Laurie puuld his oen haer, with a remorsful luuk.

But Jo oenly turnd oever th tlaetorus pilo, and anserd, in a toen which she tried to maek mor cheerful, “No, I had Faather and Muther to help me, and th deer baebys to cumfort me, and th thaut that U and Amy wer saef and hapy, to maek th trubls heer eezyer to baer. I am loenly, sumtiems, but I daer sae it’s guud for me, and...”

“U never shal be agen,” broek in Laurie, puuting his arm about her, as if to fenss out every hueman il. “Amy and I can’t get on without U, so U must cum and teech ‘th children’ to keep hous, and go havs in everything, just as we uezd to do, and let us pet U, and all be blisfuly hapy and frendly together.”

“If I shouldn’t be in th wae, it wuud be verry plezant. I begin to feel qiet yung aulredy, for sumhow all mi trubls seemd to fli awae when U caem. U aulwaes wer a cumfort, Teddy,” and Jo leend her hed on his shoelder, just as she did yeers ago, when Baet lae il and Laurie toeld her to hoeld on to him.

He luukt doun at her, wundering if she rememberd th tiem, but Jo wuz smieling to herself, as if in trooth her trubls had all vanisht at his cuming.

“U ar th saem Jo stil, droping teers about wun mienuet, and lafing th next. U luuk a litl wiked now. Whot is it, Grandmaa?”

“I wuz wundering how U and Amy get on together.”

“Liek aenjels!”

“Yes, of corss, but which rools?”

“I doen’t miend teling U that she duz now, at leest I let her think so, it pleezes her, U noe. Bi-and-bi we shal taek turns, for marrej, thae sae, havs wun’s riets and dubls wun’s duetys.”

“U’ll go on as U begin, and Amy wil rool U all th daes of yuur lief.”

“Wel, she duz it so imperseptibly that I doen’t think I shal miend much. She is th sort of wuuman hoo noes how to rool wel. In fakt, I rather liek it, for she wiends wun round her fingger as softly and pritily as a scaen of silk, and maeks U feel as if she wuz dooing U a faevor all th whiel.”

“That ever I shuud liv to see U a henpekt huzband and enjoying it!” cried Jo, with uplifted hands.

It wuz guud to see Laurie sqaer his shoelders, and smiel with mascuelin scorn at that insinueaeshon, as he replied, with his “hie and miety” aer, “Amy is too wel-bred for that, and I am not th sort of man to submit to it. Mi wief and I respekt ourselvs and wun anuther too much ever to tyrannize or qorrel.”

Jo liekt that, and thaut th nue dignity verry becuming, but th boy seemd chaenjing verry fast into th man, and regret minggld with her plezher.

“I am shuur of that. Amy and U never did qorrel as we uezd to. She is th sun and I th wiend, in th faebl, and th sun manejd th man best, U remember.”

“She can blo him up as wel as shien on him,” laft Laurie. “Such a lekcher as I got at Niess! I giv U mi wurd it wuz a deel wurss than eny of yuur scoldings, a reguelar rouser. I’ll tel U all about it sumtiem, she never wil, becauz after teling me that she despiezd and wuz ashaemd of me, she lost her hart to th despikabl party and marryd th guud-for-nuthing.”

“Whot baseness! Wel, if she abuezes U, cum to me, and I’ll defend U.”

“I luuk as if I needed it, doen’t I?” sed Laurie, geting up and strieking an atitued which sudenly chaenjd from th impoezing to th rapcherus, as Amy’s vois wuz hurd cauling, “Whaer is she? Whaer’s mi deer oeld Jo?”

In troopt th hoel family, and everywun wuz hugd and kist all oever agen, and after several vaen atempts, th three waanderers wer set doun to be luukt at and exulted oever. Mr. Laurence, hael and harty as ever, wuz qiet as much improovd as th uthers bi his forin tuur, for th crustiness seemd to be neerly gon, and th oeld-fashond courtliness had reseevd a poelish which maed it kindlier than ever. It wuz guud to see him beem at ‘mi children’, as he cauld th yung paer. It wuz beter stil to see Amy pae him th daughterly duety and afekshon which compleetly wun his oeld hart, and best of all, to woch Laurie revolv about th too, as if never tierd of enjoying th prity pikcher thae maed.

Th mienuet she puut her ies upon Amy, Meg becaem conshus that her oen dres hadn’t a Pareezhan aer, that yung Mrs. Moffat wuud be entierly eclipst bi yung Mrs. Laurence, and that ‘her laedyship’ wuz aultogether a moest elegant and graesful wuuman. Jo thaut, as she wocht th paer, “How wel thae luuk together! I wuz riet, and Laurie has found th buetiful, acomplisht gurl hoo wil becum his hoem beter than clumzy oeld Jo, and be a pried, not a torment to him.” Mrs. March and her huzband smield and noded at eech uther with hapy faeses, for thae saw that thaer yunggest had dun wel, not oenly in wurldly things, but th beter welth of luv, confidenss, and hapynes.

For Amy’s faess wuz fuul of th soft brietnes which betoekens a peesful hart, her vois had a nue tendernes in it, and th cool, prim carrej wuz chaenjd to a jentl dignity, boeth wuumanly and wining. No litl afektaeshons mard it, and th corjal sweetnes of her maner wuz mor charming than th nue buety or th oeld graess, for it stampt her at wunss with th unmistaekably sien of th troo jentlwuuman she had hoept to becum.

“Luv has dun much for our litl gurl,” sed her muther softly.

“She has had a guud exampl befor her all her lief, mi deer,” Mr. March whisperd bak, with a luving luuk at th worn faess and grae hed besied him.

Daezy found it imposibl to keep her ies off her ‘pitty aunty’, but atacht herself liek a lap dog to th wunderful chatelaine fuul of delietful charms. Demi pauzd to consider th nue relaeshonship befor he compromiezd himself bi th rash akseptanss of a brieb, which tuuk th tempting form of a family of wuuden baers from Berne. A flank moovment produest an uncondishonal serender, however, for Laurie nue whaer to hav him.

“Yung man, when I furst had th onor of maeking yuur aqaentanss U hit me in th faess. Now I demand th satisfakshon of a jentlman,” and with that th taul unkl proseeded to tos and tousle th smaul nefue in a wae that damejd his filosofikal dignity as much as it delieted his boyish soel.

“Blest if she ain’t in silk from hed to fuut; ain’t it a relishin’ siet to see her settin’ thaer as fien as a fidl, and heer foeks cauling litl Amy ‘Mis. Laurence!’” muterd oeld Hannah, hoo cuud not rezist freeqent “peeks” thru th slied as she set th taebl in a moest desiededly promiscueus maner.

Mursy on us, how thae did tauk! furst wun, then th uther, then all burst out together—trieing to tel th history of three yeers in haf an our. It wuz forchunat that tee wuz at hand, to produess a lul and provied refreshment—for thae wuud hav bin horss and faent if thae had gon on much longger. Such a hapy proseshon as field awae into th litl diening room! Mr. March proudly escorted Mrs. Laurence. Mrs. March as proudly leend on th arm of ‘mi sun’. Th oeld jentlman tuuk Jo, with a whisperd, “U must be mi gurl now,” and a glanss at th empty corner bi th fier, that maed Jo whisper bak, “I’ll tri to fil her plaess, sur.”

Th twins pranst behiend, feeling that th milenium wuz at hand, for everywun wuz so bizy with th nuecumers that thae wer left to revel at thaer oen sweet wil, and U mae be shuur thae maed th moest of th oportuenity. Didn’t thae steel sips of tee, stuf jinjerbred ad libitum, get a hot biskit apeess, and as a crouning trespas, didn’t thae eech whisk a captivaeting litl tart into thaer tieny pokets, thaer to stik and crumbl treacherously, teeching them that boeth hueman naecher and a paestry ar frael? Burdend with th gilty conshusnes of th seqesterd tarts, and feering that Doedo’s sharp ies wuud peerss th thin disgiez of cambric and mereeno which hid thaer booty, th litl siners atacht themselvs to ‘Dranpa’, hoo hadn’t his spektakls on. Amy, hoo wuz handed about liek refreshments, returnd to th parlor on Faather Laurence’s arm. Th uthers paerd off as befor, and this araenjment left Jo companionless. She did not miend it at th mienuet, for she linggerd to anser Hannah’s eeger inqiery.

“Wil Mis Amy ried in her coop (coop), and uez all them luvly silver dishes that’s stord awae oever yander?”

“Shouldn’t wunder if she droev six whiet horses, aet off goeld plaet, and wor diemonds and pointer laess every dae. Teddy thinks nuthing too guud for her,” returnd Jo with infinit satisfakshon.

“No mor thaer is! Wil U hav hash or fishballs for brekfast?” askt Hannah, hoo wiezly minggld poeetry and proez.

“I doen’t caer,” and Jo shut th dor, feeling that food wuz an uncongenial topik just then. She stuud a mienuet luuking at th party vanishing abuv, and as Demi’s short plad legs toild up th last staer, a suden senss of loenlynes caem oever her so strongly that she luukt about her with dim ies, as if to fiend sumthing to leen upon, for eeven Teddy had dezurted her. If she had noen whot burthdae gift wuz cuming every mienuet neerer and neerer, she wuud not hav sed to herself, “I’ll weep a litl weep when I go to bed. It wun’t do to be dizmal now.” Then she droo her hand oever her ies, for wun of her boyish habits wuz never to noe whaer her hankerchif wuz, and had just manejd to caul up a smiel when thaer caem a nok at th porch dor.

She oepend with hospitabl haest, and started as if anuther goest had cum to serpriez her, for thaer stuud a taul beerded jentlman, beeming on her from th darknes liek a midniet sun.

“O, Mr. Bhaer, I am so glad to see U!” cried Jo, with a cluch, as if she feerd th niet wuud swaulo him up befor she cuud get him in.

“And I to see Mis Marsch, but no, U haf a party,” and th Profesor pauzd as th sound of voises and th tap of dansing feet caem doun to them.

“No, we haeven’t, oenly th family. Mi sister and frends hav just cum hoem, and we ar all verry hapy. Cum in, and maek wun of us.”

Tho a verry soeshal man, I think Mr. Bhaer wuud hav gon decorusly awae, and cum agen anuther dae, but how cuud he, when Jo shut th dor behiend him, and bereft him of his hat? Perhaps her faess had sumthing to do with it, for she forgot to hied her joy at seeing him, and shoed it with a franknes that proovd irezistibl to th solitaery man, hoos welcum far exseeded his boeldest hoeps.

“If I shal not be Mesyuur de Trop, I wil so gladly see them all. U haf bin il, mi frend?”

He puut th qeschon abruptly, for, as Jo hung up his coet, th liet fel on her faess, and he saw a chaenj in it.

“Not il, but tierd and sorroeful. We hav had trubl sinss I saw U last.”

“Aa, yes, I noe. Mi hart wuz sor for U when I hurd that,” and he shuuk hands agen, with such a simpathetik faess that Jo felt as if no cumfort cuud eeqal th luuk of th kiend ies, th grasp of th big, worm hand.

“Faather, Muther, this is mi frend, Profesor Bhaer,” she sed, with a faess and toen of such irepresibl pried and plezher that she miet as wel hav bloen a trumpet and oepend th dor with a flurish.

If th straenjer had eny douts about his resepshon, thae wer set at rest in a mienuet bi th corjal welcum he reseevd. Everywun greeted him kiendly, for Jo’s saek at furst, but verry soon thae liekt him for his oen. Thae cuud not help it, for he carryd th talisman that oepens all harts, and thees simpl peepl wormd to him at wunss, feeling eeven th mor frendly becauz he wuz puur. For poverty enriches thoes hoo liv abuv it, and is a shuur pasport to trooly hospitabl spirits. Mr. Bhaer sat luuking about him with th aer of a traveler hoo noks at a straenj dor, and when it oepens, fiends himself at hoem. Th children went to him liek bees to a honeypot, and establishing themselvs on eech nae, proseeded to captivaet him bi riefling his pokets, puuling his beerd, and investigaeting his woch, with jooveniel audasity. Th wimen telegraft thaer aprooval to wun anuther, and Mr. March, feeling that he had got a kindred spirit, oepend his choisest stors for his guessed’s benefit, whiel sielent John lisend and enjoyd th tauk, but sed not a wurd, and Mr. Laurence found it imposibl to go to sleep.

If Jo had not bin utherwiez engaejd, Laurie’s behaevyor wuud hav amuezd her, for a faent twinj, not of jelusy, but sumthing liek suspishon, cauzd that jentlman to stand aloof at furst, and obzurv th nuecumer with brutherly surcumspekshon. But it did not last long. He got interested in spiet of himself, and befor he nue it, wuz drawn into th surkl. For Mr. Bhaer taukt wel in this jeenial atmosfeer, and did himself justis. He seldom spoek to Laurie, but he luukt at him ofen, and a shado wuud pas acros his faess, as if regreting his oen lost yooth, as he wocht th yung man in his priem. Then his ies wuud turn to Jo so wistfuly that she wuud hav shuurly anserd th muet inqiery if she had seen it. But Jo had her oen ies to taek caer of, and feeling that thae cuud not be trusted, she proodently kept them on th litl sok she wuz niting, liek a model maeden ant.

A stelthy glanss now and then refresht her liek sips of fresh wauter after a dusty wauk, for th siedlong peeps shoed her several propishus oemens. Mr. Bhaer’s faess had lost th absent-miended expreshon, and luukt all aliev with interest in th prezent moement, akchualy yung and handsum, she thaut, forgeting to compaer him with Laurie, as she uezhualy did straenj men, to thaer graet detriment. Then he seemd qiet inspired, tho th berryal customs of th aenshents, to which th conversaeshon had straed, miet not be considerd an exilaraeting topik. Jo qiet gloed with trieumf when Teddy got qencht in an arguement, and thaut to herself, as she wocht her faather’s absorbd faess, “How he wuud enjoy having such a man as mi Profesor to tauk with every dae!” Lastly, Mr. Bhaer wuz drest in a nue soot of blak, which maed him luuk mor liek a jentlman than ever. His buushy haer had bin cut and smoothly brusht, but didn’t stae in order long, for in exsieting moements, he rumpld it up in th droel wae he uezd to do, and Jo liekt it rampantly erekt beter than flat, becauz she thaut it gaev his fien forhed a Jove-liek aspekt. Puur Jo, how she did glorifi that plaen man, as she sat niting awae so qieetly, yet leting nuthing escaep her, not eeven th fakt that Mr. Bhaer akchualy had goeld sleev-butons in his imacuelet ristbands.

“Deer oeld felo! He cuudn’t hav got himself up with mor caer if he'd bin going a-wooing,” sed Jo to herself, and then a suden thaut born of th wurds maed her blush so dredfuly that she had to drop her baul, and go doun after it to hied her faess.

Th manoover did not sukseed as wel as she expekted, however, for tho just in th akt of setting fier to a fueneral pier, th Profesor dropt his torch, metaforikaly speeking, and maed a diev after th litl bloo baul. Of corss thae bumpt thaer heds smartly together, saw stars, and boeth caem up flusht and lafing, without th baul, to rezoom thaer seets, wishing thae had not left them.

Noebody nue whaer th eevning went to, for Hannah skilfuly abstrakted th baebys at an urly our, noding liek too roezy pops, and Mr. Laurence went hoem to rest. Th uthers sat round th fier, tauking awae, uterly regardles of th laps of tiem, til Meg, hoos maturnal miend wuz imprest with a furm convikshon that Daezy had tumbld out of bed, and Demi set his nietgoun afier studying th strukcher of maches, maed a moov to go.

“We must hav our sing, in th guud oeld wae, for we ar all together agen wunss mor,” sed Jo, feeling that a guud shout wuud be a saef and plezant vent for th joobilant emoeshons of her soel.

Thae wer not all thaer. But no-wun found th wurds thautles or untroo, for Baet stil seemd amung them, a peesful prezenss, invizibl, but deerer than ever, sinss deth cuud not braek th hous-hoeld leeg that luv maed dissoluble. Th litl chaer stuud in its oeld plaess. Th tiedy basket, with th bit of wurk she left unfinisht when th needl groo ‘so hevy’, wuz stil on its acustomd shelf. Th beluved instrument, seldom tucht now had not bin moovd, and abuv it Baet’s faess, sereen and smieling, as in th urly daes, luukt doun upon them, seeming to sae, “Be hapy. I am heer.”

“Plae sumthing, Amy. Let them heer how much U hav improovd,” sed Laurie, with pardonable pried in his promising puepil.

But Amy whisperd, with fuul ies, as she twurld th faeded stool, “Not toniet, deer. I can’t sho off toniet.”

But she did sho sumthing beter than brilyansy or skil, for she sang Baet’s songs with a tender muezik in her vois which th best master cuud not hav taut, and tucht th lisener’s harts with a sweeter power than eny uther inspiraeshon cuud hav given her. Th room wuz verry stil, when th cleer vois faeld sudenly at th last lien of Baet’s faevorit him. It wuz hard to sae...

Urth hath no sorro that heven cannot heel;

and Amy leend agenst her huzband, hoo stuud behiend her, feeling that her welcum hoem wuz not qiet purfekt without Baet’s kis.

“Now, we must finish with Minyon's song, for Mr. Bhaer sings that,” sed Jo, befor th pauz groo paenful. And Mr. Bhaer cleerd his throet with a gratified “Hem!” as he stept into th corner whaer Jo stuud, saeing...

“U wil sing with me? We go exselently wel together.”

A pleezing fikshon, bi th wae, for Jo had no mor iedeea of muezik than a gras-hoper. But she wuud hav consented if he had propoezd to sing a hoel opera, and worbld awae, blisfuly regardles of tiem and tuen. It didn’t much mater, for Mr. Bhaer sang liek a troo Jurman, hartily and wel, and Jo soon subsieded into a subdued hum, that she miet lisen to th melo vois that seemd to sing for her aloen.

Noe’st thow th land whaer th citron blooms,

uezd to be th Profesor’s faevorit lien, for ‘das land’ ment Germany to him, but now he seemd to dwel, with pecueliar wormth and melody, upon th wurds...

Thaer, o thaer, miet I with thee,
O, mi beluved, go

and wun lisener wuz so thrild bi th tender invitaeshon that she longd to sae she did noe th land, and wuud joyfuly depart thither whenever he liekt.

Th song wuz considerd a graet suksess, and th singer retierd cuverd with lorels. But a fue minits afterward, he forgot his maners entierly, and staerd at Amy puuting on her bonet, for she had bin introduest simply as ‘mi sister’, and no-wun had cauld her bi her nue naem sinss he caem. He forgot himself stil further when Laurie sed, in his moest graeshus maner, at parting...

“Mi wief and I ar verry glad to meet U, sur. Pleez remember that thaer is aulwaes a welcum waeting for U oever th wae.”

Then th Profesor thankt him so hartily, and luukt so sudenly iloominaeted with satisfakshon, that Laurie thaut him th moest delietfuly demonstrativ oeld felo he ever met.

“I too shal go, but I shal gladly cum agen, if U wil gif me leev, deer madam, for a litl biznes in th sity wil keep me heer sum daes.”

He spoek to Mrs. March, but he luukt at Jo, and th muther’s vois gaev as corjal an asent as did th dauter’s ies, for Mrs. March wuz not so bliend to her children’s interest as Mrs. Moffat supoezd.

“I suspekt that is a wiez man,” remarkt Mr. March, with plasid satisfakshon, from th hearthrug, after th last guessed had gon.

“I noe he is a guud wun,” aded Mrs. March, with desieded aprooval, as she woond up th clok.

“I thaut U’d liek him,” wuz all Jo sed, as she slipt awae to her bed.

She wunderd whot th biznes wuz that braut Mr. Bhaer to th sity, and fienaly desieded that he had bin apointed to sum graet onor, sumwhaer, but had bin too modest to menshon th fakt. If she had seen his faess when, saef in his oen room, he luukt at th pikcher of a seveer and rijid yung laedy, with a guud deel of haer, hoo apeerd to be gaezing darkly into fuechuurity, it miet hav throen sum liet upon th subjekt, espeshaly when he turnd off th gas, and kist th pikcher in th dark.


“Pleez, Madam Muther, cuud U lend me mi wief for haf an our? Th lugej has cum, and I’ve bin maeking hae of Amy’s Paris fienery, trieing to fiend sum things I wont,” sed Laurie, cuming in th next dae to fiend Mrs. Laurence siting in her muther’s lap, as if being maed ‘th baeby’ agen.

“Surtenly. Go, deer, I forgot that U hav eny hoem but this,” and Mrs. March prest th whiet hand that wor th weding ring, as if asking pardon for her maturnal covetousness.

“I shouldn’t hav cum oever if I cuud hav helpt it, but I can’t get on without mi litl wuuman eny mor than a...”

“Wethercok can without th wiend,” sugjested Jo, as he pauzd for a simily. Jo had groen qiet her oen sausy self agen sinss Teddy caem hoem.

“Exaktly, for Amy keeps me pointing due west moest of th tiem, with oenly an ocaezhonal whiffle round to th south, and I haeven’t had an eesterly spel sinss I wuz marryd. Doen’t noe enything about th north, but am aultogether saloobrius and baamy, hae, mi laedy?”

“Luvly wether so far. I doen’t noe how long it wil last, but I’m not afraed of storms, for I’m lurning how to sael mi ship. Cum hoem, deer, and I’ll fiend yuur bootjak. I supoez that’s whot U ar rumejing after amung mi things. Men ar so helples, Muther,” sed Amy, with a maetronly aer, which delieted her huzband.

“Whot ar U going to do with yuurselvs after U get setld?” askt Jo, butoning Amy’s cloek as she uezd to buton her pinafores.

“We hav our plans. We doen’t meen to sae much about them yet, becauz we ar such verry nue brooms, but we doen’t intend to be iedl. I’m going into biznes with a devoeshon that shal deliet Grandfaather, and proov to him that I’m not spoild. I need sumthing of th sort to keep me stedy. I’m tierd of daudling, and meen to wurk liek a man.”

“And Amy, whot is she going to do?” askt Mrs. March, wel pleezd at Laurie’s desizhon and th enerjy with which he spoek.

“After dooing th sivil all round, and aering our best bonet, we shal astonish U bi th elegant hospitalitys of our manshon, th brilyant soesieety we shal draw about us, and th benefishal inflooenss we shal exurt oever th wurld at larj. That’s about it, isn’t it, Madam Recamier?” askt Laurie with a qizikal luuk at Amy.

“Tiem wil sho. Cum awae, Impurtinenss, and doen’t shok mi family bi cauling me naems befor thaer faeses,” anserd Amy, rezolving that thaer shuud be a hoem with a guud wief in it befor she set up a salon as a qeen of soesieety.

“How hapy thoes children seem together!” obzurvd Mr. March, fiending it dificult to becum absorbd in his Aristotle after th yung cupl had gon.

“Yes, and I think it wil last,” aded Mrs. March, with th restful expreshon of a pielot hoo has braut a ship saefly into port.

“I noe it wil. Hapy Amy!” and Jo sied, then smield brietly as Profesor Bhaer oepend th gaet with an impaeshent puush.

Laeter in th eevning, when his miend had bin set at rest about th bootjak, Laurie sed sudenly to his wief, “Mrs. Laurence.”

“Mi Lord!”

“That man intends to marry our Jo!”

“I hoep so, doen’t U, deer?”

“Wel, mi luv, I consider him a trump, in th fuulest senss of that expresiv wurd, but I do wish he wuz a litl yungger and a guud deel richer.”

“Now, Laurie, doen’t be too fastidius and wurldly-miended. If thae luv wun anuther it duzn’t mater a partikl how oeld thae ar nor how puur. Wimen never shuud marry for muny...” Amy caut herself up short as th wurds escaept her, and luukt at her huzband, hoo replied, with malishus gravity...

“Surtenly not, tho U do heer charming gurls sae that thae intend to do it sumtiems. If mi memory survs me, U wunss thaut it yuur duety to maek a rich mach. That acounts, perhaps, for yuur marrying a guud-for-nuthing liek me.”

“O, mi deerest boy, doen’t, doen’t sae that! I forgot U wer rich when I sed ‘Yes’. I’d hav marryd U if U hadn’t a peny, and I sumtiems wish U wer puur that I miet sho how much I luv U.” And Amy, hoo wuz verry dignified in publik and verry fond in prievat, gaev convinsing proofs of th trooth of her wurds.

“U doen’t reealy think I am such a mursenaery creecher as I tried to be wunss, do U? It wuud braek mi hart if U didn’t beleev that I’d gladly puul in th saem boet with U, eeven if U had to get yuur living bi roeing on th laek.”

“Am I an idiot and a broot? How cuud I think so, when U refuezd a richer man for me, and wun’t let me giv U haf I wont to now, when I hav th riet? Gurls do it every dae, puur things, and ar taut to think it is thaer oenly salvaeshon, but U had beter lesons, and tho I trembld for U at wun tiem, I wuz not disapointed, for th dauter wuz troo to th muther’s teeching. I toeld Maama so yesterdae, and she luukt as glad and graetful as if I’d given her a chek for a milyon, to be spent in charrity. U ar not lisening to mi moral remarks, Mrs. Laurence,” and Laurie pauzd, for Amy’s ies had an absent luuk, tho fixt upon his faess.

“Yes, I am, and admiering th moel in yuur chin at th saem tiem. I doen’t wish to maek U vaen, but I must confes that I’m plouder of mi handsum huzband than of all his muny. Doen’t laf, but yuur noez is such a cumfort to me,” and Amy softly carest th wel-cut feecher with artistik satisfakshon.

Laurie had reseevd meny compliments in his lief, but never wun that sooted him beter, as he plaenly shoed tho he did laf at his wief’s pecueliar taest, whiel she sed sloely, “Mae I ask U a qeschon, deer?”

“Of corss, U mae.”

“Shal U caer if Jo duz marry Mr. Bhaer?”

“O, that’s th trubl is it? I thaut thaer wuz sumthing in th dimpl that didn’t qiet soot U. Not being a dog in th maenjer, but th hapyest felo aliev, I ashuur U I can danss at Jo’s weding with a hart as liet as mi heels. Do U dout it, mi darling?”

Amy luukt up at him, and wuz satisfied. Her litl jelus feer vanisht forever, and she thankt him, with a faess fuul of luv and confidenss.

“I wish we cuud do sumthing for that capital oeld Profesor. Cuudn’t we invent a rich relaeshon, hoo shal obliejingly die out thaer in Germany, and leev him a tiedy litl forchun?” sed Laurie, when thae began to paess up and doun th long drawing room, arm in arm, as thae wer fond of dooing, in memory of th shatoe garden.

“Jo wuud fiend us out, and spoil it all. She is verry proud of him, just as he is, and sed yesterdae that she thaut poverty wuz a buetiful thing.”

“Bles her deer hart! She wun’t think so when she has a literaery huzband, and a duzen litl profesors and professorins to suport. We wun’t interfeer now, but woch our chanss, and do them a guud turn in spiet of themselvs. I oe Jo for a part of mi ejucaeshon, and she beleevs in peepl’s paeing thaer onest dets, so I’ll get round her in that wae.”

“How delietful it is to be aebl to help uthers, isn’t it? That wuz aulwaes wun of mi dreems, to hav th power of giving freely, and thanks to U, th dreem has cum troo.”

“Aa, we’l do qontitys of guud, wun’t we? Thaer’s wun sort of poverty that I particuelarly liek to help. Out-and-out begars get taeken caer of, but puur jentl foeks faer badly, becauz thae wun’t ask, and peepl doen’t daer to ofer charrity. Yet thaer ar a thouzand waes of helping them, if wun oenly noes how to do it so delicatly that it duz not ofend. I must sae, I liek to surv a decaed jentlman beter than a blarnerying begar. I supoez it’s rong, but I do, tho it is harder.”

“Becauz it taeks a jentlman to do it,” aded th uther member of th domestik admeraeshon soesieety.

“Thank U, I’m afraed I doen’t dezurv that prity compliment. But I wuz going to sae that whiel I wuz daudling about abraud, I saw a guud meny talented yung feloes maeking all sorts of sacrifieses, and enduuring reeal hardships, that thae miet reealiez thaer dreems. Splendid feloes, sum of them, wurking liek heeroes, puur and frendles, but so fuul of curej, paeshenss, and ambishon that I wuz ashaemd of mieself, and longd to giv them a riet guud lift. Thoes ar peepl hoom it’s a satisfakshon to help, for if thae'v got jeenyus, it’s an onor to be alowd to surv them, and not let it be lost or delaed for wont of fueel to keep th pot boiling. If thae haeven’t, it’s a plezher to cumfort th puur soels, and keep them from despaer when thae fiend it out.”

“Yes, indeed, and thaer’s anuther clas hoo can’t ask, and hoo sufer in sielenss. I noe sumthing of it, for I belongd to it befor U maed a prinsess of me, as th king duz th beggarmaid in th oeld story. Ambishus gurls hav a hard tiem, Laurie, and ofen hav to see yooth, helth, and preshus oportuenitys go by, just for wont of a litl help at th riet mienuet. Peepl hav bin verry kiend to me, and whenever I see gurls strugling along, as we uezd to do, I wont to puut out mi hand and help them, as I wuz helpt.”

“And so U shal, liek an aenjel as U ar!” cried Laurie, rezolving, with a glo of filanthropik zeel, to found and endow an institooshon for th expres benefit of yung wimen with artistik tendensys. “Rich peepl hav no riet to sit doun and enjoy themselvs, or let thaer muny acuemuelaet for uthers to waest. It’s not haf so sensibl to leev legasys when wun dies as it is to uez th muny wiezly whiel aliev, and enjoy maeking wun’s felo creechers hapy with it. We’l hav a guud tiem ourselvs, and ad an extra relish to our oen plezher by giving uther peepl a jenerus taest. Wil U be a litl Dorcas, going about emptying a big basket of cumforts, and filing it up with guud deeds?”

“With all mi hart, if U wil be a braev St. Martin, stoping as U ried galantly thru th wurld to shaer yuur cloek with th begar.”

“It’s a bargen, and we shal get th best of it!”

So th yung paer shuuk hands upon it, and then paest hapily on agen, feeling that thaer plezant hoem wuz mor homelike becauz thae hoept to brieten uther hoems, beleeving that thaer oen feet wuud wauk mor uprightly along th flowery path befor them, if thae smoothd ruf waes for uther feet, and feeling that thaer harts wer mor cloesly nit together bi a luv which cuud tenderly remember thoes les blest than thae.


I cannot feel that I hav dun mi duety as humbl historian of th March family, without devoeting at leest wun chapter to th too moest preshus and important members of it. Daezy and Demi had now arievd at yeers of discreshon, for in this fast aej baebys of three or foer asurt thaer riets, and get them, too, which is mor than meny of thaer elders do. If thaer ever wer a paer of twins in daenjer of being uterly spoild by adoraeshon, it wuz thees pratling Brookes. Of corss thae wer th moest remarkabl children ever born, as wil be shoen when I menshon that thae waukt at aet munths, taukt flooently at twelv munths, and at too yeers thae tuuk thaer plaeses at taebl, and behaevd with a proprieety which charmd all behoelders. At three, Daezy demanded a ‘needler’, and akchualy maed a bag with foer stiches in it. She liekwiez set up houskeeping in th siedbord, and manejd a miecroskopik cuuking stoev with a skil that braut teers of pried to Hannah’s ies, whiel Demi lurnd his leters with his grandfaather, hoo invented a nue moed of teeching th alfabet by forming leters with his arms and legs, thus uenieting jimnastiks for hed and heels. Th boy urly developt a mecanikal jeenyus which delieted his faather and distrakted his muther, for he tried to imitaet every masheen he saw, and kept th nursery in a caeotik condishon, with his ‘sewinsheen’, a misteerius strukcher of string, chaers, cloeths-pins, and spools, for wheels to go ‘woond and woond’. Aulso a basket hung oever th bak of a chaer, in which he vainly tried to hoist his too confieding sister, hoo, with feminine devoeshon, alowd her litl hed to be bumpt til rescued, when th yung inventor indignantly remarkt, “Whi, Marmar, dat’s mi lellywaiter, and me’s trieing to puul her up.”

Tho uterly unliek in carrakter, th twins got on remarkably wel together, and seldom qorreld mor than thriess a dae. Of corss, Demi tyrannized oever Daezy, and galantly defended her from every uther agresor, whiel Daezy maed a galy slaev of herself, and adord her bruther as th wun purfekt being in th wurld. A roezy, chuby, sunshiny litl soel wuz Daezy, hoo found her wae to evrybody’s hart, and nesld thaer. Wun of th captivaeting children, hoo seem maed to be kist and cudld, adornd and adord liek litl godeses, and produest for jeneral aprooval on all festiv ocaezhons. Her smaul vurchoos wer so sweet that she wuud hav bin qiet anjelik if a fue smaul naughtinesses had not kept her delietfuly hueman. It wuz all faer wether in her wurld, and every morning she scrambld up to th windo in her litl nietgoun to luuk out, and sae, no mater whether it raend or shoen, “O, pitty dae, o, pitty dae!” Everywun wuz a frend, and she oferd kises to a straenjer so confidingly that th moest inveterat bachelors relented, and baeby-luvers becaem faethful wurshipers.

“Me luvs evvybody,” she wunss sed, oepening her arms, with her spoon in wun hand, and her mug in th uther, as if eeger to embraess and nurish th hoel wurld.

As she groo, her muther began to feel that th Dovecote wuud be blest bi th prezenss of an inmaet as sereen and luving as that which had helpt to maek th oeld hous hoem, and to prae that she miet be spaerd a lost liek that which had laetly taut them how long thae had entertaend an aenjel unawaers. Her grandfaather ofen cauld her ‘Baet’, and her grandmuther wocht oever her with untiring devoeshon, as if trieing to atoen for sum past mistaek, which no ie but her oen cuud see.

Demi, liek a troo Yankee, wuz of an inqiering turn, wonting to noe everything, and ofen geting much disturbd becauz he cuud not get satisfaktory ansers to his perpechual “Whot for?”

He aulso pozest a filosofik bent, to th graet deliet of his grandfaather, hoo uezd to hoeld Socratik conversaeshons with him, in which th precoeshus puepil ocaezhonaly poezd his teecher, to th undisgiezd satisfakshon of th wimenfoek.

“Whot maeks mi legs go, Dranpa?” askt th yung filosofer, survaeing thoes aktiv porshons of his fraem with a meditaetiv aer, whiel resting after a go-to-bed frolik wun niet.

“It’s yuur litl miend, Demi,” replied th saej, stroeking th yelo hed respektfuly.

“Whot is a litl mien?”

“It is sumthing which maeks yuur body moov, as th spring maed th wheels go in mi woch when I shoed it to U.”

“Oepen me. I wont to see it go woond.”

“I can’t do that eny mor than U cuud oepen th woch. God wiends U up, and U go til He stops U.”

“Duz I?” and Demi’s broun ies groo big and briet as he tuuk in th nue thaut. “Is I woonded up liek th woch?”

“Yes, but I can’t sho U how, for it is dun when we doen’t see.”

Demi felt his bak, as if expekting to fiend it liek that of th woch, and then graevly remarkt, “I dess Dod duz it when I’s asleep.”

A caerful explanaeshon foloed, to which he lisend so atentivly that his ankshus grandmuther sed, “Mi deer, do U think it wiez to tauk about such things to that baeby? He's geting graet bumps oever his ies, and lurning to ask th moest unanserabl qeschons.”

“If he is oeld enuf to ask th qeschon he is oeld enuf to reseev troo ansers. I am not puuting th thauts into his hed, but helping him unfoeld thoes aulredy thaer. Thees children ar wiezer than we ar, and I hav no dout th boy understands every wurd I hav sed to him. Now, Demi, tel me whaer U keep yuur miend.”

If th boy had replied liek Alcibiades, “By th gods, Socrates, I cannot tel,” his grandfaather wuud not hav bin serpriezd, but when, after standing a moement on wun leg, liek a meditaetiv yung stork, he anserd, in a toen of caam convikshon, “In mi litl bely,” th oeld jentlman cuud oenly join in Grandmaa’s laf, and dismis th clas in metafiziks.

Thaer miet hav bin cauz for maturnal angzieity, if Demi had not given convinsing proofs that he wuz a troo boy, as wel as a buding filosofer, for ofen, after a discushon which cauzd Hannah to profesy, with ominus nods, “That chield ain’t long for this wurld,” he wuud turn about and set her feers at rest bi sum of th pranks with which deer, durty, nauty litl rascals distrakt and deliet thaer paerent’s soels.

Meg maed meny moral rools, and tried to keep them, but whot muther wuz ever proof agenst th wining wiels, th injeenius evaezhons, or th tranqil audasity of th miniacher men and wimen hoo so urly sho themselvs acomplisht Artful Dojers?

“No mor raezins, Demi. Thae’l maek U sik,” sez Maama to th yung purson hoo ofers his survises in th kichen with unfaeling reguelarrity on plum-puuding dae.

“Me lieks to be sik.”

“I doen’t wont to hav U, so run awae and help Daezy maek patty caeks.”

He reluktantly departs, but his rongs wae upon his spirit, and bi-and-bi when an oportuenity cums to redres them, he outwits Maama bi a shrood bargen.

“Now U hav bin guud children, and I’ll plae enything U liek,” sez Meg, as she leeds her asistant cuuks upstaers, when th puuding is saefly bounsing in th pot.

“Trooly, Marmar?” asks Demi, with a brilyant iedeea in his wel-pouderd hed.

“Yes, trooly. Enything U sae,” replies th shortsieted paerent, prepaering herself to sing, “Th Three Litl Kitens” haf a duzen tiems oever, or to taek her family to “Bie a peny bun,” regardles of wiend or lim. But Demi corners her bi th cool replie...

“Then we’l go and eet up all th raezins.”

Ant Doedo wuz cheef plaemaet and confidaant of boeth children, and th treeo turnd th litl hous topsy-turvy. Ant Amy wuz as yet oenly a naem to them, Ant Baet soon faeded into a plezantly vaeg memory, but Ant Doedo wuz a living reality, and thae maed th moest of her, for which compliment she wuz deeply graetful. But when Mr. Bhaer caem, Jo neglekted her playfellows, and dismae and desolaeshon fel upon thaer litl soels. Daezy, hoo wuz fond of going about pedling kises, lost her best customer and becaem bankrupt. Demi, with infantiel penetraeshon, soon discuverd that Doedo liek to plae with ‘th baer-man’ beter than she did him, but tho hurt, he conseeld his anggwish, for he hadn’t th hart to insult a rieval hoo kept a mien of chocolat drops in his waestcoet poket, and a woch that cuud be taeken out of its caess and freely shaeken bi ardent admierers.

Sum pursons miet hav considerd thees pleezing libertys as briebs, but Demi didn’t see it in that liet, and continued to paetroniez th ‘th baer-man’ with pensiv afability, whiel Daezy bestoed her smaul afekshons upon him at th thurd caul, and considerd his shoelder her throen, his arm her refuej, his gifts trezhers serpasing wurth.

Jentlmen ar sumtiems seezd with suden fits of admeraeshon for th yung relativs of laedys hoom thae onor with thaer regard, but this counterfit philoprogenitiveness sits uneezily upon them, and duz not deseev enybody a partikl. Mr. Bhaer’s devoeshon wuz sinseer, however liekwiez efektiv—for onesty is th best polisy in luv as in law. He wuz wun of th men hoo ar at hoem with children, and luukt particuelarly wel when litl faeses maed a plezant contrast with his manly wun. His biznes, whotever it wuz, detaend him from dae to dae, but eevning seldom faeld to bring him out to see—wel, he aulwaes askt for Mr. March, so I supoez he wuz th atrakshon. Th exselent paapa laebord under th deloozhon that he wuz, and reveld in long discushons with th kindred spirit, til a chanss remark of his mor obzurving grandson sudenly enlietend him.

Mr. Bhaer caem in wun eevning to pauz on th threshhoeld of th study, astonisht bi th spektakl that met his ie. Proen upon th flor lae Mr. March, with his respektabl legs in th aer, and besied him, liekwiez proen, wuz Demi, trieing to imitaet th atitued with his oen short, scarlet-stockinged legs, boeth grovelers so seeriusly absorbd that thae wer unconshus of spektaetors, til Mr. Bhaer laft his sonorus laf, and Jo cried out, with a scandaliezd faess...

“Faather, Faather, heer’s th Profesor!”

Doun went th blak legs and up caem th grae hed, as th preseptor sed, with undisturbd dignity, “Guud eevning, Mr. Bhaer. Excuez me for a moement. We ar just finishing our leson. Now, Demi, maek th leter and tel its naem.”

“I noes him!” and, after a fue convulsiv eforts, th red legs tuuk th shaep of a paer of compases, and th intelijent puepil trieumfantly shouted, “It’s a We, Dranpa, it’s a We!”

“He's a born Weller,” laft Jo, as her paerent gatherd himself up, and her nefue tried to stand on his hed, as th oenly moed of expresing his satisfakshon that scool wuz oever.

“Whot hav U bin at todae, bubchen?” askt Mr. Bhaer, piking up th jimnast.

“Me went to see litl Mary.”

“And whot did U thaer?”

“I kist her,” began Demi, with artles franknes.

“Prut! Thow beginnest urly. Whot did th litl Mary sae to that?” askt Mr. Bhaer, continueing to confes th yung siner, hoo stuud upon th nae, exploring th waestcoet poket.

“O, she liekt it, and she kist me, and I liekt it. Doen’t litl boys liek litl gurls?” askt Demi, with his mouth fuul, and an aer of bland satisfakshon.

“U precoeshus chik! Hoo puut that into yuur hed?” sed Jo, enjoying th inosent revelaeshon as much as th Profesor.

“’Tisn’t in mien hed, it’s in mien mouf,” anserd literal Demi, puuting out his tung, with a chocolat drop on it, thinking she alooded to confekshonaery, not iedeeas.

“Thow shouldst saev sum for th litl frend. Sweets to th sweet, mannling,” and Mr. Bhaer oferd Jo sum, with a luuk that maed her wunder if chocolat wuz not th nektar drunk bi th gods. Demi aulso saw th smiel, wuz imprest bi it, and artlessy inqierd. ..

“Do graet boys liek graet gurls, to, ’Fessor?”

Liek yung Washington, Mr. Bhaer ‘cuudn’t tel a lie’, so he gaev th sumwhot vaeg replie that he beleevd thae did sumtiems, in a toen that maed Mr. March puut doun his clothesbrush, glanss at Jo’s retiering faess, and then sink into his chaer, luuking as if th ‘precoeshus chik’ had puut an iedeea into his hed that wuz boeth sweet and sour.

Whi Doedo, when she caut him in th chiena clozet haf an our afterward, neerly sqeezd th breth out of his litl body with a tender embraess, insted of shaeking him for being thaer, and whi she foloed up this novel performanss by th unexpekted gift of a big sliess of bred and jely, remaend wun of th problems oever which Demi puzld his smaul wits, and wuz forst to leev unsolvd forever.

UNDER Th Umbrela

Whiel Laurie and Amy wer taeking conjugal stroels oever velvet carpets, as thae set thaer hous in order, and pland a blisful fuecher, Mr. Bhaer and Jo wer enjoying promenades of a diferent sort, along mudy roeds and soden feelds.

“I aulwaes do taek a wauk tord eevning, and I doen’t noe whi I shuud giv it up, just becauz I hapen to meet th Profesor on his wae out,” sed Jo to herself, after too or three encounters, for tho thaer wer too paths to Meg’s whichever wun she tuuk she wuz shuur to meet him, eether going or returning. He wuz aulwaes wauking rapidly, and never seemd to see her until qiet cloez, when he wuud luuk as if his short-sieted ies had faeld to recogniez th aproeching laedy til that moement. Then, if she wuz going to Meg’s he aulwaes had sumthing for th baebys. If her faess wuz turnd hoemward, he had meerly stroeld doun to see th river, and wuz just returning, unles thae wer tierd of his freeqent cauls.

Under th surcumstanses, whot cuud Jo do but greet him sivily, and inviet him in? If she wuz tierd of his vizits, she conseeld her weerynes with purfekt skil, and tuuk caer that thaer shuud be cofy for super, “as Friedrich—I meen Mr. Bhaer—duzn’t liek tee.”

Bi th second week, everywun nue purfektly wel whot wuz going on, yet everywun tried to luuk as if thae wer stoen-bliend to th chaenjes in Jo’s faess. Thae never askt whi she sang about her wurk, did up her haer three tiems a dae, and got so blooming with her eevning exsersiez. And no-wun seemd to hav th slietest suspishon that Profesor Bhaer, whiel tauking filosofy with th faather, wuz giving th dauter lesons in luv.

Jo cuudn’t eeven looz her hart in a decorus maner, but sturnly tried to qench her feelings, and faeling to do so, led a sumwhot ajitaeted lief. She wuz mortaly afraed of being laft at for serendering, after her meny and vee’ement declaeraeshons of independenss. Laurie wuz her espeshal dred, but thanks to th nue manejer, he behaevd with praezwurthy proprieety, never cauld Mr. Bhaer ‘a capital oeld felo’ in publik, never alooded, in th remoetest maner, to Jo’s improovd apeeranss, or exprest th leest serpriez at seeing th Profesor’s hat on th Marches’ taebl neerly every eevning. But he exulted in prievat and longd for th tiem to cum when he cuud giv Jo a peess of plaet, with a baer and a raged staf on it as an aproepriat coet of arms.

For a fortniet, th Profesor caem and went with luver-liek reguelarrity. Then he staed awae for three hoel daes, and maed no sien, a proseeding which cauzd evrybody to luuk soeber, and Jo to becum pensiv, at furst, and then—alas for roemanss—verry cros.

“Disgusted, I daer sae, and gon hoem as sudenly as he caem. It’s nuthing to me, of corss, but I shuud think he wuud hav cum and bid us guudbi liek a jentlman,” she sed to herself, with a despaering luuk at th gaet, as she puut on her things for th customaery wauk wun dul afternoon.

“U’d beter taek th litl umbrela, deer. It luuks liek raen,” sed her muther, obzurving that she had on her nue bonet, but not alooding to th fakt.

“Yes, Marmee, do U wont enything in toun? I’ve got to run in and get sum paeper,” returnd Jo, puuling out th boe under her chin befor th glas as an excuez for not luuking at her muther.

“Yes, I wont sum twilled silesia, a paeper of number nien needls, and too yards of narro lavender ribon. Hav U got yuur thik boots on, and sumthing worm under yuur cloek?”

“I beleev so,” anserd Jo absently.

“If U hapen to meet Mr. Bhaer, bring him hoem to tee. I qiet long to see th deer man,” aded Mrs. March.

Jo hurd that, but maed no anser, exsept to kis her muther, and wauk rapidly awae, thinking with a glo of gratitood, in spiet of her hartaek, “How guud she is to me! Whot do gurls do hoo haeven’t eny muthers to help them thru thaer trubls?”

Th dri-guuds stors wer not doun amung th counting-houses, banks, and hoelsael waer-rooms, whaer jentlmen moest do congregaet, but Jo found herself in that part of th sity befor she did a singgl errand, loitering along as if waeting for sumwun, examining enjineering instruments in wun windo and sampls of wuul in anuther, with moest unfeminine interest, tumbling oever barrels, being haf-smutherd bi desending baels, and husld unseremoeniusly bi bizy men hoo luukt as if thae wunderd ‘how th dooss she got thaer’. A drop of raen on her cheek recauld her thauts from bafld hoeps to rooind ribons. For th drops continued to faul, and being a wuuman as wel as a luver, she felt that, tho it wuz too laet to saev her hart, she miet her bonet. Now she rememberd th litl umbrela, which she had forgoten to taek in her hurry to be off, but regret wuz unavaeling, and nuthing cuud be dun but borro wun or submit to a drenching. She luukt up at th loeering ski, doun at th crimson boe aulredy flekt with blak, forward along th mudy street, then wun long, linggering luuk behiend, at a surten griemy waerhous, with ‘Hoffmann, Swartz, & Co.’ oever th dor, and sed to herself, with a sturnly reproechful aer...

“It survs me riet! whot biznes had I to puut on all mi best things and cum filandering doun heer, hoeping to see th Profesor? Jo, I’m ashaemd of U! No, U shal not go thaer to borro an umbrela, or fiend out whaer he is, from his frends. U shal truj awae, and do yuur errands in th raen, and if U cach yuur deth and rooin yuur bonet, it’s no mor than U dezurv. Now then!”

With that she rusht acros th street so impechu’usly that she narroely escaept anieilaeshon from a pasing truk, and presipitaeted herself into th arms of a staetly oeld jentlman, hoo sed, “I beg pardon, maa’am,” and luukt mortaly ofended. Sumwhot daunted, Jo rieted herself, spred her hankerchif oever th devoeted ribons, and puuting temptaeshon behiend her, huryd on, with increesing dampnes about th ankls, and much clashing of umbrelas oeverhed. Th fakt that a sumwhot dilapidaeted bloo wun remaend staeshonaery abuv th unproetekted bonet atrakted her atenshon, and luuking up, she saw Mr. Bhaer luuking doun.

“I feel to noe th strong-miended laedy hoo goes so braevly under meny horss noezes, and so fast thru much mud. Whot do U doun heer, mi frend?”

“I’m shoping.”

Mr. Bhaer smield, as he glanst from th pikl faktory on wun sied to th hoelsael hied and lether consurn on th uther, but he oenly sed polietly, “U haf no umbrela. Mae I go aulso, and taek for U th bundls?”

“Yes, thank U.”

Jo’s cheeks wer as red as her ribon, and she wunderd whot he thaut of her, but she didn’t caer, for in a mienuet she found herself wauking awae arm in arm with her Profesor, feeling as if th sun had sudenly burst out with uncomon brilyansy, that th wurld wuz all riet agen, and that wun thuroely hapy wuuman wuz padling thru th wet that dae.

“We thaut U had gon,” sed Jo haestily, for she nue he wuz luuking at her. Her bonet wuzn’t big enuf to hied her faess, and she feerd he miet think th joy it betraed unmaidenly.

“Did U beleev that I shuud go with no faerwel to thoes hoo haf bin so hevenly kiend to me?” he askt so reproechfuly that she felt as if she had insulted him bi th sugjeschon, and anserd hartily...

“No, I didn’t. I nue U wer bizy about yuur oen afaers, but we rather mist U, Faather and Muther espeshaly.”

“And U?”

“I’m aulwaes glad to see U, sur.”

In her angzieity to keep her vois qiet caam, Jo maed it rather cool, and th frosty litl monosilabl at th end seemd to chil th Profesor, for his smiel vanisht, as he sed graevly...

“I thank U, and cum wun mor tiem befor I go.”

“U ar going, then?”

“I haf no longger eny biznes heer, it is dun.”

“Suksesfuly, I hoep?” sed Jo, for th biternes of disapointment wuz in that short replie of his.

“I aut to think so, for I haf a wae oepend to me bi which I can maek mi bred and gif mi Junglings much help.”

“Tel me, pleez! I liek to noe all about th—th boys,” sed Jo eegerly.

“That is so kiend, I gladly tel U. Mi frends fiend for me a plaess in a colej, whaer I teech as at hoem, and urn enuf to maek th wae smooth for Franz and Emil. For this I shuud be graetful, shuud I not?”

“Indeed U shuud. How splendid it wil be to hav U dooing whot U liek, and be aebl to see U ofen, and th boys!” cried Jo, clinging to th lads as an excuez for th satisfakshon she cuud not help betraeing.

“Aa! But we shal not meet ofen, I feer, this plaess is at th West.”

“So far awae!” and Jo left her scurts to thaer faet, as if it didn’t mater now whot becaem of her cloeths or herself.

Mr. Bhaer cuud red several langgwejes, but he had not lurnd to red wimen yet. He flaterd himself that he nue Jo prity wel, and wuz, thaerfor, much amaezd bi th contradikshons of vois, faess, and maner, which she shoed him in rapid sukseshon that dae, for she wuz in haf a duzen diferent moods in th corss of haf an our. When she met him she luukt serpriezd, tho it wuz imposibl to help suspekting that she had cum for that expres purpos. When he oferd her his arm, she tuuk it with a luuk that fild him with deliet, but when he askt if she mist him, she gaev such a chily, formal replie that despaer fel upon him. On lurning his guud forchun she aulmoest clapt her hands. Wuz th joy all for th boys? Then on heering his destinaeshon, she sed, “So far awae!” in a toen of despaer that lifted him on to a pinakl of hoep, but th next mienuet she tumbld him doun agen bi obzurving, liek wun entierly absorbd in th mater...

“Heer’s th plaess for mi errands. Wil U cum in? It wun’t taek long.”

Jo rather prieded herself upon her shoping caepabilitys, and particuelarly wisht to impres her escort with th neetnes and dispach with which she wuud acomplish th biznes. But oeing to th fluter she wuz in, everything went amis. She upset th trae of needls, forgot th silesia wuz to be ‘twilled’ til it wuz cut off, gaev th rong chaenj, and cuverd herself with confuezhon by asking for lavender ribon at th calico counter. Mr. Bhaer stuud by, woching her blush and blunder, and as he wocht, his oen bewilderment seemd to subsied, for he wuz begining to see that on sum ocaezhons, wimen, liek dreems, go by contraries.

When thae caem out, he puut th parsel under his arm with a mor cheerful aspekt, and splasht thru th pudls as if he rather enjoyd it on th hoel.

“Shuud we no do a litl whot U caul shoping for th baebys, and haf a faerwel feest toniet if I go for mi last caul at yuur so plezant hoem?” he askt, stoping befor a windo fuul of froot and flowers.

“Whot wil we bie?” askt Jo, ignoring th later part of his speech, and snifing th minggld oedors with an afektaeshon of deliet as thae went in.

“Mae thae haf orenjes and figs?” askt Mr. Bhaer, with a paturnal aer.

“Thae eet them when thae can get them.”

“Do U caer for nuts?”

“Liek a squrel.”

“Hamburg graeps. Yes, we shal drink to th Faatherland in thoes?”

Jo fround upon that peess of extravaganss, and askt whi he didn’t bie a frael of daets, a cask of raezins, and a bag of aamunds, and be dun with it? Whaerat Mr. Bhaer confiscaeted her purss, produest his oen, and finisht th marketing bi bieing several pounds of graeps, a pot of roezy daezys, and a prity jar of huny, to be regarded in th liet of a demijon. Then distorting his pokets with noby bundls, and giving her th flowers to hoeld, he puut up th oeld umbrela, and thae traveld on agen.

“Mis Marsch, I haf a graet faevor to ask of U,” began th Profesor, after a moist promenaed of haf a blok.

“Yes, sur?” and Jo’s hart began to beet so hard she wuz afraed he wuud heer it.

“I am boeld to sae it in spiet of th raen, becauz so short a tiem remaens to me.”

“Yes, sur,” and Jo neerly crusht th smaul flowerpot with th suden sqeez she gaev it.

“I wish to get a litl dres for mi Tina, and I am too stoopid to go aloen. Wil U kiendly gif me a wurd of taest and help?”

“Yes, sur,” and Jo felt as caam and cool all of a suden as if she had stept into a refrijeraetor.

“Perhaps aulso a shaul for Tina’s muther, she is so puur and sik, and th huzband is such a caer. Yes, yes, a thik, worm shaul wuud be a frendly thing to taek th litl muther.”

“I’ll do it with plezher, Mr. Bhaer.” “I’m going verry fast, and he's geting deerer every mienuet,” aded Jo to herself, then with a mental shaek she enterd into th biznes with an enerjy that wuz plezant to behoeld.

Mr. Bhaer left it all to her, so she choez a prity goun for Tina, and then orderd out th shauls. Th clurk, being a marryd man, condescended to taek an interest in th cupl, hoo apeerd to be shoping for thaer family.

“Yuur laedy mae prefur this. It’s a supeerior artikl, a moest dezierabl culor, qiet chast and jenteel,” he sed, shaeking out a cumfortabl grae shaul, and throeing it oever Jo’s shoelders.

“Duz this soot U, Mr. Bhaer?” she askt, turning her bak to him, and feeling deeply graetful for th chanss of hieding her faess.

“Exselently wel, we wil haf it,” anserd th Profesor, smieling to himself as he paed for it, whiel Jo continued to rumej th counters liek a confurmd bargen-hunter.

“Now shal we go hoem?” he askt, as if th wurds wer verry plezant to him.

“Yes, it’s laet, and I’m so tierd.” Jo’s vois wuz mor pathetik than she nue. For now th sun seemd to hav gon in as sudenly as it caem out, and th wurld groo mudy and mizerabl agen, and for th furst tiem she discuverd that her feet wer coeld, her hed aekt, and that her hart wuz coelder than th former, fuuler of paen than th later. Mr. Bhaer wuz going awae, he oenly caerd for her as a frend, it wuz all a mistaek, and th sooner it wuz oever th beter. With this iedeea in her hed, she haeld an aproeching omnibus with such a hasty jescher that th daezys floo out of th pot and wer badly damejd.

“This is not our omniboos,” sed th Profesor, waeving th loeded veeikl awae, and stoping to pik up th puur litl flowers.

“I beg yuur pardon. I didn’t see th naem distinktly. Never miend, I can wauk. I’m uezd to ploding in th mud,” returnd Jo, winking hard, becauz she wuud hav died rather than oepenly wiep her ies.

Mr. Bhaer saw th drops on her cheeks, tho she turnd her hed awae. Th siet seemd to tuch him verry much, for sudenly stooping doun, he askt in a toen that ment a graet deel, “Hart’s deerest, whi do U cri?”

Now, if Jo had not bin nue to this sort of thing she wuud hav sed she wuzn’t crieing, had a coeld in her hed, or toeld eny uther feminine fib proper to th ocaezhon. Insted of which, that undignified creecher anserd, with an irepresibl sob, “Becauz U ar going awae.”

“Aakh, mein Gott, that is so guud!” cried Mr. Bhaer, manejing to clasp his hands in spiet of th umbrela and th bundls, “Jo, I haf nuthing but much luv to gif U. I caem to see if U cuud caer for it, and I waeted to be shuur that I wuz sumthing mor than a frend. Am I? Can U maek a litl plaess in yuur hart for oeld Fritz?” he aded, all in wun breth.

“O, yes!” sed Jo, and he wuz qiet satisfied, for she foelded boeth hands oever his arm, and luukt up at him with an expreshon that plaenly shoed how hapy she wuud be to wauk thru lief besied him, eeven tho she had no beter shelter than th oeld umbrela, if he carryd it.

It wuz surtenly propoezing under dificultys, for eeven if he had dezierd to do so, Mr. Bhaer cuud not go doun upon his nees, on acount of th mud. Neether cuud he ofer Jo his hand, exsept figerativly, for boeth wer fuul. Much les cuud he indulj in tender remonstraeshons in th oepen street, tho he wuz neer it. So th oenly wae in which he cuud expres his rapcher wuz to luuk at her, with an expreshon which glorified his faess to such a degree that thaer akchualy seemd to be litl raenboes in th drops that sparkld on his beerd. If he had not luvd Jo verry much, I doen’t think he cuud hav dun it then, for she luukt far from luvly, with her scurts in a deplorabl staet, her ruber boots splasht to th ankl, and her bonet a rooin. Forchunatly, Mr. Bhaer considerd her th moest buetiful wuuman living, and she found him mor “Jove-liek” than ever, tho his hatbrim wuz qiet limp with th litl rills trikling thenss upon his shoelders (for he held th umbrela all oever Jo), and every fingger of his gluvs needed mending.

Pasers-bi probably thaut them a paer of harmles loonatiks, for thae entierly forgot to hael a bus, and stroeld leezherly along, oblivius of deepening dusk and fog. Litl thae caerd whot enybody thaut, for thae wer enjoying th hapy our that seldom cums but wunss in eny lief, th majikal moement which bestoes yooth on th oeld, buety on th plaen, welth on th puur, and givs hueman harts a fortaest of heven. Th Profesor luukt as if he had conkerd a kingdom, and th wurld had nuthing mor to ofer him in th wae of blis. Whiel Jo trujd besied him, feeling as if her plaess had aulwaes bin thaer, and wundering how she ever cuud hav choezen eny uther lot. Of corss, she wuz th furst to speek—intelijibly, I meen, for th emoeshonal remarks which foloed her impechu’us “O, yes!” wer not of a coeheerent or reportabl carrakter.

“Friedrich, whi didn’t U...”

“Aa, heven, she gifs me th naem that no-wun speeks sinss Minna died!” cried th Profesor, pauzing in a pudl to regard her with graetful deliet.

“I aulwaes caul U so to mieself—I forgot, but I wun’t unles U liek it.”

“Liek it? It is mor sweet to me than I can tel. Sae ‘thow’, aulso, and I shal sae yuur langgwej is aulmoest as buetiful as mien.”

“Isn’t ‘thow’ a litl sentimental?” askt Jo, prievatly thinking it a luvly monosilabl.

“Sentimental? Yes. Thank Gott, we Jurmans beleev in sentiment, and keep ourselvs yung mit it. Yuur Inglish ‘U’ is so coeld, sae ‘thow’, hart’s deerest, it meens so much to me,” pleeded Mr. Bhaer, mor liek a roemantik stoodent than a graev profesor.

“Wel, then, whi didn’t thow tel me all this sooner?” askt Jo bashfuly.

“Now I shal haf to sho thee all mi hart, and I so gladly wil, becauz thow must taek caer of it heerafter. See, then, mi Jo—aa, th deer, funy litl naem—I had a wish to tel sumthing th dae I sed guudbi in Nue York, but I thaut th handsum frend wuz betroethd to thee, and so I spoek not. Wouldst thow hav sed ‘Yes’, then, if I had spoeken?”

“I doen’t noe. I’m afraed not, for I didn’t hav eny hart just then.”

“Prut! That I do not beleev. It wuz asleep til th faery prinss caem thru th wuud, and waekt it up. Aa, wel, ‘Die erste Liebe ist die beste’, but that I shuud not expekt.”

“Yes, th furst luv is th best, but be so contented, for I never had anuther. Teddy wuz oenly a boy, and soon got oever his litl fansy,” sed Jo, ankshus to corekt th Profesor’s mistaek.

“Guud! Then I shal rest hapy, and be shuur that thow givest me all. I haf waeted so long, I am groen selfish, as thow wilt fiend, Professorin.”

“I liek that,” cried Jo, delieted with her nue naem. “Now tel me whot braut U, at last, just when I wonted U?”

“This,” and Mr. Bhaer tuuk a litl worn paeper out of his waestcoet poket.

Jo unfoelded it, and luukt much abasht, for it wuz wun of her oen contribueshons to a paeper that paed for poeetry, which acounted for her sending it an ocaezhonal atempt.

“How cuud that bring U?” she askt, wundering whot he ment.

“I found it bi chanss. I nue it bi th naems and th inishals, and in it thaer wuz wun litl vurss that seemd to caul me. Red and fiend him. I wil see that U go not in th wet.”


Foer litl chests all in a roe,
Dim with dust, and worn bi tiem,
All fashond and fild, long ago,
Bi children now in thaer priem.
Foer litl kees hung sied bi sied,
With faeded ribons, braev and gae
When fasend thaer, with chieldish pried,
Long ago, on a raeny dae.
Foer litl naems, wun on eech lid,
Carvd out bi a boyish hand,
And underneeth thaer lieth hid
Historys of th hapy band
Wunss plaeing heer, and pauzing oft
To heer th sweet refraen,
That caem and went on th roof aloft,
In th fauling sumer raen.

“Meg” on th furst lid, smooth and faer.
I luuk in with luving ies,
For foelded heer, with wel-noen caer,
A guudly gathering lies,
Th record of a peesful lief—
Gifts to jentl chield and gurl,
A briedal goun, liens to a wief,
A tieny shoo, a baeby curl.
No toys in this furst chest remaen,
For all ar carryd awae,
In thaer oeld aej, to join agen
In anuther smaul Meg’s plae.
Aa, hapy muther! Wel I noe
U heer, liek a sweet refraen,
Lulabies ever soft and loe
In th fauling sumer raen.

“Jo” on th next lid, scracht and worn,
And within a motly stor
Of hedles dols, of scoolbuuks torn,
Burds and beests that speek no mor,
Spoils braut hoem from th faery ground
Oenly trod bi yoothful feet,
Dreems of a fuecher never found,
Memorys of a past stil sweet,
Haf-rit poeems, storys wield,
April leters, worm and coeld,
Diearys of a wilful chield,
Hints of a wuuman urly oeld,
A wuuman in a loenly hoem,
Heering, liek a sad refraen—
“Be wurthy, luv, and luv wil cum,”
In th fauling sumer raen.

Mi Baet! th dust is aulwaes swept
From th lid that baers yuur naem,
As if bi luving ies that wept,
Bi caerful hands that ofen caem.
Deth canoniezd for us wun saent,
Ever les hueman than divien,
And stil we lae, with tender plaint,
Reliks in this hous-hoeld shrien—
Th silver bel, so seldom rung,
Th litl cap which last she wor,
Th faer, ded Catherine that hung
Bi aenjels born abuv her dor.
Th songs she sang, without lament,
In her prizon-hous of paen,
Forever ar thae sweetly blent
With th fauling sumer raen.

Upon th last lid's polisht feeld—
Lejend now boeth faer and troo
A galant niet baers on his sheeld,
“Amy” in leters goeld and bloo.
Within lie snoods that bound her haer,
Slipers that hav danst thaer last,
Faeded flowers laed bi with caer,
Fans hoos aery toils ar past,
Gae valentiens, all ardent flaems,
Triefls that hav born thaer part
In gurlish hoeps and feers and shaems,
Th record of a maeden hart
Now lurning faerer, trooer spels,
Heering, liek a blieth refraen,
Th silver sound of briedal bels
In th fauling sumer raen.

Foer litl chests all in a roe,
Dim with dust, and worn bi tiem,
Foer wimen, taut bi weel and wo
To luv and laebor in thaer priem.
Foer sisters, parted for an our,
Nun lost, wun oenly gon befor,
Maed bi luv's immortal power,
Neerest and deerest evermor.
O, when thees hiden stors of ours
Lie oepen to th Faather’s siet,
Mae thae be rich in goelden ours,
Deeds that sho faerer for th liet,
Lievs hoos braev muezik long shal ring,
Liek a spirit-sturing straen,
Soels that shal gladly sor and sing
In th long sunshien after raen.

“It’s verry bad poeetry, but I felt it when I roet it, wun dae when I wuz verry loenly, and had a guud cri on a rag bag. I never thaut it wuud go whaer it cuud tel taels,” sed Jo, teering up th vurses th Profesor had trezherd so long.

“Let it go, it has dun its duety, and I wil haf a fresh wun when I red all th broun buuk in which she keeps her litl seecrets,” sed Mr. Bhaer with a smiel as he wocht th fragments fli awae on th wiend. “Yes,” he aded urnestly, “I red that, and I think to mieself, She has a sorro, she is loenly, she wuud fiend cumfort in troo luv. I haf a hart fuul, fuul for her. Shal I not go and sae, ‘If this is not too puur a thing to gif for whot I shal hoep to reseev, taek it in Gott’s naem?’”

“And so U caem to fiend that it wuz not too puur, but th wun preshus thing I needed,” whisperd Jo.

“I had no curej to think that at furst, hevenly kiend as wuz yuur welcum to me. But soon I began to hoep, and then I sed, ‘I wil haf her if I die for it,’ and so I wil!” cried Mr. Bhaer, with a defieant nod, as if th wauls of mist cloezing round them wer barryers which he wuz to sermount or valiantly nok doun.

Jo thaut that wuz splendid, and rezolvd to be wurthy of her niet, tho he did not cum pransing on a charjer in gorjus arae.

“Whot maed U stae awae so long?” she askt prezently, fiending it so plezant to ask confidenshal qeschons and get delietful ansers that she cuud not keep sielent.

“It wuz not eezy, but I cuud not fiend th hart to taek U from that so hapy hoem until I cuud haf a prospekt of wun to gif U, after much tiem, perhaps, and hard wurk. How cuud I ask U to gif up so much for a puur oeld felo, hoo has no forchun but a litl lurning?”

“I’m glad U ar puur. I cuudn’t baer a rich huzband,” sed Jo desiededly, ading in a softer toen, “Doen’t feer poverty. I’ve noen it long enuf to looz mi dred and be hapy wurking for thoes I luv, and doen’t caul yuurself oeld—forty is th priem of lief. I cuudn’t help luving U if U wer seventy!”

Th Profesor found that so tuching that he wuud hav bin glad of his hankerchif, if he cuud hav got at it. As he cuudn’t, Jo wiept his ies for him, and sed, lafing, as she tuuk awae a bundl or too...

“I mae be strong-miended, but no-wun can sae I’m out of mi sfeer now, for wuuman’s speshal mishon is supoezd to be drieing teers and baering burdens. I’m to carry mi shaer, Friedrich, and help to urn th hoem. Maek up yuur miend to that, or I’ll never go,” she aded rezolootly, as he tried to reclaem his loed.

“We shal see. Haf U paeshenss to waet a long tiem, Jo? I must go awae and do mi wurk aloen. I must help mi boys furst, becauz, eeven for U, I mae not braek mi wurd to Minna. Can U forgif that, and be hapy whiel we hoep and waet?”

“Yes, I noe I can, for we luv wun anuther, and that maeks all th rest eezy to baer. I hav mi duety, aulso, and mi wurk. I cuudn’t enjoy mieself if I neglekted them eeven for U, so thaer’s no need of hurry or impaeshenss. U can do yuur part out West, I can do mien heer, and boeth be hapy hoeping for th best, and leeving th fuecher to be as God wils.”

“Aa! Thow gifest me such hoep and curej, and I haf nuthing to gif bak but a fuul hart and thees empty hands,” cried th Profesor, qiet oevercum.

Jo never, never wuud lurn to be proper, for when he sed that as thae stuud upon th steps, she just puut boeth hands into his, whispering tenderly, “Not empty now,” and stooping doun, kist her Friedrich under th umbrela. It wuz dredful, but she wuud hav dun it if th flok of draggle-taeld sparroes on th hej had bin hueman beings, for she wuz verry far gon indeed, and qiet regardles of everything but her oen hapynes. Tho it caem in such a verry simpl giez, that wuz th crouning moement of boeth thaer lievs, when, turning from th niet and storm and loenlynes to th hous-hoeld liet and wormth and peess waeting to reseev them, with a glad “Welcum hoem!” Jo led her luver in, and shut th dor.


For a yeer Jo and her Profesor wurkt and waeted, hoept and luvd, met ocaezhonaly, and roet such volueminus leters that th riez in th priess of paeper wuz acounted for, Laurie sed. Th second yeer began rather soeberly, for thaer prospekts did not brieten, and Ant March died sudenly. But when thaer furst sorro wuz oever—for thae luvd th oeld laedy in spiet of her sharp tung—thae found thae had cauz for rejoising, for she had left Plumfield to Jo, which maed all sorts of joyful things posibl.

“It’s a fien oeld plaess, and wil bring a handsum sum, for of corss U intend to sel it,” sed Laurie, as thae wer all tauking th mater oever sum weeks laeter.

“No, I doen’t,” wuz Jo’s desieded anser, as she peted th fat poodel, hoom she had adopted, out of respekt to his former mistres.

“U doen’t meen to liv thaer?”

“Yes, I do.”

“But, mi deer gurl, it’s an imenss hous, and wil taek a power of muny to keep it in order. Th garden and orchard aloen need too or three men, and farming isn’t in Bhaer’s lien, I taek it.”

“He'l tri his hand at it thaer, if I propoez it.”

“And U expekt to liv on th produess of th plaess? Wel, that sounds paradisiacal, but U’ll fiend it desperat hard wurk.”

“Th crop we ar going to raez is a profitabl wun,” and Jo laft.

“Of whot is this fien crop to consist, maa’am?”

“Boys. I wont to oepen a scool for litl lads—a guud, hapy, homelike scool, with me to taek caer of them and Fritz to teech them.”

“That’s a trooly Joian plan for U! Isn’t that just liek her?” cried Laurie, apeeling to th family, hoo luukt as much serpriezd as he.

“I liek it,” sed Mrs. March desiededly.

“So do I,” aded her huzband, hoo welcumd th thaut of a chanss for trieing th Socratik method of ejucaeshon on modern yooth.

“It wil be an imenss caer for Jo,” sed Meg, stroeking th hed of her wun all-absorbing sun.

“Jo can do it, and be hapy in it. It’s a splendid iedeea. Tel us all about it,” cried Mr. Laurence, hoo had bin longing to lend th luvers a hand, but nue that thae wuud refuez his help.

“I nue U’d stand by me, sur. Amy duz too—I see it in her ies, tho she proodently waets to turn it oever in her miend befor she speeks. Now, mi deer peepl,” continued Jo urnestly, “just understand that this isn’t a nue iedeea of mien, but a long cherrisht plan. Befor mi Fritz caem, I uezd to think how, when I’d maed mi forchun, and no-wun needed me at hoem, I’d hier a big hous, and pik up sum puur, forlorn litl lads hoo hadn’t eny muthers, and taek caer of them, and maek lief joly for them befor it wuz too laet. I see so meny going to rooin for wont of help at th riet mienuet, I luv so to do enything for them, I seem to feel thaer wonts, and simpathiez with thaer trubls, and o, I shuud so liek to be a muther to them!”

Mrs. March held out her hand to Jo, hoo tuuk it, smieling, with teers in her ies, and went on in th oeld enthoozistik wae, which thae had not seen for a long whiel.

“I toeld mi plan to Fritz wunss, and he sed it wuz just whot he wuud liek, and agreed to tri it when we got rich. Bles his deer hart, he's bin dooing it all his lief—helping puur boys, I meen, not geting rich, that he'l never be. Muny duzn’t stae in his poket long enuf to lae up eny. But now, thanks to mi guud oeld ant, hoo luvd me beter than I ever dezurvd, I’m rich, at leest I feel so, and we can liv at Plumfield purfektly wel, if we hav a flurishing scool. It’s just th plaess for boys, th hous is big, and th furnicher strong and plaen. Thaer’s plenty of room for duzens insied, and splendid grounds outsied. Thae cuud help in th garden and orchard. Such wurk is helthy, isn’t it, sur? Then Fritz cuud traen and teech in his oen wae, and Faather wil help him. I can feed and nurss and pet and scoeld them, and Muther wil be mi stand-by. I’ve aulwaes longd for lots of boys, and never had enuf, now I can fil th hous fuul and revel in th litl deers to mi hart’s content. Think whot lukshery— Plumfield mi oen, and a wildernes of boys to enjoy it with me.”

As Jo waevd her hands and gaev a sie of rapcher, th family went off into a gael of merriment, and Mr. Laurence laft til thae thaut he'd hav an apoplektik fit.

“I doen’t see enything funy,” she sed graevly, when she cuud be hurd. “Nuthing cuud be mor nacheral and proper than for mi Profesor to oepen a scool, and for me to prefur to rezied in mi oen estaet.”

“She is puuting on aers aulredy,” sed Laurie, hoo regarded th iedeea in th liet of a capital joek. “But mae I inqier how U intend to suport th establishment? If all th puepils ar litl ragamufins, I’m afraed yuur crop wun’t be profitabl in a wurldly senss, Mrs. Bhaer.”

“Now doen’t be a wet-blanket, Teddy. Of corss I shal hav rich puepils, aulso—perhaps begin with such aultogether. Then, when I’ve got a start, I can taek in a ragamufin or too, just for a relish. Rich peepl’s children ofen need caer and cumfort, as wel as puur. I’ve seen unforchunat litl creechers left to survants, or bakward wuns puusht forward, when it’s reeal crooelty. Sum ar nauty thru mismanagment or neglekt, and sum looz thaer muthers. Besieds, th best hav to get thru th hobbledehoy aej, and that’s th verry tiem thae need moest paeshenss and kiendnes. Peepl laf at them, and husl them about, tri to keep them out of siet, and expekt them to turn all at wunss from prity children into fien yung men. Thae doen’t complaen much—pluky litl soels—but thae feel it. I’ve bin thru sumthing of it, and I noe all about it. I’ve a speshal interest in such yung baers, and liek to sho them that I see th worm, onest, wel-meening boys’ harts, in spiet of th clumzy arms and legs and th topsy-turvy heds. I’ve had expeeri’enss, too, for haeven’t I braut up wun boy to be a pried and onor to his family?”

“I’ll testifi that U tried to do it,” sed Laurie with a graetful luuk.

“And I’ve sukseeded beyond mi hoeps, for heer U ar, a stedy, sensibl biznesman, dooing heeps of guud with yuur muny, and laeing up th blesings of th puur, insted of dolars. But U ar not meerly a biznesman, U luv guud and buetiful things, enjoy them yuurself, and let uthers go havs, as U aulwaes did in th oeld tiems. I am proud of U, Teddy, for U get beter every yeer, and everywun feels it, tho U wun’t let them sae so. Yes, and when I hav mi flok, I’ll just pointer to U, and sae ‘Thaer’s yuur model, mi lads’.”

Puur Laurie didn’t noe whaer to luuk, for, man tho he wuz, sumthing of th oeld bashfulnes caem oever him as this burst of praez maed all faeses turn aproovingly upon him.

“I sae, Jo, that’s rather too much,” he began, just in his oeld boyish wae. “U hav all dun mor for me than I can ever thank U for, exsept bi dooing mi best not to disapoint U. U hav rather cast me off laetly, Jo, but I’ve had th best of help, nevertheles. So, if I’ve got on at all, U mae thank thees too for it,” and he laed wun hand jently on his grandfaather’s hed, and th uther on Amy’s goelden wun, for th three wer never far apart.

“I do think that familys ar th moest buetiful things in all th wurld!” burst out Jo, hoo wuz in an unuezhualy up-lifted fraem of miend just then. “When I hav wun of mi oen, I hoep it wil be as hapy as th three I noe and luv th best. If John and mi Fritz wer oenly heer, it wuud be qiet a litl heven on urth,” she aded mor qieetly. And that niet when she went to her room after a blisful eevning of family counsels, hoeps, and plans, her hart wuz so fuul of hapynes that she cuud oenly caam it bi neeling besied th empty bed aulwaes neer her oen, and thinking tender thauts of Baet.

It wuz a verry astonishing yeer aultogether, for things seemd to hapen in an unuezhualy rapid and delietful maner. Aulmoest befor she nue whaer she wuz, Jo found herself marryd and setld at Plumfield. Then a family of six or seven boys sprung up liek mushrooms, and flurisht serprizingly, puur boys as wel as rich, for Mr. Laurence wuz continualy fiending sum tuching caess of destitooshon, and beging th Bhaers to taek pity on th chield, and he wuud gladly pae a triefl for its suport. In this wae, th sli oeld jentlman got round proud Jo, and furnisht her with th stiel of boy in which she moest delieted.

Of corss it wuz uphil wurk at furst, and Jo maed qeer mistaeks, but th wiez Profesor steerd her saefly into caamer wauters, and th moest rampant ragamufin wuz conkerd in th end. How Jo did enjoy her ‘wildernes of boys’, and how puur, deer Ant March wuud hav lamented had she bin thaer to see th saecred preesinkts of prim, wel-orderd Plumfield oever-run with Toms, Diks, and Harrys! Thaer wuz a sort of poeetik justis about it, after all, for th oeld laedy had bin th terror of th boys for miels around, and now th exsiels feested freely on forbiden plums, kikt up th gravel with profaen boots unreproved, and plaed criket in th big feeld whaer th iritabl ‘cow with a crumpld horn’ uezd to inviet rash yooths to cum and be tost. It becaem a sort of boys’ parradiess, and Laurie sugjested that it shuud be cauld th ‘Bhaer-garten’, as a compliment to its master and aproepriat to its inhabitants.

It never wuz a fashonabl scool, and th Profesor did not lae up a forchun, but it wuz just whot Jo intended it to be—‘a hapy, homelike plaess for boys, hoo needed teeching, caer, and kiendnes’. Every room in th big hous wuz soon fuul. Every litl plot in th garden soon had its oener. A reguelar menajery apeerd in barn and shed, for pet animals wer alowd. And three tiems a dae, Jo smield at her Fritz from th hed of a long taebl liend on eether sied with roes of hapy yung faeses, which all turnd to her with afekshonat ies, confieding wurds, and graetful harts, fuul of luv for ‘Muther Bhaer’. She had boys enuf now, and did not tier of them, tho thae wer not aenjels, by eny meens, and sum of them cauzd boeth Profesor and Professorin much trubl and angzieity. But her faeth in th guud spot which exists in th hart of th nautyest, sausyest, moest tantaliezing litl ragamufin gaev her paeshenss, skil, and in tiem suksess, for no mortal boy cuud hoeld out long with Faather Bhaer shiening on him as benevolently as th sun, and Muther Bhaer forgiving him seventy tiems seven. Verry preshus to Jo wuz th frendship of th lads, thaer penitent snifs and whispers after rongdooing, thaer droel or tuching litl confidenses, thaer plezant enthooziazms, hoeps, and plans, eeven thaer misforchuns, for thae oenly endeerd them to her all th mor. Thaer wer slo boys and bashful boys, feebl boys and rieotus boys, boys that lispt and boys that stuterd, wun or too laem wuns, and a merry litl quadroon, hoo cuud not be taeken in elswhaer, but hoo wuz welcum to th ‘Bhaer-garten’, tho sum peepl predikted that his admishon wuud rooin th scool.

Yes, Jo wuz a verry hapy wuuman thaer, in spiet of hard wurk, much angzieity, and a perpechual raket. She enjoyd it hartily and found th aplauz of her boys mor satisfieing than eny praez of th wurld, for now she toeld no storys exsept to her flok of enthoozistik beleevers and admierers. As th yeers went on, too litl lads of her oen caem to increess her hapynes—Rob, naemd for Grandpaa, and Teddy, a hapy-go-luky baeby, hoo seemd to hav inherrited his paapa’s sunshiny temper as wel as his muther’s lievly spirit. How thae ever groo up aliev in that whurlpool of boys wuz a mistery to thaer grandmaa and ants, but thae flurisht liek dandelieons in spring, and thaer ruf nurses luvd and survd them wel.

Thaer wer a graet meny holidaes at Plumfield, and wun of th moest delietful wuz th yeerly apl-piking. For then th Marches, Laurences, Brookes and Bhaers turnd out in fuul forss and maed a dae of it. Fiev yeers after Jo’s weding, wun of thees frootful festivals ocurd, a melo Oktoeber dae, when th aer wuz fuul of an exilaraeting freshnes which maed th spirits riez and th blud danss helthily in th vaens. Th oeld orchard wor its holidae atier. Goeldenrod and asters frinjd th mosy wauls. Gras-hopers skipt briskly in th sere gras, and crikets churpt liek faery pipers at a feest. Squrels wer bizy with thaer smaul harvesting. Burds twittered thaer adieux from th aulders in th laen, and every tree stuud redy to send doun its shower of red or yelo apls at th furst shaek. Evrybody wuz thaer. Evrybody laft and sang, cliemd up and tumbld doun. Evrybody declaerd that thaer never had bin such a purfekt dae or such a joly set to enjoy it, and everywun gaev themselvs up to th simpl plezhers of th our as freely as if thaer wer no such things as caer or sorro in th wurld.

Mr. March stroeld plasidly about, qoeting Tusser, Cowley, and Columella to Mr. Laurence, whiel enjoying...

Th jentl apl’s winey jooss.

Th Profesor charjd up and doun th green iels liek a stout Tuetonik niet, with a poel for a lanss, leeding on th boys, hoo maed a huuk and lader cumpany of themselvs, and performd wunders in th wae of ground and lofty tumbling. Laurie devoeted himself to th litl wuns, roed his smaul dauter in a buushel-basket, tuuk Daezy up amung th burd’s nests, and kept advencherus Rob from braeking his nek. Mrs. March and Meg sat amung th apl piels liek a paer of Pomonas, sorting th contribueshons that kept poring in, whiel Amy with a buetiful mutherly expreshon in her faess skecht th vaerius groops, and wocht oever wun pael lad, hoo sat adoring her with his litl cruch besied him.

Jo wuz in her element that dae, and rusht about, with her goun pind up, and her hat enywhaer but on her hed, and her baeby tukt under her arm, redy for eny lievly advencher which miet turn up. Litl Teddy bor a charmd lief, for nuthing ever hapend to him, and Jo never felt eny angzieity when he wuz whiskt up into a tree by wun lad, galopt off on th bak of anuther, or suplied with sour russets by his induljent paapa, hoo laebord under th Jermanik deloozhon that baebys cuud diejest enything, from pikld cabej to butons, naels, and thaer oen smaul shoos. She nue that litl Ted wuud turn up agen in tiem, saef and roezy, durty and sereen, and she aulwaes reseevd him bak with a harty welcum, for Jo luvd her baebys tenderly.

At foer oe’clok a lul tuuk plaess, and baskets remaend empty, whiel th apl pikers rested and compaerd rents and broozes. Then Jo and Meg, with a detachment of th biger boys, set forth th super on th gras, for an out-of-dor tee wuz aulwaes th crouning joy of th dae. Th land literaly floed with milk and huny on such ocaezhons, for th lads wer not reqierd to sit at taebl, but alowd to partaek of refreshment as thae liekt—freedom being th saus best beluved by th boyish soel. Thae availed themselvs of th raer privilej to th fuulest extent, for sum tried th pleezing experriment of drinking milk whiel standing on thaer heds, uthers lent a charm to leepfrog by eeting pie in th pauzes of th gaem, cuukys wer soen braudcast oever th feeld, and apl turnoevers roosted in th trees liek a nue stiel of burd. Th litl gurls had a prievat tee party, and Ted roevd amung th edibls at his oen sweet wil.

When no-wun cuud eet eny mor, th Profesor propoezd th furst reguelar toest, which wuz aulwaes drunk at such tiems—“Ant March, God bles her!” A toest hartily given bi th guud man, hoo never forgot how much he oed her, and qieetly drunk bi th boys, hoo had bin taut to keep her memory green.

“Now, Grandmaa’s sixtyeth burthdae! Long lief to her, with three tiems three!”

That wuz given with a wil, as U mae wel beleev, and th cheering wunss begun, it wuz hard to stop it. Evrybody’s helth wuz propoezd, from Mr. Laurence, hoo wuz considerd thaer speshal paetron, to th astonisht guinea pig, hoo had straed from its proper sfeer in surch of its yung master. Demi, as th oeldest grandchield, then prezented th qeen of th dae with vaerius gifts, so nuemerus that thae wer transported to th festiv seen in a wheelbarro. Funy prezents, sum of them, but whot wuud hav bin deefekts to uther ies wer ornaments to Grandmaa’s—for th children’s gifts wer all thaer oen. Every stich Daezy’s paeshent litl finggers had puut into th hankerchifs she hemd wuz beter than embroidery to Mrs. March. Demi’s mirakl of mecanikal skil, tho th cuver wuudn’t shut, Rob’s fuutstool had a wigl in its uneeven legs that she declaerd wuz soothing, and no paej of th costly buuk Amy’s chield gaev her wuz so faer as that on which apeerd in tipsy capitals, th wurds—“To deer Grandmaa, from her litl Baet.”

Duuring th serremoeny th boys had misteeriusly disapeerd, and when Mrs. March had tried to thank her children, and broeken doun, whiel Teddy wiept her ies on his pinafor, th Profesor sudenly began to sing. Then, from abuv him, vois after vois tuuk up th wurds, and from tree to tree ecoed th muezik of th unseen qier, as th boys sang with all thaer harts th litl song that Jo had riten, Laurie set to muezik, and th Profesor traend his lads to giv with th best efekt. This wuz sumthing aultogether nue, and it proovd a grand suksess, for Mrs. March cuudn’t get oever her serpriez, and insisted on shaeking hands with every wun of th fetherles burds, from taul Franz and Emil to th litl quadroon, hoo had th sweetest vois of all.

After this, th boys dispurst for a fienal lark, leeving Mrs. March and her dauters under th festival tree.

“I doen’t think I ever aut to caul mieself ‘unluky Jo’ agen, when mi graetest wish has bin so buetifuly gratified,” sed Mrs. Bhaer, taeking Teddy’s litl fist out of th milk picher, in which he wuz rapcherusly churning.

“And yet yuur lief is verry diferent from th wun U pikcherd so long ago. Do U remember our casls in th aer?” askt Amy, smieling as she wocht Laurie and John plaeing criket with th boys.

“Deer feloes! It duz mi hart guud to see them forget biznes and frolik for a dae,” anserd Jo, hoo now spoek in a maturnal wae of all man-kiend. “Yes, I remember, but th lief I wonted then seems selfish, loenly, and coeld to me now. I haeven’t given up th hoep that I mae riet a guud buuk yet, but I can waet, and I’m shuur it wil be all th beter for such expeeri’enses and ilustraeshons as thees,” and Jo pointed from th lievly lads in th distanss to her faather, leening on th Profesor’s arm, as thae waukt to and fro in th sunshien, deep in wun of th conversaeshons which boeth enjoyd so much, and then to her muther, siting enthroend amung her dauters, with thaer children in her lap and at her feet, as if all found help and hapynes in th faess which never cuud gro oeld to them.

“Mi casl wuz th moest neerly reealiezd of all. I askt for splendid things, to be shuur, but in mi hart I nue I shuud be satisfied, if I had a litl hoem, and John, and sum deer children liek thees. I’ve got them all, thank God, and am th hapyest wuuman in th wurld,” and Meg laed her hand on her taul boy’s hed, with a faess fuul of tender and devout content.

“Mi casl is verry diferent from whot I pland, but I wuud not aulter it, tho, liek Jo, I doen’t relinqish all mi artistik hoeps, or confien mieself to helping uthers fuulfil thaer dreems of buety. I’ve begun to model a figuer of baeby, and Laurie sez it is th best thing I’ve ever dun. I think so, mieself, and meen to do it in marbl, so that, whotever hapens, I mae at leest keep th imej of mi litl aenjel.”

As Amy spoek, a graet teer dropt on th goelden haer of th sleeping chield in her arms, for her wun wel-beluved dauter wuz a frael litl creecher and th dred of loozing her wuz th shado oever Amy’s sunshien. This cros wuz dooing much for boeth faather and muther, for wun luv and sorro bound them cloesly together. Amy’s naecher wuz groeing sweeter, deeper, and mor tender. Laurie wuz groeing mor seerius, strong, and furm, and boeth wer lurning that buety, yooth, guud forchun, eeven luv itself, cannot keep caer and paen, lost and sorro, from th moest blest for ...

Into eech lief sum raen must faul,
Sum daes must be dark and sad and dreery.

“She is groeing beter, I am shuur of it, mi deer. Doen’t despond, but hoep and keep hapy,” sed Mrs. March, as tenderharted Daezy stoopt from her nae to lae her roezy cheek agenst her litl cuzin’s pael wun.

“I never aut to, whiel I hav U to cheer me up, Marmee, and Laurie to taek mor than haf of every burden,” replied Amy wormly. “He never lets me see his angzieity, but is so sweet and paeshent with me, so devoeted to Baet, and such a stae and cumfort to me aulwaes that I can’t luv him enuf. So, in spiet of mi wun cros, I can sae with Meg, ‘Thank God, I’m a hapy wuuman.’”

“Thaer’s no need for me to sae it, for everywun can see that I’m far hapyer than I dezurv,” aded Jo, glansing from her guud huzband to her chuby children, tumbling on th gras besied her. “Fritz is geting grae and stout. I’m groeing as thin as a shado, and am thurty. We never shal be rich, and Plumfield mae burn up eny niet, for that incorijibl Tommy Bangs wil smoek sweet-furn sigars under th bed-cloeths, tho he's set himself afier three tiems aulredy. But in spiet of thees unromantik fakts, I hav nuthing to complaen of, and never wuz so joly in mi lief. Excuez th remark, but living amung boys, I can’t help uezing thaer expreshons now and then.”

“Yes, Jo, I think yuur harvest wil be a guud wun,” began Mrs. March, frietening awae a big blak criket that wuz staering Teddy out of countenanss.

“Not haf so guud as yuurs, Muther. Heer it is, and we never can thank U enuf for th paeshent soeing and reeping U hav dun,” cried Jo, with th luving impechuosity which she never wuud outgro.

“I hoep thaer wil be mor wheet and fueer tares every yeer,” sed Amy softly.

“A larj sheef, but I noe thaer’s room in yuur hart for it, Marmee deer,” aded Meg’s tender vois.

Tucht to th hart, Mrs. March cuud oenly strech out her arms, as if to gather children and grandchildren to herself, and sae, with faess and vois fuul of mutherly luv, gratitood, and huemility...

“O, mi gurls, however long U mae liv, I never can wish U a graeter hapynes than this!”