surprise, and disapproval also, she thought, for though he bowed and smiled, yet something in his honest eyes made her blush and wish she had her old dress on. To complete her confusion, she saw Belle nudge Annie, and both glance from her to Laurie, who, she was happy to see, looked unusually boyish and shy.
“Silly creatures, to put such thoughts into my head. I won’t care for it, or let it change me a bit,” thought Meg, and rustled across the room to shake hands with her friend.
“I’m glad you came, I was afraid you wouldn’t.” she said, with her most grown-up air.
“Jo wanted me to come, and tell her how you looked, so I did,” answered Laurie, without turning his eyes upon her, though he half smiled at her maternal tone.
“What shall you tell her?” asked Meg, full of curiosity to know his opinion of her, yet feeling ill at ease with him for the first time.
“I shall say I didn’t know you, for you look so grown-up and unlike yourself, I’m quite afraid of you,” he said, fumbling at his glove button.
“How absurd of you! The girls dressed me up for fun, and I rather like it. Wouldn’t Jo stare if she saw me?” said Meg, bent on making him say whether he thought her improved or not.
“Yes, I think she would,” returned Laurie gravely.
“Don’t you like me so?” asked Meg.
“No, I don’t,” was the blunt reply.
“Why not?” in an anxious tone.
He glanced at her frizzled head, bare shoulders, and fantastically trimmed dress with an expression that abashed her more than his answer, which had not a particle of his usual politeness in it.
“I don’t like fuss and feathers.”
That was altogether too much from a lad younger than herself, and Meg walked away, saying petulantly, “You are the rudest boy I ever saw.”
Feeling very much ruffled, she went and stood at a quiet window to cool her cheeks, for the tight dress gave her an uncomfortably brilliant color. As she stood there, Major Lincoln passed by, and a minute after she heard him saying to his mother…
“They are making a fool of that little girl. I wanted you to see her, but they have spoiled her entirely. She’s nothing but a doll tonight.”
“Oh, dear!” sighed Meg. “I wish I’d been sensible and worn my own things, then I should not have disgusted other people, or felt so uncomfortable and ashamed of myself.”
She leaned her forehead on the cool pane, and stood half hidden by the curtains, never minding that her favorite waltz had begun, till some one touched her, and turning, she saw Laurie, looking penitent, as he said, with his very best bow and his hand out…
“Please forgive my rudeness, and come and dance with me.”
“I’m afraid it will be too disagreeable to you,” said Meg, trying to look offended and failing entirely.
“Not a bit of it, I’m dying to do it. Come, I’ll be good. I don’t like your gown, but I do think you are just splendid.” And he waved his hands, as if words failed to express his admiration.