“Because if you care much about riches, you will never go and marry a poor man,” said Jo, frowning at Laurie, who was mutely warning her to mind what she said.
“I shall never ‘go and marry’ anyone,” observed Meg, walking on with great dignity while the others followed, laughing, whispering, skipping stones, and ‘behaving like children’, as Meg said to herself, though she might have been tempted to join them if she had not had her best dress on.
For a week or two, Jo behaved so queerly that her sisters were quite bewildered. She rushed to the door when the postman rang, was rude to Mr. Brooke whenever they met, would sit looking at Meg with a woe-begone face, occasionally jumping up to shake and then kiss her in a very mysterious manner. Laurie and she were always making signs to one another, and talking about ‘Spread Eagles’ till the girls declared they had both lost their wits. On the second Saturday after Jo got out of the window, Meg, as she sat sewing at her window, was scandalized by the sight of Laurie chasing Jo all over the garden and finally capturing her in Amy’s bower. What went on there, Meg could not see, but shrieks of laughter were heard, followed by the murmur of voices and a great flapping of newspapers.
“What shall we do with that girl? She never will behave like a young lady,” sighed Meg, as she watched the race with a disapproving face.
“I hope she won’t. She is so funny and dear as she is,” said Beth, who had never betrayed that she was a little hurt at Jo’s having secrets with anyone but her.
“It’s very trying, but we never can make her comme la fo,” added Amy, who sat making some new frills for herself, with her curls tied up in a very becoming way, two agreeable things that made her feel unusually elegant and ladylike.
In a few minutes Jo bounced in, laid herself on the sofa, and affected to read.
“Have you anything interesting there?” asked Meg, with condescension.
“Nothing but a story, won’t amount to much, I guess,” returned Jo, carefully keeping the name of the paper out of sight.
“You’d better read it aloud. That will amuse us and keep you out of mischief,” said Amy in her most grown-up tone.
“What’s the name?” asked Beth, wondering why Jo kept her face behind the sheet.
“The Rival Painters.”
“That sounds well. Read it,” said Meg.
With a loud “Hem!” and a long breath, Jo began to read very fast. The girls listened with interest, for the tale was romantic, and somewhat pathetic, as most of the characters died in the end. “I like that about the splendid picture,” was Amy’s approving remark, as Jo paused.
“I prefer the lovering part. Viola and Angelo are two of our favorite names, isn’t that queer?” said Meg, wiping her eyes, for the lovering part was tragical.
“Who wrote it?” asked Beth, who had caught a glimpse of Jo’s face.
The reader suddenly sat up, cast away the paper, displaying a flushed countenance, and with a funny mixture of solemnity and excitement replied in a loud voice, “Your sister.”
“You?” cried Meg, dropping her work.
“It’s very good,” said Amy critically.
“I knew it! I knew it! Oh, my Jo, I am so proud!” and Beth ran to hug her sister and exult over this splendid success.
Dear me, how delighted they all were, to be sure! How Meg wouldn’t believe it till she saw the words. “Miss Josephine March,” actually printed in the paper. How graciously Amy critisized the artistic parts of the story, and offered hints for a sequel, which unfortunately couldn’t be carried out, as the hero and heroine were dead. How Beth