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