“You are not made wise by experience, I hope?” and there was an anxious accent in Meg’s voice.
“No. I give you my word for it. Don’t think too well of me, either, this is not one of my temptations. Being brought up where wine is as common as water and almost as harmless, I don’t care for it, but when a pretty girl offers it, one doesn’t like to refuse, you see.”
“But you will, for the sake of others, if not for your own. Come, Laurie, promise, and give me one more reason to call this the happiest day of my life.”
A demand so sudden and so serious made the young man hesitate a moment, for ridicule is often harder to bear than self-denial. Meg knew that if he gave the promise he would keep it at all costs, and feeling her power, used it as a woman may for her friend’s good. She did not speak, but she looked up at him with a face made very eloquent by happiness, and a smile which said, “No one can refuse me anything today.”
Laurie certainly could not, and with an answering smile, he gave her his hand, saying heartily, “I promise, Mrs. Brooke!”
“I thank you, very, very much.”
“And I drink ‘long life to your resolution’, Teddy,” cried Jo, baptizing him with a splash of lemonade, as she waved her glass and beamed approvingly upon him.
So the toast was drunk, the pledge made and loyally kept in spite of many temptations, for with instinctive wisdom, the girls seized a happy moment to do their friend a service, for which he thanked them all his life.
After lunch, people strolled about, by twos and threes, through the house and garden, enjoying the sunshine without and within. Meg and John happened to be standing together in the middle of the grass plot, when Laurie was seized with an inspiration which put the finishing touch to this unfashionable wedding.
“All the married people take hands and dance round the new-made husband and wife, as the Germans do, while we bachelors and spinsters prance in couples outside!” cried Laurie, promenading down the path with Amy, with such infectious spirit and skill that everyone else followed their example without a murmur. Mr. and Mrs. March, Aunt and Uncle Carrol began it, others rapidly joined in, even Sallie Moffat, after a moment’s hesitation, threw her train over her arm and whisked Ned into the ring. But the crowning joke was Mr. Laurence and Aunt March, for when the stately old gentleman chasseed solemnly up to the old lady, she just tucked her cane under her arm, and hopped briskly away to join hands with the rest and dance about the bridal pair, while the young folks pervaded the garden like butterflies on a midsummer day.
Want of breath brought the impromptu ball to a close, and then people began to go.
“I wish you well, my dear, I heartily wish you well, but I think you’ll be sorry for it,” said Aunt March to Meg, adding to the bridegroom, as he led her to the carriage, “You’ve got a treasure, young man, see that you deserve it.”