As she came walking in, looking very tired but as composed as ever, she observed that every vestige of the unfortunate fete had disappeared, except a suspicious pucker about the corners of Jo’s mouth.
“You’ve had a loverly afternoon for your drive, dear,” said her mother, as respectfully as if the whole twelve had come.
“Miss Eliott is a very sweet girl, and seemed to enjoy herself, I thought,” observed Beth, with unusual warmth.
“Could you spare me some of your cake? I really need some, I have so much company, and I can’t make such delicious stuff as yours,” asked Meg soberly.
“Take it all. I’m the only one here who likes sweet things, and it will mold before I can dispose of it,” answered Amy, thinking with a sigh of the generous store she had laid in for such an end as this.
“It’s a pity Laurie isn’t here to help us,” began Jo, as they sat down to ice cream and salad for the second time in two days.
A warning look from her mother checked any further remarks, and the whole family ate in heroic silence, till Mr. March mildly observed, “salad was one of the favorite dishes of the ancients, and Evelyn . . .” Here a general explosion of laughter cut short the ‘history of salads’, to the great surprise of the learned gentleman.
“Bundle everything into a basket and send it to the Hummels. Germans like messes. I’m sick of the sight of this, and there’s no reason you should all die of a surfeit because I’ve been a fool,” cried Amy, wiping her eyes.
“I thought I should have died when I saw you two girls rattling about in the what-you-call-it, like two little kernels in a very big nutshell, and Mother waiting in state to receive the throng,” sighed Jo, quite spent with laughter.
“I’m very sorry you were disappointed, dear, but we all did our best to satisfy you,” said Mrs. March, in a tone full of motherly regret.
“I am satisfied. I’ve done what I undertook, and it’s not my fault that it failed. I comfort myself with that,” said Amy with a little quiver in her voice. “I thank you all very much for helping me, and I’ll thank you still more if you won’t allude to it for a month, at least.”
No one did for several months, but the word ‘fete’ always produced a general smile, and Laurie’s birthday gift to Amy was a tiny coral lobster in the shape of a charm for her watch guard.
Fortune suddenly smiled upon Jo, and dropped a good luck penny in her path. Not a golden penny, exactly, but I doubt if half a million would have given more real happiness then did the little sum that came to her in this wise.