Next day she put her pride in her pocket, went to Sallie, told the truth, and asked her to buy the silk as a favor. The good-natured Mrs. Moffat willingly did so, and had the delicacy not to make her a present of it immediately afterward. Then Meg ordered home the greatcoat, and when John arrived, she put it on, and asked him how he liked her new silk gown. One can imagine what answer he made, how he received his present, and what a blissful state of things ensued. John came home early, Meg gadded no more, and that greatcoat was put on in the morning by a very happy husband, and taken off at night by a most devoted little wife. So the year rolled round, and at midsummer there came to Meg a new experience, the deepest and tenderest of a woman’s life.
Laurie came sneaking into the kitchen of the Dovecote one Saturday, with an excited face, and was received with the clash of cymbals, for Hannah clapped her hands with a saucepan in one and the cover in the other.
“How’s the little mamma? Where is everybody? Why didn’t you tell me before I came home?” began Laurie in a loud whisper.
“Happy as a queen, the dear! Every soul of ’em is upstairs a worshipin’. We didn’t want no hurrycanes round. Now you go into the parlor, and I’ll send ’em down to you,” with which somewhat involved reply Hannah vanished, chuckling ecstatically.
Presently Jo appeared, proudly bearing a flannel bundle laid forth upon a large pillow. Jo’s face was very sober, but her eyes twinkled, and there was an odd sound in her voice of repressed emotion of some sort.
“Shut your eyes and hold out your arms,” she said invitingly.
Laurie backed precipitately into a corner, and put his hands behind him with an imploring gesture. “No, thank you. I’d rather not. I shall drop it or smash it, as sure as fate.”
“Then you shan’t see your nevvy,” said Jo decidedly, turning as if to go.
“I will, I will! Only you must be responsible for damages.” and obeying orders, Laurie heroically shut his eyes while something was put into his arms. A peal of laughter from Jo, Amy, Mrs. March, Hannah, and John caused him to open them the next minute, to find himself invested with two babies instead of one.
No wonder they laughed, for the expression of his face was droll enough to convulse a Quaker, as he stood and stared wildly from the unconscious innocents to the hilarious spectators with such dismay that Jo sat down on the floor and screamed.
“Twins, by Jupiter!” was all he said for a minute, then turning to the women with an appealing look that was comically piteous, he added, “Take ’em quick, somebody! I’m going to laugh, and I shall drop ’em.”
Jo rescued his babies, and marched up and down, with one on each arm, as if already initiated into the mysteries of babytending, while Laurie laughed till the tears ran down his cheeks.
“It’s the best joke of the season, isn’t it? I wouldn’t have told you, for I set my heart on surprising you, and I flatter myself I’ve done it,” said Jo, when she got her breath.