“You are sure of his feeling for you?”
The color deepened in Jo’s cheeks as she answered, with the look of mingled pleasure, pride, and pain which young girls wear when speaking of first lovers, “I’m afraid it is so, Mother. He hasn’t said anything, but he looks a great deal. I think I had better go away before it comes to anything.”
“I agree with you, and if it can be managed you shall go.”
Jo looked relieved, and after a pause, said, smiling, “How Mrs. Moffat would wonder at your want of management, if she knew, and how she will rejoice that Annie may still hope.”
“Ah, Jo, mothers may differ in their management, but the hope is the same in all—the desire to see their children happy. Meg is so, and I am content with her success. You I leave to enjoy your liberty till you tire of it, for only then will you find that there is something sweeter. Amy is my chief care now, but her good sense will help her. For Beth, I indulge no hopes except that she may be well. By the way, she seems brighter this last day or two. Have you spoken to her?’
“Yes, she owned she had a trouble, and promised to tell me by-and-by. I said no more, for I think I know it,” and Jo told her little story.
Mrs. March shook her head, and did not take so romantic a view of the case, but looked grave, and repeated her opinion that for Laurie’s sake Jo should go away for a time.
“Let us say nothing about it to him till the plan is settled, then I’ll run away before he can collect his wits and be tragic. Beth must think I’m going to please myself, as I am, for I can’t talk about Laurie to her. But she can pet and comfort him after I’m gone, and so cure him of this romantic notion. He’s been through so many little trials of the sort, he’s used to it, and will soon get over his lovelornity.”
Jo spoke hopefully, but could not rid herself of the foreboding fear that this ‘little trial’ would be harder than the others, and that Laurie would not get over his ‘lovelornity’ as easily as heretofore.
The plan was talked over in a family council and agreed upon, for Mrs. Kirke gladly accepted Jo, and promised to make a pleasant home for her. The teaching would render her independent, and such leisure as she got might be made profitable by writing, while the new scenes and society would be both useful and agreeable. Jo liked the prospect and was eager to be gone, for the home nest was growing too narrow for her restless nature and adventurous spirit. When all was settled, with fear and trembling she told Laurie, but to her surprise he took it very quietly. He had been graver than usual of late, but very pleasant, and when jokingly accused of turning over a new leaf, he answered soberly, “So I am, and I mean this one shall stay turned.”
Jo was very much relieved that one of his virtuous fits should come on just then, and made her preparations with a lightened heart, for Beth seemed more cheerful, and hoped she was doing the best for all.