“I did fail, say what you will, for Jo wouldn’t love me,” began Laurie, leaning his head on his hand in a despondent attitude.
“No, you didn’t, and you’ll say so in the end, for it did you good, and proved that you could do something if you tried. If you’d only set about another task of some sort, you’d soon be your hearty, happy self again, and forget your trouble.”
“Try it and see. You needn’t shrug your shoulders, and think, ‘Much she knows about such things’. I don’t pretend to be wise, but I am observing, and I see a great deal more than you’d imagine. I’m interested in other people’s experiences and inconsistencies, and though I can’t explain, I remember and use them for my own benefit. Love Jo all your days, if you choose, but don’t let it spoil you, for it’s wicked to throw away so many good gifts because you can’t have the one you want. There, I won’t lecture any more, for I know you’ll wake up and be a man in spite of that hardhearted girl.”
Neither spoke for several minutes. Laurie sat turning the little ring on his finger, and Amy put the last touches to the hasty sketch she had been working at while she talked. Presently she put it on his knee, merely saying, “How do you like that?”
He looked and then he smiled, as he could not well help doing, for it was capitally done, the long, lazy figure on the grass, with listless face, half-shut eyes, and one hand holding a cigar, from which came the little wreath of smoke that encircled the dreamer’s head.
“How well you draw!” he said, with a genuine surprise and pleasure at her skill, adding, with a half-laugh, “Yes, that’s me.”
“As you are. This is as you were.” and Amy laid another sketch beside the one he held.
It was not nearly so well done, but there was a life and spirit in it which atoned for many faults, and it recalled the past so vividly that a sudden change swept over the young man’s face as he looked. Only a rough sketch of Laurie taming a horse. Hat and coat were off, and every line of the active figure, resolute face, and commanding attitude was full of energy and meaning. The handsome brute, just subdued, stood arching his neck under the tightly drawn rein, with one foot impatiently pawing the ground, and ears pricked up as if listening for the voice that had mastered him. In the ruffled mane, the rider’s breezy hair and erect attitude, there was a suggestion of suddenly arrested motion, of strength, courage, and youthful buoyancy that contrasted sharply with the supine grace of the ‘Dolce far Niente’ sketch. Laurie said nothing but as his eye went from one to the other, Amy saw him flush up and fold his lips together as if he read and accepted the little lesson she had given him. That satisfied her, and without waiting for him to speak, she said, in her sprightly way . . .
“Don’t you remember the day you played Rarey with Puck, and we all looked on? Meg and Beth were frightened, but Jo clapped and pranced, and I sat on the fence and drew you. I found that sketch in my portfolio the other day, touched it up, and kept it to show you.”