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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 552 pages of information about Little Women.

“Much obliged.  You’ve improved immensely since then, and I congratulate you.  May I venture to suggest in ’a honeymoon paradise’ that five o’clock is the dinner hour at your hotel?”

Laurie rose as he spoke, returned the pictures with a smile and a bow and looked at his watch, as if to remind her that even moral lectures should have an end.  He tried to resume his former easy, indifferent air, but it was an affectation now, for the rousing had been more effacious than he would confess.  Amy felt the shade of coldness in his manner, and said to herself . . .

“Now, I’ve offended him.  Well, if it does him good, I’m glad, if it makes him hate me, I’m sorry, but it’s true, and I can’t take back a word of it.”

They laughed and chatted all the way home, and little Baptiste, up behind, thought that monsieur and madamoiselle were in charming spirits.  But both felt ill at ease.  The friendly frankness was disturbed, the sunshine had a shadow over it, and despite their apparent gaiety, there was a secret discontent in the heart of each.

“Shall we see you this evening, mon frere?” asked Amy, as they parted at her aunt’s door.

“Unfortunately I have an engagement.  Au revoir, madamoiselle,” and Laurie bent as if to kiss her hand, in the foreign fashion, which became him better than many men.  Something in his face made Amy say quickly and warmly . . .

“No, be yourself with me, Laurie, and part in the good old way.  I’d rather have a hearty English handshake than all the sentimental salutations in France.”

“Goodbye, dear,” and with these words, uttered in the tone she liked, Laurie left her, after a handshake almost painful in its heartiness.

Next morning, instead of the usual call, Amy received a note which made her smile at the beginning and sigh at the end.

My Dear Mentor, Please make my adieux to your aunt, and exult within yourself, for ‘Lazy Laurence’ has gone to his grandpa, like the best of boys.  A pleasant winter to you, and may the gods grant you a blissful honeymoon at Valrosa!  I think Fred would be benefited by a rouser.  Tell him so, with my congratulations.

Yours gratefully, Telemachus

“Good boy!  I’m glad he’s gone,” said Amy, with an approving smile.  The next minute her face fell as she glanced about the empty room, adding, with an involuntary sigh, “Yes, I am glad, but how I shall miss him.”

CHAPTER FORTY

THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW

When the first bitterness was over, the family accepted the inevitable, and tried to bear it cheerfully, helping one another by the increased affection which comes to bind households tenderly together in times of trouble.  They put away their grief, and each did his or her part toward making that last year a happy one.

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