“You precocious chick! Who put that into your head?” said Jo, enjoying the innocent revelation as much as the Professor.
“’Tisn’t in mine head, it’s in mine mouf,” answered literal Demi, putting out his tongue, with a chocolate drop on it, thinking she alluded to confectionery, not ideas.
“Thou shouldst save some for the little friend. Sweets to the sweet, mannling,” and Mr. Bhaer offered Jo some, with a look that made her wonder if chocolate was not the nectar drunk by the gods. Demi also saw the smile, was impressed by it, and artlessy inquired. ..
“Do great boys like great girls, to, ’Fessor?”
Like young Washington, Mr. Bhaer ‘couldn’t tell a lie’, so he gave the somewhat vague reply that he believed they did sometimes, in a tone that made Mr. March put down his clothesbrush, glance at Jo’s retiring face, and then sink into his chair, looking as if the ‘precocious chick’ had put an idea into his head that was both sweet and sour.
Why Dodo, when she caught him in the china closet half an hour afterward, nearly squeezed the breath out of his little body with a tender embrace, instead of shaking him for being there, and why she followed up this novel performance by the unexpected gift of a big slice of bread and jelly, remained one of the problems over which Demi puzzled his small wits, and was forced to leave unsolved forever.
UNDER THE UNBRELLA
While Laurie and Amy were taking conjugal strolls over velvet carpets, as they set their house in order, and planned a blissful future, Mr. Bhaer and Jo were enjoying promenades of a different sort, along muddy roads and sodden fields.
“I always do take a walk toward evening, and I don’t know why I should give it up, just because I happen to meet the Professor on his way out,” said Jo to herself, after two or three encounters, for though there were two paths to Meg’s whichever one she took she was sure to meet him, either going or returning. He was always walking rapidly, and never seemed to see her until quite close, when he would look as if his short-sighted eyes had failed to recognize the approaching lady till that moment. Then, if she was going to Meg’s he always had something for the babies. If her face was turned homeward, he had merely strolled down to see the river, and was just returning, unless they were tired of his frequent calls.
Under the circumstances, what could Jo do but greet him civilly, and invite him in? If she was tired of his visits, she concealed her weariness with perfect skill, and took care that there should be coffee for supper, “as Friedrich—I mean Mr. Bhaer—doesn’t like tea.”
By the second week, everyone knew perfectly well what was going on, yet everyone tried to look as if they were stone-blind to the changes in Jo’s face. They never asked why she sang about her work, did up her hair three times a day, and got so blooming with her evening exercise. And no one seemed to have the slightest suspicion that Professor Bhaer, while talking philosophy with the father, was giving the daughter lessons in love.