For a year Jo and her Professor worked and waited, hoped and loved, met occasionally, and wrote such voluminous letters that the rise in the price of paper was accounted for, Laurie said. The second year began rather soberly, for their prospects did not brighten, and Aunt March died suddenly. But when their first sorrow was over—for they loved the old lady in spite of her sharp tongue—they found they had cause for rejoicing, for she had left Plumfield to Jo, which made all sorts of joyful things possible.
“It’s a fine old place, and will bring a handsome sum, for of course you intend to sell it,” said Laurie, as they were all talking the matter over some weeks later.
“No, I don’t,” was Jo’s decided answer, as she petted the fat poodle, whom she had adopted, out of respect to his former mistress.
“You don’t mean to live there?”
“Yes, I do.”
“But, my dear girl, it’s an immense house, and will take a power of money to keep it in order. The garden and orchard alone need two or three men, and farming isn’t in Bhaer’s line, I take it.”
“He’ll try his hand at it there, if I propose it.”
“And you expect to live on the produce of the place? Well, that sounds paradisiacal, but you’ll find it desperate hard work.”
“The crop we are going to raise is a profitable one,” and Jo laughed.
“Of what is this fine crop to consist, ma’am?”
“Boys. I want to open a school for little lads—a good, happy, homelike school, with me to take care of them and Fritz to teach them.”
“That’s a truly Joian plan for you! Isn’t that just like her?” cried Laurie, appealing to the family, who looked as much surprised as he.
“I like it,” said Mrs. March decidedly.
“So do I,” added her husband, who welcomed the thought of a chance for trying the Socratic method of education on modern youth.
“It will be an immense care for Jo,” said Meg, stroking the head of her one all-absorbing son.
“Jo can do it, and be happy in it. It’s a splendid idea. Tell us all about it,” cried Mr. Laurence, who had been longing to lend the lovers a hand, but knew that they would refuse his help.
“I knew you’d stand by me, sir. Amy does too—I see it in her eyes, though she prudently waits to turn it over in her mind before she speaks. Now, my dear people,” continued Jo earnestly, “just understand that this isn’t a new idea of mine, but a long cherished plan. Before my Fritz came, I used to think how, when I’d made my fortune, and no one needed me at home, I’d hire a big house, and pick up some poor, forlorn little lads who hadn’t any mothers, and take care of them, and make life jolly for them before it was too late. I see so many going to ruin for want of help at the right minute, I love so to do anything for them, I seem to feel their wants, and sympathize with their troubles, and oh, I should so like to be a mother to them!”