THE LAURENCE BOY
"Jo! Jo! Where are you?" cried Meg at the foot of the garret stairs.
"Here!" answered a husky voice from above, and, running up, Meg found
her sister eating apples and crying over the Heir of Redclyffe, wrapped
up in a comforter on an old three-legged sofa by the sunny window.
This was Jo's favorite refuge, and here she loved to retire with half a
dozen russets and a nice book, to enjoy the quiet and the society of a
pet rat who lived near by and didn't mind her a particle. As Meg
appeared, Scrabble whisked into his hole. Jo shook the tears off her
cheeks and waited to hear the news.
"Such fun! Only see! A regular note of invitation from Mrs. Gardiner
for tomorrow night!" cried Meg, waving the precious paper and then
proceeding to read it with girlish delight.
"'Mrs. Gardiner would be happy to see Miss March and Miss Josephine at
a little dance on New Year's Eve.' Marmee is willing we should go, now
what shall we wear?"
"What's the use of asking that, when you know we shall wear our
poplins, because we haven't got anything else?" answered Jo with her
"If I only had a silk!" sighed Meg. "Mother says I may when I'm
eighteen perhaps, but two years is an everlasting time to wait."
"I'm sure our pops look like silk, and they are nice enough for us.
Yours is as good as new, but I forgot the burn and the tear in mine.
Whatever shall I do? The burn shows badly, and I can't take any out."
"You must sit still all you can and keep your back out of sight. The
front is all right. I shall have a new ribbon for my hair, and Marmee
will lend me her little pearl pin, and my new slippers are lovely, and
my gloves will do, though they aren't as nice as I'd like."
"Mine are spoiled with lemonade, and I can't get any new ones, so I
shall have to go without," said Jo, who never troubled herself much
"You must have gloves, or I won't go," cried Meg decidedly. "Gloves are
more important than anything else. You can't dance without them, and
if you don't I should be so mortified."
"Then I'll stay still. I don't care much for company dancing. It's no
fun to go sailing round. I like to fly about and cut capers."
"You can't ask Mother for new ones, they are so expensive, and you are
so careless. She said when you spoiled the others that she shouldn't
get you any more this winter. Can't you make them do?"
"I can hold them crumpled up in my hand, so no one will know how
stained they are. That's all I can do. No! I'll tell you how we can
manage, each wear one good one and carry a bad one. Don't you see?"
"Your hands are bigger than mine, and you will stretch my glove
dreadfully," began Meg, whose gloves were a tender point with her.
"Then I'll go without. I don't care what people say!" cried Jo, taking
up her book.
"You may have it, you may! Only don't stain it, and do behave nicely.
Don't put your hands behind you, or stare, or say 'Christopher
Columbus!' will you?"
"Don't worry about me. I'll be as prim as I can and not get into any
scrapes, if I can help it. Now go and answer your note, and let me
finish this splendid story."