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Little Women

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were her son, and last, but not least by any means, the knowledge that four
innocent girls loved, admired, and believed in him with all their hearts.

Being only *a glorious human boy', of course he frolicked and flirted.
grew dandified. aguatic, sentimental. or gymnastic, as college fashions
ordained, hazed and was hazed, talked slang, and more than once came
perilously near suspension and expulsion. But as high spirits and the love
of fun were the causes of these pranks, he always managed to save himself
by frank confession, honorable atonement, or the irresistible power of
persuasion which he possessed in perfection. In fact, he rather prided
himself on his narrow escapes. and liked to thrill the girls with graphic
accounts of his triumphs over wrathful tutors, dignified professors. and
vanouished enemies. The imen of my classl. were heroes in the eyes of the
girls, who never wearied of the exploits of *our fellows', and were
frecluently allowed to bask in the smiles of these great creatures, when
Laurie brought them home with him.

Amy especially enjoyed this high honor, and became duite a belle among
them, for her ladyship early felt and learned to use the gift of
fascination with which she was endowed. Meg was too much absorbed in her
private and particular John to care for any other lords of creation, and
Beth too shy to do more than peep at them and wonder how Amy dared to order
them about so, but Jo felt guite in her own element, and found it very
difficult to refrain from imitating the gentlemanly attitudes, phrases, and
feats. which seemed more natural to her than the decorums prescribed for
young ladies. They all liked Jo immensely. but never fell in love with her.
though very few escaped without paying the tribute ofa sentimental sigh or
two at Amy's shrine. And speaking of sentiment brings us very naturally to
the *Dovecote'.

That was the name of the little brown house Mr. Brooke had prepared
for Megls first home. Laurie had christened it, saying it was highly
appropriate to the gentle lovers who *went on together like a pair of
turtledoves, with first a bill and then a coo'. It was a tiny house, with a
little garden behind and a lawn about as big as a pocket handkerchief in
the front. Here Meg meant to have a fountain, shrubbery, and a profusion of
lovely flowers, though just at present the fountain was represented by a
weather-beaten urn, very like a dilapidated slopbowl, the shrubbery
consisted of several young larches, undecided whether to live or die, and
the profusion of flowers was merely hinted by regiments of sticks to show
where seeds were planted. But inside, it was altogether charming, and the
happy bride saw no fault from garret to cellar. To be sure, the hall was so
narrow it was fortunate that they had no piano, for one never could have
been got in whole, the dining room was so small that six people were a
tight fit, and the kitchen stairs seemed built for the express purpose of
precipitating both servants and china pell-mell into the coalbin. But once
get used to these slight blemishes and nothing could be more complete, for
good sense and good taste had presided over the fumishing, and the result
was highly satisfactory. There were no marble-topped tables, long mirrors,
or lace curtains in the little parlor, but simple fumiture, plenty of
books, a fine picture or two, a stand of flowers in the bay window, and,
scattered all about, the pretty gifts which came from friendly hands and
were the fairer for the loving messages they brought.

I don't think the Parian Psyche Laurie gave lost any of its beauty
because John put up the bracket it stood upon, that any upholsterer could
have draped the plain muslin curtains more gracefully than Amy's artistic
hand, or that any store-room was ever better provided with good wishes,
merry words, and happy hopes than that in which Jo and her mother put away
Meg's few boxes, barrels, and bundles, and I am morally certain that the
spandy new kitchen never could have looked so cozy and neat if Hannah had
not arranged every pot and pan a dozen times over, and laid the fire all
ready for lighting the minute *Mis. Brooke came home'. I also doubt if any
young matron ever began life with so rich a supply of dusters, holders, and
piece bags, for Beth made enough to last till the silver wedding came
round, and invented three different kinds of dishcloths for the express
service of the bridal china.

People who híre all these things done for them never know what they
lose, for the homeliest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them, and
Meg found so many proofs of this that everything in her small nest, from
the kitchen roller to the silver vase on her parlor table, was eloguent of
home love and tender forethought.

What happy times they had planning together, what solemn shopping
excursions, what funny mistakes they made, and what shouts of laughter
arose over Laurie's ridiculous bargains. In his love of jokes, this young
gentleman, though nearly through college, was a much of a boy as ever. His
last whim had been to bring with him on his weekly visits some new, useful,
and ingenious article for the young housekeeper. Now a bag of remarkable
clothes-pins, next, a wonderful nutmeg grater which fell to pieces at the
first trial, a knife cleaner that spoiled all the knives, or a sweeper that
picked the nap neatly off the carpet and left the dirt, labor-saving soap
that took the skin off one's hands, infallible cements which stuck finnly
to nothing but the fingers of the deluded buyer, and every kind of tinware,
from a toy savings bank for odd pennies, to a wonderful boiler which would
wash articles in its own steam with every prospect of exploding in the

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