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 favourite 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 party 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 mouth full.
`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 spoilt with lemonade, and I can't get any new ones, so I shall have to go without,' said Jo, who never troubled herself much about dress.
`You must have gloves, or I won't go,' cried Meg decidedly, `gloves are more important than anything else. I should be so mortified if you didn't have them.'
`Then I'll stay where I am.'
`You can't ask Mother for new ones, they are so expensive, and you are so careless. She said, when you spoilt the others, that she shouldn't get you any more this winter. Can't you make them do?' asked Meg anxiously.
`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, "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.'
So Meg went away to `accept with thanks', look over her dress, and sing blithely as she did up her one real lace frill; while Jo finished her story, her four apples, and had a game of romps with Scrabble.
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