`I'm sorry. What do you amuse yourself with?'

`Nothing; it's as dull as tombs up here.'

`Don't you read?'

`Not much; they won't let me.'

`Can't somebody read to you?'

`Grandpa does, sometimes; but my books don't interest him and I hate to ask Brooke all the time.'

`Have someone come and see you, then.'

`There isn't anyone I'd like to see. Boys make such a row, and my head is weak.'

`Isn't there some nice girl who'd read and amuse you? Girls are quiet, and like to play nurse.'

`Don't know any.'

`You know us,' began Jo, then laughed, and stopped.

`So I do! Will you come, please?' cried Laurie.

`I'm not quiet and nice; but I'll come, if Mother will let me. I'll go ask her. Shut that window, like a good boy, and wait till I come.'

With that, Jo shouldered her broom and marched into the house, wondering what they would all say to her. Laurie was in a flutter of excitement at the idea of having company, and flew about to get ready; for, as Mrs. March said, he was `a little gentleman', and did honour to the coming guest by brushing his curly pate, putting on a fresh collar, and trying to tidy up the room, which, in spite of half a dozen servants, was anything but neat. Presently there came a loud ring, then a decided voice, asking for `Mr. Laurie', and a surprised-looking servant came running up to announce a young lady.

`All right, show her up, it's Miss Jo,' said Laurie, going to the door of his little parlour to meet Jo, who appeared, looking rosy and kind and quite at her ease, with a covered dish in one hand and Beth's three kittens in the other.

`Here I am, bag and baggage,' she said briskly. `Mother sent her love, and was glad if I could do anything for you. Meg wanted me to bring some of her blancmange; she makes it very nicely, and Beth thought her cats would be comforting. I knew you'd laugh at them, but I couldn't refuse, she was so anxious to do something.'

It so happened that Beth's funny loan was just the thing; for, in laughing over the kits, Laurie forgot his bashfulness, and grew sociable at once.

`That looks too pretty to eat,' he said, smiling with pleasure, as Jo uncovered the dish, and showed the blancmange, surrounded by a garland of green leaves, and the scarlet flowers of Amy's pet geranium.

`It isn't anything, only they all felt kindly, and wanted to show it. Tell the girl to put it away for your tea; it's so simple, you can eat it; and, being soft it will slip down without hurting your sore throat. What a cosy room this is!'

`It might be if it was kept nice; but the maids are lazy, and I don't know how to make them mind. It worries me, though.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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