`Yes, dear. It will please him very much, and be a nice way of thanking him. The girls will help you about them, and I will pay for the making up,' replied Mrs. March, who took peculiar pleasure in granting Beth's requests, because she so seldom asked anything for herself.

After many serious discussions with Meg and Jo, the pattern was chosen, the materials bought, and the slippers begun. A cluster of grave yet cheerful pansies on a deeper purple ground was pronounced very appropriate and pretty; and Beth worked away early and late, with occasional lifts over hard parts. She was a nimble little needle-woman, and they were finished before anyone got tired of them. Then she wrote a very short, simple note, and, with Laurie's help, got them smuggled on to the study-table one morning before the old gentleman was up.

When this excitement was over, Beth waited to see what would happen. All that day passed, and a part of the next, before any acknowledgement arrived, and she was beginning to fear she had offended her crotchety friend. On the afternoon of the second day, she went out to do an errand, and give poor Joanna, the invalid doll, her daily exercise. As she came up the street, on her return, she saw three, yes, four, heads popping in and out of the parlour windows, and the moment they saw her, several hands were waved, and several joyful voices screamed:

`Here's a letter from the old gentleman! Come quick, and read it!'

`Oh, Beth, he's sent you--' began Amy, gesticulating with unseemly energy; but she got no further, for Jo quenched her by slamming down the window.

Beth hurried on in a flutter of suspense. At the door, her sisters seized and bore her to the parlour in a triumphal procession, all pointing, and all saying at once, `Look there! look there!' Beth did look, and turned pale with delight and surprise; for there stood a little cabinet piano, with a letter lying on the glossy lid, directed, like a signboard, to `Miss Elizabeth March'.

`For me?' gasped Beth, holding on to Jo, and feeling as if she should tumble down, it was such an overwhelming thing altogether.

`Yes; all for you, my precious! Isn't it splendid of him? Don't you think he's the dearest old man in the world? Here's the key in the letter. We didn't open it, but we are dying to know what he says,' cried Jo, hugging her sister, and offering the note.

`You read it! I can't! I feel so queer! Oh, it is too lovely!' and Beth hid her face in Jo's apron, quite upset by her present.

Jo opened the paper, and began to laugh, for the first words she saw were:


`Dear Madam' -

`How nice it sounds! I wish someone would write to me so!' said Amy, who thought the old-fashioned address very elegant.

`I have had many pairs of slippers in my life, but I never had any that suited me so well as yours,' continued Jo. `Heart's ease is my favourite flower, and these will always remind me of the gentle giver. I like to pay my debts; so I know you will allow `the old gentleman' to send you something which once belonged to the little granddaughter he lost. With hearty thanks and best wishes, I remain, your grateful friend and humble servant,


`There, Beth, that's an honour to be proud of, I'm sure. Laurie told me how fond Mr. Laurence used to be of the child who died, and how he kept all her little things carefully. Just think, he's given you her piano. That comes of having big blue eyes, and loving music,' said Jo, trying to soothe Beth, who trembled, and looked more excited than she had ever been before.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.