Amy's Valley Of Humiliation
`That boy is a perfect Cyclops, isn't he?' said Amy, one day, as Laurie clattered by on horseback, with a flourish of his whip as he passed.
`How dare you say so, when he's got both his eyes? and very handsome ones they are, too,' cried Jo, who resented any slighting remarks about her friend.
`I didn't say anything about his eyes, and I don't see why you need fire up when I admire his riding.'
`Oh, my goodness! that little goose means a centaur, and she called him a Cyclops,' exclaimed Jo, with a burst of laughter.
`You needn't be so rude; it's only a "lapse of lingy", as Mr. Davis says,' retorted Amy, finishing Jo with her Latin. `I just wish I had a little of the money Laurie spends on that horse,' she added, as if to herself, yet hoping her sisters would hear.
`Why?' asked Meg, kindly, for Jo had gone off in another laugh at Amy's second blunder.
`I need it so much; I'm dreadfully in debt, and it won't be my turn to have the rag-money for a month.'
`In debt, Amy? What do you mean?' and Meg looked sober.
`Why, I owe at least a dozen pickled limes, and I can't pay them, you know, till I have money, for Marmee forbade my having anything charged at the shop.'
`Tell me all about it. Are limes the fashion now? It used to be pickling bits of rubber to make balls'; and Meg tried to keep her countenance, Amy looked so grave and important.
`Why, you see, the girls are always buying them, and unless you want to be thought mean, you must do it too. It's nothing but limes now, for everyone is sucking them in their desks in school-time, and trading them off for pencils, bead-rings, paper dolls, or something else at recess. If one girl likes another she gives her a lime; if she's mad with her she eats one before her face, and don't offer even a suck. They treat by turns; and I've had ever so many, but haven't returned them; and I ought, for they are debts of honour, you know.'
`How much will pay them off, and restore your credit?' asked Meg, taking out her purse.
`A quarter would more than do it, and leave a few cents over for a treat for you. Don't you like limes?'
`Not much; you may have my share. Here's the money. Make it last as long as you can, for it isn't very plenty, you know.'
`Oh, thank you! It must be so nice to have pocket-money! I'll have a grand feast, for I haven't tasted a lime this week. I felt delicate about taking any, as I couldn't return them, and I'm actually suffering for one.'
Next day Amy was rather late at school; but could not resist the temptation of displaying, with pardonable pride, a moist, brown-paper parcel, before she consigned it to the inmost recesses of her desk. During the next few minutes the rumour that Amy March had got twenty-four delicious limes (she ate one on the way), and was going to treat, circulated through her `set', and the attentions of her friends became quite overwhelming. Katy Brown invited her to her next party on the spot; Mary Kingsley insisted on lending her her watch till recess; and Jenny Snow, a satirical young lady, who had basely twitted Amy upon her limeless state, promptly buried the hatchet, and offered to furnish answers to certain appalling sums. But Amy had not forgotten Miss Snow's cutting remarks about `some persons whose noses were not too flat to smell other people's limes, and stuck-up people who were not too proud to ask for them'; and she instantly crushed that `Snow girl's' hopes by the withering telegram, `You needn't be so polite all of a sudden, for you won't get any.'
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