Jo Meets Apollyon
`Girls, where are you going?' asked Amy, coming into their room one Saturday afternoon, and finding them getting ready to go out, with an air of secrecy, which excited her curiosity.
`Never mind; little girls shouldn't ask questions,' returned Jo, sharply.
Now if there is anything mortifying to our feelings, when we are young, it is to be told that; and to be bidden to `run away, dear', is still more trying to us. Amy bridled up at this insult, and determined to find out the secret, if she teased for an hour. Turning to Meg, who never refused her anything very long, she said coaxingly, `Do tell me! I should think you might let me go too; for Beth is fussing over her piano, and I haven't got anything to do, and am so lonely.'
`I can't, dear, because you aren't invited,' began Meg; but Jo broke in impatiently, `Now, Meg, be quiet, or you will spoil it all. You can't go, Amy; so don't be a baby and whine about it.'
`You are going somewhere with Laurie, I know you are; you were whispering and laughing together, on the sofa, last night, and you stopped when I came in. Aren't you going with him?'
`Yes, we are; now do be still and stop bothering.' Amy held her tongue, but used her eyes, and saw Meg slip a fan into her pocket.
`I know! I know! you're going to the hall to see "The Seven Castles"!' she cried, adding resolutely, `and I shall go, for Mother said I might see it; and I've got my rag-money, and it was mean not to tell me in time.'
`Just listen to me a minute, and be a good child,' said Meg, soothingly. `Mother doesn't wish you to go this week, because your eyes are not well enough yet to bear the light of this fairy piece. Next week you can go with Beth and Hannah, and have a nice time.'
`I don't like that half as well as going with you and Laurie. Please let me; I've been sick with this cold so long, and shut up, I'm dying for some fun. Do, Meg! I'll be ever so good,' pleaded Amy, looking as pathetic as she could.
`Suppose we take her. I don't believe Mother would mind, if we bundle her up well,' began Meg.
`If she goes I shan't; and if I don't, Laurie won't like it; and it will be very rude, after he invited only us, to go and drag in Amy. I should think she'd hate to poke herself where she isn't wanted,' said Jo, crossly, for she disliked the trouble of overseeing a fidgety child, when she wanted to enjoy herself. Her tone and manner angered Amy, who began to put her boots on, saying, in her most aggravating way, `I shall go; Meg says I may; and if I pay for myself, Laurie hasn't anything to do with it.'
`You can't sit with us, for our seats are reserved, and you mustn't sit alone; so Laurie will give you his place, and that will spoil our pleasure; or he'll get another seat for you, and that isn't proper, when you weren't asked. You shan't stir a step; so you may just stay where you are,' scolded Jo, crosser than ever, having just pricked her finger in her hurry.
Sitting on the floor, with one boot on, Amy began to cry, and Meg to reason with her, when Laurie called from below, and the two girls hurried down, leaving their sister wailing; for now and then she forgot her grown-up ways, and acted like a spoilt child. Just as the party were setting out, Amy called over the bannisters, in a threatening voice, `You'll be sorry for this, Jo March; see if you ain't.'
`Fiddlesticks!' returned Jo, slamming the door.
They had a charming time, for "The Seven Castles of the Diamond Lake" was as brilliant and wonderful as heart could wish. But, in spite of the comical red imps, sparkling elves, and gorgeous princes and princesses, Jo's pleasure had a drop of bitterness in it; the fairy queen's yellow curls reminded her of Amy; and between the acts she amused herself with wondering what her sister would do to make her
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