`The first of June! The Kings are off to the seashore tomorrow, and I'm free. Three months' vacation - how I shall enjoy it!' exclaimed Meg, coming home one warm day to find Jo laid upon the sofa in an unusual state of exhaustion, while Beth took off her dusty boots, and Amy made lemonade for the refreshment of the whole party.
`Aunt March went today, for which, oh, be joyful!' said Jo. `I was mortally afraid she'd ask me to go with her; if she had, I should have felt as if I ought to do it; but Plumfield is about as gay as a churchyard, you know, and I'd rather be excused.
`We had a flurry getting the old lady off, and I had a fright every time she spoke to me, for I was in such a hurry to be through that I was uncommonly helpful and sweet, and feared she'd find it impossible to part from me. I quaked till she was fairly in the carriage, and had a final fright, for, as it drove off, she popped out her head, saying, "Josyphine, won't you - ?" I didn't hear any more, for I basely turned and fled; I did actually run, and whisked round the corner, where I felt safe.'
`Poor old Jo! she came in looking as if bears were after her,' said Beth, as she cuddled her sister's feet with a motherly air.
`Aunt March is a regular samphire, is she not?' observed Amy, tasting her mixture critically.
`She means vampire, no seaweed; but it doesn't matter; it's too warm to be particular about one's parts of speech,' murmured Jo.
`What shall you do all your vacation?' asked Amy, changing the subject, with tact. `I shall lie abed late and do nothing,' replied Meg, from the depths of the rocking-chair. `I've been routed up early all winter, and had to spend my days working for other people; so now I'm going to rest and revel to my heart's content.'
`No,' said Jo; `that dosy way wouldn't suit me. I've laid in a heap of books, and I'm going to improve my shining hours reading on my perch in the old apple-tree, when I'm not having l--'
`Don't say "larks"!' implored Amy, as a return snub for the `samphire' correction.
`I'll say "nightingales", then, with Laurie; that's proper and appropriate, since he's a warbler.'
`Don't let us do any lessons, Beth, for a while, but play all the time, and rest, as the girls mean to,' proposed Amy.
`Well, I will, if Mother doesn't mind. I want to learn some new songs, and my children need fitting up for the summer; they are dreadfully out of order, and really suffering for clothes.'
`May we, Mother?' asked Meg, turning to Mrs. March, who sat sewing in what they called `Marmee's corner'.
`You may try your experiment for a week, and see how you like it. I think by Saturday night you will find that all play and no work is as bad as all work and no play.'
`Oh, dear, no! it will be delicious, I'm sure,' said Meg, complacently.
`I now propose a toast, as my "friend and pardner, Sairy Gamp", says. Fun for ever, and no grubbing!' cried Jo, rising, glass in hand, as the lemonade went round.
They all drank it merrily, and began the experiment by lounging for the rest of the day. Next morning Meg did not appear till ten o'clock; her solitary breakfast did not taste nice and the room seemed lonely and untidy; for Jo had not filled the vases, Beth had not dusted, and Amy's books lay scattered about. Nothing was neat and pleasant but `Marmee's corner', which looked as usual; and there Meg sat, to `rest
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