Some English girls and boys are coming to see me tomorrow, and I want to have a jolly time. If it's fine, I'm going to pitch my tent in Longmeadow, and row up the whole crew to lunch and croquet - have a fire, make messes, gipsy fashion, and all sorts of larks. They are nice people, and like such things. Brooke will go, to keep us boys steady, and Kate Vaughn will play propriety for the girls. I want you all to come; can't let Beth off at any price, and nobody shall worry her. Don't bother about rations - I'll see to that, and everything else - only do come, there's a good fellow!

In a tearing hurry,
Yours ever, LAURIE

`Here's richness!' cried Jo, flying in to tell the news to Meg. `Of course we can go, Mother? it will be such a help to Laurie, for I can row, and Meg see to the lunch, and the children be useful in some way.'

`I hope the Vaughns are not fine, grown-up people. Do you know anything about them, Jo?' asked Meg.

`Only that there are four of them. Kate is older than you, Fred and Frank (twins) about my age, and a little girl (Grace), who is nine or ten. Laurie knew them abroad, and liked the boys; I fancied, from the way he primmed up his mouth in speaking of her, that he didn't admire Kate much.'

`I'm so glad my French print is clean; it's just the thing, and so becoming!' observed Meg complacently. `Have you anything decent, Jo?'

`Scarlet and grey boating suit, good enough for me. I shall row and tramp about, so I don't want any starch to think of. You'll come, Betty?'

`If you won't let any of the boys talk to me.'

`Not a boy!'

`I like to please Laurie; and I'm not afraid of Mr. Brooke, he is so kind; but I don't want to play, or sing, or say anything. I'll work hard and not trouble anyone; and you'll take care of me, Jo, so I'll go.'

`That's my good girl; you do try to fight off your shyness, and I love you for it. Fighting faults isn't easy, as I know; and a cheery word kind of gives a lift. Thank you, Mother,' and Jo gave the thin cheek a grateful kiss, more precious to Mrs. March than if it had given back the rosy roundness of her youth.

`I had a box of chocolate drops, and the picture I wanted to copy,' said Amy, showing her mail.

`And I got a note from Mr. Laurence asking me to come over and play to him tonight before the lamps are lighted, and I shall go,' added Beth, whose friendship with the old gentleman prospered finely.

`Now let's fly round and do double duty today, so that we can play tomorrow with free minds,' said Jo, preparing to replace her pen with a broom.

When the sun peeped into the girls' room early the next morning, to promise them a fine day, he saw a comical sight. Each had made such preparation for the fête as seemed necessary and proper. Meg had an extra row of little curl papers across her forehead, Jo had copiously anointed her afflicted face with cold cream, Beth had taken Joanna to bed with her to atone for the approaching separation, and Amy had capped the climax by putting a clothes-pin on her nose, to uplift the offending feature. It was one of the kind artists used to hold the paper on their drawing-boards, therefore quite appropriate and effective for the purpose to which it was now put. This funny spectacle appeared to amuse the sun, for he burst out with such radiance that Jo woke up, and roused all her sisters by a hearty laugh at Amy's ornament.

Sunshine and laughter were good omens for a pleasure party, and soon a lively bustle began in both houses. Beth, who was ready first, kept reporting what went on next door, and enlivened her sisters' toilets by frequent telegrams from the window.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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