`Much obliged; I'll do anything if you'll let me stop a bit, for it's as dull as the Desert of Sahara down there. Shall I sew, read, cone, draw, or do all at once? Bring on your bears; I'm ready,' and Laurie sat down, with a submissive expression delightful to behold.
`Finish this story while I set my heel,' said Jo, handing him the book.
`Yes'm,' was the meek answer, as he began, doing his best to prove his gratitude for the favour of an admission into the `Busy Bee Society'.
The story was not a long one, and, when it was finished, he ventured to ask a few questions, as a reward of merit.
`Please, ma'am, could I inquire if this highly instructive and charming institution is a new one?'
`Would you tell him?' asked Meg of her sisters.
`He'll laugh,' said Amy, warningly.
`Who cares?' said Jo.
`I guess he'll like it,' added Beth.
`Of course I shall! I give you my word I won't laugh. Tell away, Jo, and don't be afraid.'
`The idea of being afraid of you! Well, you see we used to play Pilgrim's Progress, an we have been going on with it in earnest all winter and summer.'
`Yes, I know,' said Laurie, nodding wisely.
`Who told you?' demanded Jo.
`No, I did; I wanted to amuse him one night when you were all away, and he was rather dismal. He did like it, so don't scold, Jo,' said Beth, meekly.
`You can't keep a secret. Never mind; it saves trouble now.' `Go on, please,' said Laurie, as Jo became absorbed in her work, looking a trifle displeased.
`Oh, didn't she tell you about this new plan of ours? Well, we have tried not to waste our holiday, but each has had a task, and worked at it with a will. The vacation is nearly over, the stints are all done, and we are ever so glad that we didn't dawdle.'
`Yes, I should think so'; and Laurie thought regretfully of his own idle ways.
`Mother likes to have us out of doors as much as possible; so we bring our work here, and have nice times. For the fun of it we bring our things in these bags, wear the old hats, use poles to climb the hill, and play pilgrims, as we used to do years ago. We call this hill the "Delectable Mountain", for we can look far away and see the country where we hope to live some time.'
Jo pointed, and Laurie sat up to examine; for through an opening in the wood one could look across the wide blue river, the meadows on the other side, far over the outskirts of the great city, to the green hills that rose to meet the sky. The sun was low, and the heavens glowed with the splendour of an autumn sunset. Gold and purple clouds lay on the hilltops; and rising high into the ruddy light were silvery white peaks, that shone like the airy spires of some Celestial City.
`How beautiful that is!' said Laurie, softly, for he was quick to see and feel beauty of any kind.
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