`It's often so; and we like to watch it, for it is never the same, but always splendid,' replied Amy, wishing she could paint it.

`Jo talks about the country where we hope to live some time - the real country, she means, with pigs and chickens and haymaking. It would be nice, but I wish the beautiful country up there was real, and we could ever go to it,' said Beth, musingly.

`There is a lovelier country even than that, where we shall go by and by, when we are good enough,' answered Meg, with her sweet voice.

`It seems so long to wait, so hard to do; I want to fly away at once, as those swallows fly, and go in at that splendid gate.'

`You'll get there, Beth, sooner or later; no fear of that,' said Jo; `I'm the one that will have to fight and work, and climb and wait, and maybe never get in after all.'

`You'll have me for company, if that's any comfort. I shall have to do a deal of travelling before I come in sight of your Celestial City. If I arrive late, you'll say a good word for me, won't you, Beth?'

Something in the boy's face troubled his little friend; but she said cheerfully, with her quiet eyes on the changing clouds, `If people really want to go, and really try all their lives, I think they will get in; for I don't believe there are any locks on that door, or any guards at the gate. I always imagine it is as it is in the picture, where the shining ones stretch out their hands to welcome poor Christian, as he comes up from the river.'

`Wouldn't it be fun if all the castles in the air which we make could come true, and we could live in them?' said Jo, after a little pause.

`I've made such quantities it would be hard to choose which I'd have,' said Laurie, lying flat, and throwing cones at the squirrel who had betrayed him.

`You'd have to take your favourite one. What is it?' asked Meg.

`If I tell mine, will you tell yours?'

`Yes, if the girls will too.'

`We will. Now, Laurie.'

`After I'd seen as much of the world as I want to, I'd like to settle in Germany, and have just as much music as I choose. I'm to be a famous musician myself, and all creation is to rush to hear me; and I'm never to be bothered about money or business, but just enjoy myself, and live for what I like. That's my favourite castle. What's yours, Meg?'

Margaret seemed to find it a little hard to tell hers, and waved a brake before her face, as if to disperse imaginary gnats, while she said slowly, `I should like a lovely house, full of all sorts of luxurious things - nice food, pretty clothes, handsome furniture, pleasant people, and heaps of money. I am to be mistress of it, and manage it as I like, with plenty of servants, so I never need work a bit. How I should enjoy it! for I wouldn't be idle, but do good and make everyone love me dearly.'

`Wouldn't you have a master for your castle in the air?' asked Laurie, slyly.

`I said "pleasant people", you know'; and Meg carefully tied up her shoe as she spoke, so that no one saw her face.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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