The good soul was wide awake in a minute, and took the lead at once, assuring Jo that there was no need to worry, everyone had scarlet fever, and, if rightly treated, nobody died - all of which Jo believed, and felt much relieved as they went up to call Meg.

`Now I'll tell you what we'll do,' said Hannah, when she had examined and questioned Beth; `we will have Dr. Bangs, just to take a look at you, dear, and see that we start right; then we'll send Amy off to Aunt March's for a spell, to keep her out of harm's way, and one of you girls can stay at home and amuse Beth for a day or two.'

`I shall stay, of course; I'm oldest,' began Meg, looking anxious and self-reproachful.

`I shall, because it's my fault she is sick; I told Mother I'd do the errands, and I haven't,' said Jo, decidedly.

`Which will you have, Beth? there ain't no need of but one,' said Hannah.

`Jo, please,' and Beth leaned her head against her sister, with a contented look, which effectually settled that point.

`I'll go and tell Amy,' said Meg, feeling a little hurt, yet rather relieved on the whole, for she did not like nursing, and Jo did.

Amy rebelled outright, and passionately declared that she had rather have the fever than go to Aunt March. Meg reasoned, pleaded, and commanded: all in vain. Amy protested that she would not go; and Meg left her in despair, to ask Hannah what should be done. Before she came back, Laurie walked into the parlour to find Amy sobbing, with her head in the sofa cushions. She told her story, expecting to be consoled; but Laurie only put his hands in his pockets, and walked about the room, whistling softly, as he knit his brows in deep thought. Presently he sat down beside her, and said, in his most wheedlesome tone, `Now, be a sensible little woman, and do as they say. No, don't cry, but hear what a jolly plan I've got. You go to Aunt March's, and I'll come and take you out every day driving or walking, and we'll have capital times. Won't that be better than moping here?'

`I don't wish to be sent off as if I was in the way,' began Amy, in an injured voice.

`Bless your heart, child, it's to keep you well. You don't want to be sick, do you?'

`No, I'm sure I don't; but I dare say I shall be, for I've been with Beth all the time.'

`That's the very reason you ought to go away at once, so that you may escape it. Change of air and care will keep you well, I dare say; or, if it does not entirely, you will have the fever more lightly. I advise you to be off as soon as you can, for scarlet fever is no joke, miss.'

`But it's dull at Aunt March's, and she is so cross,' said Amy, looking rather frightened.

`It won't be dull with me popping in every day to tell you how Beth is, and take you out gallivanting. The old lady likes me, and I'll be as sweet as possible to her, so she won't peck at us, whatever we do.'

`Will you take me out in the trotting waggon with Puck?'

`On my honour as a gentleman.'

`And come every single day?'

`See if I don't.'

`And bring me back the minute Beth is well?'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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