seem lifted off her heart, and her face was so full of misery that Laurie asked quickly: `What is it? is Beth worse?'
`I've sent for Mother,' said Jo, tugging at her rubber boots with a tragical expression.
`Good for you, Jo! Did you do it on your own responsibility?' asked Laurie, as he seated her in the hall chair, and took off the rebellious boots, seeing how her hands shook.
`No, the doctor told us to.'
`Oh, Jo, it's not so bad as that?' cried Laurie, with a startled face.
`Yes, it is; she doesn't know us, she doesn't even talk about the flocks of green doves, as she calls the vine leaves on the wall; she doesn't look like my Beth, and there's nobody to help us bear it; Mother and Father both gone, and God seems so far away I can't find him.'
As the tears streamed fast down poor Jo's cheeks, she stretched out her hand in a helpless sort of way, as if groping in the dark, and Laurie took it in his, whispering as well as he could, with a lump in his throat: `I'm here. Hold on to me, Jo, dear!'
She could not speak, but she did `Hold on', and the warm grasp of the friendly human hand comforted her sore heart, and seemed to lead her nearer to the Divine arm which alone could uphold her in her trouble. Laurie longed to say something tender and comfortable, but no fitting words came to him, so he stood silent, gently stroking her bent head as her mother used to do. It was the best thing he could have done; far more soothing than the most eloquent words, for Jo felt the unspoken sympathy, and in the silence, teamed the sweet solace which affection administers to sorrow. Soon she dried the tears which had relieved her, and looked up with a grateful face.
`Thank you, Teddy, I'm better now; I don't feel so forlorn, and will try to bear it if it comes.'
`Keep hoping for the best; that will help you, Jo. Soon your mother will be here, and then everything will be right.'
`I'm so glad Father is better; now she won't feel so bad about leaving him. Oh, me! it does seem as if all the troubles came in a heap, and I got the heaviest part on my shoulders,' sighed Jo, spreading her wet handkerchief over her knees to dry.
`Doesn't Meg pull fair?' asked Laurie, looking indignant.
`Oh, yes; she tries to, but she can't love Bethy as I do; and she won't miss her as I shall. Beth is my conscience, and I can't give her up. I can't! I can't!' Down went Jo's face into the wet handkerchief, and she cried despairingly; for she had kept up bravely till now, and never shed a tear. Laurie drew his hand across his eyes, but could not speak till he had subdued the choking feeling in his throat and steadied his lips. It might be unmanly, but he couldn't help it, and I'm glad of it. Presently as Jo's sobs quieted, he said hopefully, `I don't think she will die; she's so good, and we all love her so much, I don't believe God will take her away yet.'
`The good and dear people always do die,' groaned Jo, but she stopped crying, for her friend's words cheered her up, in spite of her own doubts and fears.
`Poor girl, you're worn out. It isn't like you to be forlorn. Stop a bit; I'll hearten you up in a jiffy.'
Laurie went off two stairs at a time, and Jo laid her wearied head down on Beth's little brown hood, which no one had thought of moving from the table where she left it. It must have possessed some magic, for the submissive spirit of its gentle owner seemed to enter into Jo; and, when Laurie came running down with a glass of wine, she took it with a smile and said bravely, `I drink health to my Beth! You are
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