`I wanted to speak to you about this, but I forgot it. Aunt gave me the ring today; she called me to her and kissed me, and put it on my finger, and said I was a credit to her, and she'd like to keep me always. She gave me that funny guard to keep the turquoise on, as it's too big. I'd like to wear them, Mother; can I?'
`They are very pretty, but I think you're rather too young for such ornaments, Amy,' said Mrs. March, looking at the plump little hand, with the band of sky-blue stones on the forefinger, and the quaint guard, formed of two tiny golden hands clasped together.
`I'll try not to be vain,' said Amy. `I don't think I like it only because it's so pretty; but I want to wear it as the girl in the story wore her bracelets, to remind me of something.'
`Do you mean Aunt March?' asked her mother, laughing.
`No, to remind me not to be selfish.' Amy looked so earnest and sincere about it, that her mother stopped laughing, and listened respectfully to the little plan.
`I've thought a great deal lately about my "bundle of naughties", and being selfish is the largest one on it; so I'm going to try hard to cure it, if I can. Beth isn't selfish, and that's the reason everyone loves her and feels so bad at the thought of losing her. People wouldn't feel half so bad about me if I was sick, and I don't deserve to have them; but I'd like to be loved and missed by a great many friends, so I'm going to try and be like Beth all I can. I'm apt to forget my resolutions; but if I had something always about me to remind me, I guess I should do better. May I try this way?'
`Yes; but I have more faith in the corner of the big closet. Wear your ring, dear, and do your best; I think you will prosper, for the sincere wish to be good is half the battle. Now I must go back to Beth. Keep up your heart, little daughter, and we will soon have you home again.'
That evening, while Meg was writing to her father, to report the traveller's safe arrival, Jo slipped upstairs into Beth's room, and, finding her mother in her usual place, stood a minute twisting her fingers in her hair, with a worried gesture and an undecided look.
`What is it, deary?' asked Mrs. March, holding out her hand, with a face which invited confidence.
`I want to tell you something, Mother.'
`How quickly you guessed! Yes, it's about her, and though it's a little thing, it fidgets me.'
`Beth is asleep; speak low, and tell me all about it. That Moffat hasn't been here, I hope?' asked Mrs. March, rather sharply.
`No, I should have shut the door in his face if he had,' said Jo, settling herself on the floor at her mother's feet. `Last summer Meg left a pair of gloves over at the Laurences', and only one was returned. We forgot all about it, till Teddy told me that Mr. Brooke had it. He kept it in his waistcoat pocket, and once it fell out, and Teddy joked him about it, and Mr. Brooke owned that he liked Meg, but didn't dare say so, she was so young and he so poor. Now, isn't it a dreadful state of things?'
`Do you think Meg cares for him?' asked Mrs. March, with an anxious look.
`Mercy me! I don't know anything about love and such nonsense!' cried Jo, with a funny mixture of interest and contempt. `In novels, the girls show it by starting and blushing, fainting away, growing thin, and acting like fools. Now Meg does not do anything of the sort; she eats and drinks and sleeps, like a sensible creature; she looks straight in my face when I talk about that man, and only blushes a little bit when Teddy jokes about lovers. I forbid him to do it, but he doesn't mind me as he ought.'
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