humbly, for, if I am not mistaken, she will be rich in the possession of a good man's heart, and that is better than a fortune.'

`I understand, Mother, and quite agree; but I'm disappointed about Meg, for I'd planned to have her marry Teddy by and by, and sit in the lap of luxury all her days. Wouldn't it be nice?' asked Jo, looking up, with a brighter face.

`He is younger than she, you know,' began Mrs. March; but Jo broke in: `Only a little; he's old for his age, and tall; and can be quite grown-up in his manners if he likes. Then he's rich and generous and good, and loves us all; and I say it's a pity my plan is spoilt.'

`I'm afraid Laurie is hardly grown up enough to Meg, and altogether too much of a weathercock, just now, for anyone to depend on. Don't make plans, Jo; but let time and their own hearts mate your friends. We can't meddle safely in such matters, and had better not get "romantic rubbish", as you call it, into our heads, lest it spoil our friendship.'

`Well, I won't; but I hate to see things going all criss-cross and getting snarled up, when a pull here and a snip there would straighten it out. I wish wearing flat-irons on our heads would keep us from growing up. But buds will be roses, and kittens, cats - more's the pity!'

`What's that about flat-irons and cats?' asked Meg, as she crept into the room, with the finished letter in her hand.

`Only one of my stupid speeches. I'm going to bed; come, Peggy,' said Jo, unfolding herself, like an animated puzzle.

`Quite right, and beautifully written. Please add that I send my love to John,' said Mrs. March, as she glanced over the letter, and gave it back.

`Do you call him "John"?' asked Meg, smiling, with her innocent eyes looking down into her mother's.

`Yes; he has been like a son to us, and we are very fond of him,' replied Mrs. March, returning the look with a keen one.

`I'm glad of that, he is so lonely. Good night, Mother dear. It is so inexpressibly comfortable to have you here,' was Meg's quiet answer.

The kiss her mother gave her was a very tender one; and, as she went away, Mrs. March said, with a mixture of satisfaction and regret, `She does not love John yet, but will soon learn to.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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