"Who knows? Stranger things have happened," thought Jo, as she fussed about the room. "She will make quite an angel of him, and he will make life delightfully easy and pleasant for the dear, if they only love each other. I don't see how he can help it, and I do believe he would if the rest of us were out of the way."
As everyone was out of the way but herself, Jo began to feel that she ought to dispose of herself with all speed. But where should she go? And burning to lay herself upon the shrine of sisterly devotion, she sat down to settle that point.
Now, the old sofa was a regular patriarch of a sofa--long, broad, well-cushioned, and low, a trifle shabby, as well it might be, for the girls had slept and sprawled on it as babies, fished over the back, rode on the arms, and had menageries under it as children, and rested tired heads, dreamed dreams, and listened to tender talk on it as young women. They all loved it, for it was a family refuge, and one corner had always been Jo's favorite lounging place. Among the many pillows that adorned the venerable couch was one, hard, round, covered with prickly horsehair, and furnished with a knobby button at each end. This repulsive pillow was her especial property, being used as a weapon of defense, a barricade, or a stern preventive of too much slumber.
Laurie knew this pillow well, and had cause to regard it with deep aversion, having been unmercifully pummeled with it in former days when romping was allowed, and now frequently debarred by it from the seat he most coveted next to Jo in the sofa corner. If `the sausage' as the called it, stood on end, it was a sign that he might approach and repose, but if it lay flat across the sofa, woe to man, woman, or child who dared disturb it! That evening Jo forgot to barricade her corner, and had not been in her seat five minutes, before a massive form appeared beside her, and with both arms spread over the sofa back, both long legs stretched out before him, Laurie exclaimed, with a sigh of satisfaction...
"Now, this is filling at the price."
"No slang," snapped Jo, slamming down the pillow. But it was too late, there was no room for it, and coasting onto the floor, it disappeared in a most mysterious manner.
"Come, Jo, don't be thorny. After studying himself to a skeleton all the week, a fellow deserves petting and ought to get it."
"Beth will pet you. I'm busy."
"No, she's not to be bothered with me, but you like that sort of thing, unless you've suddenly lost your taste for it. Have you? Do you hate your boy, and want to fire pillows at him?"
Anything more wheedlesome than that touching appeal was seldom heard, but Jo quenched `her boy' by turning on him with a stern query, "How many bouquets have you sent Miss Randal this week?"
"Not one, upon my word. She's engaged. Now then."
"I'm glad of it, that's one of your foolish extravagances, sending flowers and things to girls for whom you don't care two pins," continued Jo reprovingly.
"Sensible girls for whom I do care whole papers of pins won't let me send them `flowers and things', so what can I do? My feelings need a` vent'."
"Mother doesn't approve of flirting even in fun, and you do flirt desperately, Teddy."
"I'd give anything if I could answer, `So do you'. As I can't, I'll merely say that I don't see any harm in that pleasant little game, if all parties understand that it's only play."
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