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184
LITTLE WOMEN.

"Anything more?" asked Laurie, finding it hard to listen patiently to this prophetic burst.

"Nothing more,—except that I don't believe I shall ever marry; I'm happy as I am, and love my liberty too well to be in any hurry to give it up for any mortal man."

"I know better!" broke in Laurie, "you think so now; but there'll come a time when you will care for somebody, and you'll love him tremendously, and live and die for him. I know you will,—it's your way,—and I shall have to stand by and see it"—and the despairing lover cast his hat upon the ground with a gesture that would have seemed comical, if his face had not been so tragical.

"Yes, I will live and die for him, if he ever comes and makes me love him in spite of myself, and you must do the best you can," cried Jo, losing patience with poor Teddy. "I've done my best, but you won't be reasonable, and it's selfish of you to keep teasing for what I can't give. I shall always be fond of you,—very fond indeed, as a friend,—but I'll never marry you; and the sooner you believe it the better for both of us,—so now."

That speech was like fire to gunpowder. Laurie looked at her a minute, as if he did not quite know what to do with himself, then turned sharply away, saying, in a desperate sort of tone,—

"You'll be sorry some day, Jo."

"Oh, where are you going?" she cried, for his face frightened her.

"To the devil!" was the consoling answer.

For a minute Jo's heart stood still, as he swung himself down the bank, toward the river; but it takes