crutch. Don*t try to make me grow up before my time, Meg ; it's hard enough to have you change all of a sudden ; let me be a little girl as long as I can."
As she spoke, Jo bent over her work to hide the trembling of her lips ; for lately she had felt that Mar- garet was fast getting to be a woman, and Laurie's secret made her dread the separation which must surely come some time, and now seemed very near. He saw the trouble in her face, and drew Meg's attention from it by asking, quickly, "Where have you been calling, all so fine ? "
" At the Gardiners ; and Sallie has been telling me all about Belle Moffat's wedding. It was very splen- did, and they have gone to spend the winter in Paris ; just think how delightful that must be ! "
" Do you envy her, Meg?" said Laurie.
" I'm afraid I do."
" I'm glad of it ! " muttered Jo, tying on her hat with a jerk.
"Why?" asked Meg, looking surprised.
" Because, if you care much about riches, you will never go and marry a poor man," said Jo, frowning at Laurie, who was mutely warning her to mind what she said.
" I shall never 'go and marry ' any one," observed Meg, walking on with great dignity, while the others followed, laughing, whispering, skipping stones, and "behaving like children," as Meg said to herself, though she might have been tempted to join them if she had not had her best dress on.
For a week or two Jo behaved so queerly, that her sisters got quite bewildered. She rushed to the door