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227
Secrets.

"You'd better read it loud ; that will amuse us, and keep you out of mischief," said Amy, in her most grown-up tone.

"What's the name?" asked Beth, wondering why Jo kept her face behind the sheet.

"The Rival Painters."

" That sounds well ; read it," said Meg.

With a loud " hem ! " and a long breath, Jo began to read very fast. The girls listened with interest, for the tale was romantic, and somewhat pathetic, as most of the characters died in the end.

" I like that about the splendid picture," was Amy's approving remark, as Jo paused.

" I prefer the lovering part. Viola and Angelo are two of our favorite names ; isn't that queer ? " said Meg, wiping her eyes, for the " lovering part" was tragical.

"Who wrote it?" asked Beth, who had caught a glimpse of Jo's face.

The reader suddenly sat up, cast away the paper, displaying a flushed countenance, and, with a funny mixture of solemnity and excitement, replied in a loud voice, " Your sister ! "

" You ? " cried Meg, dropping her work.

" It's very good," said Amy, critically.

" I knew it ! I knew it ! oh, my Jo, I am so proud ! " and Beth ran to hug her sister and exult over this splendid success.

Dear me, how delighted they all were, to be sure ; how Meg wouldn't believe it till she saw the words, "Miss Josephine March," actually printed in the paper ; how graciously Amy criticised the artistic