said " Thank you, deary," bat something in her face made the girls change the subject, and talk as cheerfully as they could about Mr. Brooke's kindness, the prospect of a fine day to-morrow, and the happy times they would have when father came home to be nursed.
No one wanted to go to bed, when, at ten o'clock, Mrs. March put by the last finished job, and said, " Come, girls." Beth went to the piano and played the father's favorite hymn ; all began bravely, but broke down one by one till Beth was left alone, sing- ing with all her heart, for to her music was always a sweet consoler.
" Go to bed, and don't talk, for we must be up early, and shall need all the sleep we can get. Good-night, my darlings," said Mrs. March, as the hymn ended, for no one cared to try another.
They kissed her quietly, and went to bed as silently as if the dear invalid lay in the next room. Beth and Amy soon fell asleep in spite of the great trouble, but Meg lay awake thinking the most serious thoughts she had ever known in her short life. Jo lay motionless, and her sister fancied that she was asleep, till a stifled sob made her exclaim, as she touched a wet cheek, —
"Jo, dear, what is it.^* Are you crying about father?"
" No, not now."
" My — my hair," burst out poor Jo, trying vainly to smother her emotion in the pillow.
It did not sound at all comical to Meg, who kissed and caressed the afflicted heroine in the tenderest manner.