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294
Little Women.

about it, and Mr. Brooke owned that he liked Meg, but didn't dare say so, she was so young and he so poor. Now isn't it a dreadful state of things ? "

"Do you think Meg cares for him? " asked Mrs. March, with an anxious look.

" Mercy me ! I don't know anything about love, and such nonsense ! " cried Jo, with a funny mixture of interest and contempt. " In novels, the girls show it by starting and Blushing, fainting away, growing thin, and acting like fools. Now Meg don't do any- thing of the sort ; she eats and drinks, and sleeps, like a sensible creature ; she looks straight in my face when I talk about that man, and only blushes a little bit when Teddy jokes about lovers. I forbid him to do it, but he don't mind me as he ought."

" Then you fancy that Meg is not interested in John?"

" Who ? " cried Jo, staring.

" Mr. Brooke ; I call him 'John ' now ; we fell into the way of doing so at the hospital, and he likes it."

" Oh, dear ! I know you'll take his part ; he's been good to father, and you won't send him away, but let Meg marry him, if she wants to. Mean thing ! to go petting pa and truckling to you, just to wheedle you into liking him ; " and Jo pulled her hair again with a wrathful tweak.

"My dear, don't get angry about it, and I will tell you how it happened. John went with me at Mr. Laurence's request, and was so devoted to poor father, that we couldn't help getting fond of him. He was perfectly open and honorable about Meg, for he told us he loved her ; but would earn a comfortable