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320
Little Women.

up her hand with a warning, " Hush ! remember Beth ! "

But it was too late ; the study door flew open, — the little red wrapper appeared on the threshold, — joy put strength into the feeble limbs, — and Beth ran straight into her father's arms. Never mind what happened just after that ; for the full hearts over- flowed, washing away the bitterness of the past, and leaving only the sweetness of the present.

It was not at all romantic, but a hearty laugh set everybody straight again, — for Hannah was dis- covered behind the door, sobbing over the fat turkey, which she had forgotten to put down when she rushed up from the kitchen. As the laugh subsided, Mrs. March began to thank Mr. Brooke for his faithful care of her husband, at which Mr, Brooke suddenly remembered that Mr. March needed rest, and, seizing Laurie, he precipitately retired. Then the two in- valids were ordered to repose, which they did, by both sitting in one big chair, and talking hard.

Mr. March told how he had longed to surprise them, and how, when the fine weather came, he had been allowed by his doctor to take advantage of it ; how devoted Brooke had been, and how he was altogether a most estimable and upright young man. Why Mr. March paused a minute just there, and^ after a glance at Meg, who w^as violently poking the fire, looked at his wife with an inquiring lift of the eyebrows, I leave you to imagine ; also why Mrs. March gently nodded • her head, and asked, rather abruptly, if he wouldn't have something to eat. Jo saw and understood the look ; and she stalked grimly