away, to get wine and beef tea, muttering to herself, as she slammed the door, " I hate estimable young men with brown eyes ! "
There never was such a Christmas dinner as they had that day. The fat turkey was a sight to behold, when Hannah sent him up, stuffed, browned and decorated. So was the plum-pudding, which quite melted in one's mouth ; likewise the jellies, in which Amy revelled like a fly in a honey-pot. Everything turned out well ; which was a mercy, Hannah said, " For my mind was that flustered, mum, that it's a merrycle I didn't roast the pudding and stuff' the turkey with raisens, let alone bilin' of it in a cloth."
Mr. Laurence and his grandson dined with them ; also Mr. Brooke, — at whom Jo glowered darkly, to Laurie's infinite amusement. Two easy-chairs stood 'side by side at the head of the table, in which sat Beth and her father, feasting, modestly, on chicken and a little fruit. They drank healths, told stories, sung songs, "reminisced," as the old folks say, and had a thoroughly good time. A sleigh-ride had been planned, but the girls would not leave their father ; so the guests departed early, and, as twilight gathered, the happy family sat together round the fire.
" Just a year ago we were groaning over the dismal Christmas we expected to have. Do you remember ? " asked Jo, breaking a short pause, which had followed a long conversation about many things.
" Rather a pleasant year on the whole ! " said Meg, smiling at the fire, and congratulating herself on having treated Mr. Brooke with dignity.
"I think it's been a pretty hard one," observed