32. CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO
"Jo, I'm anxious about Beth."
"Why, Mother, she has seemed unusually well since the
"It's not her health that troubles me now, it's her spirits.
I'm sure there is something on her mind, and I want you to discover
what it is."
"What makes you think so, Mother?"
"She sits alone a good deal, and doesn't talk to her father
as much as she used. I found her crying over the babies the
other day. When she sings, the songs are always sad ones, and
now and then I see a look in her face that I don't understand.
This isn't like Beth, and it worries me."
"Have you asked her about it?'
"I have tried once or twice, but she either evaded my
questions or looked so distressed that I stopped. I never
force my children's confidence, and I seldom have to wait
Mrs. March glanced at Jo as she spoke, but the face
opposite seemed quite unconscious of any secret disquietude
but Beth's, and after sewing thoughtfully for a minute, Jo
said, "I think she is growing up, and so begins to dream dreams,
and have hopes and fears and fidgets, without knowing why or
being able to explain them. Why, Mother, Beth's eighteen, but
we don't realize it, and treat her like a child, forgetting
she's a woman."
"So she is. Dear heart, how fast you do grow up," returned
her mother with a sigh and a smile.
"Can't be helped, Marmee, so you must resign yourself to
all sorts of worries, and let your birds hop out of the nest,
one by one. I promise never to hop very far, if that is any
comfort to you."
"It's a great comfort, Jo. I always feel strong when you
are at home, now Meg is gone. Beth is too feeble and Amy too
young to depend upon, but when the tug comes, you are always