32. CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO
"Why, you know I don't mind hard jobs much, and there
must always be one scrub in a family. Amy is splendid in fine
works and I'm not, but I feel in my element when all the carpets
are to be taken up, or half the family fall sick at once.
Amy is distinguishing herself abroad, but if anything is amiss
at home, I'm your man."
"I leave Beth to your hands, then, for she will open her
tender little heart to her Jo sooner than to anyone else. Be
very kind, and don't let her think anyone watches or talks
about; her. If she only would get quite strong and cheerful
again, I shouldn't have a wish in the world."
"Happy woman! I've got heaps."
"My dear, what are they?"
"I'll settle Bethy's troubles, and then I'll tell you mine.
They are not very wearing, so they'll keep." And Jo stitched away,
with a wise nod which set her mother's heart at rest about her for
the present at least.
While apparently absorbed in her own affairs, Jo watched
Beth, and after many conflicting conjectures, finally settled
upon one which seemed to explain the change in her. A slight
incident gave Jo the clue to the mystery, she thought, and
lively fancy, loving heart did the rest. She was affecting
to write busily one Saturday afternoon, when she and Beth were
alone together. Yet as she scribbled, she kept her eye on her
sister, who seemed unusually quiet. Sitting at the window, Beth's
work often dropped into her lap, and she leaned her head upon her
hand, in a dejected attitude, while her eyes rested on the dull,
autumnal landscape. Suddenly some one passed below, whistling
like an operatic blackbird, and a voice called out, "All serene!
Coming in tonight."
Beth started, leaned forward, smiled and nodded, watched the
passer-by till his quick tramp died away, then said softly as if
to herself, "How strong and well and happy that dear boy looks."