35. CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE
She always used to take his arm on these occasions, now
she did not, and he made no complaint, which was a bad sign,
but talked on rapidly about all sorts of faraway subjects,
till they turned from the road into the little path that led
homeward through the grove. Then he walked more slowly, suddenly
lost his fine flow of language, and now and then a dreadful
pause occurred. To rescue the conversation from one of
the wells of silence into which it kept falling, Jo said
hastily, "Now you must have a good long holiday!"
"I intend to."
Something in his resolute tone made Jo look up quickly to
find him looking down at her with an expression that assured
her the dreaded moment had come, and made her put out her hand
with an imploring, "No, Teddy. Please don't!"
"I will, and you must hear me. It's no use, Jo, we've got
to have it out, and the sooner the better for both of us," he
answered, getting flushed and excited all at once.
"Say what you like then. I'll listen," said Jo, with a
desperate sort of patience.
Laurie was a young lover, but he was in earnest, and meant
to `have it out', if he died in the attempt, so he plunged into
the subject with characteristic impetuousity, saying in a voice
that would get choky now and then, in spite of manful efforts to
keep it steady . ..
"I've loved you ever since I've known you, Jo, couldn't help
it, you've been so good to me. I've tried to show it, but you
wouldn't let me. Now I'm going to make you hear, and give me an
answer, for I can't go on so any longer."
"I wanted to save you this. I thought you'd understand...
began Jo, finding it a great deal harder than she expected.
"I know you did, but the girls are so queer you never know
what they mean. They say no when they mean yes, and drive a
man out of his wits just for the fun of it," returned Laurie,
entrenching himself behind an undeniable fact.