35. CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE
"I don't. I never wanted to make you care for me so, and
I went away to keep you from it if I could."
"I thought so. It was like you, but it was no use. I
only loved you all the more, and I worked hard to please you,
and I gave up billiards and everything you didn't like, and
waited and never complained, for I hoped you'd love me, though
I'm not half good enough..." Here there was a choke that
couldn't be controlled, so he decapitated buttercups while he
cleared his `confounded throat'.
"You, you are, you're a great deal too good for me, and
I'm so grateful to you, and so proud and fond of you, I don't
know why I can't love you as you want me to. I've tried, but
I can't change the feeling, and it would be a lie to say I do
when I don't."
"Really, truly, Jo?"
He stopped short, and caught both her hands as he put
his question with a look that she did not soon forget.
"Really, truly, dear."
They were in the grove now, close by the stile, and when
the last words fell reluctantly from Jo's lips, Laurie dropped
her hands and turned as if to go on, but for once in his life
the fence was too much for him. So he just laid his head down
on the mossy post, and stood so still that Jo was frightened.
"Oh, Teddy, I'm sorry, so desperately sorry, I could kill
myself if it would do any good! I wish you wouldn't take it
so hard, I can't help it. You know it's impossible for people
to make themselves love other people if they don't," cried Jo
inelegantly but remorsefully, as she softly patted his shoulder,
remembering the time when he had comforted her so long ago.
"They do sometimes," said a muffled voice from the post.
"I don't believe it's the right sort of love, and I'd
rather not try it," was the decided answer.