16. CHAPTER SIXTEEN
"We will, Mother! We will!"
The rattle of an approaching carriage made them all start and
listen. That was the hard minute, but the girls stood it well. No
one cried, no one ran away or uttered a lamentation, though their
hearts were very heavy as they sent loving messages to Father,
remembering, as they spoke that it might be too late to deliver them.
They kissed their mother quietly, clung about her tenderly, and
tried to wave their hands cheerfully when she drove away.
Laurie and his grandfather came over to see her off, and Mr.
Brooke looked so strong and sensible and kind that the girls
christened him `Mr. Greatheart' on the spot.
"Goodby, my darlings! God bless and keep us all!" whispered
Mrs. March, as she kissed one dear little face after the other,
and hurried into the carriage.
As she rolled away, the sun came out, and looking back, she
saw it shining on the group at the gate like a good omen. They
saw it also, and smiled and waved their hands, and the last thing
she beheld as she turned the corner was the four bright faces, and
behind them like a bodyguard, old Mr. Laurence, faithful Hannah,
and devoted Laurie.
"How kind everyone is to us!" she said, turning to find fresh
proof of it in the respectful sympathy of the young man's face.
"I don't see how they can help it," returned Mr. Brooke,
laughing so infectiously that Mrs. March could not help smiling.
And so the journey began with the good omens of sunshine, smiles,
and cheerful words.
"I feel as if there had been an earthquake," said Jo, as their
neighbors went home to breakfast, leaving them to rest and refresh
"It seems as if half the house was gone," added Meg forlornly.
Beth opened her lips to say something, but could only point to
the pile of nicely mended hose which lay on Mother's table, showing
that even in her last hurried moments she had thought and worked
for them. It was a little thing, but it went straight to their
hearts, and in spite of their brave resolutions, they all broke
down and cried bitterly.