17. CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
"I'm too tired to go this afternoon," replied Meg, rocking
comfortably as she sewed.
"Can't you, Jo?' asked Beth.
"Too stormy for me with my cold."
"I thought it was almost well."
"It's well enough for me to go out with Laurie, but not well
enough to go to the Hummels'," said Jo, laughing, but looking a
little ashamed of her inconsistency.
"Why don't you go yourself?" asked Meg.
"I have been every day, but the baby is sick, and I don't
know what to do for it. Mrs. Hummel goes away to work, and
Lottchen takes care of it. But it gets sicker and sicker,
and I think you or Hannah ought to go."
Beth spoke earnestly, and Meg promised she would go tomorrow.
"Ask Hannah for some nice little mess, and take it round, Beth,
the air will do you good," said Jo, adding apologetically, "I'd go
but I want to finish my writing."
"My head aches and I'm tired, so I thought maybe some of you
would go," said Beth.
"Amy will be in presently, and she will run down for us,
So Beth lay down on the sofa, the others returned to their work,
and the Hummels were forgotten. An hour passed. Amy did not come,
Meg went to her room to try on a new dress, Jo was absorbed in her
story, and Hannah was sound asleep before the kitchen fire, when
Beth quietly put on her hood, filled her basket with odds and ends
for the poor children, and went out into the chilly air with a heavy
head and a grieved look in her patient eyes. It was late when she
came back, and no one saw her creep upstairs and shut herself into
her mother's room. Half an hour after, Jo went to `Mother's closet'
for something, and there found little Beth sitting on the medicine
chest, looking very grave, with red eyes and a camphor bottle in