23. CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE
"We can't, for something has been said, and Laurie's mischief
has spoiled you for me. I see it, and so does Mother. You are not
like your old self a bit, and seem ever so far away from me. I
don't mean to plague you and will bear it like a man, but I do wish
it was all settled. I hate to wait, so if you mean ever to do it,
make haste and have it over quickly," said Jo pettishly.
"I can't say anything till he speaks, and he won't, because
Father said I was too young," began Meg, bending over her work
with a queer little smile, which suggested that she did not quite
agree with her father on that point.
"If he did speak, you wouldn't know what to say, but would
cry or blush, or let him have his own way, instead of giving a
good, decided no."
"I'm not so silly and weak as you think. I know just what
I should say, for I've planned it all, so I needn't be taken
unawares. There's no knowing what may happen, and I wished to
Jo couldn't help smiling at the important air which Meg had
unconsciously assumed and which was as becoming as the pretty
color varying in her cheeks.
"Would you mind telling me what you'd say?" asked Jo more
"Not at all. You are sixteen now, quite old enough to be
my confidente, and my experience will be useful to you by-and-by,
perhaps, in your own affairs of this sort."
"Don't mean to have any. It's fun to watch other people
philander, but I should feel like a fool doing it myself," said
Jo, looking alarmed at the thought.
"I think not, if you liked anyone very much, and he liked
you." Meg spoke as if to herself, and glanced out at the lane
where she had often seen lovers walking together in the summer