24. CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR
"This unassuming style promotes study, that's why we adopt it,"
returned Laurie, who certainly could not be accused of vanity, having
voluntarily sacrificed a handsome curly crop to the demand for
"By the way, Jo, I think that little Parker is really getting
desperate about Amy. He talks of her constantly, writes poetry, and
moons about in a most suspicious manner. He'd better nip his little
passion in the bud, hadn't he?" added Laurie, in a confidential,
elder brotherly tone, after a minute's silence.
"Of course he had. We don't want any more marrying in this
family for years to come. Mercy on us, what are the children
thinking of?" And Jo looked as much scandalized as if Amy and little
Parker were not yet in their teens.
"It's a fast age, and I don't know what we are coming to, ma'am.
You are a mere infant, but you'll go next, Jo, and we'll be left
lamenting," said Laurie, shaking his head over the degeneracy of the
"Don't be alarmed. I'm not one of the agreeable sort. Nobody
will want me, and it's a mercy, for there should always be one old
maid in a family."
"You won't give anyone a chance," said Laurie, with a sidelong
glance and a little more color than before in his sunburned face.
"You won't show the soft side of your character, and if a fellow
gets a peep at it by accident and can't help showing that he likes
it, you treat him as Mrs. Gummidge did her sweetheart, throw cold
water over him, and get so thorny no one dares touch or look at you."
"I don't like that sort of thing. I'm too busy to be worried
with nonsense, and I think it's dreadful to break up families so.
Now don't say any more about it. Meg's wedding has turned all our
heads, and we talk of nothing but lovers and such absurdities. I
don't wish to get cross, so let's change the subject." And Jo
looked quite ready to fling cold water on the slightest provocation.