26. CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX
"There's the rumble, they're coming! I'll go onto the porch and
meet them. It looks hospitable, and I want the poor child to have a
good time after all her trouble," said Mrs. March, suiting the action
to the word. But after one glance, she retired, with an indescribable
expression, for looking quite lost in the big carriage, sat Amy and
one young lady.
"Run, Beth, and help Hannah clear half the things off the table.
It will be too absurd to put a luncheon for twelve before a single
girl," cried Jo, hurrying away to the lower regions, too excited to
stop even for a laugh.
In came Amy, quite calm and delightfully cordial to the one
guest who had kept her promise. The rest of the family, being of
a dramatic turn, played their parts equally well, and Miss Eliott
found them a most hilarious set, for it was impossible to control
entirely the merriment which possessed them. The remodeled lunch
being gaily partaken of, the studio and garden visited, and art
discussed with enthusiasm, Amy ordered a buggy (alas for the elegant
cherry-bounce), and drove her friend quietly about the neighborhood
till sunset, when `the party went out'.
As she came walking in, looking very tired but as composed as
ever, she observed that every vestige of the unfortunate fete had
disappeared, except a suspicious pucker about the corners of Jo's
"You've had a loverly afternoon for your drive, dear," said
her mother, as respectfully as if the whole twelve had come.
"Miss Eliott is a very sweet girl, and seemed to enjoy herself,
I thought," observed Beth, with unusual warmth.
"Could you spare me some of your cake? I really need some, I
have so much company, and I can't make such delicious stuff as yours,"
asked Meg soberly.
"Take it all. I'm the only one here who likes sweet things, and
it will mold before I can dispose of it," answered Amy, thinking with
a sigh of the generous store she had laid in for such an end as this.