35. CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE
Whatever his motive might have been, Laurie studied to
some purpose that year, for he graduated with honor, and
gave the Latin oration with the grace of a Phillips and the
eloquence of a Demosthenes, so his friends said. They were
all there, his grandfather--oh, so proud--Mr. and Mrs. March,
John and Meg, Jo and Beth, and all exulted over him with the
sincere admiration which boys make light of at the time, but
fail to win from the world by any after-triumphs.
"I've got to stay for this confounded supper, but I shall
be home early tomorrow. You'll come and meet me as usual,
girls?" Laurie said, as he put the sisters into the carriage
after the joys of the day were over. He said `girls', but he
meant Jo, for she was the only one who kept up the old custom.
She had not the heart to refuse her splendid, successful boy
anything, and answered warmly...
"I'll come, Teddy, rain or shine, and march before you,
playing `Hail the conquering hero comes' on a jew's-harp."
Laurie thanked her with a look that made her think in a
sudden panic, "Oh, deary me! I know he'll say something, and
then what shall I do?"
Evening meditation and morning work somewhat allayed her
fears, and having decided that she wouldn't be vain enough
to think people were going to propose when she had given them
every reason to know what her answer would be, she set forth
at the appointed time, hoping Teddy wouldn't do anything to
make her hurt his poor feelings. A call at Meg's, and a
refreshing sniff and sip at the Daisy and Demijohn, still
further fortified her for the tete-a-tete, but when she saw
a stalwart figure looming in the distance, she had a strong
desire to turn about and run away.
"Where's the jew's-harp, Jo?" cried Laurie, as soon as
he was within speaking distance.
"I forgot it." And Jo took heart again, for that salutation
could not be called loverlike.