35. CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE
Now, Laurie felt just then that his heart was entirely
broken and the world a howling wilderness, but at the sound
of certain words which the old gentleman artfully introduced
into his closing sentence, the broken heart gave an unexpected
leap, and a green oasis or two suddenly appeared in the howling
wilderness. He sighed, and then said, in a spiritless tone,
"Just as you like, Sir. It doesn't matter where I go or what I do."
"It does to me, remember that, my lad. I give you entire
liberty, but I trust you to make an honest use of it. Promise
me that, Laurie."
"Anything you like, Sir."
"Good," thought the old gentleman. "You don't care now,
but there'll come a time when that promise will keep you out
of mischief, or I'm much mistaken."
Being an energetic individual, Mr. Laurence struck while
the iron was hot, and before the blighted being recovered spirit
enough to rebel, they were off. During the time necessary for
preparation, Laurie bore himself as young gentleman usually do
in such cases. He was moody, irritable, and pensive by turns,
lost his appetite, neglected his dress and devoted much time
to playing tempestuously on his piano, avoided Jo, but consoled
himself by staring at her from his window, with a tragic
face that haunted her dreams by night and oppressed her with a
heavy sense of guilt by day. Unlike some sufferers, he never
spoke of his unrequited passion, and would allow no one, not
even Mrs. March, to attempt consolation or offer sympathy. On
some accounts, this was a relief to his friends, but the weeks
before his departure were very uncomfortable, and everyone rejoiced
that the `poor, dear fellow was going away to forget his
trouble, and come home happy'. Of course, he smiled darkly at
their delusion, but passed it by with the sad superiority of
one who knew that his fidelity like his love was unalterable.