36. CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX
When Jo came home that spring, she had been struck with
the change in Beth. No one spoke of it or seemed aware of it,
for it had come too gradually to startle those who saw her
daily, but to eyes sharpened by absence, it was very plain and
a heavy weight fell on Jo's heart as she saw her sister's face.
It was no paler and but littler thinner than in the autumn, yet
there was a strange, transparent look about it, as if the mortal
was being slowly refined away, and the immortal shining through
the frail flesh with an indescribably pathetic beauty. Jo saw
and felt it, but said nothing at the time, and soon the first
impression lost much of its power, for Beth seemed happy, no
one appeared to doubt that she was better, and presently in
other cares Jo fora time forgot her fear.
But when Laurie was gone, and peace prevailed again, the
vague anxiety returned and haunted her. She had confessed
her sins and been forgiven, but when she showed her savings
and proposed a mountain trip, Beth had thanked her heartily,
but begged not to go so far away from home. Another little
visit to the seashore would suit her better, and as Grandma
could not be prevailed upon to leave the babies, Jo took Beth
down to the quiet place, where she could live much in the
open air, and let the fresh sea breezes blow a little color
into her pale cheeks.
It was not a fashionable place, but even among the pleasant
people there, the girls made few friends, preferring to live for
one another. Beth was too shy to enjoy society, and Jo too
wrapped up in her to care for anyone else. So they were all in
all to each other, and came and went, quite unconscious of the
interest they exited in those about them, who watched with sympathetic
eyes the strong sister and the feeble one, always
together, as if they felt instinctively that a long separation
was not far away.