6. CHAPTER SIX
The big house did prove a Palace Beautiful, though it took
some time for all to get in, and Beth found it very hard to pass
the lions. Old Mr. Laurence was the biggest one, but after he
had called, said something funny or kind to each one of the girls,
and talked over old times with their mother, nobody felt much
afraid of him, except timid Beth. The other lion was the fact that
they were poor and Laurie rich, for this made them shy of accepting
favors which they could not return. But, after a while, they found
that he considered them the benefactors, and could not do enough to
show how grateful he was for Mrs. March's motherly welcome, their
cheerful society, and the comfort he took in that humble home of
theirs. So they soon forgot their pride and interchanged kindnesses
without stopping to think which was the greater.
All sorts of pleasant things happened about that time, for the
new friendship flourished like grass in spring. Every one liked
Laurie, and he privately informed his tutor that "the Marches were
regularly splendid girls." With the delightful enthusiasm of youth,
they took the solitary boy into their midst and made much of him,
and he found something very charming in the innocent companionship
of these simple-hearted girls. Never having known mother or sisters,
he was quick to feel the influences they brought about him, and
their busy, lively ways made him ashamed of the indolent life he led.
He was tired of books, and found people so interesting now that Mr.
Brooke was obliged to make very unsatisfactory reports, for Laurie
was always playing truant and running over to the Marches'.
"Never mind, let him take a holiday, and make it up afterward,"
said the old gentleman. "The good lady next door says he is studying
too hard and needs young society, amusement, and exercise. I suspect
she is right, and that I've been coddling the fellow as if I'd been
his grandmother. Let him do what he likes, as long as he is happy.
He can't get into mischief in that little nunnery over there, and
Mrs. March is doing more for him than we can."