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Chapter 21 My Lord and Lady

  • "Please, Madam Mother, could you lend me my wife for half an hour? The luggag_as come, and I've been making hay of Amy's Paris finery, trying to find som_hings I want," said Laurie, coming in the next day to find Mrs. Laurenc_itting in her mother's lap, as if being made 'the baby' again.
  • "Certainly. Go, dear, I forgot that you have any home but this," and Mrs.
  • March pressed the white hand that wore the wedding ring, as if asking pardo_or her maternal covetousness.
  • "I shouldn't have come over if I could have helped it, but I can't get o_ithout my little woman any more than a… "
  • "Weathercock can without the wind," suggested Jo, as he paused for a simile.
  • Jo had grown quite her own saucy self again since Teddy came home.
  • "Exactly, for Amy keeps me pointing due west most of the time, with only a_ccasional whiffle round to the south, and I haven't had an easterly spel_ince I was married. Don't know anything about the north, but am altogethe_alubrious and balmy, hey, my lady?"
  • "Lovely weather so far. I don't know how long it will last, but I'm not afrai_f storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship. Come home, dear, and I'l_ind your bootjack. I suppose that's what you are rummaging after among m_hings. Men are so helpless, Mother," said Amy, with a matronly air, whic_elighted her husband.
  • "What are you going to do with yourselves after you get settled?" asked Jo,
  • buttoning Amy's cloak as she used to button her pinafores.
  • "We have our plans. We don't mean to say much about them yet, because we ar_uch very new brooms, but we don't intend to be idle. I'm going into busines_ith a devotion that shall delight Grandfather, and prove to him that I'm no_poiled. I need something of the sort to keep me steady. I'm tired o_awdling, and mean to work like a man."
  • "And Amy, what is she going to do?" asked Mrs. March, well pleased at Laurie'_ecision and the energy with which he spoke.
  • "After doing the civil all round, and airing our best bonnet, we shal_stonish you by the elegant hospitalities of our mansion, the brillian_ociety we shall draw about us, and the beneficial influence we shall exer_ver the world at large. That's about it, isn't it, Madame Recamier?" aske_aurie with a quizzical look at Amy.
  • "Time will show. Come away, Impertinence, and don't shock my family by callin_e names before their faces," answered Amy, resolving that there should be _ome with a good wife in it before she set up a salon as a queen of society.
  • "How happy those children seem together!" observed Mr. March, finding i_ifficult to become absorbed in his Aristotle after the young couple had gone.
  • "Yes, and I think it will last," added Mrs. March, with the restful expressio_f a pilot who has brought a ship safely into port.
  • "I know it will. Happy Amy!" and Jo sighed, then smiled brightly as Professo_haer opened the gate with an impatient push.
  • Later in the evening, when his mind had been set at rest about the bootjack,
  • Laurie said suddenly to his wife, "Mrs. Laurence."
  • "My Lord!"
  • "That man intends to marry our Jo!"
  • "I hope so, don't you, dear?"
  • "Well, my love, I consider him a trump, in the fullest sense of tha_xpressive word, but I do wish he was a little younger and a good dea_icher."
  • "Now, Laurie, don't be too fastidious and worldly-minded. If they love on_nother it doesn't matter a particle how old they are nor how poor. Wome_ever should marry for money… " Amy caught herself up short as the word_scaped her, and looked at her husband, who replied, with malicious gravity…
  • "Certainly not, though you do hear charming girls say that they intend to d_t sometimes. If my memory serves me, you once thought it your duty to make _ich match. That accounts, perhaps, for your marrying a good-for-nothing lik_e."
  • "Oh, my dearest boy, don't, don't say that! I forgot you were rich when I said
  • 'Yes'. I'd have married you if you hadn't a penny, and I sometimes wish yo_ere poor that I might show how much I love you." And Amy, who was ver_ignified in public and very fond in private, gave convincing proofs of th_ruth of her words.
  • "You don't really think I am such a mercenary creature as I tried to be once,
  • do you? It would break my heart if you didn't believe that I'd gladly pull i_he same boat with you, even if you had to get your living by rowing on th_ake."
  • "Am I an idiot and a brute? How could I think so, when you refused a riche_an for me, and won't let me give you half I want to now, when I have th_ight? Girls do it every day, poor things, and are taught to think it is thei_nly salvation, but you had better lessons, and though I trembled for you a_ne time, I was not disappointed, for the daughter was true to the mother'_eaching. I told Mamma so yesterday, and she looked as glad and grateful as i_'d given her a check for a million, to be spent in charity. You are no_istening to my moral remarks, Mrs. Laurence," and Laurie paused, for Amy'_yes had an absent look, though fixed upon his face.
  • "Yes, I am, and admiring the mole in your chin at the same time. I don't wis_o make you vain, but I must confess that I'm prouder of my handsome husban_han of all his money. Don't laugh, but your nose is such a comfort to me,"
  • and Amy softly caressed the well-cut feature with artistic satisfaction.
  • Laurie had received many compliments in his life, but never one that suite_im better, as he plainly showed though he did laugh at his wife's peculia_aste, while she said slowly, "May I ask you a question, dear?"
  • "Of course, you may."
  • "Shall you care if Jo does marry Mr. Bhaer?"
  • "Oh, that's the trouble is it? I thought there was something in the dimpl_hat didn't quite suit you. Not being a dog in the manger, but the happies_ellow alive, I assure you I can dance at Jo's wedding with a heart as ligh_s my heels. Do you doubt it, my darling?"
  • Amy looked up at him, and was satisfied. Her little jealous fear vanishe_orever, and she thanked him, with a face full of love and confidence.
  • "I wish we could do something for that capital old Professor. Couldn't w_nvent a rich relation, who shall obligingly die out there in Germany, an_eave him a tidy little fortune?" said Laurie, when they began to pace up an_own the long drawing room, arm in arm, as they were fond of doing, in memor_f the chateau garden.
  • "Jo would find us out, and spoil it all. She is very proud of him, just as h_s, and said yesterday that she thought poverty was a beautiful thing."
  • "Bless her dear heart! She won't think so when she has a literary husband, an_ dozen little professors and professorins to support. We won't interfere now,
  • but watch our chance, and do them a good turn in spite of themselves. I owe J_or a part of my education, and she believes in people's paying their hones_ebts, so I'll get round her in that way."
  • "How delightful it is to be able to help others, isn't it? That was always on_f my dreams, to have the power of giving freely, and thanks to you, the drea_as come true."
  • "Ah, we'll do quantities of good, won't we? There's one sort of poverty that _articularly like to help. Out-and-out beggars get taken care of, but poo_entle folks fare badly, because they won't ask, and people don't dare t_ffer charity. Yet there are a thousand ways of helping them, if one onl_nows how to do it so delicately that it does not offend. I must say, I lik_o serve a decayed gentleman better than a blarnerying beggar. I suppose it'_rong, but I do, though it is harder."
  • "Because it takes a gentleman to do it," added the other member of th_omestic admiration society.
  • "Thank you, I'm afraid I don't deserve that pretty compliment. But I was goin_o say that while I was dawdling about abroad, I saw a good many talente_oung fellows making all sorts of sacrifices, and enduring real hardships,
  • that they might realize their dreams. Splendid fellows, some of them, workin_ike heros, poor and friendless, but so full of courage, patience, an_mbition that I was ashamed of myself, and longed to give them a right goo_ift. Those are people whom it's a satisfaction to help, for if they've go_enius, it's an honor to be allowed to serve them, and not let it be lost o_elayed for want of fuel to keep the pot boiling. If they haven't, it's _leasure to comfort the poor souls, and keep them from despair when they fin_t out."
  • "Yes, indeed, and there's another class who can't ask, and who suffer i_ilence. I know something of it, for I belonged to it before you made _rincess of me, as the king does the beggarmaid in the old story. Ambitiou_irls have a hard time, Laurie, and often have to see youth, health, an_recious opportunities go by, just for want of a little help at the righ_inute. People have been very kind to me, and whenever I see girls strugglin_long, as we used to do, I want to put out my hand and help them, as I wa_elped."
  • "And so you shall, like an angel as you are!" cried Laurie, resolving, with _low of philanthropic zeal, to found and endow an institution for the expres_enefit of young women with artistic tendencies. "Rich people have no right t_it down and enjoy themselves, or let their money accumulate for others t_aste. It's not half so sensible to leave legacies when one dies as it is t_se the money wisely while alive, and enjoy making one's fellow creature_appy with it. We'll have a good time ourselves, and add an extra relish t_ur own pleasure by giving other people a generous taste. Will you be a littl_orcas, going about emptying a big basket of comforts, and filling it up wit_ood deeds?"
  • "With all my heart, if you will be a brave St. Martin, stopping as you rid_allantly through the world to share your cloak with the beggar."
  • "It's a bargain, and we shall get the best of it!"
  • So the young pair shook hands upon it, and then paced happily on again,
  • feeling that their pleasant home was more homelike because they hoped t_righten other homes, believing that their own feet would walk more uprightl_long the flowery path before them, if they smoothed rough ways for othe_eet, and feeling that their hearts were more closely knit together by a lov_hich could tenderly remember those less blest than they.