Chapter 2: Parnassus
It was well named; and the Muses seemed to be at home that day, for as the
newcomers went up the slope appropriate sights and sounds greeted them.
Passing an open window, they looked in upon a library presided over by Clio,
Calliope, and Urania; Melpomene and Thalia were disporting themselves in the
hall, where some young people were dancing and rehearsing a play; Erato was
walking in the garden with her lover, and in the music-room Phoebus himself was
drilling a tuneful choir.
A mature Apollo was our old friend Laurie, but comely and genial as ever; for
time had ripened the freakish boy into a noble man. Care and sorrow, as well as
ease and happiness, had done much for him; and the responsibility of carrying
out his grandfather's wishes had been a duty most faithfully performed.
Prosperity suits some people, and they blossom best in a glow of sunshine;
others need the shade, and are the sweeter for a touch of frost. Laurie was one
of the former sort, and Amy was another; so life had been a kind of poem to them
since they married--not only harmonious and happy, but earnest, useful, and rich
in the beautiful benevolence which can do so much when wealth and wisdom go
hand in hand with charity. Their house was full of unostentatious beauty and
comfort, and here the art-loving host and hostess attracted and entertained
artists of all kinds. Laurie had music enough now, and was a generous patron to
the class he most liked to help. Amy had her proteges among ambitious young
painters and sculptors, and found her own art double dear as her daughter grew
old enough to share its labours and delights with her; for she was one of those
who prove that women can be faithful wives and mothers without sacrificing the
special gift bestowed upon them for their own development and the good of
Her sisters knew where to find her, and Jo went at once to the studio, where
mother and daughter worked together. Bess was busy with the bust of a little
child, while her mother added the last touches to a fine head of her husband.
Time seemed to have stood still with Amy, for happiness had kept her young and
prosperity given her the culture she needed. A stately, graceful woman, who
showed how elegant simplicity could be made by the taste with which she chose
her dress and the grace with which she wore it. As someone said: 'I never know
what Mrs Laurence has on, but I always receive the impression that she is the
best-dressed lady in the room.'
It was evident that she adored her daughter, and well she might; for the beauty
she had longed for seemed, to her fond eyes at least, to be impersonated in this
younger self. Bess inherited her mother's Diana-like figure, blue eyes, fair skin,
and golden hair, tied up in the same classic knot of curls. Also--ah! never-ending
source of joy to Amy--she had her father's handsome nose and mouth, cast in a
feminine mould. The severe simplicity of a long linen pinafore suited her; and she
worked away with the entire absorption of the true artist, unconscious of the
loving eyes upon her, till Aunt Jo came in exclaiming eagerly:
'My dear girls, stop your mud-pies and hear the news!'