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Jo's Boys

Chapter 6: Last Words
The next day was Sunday, and a goodly troop of young and old set forth to
church.--some driving, some walking, all enjoying the lovely weather and the
happy quietude which comes to refresh us when the work and worry of the week
are over. Daisy had a headache; and Aunt Jo remained at home to keep her
company, knowing very well that the worst ache was in the tender heart
struggling dutifully against the love that grew stronger as the parting drew nearer.
'Daisy knows my wishes, and I trust her. You must keep an eye on Nat, and let
him clearly understand that there is to be no "lovering", or I shall forbid the letter-
writing. I hate to seem cruel, but it is too soon for my dear girl to bind herself in
any way,' said Mrs Meg, as she rustled about in her best grey silk, while waiting
for Demi, who always escorted his pious mother to church as a peace-offering for
crossing her wishes in other things.
'I will, dear; I'm lying in wait for all three boys today, like an old spider; and I will
have a good talk with each. They know I understand them, and they always open
their hearts sooner or later. You look like a nice, plump little Quakeress, Meg;
and no one will believe that big boy is your son,' added Mrs Jo, as Demi came in
shining with Sunday neatness, from his well-blacked boots to his smooth brown
head.
'You flatter me, to soften my heart toward your boy. I know your ways, Jo, and I
don't give in. Be firm, and spare me a scene by and by. As for John, as long as
he is satisfied with his old mother, I don't care what people think,' answered Mrs
Meg, accepting with a smile the little posy of sweet peas and mignonette Demi
brought her.
Then, having buttoned her dove-coloured gloves with care, she took her son's
arm and went proudly away to the carriage, where Amy and Bess waited, while
Jo called after them, just as Marmee used to do:
'Girls, have you got nice pocket-handkerchiefs?' They all smiled at the familiar
words, and three white banners waved as they drove away, leaving the spider to
watch for her first fly. She did not wait long. Daisy was lying down with a wet
cheek on the little hymnbook out of which she and Nat used to sing together; so
Mrs Jo strolled about the lawn, looking very like a wandering mushroom with her
large buff umbrella.
Dan had gone for a ten-mile stroll; and Nat was supposed to have accompanied
him, but presently came sneaking back, unable to tear himself away from the
Dovecote or lose a moment of nearness to his idol that last day. Mrs Jo saw him
at once, and beckoned him to a rustic seat under the old elm, where they could
have their confidences undisturbed, and both keep an eye on a certain white-
curtained window, half hidden in vines.
'Nice and cool here. I'm not up to one of Dan's tramps today--it's so warm, and
he goes so like a steam-engine. He headed for the swamp where his pet snakes
used to live, and I begged to be excused,' said Nat, fanning himself with his straw
hat, though the day was not oppressive.
 
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