I don't think I have any words in which to tell the meeting of the mother and daughters.
Such hours are beautiful to live, but very hard to describe, so I will leave it to the
imagination of my readers, merely saying that the house was full of genuine happiness,
and that Meg's tender hope was realized, for when Beth woke from that long, healing
sleep, the first objects on which her eyes fell were the little rose and Mother's face. Too
weak to wonder at anything, she only smiled and nestled close in the loving arms about
her, feeling that the hungry longing was satisfied at last. Then she slept again, and the
girls waited upon their mother, for she would not unclasp the thin hand which clung to
hers even in sleep.
Hannah had `dished up' and astonishing breakfast for the traveler, finding it impossible to
vent her excitement in any other way, and Meg and Jo fed their mother like dutiful young
storks, while they listened to her whispered account of Father's state, Mr. Brooke's
promise to stay and nurse him, the delays which the storm occasioned on the homeward
journey, and the unspeakable comfort Laurie's hopeful face had given her when she
arrived, worn out with fatigue, anxiety, and cold.
What a strange yet pleasant day that was. So brilliant and gay without, for all the world
seemed abroad to welcome the first snow. So quiet and reposeful within, for everyone
slept, spent with watching, and a Sabbath stillness reigned through the house, while
nodding Hannah mounted guard at the door. With a blissful sense of burdens lifted off,
Meg and Jo closed their weary eyes, and lay at rest, like storm-beaten boats safe at anchor
in a quiet harbor. Mrs. March would not leave Beth's side, but rested in the big chair,
waking often to look at, touch, and brood over her child, like a miser over some
Laurie meanwhile posted off to comfort Amy, and told his story so well that Aunt March
actually `sniffed' herself, and never once said "I told you so". Amy came out so strong on
this occasion that I think the good thoughts in the little chapel really began to bear fruit.
She dried her tears quickly, restrained her impatience to see her mother, and never even
thought of the turquoise ring, when the old lady heartily agreed in Laurie's opinion, that
she behaved `like a capital little woman'. Even Polly seemed impressed, for he called her
a good girl, blessed her buttons, and begged her to "come and take a walk, dear", in his
most affable tone. She would very gladly have gone out to enjoy the bright wintry
weather, but discovering that Laurie was dropping with sleep in spite of manful efforts to
conceal the fact, she persuaded him to rest on the sofa, while she wrote a note to her
mother. She was a long time about it, and when she returned, he was stretched out with
both arms under his head, sound asleep, while Aunt March had pulled down the curtains
and sat doing nothing in an unusual fit of benignity.
After a while, they began to think he was not going to wake up till night, and I'm not sure
that he would, had he not been effectually roused by Amy's cry of joy at sight of her
mother. There probably were a good many happy little girls in and about the city that day,
but it is my private opinion that Amy was the happiest of all, when she sat in her mother's
lap and told her trials, receiving consolation and compensation in the shape of approving
smiles and fond caresses. They were alone together in the chapel, to which her mother
did not object when its purpose was explained to her.