Page:Little Women.djvu/255

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little girls' young faces- wore a grave, troubled ex- pression, as if sorrow was a new experience to them.

Nobody talked much, but, as the time drew very near, and they sat waiting for the carriage, Mrs. March said to the girls, who were all busied about her, one folding her shawl, another smoothing out the strings of her bonnet, a third putting on her over- shoes, and a fourth fastening up her travelling bag,—

" Children, I leave you to Hannah's care, and Mr. Laurence's protection ; Hannah is faithfulness itself, and our good neighbor will guard you as if you were his own. I have no fears for you, yet I am anxious that you should take this trouble rightly. Don't grieve and fret when I am gone, or think that you can com- fort yourselves by being idle, and trying to forget. Go on with your work as usual, for work is a blessed solace. Hope, and keep busy ; and, whatever happens, remember that you never can be fatherless."

"Yes, mother."

"Meg dear, be prudent, watch over your sisters, consult Hannah, and, in any perplexity, go to Mr. Laurence. Be patient, Jo, don't get despondent, or do rash things ; write to me often, and be my brave girl, ready to help and cheer us all. Beth, comfort yourself with your music, and be faithful to the little home duties ; and you, Amy, help all you can, be obedient, and keep happy safe at home."

" We will, mother ! we will ! "

The rattle of an approaching carriage made them all start and listen. That was the hard minute, but the girls stood It well ; no one cried, no one ran away, or uttered a lamentation, though their hearts were