was spent in writing long letters to her mother, 01 reading the Washington despatches over and over. Beth kept on with only slight relapses into idleness or grieving. All the little duties were faithfully done each day, and many of her sisters' also, for they were forgetful, and the house seemed like a clock, whose pendulum was gone a-visiting. When her heart got heavy with longings for mother, or fears for father, she went away into a certain closet, hid her face in the folds of a certain dear old gown, and made her little moan, and prayed her little prayer quietly by herself. Nobody knew what cheered her up after a sober fit, but every one felt how sweet and helpful Beth was, and fell into a way of going to her for com- fort or advice in their small affairs.
All were unconscious that this experience was a test of character ; and, when the first excitement was over, felt that they had done well, and deserved praise. So they did ; but their mistake was in ceasing to do well, and they learned this lesson through much anxiety and regret.
" Meg, I wish you'd go and see the Hummels ; you know mother told us not to forget them," said Beth, ten days after Mrs. March's departure.
" I'm too tired to go this afternoon," replied Meg, rocking comfortably, as she sewed.
"Can't you, Jo ? " asked Beth.
"Too stormy for me, with my cold."
"I thought it was most well."
"It's well enough for me to go out with Laurie, but not well enough to go the Hummels," said Jo,