Page:Little Women.djvu/336

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322
Little Women.

Amy, watching the light shine on her ring, with thoughtful eyes.

" I'm glad it's over, because we've 'got you back," whispered Beth, who sat on her father's knee.

" Rather a rough road for you to travel, my little pilgrims, especially the latter part of it. But you have got on bravely ; and I think the burdens are in a fair way to tumble off very soon," said Mr. March, looking, with fatherly satisfaction, at the four young faces gathered round him.

"How do you know? Did mother tell you?" asked Jo.

" Not much ; stravs^s show which way the wind blows ; and I've made several discoveries today."

"Oh, tell us what they are!" cried Meg, who sat beside him.

" Here is one ! " and, taking up the hand which lay on the arm of his chair, he pointed to the roughened forefinger, a burn on the back, and two or three little hard spots on the palm. " I remember a time when this hand was white and smooth, and your first care was to keep it so. It was very pretty then, but to me it is much prettier now, — for in these seeming blemishes I read a little history. A burnt offering has been made of vanity ; this hardened palm has earned something better than blisters, and I'm sure the sew- ing done by these pricked fingers will last a long time, so much good-will went into the stitches. Meg, my dear, I value the womanly skill which keeps home happy, more than white hands or fashionable accom- plishments ; I'm proud to shake this good, industrious