Louisa May Alcott: Jo's Boys

Chapter 9. THE WORM TURNS (continued)

'Worse even than that.'

'I give it up. Tell me quick; I hate to wait for bad news.'

Having got his listener sufficiently excited, Tom launched his thunderbolt in one brief sentence, and fell back to watch the effect.

'I'm engaged!'

Mrs Jo's proof-sheets flew wildly about as she clasped her hands, exclaiming in dismay:

'If Nan has yielded, I'll never forgive her!'

'She hasn't; it's another girl.'

Tom's face was so funny as he said the words, that it was impossible to help laughing; for he looked both sheepish and pleased, besides very much perplexed and worried.

'I'm glad, very glad indeed! Don't care who it is; and I hope you'll be married soon. Now tell me all about it,' commanded Mrs Jo, so much relieved that she felt ready for anything.

'What will Nan say?' demanded Tom, rather taken aback at this view of his predicament.

'She will be rejoiced to get rid of the mosquito who has plagued her so long. Don't worry about Nan. Who is this "other girl"?'

'Demi hasn't written about her?'

'Only something about your upsetting a Miss West down at Quitno; I thought that was scrape enough.'

'That was only the beginning of a series of scrapes. Just my luck! Of course after sousing the poor girl I had to be attentive to her, hadn't I? Everyone seemed to think so, and I couldn't get away, and so I was lost before I knew it. It's all Demi's fault, he would stay there and fuss with his old photos, because the views were good and all the girls wanted to be taken. Look at these, will you, ma'am? That's the way we spent our time when we weren't playing tennis'; and Tom pulled a handful of pictures from his pocket, displaying several in which he was conspicuous, either holding a sun-umbrella over a very pretty young lady on the rocks, reposing at her feet in the grass, or perched on a piazza railing with other couples in seaside costumes and effective attitudes.

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