36. CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX
"Perhaps not. I've heard that the people who love best are
often blindest to such things. If they don't see it, you will tell
them for me. I don't want any secrets, and it's kinder to prepare
them. Meg has John and the babies to comfort her, but you must
stand by Father and Mother, won't you Jo?"
"If I can. But, Beth, I don't give up yet. I'm going to believe
that it is a sick fancy, and not let you think it's true."
said Jo, trying to speak cheerfully.
Beth lay a minute thinking, and then said in her quiet way,
"I don't know how to express myself, and shouldn't try to anyone
but you, because I can't speak out except to my Jo. I only mean
to say that I have a feeling that it never was intended I should
live long. I'm not like the rest of you. I never made any plans
about what I'd do when I grew up. I never thought of being married,
as you all did. I couldn't seem to imagine myself anything
but stupid little Beth, trotting about at home, of no use anywhere
but there. I never wanted to go away, and the hard part now is
the leaving you all. I'm not afraid, but it seems as if I should
be homesick for you even in heaven."
Jo could not speak, and for several minutes there was no
sound but the sigh of the wind and the lapping of the tide. A
white-winged gull flew by, with the flash of sunshine on its
silvery breast. Beth watched it till it vanished, and her eyes
were full of sadness. A little gray-coated sand bird came tripping
over the beach `peeping' softly to itself, as if enjoying
the sun and sea. It came quite close to Beth, and looked at her
with a friendly eye and sat upon a warm stone, dressing its wet
feathers, quite at home. Beth smiled and felt comforted, for
the tiny thing seemed to offer its small friendship and remind
her that a pleasant world was still to be enjoyed.