37. CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN
"If that's the way he's going to grow up, I wish he's stay
a boy," she thought, with a curious sense of disappointment and
discomfort, trying meantime to seem quite easy and gay.
At Avigdor's she found the precious home letters and, giving
the reins to Laurie, read them luxuriously as they wound up the
shady road between green hedges, where tea roses bloomed as freshly
as in June.
"Beth is very poorly, Mother says. I often think I ought to
go home, but they all say `stay'. So I do, for I shall never have
another chance like this," said Amy, looking sober over one page.
"I think you are right, there. You could do nothing at home,
and it is a great comfort to them to know that you are well and
happy, and enjoying so much, my dear."
He drew a little nearer, and looked more like his old self as
he said that, and the fear that sometimes weighed on Amy's heart
was lightened, for the look, the act, the brotherly `my dear',
seemed to assure her that if any trouble did come, she would not
be alone in a strange land. Presently she laughed and showed him
a small sketch of Jo in her scribbling suit, with the bow rampantly
erect upon her cap, and issuing from her mouth the words, `Genius
Laurie smiled, took it, put it in his vest pocket `to keep it
from blowing away', and listened with interest to the lively letter
Amy read him.
"This will be a regularly merry Christmas to me, with presents
in the morning, you and letters in the afternoon, and a party at
night," said Amy, as they alighted among the ruins of the old fort,
and a flock of splendid peacocks came trooping about them, tamely
waiting to be fed. While Amy stood laughing on the bank above him
as she scattered crumbs to the brilliant birds, Laurie looked at her
as she had looked at him, with a natural curiosity to see what
changes time and absence had wrought. He found nothing to perplex
or disappoint, much to admire and approve, for overlooking a few
little affectations of speech and manner, she was as sprightly and
graceful as ever, with the addition of that indescribable something
in dress and bearing which we call elegance. Always mature for her
age, she had gained a certain aplomb in both carriage and conversation,
which made her seem more of a woman of the world than she was, but
her old petulance now and then showed itself, her strong will still
held its own, and her native frankness was unspoiled by foreign