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 comfort 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 almost well."
"It's well enough for me to go out with Laurie, but not well enough to go to the Hummels'," said Jo, laughing, but looking a little ashamed of her inconsistency.
"Why don't you go yourself?" asked Meg.
"I have been every day, but the baby is sick, and I don't know what to do for it. Mrs. Hummel goes away to work, and Lottchen takes care of it; but it gets sicker and sicker, and I think you or Hannah ought to go."
Beth spoke earnestly, and Meg promised she would go tomorrow.
"Ask Hannah for some nice little mess, and take it round. Beth; the air will do you good," said Jo, adding apologetically, "I'd go, but I want to finish my writing."