‘No, I won’t!’ said Laurie angrily. ‘I was sorry about Meg, and I asked her to forgive me, but I won’t do it again when I’m not the one who is wrong. He ought to believe me when I say I can’t tell him something. I don’t like being shaken like that, and I won’t go down until he apologizes.’
‘Listen, if I get your grandfather to apologize for shaking you, will you go down?’ said Jo.
‘Yes, but you won’t do it,’ answered Laurie.
‘If I can manage the young one, then I can manage the old one,’ Jo said to herself as she went downstairs.
‘Come in!’ said Mr Laurence, when she knocked on his door.
‘It’s me, sir,’ said Jo. ‘I’m returning a book.’
‘Do you want any more?’ said the old man, looking annoyed but trying not to show it.
‘Yes, please,’ said Jo. And she pretended to look for another book while Mr Laurence stared at her crossly.
‘What’s that boy been doing?’ he asked suddenly. ‘He won’t tell me.’
‘He did do something wrong and we forgave him,’ said Jo, ‘but we all promised not to say a word to anyone.’
‘He must not hide behind a promise from you softhearted girls,’ said the old gentleman. ‘Tell me, Jo.’
‘I can’t, sir, because Mother has ordered me not to,’ said Jo. ‘And if I tell you, it will make trouble for someone else, not Laurie.’
This seemed to calm the old man. ‘Then I’ll forgive him,’ he said after a moment. ‘He’s a difficult boy and hard to manage, you know.’
‘So am I,’ said Jo, ‘but a kind word always helps.’
‘You think I’m not kind to him?’ he said sharply.
‘Too kind, very often,’ said Jo, a little afraid, ‘but just a bit quick to be angry with him sometimes.’
The old gentleman looked a little ashamed. ‘You’re right, I am. Although I love the boy, I find it hard to be patient with him sometimes. Bring him down and tell him it’s all right. I’m sorry I shook him.’
‘Why not write him an apology, sir?’ said Jo. ‘He says he won’t come down until he’s got one.’
Mr Laurence gave her another sharp look, but then smiled and put on his glasses. ‘Here, give me a bit of paper,’ he said.
The words were written and Jo kissed the old man’s cheek. Then she went upstairs and put the letter under Laurie’s door. But he came out before she was gone.
‘Well done, Jo,’ he said. ‘Did he shout at you?’
‘No, he was quite calm,’ said Jo. ‘Now, go and eat your dinner. You’ll both feel better after it.’
Everyone thought the matter was ended, but although others forgot it, Meg remembered. She never talked about Laurie’s tutor but she thought of him often and dreamed her dreams. And once, when Jo was looking for something in her sister’s desk, she found a bit of paper with ‘Mrs John Brooke’ written on it over and over again.
‘Oh, dear!’ said Jo.