六月的那个早晨，覆盖游廊的玫瑰花儿们一大早便睁开了睡眼，露出灿烂的笑容。它们在艳阳下怒放，如同友好的小邻居，事实正是这样。花儿们激动得满脸 通红，在风中摇曳摆动，窃窃私语，议论着它们所见之事。因为，一些花儿透过饭厅窗户窥视到那儿摆着宴席。另一些花儿往上攀着，笑着向正在打扮新娘的妹妹们 点头致意，其他的花儿在招手欢迎那些忙这忙那，穿梭于花园、游廊、大厅的人们。所有的玫瑰，无论是鲜艳盛开的花朵，还是色彩最淡的蓓蕾，都以它们的美貌和 芬芳向它们那和善的女主人致敬。女主人爱它们，照料它们已经很长时间了。
她不要丝绸衣服和花边，也不要山梅花。“今天我不想看上去和往日有什么不同，也不想盛装打扮，“她说，“我不要时髦的婚礼，只要身边我爱的人们。我 希望，在他们眼里，我还是熟悉的老样子。“因此，她亲手缝制结婚礼服，将女孩心中温柔的希望与天真浪漫都缝进了礼服。妹妹们把她漂亮的头发辫成辫子，她身 上唯一的装饰是山谷里的百合花。百花之中，“她的约翰"最钟爱百合。
艾美是名符其实的"家庭之花"。十六岁的她已经具有成熟女性的风韵举止--说不上漂亮，但具有一种无法描绘的魅力。那是一种优雅的韵致。从她形体的 曲线，从她的举手投足，从她衣服的平垂，头发的散落，人们都能发现这种魅力-—不是有意为之，却协调一致，如同美貌本身，对许多人产生了吸引力。艾美的鼻 子仍使她痛苦，因为，鼻子决不会长直了。她的嘴巴也让她苦恼，嘴巴太阔，而且还有着一个坚毅的下巴。这些恼人的特征赋予她整个脸蛋以个性，而她却视而不 见。她宽慰自己，她有着白皙的皮肤，敏锐的蓝眼睛，和比以前更浓密的金色鬈发。
“嗳呀，真是乱七八糟！“老太太叫道，一屁股坐在为她准备的雅座上，摆弄着她那淡紫色波纹绸衣的皱褶，发出好一阵沙沙声，“孩子，要到最后一刻你才 能被人看见埃““婶子，我不是展品，没有人来盯着我看，评判我的衣服，或估算婚宴的费用。我太幸福了，顾不上别人怎么说、怎么想。我要以我喜欢的方式举行 我的婚礼。约翰，亲爱的，给你锤子。“梅格就这样走开了，去帮"那人"干那件完全不适合他的工作。
没有婚礼上常见的列队行进，但马奇先生和一对新人在绿色的拱门下站定时，屋里一片寂静。妈妈和妹妹们挨得紧紧的，好像极不情愿送走梅格。爸爸不止一 次停下话来，这使得仪式更加美丽、庄严。新郎的手在颤抖，谁也没听清他的回答；然而，梅格直盯着丈夫的双眼说道：“我愿意！“她的面容、她的声音都带着温 柔的信任，这让母亲感到欣慰，马奇婶婶却嗤之以鼻。
乔没有哭，尽管差一点儿就哭出来。她意识到劳里正盯着她看，淘气的黑眼睛带着既欢乐又伤感的可笑神色。她这才忍住没哭。贝思把头埋在妈妈肩膀里。艾 美站在那儿，就像一座优雅的雕像，一束阳光抚摸着她白皙的额角和头上的花束，好看极了。值得一提的还有很多，可婚礼一完，梅格哭了出来：“第一个吻给妈 咪！“她转过身，用充满爱意的唇，吻了吻妈妈。接下来的十五分钟，她看上去愈发像一朵玫瑰了，因为从劳伦斯先生到罕娜嬷嬷，每个人都最大限度地利用这一特 权。老罕娜围着条精巧的大头巾，在大厅里倚在梅格身上，又是哭又是笑，叫着：“祝福你，亲爱的，一百遍！
他们做得很好，轻快的心情容易产生笑声。没有展示礼物，因为礼物已经陈列在小屋中了；也没有精心烹制的早餐，但是午餐很丰盛，蛋糕、水果，全用鲜花 装饰着。劳伦斯先生和马奇婶婶耸耸肩，相视而笑，他们发现三个斟酒女神。巡回传递的饮品只是水、柠檬汁和咖啡。但是谁也没吱声，直到劳里出现在新娘面前。 他手端装满食物的托盘，脸上带着迷惑的神情，坚持让新娘吃东西。
“是不是乔不慎把酒瓶都打碎了？“他轻声问，“或许我只是自找没趣，我早上看见地上有一些碎酒瓶。““不是，你爷爷很客气，把他最好的酒拿来给我们 了，而且，马奇婶婶也送过来一些。但是爸爸给贝思留了一些，将剩下的送给军人之家了。你知道，他认为只有生病时才能喝酒。妈妈说，她和她的女儿们都不会在 家中用酒招待年轻人。“梅格认真地说着，她想劳里会皱眉或笑笑，但他既没皱眉也没笑，而是迅速地扫了她一眼，像他惯常一样冲动地说：“我喜欢那样。我看够 了喝酒造成的危害，希望别的女人们也能像你们这样想。““并不是经验使你变聪明的吧，我想。“梅格的语调含着担心。
“不是，我保证。但也别把我想得太好。这不是我面临的一个诱惑。在我长大的地方，酒和水一样普遍，而且几乎无害。我不喜欢酒，但是，如果一个美丽的 姑娘向你敬酒，你就不想拒绝了，是吧？““可你会拒绝的，即使不为你自己，也要为别人着想。劳里，答应我，给我加条理由，让今天成为我一生中最幸福的日 子。“这样突然、认真的请求使年轻人犹豫了一会，因为嘲弄比自我克制更难忍受。梅格知道，一旦他作出许诺，他将不顾一切遵守诺言。她感觉到了她的力量，为 了朋友好，她以女人的方式运用了她的力量。她没有说话，抬头看着他。幸福使她的脸富于表情，她的笑容似乎在说：“今天谁也不能拒绝我的要求。“劳里当然不 能。带着会意的笑容，他把手伸给她，由衷地说道：“我答应你，布鲁克太太。“谢谢你，非常感谢。““为你的决心干杯，特迪，“乔叫着，倒了一杯柠檬汁为他 洗礼。她摇着杯子，赞许地朝他微笑。
“所有结了婚的拉起手来，围着新郎新娘跳舞，就像德国人那样，我们单身汉、未婚女在外围捉对跳！“劳里喊道，他正和艾美沿着小路散步。他的话很有技 巧，极具感染力，大家毫无异议，跟着跳起来。马奇先生和马奇太太，卡罗尔叔叔和婶婶先开了头，别的人很快加入进去。萨莉·莫法特犹豫了一小会，也将裙裾搭 在臂上，迅速将内德拖进舞圈。最可笑的是劳伦斯先生和马奇婶婶这一对。老先生跳着稳重庄严的快步过来邀请老太太，老太太将拐杖往胳膊下一夹，便轻快地随着 老先生和其他人一起绕着新人跳起来。而年轻人们像仲夏时节的蝴蝶一样在花园里翩翩起舞。
The June roses over the porch were awake bright and early onthat morning, rejoicing with all their hearts in the cloudlesssunshine, like friendly little neighbors, as they were. Quite flushedwith excitement were their ruddy faces, as they swung in the wind,whispering to one another what they had seen, for some peeped in atthe dining room windows where the feast was spread, some climbed upto nod and smile at the sisters as they dressed the bride, otherswaved a welcome to those who came and went on various errands ingarden, porch, and hall, and all, from the rosiest full-blownflower to the palest baby bud, offered their tribute of beauty andfragrance to the gentle mistress who had loved and tended them solong.
Meg looked very like a rose herself, for all that was best andsweetest in heart and soul seemed to bloom into her face that day,making it fair and tender, with a charm more beautiful than beauty.Neither silk, lace, nor orange flowers would she have. "I don'twant a fashionable wedding, but only those about me whom I love,and to them I wish to look and be my familiar self."
So she made her wedding gown herself, sewing into it the tenderhopes and innocent romances of a girlish heart. her sisters braidedup her pretty hair, and the only ornaments she wore were the liliesof the valley, which `her John' liked best of all the flowers thatgrew.
"You do look just like our own dear Meg, only so very sweetand lovely that I should hug you if it wouldn't crumple your dress,"cried Amy, surveying her with delight when all was done.
"Then I am satisfied. But please hug and kiss me, everyone,and don't mind my dress. I want a great many crumples of thissort put into it today." And Meg opened her arms to her sisters,who clung about her with April faces for a minute, feeling thatthe new love had not changed the old.
"Now I'm going to tie John's cravat for him, and then to staya few minutes with Father quietly in the study." And Meg randown to perform these little ceremonies, and then to follow hermother wherever she went, conscious that in spite of the smileson the motherly face, there was a secret sorrow hid in the motherlyheart at the flight of the first bird from the nest.
As the younger girls stand together, giving the last touchesto their simple toilet, it may be a good time to tell of a fewchanges which three years have wrought in their appearance, forall are looking their best just now.
Jo's angles are much softened, she has learned to carry herselfwith ease, if not grace. The curly crop has lengthened intoa thick coil, more becoming to the small head atop of the tallfigure. There is a fresh color in her brown cheeks, a soft shinein her eyes, and only gentle words fall from her sharp tongue today.
Beth has grown slender, pale, and more quiet than ever. Thebeautiful, kind eyes are larger, and in them lies an expressionthat saddens one, although it is not sad itself. It is the shadowof pain which touches the young face with such pathetic patience,but Beth seldom complains and always speaks hopefully of `beingbetter soon'.
Amy is with truth considered `the flower of the family', forat sixteen she has the air and bearing of a full-grown woman, notbeautiful, but possessed of that indescribable charm called grace.One saw it in the lines of her figure, the make and motion of herhands, the flow of her dress, the droop of her hair, unconsciousyet harmonious, and as attractive to many as beauty itself. Amy'snose still afflicted her, for it never would grow Grecian, so didher mouth, being too wide, and having a decided chin. These offendingfeatures gave character to her whole face, but she never could see it,and consoled herself with her wonderfully fair complexion,keen blue eyes, and curls more golden and abundant than ever.
All three wore suits of thin silver gray (their best gowns forthe summer), with blush roses in hair and bosom, and all threelooked just what they were, fresh-faced, happy-hearted girls, pausinga moment in their busy lives to read with wistful eyes the sweetestchapter in the romance of womanhood.
There were to be no ceremonious performances, everything wasto be as natural and homelike as possible, so when Aunt March arrived,she was scandalized to see the bride come running to welcome and lead her in,to find the bridegroom fastening up a garland that had fallen down,and to catch a glimpse of the paternal minister marching upstairswith a grave countenance and a wine bottle under each arm.
"Upon my word, here's a state of things!" cried the old lady,taking the seat of honor prepared for her, and settling the foldsof her lavender moire with a great rustle. "You oughtn't to beseen till the last minute, child."
"I'm not a show, Aunty, and no one is coming to stare at me,to criticize my dress, or count the cost of my luncheon. I'm toohappy to care what anyone says or thinks, and I'm going to havemy little wedding just as I like it. John, dear, here's yourhammer." And away went Meg to help `that man' in his highlyimproper employment.
Mr. Brooke didn't even say, "Thank you," but as he stoopedfor the unromantic tool, he kissed his little bride behind thefolding door, with a look that made Aunt March whisk out herpocket handkerchief with a sudden dew in her sharp old eyes.
A crash, a cry, and a laugh from Laurie, accompanied by theindecorous exclamation, "Jupiter Ammon! Jo's upset the cake again!"caused a momentary flurry, which was hardly over when a flock ofcousins arrived, and `the party came in', as Beth used to say whena child.
"Don't let that young giant come near me, he worries me worsethan mosquitoes," whispered the old lady to Amy, as the rooms filledand Laurie's black head towered above the rest.
"He has promised to be very good today, and he can be perfectlyelegant if he likes," returned Amy, and gliding away to warnHercules to beware of the dragon, which warning caused him to hauntthe old lady with a devotion that nearly distracted her.
There was no bridal procession, but a sudden silence fell uponthe room as Mr. March and the young couple took their places underthe green arch. Mother and sisters gathered close, as if loath togive Meg up. The fatherly voice broke more than once, which onlyseemed to make the service more beautiful and solemn. The bridegroom'shand trembled visibly, and no one heard his replies. But Meglooked straight up in her husband's eyes, and said, "I will!"with such tender trust in her own face and voice that her mother'sheart rejoiced and Aunt March sniffed audibly.
Jo did not cry, though she was very near it once, and was onlysaved from a demonstration by the consciousness that Laurie wasstaring fixedly at her, with a comical mixture of merriment andemotion in his wicked black eyes. Beth kept her face hidden on hermother's shoulder, but Amy stood like a graceful statue, with amost becoming ray of sunshine touching her white forehead and theflower in her hair.
It wasn't at all the thing, I'm afraid, but the minute she wasfairly married, Meg cried, "The first kiss for Marmee!" and turning,gave it with her heart on her lips. During the next fifteen minutesshe looked more like a rose than ever, for everyone availed themselvesof their privileges to the fullest extent, from Mr. Laurenceto old Hannah, who, adorned with a headdress fearfully andwonderfully made, fell upon her in the hall, crying with a soband a chuckle, "Bless you, deary, a hundred times! The cake ain'thurt a mite, and everything looks lovely."
Everybody cleared up after that, and said something brilliant,or tried to, which did just as well, for laughter is ready whenhearts are light. There was no display of gifts, for they werealready in the little house, nor was there an elaborate breakfast,but a plentiful lunch of cake and fruit, dressed with flowers.Mr. Laurence and Aunt March shrugged and smiled at one another whenwater, lemonade, and coffee were found to be to only sorts ofnectar which the three Hebes carried around. No one said anything,till Laurie, who insisted on serving the bride, appeared before her,with a loaded salver in his hand and a puzzled expression on his face.
"Has Jo smashed all the bottles by accident?" he whispered,"or am I merely laboring under a delusion that I saw some lyingabout loose this morning?"
"No, your grandfather kindly offered us his best, and AuntMarch actually sent some, but Father put away a little for Beth,and dispatched the rest to the Soldier's Home. You know he thinksthat wine should be used only in illness, and Mother says thatneither she nor her daughters will ever offer it to any young manunder her roof."
Meg spoke seriously and expected to see Laurie frown or laugh,but he did neither, for after a quick look at her, he said, inhis impetuous way, "I like that! For I've seen enough harm doneto wish other women would think as you do."
"You are not made wise by experience, I hope?" And there wasan anxious accent in Meg's voice.
"No. I give you my word for it. Don't think too well of me,either, this is not one of my temptations. Being brought up wherewine is as common as water and almost as harmless, I don't care forit, but when a pretty girl offers it, one doesn't like to refuse,you see."
"But you will, for the sake of others, if not for your own.Come, Laurie, promise, and give me one more reason to call this thehappiest day of my life."
A demand so sudden and so serious made the young man hesitatea moment, for ridicule is often harder to bear than self-denial.Meg knew that if he gave the promise he would keep it at all costs,and feeling her power, used it as a woman may for her friend's good.She did not speak, but she looked up at him with a face made veryeloquent by happiness, and a smile which said, "No one can refuseme anything today."
Laurie certainly could not, and with an answering smile, hegave her his hand, saying heartily, "I promise, Mrs. Brooke!"
"I thank you, very, very much."
"And I drink `long life to your resolution', Teddy," cried Jo,baptizing him with a splash of lemonade, as she waved her glass andbeamed approvingly upon him.
So the toast was drunk, the pledge made and loyally kept inspite of many temptations, for with instinctive wisdom, the girlsseized a happy moment to do their friend a service, for which hethanked them all his life.
After lunch, people strolled about, by twos and threes, throughthe house and garden, enjoying the sunshine without and within. Megand John happened to be standing together in the middle of the grassplot, when Laurie was seized with an inspiration which put thefinishing touch to this unfashionable wedding.
"All the married people take hands and dance round the new-madehusband and wife, as the Germans do, while we bachelors and spinstersprance in couples outside!" cried Laurie, promenading down the pathwith Amy, with such infectious spirit and skill that everyone elsefollowed their example without a murmur. Mr. and Mrs. March, Auntand Uncle Carrol began it, others rapidly joined in, even SallieMoffat, after a moment's hesitation, threw her train over her armand whisked Ned into the ring. But the crowning joke was Mr.Laurence and Aunt March, for when the stately old gentleman chass'edsolemnly up to the old lady, she just tucked her cane under arm, andhopped briskly away to join hands with the rest and dance about thebridal pair, while the young folks pervaded the garden like butterflieson a midsummer day.
Want of breath brought the impromptu ball to a close, and thenpeople began to go.
"I wish you well, my dear, I heartily wish you well, but I thinkyou'll be sorry for it," said Aunt March to Meg, adding to thebridegroom, as he led her to the carriage, "You've got a treasure,young man, see that you deserve it."
"That is the prettiest wedding I've been to for an age, Ned, andI don't see why, for there wasn't a bit of style about it," observedMrs. Moffat to her husband, as they drove away.
"Laurie, my lad, if you ever want to indulge in this sort ofthing, get one of those little girls to help you, and I shall beperfectly satisfied," said Mr. Laurence, settling himself in hiseasy chair to rest after the excitement of the morning.
"I'll do my best to gratify you, Sir," was Laurie's unusuallydutiful reply, as he carefully unpinned the posy Jo had put in hisbuttonhole.
The little house was not far away, and the only bridal journeyMeg had was the quiet walk with John from the old home to the new.When she came down, looking like a pretty Quakeress in herdovecolored suit and straw bonnet tied with white, they all gatheredabout her to say goodby, as tenderly as if she had been going tomake the grand tour.
"Don't feel that I am separated from you, Marmee dear, or thatI love you any the less for loving John so much," she said, clingingto her mother, with full eyes for a moment. "I shall come every day,Father, and expect to keep my old place in all your hearts, though Iam married. Beth is going to be with me a great deal, and the othergirls will drop in now and then to laugh at my housekeeping struggles.Thank you all for my happy wedding day. Goodby, goodby!"
They stood watching her, with faces full of love and hope andtender pride as she walked away, leaning on her husband's arm, withher hands full of flowers and the June sunshine brightening her happyface--and so Meg's married life began.