“没错。大部分时候艾美让我向西，只是偶尔朝南，结婚以来我还没有朝向过东，北面我是一无所知。但是我觉得那完全有益健康，适得其所。嘿，夫人！“ “至今为止天气不错。我不知道这能持续多久。可是我不怕风暴，因为我在学着怎样驾驶我的船。回家吧，亲爱的，我给你找脱靴器，我猜你在我的东西里翻找的就 是它。妈妈，真是拿男人们没办法，“艾美带着主妇似的神气说，这使她丈夫欢喜。
“我们有计划。我们还不打算大事张扬，因为我们刚刚成家。但我们不打算虚掷时光。我将专心致志地去经商，这样会让爷爷高兴。我要向他证明我没给宠 坏。我需要这样使自己稳定下来。我厌倦了无所事事，得像个真正的男人那样地工作。“艾美呢？她打算做什么？“马奇太太问。劳里说话时的决然神情与活力使她 非常高兴。
晚上迟些时候，劳里脑子里放下了脱靴器之事。艾美转来转去，摆放着她的新艺术珍品。突然劳里对妻子说：“劳伦斯太太。““夫君！““那个人打算娶我 们的乔！““我希望这样，你呢，亲爱的？““嗯，宝贝，我看他是个好人，按照那个富有表现力的词语的绝对意义，是这样。但是我真的希望他稍稍年轻些，大大 富有些。““哎唷，劳里，别太挑剔，别太世俗。只要他们相爱，不管多老多穷，都没一点儿关系。女人们决不能为钱嫁人“话一出口，艾美突然噎住了，她看着丈 夫，而他故作严肃地答腔了。
“当然不能，尽管有时确实能听到迷人的姑娘说她们打算这样做。要是我记得不错的话，你曾经认为嫁个富人就是你的责任。也许这能说明你为什么嫁给我这 样一无是处的家伙。““哦，我最亲爱的男孩。别，别那样说！当我说'愿意'时，忘了你是有钱人。即使你一文不名，我也会嫁给你的。我有时希望你是穷人，我 好表示出我多么爱你，“艾美说。在公众场合她很庄重，私下却充满柔情。她令人信服地证实了她话语的真实性。
“你没有当真以为我唯利是图，像我曾试着做的那样，是不是？要是你不相信我乐意与你同舟，哪怕你得靠在湖上划舟谋生，那我会伤心的。““我是个傻 瓜，没感觉吗？你拒绝了一个更有钱的人而嫁给我，现在我有权给你东西，可我想给你的东西你一半都不要，我怎么能那么想呢？姑娘们每天都那样想，可怜的人 们，她们受到告诫，认为那是她们的唯一出路。你受到的教育较好，尽管我一度曾为你担心。我没有失望，因为女儿信守了妈妈的教诲。昨天我跟妈妈这样说了，她 看上去又高兴又感激，好像我给了她一张百万元支票，让她用来行善。劳伦斯太太，你没有在听我的道德评论？“劳里住了口，因为艾美眼睛虽然盯着他的脸，表情 却心不在焉。
劳里一生受到过许多赞美，但没有比这更合他心意的。虽然他笑话着妻子这种特别的趣味，但他还是明白地表示出他的高兴。艾美慢慢说道：“我可以问你个 问题吗，亲爱的？““当然可以。““假如乔真的嫁给了巴尔先生，你会在乎吗？“噢，那是烦恼所在，是不？我就知道那笑靥里有什么东西不合你的意。我不是个 占着马槽的狗，我是世界上最幸福的人。我向你保证，在乔的婚礼上，我会带着和脚跟一样轻快的心情跳舞。你怀疑这点，宝贝？“
“乔会查明真相，毁了一切的，就像教授现在这样，乔为他非常自豪。昨天她还说，她认为贫穷是件美好的事。““上帝保佑她！要是她有个学者丈夫，还有 五六个小男女教授要养活，她就不会这样想了。现在我们别去干涉，等待机会吧。到时我们为她们做点好事，那由不得他们了。我受到的教育一部分得归功于乔。她 相信人们应该诚实地偿还债务，所以我将用那种方法说服她。““能够帮助别人多么令人愉快，是不是？有力量慷慨施舍那一直是我的一个梦想。感谢你，我的梦想 实现了。““哦，我们尽可能地多做善事，好不好？有一种穷人我特别愿意帮助。十足的乞丐得到了照顾，可是，有身份的穷人日子过得很差，因为他们不求人，人 们也不敢贸然提供捐助。
“谢谢，恐怕我不配受到那么好的赞美。但是，我正打算说，我在国外闲荡时，看到许多有天赋的年轻人为了实现他们的梦想做着各种牺牲，忍受着真正的艰 难困苦。他们中的一些人非常杰出。他们像勇士般地工作，他们贫穷，无朋无友，却充满勇气、耐心、意志。我为自己惭愧，很想给予他们适当的救助。我乐于帮助 这些人。因为，假如他们有天才，则得以为他们效劳，不让天才由于缺乏足够的燃料而埋没或者耽搁，这是个能获得美誉的善举。假如他们没有天才，也能够安慰这 些可怜的人，在他们发现自己并非天才时而免于绝望，总归是件好事。“
“的确是这样。还有一种人不愿求助，甘心默默受苦。我知道点情况，因为是你把我变成了公主，就像古老故事里国王对婢女所做的那样。在这之前，我也属 于那一种人。劳里，有抱负的姑娘们生活得不易。她们常常看着青春、健康以及宝贵的机会过去，只是因为缺少适时的小小帮助。人们一直对我非常好。只要我看到 姑娘们像我以前那样奋力挣扎前进，我就想伸手帮助他们，就像我得到帮助一样。“
“你就这样做吧，你这样像个天使！“劳里叫道。他脸上洋溢着干慈善事业的热情，决心专门为有艺术倾向的女人们设立一个机构，并捐赠基金。“富人们无 权坐在那里独自享乐，或者积累钱财让别人浪费。死后留下遗产，不如活着时明智地花钱，享受使同胞幸福的乐趣，这样更为聪明。我们将过得非常幸福。而且，慷 慨地施舍于人，会额外增加我们的快乐。你愿意做一个小多加，四外走动，倒空大篮子里的安慰，再装满善行吗？“
于是一对新人为着心灵的交合紧紧握手，然后又幸福地继续踱起步来。他们感到他们温馨的小家更加亲切，因为，他们希望能使别的家庭快乐。他们相信，要 是他们为别人踏平了岐岖之路，他们自己走在繁花似锦的小路上，双脚会走得更直；他们感到，爱心能使他们温柔地记起不如他们幸运的人们，这种爱心使他俩的心 贴得更紧了。
"Please, Madam Mother, could you lend me my wife for halfan hour? The luggage has come, and I've been making hay ofAmy's Paris finery, trying to find some things I want," saidLaurie, coming in the next day to find Mrs. Laurence sittingin her mother's lap, as if being made `the baby' again.
"Certainly. Go, dear, I forgot that you have any home butthis." And Mrs. March pressed the white hand that wore the weddingring, as if asking pardon for her maternal covetousness.
"I shouldn't have come over if I could have helped it, butI can't get on without my little woman any more than a..."
"Weathercock can without the wind," suggested Jo, as hepaused for a simile. Jo had grown quite her own saucy selfagain since Teddy came home.
"Exactly, for Amy keeps me pointing due west most of thetime, with only an occasional whiffle round to the south, andI haven't had an easterly spell since I was married. Don't knowanything about the north, but am altogether salubrious and balmy,hey, my lady?"
"Lovely weather so far. I don't know how long it will last,but I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail myship. Come home, dear, and I'll find your bootjack. I supposethat's what you are rummaging after among my things. Men are sohelpless, Mother," said Amy, with a matronly air, which delightedher husband.
"What are you going to do with yourselves after you get settled?"asked Jo, buttoning Amy's cloak as she used to button her pinafores.
"We have our plans. We don't mean to say much about themyet, because we are such very new brooms, but we don't intend tobe idle. I'm going into business with a devotion that shall delightGrandfather, and prove to him that I'm not spoiled. I needsomething of the sort to keep me steady. I'm tired of dawdling,and mean to work like a man."
"And Amy, what is she going to do?" asked Mrs. March, wellpleased at Laurie's decision and the energy with which he spoke.
"After doing the civil all round, and airing our best bonnet,we shall astonish you by the elegant hospitalities of our mansion,the brilliant society we shall draw about us, and the beneficialinfluence we shall exert over the world at large. That's aboutit, isn't it, Madame Recamier?" asked Laurie with a quizzicallook at Amy.
"Time will show. Come away, Impertinence, and don't shockmy family by calling me names before their faces," answered Amy,resolving that there should be a home with a good wife in itbefore she set up a salon as a queen of society.
"How happy those children seem together!" observed Mr. March,finding it difficult to become absorbed in his Aristotle afterthe young couple had gone.
"Yes, and I think it will last," added Mrs. March, with therestful expression of a pilot who has brought a ship safely intoport.
"I know it will. Happy Amy!" And Jo sighed, then smiledbrightly as Professor Bhaer opened the gate with an impatientpush.
Later in the evening, when his mind had been set at restabout the bootjack, Laurie said suddenly to his wife, "Mrs.Laurence."
"That man intends to marry our Jo!"
"I hope so, don't you, dear?"
"Well, my love, I consider him a trump, in the fullest senseof that expressive word, but I do wish he was a little youngerand a good deal richer."
"Now, Laurie, don't be too fastidious and worldly-minded.If they love one another it doesn't matter a particle how oldthey are nor how poor. Women never should marry for money..."Amy caught herself up short as the words escaped her, and lookedat her husband, who replied, with malicious gravity...
"Certainly not, though you do hear charming girls say thatthey intend to do it sometimes. If my memory serves me, youonce thought it your duty to make a rich match. That accounts,perhaps, for your marrying a good-for-nothing like me."
"Oh, my dearest boy, don't, don't say that! I forgot youwere rich when I said `Yes'. I'd have married you if you hadn'ta penny, and I sometimes wish you were poor that I might showhow much I love you." And Amy, who was very dignified in publicand very fond in private, gave convincing proofs of the truth ofher words.
"You don't really think I am such a mercenary creature asI tried to be once, do you? It would break my heart if youdidn't believe that I'd gladly pull in the same boat with you,even if you had to get your living by rowing on the lake."2
"Am I an idiot and a brute? How could I think so, whenyou refused a richer man for me, and won't let me give you halfI want to now, when I have the right? Girls do it every day,poor things, and are taught to think it is their only salvation,but you had better lessons, and though I trembled for you atone time, I was not disappointed, for the daughter was true tothe mother's teaching. I told Mamma so yesterday, and shelooked as glad and grateful as if I'd given her a check for amillion, to be spent in charity. You are not listening to mymoral remarks, Mrs. Laurence." And Laurie paused, for Amy'seyes had an absent look, though fixed upon his face.
"Yes, I am, and admiring the mple in your chin at thesame time. I don't wish to make you vain, but I must confessthat I'm prouder of my handsome husband than of all his money.Don't laugh, but your nose is such a comfort to me." And Amysoftly caressed the well-cut feature with artistic satisfaction.
Laurie had received many compliments in his life, but neverone that suited him better, as he plainly showed though he didlaugh at his wife's peculiar taste, while she said slowly, "MayI ask you a question, dear?"
"Of course, you may."
"Shall you care if Jo does marry Mr. Bhaer?"
"Oh, that's the trouble is it? I thought there was somethingin the dimple that didn't quite suit you. Not being a dog in themanger, but the happiest fellow alive, I assure you I can danceat Jo's wedding with a heart as light as my heels. Do you doubtit, my darling?"
Amy looked up at him, and was satisfied. Her little jealousfear vanished forever, and she thanked him, with a face full oflove and confidence.
"I wish we could do something for that capital old Professor.Couldn't we invent a rich relation, who shall obligingly die outthere in Germany, and leave him a tidy little fortune?" said Laurie,when they began to pace up and down the long drawing room, arm inarm, as they were fond of doing, in memory of the chateau garden.
"Jo would find us out, and spoil it all. She is very proudof him, just as he is, and said yesterday that she thought povertywas a beautiful thing."
"Bless her dear heart! She won't think so when she has aliterary husband, and a dozen little professors and professorinsto support. We won't interfere now, but watch our chance, anddo them a good turn in spite of themselves. I owe Jo for a partof my education, and she believes in people's paying their honestdebts, so I'll get round her in that way."
"How delightful it is to be able to help others, isn't it?That was always one of my dreams, to have the power of givingfreely, and thanks to you, the dream has come true."
"Ah, we'll do quantities of good, won't we? There's onesort of poverty that I particularly like to help. Out-and-outbeggars get taken care of, but poor gentle folks fare badly,because they won't ask, and people don't dare to offer charity.Yet there are a thousand ways of helping them, if one onlyknows how to do it so delicately that it does not offend. Imust say, I like to serve a decayed gentleman better than ablarnerying beggar. I suppose it's wrong, but I do, though itis harder."
"Because it takes a gentleman to do it," added the othermember of the domestic admiration society.
"Thank you, I'm afraid I don't deserve that pretty compliment.But I was going to say that while I was dawdling about abroad, Isaw a good many talented young fellows making all sorts of sacrifices,and enduring real hardships, that they might realize their dreams.Splendid fellows, some of them, working like heros, poorand friendless, but so full of courage, patience, and ambitionthat I was ashamed of myself, and longed to give them a rightgood lift. Those are people whom it's a satisfaction to help,for if they've got genius, it's an honor to be allowed toserve them, and not let it be lost or delayed for want of fuelto keep the pot boiling. If they haven't, it's a pleasure tocomfort the poor souls, and keep them from despair when they findit out."
"Yes, indeed, and there's another class who can't ask, andwho suffer in silence. I know something of it, for I belonged toit before you made a princess of me, as the king does the beggarmaidin the old story. Ambitious girls have a hard time, Laurie,and often have to see youth, health, and precious opportunitiesgo by, just for want of a little help at the right minute. Peoplehave been very kind to me, and whenever I see girls strugglingalong, as we used to do, I want to put out my hand and help them,as I was helped."
"And so you shall, like an angel as you are!" cried Laurie,resolving, with a glow of philanthropic zeal, to found and endowan institution for the express benefit of young women withartistic tendencies. "Rich people have no right to sit downand enjoy themselves, or let their money accumulate for othersto waste. It's not half so sensible to leave legacies when onedies as it is to use the money wisely while alive, and enjoymaking one's fellow creatures happy with it. We'll have a goodtime ourselves, and add an extra relish to our own pleasure bygiving other people a generous taste. Will you be a littleDorcal, going about emptying a big basket of comforts, andfilling it up with good deeds?"
"With all my heart, if you will be a brave St. Martin,stopping as you ride gallantly through the world to share yourcloak with the beggar."
"It's a bargain, and we shall get the best of it!"
So the young pair shook hands upon it, and then pacedhappily on again, feeling that their pleasant home was morehomelike because they hoped to brighten other homes, believingthat their own feet would walk more uprightly along the flowerypath before them, if they smoothed rough ways for other feet,and feeling that their hearts were more closely knit togetherby a love which could tenderly remember those less blest than they.