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Laurie studies hard and graduates with honor. The Marches and Brookes attend his graduation.
Laurie has to stay in his college town for a graduation dinner, while his family and friends return home. He hands Jo into her carriage and asks her to come meet him when he arrives the next morning.
Jo notices the way Laurie is looking at her and starts to worry about his feelings.
The next day, Jo has decided that she's just being vain. She stops at Meg's house and plays with her niece and nephew on her way to meet Laurie.
Jo and Laurie begin walking home together. Laurie talks about all kinds of things and seems distracted. There's an awkward pause, and then Jo asks Laurie not to say the things he's about to.
Laurie insists that Jo hear out his proposal. Jo agrees to listen.
Laurie declares that he's loved Jo ever since he first met her. Jo is upset and says she was trying to spare Laurie this scene.
Laurie says that women are contrary and say no when they mean yes, so he's never been sure of how she felt. Jo says that she's never been the kind of person who said one thing and meant another.
Jo tells Laurie that she went away to try and stop his feelings for her from developing. He says that he knew that, but it was no use, and he worked hard in college just to please her.
Jo says that Laurie is too good for her and that she doesn't know why she can't love him, but that she just can't.
Laurie stops completely still and rests his head on a fence post. Jo is frightened by how depressed he seems and starts apologizing, explaining that she would love him if she could, but love isn't something you can force.
Jo says she has something to tell Laurie. Laurie gets angry because he thinks that she's going to say she's in love with Professor Bhaer. Jo defends the professor against Laurie's insults, but says that she doesn't love him either – that she doesn't have romantic feelings for anyone.
Jo convinces Laurie to calm down and listen to her. She says that she agrees with her mother that she and Laurie aren't suited for one another – they both have serious tempers!
Laurie promises to be calm and saint-like if Jo agrees to marry him. Jo says that's ridiculous and they would never be happy together.
Laurie asks Jo to marry him so that they don't disappoint his grandfather, who really wants them to get together. Jo continues to refuse – she can't give Laurie a genuine "yes," so she won't give him any kind of yes.
Jo tells Laurie that he will get over her and find a more elegant woman who would make a better wife for him as a rich man. She says that she doesn't think she'll ever get married.
Laurie is angry. He says that he knows someday Jo will fall in love with someone, very passionately, and he can't bear to watch.
Jo finally loses her patience and says that maybe she will love someone else someday, but she's done her best to do right by Laurie. They can always be friends, she says, but nothing else.
Laurie says that Jo's going to be sorry one day and storms off.
Jo watches as Laurie stomps off to the river and leaps into his boat and starts rowing away violently. She's relieved, because she thinks the exercise will help him calm down.
Jo goes to Mr. Laurence and tells him what has happened. The old man cries, but he doesn't get mad at her. He knows that you can't force love.
Mr. Laurence resolves to take Laurie away from the town to give him time to recover.
Laurie comes home, tired but calm. He and his grandfather behave as if nothing has happened. Then Laurie goes to the piano and starts playing sad, pathetic music.
Mr. Laurence asks Laurie to play something more cheerful. Laurie tries to, but then he hears Mrs. March calling for Jo next door and breaks off.
Mr. Laurence goes over to Laurie and puts comforting hands on his shoulders. He explains that he knows what happened.
Mr. Laurence suggests that Laurie take a trip abroad and try to forget about Jo. He offers to go with his grandson so that they can have some special family bonding time.
Mr. Laurence explains his plan a little more. He wants Laurie to take care of some business for him in London. In the meantime, John Brooke can look after their affairs at home.
Laurie starts to feel guilty, because he knows his grandfather doesn't like to travel and is making a sacrifice for him.
Mr. Laurence says that he's not going to be a burden – he'll stay in London and Paris and let Laurie travel around Europe independently, seeing museums and hearing amazing music.
Laurie agrees, but his heart isn't in it. Mr. Laurence makes him promise to use his liberty honestly. This is nineteenth-century code for "don't take a mistress or lose all your money gambling like an idiot or become an alcoholic."
Mr. Laurence and his grandson leave town shortly afterward. As Laurie says goodbye to the March family, he asks Jo one more time if she can bring herself to marry him. She says that she wishes she could, but no.
Laurie leaves, and Jo feels terrible. She knows he'll never be the same.