Story: Little Women Chapter 1,2,3




Four Sisters


“Christmas won't be Christmas Without any presents”, said Jo crossly.

It's so awful to be poor!" agreed Meg, looking at her

old dress.

"It's not right for some girls to have pretty things, and

others to have nothing at all," said little Amy.

We've got Father and Mother, and each other," said

Beth gently.

The four young faces around the fire cheered up as they thought of this, but then Jo said sadly, "We haven't got Father, and we won't have him for a long time." She didn't say "perhaps never", but each silently thought it, remembering that he was away at the war in the South.


Then Meg said, "Mother says we shouldn't spend money on presents when our men are fighting a war."

“We can't expect anything from Mother or each other" said Jo, "but we only have a dollar each, and that won't help the army much. Let s each buy ourselves what we want, and have a little fun. we Work hard to earn it."


“I do, teaching those awful children," said Meg.

“What about me? said Jo. "I'm shut up all day working for a terrible old lady, who gives me different orders every five seconds!”

“I think washing cups and plates and keeping things tidy is the worst work in the world," said Beth. "My hands get too tired to play my music."

“I have to go to school with girls who laugh at my dresses and say cruel things because my father isn't rich," said Amy.

“I wish we had the money Father lost when we were

little, Jo," said Meg.

"I wish I were a boy," said Jo. "Then l could go and fight beside Father!"

Meg was sixteen and very pretty, with large eyes, soft brown hair, and white hands. Fifteen-year-old Jo was very tall and thin. Her long, dark-red hair was usually

pushed up out of the way. Beth was thirteen, a very shy girl who seemed to live in a happy world of her own. Amy was the youngest, but thought that she was the most

important. She had blue eyes, and yellow hair which curled on to her shoulders.

At six o'clock, Beth put a pair of slippers by the fire to warm and Meg lit the lamp. Amy got out of the comfortable chair without being asked, and Jo forgot how tired she was and held the slippers closer to the fire.

"These are old," she said. "Mother needs a new pair."


“I’ll get her some with my dollar," said Beth.

"No, I shall!" cried Amy.

"I’m the oldest –” began Meg.

"I’m the man of the family now Father is away, and I shall buy them," said Jo.

"Let's each get her something and not get anything for ourselves," said Beth.

“That's a kind idea!" said Jo. "What shall we get?”

Everyone thought for a moment, then Meg said, I’ll give her a nice pair of gloves”.

"The best army slippers," said Jo.

"Some handkerchiefs," said Beth.

"A little bottle of perfume," said Amy. "It won't cost much, so I’ll have some money left to buy something for me.

“We'll let Mother think we're getting things for ourselves, and then surprise her," said Jo.

Mrs. March arrived home soon after. She took off her wet things and put on her warm slippers. Meg made the

tea, Jo brought wood for the fire, Beth was quiet and busy,

and Amy gave orders.

"I've got a letter from Father!" cried Mrs. March.

It was a letter to cheer them up, and the special message for the girls came at the end: Give them all my love and a kiss. I think of them every day. I know they will be loving

children to you, and that when I come back, I will be prouder than ever of my little women.

A tear dropped off the end of Jo's nose.

Amy hid her face on her mother's shoulder. "I'm selfish," she cried, "but I'll try to be better."

“We all will!” cried Meg. "I think too much about the way I look, and hate to work, but I won't any more."

“And I'll try to be a 'little woman'," said Jo, "and not be rough and wild.”

Beth said nothing, but she began to work hard at a blue army glove she was making.

So the four girls decided that they would all try very hard to be good. They would never be cross, or lazy, or selfish – and they would all help each other. They talked over their plan that evening, while they made sheets for Aunt March. Then at nine o'clock they stopped to sing song. Beth played the old piano, and Meg and her mother

led the singing. Jo always sang in the wrong place, but the girls never got too old to sing together. 


A happy Christmas


Jo was the first to wake up on Christmas morning, but soon they were all awake and they went downstairs.

“Where's Mother?" asked Meg.

"I don't know," said old Hannah. She had lived with the family since Meg was born, and was more like a fiend than a servant. "Some poor woman came to the door and your mother went off to see what was needed.”

"She'll be back soon," said Meg. She looked at the presents for her mother, which were in a basket under a chair, ready to bring out at the right time. "Where is Amy's

bottle of perfume?"

She went to put some pretty paper around it, I think", said Jo.

Suddenly, they heard the outside door close.

“Here's Mother! Hide the basket, quick!" said Jo.

But it was Amy. She came in quickly.

“Where have you been, and what's that behind you?" asked Meg.

"I ran to the shop and changed the little bottle of perfume for a big one," said Amy. "I spent all my money to get it, and I'm not going to be selfish any more!"

Meg smiled proudly and put her arms around her sister.

Then there was another bang from the outside door, and the basket was pushed back under the chair. The girls ran to the table, ready for their breakfast.

"Happy Christmas, Mother!" they shouted.

Happy Christmas, little daughters!" said Mrs. March.

Then the smile disappeared from her face. "Girls, listen.

Not far away is a poor woman, Mrs. Hummel, with a new baby. Her six children are in one bed, trying to keep warm, as they have no wood for a fire. There is nothing to eat,

and they are hungry and cold. Will you give them your breakfast as a Christmas present?”

For a minute no one spoke. Then Jo said, "Mother, I'm so glad you came back before we began to eat!" And the girls quickly began to put their breakfast in a basket.

“I knew you would do it," said Mrs. March, smiling.

She took the girls and Hannah to a cold, miserable little room in an old building, where they found a sick mother, a crying baby, and a group of children with white, frightened faces. The children were on the bed under a blanket, trying to keep warm.

The woman almost cried with happiness when she saw the girls. Hannah, who had brought wood, made a fire. Mrs. March gave the mother tea and hot food, then she

dressed the little baby gently. The girls put the children around the fire and fed them like hungry birds.

It was a very happy meal, although the girls ate none of lt. But no one was happier than those hungry young ladies who gave away their breakfast on Christmas morning.

Mrs. March was surprised and pleased when she saw her presents later. There was a lot of laughing and kissing and explaining. Then, for the rest of the day, the girls were busy. Jo liked to write plays, and the four of them were going to act one that evening. They had learned their words, and had worked hard to make strange and wonderful clothes for all the different characters in the play.

On Christmas night, some other girls came to watch. At first, there was a lot of whispering and laughing from the four sisters behind the curtains. Then the curtains were opened, and the play began.

It was an exciting story about Hugo (acted by Jo wearing a black beard!), beautiful Zara, and brave Roderigo. There were also two ghosts, a cruel king, and a tall castle made of paper and wood -- which unfortunately fell down just as Roderigo and Zara were escaping from it. There were screams of laughter from everyone, but the actors picked

themselves up and carried on through more dangers and mysteries until the happy ending was reached.

All the visitors loved the play, and after the excitement and fun came a surprise for everyone.

"Would the young ladies like to stay for supper?" asked Hannah.

And when the girls saw the supper table, they could not

believe their eyes! There was ice-cream, cake, fruit, and

French chocolate! And in the middle of the table were flowers for each of the four actors.

"Where did it all come from?" asked Amy.

"From Father Christmas, perhaps? said Beth.

"Mother did it," said Meg.

“Aunt March sent it," said Jo.

"You're all wrong," laughed Mrs. March. "Old Mr. Laurence sent it!"

"The Laurence boy's grandfather? said Meg. "But we don't know him".

"Hannah told his servant about your breakfast party, and that pleased him," said Mrs. March. "He knew my father many years ago, and he sent me a note this

afternoon, asking if he could send my children a few small

Christmas presents.”

“The idea came from that boy, I know it did!" said Jo.

“I’m sure he wants to know us, but he's shy, and Meg won't let me speak to him when we pass him in the street. She says that it's not at all polite for young ladies to

introduce themselves to strangers."

“You mean the people who live in the big house next door, don't you?" said one of the other girls. "My mother knows old Mr. Laurence. She says he keeps his grandson

in the house when the boy isn't riding or walking with his tutor, and makes him study very hard. We invited the boy to our party but he didn't come."

"That boy needs to have some fun," said Jo.



The Laurence Boy


"Look!" said Meg, excitedly a day or two later. She waved a piece of paper at Jo. "An invitation to a New Year's party at Sallie Gardiner's house, and it's for both of us. Mother says we can go, but what shall we wear?"

"Our best cotton dresses," said Jo, "because we don't have anything else. Yours is as good as new, but mine has a burn and a hole in the back"

“Then you should keep your back out of sight," said Meg. "I’ll have a new ribbon for my hair, and my new slippers. And my gloves are all right."

“Mine are stained, so I'll have to go without."

“You must wear gloves to a dance, Jo!" cried Meg.

“Then we'll each wear one good one and carry a bad one," said Jo.

Meg looked worried. "All right, but you will behave nicely, won't you? Don't stare, or put your hands behind your back."

On New Year's Eve, the two younger sisters watched the two older girls get ready for the party. There was a lot of running up and down, and laughing and talking. Meg

wanted some curls around her face, so Jo began to work on the papered ends of Meg's hair with a pair of hot tongs.

"Should they smoke like that?" asked Beth.

"It's the wetness drying," said Jo.

"What a strange burning smell! said Amy.

"I’ll take the papers off now," said Jo, "and you'll see lots of little curls.

"She took the papers off-and, to her horror, the burned hair came off with them!

"Oh, oh! What have you done to my hair!" cried Meg.

"l always get things wrong," said Jo unhappily. "I’m so sorry. I suppose the tongs were too hot."

"Don't worry," Amy told Meg, who was crying. "Just tie your ribbon so that the ends come on to your forehead a little, and it will look quite fashionable."

At last, Meg and Jo were ready and went off to the Gardiners’ house, where Mrs. Gardiner welcomed them kindly. Meg immediately began to enjoy herself with Sallie,

but Jo wasn't interested in girlish talk and stood with her hack carefully against the wall, watching

the dancing. Soon Meg was asked to dance. When Jo saw a big red-haired

boy coming towards her, she quickly went through a door into a small room. Unfortunately, another

shy person was already hiding there and she found herself looking at the “Laurence boy."

Oh dear, I didn't know anyone was here!" Jo said.

The boy laughed. "Don't go. I came in here because I don't know any people, but I think I've seen

you before," he said. "You live near us, don't you?"

"Next door," said Jo. "We enjoyed your nice Christmas present.”

"My grandfather sent it, Miss March."

"But you gave your grandfather the idea, didn't you, Mr. Laurence?

"I’m not Mr. Laurence, only Laurie," he said.

"And I'm not Miss March, only Jo," she said. "Do you like parties?

"Sometimes," he answered. "I’ve been abroad a lot recently, and I don't know how you do things


"Abroad!" said Jo. "Oh, did you go to Paris?

"We went there last winter.

“Can you speak French?" she asked.

He said something in French, and Jo listened carefully.

“You asked, 'Who is the young lady in the pretty slippers?’

It’s my sister, Meg, and you knew it was! Do you think she's pretty?

"Yes," he said. "She looks so fresh and quiet.”

This pleased Jo very much, and soon the two of them were talking easily, like old friends. "I hear

you're always studying hard," said Jo. "Are you going to college soon?

"Not for a year or two, he said. "Tm sixteen next month, and I won't go before I'm seventeen."

I wish I were going to college," said Jo.

"I hate even the idea of it!" said Laurie.

Jo wanted to know why, but he looked so serious that instead of asking she said, "Why don't you

go and dance?”

“I will if you'll come too," he answered.

“I can't because -- Jo stopped.

“Because what?"

"You won't tell?"


"I have a bad habit of standing near a fire, and I burn my dresses," said Jo. "I have to keep still

so that no one will see the burn on this one. Laugh if you like."

But Laurie didn't laugh. "Never mind that," he said gently. "Please come."

Jo smiled. "All right," she said. "Thank you."

When the music stopped, they sat down and began to talk, but Jo saw Meg waving at her. She

went over and followed her sister into a side room.

"I've turned my foot over and hurt my ankle," said Meg. "I can't walk on it, and l don't know how

I'm going to get home."

"I’m not surprised you turned your toot over in those stupid high shoes," said Jo. "You'll have to

get a carriage or stay here all night."

“A carriage will cost a lot," said Meg, "and I can't stay here for the night because the house is

full. I'll just rest until Hannah comes to fetch us, then do the best I can."

“They're going in for supper now," said Jo. "I’ll stay with you.

“No, run and bring me some coffee," said Meg.

Jo found the coffee, but immediately dropped some down the front of her dress. She was

cleaning it off with Meg's glove when a friendly voice spoke to her.

"Can I help?" said Laurie. He had a cup of coffee in one

hand and a plate with a cake on it in the other.

"I was trying to get something for Meg," said Jo.

“And I was looking for someone to give this to,” he said.

He fetched more coffee and a cake for Jo. Then the three of them had a happy time talking

together until Hannah arrived. Meg completely forgot about her foot and stood up quickly. She

cried out with pain, and when Laurie saw that she could not walk, he immediately offered to take

them home in his grandfather's carriage.

“But you can't want to go home yet," said Jo.

“I always go early," said Laurie.

He sat with the driver, and the two girls sat with Hannah inside the carriage and talked excitedly

about the party.

“I had a wonderful time. Did you?" said Jo.

"Yes, until I hurt myself," said Meg. "Sallie's friend, Annie Moffat, has asked me to go and stay

with her for a week in the spring, when Sallie does."

Jo told Meg her adventures, and then they were home. They thanked Laurie and went quietly

into the house, hoping to wake no one up. But as soon as they opened their bedroom door, two

little voices cried out: " Tell us about the party! Tell us about the party!”