Text - "Little Women" Louisa May Alcott

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These turnovers were
an institution, and the girls called them 'muffs', for they had no
others and found the hot pies very comforting to their hands on cold

Hannah never forgot to make them, no matter how busy or grumpy she
might be, for the walk was long and bleak. The poor things got no other
lunch and were seldom home before two.

"Cuddle your cats and get over your headache, Bethy. Goodbye, Marmee.
We are a set of rascals this morning, but we'll come home regular
angels. Now then, Meg!" And Jo tramped away, feeling that the
pilgrims were not setting out as they ought to do.

They always looked back before turning the corner, for their mother was
always at the window to nod and smile, and wave her hand to them.
Somehow it seemed as if they couldn't have got through the day without
that, for whatever their mood might be, the last glimpse of that
motherly face was sure to affect them like sunshine.

"If Marmee shook her fist instead of kissing her hand to us, it would
serve us right, for more ungrateful wretches than we are were never
seen," cried Jo, taking a remorseful satisfaction in the snowy walk and
bitter wind.

"Don't use such dreadful expressions," replied Meg from the depths of
the veil in which she had shrouded herself like a nun sick of the world.

"I like good strong words that mean something," replied Jo, catching
her hat as it took a leap off her head preparatory to flying away

"Call yourself any names you like, but I am neither a rascal nor a
wretch and I don't choose to be called so."

"You're a blighted being, and decidedly cross today because you can't
sit in the lap of luxury all the time. Poor dear, just wait till I
make my fortune, and you shall revel in carriages and ice cream and
high-heeled slippers, and posies, and red-headed boys to dance with."

"How ridiculous you are, Jo!" But Meg laughed at the nonsense and felt
better in spite of herself.

"Lucky for you I am, for if I put on crushed airs and tried to be
dismal, as you do, we should be in a nice state. Thank goodness, I can
always find something funny to keep me up. Don't croak any more, but
come home jolly, there's a dear."

Jo gave her sister an encouraging pat on the shoulder as they parted
for the day, each going a different way, each hugging her little warm
turnover, and each trying to be cheerful in spite of wintry weather,
hard work, and the unsatisfied desires of pleasure-loving youth.

When Mr. March lost his property in trying to help an unfortunate
friend, the two oldest girls begged to be allowed to do something
toward their own support, at least. Believing that they could not
begin too early to cultivate energy, industry, and independence, their
parents consented, and both fell to work with the hearty good will
which in spite of all obstacles is sure to succeed at last.

Margaret found a place as nursery governess and felt rich with her
small salary. As she said, she was 'fond of luxury', and her chief
trouble was poverty. She found it harder to bear than the others
because she could remember a time when home was beautiful, life full of
ease and pleasure, and want of any kind unknown. She tried not to be
envious or discontented, but it was very natural that the young girl
should long for pretty things, gay friends, accomplishments, and a
happy life. At the Kings' she daily saw all she wanted, for the
children's older sisters were just out, and Meg caught frequent
glimpses of dainty ball dresses and bouquets, heard lively gossip about
theaters, concerts, sleighing parties, and merrymakings of all kinds,
and saw money lavished on trifles which would have been so precious to
her. Poor Meg seldom complained, but a sense of injustice made her
feel bitter toward everyone sometimes, for she had not yet learned to
know how rich she was in the blessings which alone can make life happy.

Jo happened to suit Aunt March, who was lame and needed an active
person to wait upon her. The childless old lady had offered to adopt
one of the girls when the troubles came, and was much offended because
her offer was declined. Other friends told the Marches that they had
lost all chance of being remembered in the rich old lady's will, but
the unworldly Marches only said...

"We can't give up our girls for a dozen fortunes. Rich or poor, we
will keep together and be happy in one another."

The old lady wouldn't speak to them for a time, but happening to meet
Jo at a friend's, something in her comical face and blunt manners
struck the old lady's fancy, and she proposed to take her for a
companion. This did not suit Jo at all, but she accepted the place
since nothing better appeared and, to every one's surprise, got on
remarkably well with her irascible relative. There was an occasional
tempest, and once Jo marched home, declaring she couldn't bear it
longer, but Aunt March always cleared up quickly, and sent for her to
come back again with such urgency that she could not refuse, for in her
heart she rather liked the peppery old lady.

I suspect that the real attraction was a large library of fine books,
which was left to dust and spiders since Uncle March died. Jo
remembered the kind old gentleman, who used to let her build railroads
and bridges with his big dictionaries, tell her stories about queer
pictures in his Latin books, and buy her cards of gingerbread whenever
he met her in the street. The dim, dusty room, with the busts staring
down from the tall bookcases, the cozy chairs, the globes, and best of
all, the wilderness of books in which she could wander where she liked,
made the library a region of bliss to her.

The moment Aunt March took her nap, or was busy with company, Jo
hurried to this quiet place, and curling herself up in the easy chair,
devoured poetry, romance, history, travels, and pictures like a regular
bookworm. But, like all happiness, it did not last long, for as sure
as she had just reached the heart of the story, the sweetest verse of a
song, or the most perilous adventure of her traveler, a shrill voice
called, "Josy-phine! Josy-phine!" and she had to leave her paradise to
wind yarn, wash the poodle, or read Belsham's Essays by the hour

Jo's ambition was to do something very splendid. What it was, she had
no idea as yet, but left it for time to tell her, and meanwhile, found
her greatest affliction in the fact that she couldn't read, run, and
ride as much as she liked. A quick temper, sharp tongue, and restless
spirit were always getting her into scrapes, and her life was a series
of ups and downs, which were both comic and pathetic. But the training
she received at Aunt March's was just what she needed, and the thought
that she was doing something to support herself made her happy in spite
of the perpetual "Josy-phine!"