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Jo's Boys

Chapter 3: Jo's Last Scrape
The March family had enjoyed a great many surprises in the course of their
varied career, but the greatest of all was when the Ugly Duckling turned out to
be, not a swan, but a golden goose, whose literary eggs found such an
unexpected market that in ten years Jo's wildest and most cherished dream
actually came true. How or why it happened she never clearly understood, but all
of a sudden she found herself famous in a small way, and, better still, with a snug
little fortune in her pocket to clear away the obstacles of the present and assure
the future of her boys.
It began during a bad year when everything went wrong at Plumfield; times were
hard, the school dwindled, Jo overworked herself and had a long illness; Laurie
and Amy were abroad, and the Bhaers too proud to ask help even of those as
near and dear as this generous pair. Confined to her room, Jo got desperate over
the state of affairs, till she fell back upon the long-disused pen as the only thing
she could do to help fill up the gaps in the income. A book for girls being wanted
by a certain publisher, she hastily scribbled a little story describing a few scenes
and adventures in the lives of herself and sisters, though boys were more in her
line, and with very slight hopes of success sent it out to seek its fortune.
Things always went by contraries with Jo. Her first book, laboured over for years,
and launched full of the high hopes and ambitious dreams of youth, foundered on
its voyage, though the wreck continued to float long afterward, to the profit of the
publisher at least. The hastily written story, sent away with no thought beyond the
few dollars it might bring, sailed with a fair wind and a wise pilot at the helm into
public favour, and came home heavily laden with an unexpected cargo of gold
and glory.
A more astonished woman probably never existed than Josephine Bhaer when
her little ship came into port with flags flying, cannon that had been silent before
now booming gaily, and, better than all, many kind faces rejoicing with her, many
friendly hands grasping hers with cordial congratulations. After that it was plain
sailing, and she merely had to load her ships and send them off on prosperous
trips, to bring home stores of comfort for all she loved and laboured for.
The fame she never did quite accept; for it takes very little fire to make a great
deal of smoke nowadays, and notoriety is not real glory. The fortune she could
not doubt, and gratefully received; though it was not half so large a one as a
generous world reported it to be. The tide having turned continued to rise, and
floated the family comfortably into a snug harbour where the older members
could rest secure from storms, and whence the younger ones could launch their
boats for the voyage of life.
All manner of happiness, peace, and plenty came in those years to bless the
patient waiters, hopeful workers, and devout believers in the wisdom and justice
of Him who sends disappointment, poverty, and sorrow to try the love of human
hearts and make success the sweeter when it comes. The world saw the
prosperity, and kind souls rejoiced over the improved fortunes of the family; but