A Merry Christmas
Jo was the first to wake in the gray dawn of Christmas morning. No stockings hung at the
fireplace, and for a moment she felt as much disappointed as she did long ago, when her
little sock fell down because it was crammed so full of goodies. Then she remembered
her mother's promise and, slipping her hand under her pillow, drew out a little crimson-
covered book. She knew it very well, for it was that beautiful old story of the best life
ever lived, and Jo felt that it was a true guidebook for any pilgrim going on a long
journey. She woke Meg with a "Merry Christmas," and bade her see what was under her
pillow. A green- covered book appeared, with the same picture inside, and a few words
written by their mother, which made their one present very precious in their eyes.
Presently Beth and Amy woke to rummage and find their little books also, one dove-
colored, the other blue, and all sat looking at and talking about them, while the east grew
rosy with the coming day.
In spite of her small vanities, Margaret had a sweet and pious nature, which
unconsciously influenced her sisters, especially Jo, who loved her very tenderly, and
obeyed her because her advice was so gently given.
"Girls," said Meg seriously, looking from the tumbled head beside her to the two little
night-capped ones in the room beyond, "Mother wants us to read and love and mind these
books, and we must begin at once. We used to be faithful about it, but since Father went
away and all this war trouble unsettled us, we have neglected many things. You can do as
you please, but I shall keep my book on the table here and read a little every morning as
soon as I wake, for I know it will do me good and help me through the day."
Then she opened her new book and began to read. Jo put her arm round her and, leaning
cheek to cheek, read also, with the quiet expression so seldom seen on her restless face.
"How good Meg is! Come, Amy, let's do as they do. I'll help you with the hard words,
and they'' explain things if we don't understand," whispered Beth, very much impressed
by the pretty books and her sisters, example.
"I'm glad mine is blue," said Amy. and then the rooms were very still while the pages
were softly turned, and the winter sunshine crept in to touch the bright heads and serious
faces with a Christmas greeting.
"Where is Mother?" asked Meg, as she and Jo ran down to thank her for their gifts, half
an hour later.
"Goodness only knows. some poor creeter come a-beggin', and your ma went straight off
to see what was needed. There never was such a woman for givin' away vittles and drink,
clothes and firin'," replied Hannah, who had lived with the family since Meg was born,
and was considered by them all more as a friend than a servant.
"She will be back soon, I think, so fry your cakes, and have everything ready," said Meg,
looking over the presents which were collected in a basket and kept under the sofa, ready
to be produced at the proper time. "why, where is Amy's bottle of cologne?" she added,
as the little flask did not appear.