"Jo, I'm anxious about Beth."
"Why, Mother, she has seemed unusually well since the babies came."
"It's not her health that troubles me now, it's her spirits. I'm sure there is something on her
mind, and I want you to discover what it is."
"What makes you think so, Mother?"
"She sits alone a good deal, and doesn't talk to her father as much as she used. I found her
crying over the babies the other day. When she sings, the songs are always sad ones, and
now and then I see a look in her face that I don't understand. This isn't like Beth, and it
"Have you asked her about it?'
"I have tried once or twice, but she either evaded my questions or looked so distressed
that I stopped. I never force my children's confidence, and I seldom have to wait for
Mrs. March glanced at Jo as she spoke, but the face opposite seemed quite unconscious
of any secret disquietude but Beth's, and after sewing thoughtfully for a minute, Jo said,
"I think she is growing up, and so begins to dream dreams, and have hopes and fears and
fidgets, without knowing why or being able to explain them. Why, Mother, Beth's
eighteen, but we don't realize it, and treat her like a child, forgetting she's a woman."
"So she is. Dear heart, how fast you do grow up," returned her mother with a sigh and a
"Can't be helped, Marmee, so you must resign yourself to all sorts of worries, and let your
birds hop out of the nest, one by one. I promise never to hop very far, if that is any
comfort to you."
"It's a great comfort, Jo. I always feel strong when you are at home, now Meg is gone.
Beth is too feeble and Amy too young to depend upon, but when the tug comes, you are
"Why, you know I don't mind hard jobs much, and there must always be one scrub in a
family. Amy is splendid in fine works and I'm not, but I feel in my element when all the
carpets are to be taken up, or half the family fall sick at once. Amy is distinguishing
herself abroad, but if anything is amiss at home, I'm your man."
"I leave Beth to your hands, then, for she will open her tender little heart to her Jo sooner
than to anyone else. Be very kind, and don't let her think anyone watches or talks about;
her. If she only would get quite strong and cheerful again, I shouldn't have a wish in the
"Happy woman! I've got heaps."
"My dear, what are they?"