Little Women HTML version

Amy's Will
While these things were happening at home, Amy was having hard times at Aunt
March's. She felt her exile deeply, and for the first time in her life, realized how much she
was beloved and petted at home. Aunt March never petted any one. She did not approve
of it, but she meant to be kind, for the well- behaved little girl pleased her very much, and
Aunt March had a soft place in her old heart for her nephew's children, though she didn't
think it proper to confess it. She really did her best to make Amy happy, but, dear me,
what mistakes she made. Some old people keep young at heart in spite of wrinkles and
gray hairs, can sympathize with children's little cares and joys, make them feel at home,
and can hide wise lessons under pleasant plays, giving and receiving friendship in the
sweetest way. But Aunt March had not this gift, and she worried Amy very much with
her rules and orders, her prim ways, and long, prosy talks. Finding the child more docile
and amiable than her sister, the old lady felt it her duty to try and counteract, as far as
possible, the bad effects of home freedom and indulgence. So she took Amy by the hand,
and taught her as she herself had been taught sixty years ago, a process which carried
dismay to Amy's soul, and made her feel like a fly in the web of a very strict spider.
She had to wash the cups every morning, and polish up the old-fashioned spoons, the fat
silver teapot, and the glasses till they shone. Then she must dust the room, and what a
trying job that was. Not a speck escaped Aunt March's eye, and all the furniture had claw
legs and much carving, which was never dusted to suit. Then Polly had to be fed, the lap
dog combed, and a dozen trips upstairs and down to get things or deliver orders, for the
old lady was very lame and seldom left her big chair. After these tiresome labors, she
must do her lessons, which was a daily trial of every virtue she possessed. Then she was
allowed one hour for exercise or play, and didn't she enjoy it?
Laurie came every day, and wheedled Aunt March till Amy was allowed to go out with
him, when they walked and rode and had capital times. After dinner, she had to read
aloud, and sit still while the old lady slept, which she usually did for an hour, as she
dropped off over the first page. Then patchwork or towels appeared, and Amy sewed with
outward meekness and inward rebellion till dusk, when she was allowed to amuse herself
as she liked till teatime. The evenings were the worst of all, for Aunt March fell to telling
long stories about her youth, which were so unutterably dull that Amy was always ready
to go to be, intending to cry over her hard fate, but usually going to sleep before she had
squeezed out more than a tear or two.
If it had not been for Laurie, and old Esther, the maid, she felt that she never could have
got through that dreadful time. The parrot alone was enough to drive her distracted, for he
soon felt that she did not admire him, and revenged himself by being as mischievous as
possible. He pulled her hair whenever she came near him, upset his bread and milk to
plague her when she had newly cleaned his cage, made Mop bark by pecking at him
while Madam dozed, called her names before company, and behaved in all respects like
an reprehensible old bird. Then she could not endure the dog, a fat, cross beast who
snarled and yelped at her when she made his toilet, and who lay on his back with all his
legs in the air and a most idiotic expression of countenance when he wanted something to
eat, which was about a dozen times a day. The cook was bad-tempered, the old coachman
was deaf, and Esther the only one who ever took any notice of the young lady.
Esther was a Frenchwoman, who had lived with 'Madame', as she called her mistress, for
many years, and who rather tyrannized over the old lady, who could not get along
without her. Her real name was Estelle, but Aunt March ordered her to change it, and she