Little Women HTML version

Domestic Experiences
Like most other young matrons, Meg began her married life with the determination to be
a model housekeeper. John should find home a paradise, he should always see a smiling
face, should fare sumptuously every day, and never know the loss of a button. She
brought so much love, energy, and cheerfulness to the work that she could not but
succeed, in spite of some obstacles. Her paradise was not a tranquil one, for the little
woman fussed, was over-anxious to please, and bustled about like a true Martha,
cumbered with many cares. She was too tired, sometimes, even to smile, John grew
dyspeptic after a course of dainty dishes and ungratefully demanded plain fare. As for
buttons, she soon learned to wonder where they went, to shake her head over the
carelessness of men, and to threaten to make him sew them on himself, and see if his
work would stand impatient and clumsy fingers any better than hers.
They were very happy, even after they discovered that they couldn't live on love alone.
John did not find Meg's beauty diminished, though she beamed at him from behind the
familiar coffee pot. Nor did Meg miss any of the romance from the daily parting, when
her husband followed up his kiss with the tender inquiry, "Shall I send some veal or
mutton for dinner, darling?" The little house ceased to be a glorified bower, but it became
a home, and the young couple soon felt that it was a change for the better. At first they
played keep-house, and frolicked over it like children. Then John took steadily to
business, feeling the cares of the head of a family upon his shoulders, and Meg laid by
her cambric wrappers, put on a big apron, and fell to work, as before said, with more
energy than discretion.
While the cooking mania lasted she went through Mrs. Cornelius's Receipt Book as if it
were a mathematical exercise, working out the problems with patience and care.
Sometimes her family were invited in to help eat up a too bounteous feast of successes, or
Lotty would be privately dispatched with a batch of failures, which were to be concealed
from all eyes in the convenient stomachs of the little Hummels. An evening with John
over the account books usually produced a temporary lull in the culinary enthusiasm, and
a frugal fit would ensue, during which the poor man was put through a course of bread
pudding, hash, and warmed-over coffee, which tried his soul, although he bore it with
praiseworthy fortitude. Before the golden mean was found, however, Meg added to her
domestic possessions what young couples seldom get on long without, a family jar.
Fired a with housewifely wish to see her storeroom stocked with homemade preserves,
she undertook to put up her own currant jelly. John was requested to order home a dozen
or so of little pots and an extra quantity of sugar, for their own currants were ripe and
were to be attended to at once. As John firmly believed that `my wife' was equal to
anything, and took a natural pride in her skill, he resolved that she should be gratified,
and their only crop of fruit laid by in a most pleasing form for winter use. Home came
four dozen delightful little pots, half a barrel of sugar, and a small boy to pick the
currants for her. With her pretty hair tucked into a little cap, arms bared to the elbow, and
a checked apron which had a coquettish look in spite of the bib, the young housewife fell
to work, feeling no doubts about her success, for hadn't she seen Hannah do it hundreds
of times? The array of pots rather amazed her at first, but John was so fond of jelly, and
the nice little jars would look so well on the top shelf, that Meg resolved to fill them all,
and spend a long day picking, boiling, straining, and fussing over her jelly. She did her
best, she asked advice of Mrs. Cornelius, she racked her brain to remember what Hannah
did that she left undone, she reboiled, resugared, and restrained, but that dreadful stuff
wouldn't 'jell'.