Little Women HTML version

Being Neighborly
"What in the world are you going to do now, Jo." asked Meg one snowy afternoon, as her
sister came tramping through the hall, in rubber boots, old sack, and hood, with a broom
in one hand and a shovel in the other.
"Going out for exercise," answered Jo with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.
"I should think two long walks this morning would have been enough! It's cold and dull
out, and I advise you to stay warm and dry by the fire, as I do," said Meg with a shiver.
"Never take advice! Can't keep still all day, and not being a pussycat, I don't like to doze
by the fire. I like adventures, and I'm going to find some."
Meg went back to toast her feet and read Ivanhoe, and Jo began to dig paths with great
energy. The snow was light, and with her broom she soon swept a path all round the
garden, for Beth to walk in when the sun came out and the invalid dolls needed air. Now,
the garden separated the Marches' house from that of Mr. Laurence. Both stood in a
suburb of the city, which was still country-like, with groves and lawns, large gardens, and
quiet streets. A low hedge parted the two estates. On one side was an old, brown house,
looking rather bare and shabby, robbed of the vines that in summer covered its walls and
the flowers, which then surrounded it. On the other side was a stately stone mansion,
plainly betokening every sort of comfort and luxury, from the big coach house and well-
kept grounds to the conservatory and the glimpses of lovely things one caught between
the rich curtains.
Yet it seemed a lonely, lifeless sort of house, for no children frolicked on the lawn, no
motherly face ever smiled at the windows, and few people went in and out, except the old
gentleman and his grandson.
To Jo's lively fancy, this fine house seemed a kind of enchanted palace, full of splendors
and delights which no one enjoyed. She had long wanted to behold these hidden glories,
and to know the Laurence boy, who looked as if he would like to be known, if he only
knew how to begin. Since the party, she had been more eager than ever, and had planned
many ways of making friends with him, but he had not been seen lately, and Jo began to
think he had gone away, when she one day spied a brown face at an upper window,
looking wistfully down into their garden, where Beth and Amy were snow-balling one
"That boy is suffering for society and fun," she said to herself. "His grandpa does not
know what's good for him, and keeps him shut up all alone. He needs a party of jolly
boys to play with, or somebody young and lively. I've a great mind to go over and tell the
old gentleman so!"
The idea amused Jo. who liked to do daring things and was always scandalizing Meg by
her queer performances. The plan of `going over' was not forgotten. And when the snowy
afternoon came, Jo resolved to try what could be done. She saw Mr. Lawrence drive off,
and then sallied out to dig her way down to the hedge, where she paused and took a
survey. All quiet, curtains down at the lower windows, servants out of sight, and nothing
human visible but a curly black head leaning on a thin hand at the upper window.