Chapters 7-9

Adapted for English Language Learners


   (7) A CHANGE OF HEART

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"Meg and Jo, where are you going?" asked Amy finding them getting ready to go out secretly.

     "Never mind. Little girls shouldn't ask questions," said Jo unkindly.

     Amy told herself that she would not stop asking until she found out the secret. "You are going somewhere with Laurie. I know you are!"

     "Yes, we are. Now do stop bothering us [getting in our way]. Be a good child," said Meg patiently. But Amy wanted to go too.

     "If Amy goes I won't," said Jo. "And if I don't go, Laurie won't like it.” Her answer made Amy angry, who began to put her boots on, saying, "I will go!"

     "You won't go!" said Jo firmly.

     Sitting on the floor with one boot on, Amy began to cry.  The two girls hurried downstairs. Amy called after them saying, "You'll be sorry for this, Jo March!” When they returned home, they found Amy reading a book. She never lifted her eyes from her book or asked a single question about the theatre. The next day Jo ran into the parlor [sitting room] saying, "Has anyone taken my book?” Meg and Beth both said "No" and looked surprised. Amy said nothing. Jo saw Amy's face turn red.

     "Amy, you've got it!"

     "No, I don't."

     "You know where it is, then!"

     "No, I don't."

     "That's a fib [lie]!" cried Jo, taking her by the shoulders.

     "I haven't got it. I don't know where it is now and don't care!"

     "You know something about it, and you'd better tell at once, or I'll make you!" answered Jo, shaking Amy's shoulders harder.

     "You'll never see your silly old book again," cried Amy.

     "Why not?"

     "I burned it !"

     "What! My book I worked so hard to finish before Father comes home?! I have been writing that book for 3 years! You really burned it?" said Jo, turning very pale.

     "Yes I did! I told you I'd make you pay for being so mean [unkind]."

     "You wicked [very bad] girl!  I'll never forgive you as long as I live.” Jo rushed out of the room up to the old garret [room under a house’s roof] to cry. When Mrs. March heard what happened she became very, very grave [quiet and serious]. Amy was sure that no one in the family would ever love her again. At dinner, Jo came to the table looking as sad as if someone in the family had died. As quiet as a mouse Amy said, "Please forgive me [don’t hang on to what I did wrong], Jo. I'm very, very sorry."

     "I will never forgive you," replied Jo not even looking at her sister. No one spoke. It was not a happy evening.  The home's sweet peace was gone.  When mother kissed Jo good-night she whispered gently, "My dear, don't let the sun go down on your anger. Forgive each other, help each other, and begin again tomorrow. Will you?"  

     The next several days were terrible. When Saturday came Jo couldn't take it any longer. "I'll ask Laurie to go skating [walking on ice with special shoes]," she said to herself.  "That will cheer me up!" And off she went.  Amy looked out the window sadly watching Jo leave with her skates. She so wanted to go with them. It was not far to the river.  If she ran hard, Amy was sure she could catch up and join them. But Jo saw her coming and hurried out onto the river. Laurie did not see Amy, for he was skating along the shore, testing the ice to make sure it was safe. Amy, far behind, went toward the middle of the river where the ice was better. Then, suddenly, there was a crash of ice, a splash of water, and a cry that made Jo's heart stand still with fear. She tried to rush forward, but her feet seemed to have no strength in them.  She was frozen with fear. Then Laurie rushed by her, and cried out . . . "Bring a fence rail [a long board from a fence]. Quick, quick!"

     Jo got a rail from the fence and together they got Amy out. Wet and crying, they got her home, put her in blankets and in front of the hot fire. "Are you sure she is O.K.?" whispered Jo to her mother.

     "She is fine. Don't worry. She won't even catch cold," said her mother comfortingly [with much love].

     "How strange that I was so angry with her!" replied Jo. "And now I love her more than ever!"

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        (8) THE P.C. AND P.O.

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Thanks to Charles Dickens, secret clubs were very popular. And so, on rainy days, as well as every Saturday evening, the sisters held a secret club meeting in the garret. Their secret club was called the Pickwick Club or, P.C.  It was named after Charles Dicken's first novel, The Pickwick Papers. The club's newspaper was called, THE PICKWICK PORTFOLIO.  Each club member wrote something for it. 

     Meg, being the oldest, was chosen to be Mr. Samuel Pickwick, president of the newspaper. Jo played the role of A. Snodgrass, the editor. Beth was Tracy Tupman and Amy was Nathaniel Winkle. Their newspaper had stories, poetry, local news, funny advertisements, and suggestions [helpful ideas] on how to improve your character.  


§  THE PICKWICK PORTFOLIO  §  

MAY 20, 1866

   POEM by A. Snodgrass

Again we meet to celebrate,
The words we carefully write.
It is our second anniversary.
In Pickwick Hall, tonight.
The year is gone but we still unite
To joke and laugh and read,
And walk the path of literature,
That does to glory [being famous] lead.
Long may our paper prosper well,
Our club unbroken be, 
And coming years their happiness give 
To our good, useful club, P. C.



THE HISTORY OF A SQUASH by T. Tupman

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Once upon a time a farmer planted a little seed in his garden. Soon it grew and had many little squashes. One day in October, when the squashes were ripe, the farmer picked a squash and took it to the market. A market man bought it and put it in his shop. That same morning, a little girl in a brown hat and blue dress, with a round face and snub [short, flat] nose, went and bought it for her mother. The little snub-nosed girl carried the squash home, cut it up, and boiled it in a big pot. She mashed it up, added salt and butter, and gave it to her mother for dinner. Her mother was very happy, even though there was too much salt.



    A LETTER

Mr. Pickwick, Sir:

     I write to you for advice on the subject of sin. The sinner is a man named Winkle who makes trouble by laughing when others are talking.  He often won't write his story for our paper and that will soon ruin our good name.  We should probably forgive his mistakes becasue he has no brains.

     Yours respectfully, 

     N. WINKLE


≈≈≈  ADVERTISEMENTS  ≈≈≈ 


A meeting will be held tomorrow at the KITCHEN, to teach young ladies how to cook. 

All young ladies must attend.


***

The DUSTPAN CLUB 

will meet on Saturday, at nine precisely [exactly], to clean the house!


***

IMPORTANT

If Samuel Pickwick didn't use so much soap on his hands, he wouldn't always be late to breakfast. And once again A. Snodgrass is asked not to whistle in the street and embarrass his family. 


THE WEEKLY REPORT

The Editor, A. Snodgrass, read the following:

     Mr. President and gentlemen, I propose [suggest] the admission of a new member to our club. This person is very worthy and should be kindly welcomed as a member of our fine club. This person is smart, nice and always happy.  Thus [and so], I propose Laurie Laurence as a member of the P. C. !  •••

     At first everyone laughed, but then they saw that Jo was not joking!  Amy quickly cried out, "We don't want any boys in the club! This is a ladies' club!"

     "He'll laugh at our paper, and make fun of us," added Meg.

     "I promise you that Laurie won't do anything like that!" cried Jo. "He likes to write and he will keep us from acting like silly girls. Oh, please! . . . Well, at least let's take a vote!  Everyone in favor say 'Aye'!"

      There was a long pause and then three voices cried out, "Aye, Aye, Aye!"

      "Oh, I'm so glad! Bless you!" cried Jo happily.  Then, to the horror of the three sisters, Jo opened the door of the closet and there was Laurie trying very hard not to laugh.

     "Jo, you devil!  How awful!  How could you?" cried the three sisters.

     But before they could get more angry, Laurie quickly said, "Honorable gentlemen of the Pickwick Club!  In thanks for being able to join your famous club, I have a gift for you! It is in the lower corner of the garden. It's just an old bird house, but I closed up the door and made the roof open, so it will hold all sorts of things: letters, books, and even packages. It will be our post office!   

     Everyone applauded loudly.  The Pickwick Club had just gotten much better.

     The P. O.—or Post Office—became very well used that year. In it you could find stories, poetry, long letters, pickles, garden seeds, small cakes, and many other surprises. When Laurie’s old grandfather discovered the post office, even he liked it.  Even the Laurence's gardener used the Post Offce. He was in love with Hannah, the March's cook. He sent secret love letters to her. Years later, the girl's laughed until they cried when the secret love letters were discovered in Hannah's things. 

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              (9) SECRETS

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Jo was very busy in the garret. She was sitting on the old sofa, writing, with her papers spread out on a trunk. Scrabble, her pet rat, walked back and forth on the beams overhead with his son, a fine young fellow who was very proud of his whiskers.  Jo wrote without pausing until the last page was filled. Then she signed her name as beautifully as she could and put down her pen, saying, "I've done my best!"

     She tied up the papers with a red ribbon and sat looking at the little package like a mother looking at her child. Then, as quietly as a mouse, she put on her hat and jacket, said good-bye to Scrabble, and climbed out a back window into the garden so no one would see her. 

     The building she was looking for in town was on a busy street and she found it only with great difficulty. She went up to the doorway and looked up the stairs. There was a large sign at the top of the steps that said DENTIST. After standing very still a minute, she suddenly ran away as quickly as she came! She did this several times, to the great amusement of a young gentleman sitting in the window of a building across the street. The third time, Jo told herself to be brave and ran up the stairs. As soon as Jo went in, the young man watching her put on his coat and went to wait for her.  In ten minutes Jo came running down the stairs with a very red face and looking frightened. When she saw the young gentleman she looked more frightend and didn't even stop to greet him. But he followed, asking with a gentle voice, "Did you have a bad time?"

     "Not very."

     "You were done quickly."

     "Yes, thank goodness!"

     "Why did you go alone?"

     "I didn't want anyone to know."

     "You're the strangest person I ever saw. How many did you have out?"

     Jo looked at her friend as if she did not understand him, then began to laugh until she almost cried. "There are two which I want to have come out, but I must wait a week."

     "What are you laughing at?" asked Laurie.

     "Because you think I came to have two teeth pulled out. But I wasn't at the dentist! I've left two stories with a newspaperman and he'll give me his answer next week if they are to come out in print!"

     "Hurrah for Miss March, the famous American author!" cried Laurie, throwing up his hat and catching it again. Jo, won't it be fun to see them in print?"

     "Jo's eyes smiled, for it is always pleasant to have a friend believe in you.

    For a week or two, Jo acted so strangely that her sisters were worried about her. Jo rushed to the door when the postman came and then came away sad. The next Saturday, Meg sat sewing at a window and was horrified to see Laurie chasing Jo all over the garden. They finally started to laugh and then wave newspapers in the air like they were trying to fly.     

     In a few minutes Jo ran inside, fell on the sofa, and pretended to read.

     "Are you reading something interesting?" asked Meg.

     "Nothing but a story," answered Jo.

     "You should read it out loud instead of keeping it to yourself," said Amy.

     "What's the story called? asked Beth.

     "The Rival Painters."

     "That sounds interesting. Read it," said Meg.

     Jo began to read very fast. The girls listened with interest, for the tale was romantic, and somewhat sad, as most of the characters died in the end. The girls listened almost without breathing.  At the end, they were all wiping tears from their eyes.

     "Who wrote it?" asked Beth.

     Jo's face turned bright read. "Your sister!"

     "You?" cried Meg, dropping her sewing.

     "I knew it! I knew it! Oh, Jo, I am so proud!" And Beth ran to hug her sister.

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Chapters 10-12

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