Last time I caught up with the March sisters, Marmee was giving the older girls a pep talk about the importance of being themselves. Seems like it stuck. Meg is behaving more modestly and has met a potential love interest, Jo is getting her writing published in the newspaper, and Beth is being saintly as ever. I'm guessing Marmee gave Amy different advice, because entire chapters have elapsed without Little Miss Vengeance declaring anyone a mortal enemy.
In other words, things are going pretty well for the Little Women. Which can mean only one thing: tragedy is lurking around the next corner.
The family receive a telegram informing them that Mr March, who is away serving with the army, has been taken seriously ill. The sisters are distraught, and Marmee decides at once that she'll go to her husband's bedside. Not so easy, when you don't own a carriage and health insurance hasn't been invented yet.
Determined to help, Jo slips out while the preparations are being made for Marmee's journey, and returns some time later with twenty five dollars to help make sure her father is comfortable. Twenty five dollars she got by selling all her hair to the barber.
You know what? Jo March is made of awesome. She couldn't care less that she's walking around with a bristly head, as long as she does the best for her family. And despite the fact that Jo revels in being a tomboy, I'm still impressed and so are the Marches. Because as someone points out in all the commotion, that hair was her one beauty. Note: LMA doesn't tell us exactly which sister drops that gem, but I know who my money's on.
So off goes Marmee to the frontline, and the sisters are left alone. And that's when tragedy strikes. Because Mr March's illness and possibly impending death? That's not the half of it.
In Marmee's absence, saintly Beth is the only March sister who can spare the time to visit the Hummels (the poor German family the girls gave their breakfasts to last Christmas). Whilst tending to their sick baby, Beth contracts the dreaded scarlet fever. Pretty soon, it's beginning to look as though the saintliest March might not make it.
Still, it's not bad for everyone. In all the turmoil, Meg and Jo decide to send Amy to stay with Aunt March so she doesn't get sick. She refuses to budge at first, but is eventually talked round by Laurie, who eventually promises that he'll come and take her out every single day. Is it just me, or does anyone else smell foreshadowing?