Turns out, he's spared her. And not only that, but it looks like some good has come out of the whole thing. Because while Beth has been sick with the scarlet fever, Amy has had a total spiritual transformation. No, really.
Ever since Esther the maid said that Aunt March might just be inclined to leave Amy her turquoise ring, our favourite little biatch has been as good as 24 carat gold. Which basically consists of not thinking of her own selfish wishes (apart from the ring, obviously) and praying every day that Beth will recover. To show how much she's thinking of others, Amy even writes her own will. In which she bequeaths Jo her favourite plaster rabbit and Beth her new slippers. Oh, and Meg gets her turquoise ring, if she's managed to score it by then.
Okay, maybe not a total transformation.
At the same time, Amy and Laurie have become firm friends. He gently breaks the news to her when it looks like Beth might not make it, and he goes straight to tell her when the fever finally turns. He also points out what a good 'little woman' she's been this whole time, prompting Aunt March to give her the turquoise ring then and there. Way to work it, Amy.
Back at the humble March house, Jo is freaking out. Why? Because Laurie's tutor John Brooke is in love with Meg. He's even told Marmee that he means to marry her. Marmee has responded by telling Jo, who is now stressing because she doesn't want Meg to go off and marry anyone. Not that there seems to be much danger of that, because so far nobody has thought to mention any of this to Meg herself. Instead, Mrs March has decided to 'watch' Meg and try to discern whether she loves Mr Brooke right back. Sounds like the dumbest plan ever, Marmee, if you don't mind me saying.
Make that the second dumbest plan ever. In a fit of out-of-character stupidity, Laurie writes Meg a fake love note from Mr Brooke. Which she answers. And then, all hell breaks loose. Laurie gets in big trouble with the March women, which then gets him in trouble with his grandfather, and before long he's asking Jo to run away with him.
Jo, alas, says no. She's tempted, sure, and if she were a boy she'd go, but being a 'miserable girl' she decides she should be proper and stay at home. This just about breaks my heart.
But my heart doesn't stay broken for long, because it's Christmas time. Mr March comes home, and is pleased as punch with how his little women have grown up since he's been away. Apparently he likes womanly, maternal Jo even more than he liked the tomboy version. This does break my heart, because I don't.
And just when it seems like everything is perfect for the whole family, Aunt March rears her ugly head. She's not thrilled with that impoverished Mr Brooke setting his sights on Meg, and warns the eldest March sister that if she marries him she'll be cut out of the will. Like magic, Meg grows a backbone and decides she will marry John Brooke after all. Because she's realised she does love him. And besides, she wants to piss Aunt March off. Fair play.
Times are a'changing for the March sisters. It's the end of their childhood, and the end of the first part of their story. I'm leaving the rereads here, so if you want to find out what happens next, you can check out the second part of their story in Good Wives.
Yes, it is a lame title, but I'd like to point out that they didn't choose it.