1 "Some handkerchiefs, all hemmed," said Beth.
2 "I thought I'd get her some with my dollar," said Beth.
3 Each of you told what your burden was just now, except Beth.
4 And Beth looked at her rough hands with a sigh that any one could hear that time.
5 "We've got Father and Mother, and each other," said Beth contentedly from her corner.
6 The clock struck six and, having swept up the hearth, Beth put a pair of slippers down to warm.
7 Jo gave a despairing groan, and Meg laughed outright, while Beth let her bread burn as she watched the fun with interest.
8 Beth ate no more, but crept away to sit in her shadowy corner and brood over the delight to come, till the others were ready.
9 "I planned to spend mine in new music," said Beth, with a little sigh, which no one heard but the hearth brush and kettle-holder.
10 Beth's bundle was such a funny one that everybody wanted to laugh, but nobody did, for it would have hurt her feelings very much.
11 Beth trotted to and fro between parlor kitchen, quiet and busy, while Amy gave directions to everyone, as she sat with her hands folded.
12 "Birds in their little nests agree," sang Beth, the peacemaker, with such a funny face that both sharp voices softened to a laugh, and the "pecking" ended for that time.
13 Elizabeth, or Beth, as everyone called her, was a rosy, smooth-haired, bright-eyed girl of thirteen, with a shy manner, a timid voice, and a peaceful expression which was seldom disturbed.
14 I liked the things and the kisses, but it was dreadful to have you sit looking at me while I opened the bundles, said Beth, who was toasting her face and the bread for tea at the same time.
15 So you must try to be contented with making your name boyish, and playing brother to us girls, said Beth, stroking the rough head with a hand that all the dish washing and dusting in the world could not make ungentle in its touch.
16 They all drew to the fire, Mother in the big chair with Beth at her feet, Meg and Amy perched on either arm of the chair, and Jo leaning on the back, where no one would see any sign of emotion if the letter should happen to be touching.
17 Beth said nothing, but wiped away her tears with the blue army sock and began to knit with all her might, losing no time in doing the duty that lay nearest her, while she resolved in her quiet little soul to be all that Father hoped to find her when the year brought round the happy coming home.
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