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MonkeyNotes-Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
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Chapter 6: Beth finds the Palace Beautiful

Summary

The March family strikes up further acquaintance with the Laurence’s although they must first get past their "lions." For Beth, the biggest lion is Mr. Laurence himself who unintentionally speaks gruffly to her and sends her flying for home. For others the lions are a matter of pride and situation. They see Mr. Laurence as rich while they are poor and thus they are reluctant to accept any favors which they could not return. Laurie, however, is soon like a part of the family, for he has no mother or sisters and is quick to appreciate the attentions they give him.

When Mr. Laurence learns that he accidentally frightened Beth, he determines to correct the situation. He visits Mrs. March one day and tells her that Laurie has been neglecting his music since spending so much time with the girls. However, his "concern" is for the piano, that it will "suffer for want of use." He "wonders" if there might be a March girl who would be willing to come in at her leisure and practice on the piano. Beth hears and can’t resist volunteering to play. Mr. Laurence promises her that she can go in and out at a side door and no one disturb her or pay her any attention. He kisses her lightly, noting that he had a little girl like her many years ago.

After several trials, Beth eventually draws the courage to venture into the Laurence house. As promised, the way to the room with the piano is unobstructed; furthermore, music has been left on the piano. From then on Beth visits the house nearly every day, always finding new pieces left for her to practice on.

As a means of thanking Mr. Laurence, Beth decides to make him a new pair of slippers. With the help of Marmee and her sisters, they make a pair in deep purple adorned with clusters of pansies. Laurie helps her smuggle them onto Mr. Laurence’s study table. A day and a half later, Beth comes home from walking her dolls to find that Mr. Laurence has sent her a note and a small cabinet piano that had belonged to the child who had died. After playing a short tune on the piano, Beth decides that she ought to go over and thank him. To everyone’s surprise, Beth goes directly to the house and finding Mr. Laurence in his study, attempts to thank him. Words escape her however, so instead she hugs and kisses him. Mr. Laurence responds by cuddling her close to him, feeling as if he has his own little granddaughter back. From that day on, Beth ceases to fear him.


Notes

Perhaps, in the absence of her own father, Beth needs a father image. At any rate, the gift of a piano certainly shows her that Mr. Laurence is not a person she needs to be afraid of. In time, she will be his favorite of all the March girls.

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