Sample text for A gift for Meg / Susan Beth Pfeffer.

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Counter "Now, girls," Marmee said as she straightened Jo's collar and Beth's pinafore. "Be sure to listen politely to all of Aunt March's stories. Travel is very educational, and I'm sure there's a lot we can learn from what Aunt March will tell us."

Meg sighed. Aunt March was back from an extended trip to Europe, and whenever she returned from such a trip, she was full of stories for Father, Marmee, Meg, and her sisters.

Meg knew that Jo, who usually avoided Aunt March, always enjoyed the stories, probably because Jo yearned to travel as well. The stories allowed her to imagine that she was seeing all those grand sights herself.

Taking a quick look at Beth, Meg doubted that Beth found Aunt March anything other than terrifying. But Beth was too sweet to make a fuss. She listened to Aunt March and at least managed to seem entertained.

Amy, Meg's youngest sister, loved to hear anything about society. Since Aunt March stayed at the best hotels and occasionally met dukes and earls, Meg knew Amy was quite thrilled to listen to Aunt March ramble on.

As for Marmee, Meg was aware that her mother often found Aunt March tedious, but Marmee also loved new knowledge and appreciated learning all that Aunt March had to teach them about European cities and their famous sights.

That left only Meg, since Father was away that afternoon at a meeting. And only Meg wanted to be someplace, anyplace, else, rather than have to endure another of Aunt March's reminiscences.

Meg supposed someday she might travel, and no doubt would on her honeymoon trip. But if her husband, whoever he might turn out to be, had no money for fancy trips, that was fine with Meg too. She wanted nothing more than a little cottage filled with happy children. If she could be half as contented as Marmee, Meg knew she'd be a lucky woman indeed.

Meg laughed at herself. How silly to be thinking about such a far-off life. She was only ten years old.

"You can laugh?" Jo asked. "With Aunt March on her way?"

"Jo," Marmee said. "Meg, what did you find so funny?"

"It was nothing, Marmee," Meg said. She knew her sisters wouldn't laugh at her if she told them what she'd been thinking about, but still, it was a private thought and not one she cared to share. Jo had no such fantasies about husbands and babies. Her dreams were far grander. Beth craved only the quiet of her daily life, and Amy daydreamed of nothing less than a duke of her own.

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Gifts Fiction, Sisters Fiction, Family life New England Fiction