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Summary

Little Women Chapter 14 Summary Page 1

Secrets

  • It is October, and Jo spends her afternoons sitting in the attic and writing. Finally, one day, she's finished with her manuscript!
  • Jo reads the manuscript all the way through one last time. Then she takes it and another manuscript from a box, pockets them, and leaves the house secretly. She takes the bus into town.
  • Jo comes to a busy street, but she can't quite bring herself to go into the door of the building. She tries three times, and each time ends up turning around and walking away. Finally, she forces herself to enter. One of the signs above the door is for a dentist's office. What she doesn't know is that a young man has been watching her the whole time.
  • The young man waits for Jo outside the office. She comes downstairs ten minutes later and he joins her as she walks away.
  • Laurie – the young man is, of course, Laurie – asks Jo questions, assuming that she just visited the dentist's office. He asks if she had any out, and she says that she has two she wants to come out.
  • Jo asks what Laurie has been doing downtown, and he says he was having a fencing lesson. She's glad that he wasn't playing billiards or drinking, which are considered improper for young men. She tells Laurie that her mother won't let Ned Moffat visit their house, even though he wants to, because he goes to saloons (the nineteenth-century equivalent of bars). (Remember, there's no drinking age at this period in history, so young men of Laurie's age can drink alcohol.)
  • Jo tells Laurie that she wants him to be honest and respectable and not gamble away money. Laurie starts to get tired of her lecture and tells her that he'll take the bus home instead of walking with her if she doesn't stop.
  • Jo agrees to stop lecturing. Laurie says that he will tell her an exciting secret that he knows – if she will tell him her secret. She wants to know how he realized she had a secret, and he says that she's terrible at hiding it.
  • Jo agrees and tells Laurie that she has just come from a newspaper office, where she left two stories to be considered for publication. Laurie's ready to celebrate, but Jo says that she hasn't heard back yet.
  • Laurie tells his secret: Meg's lost glove is in Mr. Brooke's pocket, being cherished with romantic hopes. (This is the glove that didn't get returned to Meg at the beginning of Chapter 12 – remember, Mr. Brooke sent her a translation of a German song and one of the gloves that she left behind at the Laurences' house.) Jo is disgusted by this and says that she doesn't want anyone to come and take Meg away from her.
  • Laurie says that Jo will feel different when someone takes her away someday. Jo says that she'd like to see anyone try it!
  • To avoid an argument, Laurie suggests that they race down the hill. They take off running, and Jo's hairpins fly out everywhere.
  • They reach the bottom of the hill. Jo is flushed and out of breath but having fun, and she sends Laurie back to pick up some things she dropped.
  • Meg arrives on the scene and discovers her sister flushed, panting, and disheveled. She's horrified at Jo's lack of propriety.
  • Meg and Jo argue about Jo's childish behavior. Jo says that she wants to stay a child as long as she can, and is about to say that Meg is becoming a woman all too soon. Laurie interrupts before she can start a fight.
  • Laurie asks where Meg has been. Meg says that she has been at the Gardiners' house, visiting Sallie and talking about Belle Moffat's wedding. Meg is just a tiny bit jealous.
  • For the next week, Jo behaves strangely – she's rude to Mr. Brooke and always excited to see the postman.
  • Meg continues to be embarrassed by Jo's rambunctious, childish behavior. One day, Meg, Beth and Amy are sitting inside, and they see Laurie and Jo go running by outside, holding newspapers and laughing.
  • Jo comes in and reads her sisters a story from the newspaper. Amy and Meg praise the story, and Beth asks who wrote it. Jo admits that she did!
  • Meg, Amy, and Beth insist on seeing Jo's name in print as the author of the story in the paper. They're very excited for her, and so are Mrs. March and Hannah.
  • Jo explains to her sisters that she didn't get paid for these stories, but they are good publicity for her. Soon she'll be able to earn money for the family by writing!

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