2. CHAPTER TWO
Jo was the first to wake in the gray dawn of Christmas morning.
No stockings hung at the fireplace, and for a moment she
felt as much disappointed as she did long ago, when her little
sock fell down because it was crammed so full of goodies. Then
she remembered her mother's promise and, slipping her hand under
her pillow, drew out a little crimson-covered book. She knew
it very well, for it was that beautiful old story of the best
life ever lived, and Jo felt that it was a true guidebook for
any pilgrim going on a long journey. She woke Meg with a "Merry
Christmas," and bade her see what was under her pillow. A green-covered
book appeared, with the same picture inside, and a few
words written by their mother, which made their one present very
precious in their eyes. Presently Beth and Amy woke to rummage
and find their little books also, one dove-colored, the other
blue, and all sat looking at and talking about them, while the
east grew rosy with the coming day.
In spite of her small vanities, Margaret had a sweet and
pious nature, which unconsciously influenced her sisters,
especially Jo, who loved her very tenderly, and obeyed her
because her advice was so gently given.
"Girls," said Meg seriously, looking from the tumbled head
beside her to the two little night-capped ones in the room beyond,
"Mother wants us to read and love and mind these books, and we
must begin at once. We used to be faithful about it, but since
Father went away and all this war trouble unsettled us, we have
neglected many things. You can do as you please, but I shall keep
my book on the table here and read a little every morning as soon
as I wake, for I know it will do me good and help me through the day."
Then she opened her new book and began to read. Jo put her
arm round her and, leaning cheek to cheek, read also, with the
quiet expression so seldom seen on her restless face.
"How good Meg is! Come, Amy, let's do as they do. I'll
help you with the hard words, and they'' explain things if we
don't understand," whispered Beth, very much impressed by the
pretty books and her sisters, example.