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Louisa M. Alcott: Author Of "Little Women"
by [?]

“Why, I did not think you would remember me!” said the old lady.

“Do you suppose I shall ever forget that bandbox!” was the quick reply.

As time went on, Mr. Alcott’s school dwindled until he had only five scholars, and three of them were his own children. Something new had to be tried, and quickly, so the family moved out of the city, into a small house at Concord, Mass., which had an orchard and a garden, and, best of all, the children had a big barn, where they gave all sorts of entertainments; mostly plays, as they were born actors. Their mother, or “Marmee,” as the girls called her, loved the fun as well as they did, and would lay aside her work at any moment to make impossible costumes for fairies, gnomes, kings or peasants, who were to take the principal parts in some stirring melodrama written by the girls themselves, or some adaptation of an old fairy tale. They acted Jack the Giant-killer in fine style, and the giant came tumbling headlong from a loft when Jack cut down the squash-vine running up a ladder and supposed to represent the immortal beanstalk. At other performances Cinderella rolled away in an impressive pumpkin, and one of their star plays was a dramatic version of the story of the woman who wasted her three wishes, in which a long black pudding was lowered by invisible hands and slowly fastened onto her nose.

But though the big barn often echoed with the sound of merry voices, at other times the girls dressed up as pilgrims, and journeyed over the hill with scrip and staff, and cockle shells in their hats; fairies held their revels among the whispering birches, and strawberry parties took place in the rustic arbor of the garden.

And there we find eight-year-old Louisa writing her verses to the robin, with genius early beginning to burn in the small head which later proved to be so full of wonderful material for the delight of young people.

“Those Concord days were the happiest of my life,” says Miss Alcott. “We had charming playmates in the little Emersons, Channings, Goodwins and Hawthornes, with the illustrious parents and their friends to enjoy our pranks and share our excursions…. My wise mother, anxious to give me a strong body to support a lively brain, turned me loose in the country and let me run wild, learning of Nature what no books can teach, and being led–as those who truly love her seldom fail to be–‘through Nature up to Nature’s God.'”

The Alcott children were encouraged to keep diaries in which they wrote down their thoughts and feelings and fancies, and even at that early age Louisa’s journal was a record of deep feelings and of a child’s sacred emotions. In one of her solemn moods, she makes this entry:

“I had an early run in the woods before the dew was off the grass. The moss was like velvet, and as I ran under the arch of yellow and red leaves I sang for joy, my heart was so bright and the world so beautiful. I stopped at the end of the walk and saw the sunshine out over the wide ‘Virginia meadows.’

“It seemed like going through a dark life or grave into heaven beyond. A very strange and solemn feeling came over me as I stood there, with no sound but the rustle of the pines, no one near me, and the sun so glorious, as for me alone. It seemed as if I felt God as I never did before, and I prayed in my heart that I might keep that happy sense of nearness all my life.”

To that entry there is a note added, years later: ” I have, for I most sincerely think that the little girl ‘got religion’ that day in the wood, when dear Mother Nature led her to God.”–L. M. A. 1885.