'A Merry Christmas' from Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott
Novel Excerpt (1868)
Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy give to the needy (and to their mother) on Christmas Day, and are richly rewarded with simple fun, and a gift from the old gentleman next door.
This is the second chapter of Little Women, which is my favourite book after Watership Down, and it builds on the moral themes set up in the opening chapter. It does echo some of the sentiments of yesterday's Enid Blyton story, but the two authors have their own unique charm, making the tales different enough. This novel is a much-loved classic, and deserving of the very special second position (besides which I've put it in early because I plan to include other works by Alcott later on).
'You see I felt ashamed of my present, after reading and talking about being good this morning, so I ran round the corner and changed it the minute I was up; and I'm so glad, for mine is the handsomest now.'
Louisa M. Alcott, Little Women (Penguin Popular Classics, 1994), p.15.