I read that, and I think to myself, She has a sorrow, she is lonely, she would find comfort in true love. I haf a heart full, full for her. Shall I not go and say, ‘If this is not too poor a thing to gif for what I shall hope to receive, take it in Gott’s name?’“

“And so you came to find that it was not too poor, but the one precious thing I needed,” whispered Jo.

“I had no courage to think that at first, heavenly kind as was your welcome to me. But soon I began to hope, and then I said, ‘I will haf her if I die for it,’ and so I will!” cried Mr. Bhaer, with a defiant nod, as if the walls of mist closing round them were barriers which he was to surmount or valiantly knockdown.

Jo thought that was splendid, and resolved to be worthy of her knight, though he did not come prancing on a charger in gorgeous array.

“What made you stay away so long?” she asked presently, finding it so pleasant to ask confidential questions and get delightful answers that she could not keep silent.

“It was not easy, but I could not find the heart to take you from that so happy home until I could haf a prospect of one to gif you, after much time, perhaps and hard work. How could I ask you to gif up so much for a poor old fellow, who has no fortune but a little learning?”

Fritz Bhaer, Little Women, 1869, Louisa May Alcott

“When did you begin” asked Rose, smiling in spite of herself at his unflattering honesty.

How can I tell? perhaps it began there, though, for that talk set us writing, and the letters showed me what a beautiful soul you had. I loved that first — it was so quick to recognize good things, to use them when they came, and given tout again as unconsciously as a flower does its breath. I longed for you to come home, and wanted you to find me altered for the better in some way as I had found you. And when you came it was very easy to see why I needed you — to love you entirely and tell you so. That is all Rose.

  • Mac Campbell, Rose in Bloom, 1879, Louisa May Alcott

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Illustrator, writer and folklorist. Likes cats, tea and period dramas. A host of the Little Women Podcast.

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Illustrator, writer and folklorist. Likes cats, tea and period dramas. A host of the Little Women Podcast.