Pleasant Meadows
Reading Comprehension Activity

Author: Louisa May Alcott

Chapter XXII passage: It’s homecoming time in Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.” Finally, Mr. March returns from his time in the Civil War to be with his four daughters. Students will read the passage and answer questions on the plot and the language.

Topic(s): Realistic Fiction. Skill(s): Summary, Context Clues, Story Elements. Genre(s): Prose

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Little Women follows the lives of the four March sisters as the grow up during the American Civil War. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy live with their mother, Mrs. March, while their father is away at war. Mr. March became ill and was put in a hospital in Washington, D.C.

As this passage begins, the girls are with their mother, their servant named Hannah, and their neighbor Laurie. They have had a wonderful Christmas, but it is not over yet. There is another surprise in store for the family. Mr. Brooke is Laurie’s tutor who is in love with Meg.


Now and then, in this work-a-day world, things do happen in the delightful story-book fashion, and what a comfort that is. Half an hour after every one had said they were so happy they could only hold one drop more, the drop came. Laurie opened the parlor door, and popped his head in very quietly. He might just as well have turned a somersault and uttered an Indian war-whoop; for his face was so full of suppressed excitement and his voice so treacherously joyful, that every one jumped up, though he only said, in a queer, breathless voice, “Here’s another Christmas present for the March family.”

Before the words were well out of his mouth, he was whisked away somehow, and in his place appeared a tall man, muffled up to the eyes, leaning on the arm of another tall man, who tried to say something and couldn’t. Of course there was a general stampede; and for several minutes everybody seemed to lose their wits, for the strangest things were done, and no one said a word. Mr. March became invisible in the embrace of four pairs of loving arms; Jo disgraced herself by nearly fainting away, and had to be doctored by Laurie in the china-closet; Mr. Brooke kissed Meg entirely by mistake, as he somewhat incoherently explained; and Amy, the dignified, tumbled over a stool, and, never stopping to get up, hugged and cried over her father’s boots in the most touching manner. Mrs. March was the first to recover herself, and held up her hand with a warning, “Hush! remember Beth!”

But it was too late; the study door flew open, the little red wrapper appeared on the threshold,-joy put strength into the feeble limbs,-and Beth ran straight into her father’s arms. Never mind what happened just after that; for the full hearts overflowed, washing away the bitterness of the past, and leaving only the sweetness of the present.

It was not at all romantic, but a hearty laugh set everybody straight again, for Hannah was discovered behind the door, sobbing over the fat turkey, which she had forgotten to put down when she rushed up from the kitchen. As the laugh subsided, Mrs. March began to thank Mr. Brooke for his faithful care of her husband, at which Mr. Brooke suddenly remembered that Mr. March needed rest, and, seizing Laurie, he precipitately retired. Then the two invalids were ordered to repose, which they did, by both sitting in one big chair, and talking hard.

Comprehension Questions

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