Scene Three: Laurence Library
Music grows in volume and two party-goers appear, walking and talking, giving a sense of the party in rooms adjacent to the one in which we find ourselves-the library of the Laurence house. Jo and Meg disappear upstage. Jo quickly reappears, without her cloak, stuffing a cookie in her mouth, and bumps into the couple we’ve already seen. She murmurs a muffled “sorry” as she backs into the library. Spotting the pile of books beside the wing-back chair, she kneels to look at them. This draws the attention of Laurie, who has buried himself in the armchair. He sits up.
JO: Dear me, I didn’t know anyone was here. (Realizing.) Oh, it’s you!
LAURIE: Do stay. Please.
JO: I’m so glad it’s you. But won’t I disturb you?
LAURIE: Not at all. I only came here because I don’t know many people.
JO: But it’s your party. Oh, what a wonderful room! Look at all these books!
Mr. Brooke, Laurie’s tutor, appears, walking and talking with a shy Meg.
LAURIE: A fellow can’t live on books. Though he (pointing at Mr. Brooke) thinks you can.
JO: We had such a good time over your nice Christmas present.
LAURIE: Grandpa sent it.
JO: But you put it into his head, didn’t you?
LAURIE (ducking this compliment): How is your cat, Miss March?
JO: Nicely, thank you, Mr. Laurence, but I’m not Miss March. I’m only Jo.
LAURIE: I’m not Mr. Laurence, I’m only Laurie.
JO: Laurie Laurence?
LAURIE: My name’s Theodore. They called me Dora, which I hated. So I made them call me Laurie instead.
JO: I wish I could make everyone call me Jo instead of Josephine. So sentimental. How did you manage it?
LAURIE: I thrashed them.
Aunt March and Mr. Laurence appear stroll in. Music shifts to a waltz.
JO: I can’t thrash Aunt March. Christopher Columbus! What a lovely piano.
LAURIE (nods, glum): Grandfather doesn’t like what I play.
JO: Come play ours sometime. You could play anything you like! (Waving.) Hello, Aunt March!
Aunt March is mortified to be hailed in this way; her hands fly to her cheeks. She takes Mr. Laurence’s arm and with as much dignity as she can muster, hustles off.
LAURIE: I want to live in Italy and be a composer. Grandfather wants me to live here and sell tea. Don’t you like to dance, Miss Jo?
JO: Usually I knock something over, or tread on people’s toes, so I keep out of mischief and let Meg sail about.
Meg and Mr. Brooke sail by. The party-goers waltz through.
JO: Do you dance?
LAURIE: Sometimes. But I’ve been abroad and-
JO: Abroad! Italy! Christopher Columbus! Have you been to Paris?
LAURIE: Quel nom a cette jeune demoiselle en les pantoufles jolis?
JO (translating):”Who is the young lady in the slippers… pretty?”
LAURIE: Oui, mademoiselle. And I know the answer – Meg! And Beth is the rosy one that plays the piano, and sometimes goes out with a little basket?
JO (pleased, proud): That’s my Beth.
LAURIE: And the curly-haired one is Amy.
JO: How did you find all this out?
LAURIE: Sometimes you forget to pull the curtain, and when the lamps are lighted, I look across from my window, and it’s like looking at a picture-with the fire, and you all around the table with your mother…
JO: Don’t just look. Come over and visit us.
LAURIE: Grandfather doesn’t want me to be a bother to strangers.
JO: We’re not strangers, we’re neighbors. We want to know you, and I’ve been trying to do it ever so long.
His pleased look dismays her; after all, this is a male of the species. She stands abruptly. The music shifts to a feisty polka.
JO: Oh look at all these books!
LAURIE: Use them all you like. Grandpa is usually gone during the day, so you needn’t be timid.
JO (challenging him): I’m not afraid of anything.
LAURIE: I don’t believe you are.
Meg and Mr. Brooke polka by, laughing, clearly having a wonderful time.
JO: Who’s that keeps dancing with Meg?
LAURIE: That’s my tutor, John Brooke.
JO: That’s a splendid polka. Why don’t you go try it?
LAURIE: If you come too.
JO (how she wants to): I can’t.
LAURIE: Why not.
JO: You won’t tell?
JO: I have a bad trick of standing before the fire, and I burn my frocks. (Turns and points where.) Meg told me to keep still, so no one would see. Go ahead, laugh.
LAURIE (does not laugh): We can dance grandly right here, and no one will see us. Please, won’t you?
Jo and Laurie dance grandly.