LAURA LINNEY: This is "Masterpiece."
Is the doctor absolutely sure it's scarlet fever?
LINNEY: Previously on "Little Women"... JO AND MEG: Marmee.
She's breathing natural.
♪ ♪ (clears throat) AUNT MARCH: I need a poised and punctilious companion.
I am resolved that you shall replace her.
FATHER: You may kiss the bride.
You fall in love with a different girl every fortnight.
There should always be at least one old maid in a family and it's going to be me.
LINNEY: "Little Women," to (birds chirping) ♪ ♪ JO (voiceover): A year has passed.
A year since Meg married.
Since I sold my novel.
If I get bigger, I won't be able to wear any clothes at all!
I'll have to wrap myself in sheets and stay in the house till the baby arrives!
This skirt has plenty of room in it, Meg.
And I promise you, I've added so many frills the eye will be drawn away from everything that's going on.
No one will look lower than your shoulders.
JO (voiceover): I can't even write a diary anymore!
And yet my head is full of words.
A magnificent harvest, if I do say so!
MEG: Are you sure they can be spared?
Of course they can.
(both chuckling) She's a terrible big size for a terrible small girl, Mrs. March.
Meg is young and she's healthy.
There is no reason to suppose that she will struggle when the time comes.
♪ ♪ JO (voiceover): Our house is full of stories; lives unfolding.
Wings waiting to take flight.
(birds chirping) ♪ ♪ Jo!
Why didn't you do your hair the pretty way?
Because I hate paying calls.
And you don't need your mackintosh.
I can smell thunder, even if you can't.
And if people care more for my clothes than they do for me, then I don't want to see them!
We owe half a dozen calls even before we go to see Aunt Carrol at Aunt March's house.
If you're going to be in a contrary fit, you'll drive me distracted before the day is out.
AUNT CARROL: Florence's first season was such a spectacular success that we are now intending an entire program of new activities for her, aren't we, dearest?
Not that she will neglect any opportunity to share her advantages with those less fortunate.
And what about you, Josephine?
Oh, my scribbling keeps me too busy for charity schemes.
Do you mean drawing, dear?
Oh, Josephine doesn't draw.
She writes romances, in the general way, with a dash of the spectacular thrown in as a makeweight.
Does that amuse you, dear?
It pays me.
And how do you fare with your languages?
Oh, I don't know a word of anything, only English.
And I can't keep at any sort of study, and I can't bear French!
It's a such a slippery, silly sort of language.
Don't you think?
(bird squawks) (chuckles politely) Hmph!
(labored breathing) Beth?
What's the matter?
Shall I call Marmee?
Don't call her, and don't tell her.
Are you in pain?
But I can bear it.
You don't look as though you're bearing it.
I wish you would tell me what was troubling you.
♪ ♪ MARMEE: I had a letter from Aunt Carrol today.
Did she grill you about your charitable activities?
(chuckles) MARMEE: No.
She told me about her forthcoming tour of Europe.
And she says that she needs a companion for her daughter Florence.
So she has asked... Me to go with her.
(softly): No, dear.
Aunt Carrol wants me to go to Europe with her?
FATHER: I actually begged her to take you off my hands, and she has my gratitude for being so obliging.
Are you stitching that for Amy?
How can you tell?
I wish I could say I do it gladly, but I don't.
(chuckling): Oh, Jo... Don't speak to me kindly!
I was too thoughtless, and too blunt, and I have an ungovernable tongue.
I know how hurt you are.
I can't let anyone see, Laurie.
You never let people see your soft side.
But everyone who cares knows it's there.
I'd rather not talk about my soft side at the moment.
Why don't we talk about you?
And all your grand plans, now that you're a college graduate?
I don't have any grand plans.
Grandfather's so pleased and so relieved, I think he'll let me take a vacation for a while.
Well, aren't you fortunate?
(door opens) BETH: Jo?
John came to the house to fetch Marmee.
It's happening, Jo.
♪ ♪ (chuckling) Look at you, John!
The man who has everything!
I have a family at last-- I can want for nothing else.
(Laurie chuckles, baby crying) When do I find out if it's a boy or a girl?
JO: Don't open your eyes yet.
♪ ♪ (chuckles) JO: Surprise!
It's the joke of the season, isn't it?
(chuckling) (baby cooing) A son and a daughter.
(chuckles) Do you suppose one day she'll say to me, "How did you ever survive this?"
And you can say, "You will."
(softly): Thank you, Marmee.
Laurie might ride by in a moment.
He went out to play billiards tonight, and this is the time he usually comes home.
Here he is.
All serene on the front!
(horse nickers) I like it so much when he does that.
He looks so strong and well and happy.
♪ ♪ Be safe, sweetheart.
Write to us!
I'll write when I get to England.
♪ ♪ (footsteps approaching) (door opens) (fire crackling) First nip of fall in the air.
(sighs) No pen and no ink today?
I've penned and I've inked in every room of the house this week and not one has proved more conducive than the garret.
Where are you floating off to, on that cloud of cologne and pomade?
Eugenia Randall's house.
Is she the girl you sent a rose to every morning of your sophomore year?
She's giving a tea party, so everyone can see her engagement presents.
She was a delicious romp, and a fine flirt... Marmee doesn't like that sort of girl.
Marmee didn't raise that sort of girl.
I wouldn't know how to flirt even if she had allowed it.
I flirt constantly.
I can't help myself.
But what I really like are sensible, straightforward, modest young women.
♪ ♪ MARMEE: Jo!
I want you.
This won't do.
♪ ♪ (grunting) (mattress drops) What is it, Jo?
I want to go away.
To a hospital in a big city to train to be a nurse.
Besides, the war is over.
Do you think disease has stopped existing because the country is at peace?
People will always need help, Marmee.
And what do you need, Jo?
Because-- and forgive me if I sound disrespectful-- I don't believe the state of the sick and the suffering is your principal concern.
I need to not live out my entire life in the tiny town where I was born.
I need to see things, and be things, because I'm terrified that if I don't, my writing will have to be forced out of nothing, and go nowhere!
And I need to get away from Laurie.
He's become... fond of me.
And, uh... you don't think you could become fond of him?
And that won't change.
I know it won't change.
Because you and Laurie... You're too much alike, both have hot tempers and strong wills.
Marriage takes infinite patience and forbearance, Jo.
As well as love.
I know that.
Because I have seen that.
But I'm not sure I could manage it with anybody, and I don't intend to try.
Laurie needs a girl like Beth, Marmee.
Beth loves Laurie.
In the most tender, most hopeful, most hopeless way.
And that what's been troubling her?
It's been breaking her heart!
And it will break mine, too, if I stand in the way of what might be the better thing.
♪ ♪ (clucking) LAURIE: You'll hate New York.
I might, but I like the sound of Mrs. Kirke's boarding house.
You're going there as a governess to her children.
If she didn't need a governess, and if she wasn't an old friend of Marmee's, I wouldn't be going to New York at all.
(scoffs) (sighs) ♪ ♪ JO (voiceover): "Dear Marmee and Beth.
"I kept trying not to remember Father's face, "when I left him at the station.
But the sun came out, and I took it as an omen."
♪ ♪ "Mrs. Kirke's house is a veritable Babel."
(laughter) "There are two French ladies "and three engineers fresh off the boat from Sweden.
"There's a professor from Germany.
He's raising two nephews after his sister died."
(laughter) MARMEE (voiceover): "He has a beard "and a kindly sort of face.
"Or perhaps I just think that, "because I keep being told what a splendid man he is."
JO (voiceover): "And because it's so very obvious he's poor.
Poverty always enriches those who rise above it."
BHAER: ♪ Kennst du das Land ♪ ♪ Wo die Zitronen blühn ♪ ♪ Im dunkeln Laub die Gold-Orangen glühn ♪ ♪ Ein sanfter Wind ♪ Please can I get past?
BHAER: Oh, child!
This is too heavy for such a little one as you.
Give it to me.
(chuckles) (footsteps retreating) It always pains me when a child must earn their bread.
It pains me, too.
♪ ♪ AMY (voiceover): "So far, London is all fog and umbrellas, "and I went to Westminster Abbey and sketched three tombs "and a rudiment screen.
"Flo and I got in a hansom cab today, "but Aunt Carrol made us both get out "because the driver smelled of beer.
"I am, as ever, your loving Amy.
"Ribbon is so cheap here!
Only sixpence a yard."
(roaring) (trumpeting) (talking, imitating animals) Kitty!
What in mercy's name are you doing?
(chuckles) We are playing a game of menagerie, Miss March.
Franz and Emil are a tiger and lion, respectively, hence their incarceration behind these dining chairs.
Minnie's feeding them ginger cake.
A very particular ginger cake, formulated for the mammalian species Felidae.
Meanwhile, I am an elephant.
No ginger cake for me.
(laughing) (trumpeting) (laughing) ♪ ♪ You write fast?
Faster, since I've been here.
$20, $20, $20.
I'll only pay ten for this, because stories of sisterly love don't generally appeal.
They appeal to me, sir.
Ten, and that's my final offer.
However, bring me more like these and you'll be published once a fortnight.
$20 every time.
(door opens) BHAER: Miss March?
Um... might I enquire as to whether you have any fondness for philosophy?
I've read a little Immanuel Kant, but I struggle with his notion that we don't conform to the world, but the world conforms to us.
Ja, well, I struggle with that, also.
Um, I find greater coherence in the views of Hegel.
Yeah, well, there is a symposium-- um... a debate-- to be held next week.
May I take the liberty of purchasing admission for us both?
Ah, I would like that.
(laughing): Ja, that's great!
(laughs) AMY (voiceover): "No matter where I go, "Jo's wild imagination has been there in advance of me.
"'The Vampire Bridesmaid' set me up sublimely for the catacombs, "and I read 'The Gondolier's Ransom' "within an earshot of actual gondoliers!
"Can you send me some blue dye for my satin button boots?
"I need to make them match my walking suit, "and you can't get blue dye in the whole of Europe.
I guess everyone just buys new shoes all of the time."
♪ ♪ JO: Hurry!
The maids will be coming in to set the table.
Take those painted eggs to your room, and don't leave them anywhere where they'll be smashed or trampled, or everyone's labors will have been in vain, including mine!
My nephews enjoy their handicrafts with you.
I like teaching boys.
Better than teaching girls-- but don't tell Mrs. Kirke.
(whispering): Oh, no!
(papers shuffling) Observe this, this illustration!
I wince to surmise what adventures it depicts, and think it should not be brought into a house where there are children.
Look, more of it there is!
It's better they play with gunpowder than they read such things!
"The Weekly Volcano."
Let it burn.
You know, I have no patience for those who create this bad trash!
In which case, Professor Bhaer, you have no patience with me.
Every other week, I publish a story in that magazine.
And every penny I earn in exchange for them goes to the good of someone I love.
My sister, as it happens.
I shouldn't have to explain how much a sister can matter.
Not to you.
(stammers) Your sister-- sick?
She isn't strong.
I have been saving up so I can take her to the ocean.
Does that still make my stories "bad trash" in your eyes?
(knock at door) I have not words sufficient to apologize.
I wish instead to present a gift.
"The Complete Works of Shakespeare"?
There is a universe of literature within these boards.
Shakespeare earned his living by his pen.
He wrote spectaculars, and he entertained the people.
But he also created works of such beauty that the world is still sustained by them.
One need not exclude the other.
You know so much more than I do.
That only makes me learned.
It does not make me wise.
I am wiser now.
I've decided to go home for a short while.
I'm leaving next week.
Um, so, so suddenly?
I've had another payment, which means I have enough to take my sister to the sea.
But you will return?
To New York?
(people talking in background) ♪ ♪ (door closes) Godspeed you on your journey, Miss March.
I'll see you in four weeks.
(tapping) (hoofsteps clipping) (children saying goodbye) JO: Write often!
♪ ♪ (chickens clucking) (birds chirping) (chickens clucking) Jo, we're going to have to have this out.
Have what out?
I've loved you ever since I've known you, and I can't help it, even though I've tried.
Laurie, I don't want to have this conversation!
I know you don't!
(squawking) I've tried to show you how I feel, but you refuse to see it.
So now I'm going to make you hear it, and give me an answer!
JO: I don't want you to be unhappy, Laurie.
I went away so that you wouldn't be.
LAURIE: It was no use.
I spent the whole time trying to turn myself into someone good enough for you to love.
You are good enough.
You've always been good enough!
I just can't love you in the way that you want me to.
I've tried, and I won't lie and say I love you like that when I don't.
Have you really, truly tried?
(sobs) (sobbing) Oh.
Teddy, I'm sorry.
I'm so desperately sorry!
(sobbing) I'd kill myself if I thought it would help.
In what way would that help, Jo?
I don't know!
But it would be easier than making myself love you when I don't.
That can't be done.
Some people manage it.
I don't believe in that sort of love, and I don't intend to try.
I have something to tell you.
If it's about that old man, I'd rather not hear it.
What old man?
That professor you were always writing home about.
We're friends, Laurie.
We talk about literature and plays, and... You go to philosophical symposiums together!
We went to one philosophical symposium!
If you tell me you love him, I'll be the one who kills myself!
I haven't the least idea of loving Professor Bhaer or anybody else.
You will in the end!
And so will you in the end!
♪ ♪ I'll never love anyone but you.
I will not be sensible.
1I can't be sensible, Jo!
I don't believe you've got any heart at all!
And I wish I hadn't!
♪ ♪ LAURENCE (voiceover): Love cannot be forced, Laurie.
Well, that's what she said.
(puts down wine glass) And I'd rather hang myself than live in a world where she won't change her mind.
Sometimes the only response to the provocation of a woman is to take it like a man.
What if I can't take it like a man?
Then take yourself abroad.
(playing Beethoven's "Sonata Pathétique") You said I could travel once I graduated.
But I didn't think I would be traveling alone.
You wouldn't be alone.
(stops playing): I wouldn't be with Jo.
There's at least one person who'd go to the end of the Earth with you.
(chuckles) Thank you.
(seagulls calling) ♪ ♪ (seagulls cawing) JO: You have a bay scallop and an angel wing here.
Do you want me to look the other ones up in the book?
You know, don't you, Jo?
I wanted to tell you, but I couldn't.
I've known for a long time.
I suspected, and I wanted to be wrong so I went to Dr. Bangs, so he could tell me not to be so silly.
And he didn't.
Now I'm used to it, it isn't hard to bear.
Except I've been keeping a secret.
Is that what was troubling you last autumn?
It wasn't to do with Laurie?
Why would it be to do with Laurie?
Apart from seeing him so strong and well and so full of happy plans, like all of you.
But you kept it a secret.
Why did you try to shut us out and bear it all alone?
I didn't want to be selfish.
I didn't want to frighten Marmee, when she was already worried about Meg and her confinement.
You don't think we wanted to care for you?
You have to let us help you.
You have to try to get well.
I do try.
But every day I lose a little strength, and feel more certain I shall never get it back.
It's like the tide, Jo.
When it turns, it goes slowly, but it can't be stopped.
I'll stop it!
I'll fight it.
I'll keep you alive whatever I have to do, and whatever I have to give up to God.
This is what He wants, Jo.
He can't be that cruel.
I don't want to let life go.
I can only try to be willing.
Will you tell Father and Marmee when we get home?
I won't have to.
But you must.
And you must look after them.
(waves lapping) (people talking in background) Good afternoon, Miss March!
Or should that be, "Bonjour, Mademoiselle Mars"?
Marmee a écrit que vous serez à Sienne!
Your tenses are all back to front, Amy!
(chuckling) (birds squawking) AMY: I've been making Herculaneum efforts with my art.
I thought the continent would bring out the Raphael in you.
It hasn't so far.
And I tried oils in Paris, drawing in Nice, and absolutely everything in Rome.
You know... (water flowing) I'm starting to think I might not be a genius.
I think the same thing every time I try to sit down and write my opera.
You're writing an opera?
Grandfather likes to see me occupied.
And I like Mozart and Beethoven.
Not that that has got me anywhere.
♪ ♪ You've timed your return to perfection, as it happens.
The cat has had kittens again, and someone needs to take them on as Hannah has threatened to run them through her mangle.
And I'm not going to get better.
(panting) (crying): She was the one that I never made plans for.
She was the one that I...
I couldn't imagine married.
She was the one I...
I couldn't picture with an infant in her arms.
She knew she was dying for a long time, Marmee.
(sniffling): And all I knew was that she... she would never leave home.
And I was content with that.
I could keep her safe here.
(sniffles) (sobbing): And now she's going to go so far away from home that I won't be able to guide her or protect her.
I won't be able to be her mother!
And she will need me, Jo.
She will need me!
(sniffling) (sobbing) (sniffles) (sobbing) ♪ ♪ (crickets chirping) (glasses clinking, people talking in background) I'm afraid I might have overdone it with my embellishments.
So many fresh flowers, I might as well climb into a vase.
I... brought you some more.
This stuff is nice.
It's called illusion tulle.
You can pin it over the shabbiest gown, and shimmer like a moth in candlelight.
Which is lovely.
Unless you don't like moths.
♪ ♪ Would you care to dance, Amy?
One generally does, at a ball.
(chuckles) ♪ ♪ (fussing) Do the babies tire you?
(baby crying) (quietly): Yes.
(crying continues) Shh.
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ (labored breathing) (labored breathing continues) ♪ ♪ Beth, dear.
You're going to have to go on a journey.
And you mustn't be afraid.
You were always braver than you knew.
♪ ♪ (labored breathing) (whispering): Rest here, until you're ready.
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ (people talking in background) ♪ ♪ JO (voiceover): "Take care of Amy, Teddy.
(footsteps approaching) ♪ ♪ (gasps) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ AMY: Marmee says I'm to stay here with Aunt Carrol and Florence.
I keep wanting to tell you to cry.
(bells tolling in distance) (chuckling): I keep remembering that will I wrote when Beth had scarlet fever.
You bequeathed me a plaster horse, if I recall correctly.
(chuckles softly) I had my death... all rehearsed... in my mind.
I had Beth's all rehearsed and ready, too.
I thought it would tear me open, burn me down, like a house.
And now... (sighs) I'm just frozen.
I'll come to see you every day, Amy.
(footsteps approaching) Marmee thought that I shouldn't keep this in my bedroom any more.
I thought to put it in the parlor, but it's Beth's, and I don't think it should be where I can see it for a while.
It can have a home with me.
You have to write, Jo.
You have to write.
Sift down through your heart, through all the pain, and grief.
There are words there.
(softly): There's a woman there.
And it's you.
But I don't know what the words are.
I don't know what to say.
Say you were happy once.
Say there was laughter.
Say what is true.
(sighs) (sniffles) ♪ ♪ (chair scrapes on floor) ♪ ♪ (tapping inkwell) ♪ ♪ "My Beth."
JO (voiceover): "Sitting patient in the shadow, "Till the blessed life shall come, "A serene and saintly presence Sanctifies our troubled home..." Whoa!
JO (voiceover): "O my sister passing from me, Out of human care and strife..." ♪ ♪ "Leave me as a gift those virtues Which have beautified your life."
♪ ♪ "By Josephine March."
♪ ♪ (people talking in background) Thank you, miss.
♪ ♪ (door opens) MEG: Jo!
Don't let the babies in!
They won't get a Christmas surprise if you do.
They're with Marmee and Hannah in the kitchen.
Father showed me your poem in "Godey's" magazine.
It's beautiful, Jo.
The editor ordered four stories, and as much verse as I care to write.
He said that he liked them because they were pure, warm, and honest.
Cut it out, and pin it to the wall above your desk so you can see what you can do.
I just broke my scissors.
(laughs) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ (birds chirping, water flowing) I've had to do yours all over again.
It will never sail anywhere folded like this.
Laurie, that paper boat could sail across oceans.
It could sail all the way back home.
Get back on the bank, Amy.
(laughing): I've saved you from drowning once before, I'm not doing do it again.
(gasping, laughing): Okay!
Give me yours now!
(chuckles) (water flowing) (chuckling) (birds chirping) AMY: Oh, they're not going anywhere.
I'm not sure I want them to.
I quite like them just sitting there, side by side.
On the same journey?
♪ ♪ We're on the same journey, aren't we, Amy?
♪ ♪ (birds chirping) ♪ ♪ Amy's engaged to be married?
He's been writing me all winter.
Were you hoping that he would ask you again?
I was hoping he wouldn't.
Because if he had, I might have said yes.
And not for the right reasons.
I've got writing to do.
MEG: That's lovely, Daisy.
Amy will like the blue pitcher best.
Blue is her favorite color.
HANNAH: If they haven't arrived already, and early, and if the little lady isn't dressed in silk from her head to her French-buttoned boots!
FATHER: Welcome home!
LAURIE: Thank you, sir-- good to see you.
(talking in background) MARMEE: That's not an engagement ring!
She has a sapphire from Chopard as big as a pigeon's egg!
I can't get my glove on over it.
♪ ♪ It's a wedding ring!
♪ ♪ Well done!
Thank you, sir!
FATHER (laughing): Well done!
(laughing) ♪ ♪ (footsteps approaching) LAURIE: Hey, Jo!
Is genius burning?
Or can you tolerate a visit?
I can always tolerate a visit from you, Teddy.
But I'm not sure how many more surprises I can bear.
(clattering) Why didn't you tell anyone, Teddy?
(chuckles softly) We thought it would be a lark.
(both chuckling) I have to get back to my wife soon.
But I want to say one thing, once, and then put it by forever.
And... what is that, Teddy?
I used every power in my possession to stop myself from loving you.
And now I know I never shall.
I will love you till the day I die, Jo.
But you and Amy have changed places in my heart.
You are my sister, and she is... Mrs. Laurence?
(laughing): Can you believe it?
Now can we go back to being happy, like we were before?
We were children before, and we aren't any longer.
♪ ♪ (rings bell) JO: Marmee will be along soon.
She just wanted to be sure that you had seen the doctor.
(slurring): Estelle sent for him this morning.
He told me... what I knew already.
Which is that you've had a stroke.
A small stroke.
I am in no danger.
I want you to take some of this soup.
Ordering your elders and fiddling with the sick.
You've turned into an old maid, Josephine.
(chuckles) I prefer to think of myself as a literary spinster.
We're both aunts.
There's a pleasure in it, as well as duty, and vexation.
The world should be kinder to those of us.
(sighs) Our lives are not without purpose.
But mine is small, Aunt March.
It's so small, and so narrow, I feel it closing in on me like walls.
I wasn't meant for a life like this.
Now... (cutlery clicking) Open up.
When I'm... when I'm ready.
Better times will come.
♪ ♪ (rain pelting) ♪ ♪ Professor Bhaer?
Is that you?
You look tired.
I've been to see my aunt.
What in heaven's name has brought you here?
Please, take shelter.
(chuckling) You said you'd come back.
I promised Beth I'd stay.
♪ ♪ I shouldn't have stopped writing.
You wrote a poem.
It was called "My Beth."
You saw it?
And I keep it against my heart...
Which has been sore for you.
♪ ♪ I should go.
You must entertain visitors, perhaps?
No, it's just my family.
But don't worry, I've told them so much about you.
Oh, you have?
(laughs) ♪ ♪ (footsteps approaching) Come here.
I've forgotten how to do it the pretty way.
You don't have to, Jo.
You look beautiful.
(chuckles softly) (whispering): Everybody really likes him.
(both laughing) (piano playing cheerful tune) Hurry up, Jo.
It's your turn, and your audience is getting restless.
(chuckling) ♪ ♪ (birds chirping) (boys talking and calling) ♪ ♪ (chuckling) Thank you!
She is looking a little stronger, Amy.
I'm sure of it.
Lay off the apple picking for now, and come and get your tea.
Class One over there, Class Two there, where I can see you!
I never imagined Aunt March would leave Plumfield to Jo in her will.
And I daresay Aunt March never imagined what she'd do with it.
I don't think that old house ever made her happy.
But it's brought me more joy than any castle in the air, even if my hair is turning grey.
Nothing is ever perfect.
But things can be just right.
Yes, they can.
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ LINNEY: Go to our website, listen to our podcast, watch video, and more.
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