Here is the extract from Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott, a story about the March Family, that lived in one of the northern states of the USA during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Mr March, who was a priest in the army, called his daughters “little women".
1) Read the story and write out the girls’ names and the names of the guests.
As Christmas came near, everybody became very excited about plans to make this a specially happy and merry day.
For some days before Christmas Jo and Laurie had been preparing something which was kept secret from everybody else. But now was the great day, a really fine Christmas morning. Breakfast was finished. Everybody had been given presents. The gift of Jo and Laurie was a strange surprise. Out in the garden stood a lady made of snow. She held a basket of fruit and flowers in one hand, a book of music in the other and from her lips came a long paper on which was written a Christmas song. How the girls laughed when they saw it. “We are so full of happiness. If only Father was here,” they said.
“Here’s another Christmas present for the March family,” said Laurie.
Before the words went out of his mouth, a tall man appeared in front of Laurie, leaning (опираясь) on the arm of another tall man, he tried to say something and could not. For a moment everybody stood still, and no one said a word. Then Mr March — for of course the tall men were he and Mr Brooke — was held by four pairs of loving arms.
There never was such a Christmas dinner as the March family had that day!
Mr Laurence and his grandson Laurie dined with them, as well as Mr Brooke. Everyone was happy and many stories were told. The guests left early, the happy family sat together round the fire.
“Just a year ago we were here talking about the miserable Christmas we expected to have,” said Jo.
“I’m glad this year is all over, because we’ve got you back,” said Beth, who sat on her father’s knee.
“Well, I am happy to make some discoveries for myself today,” said Mr March. “Oh! tell us what they are!” cried Meg, who sat beside him.
“Here is one,” and he took Meg’s hand and showed her rough fingers. “I remember a time when this hand was white and smooth. It was very pretty then, but to me it is prettier now. I am very proud to shake this good hard-working hand.”
“I see Jo, a young lady with a pale face, but I like to look at it, because it has grown sweet. Her voice is softer, and she moves quietly and takes care of a certain little person in a motherly way which I like a lot.”
“There’s so little of my little daughter, you are not well but I have you safe, my Beth, and I’ll keep you so.”
“I noticed that Amy took messages and did little things to help her mother all the afternoon, so I know that she has learned to think more of other people and less of herself. I am glad of this, for though I should be proud of any picture painted by her, I shall be prouder of a loving daughter, with the gift of making life beautiful to herself and others.”
And with that happy scene we end this story of a long and difficult year.
2) Tick (V) the correct statements.
1 The girls made a snow lady as a Christmas present.
2 Each girl got a Christmas present.
3 The girls were happy on Christmas Day, but at the beginning of the party they were only sorry that their father wasn’t at home.
4 Everybody was surprised by the arrival of the two tall men.
5 Best friends of the March family came to their place to celebrate Christmas with them.
6 The family had many stories to tell on Christmas Day.
7 Meg worked a lot when her father was in the army.
8 Jo took care of her mother and sisters when their father was away.
9 Amy thought more about other people than about herself.