Louisa May Alcott's Valentines Day Journal, 1868

John Hartwell

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Friday, 14th.–My third hyacinth bloomed this a.m., a lovely pink.
So I found things snug, and had a busy day chasing––who dodged. Then I wrote my tales. Made some shirts for my boys, and went out to buy a squash pie for my lonely supper. It snowed; was very cold. No one paid, and I wanted to send some money home. Felt cross and tired as I trudged back at dusk. My pie turned a somersault, a boy laughed, so did I, and felt better.
On my doorstep I found a gentleman who asked if Miss A. lived here. I took him up my winding stair and found him a very delightful fly, for he handed me a letter out of which fell a $100 bill. With this bait Mr. B. lured me to write "one column of Advice to Young Women," as Mrs. Shaw and others were doing. If he had asked me for a Greek oration I would have said "yes." So I gave a receipt, and the very elegant agent bowed himself away, leaving my "'umble" bower full of perfume, and my soul of peace.
Thriftily taking advantage of the enthusiastic moment, I planned my article while I ate my dilapidated pie, and then proceeded to write it with the bill before me. It was about old maids. "Happy Women" was the title, and I put in my list all the busy, useful, independent spinsters I know, for liberty is a better husband than love to many of us. This was a nice little episode in my trials of an authoress, so I record it.
So the pink hyacinth was a true prophet, and I went to bed a happy millionaire, to dream of flannel petticoats for my blessed Mother, paper for Father, a new dress for May, and sleds for my boys.
She would begin her article, "Happy Women" with the words:
One of the trials of woman-kind is the fear of being an old maid. To escape this dreadful doom, young girls rush into matrimony with a recklessness which astonishes the beholder; never pausing to remember that the loss of liberty, happiness, and self-respect is poorly repaid by the barren honor of being called "Mrs." instead of "Miss."
Louisa May Alcott's years of struggling with low-paying writing jobs (under a male nom de plume) while trying to help support her family (as her father never could), were about to come to an end. Soon she would be persuaded (reluctantly ... "nobody would be interested in that!") to write of the youthful experiences and pastimes of her siblings, in a book entitled Little Women. She attained fame and prosperity with that, "one of the most popular international best-sellers in history." But, to the end of her days, she would remain one of the "Happy Women."
 
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