Chapter 12 Summary
Over time, it becomes Beth’s job to collect and deliver the mail that passes through Laurie’s little post office. One day the mail includes a single glove, an enormous hat, and several letters. The glove is for Meg, who grumbles a bit when she gets it. She left both her gloves at the Laurence place the other day, and she does not understand why only one was returned. The ridiculous hat is for Jo, who once mentioned offhand to Laurie that she wanted a bigger one. She puts it on immediately, delighted that he took her seriously.
Among the letters is a translation of a German poem from Mr. Brooke for Meg and an approving note from Marmee for Jo. The former does not cause much notice, but the latter gives Jo a quiet thrill. It says that Marmee is proud of Jo for working so hard to control her anger. Jo has indeed been spending a great deal of effort on this, and she is pleased that her mother has noticed.
The final piece of mail causes the most excitement of all: It is a letter for all of the girls from Laurie. He invites them to a picnic the following day. Some friends of his, the Vaughns, are visiting from England, and he wants everyone to get to know them. Marmee gives the girls permission, and they rush to get ready.
On the outing the next day, they all play croquet, eat delicious food, and take turns telling stories. There is a dicey moment when Fred Vaughn cheats at croquet and lies to Jo about it, but she masters her temper and refrains from making a scene. A few minutes later, she manages to win the game fairly for her team. After that, the rest of the outing goes smoothly. Amy befriends the youngest Vaughn girl, Grace. Beth surprises everyone by coming out of her shell to chat with Frank Vaughn, Fred’s twin brother, who cannot roughhouse like other boys because he has to walk with a crutch.
Miss Kate, the eldest of the Vaughns, is a beautiful young woman who seems quite surprised by American culture. Above all, she is astounded when she learns that Meg has a job. The Vaughns are wealthy and fashionable, so Meg feels a bit ashamed of her need to work for a living. However, Mr. Brooke—who is there as a chaperone—informs Miss Kate that Americans respect hard work. He promptly proves this point by sitting down and showing Meg a great deal of attention—so much so that Kate decides to take a walk and leave the two of them alone.