Chapter 19 Summary
During Beth’s illness, Amy stays with Aunt March. It is a hard time for her. She is worried about her father and her sister, and she is also forced to live with a cranky old lady who has no understanding of children. Aunt March actually likes Amy very much but does not know how to show it. She feels that Marmee and Father give their girls too much freedom, so she puts Amy on a strict schedule of chores.
When Amy is not washing dishes, polishing silver, or dusting furniture, Aunt March keeps her busy reading aloud or studying. Each day, Amy gets a single free hour for play. This is a very happy hour for Amy. Laurie visits daily to take her on rides and give her a bit of friendly attention.
Aunt March’s kindly French maid, Esther, also works hard to make Amy’s stay comfortable. Esther is a devout Catholic, so she explains about her religion and makes a little prayer room for Amy to use when she worries about Beth and Father. Amy is a Protestant and decides not to use the rosary Esther gives her. However, she is grateful for the little prayer space and hopes it is okay for a Protestant to use it. Never before has she faced a serious crisis, and now, suddenly, she has to deal with two at once. She is troubled by grief and fear for both her father and her sister.
Thinking about illness and death makes Amy wonder what would happen if she got sick and died. After a great deal of serious consideration as well as some discussion with Esther, she writes out her last will and testament. In it, she assigns her best clothes, artwork, and toys to her family and friends. The next time Laurie comes to visit, she shows her will to him and asks him to sign it as a witness. He reads it and signs, taking care to hide his amusement at her many misspellings.
Laurie asks why Amy wanted to make a will. He wonders if someone told her that Beth, in the fog of fever, tried to give her most prized possessions to her sisters. Amy had not yet been told how serious Beth’s illness is; she grows even more scared when she hears this. Laurie apologizes for saying anything. He admits that Beth really is in danger of dying, but he insists that everyone is still hoping for the best. After he leaves, Amy goes to her little prayer room to pray and cry.