Chapter 37 Summary

Christmas Day arrives in Nice, France. There, on the promenade, Laurie paces back and forth. He is so handsome and well-dressed that people stare. He pays them no attention, perking up only when Amy March arrives in a small cart called a barouche. “Oh, Laurie, is it really you?” she says.

Laurie and Amy go to a viewpoint called Castle Hill, where Amy likes to feed the peacocks. On the way, they talk about new adventures and old times. Laurie explains that his grandfather has been staying in Paris, allowing Laurie to come and go as he pleases. The old man likes to stay in one place, but Laurie gets restless, so the two of them pursue their own desires and enjoy each other when Laurie feels like a dose of family.

The Marches are not prone to gossip, so Amy knows nothing about Laurie’s heartbreak. Nevertheless, she senses that something is wrong. He seems strangely distant. He prefers sitting idly while Amy drives or draws. Overall, she has the impression that he is lazy and depressed—even though she sees occasional hints of his boyish charm.

Meanwhile, Laurie studies Amy and finds that she, too, is changed. However, on her end all of the changes are for the better. She is more elegant, refined, and self-sufficient than she ever used to be. He realizes that his little childhood friend has grown into a fine young woman.

That evening, Laurie accompanies Amy to a Christmas party at her hotel. As she gets ready to meet him, Amy works hard to make herself look as beautiful as possible. She adorns herself with fresh flowers and puts on inexpensive but pretty clothes. She tells herself that she is making so much effort because she wants Laurie to write home and tell her family that she looks pretty and happy.

Amy and Laurie are both young and beautiful, so heads turn as they enter the ballroom. Laurie does not ask Amy to dance until she prompts him to do so. When he shows only noncommittal interest, she grows angry and purposely entices other young men to sign up for dances with her. Until dinner, Laurie is forced to watch her dance without him. When Amy stops for a rest, his attitude has changed. He waits on her and asks—apparently perplexed—how she has managed to become so glamorous and graceful. She says that she has learned to make good use of small resources.

For the rest of the night, Laurie gives Amy his undivided attention. She enjoys this, but she does not really understand it. At this point, neither she nor Laurie seems to know what their friendship could become.