Little Women Chapter 6
The March girls decide that the Laurence house is the Palace Beautiful from Pilgrim's Progress. In order to reach it, however, they have to get past becoming friends with old Mr. Laurence, of whom they are all a little bit scared, and past the fact that the Laurences are rich and the Marches are poor.
Laurie and the Marches become good friends, and Laurie's tutor, Mr. Brooke, finds that Laurie's studies are suffering because of it. But old Mr. Laurence tells Mr. Brooke to let Laurie have break from studying because his need for friends is greater than his need for his studies.
"But Beth, though yearning for the grand piano, could not pluck up courage to go to the 'Mansion of Bliss,' as Meg called it." Chapter 6, pg. 69 She is terrified of Mr. Laurence and cannot overcome her fear of him. In conversation, however, Mr. Laurence says that Laurie isn't playing the piano as much as he used to, and that because of this the piano isn't being used. He asks if any of the girls would like to play it. Beth is very excited about this, but she s too shy to say she would like to play. Mr. Laurence says that if any of the girls would like to play the piano, they won't need to see or talk to anyone; they can just go in and play it, and it wouldn't disturb him because he is always in his study at the other end of the house. Beth can't hold back any longer and says she would very much like to come and play. The old man smiles and says that he had a little girl once, with eyes like hers.
Beth is so excited about the piano that she wakes Amy in the middle of the night by playing piano on her face. The next day, Beth watches the old man and the others leave the house and shyly goes to play the piano. She finds some easy music left on the piano. She begins to play and soon forgets her fear.
After this, Beth goes to the big house to play almost every day. She makes Mr. Laurence a pair of slippers to thank him. She waits a few days for the present to be acknowledged. One day she is coming home with her doll Joanna and she sees her sisters looking out the window at her. They tell her there is a letter from Mr. Laurence, and she is to come see it. They show her that he has given her a little cabinet piano with a letter on it. Beth is so happy that she can't believe it. The girls beg her to read the note on the piano. Jo reads it for her. It says that her pair of slippers are the nicest he has ever had and to pay his debt he has sent her something that once belonged to the granddaughter he lost. The girls discuss how nice the note is and tell Beth she must go thank him. So Beth goes over to the Laurence's house and knocks on Mr. Laurence's study door. She is unable to speak because of her happiness, but she gives him a hug and a kiss. The old gentleman is very touched. She stays there for a while, talking to him, and is not afraid of him any more. He, for his part, feels as if he has gotten his granddaughter back. Mr. Laurence walks Beth back home and when her sisters see this, "Jo began to dance a jig,...Amy nearly fell out of the window in her surprise, and Meg exclaimed, with uplifted hands, 'Well I do believe the world is coming to an end!'" Chapter 6, p.76