Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Little Men from the book or the television series.
Dan closed his eyes and let the soft summer sun soak into his skin. He loved the long summer days and he loved spending them with his friends at Plumfield. A loud noise startled him and he opened his eyes quickly. Tommy stood over a broken mug that had fallen to the ground while he was trying to take some coffee to Nick, who was working in the barn. Tommy's straw hat was sliding off of his dark brown curly hair. He grabbed at the hat desperately but it fell on top of the coffee wreckage and was now covered in dark brown stains. Dan watched from afar as Mrs. Jo, with her kind dark eyes and ready smile, rushed out of the house, eager to help Tommy clean up his mess and to assure him that he did not break the only coffee mug in all of Plumfield. Tommy shook his head at her remark.
"We used to have more coffee mugs." He said in his soft raspy voice, "But I broke all of them too." Mrs. Jo shook her head and smiled.
"Well then." She said. "I suppose I must send Asia into town to go buy us some more." Tommy nodded and mournfully picked up his hat.
"If I give Asia some money do you think she would go buy me a new hat?" He asked. Mrs. Jo laughed.
"I don't know." She said. "Why don't you go to the kitchen and ask Asia yourself?" Tommy smiled and nodded enthusiastically. Then he turned around and started to walk away but Mrs. Jo's sharp voice turned him back around. "After you finish cleaning up this mess." Tommy groaned but Mrs. Jo only tousled his hair and laughed quietly. Dan followed her with his eyes as she walked to the garden, where Nat was playing his violin unceasingly. His bright green eyes were full of frustration. He kept starting the song over and over again, trying to find the right notes to complete his melody. Nat hardly noticed Mrs. Jo's presence and Dan watched her face as she listened to the work of 'the genius'.
"Nat." She said and Dan watched his best friend jump when he heard the voice. He smiled softly when he looked up.
"Oh, Hi, Mrs. Jo." He said bashfully, "I didn't see you there." Mrs. Jo gave him a warm smile.
"I didn't mean to interrupt you." She said. "I just wanted you to know that I think your song is coming along beautifully." Nat beamed with pride. "Would you mind playing it for us when it's finished?" She asked. Nat shook his head.
"No, of course not Mrs. Jo." He said, "I'll try and finish it as soon as I can." Mrs. Jo nodded.
"Good." She said. "But don't finish it too fast. Be sure the song means something to you before you tell me it's done." Nat grinned.
"Okay Mrs. Jo." He said and he turned back to his violin. Mrs. Jo stood and watched him for a few minutes before one of Nan's antics caught her attention. She nodded to Nat and headed for the edge of the woods, where Nan was struggling to walk with a five gallon pail that was filled to the brim with water. Dan shook his head as he watched Mrs. Jo approach the unsuspecting suspect. He was too far away from them to hear their conversation but from Nan's disappointed face he could tell Mrs. Jo had won this battle.
Dan sighed and walked out from under the shade of the willow tree to go talk to Nan, Plumfield's resident 'doctor'. Ever since the measles hit Plumfield about two and a half years ago, Nan had made up her mind to become a doctor. Only a few boys doubted her wisdom and experience, while the rest of the boys trusted her with their lives. Dan approached the defeated prankster with caution, knowing from experience that Nan could not be trusted to miss an opportunity to douse someone with a five gallon pail full of water. He watched the pail warily and quickly blurted out his ailment.
"Nan." He said. "I've been havin' some trouble sleeping lately and I was wonderin' if you knew somethin' that could help." Nan lifted an eyebrow and bit her bottom lip. This was her thinking face and Dan was wise enough not to speak while Nan perused through her mental library. She sighed and shrugged her shoulders.
"I can't think of anything off the top of my head but I'll look into it and get back to you." She said quickly. Dan raised an eyebrow and stared into Nan's blue eyes.
"You can't think of anything?" He asked. "Honest?"
"Well," She said. "You could try one thing." Dan nodded.
"I'll try anything." He laughed. Nan smiled mischievously and Dan realized his mistake too late. Nan began to splash him with the water from her bucket. He was soon as soaked as she was.
"This might help you sleep." She said, laughing. "Or you could ask Bess to the dance and really stop your problem." Dan's face became serious.
"What makes you think I'm going to the dance this year?" Dan asked, defensively.
"Well I don't know." She said. "Maybe I think you're going because you've been practicing your dancing instead of your lessons and I see the way you get all tongue-tied around Bess. She went to the dance with you last year. Why would she refuse you this year?" Before Dan had the chance to give her an answer, Bess walked out of the house. Her pale blue dress brought out the color of her soft eyes. Dan watched her with his big brown eyes full of admiration. She walked through the garden and down to the barn, with Nick's coffee in a teacup. The wind blew her blond curls off of her shoulders and then set them daintily back down.
Nan watched Bess jealously and while Dan was distracted she stormed into the house and up to her room. She sat on her bed and stared at the floor. The truth finally sank in. Dan didn't want to go to the dance with his friend Bess. Dan wanted to go to the dance with his sweetheart Bess.