She might’ve been occasionally Puritanical (hands up—who tried to read Pilgrim’s Progress because of Little Women), an abolitionist, and a feminist, but Louisa May Alcott—whose Rose in Bloom we covered this past weekend—also wrote crazy sensational novels under a nom de plume.
Thanks to The Hairpin, which found this snippet from Alcott’s Perilous Play:
“How mysterious! What is it? Let me see, first!” And Belle removed the cover, looking like an inquisitive child. “Only bonbons; how stupid! That won’t do, sir. We don’t want to be fed with sugar-plums. We demand to be amused.”
“Eat six of these despised bonbons, and you will be amused in a new, delicious, and wonderful manner,” said the young doctor, laying half a dozen on a green leaf and offering them to her.
“Why, what are they?” she asked, looking at him askance.
“Hashish; did you never hear of it?”
“Oh, yes; it’s that Indian stuff which brings one fantastic visions, isn’t it? I’ve always wanted to see and taste it, and now I will,” cried Belle, nibbling at one of the bean-shaped comfits with its green heart.
“I advise you not to try it. People do all sorts of queer things when they take it. I wouldn’t for the world,” said a prudent young lady warningly, as all examined the box and its contents.
“Six can do no harm, I give you my word. I take twenty before I can enjoy myself, and some people even more. I’ve tried many experiments, both on the sick and the well, and nothing ever happened amiss, though the demonstrations were immensely interesting,” said Meredith, eating his sugarplums with a tranquil air, which was very convincing to others.
“How shall I feel?” asked Belle, beginning on her second comfit.
“A heavenly dreaminess comes over one, in which they move as if on air. Everything is calm and lovely to them: no pain, no care, no fear of anything, and while it lasts one feels like an angel half asleep.”