Dan is overjoyed but Nat is skeptical when a young "old friend" from Boston appears at Plumfield with talk of going west for high adventures. Jo struggles as students are withdrawn from Plumfield for lack of an experienced teacher.
Nic and the boys go to get a Christmas tree but bring back a severely beaten woman. Preparations for an annual Christmas pageant are further complicated by emotional issues of some facing a first Christmas without cherished loved ones.
A gift of two hundred books to Plumfield School prompts Franz to assign a project on philanthropy which the students turn into a competition. But Jo's horse Penny falling ill with pleurisy results in the demonstration of spontaneous philanthropy and the value of reading.
Asia'a father who's a vagrant whom she hasn't seen in years comes to town. He tries to reconcile with her but she doesn't want anything to do with him. Jo invites him to dinner and he says he'll be there but doesn't show up.