Friday, June 12, 2009

Country Girls 5/5

Later that night, Charles rolls over in bed and notices that Caroline is not there. He wakes up and calls out for his wife. She peeks into the bedroom from the common room and apologizes for leaving the light on as she continued to work on her dress. He suggests that she should turn in, but Caroline wants to finish her project first. Charles goes back to sleep.

The next morning the family gathers for breakfast. Once Laura and Mary are downstairs and have greeted their Pa, Ma walks out of the kitchen holding two small dresses made of the blue fabric. The girls are pleasantly surprised. Ma tells the girls that her brown dress is just fine and that they should wear something nice if they are going to speak in front of a group of people. Mary says they wouldn't have minded wearing their calicoes, but Ma says she would have minded and tells her daughters to enjoy their new clothes. Laura hugs Ma before going upstairs with Mary to change. Charles tells Caroline "you're quite a woman." Aw. Then Carrie says "I'm a new freezer, daddy(?)". Sure, why not, I'm too lazy to figure out the closed captioning on my TV.

Wow, they really packed the people into the school for a bunch of elementary school speeches. Our first speaker is a six year old who likes horses. "I like riding horse more than I like...more than I like...I like riding horses." I don't think he wrote this. Either that or his handwriting is so bad that he can't decipher his own notes. I will give the adults credit for being very polite while listening to the monotone delivery that only a six year old can provide.

Next up, Nellie Oleson. Yeesh, lilac is not her color. Anyway, her speech is titled "My Home" and it reads like one of those televised real estate listings you see on Sunday mornings for condos that you would never want to live in and would not be able to afford if you did. Shortly after the speech begins, the boy sitting behind Laura raises his hand, but Miss Beadle gives him a stern look. As Nellie is prattling on about the various china collections, the class starts to giggle at the boy. Nellie pauses and narrows her eyes before continuing. The class continues to giggle as the boy continues to wave towards Miss Beadle. She eventually nods and the boy runs out of the room. Oh, he needed to use the outhouse. Harriet, who is dressed in her Mommie Dearest collection, is not amused. Nellie continues bragging about everything her family owns and we see just how bored the audience is. The only ones who aren't bored are Harriet, who is pleased with the oratory, and Nels, who looks rather uncomfortable. He continues to look at the floor shame-faced as Nellie finishes her speech and the room politely applauds.

Let's see if Laura can top that. Her essay is titled "My Mother". She begins by telling the crowd that Mary's essay is all about their Pa but that their Ma is a hard worker as well. Laura lists all the day-to-day activities that Caroline does and how important those tasks are. Laura then recalls an anecdote about a time when she took ill and Ma stayed by her side all night. Caroline appears to be getting a little verklempt. Laura also shares the story about the dresses and Ma is finally moved to tears. Aw. Also, it appears that Laura got over whatever anxiety she was experiencing the night before -- her delivery was almost professional. I call no waysies.

Once the speeches are over the town exits the school. Nels is behind Charles as and he tells Mr. Ingalls that "you are a lucky man." Charles thanks him before Harriet calls over to her husband. "Very lucky," Nels reiterates. Mary asks her parents what they thought of her essay and they both compliment her work. Ma notices Laura has wandered off and goes to join her daughter. She thanks Laura for her kind words, but then decides to bust her. That's gratitude. Laura tells her Ma that what she said on stage is what she would have written if she knew how. "But it wasn't really an essay, was it?" asks Caroline. Isn't that a little harsh? I mean the only speech that even came close to being an essay was Nellie's, her thesis being "my house shits on your house". I think we can lower the bar a smidge, Ma. Laura agrees with her mother who looks at what Laura really wrote. Laura asks her Ma what Miss Beadle will do when she turns in the assignment. Ma goes into the school with Laura to find out.

Miss Beadle turns from cleaning the blackboard and greets Mrs. Ingalls. She congratulates her and her daughters for the wonderful presentations. Laura sheepishly hands over her paper. Miss Beadle looks at it and so do we:

Ma is good
She works hard
she cooks
she sews

I think Miss Beadle somewhat expected this, since "I reckon" probably hasn't shown up on any of Laura's spelling lists so far. She mentions that Laura's spelling has improved but that her handwriting could use some work. Miss Beadle is optimistic that Laura will be all aces by the end of the term. Everyone is smiling. Yay teachers! Yay moms!

As the family walks home, Laura voices over that Ma took both Mary and Laura's essays and added them to the collection of items from the wooden trunk. Aw.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Country Girls 4/5

Ring Around the Rosie again? It’s just five girls playing this time as Laura watches from outside the circle. After a round, one girl invites Laura into the circle but she asks why they always have to play the same game. Nellie answers “because I say so” before starting round seventy eight. As the girls skip in their circle, Laura starts shouting something above the monotones of RAtR. Is she reciting bawdy limericks? Something about a sick guy named Uncle John? Did Laura make a veiled drug reference? Nellie stops her game and tells Laura to stop before pushing her to the ground. Laura’s response: “Apple, a dumpling. What shall we send it in?” That was unexpected. Nellie pushes Laura back to the ground. Laura stands up to Nellie, both figuratively and literally, saying that she wants to play a different game: Uncle John. Ohhhh. It’s like RAtR but with a dash of Diplomacy. Nellie pushes Laura to the ground a third time. I’m guessing she’s played Diplomacy before. Laura cries out “Uncle John” before she lunges and knocks Nellie over. “You wanna fight; I’ll fight. You wanna play; we’re playing Uncle John!”

Slam cut to the homestead with both Caroline and Charles giving Laura stern looks. Laura admits that she “did on to Nellie, but not what you had in mind.” She apologizes for disobeying her parents, but she had reached her breaking point. Pa commends Laura for reporting the incident herself instead of letting someone else tell them about it. He asks Laura what should be done about the situation and she suggests whatever he thinks is best. She also reminds Pa that Nellie did start the commotion. Caroline looks at Charles and he takes a moment before rationalizing that Laura was justified in her actions. He asks his daughter to promise not to do it again and when she agrees he sends her off to bed. Caroline is not exactly thrilled with this resolution and Charles reads that on her face. He turns back to Laura and reiterates that she made a promise. Laura assures him that there won’t be any more problems since Nellie is scared of her now. Ma is even less pleased with this new information. “Charles,” she says, “you’re much too easy on her. She isn’t the least bit sorry for what she did.” Charles reminds her that Nellie did start the fight, which she counters with the “turn the other cheek” argument. Charles is all like “whatever” and starts to play the fiddle. Caroline rolls her eyes but starts to laugh.

The next day we see Caroline taking a basket of eggs to the Mercantile. Nels greets her as he carries some bolts of fabric through the showroom. Harriet pops up from behind the counter like some Jack-in-the-box-of-the-damned and asks if Caroline is there to apologize for yesterday’s schoolyard fight. Caroline is only there to sell her eggs and Mrs. Oleson says “I should have expected as much.” She then proceeds to give Caroline a lecture about how to raise her kids, particularly ones that start fights. Caroline waits for Harriet to finish before mentioning that it was actually Nellie who started the fight. Before she can finish Mrs. Oleson interrupts her with a reminder that brown eggs are still four cents less per dozen. She removes the cloth on top of Caroline’s basket and is shocked to find that Mrs. Ingalls only brought white eggs to sell. Turns out Charles sold the brown eggs at the mill for a much better price. “That’s gratitude,” a wounded Harriet says. Whatever, lady. “No, that’s good business,” corrects Caroline. Mrs. Oleson is not amused and suggests that maybe they will buy her white eggs. Caroline agrees and starts to leave the store. Realizing she is about to lose business, Harriet stops Caroline saying she is “too busy to quibble over pennies.” Harriet decides to buy the brown eggs at the same price as the white eggs. Nels is watching this unfold and seems to enjoy seeing his wife get put in her place.

As Harriet takes the basket back to the counter, Caroline takes a closer look at a bolt of robin-egg blue fabric. Harriet wanders back over and gives her another fabric that looks like muslin or burlap that she feels is more appropriate for Caroline’s needs. The part about Harriet that I never understood, and it is consistent throughout the series, is how she always tries to talk people out of buying nicer, presumably more expensive items. If I had to make a determination, it would be that her miserliness is trumped only by her vanity that only she and her family may have nice things. It’s a bizarre way to run a business in my opinion. Caroline semi-politely refuses Harriet’s offer, but is reminded that “country folk have to think more on the practical.” Caroline tells Nels that she will take some of the blue fabric. Or maybe not, since Harriet grabs the bolt from her husband’s hands and tells Caroline it would be a mistake. Amazingly Mrs. Ingalls is able to maintain her cool as she reminds Mrs. Oleson that “it is customary to let the buyer do the choosing.” Harriet’s jaw drops as she looks to her husband for backup. He doesn’t provide it as he also seems mortified that someone actually stood up to his wife’s bullying. Harriet excuses herself and Caroline places her order. Nels does reiterate that it will cost a bit but the color will look “right smart on you, Mrs. Ingalls.”

Back at the homestead Caroline shows her purchase to her family. Laura reaches out to touch the fabric and Mary smacks her hand away. Caroline is experiencing a bit of buyer’s remorse, citing that the encounter with Harriet is probably what drove her to make such an impulsive purchase. Hmm, maybe it is part of Harriet’s strategy: play on an individual’s insecurities and defenses to get the upsell. Still: bizarre. Mary and Laura say they are glad their Ma bought the fabric. Charles pipes in that he is glad, too. Caroline is a little surprised by his revelation, but she still wants to try to take the fabric back for a refund. Charles asks her “why do you think the good Lord went to all that trouble of making you so pretty if he didn’t want you to have a new blue dress?” Aw. The daughters also provide endorsements of Ma’s good looks getting accentuated by a new dress. Caroline is a little overwhelmed with all the praise and enters into Group Hug Mode.

The next day we see Laura and Mary bounding home from school. They are really excited about something. Ma is in the henhouse, Pa is in the barn --- ooh, I almost have a folk song. Anyway, the girls are excited because the school is going to have a visitors day, which is pretty much a school open house. Mary is particularly excited about the essay assignment that goes along with the event. She would be. Laura suggests that Ma wear her new yet-to-be-made dress for the occasion. Pa tells the girls to get started on their essays and they run towards the house.

That evening Mary and Laura are hard at work on their assignment. Laura voices over that Ma and the girls were working very hard on their respective projects and that everyone was just about finished before the deadline. Was that voiceover really necessary? Mary says she is finished with her essay about Pa building the house on the prairie, encounters with wolves and Indians, and moving from that house to Plum Creek when, I presume, the wolves and Indians were becoming too much of a nuisance. Pa says that sounds interesting, then asks Laura what she wrote about. Laura stammers a bit before saying “it’s a surprise.” That’s code for “academic incomplete” if I’m not mistaken. Pa is not up on the secret language of academia, saying that the surprise will be reveled early tomorrow and that the girls should go to bed. He gives them kisses as he carries an unconscious Carrie to her bedroom. Mary goes up to the loft while Laura continues to stare at her paper. Ma checks on her daughter and asks what the problem is. “It’s not an essay,” she responds, “not like Mary’s.” Caroline says that it shouldn’t be like Mary’s since she is older and knows more words. Laura says she knows a lot of words also; she just can’t get them on paper. Caroline tells her that’s okay, but Laura is not consoled by that. She asks her Ma if she can keep a secret. When Ma agrees, Laura confides that she is scared about getting up in front of everyone to share her essay in the morning. She is worried that people are going to laugh at her. Caroline assures her daughter that people will not laugh. There’s only one way to find out.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Country Girls 3/5

The next morning we see the girls walking into the Mercantile. Nels is working on a ledger at the counter and tells the girls he will be with them in just a moment. Laura asks Mary if she has the money and the older sister confirms that she does. We hear a door slam and Nellie and Willie run down the stairs. As soon as he spots the Ingalls girls, Willie starts saying “snipe” repeatedly until Nels tells him to pipe down. Nels then starts to shoo his children away as if they are squirrels at a bird feeder. I don’t think he likes his own kids that much, and it makes me like Nels that much more. Much like squirrels, the kids ignore their father and raid the candy canisters on the counter. Nels sighs as he walks over to assist the girls. Mary asks very politely for the tablet and slate. As he goes to retrieve the items, Nellie and Willie start bickering about the candy. Nellie sees an opportunity to rub in the fact that she can have as much candy as she wants. Mary just rolls her eyes.

Nels brings over the items and Mary pays him, saying that her coin should be enough for both items. Mr. Oleson confirms this, but informs the girls that they will also need to get a slate pencil if they don’t already have one. What? Why wouldn’t the slate come with a pencil? This must be the 19th century equivalent of “batteries not included”. Mary sheepishly says that they don’t have a pencil. “I don’t think the country girls have another penny,” Nellie says smugly. Nels turns to his children and orders them out of the store. Once the brats leave, Nels acknowledges that the girls might be short the money if they didn’t plan on this additional purchase. He offers to give the girls the pencil and have their Pa pay for it on his next visit, but Laura says, “No sir, cash on the barrel. Pa makes that a strict rule.” Nels smiles and agrees that the rule is a good one. He hints that it is a tricky rule to live by, but Mary politely declines before he can make the offer again.

The girls leave the store and sit on the steps. “That Nellie Oleson is the meanest girl I ever did see,” understates Mary. “I could never be that mean.” Laura looks at her sister and says “I could – meaner! -- if Ma and Pa would let me.” Normally I would say it is good to have goals, but maybe I shouldn’t encourage that particular one. Mary laments the fact that they still don’t have a slate pencil and Laura is afraid to ask Pa about it since he has provided so much already. You know, I think necessary school supplies would qualify as an acceptable expense, but Mary agrees with her sister instead of me. She thinks for a moment and remembers that they both have Christmas pennies they can use to get their pencil. Mary will use her penny to get the pencil and Laura will split her penny with her sister since they will be sharing the pencil. I guess they’ll be doing that tomorrow because they walk towards the school instead of back into the store.

We now join Miss Beadle as she assists Laura in reading a passage from Dicky Bird Land. Hmm, it looks like Amazon doesn’t carry it, but you can find some info about it here. However, the date attributed is circa 1890, which means I have to call anachronism. Anyway, Laura is struggling quite a bit with the text since there are a number of silent letters lurking about. You can tell that Miss Beadle is doing an awesome job, though it is unclear if she is working with Laura privately or if the whole class is watching this display.

Outside we see the kids at recess. A group of girls are playing Ring Around the Rosie. Laura voices over that recess was supposed to be fun, but all they do is play Ring Around the Rosie. I remember back when I was a toddler I would go to story time at the library which would end with a few rounds of RAtR. I couldn’t imagine playing continuously for twenty minutes, or however long recess is in Walnut Grove. Particularly the way these girls are doing it – it looks more like calisthenics than playing. Laura asks if they can play something else, but her request falls on deaf ears. It must be the plague kicking in.

Over at the Mercantile Nels is finishing up a transaction. As the customer leaves, he does that fake lecture thing that my boss is able to do that I could never do where he tells the woman to give his regards to Eli and that he should not be such a stranger. The woman thanks Nels and says she’ll pass along that message. As the woman leaves, Caroline walks in with a basket of eggs. She introduces herself and verifies that the Mercantile buys eggs. Nels says they do and an ominous voice from off-camera says “I do the buying.” Nels introduces his wife and before Caroline can finish saying “how do you do?” Harriet has already sharpened her talons as she looks at the eggs. “Nellie has already told me about your girls,” she says dismissively. Nels eavesdrops on the transaction and he already looks unhappy. Harriet daintily removes the cloth covering the eggs and notices that the eggs are brown. Harriet dismisses these, saying that they don’t bring in as much as white eggs. You know, Mrs. Oleson, there is no difference except for the color of the shell. Caroline mentions that some of the eggs are also double-yolks. This doesn’t impress Harriet and she tells Caroline that brown eggs get four cents less per dozen. Caroline thinks long and hard about it and eventually agrees on the price. Nels doesn’t like this one bit as he angrily cuts the cheese. Um, not a euphemism – there’s a cheese wheel right in front of him. I’m actually not sure how one would do that euphemistically.

That night Charles is smoking his after-dinner pipe as Caroline works on a cross stitch project. Charles remarks on how quiet it has been. Caroline thought he was alluding to the girls, but he’s actually talking about his wife. She’s still pretty steamed about her interaction with Mrs. Oleson. Charles smirks as Caroline says she can understand why Laura might not get along with Nellie if she is anything like Harriet. Caroline goes on to call bullshit on the "brown eggs bring in less than white eggs" spiel. Despite getting paid less for the brown eggs Caroline saw Harriet sell those eggs for the same price as the white ones. Charles offers to talk to Nels about it but Caroline warns him not to get involved in case Harriet decides not to buy any eggs at all. Caroline vows to win this battle. My money is on the home team. Charles reminds her about the “do onto others” mantra. She continues to aggressively cross stitch.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Country Girls 2/5

Mary and Laura arrive in town and stop when they see all the children playing in front of the school. Mary tells Laura to go first. Laura counters with a “nuh-uh, you go.” Mary asks why her, and Laura reminds her that she is the older sister. Mary decides that they should just go together. We get a couple of views of all the playing happening around the school and how it all screeches to a halt once the girls arrive. There would have been a record scratch sound if the record player had been invented yet. Laura breaks the ice by saying that judging by the sound the girls might have wandered into a flock of prairie chickens. Mary immediately chastises her sister and the crowd seems unimpressed. Some boy, who surprisingly is not Willie Oleson, walks up to the girls and declares “Snipes for sale. Long-legged snipes!” The kids start chanting “Snipes, snipes, long-legged snipes.” Mary and Laura look at their feet, not in embarrassment but in confusion. I guess they have never heard of a snipe. I hadn’t either until I saw Up last week – and that was after I had recorded this episode. Anyway, Miss Beadle steps out onto the porch and starts ringing a small bell. The chanting kind of fades away as the kids head to the school and get bored. This one girl runs over and grabs the snipe-master, telling him to leave the new girls alone or she’ll tell Ma. “Go ahead, Kristy, see if I care,” he responds. That was nice of her. Too bad we’ll never see her again. As everyone files into the building, a blonde girl with a dour expression walks over to the Ingalls kids and looks them over. “Country girls,” she surmises. AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Also, that must be Nellie Oleson. AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! You know, as first days of school go, this is a particularly weird one.

The kids take their seats in the classroom. Laura and Mary are a bit slow to take off their hats and Miss Beadle doesn’t really notice them standing in the back until she restores order in the classroom. When she does see the girls, Miss Beadle invites them up to the front of room. All the kids turn to stare. I was lucky growing up – although I was the “new kid” several times, it was always at the beginning of the year rather than in the middle. That was bad enough and I could not imagine having to go through the situation Mary and Laura are going through now. As Mary and Laura walk down the aisle we see Nellie giving them a death glare. Geez, blondie, chill out.

When the girls reach the front, Miss Beadle introduces herself and begins the registration process. As Miss Beadle writes down the girls’ names, Laura notices Nellie’s death glare and snottily says “we have our own books.” Mary shushes her sister and hands the books to the teacher. Miss Beadle takes a look at them and acknowledges that they are very special. She sets the books down and asks about the girls’ prior schooling. Or lack thereof, as Mary explains it: She can read and Laura knows the alphabet and that’s about it. Miss Beadle assures Laura that she’ll learn how to read and will help her out as best she can. Laura seems to be quite fond of Miss Beadle already.

Miss Beadle stands and formally introduces the girls to the class. The class mumbles a “hello” and Miss Beadle is unimpressed. She instructs the class to say “Good morning, Mary” and they do. “And...” Miss Beadle goads, mouthing “Laura”. Everyone except Nellie says “Good morning, Laura.” The girls take a seat on the front bench. Miss Beadle asks if they have a slate and offers to loan them one when they say they do not have one. “Country girls,” Nellie says again. Both Laura and Miss Beadle turn when they hear this but neither one directly confronts the brat. While the rest of the class gets to work on sums, Miss Beadle provides Laura with a list of spelling words to practice at home.

After dinner, Pa is helping Laura with her “-at” words. Caroline and Mary are rolling yarn into balls. The fun times never stop at the Ingalls homestead. When Pa finishes the list, he commends Laura and says that she must really like school. Laura starts gushing about her experience thus far. Miss Beadle “is the best teacher in the whole world. And she smiles all the time. And she smells as good as she looks.” Okay, that’s getting a little creepy there, Half-pint. Oh, she’s referring to the perfume that her teacher wears which is called Lemon Verbena. “She’s the most beautiful lady I ever saw,” Laura states. Pa shoots a worried glance Caroline’s way and Laura catches herself, adding “except for Ma.” Pa says “she must be something special to be even close to your Ma.” Caroline smiles at the compliment. Pa asks Mary how her day went and she tells him about how that Kristy chick will probably be her new best friend. Nope. Pa asks if Laura has any instant BFF’s and Laura says there is someone she does not like: Nellie Oleson. Caroline starts to chastise Laura, but the girl goes on to tell the story of being called a “country girl”. Pa says there’s nothing wrong with that title, but Laura says there is given the way that Nellie uses the term: “Made me so mad I wanted to smack her good.” Pa tells his daughter that he doesn’t want to hear her talking like that and that school is for learning and not for fighting. Really? Are you sure?

Anyway, Caroline explains that part of going to school is learning how to get along with many different types of people, and Laura says she’ll try. Pa wants her to do more than try and Caroline reminds her of the golden rule. Once Laura agrees to this, Pa hands her a coin. He instructs the girls to take the money to the Mercantile to buy a slate and a paper tablet. Mary thanks him effusively. Pa sends the girls to bed. The parents talk about how surprised they were at just how much Laura loved school and how feisty she was about Nellie. Caroline wonders why Laura would get so riled up about her and Charles explains that he has a pretty good idea why since he met Mrs. Oleson. Laura calls down with one more spelling word, followed by Pa spelling “B-E-D”.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Country Girls 1/5

This episode opens with Jack getting a drink of water from the river. Charles whistles for the dog and he scampers toward the house. Inside, Caroline grabs Carrie to give her a hug and calls up for Mary and Laura to come to breakfast. She says it with a weird inflection, as if she was unsure that “Mary” and “Laura” were the names of her daughters. This was one of the first episodes of the series, but you’d think committing your fellow main characters to memory would rank high on the “to do” list. Of course, when I was in the Wizard of Oz in high school some people, such as the director, kept referring to me as the Scarecrow, despite my silver makeup and the straw coming out of Jordan’s shirt, so perhaps my priorities were misplaced.

Where was I? Mary is brushing her hair in the loft. Once done, she walks over to the bed to wake up her sister. “Laura. Hurry up! You heard Ma. DON’T YOU DARE MAKE US LATE FOR SCHOOL.” There is a certain clunkiness to early episodes of shows that makes them so enjoyable. Characters and relationships have to be spelled out in bold, underlined letters so that the audience can be brought up to speed. In this case, we get a nice Mary Ingalls Ludicrous Freakout that stays consistent with her character throughout the series. And then we see Laura with her usual reaction to MILFs: she pulls the covers over her head and calmly says she isn’t going. Mary heads downstairs.

Pa enters the house just as breakfast is served. Caroline asks Mary if Laura is ready and is informed that the younger daughter is not going to school. Caroline heaves a sigh and looks over at Charles. He tells her not to worry and heads up to the loft. Once upstairs, Pa takes a seat on the bed and asks “What’s the matter half-pint?” Laura quietly says “I don’t wanna go,” through the covers. Pa suppresses a chuckle as he moves to pull the covers from Laura’s face. Laura repeats her assertion. Pa tells his daughter that he made a promise to Ma that if they ended up somewhere with a school nearby the girls would go. Laura says they need her at the homestead to take care of the fish traps and the dog. Pa tells her she can do those things and go to school and that he doesn’t want to break his promise. Laura finally agrees and starts to get out of bed to get dressed. As he heads back downstairs, Pa tells Laura that she’s going to like school.

After breakfast, Mary asks Ma if the kids at school will like them. Caroline reassures her daughters that the kids will like them and instructs them to be friendly and have good manners. Ma steps back so she can get a better look at how her girls look for the first day of school. Hmm, fall fashions for 1874 are something to be desired. Carrie looks like she has no neck, Laura looks like she’s hiding a baby bump, and the way Mary’s skirt cuts off at the knee makes it look like she is about to go wading. Caroline: You’re out. Auf wiedersehen. I think Caroline agrees, since she says “Well, you’re fresh and clean,” as if two out of three ain’t bad. Laura asks her Ma how long “learning” is going to take. Ma chuckles, saying that you start to learn when you are born and those who are wise learn until “the Lord calls us home.” So…God is the Chinese version of Google? Laura is unsatisfied with this answer the way that any eight-year-old is unsatisfied with the “are we there yet?” answer.

Caroline takes the girls to her bedroom to share a surprise with them. She pulls out a wooden trunk and removes a set of books. She gives them to Mary and tells both girls that the books are theirs now. Ma gives Laura the lunch pail and escorts them outside. Pa is chopping wood in front of the house and stops to join in on the send-off, telling the girls not to dawdle. Laura and Mary start to walk away, but after about ten paces Laura runs back to give her Ma and Pa a hug. She gives Carrie a hug and in response Carrie has a look on her face that reads “girl, it’s school, not war. Get a grip.” Even Pa chuckles, commenting on how lengthy the goodbye is for someone who will be back home in a few hours. Carrie starts to run off to follow her sisters but Charles grabs her and holds her in his arms as they watch the other two girls run up the hill into town. Laura turns to wave back.