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
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.
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