This is one of my favorite chapters because it just feels as if things are going to be good from now on. I know. But this was back before I had read The First Four Years, or even knew it existed.
During these read-alongs, I enjoy reading each chapter summary because so many who cover a chapter often have a different take than I might have. And then the comments sometimes cover a whole different viewpoint on the same subject. I love it. It helps me to see things that I might never have picked up in my multiple re-reads of the Little House books.
When I started my own review, I felt like I was just writing all sunshine and flowers. To me, it was that good and happy and contented. But I’m pretty sure that some of you may see things a bit differently, so I’m going to ask…what do you think?
I’ve picked out a few of my favorite passages from Chapter 28 and I’d love to hear YOUR opinion! Follow along as I skitter about through the chapter:
She boarded at the Wilkins’, and they were all friendly to Laura and pleasant to each other. Florence still went to school and at night told Laura all the day’s happenings. Laura shared Florence’s room, and they spent the evenings cosily there with their books.
Laura’s last stint as schoolteacher and boarder certainly differed from her first.
On Laura’s weekend at home, she and Ma go shopping:
For Laura’s summer dress they bought ten yards of delicate pink lawn with small flowers and pale green leaves scattered over it. Then they went to Miss Bell’s to find a hat to go with the dress.
The dress. The hat. I love Laura’s description of that cream-colored hat with those ostrich feathers and then, later on in the chapter, of the dress when it’s all done. Laura had the money to buy all of the things that she needed to start her life as a married woman and some left over to offer to her Ma.
What about that bulky object under a horse blanket in the back of the wagon?
“Now whatever can that be?” Ma said to Laura. They waited. As soon as possible, Pa came hurrying back. He lifted the blanket away, and there stood a shining new sewing machine.
The moment, the very moment, that I read this passage I knew that I had to have a treadle sewing machine. It took about 30 years, give or take, but I finally did get mine; a surprise from my daughter.
And then, when Laura has money to spare, I chose to look at it as a daughter who is happy to help her parents out when she is able to and after they have done so much for her. I’m not sure everyone would share my view:
Ma yielded. “If it will please you to do so, give the money to your Pa. Since he spent the cow money for the sewing machine, he will be glad to have it, I know.”
Laura rides away with Almanzo on Sunday, her heart was brimming with contentment. That’s the way this whole chapter makes me feel.
The following Friday, Prince and Lady couldn’t take Laura home quickly enough because:
Mary was even more beautiful than ever. Laura would never grow tired of looking at her. And now there was so much to tell each other that they talked every moment. Sunday afternoon they walked once more to the top of the low hill beyond the stable, and Laura picked wild roses to fill Mary’s arms.
And they talk about “that Wilder boy” and moving away and growing up.
When Almanzo picks Laura up from the Wilkins after the school term is finished and points out that it is the last time ever (that she will be a schoolteacher), she wonders:
“Are you sure?” Laura replied demurely.
“Aren’t we?” he asked. “You will be frying my breakfast pancakes sometime along the last of September.”
Almanzo had already begun to build a little house on the tree claim. Their little house.
Laura and Almanzo decide to take Barnum and Skip out for a drive on the Fourth of July. The horses are due for a workout.
So on the Fourth, soon after dinner, Laura put on her new lawn dress for the first time, and for the first time she wore the cream-colored hat with the shaded ostrich tips. She was ready when Almanzo came.
You knew a hat worthy of having a whole chapter named for it had to make another appearance, didn’t you? And so the prairie wind almost claims those ostrich feathers, but Laura is able to save them at the last second. They are safely in Almanzo’s pocket for safekeeping. I don’t know why this small act caused me to feel more familiarity between Almanzo and Laura. Like they were more comfortable together, transitioning to their roles as husband and wife.
And the chapter ends with:
The feathers were still in his pocket, and as he handed them to her at home he said, “I will be by for you Sunday. These horses do need exercise.”
Of course those horses need exercise!