Guest post by Lauri Goforth
If anyone saw the sign-ups, I pretty much begged for this chapter. We’ve met Laura. We’ve met Almanzo. They’ve seen each other, but for the first time in this chapter they have a chance to really speak, and forget blizzards, grasshoppers, etc, we have teenage angst as our main problem. You have to love it!
It’s now winter, but it hasn’t snowed. Miss Wilder has left, and a good teacher has taken her place. The boys have come back to school, chief among them, cute, heroic (remember him, Almanzo and the wheat?) Cap Garland.
The older girls spend recess watching the boys play outside. Nellie works on her sewing while Laura studies. She only has a little over a year before she can take the teacher’s exam. Nellie points out that her family isn’t so poor that they need Nellie to teach. Mary isn’t around so Laura tells Nellie what she thinks of that remark. The other girls stand up for her. Before Nellie can respond, Cap comes in with candy for Mary Power. How Sweet! Nellie intercepts and grabs the candy before he can offer it to Mary. Cap stands helplessly before walking out. The next day, Nellie keeps him with her for the rest of recess when he tries to bring candy. Laura wonders how Cap can look helpless and pleased at the same time. Let’s recap – Cap probably thinks Mary won’t reject the candy or him and Nellie’ throwing herself at him. I would think a fifteen year old boy might enjoy having two girls interested in him.
The other girls fill their time with signing each other’s autograph books that Nellie sneers are out of date. She has name cards! – whatever they are. The next day, Mary and Minnie are waiting for Laura. They found out and believe that Nellie is ordering hers from the printer. They cost 25 cents a dozen. Laura knows she could never ask her parents to waste that much money. At recess, Laura grabs the candy from Cap and gives it to Mary before Nellie can grab it. Everyone is stunned, and Cap flashes a grateful look at Laura. (I wonder if Laura doesn’t wish the cute boy bearing candy was bringing it to her) Nellie says she’s not interested she just wanted him to put a good word into Almanzo, with the great horses. Laura wishes to ride behind the horses but knows that Miss Wilder has to have made sure it will never happen. I think Laura must have laughed as she wrote this.
Mary brings her name cards, as does Nellie. She passes them out except Nellie says she can trade cards because it isn’t proper otherwise. Because taking candy meant for someone else is proper, Nellie? Ida just looks because she’s an adopted child who can’t ask for things and must hurry home to clean the house. I know in The Ruralist Laura tells how Mrs. Brown was writing articles to buy Ida a new coat, but in the book series she doesn’t seem to ever gentle her description of the Browns. Teenage Laura wishes she could be that good, but still wants a set of name cards.
At the printer, Laura and Minnie see Nellie’s card amongst the choices, proof that they must not have come from the East. There’s a card that says Love with two birds and a bird’s nest. Mr. Hopper says it’s a young man’s card. Would 1880’s men really hand out a card like that? It sounds to me more like a new bride’s card. Eventually, they pick a card and Laura hurries home to find supper on the table. She explains what they are and the price. Later she’s staring at the wall thinking about the War of 1812. (This could be why radio was invented, there’s only so long one can stare at the wall thinking of 75 year old wars before they get bored.) Pa asks her if she wants some cards. Laura hesitates and shows how she’s growing up because she knows they need the money. Laura goes to bed regretting that she wants the cards but very happy that she’ll be on equal footing with her friends. I think it shows that no matter 1881, 1991, or 2011 some things are just natural to a fourteen year-old girl.
When she picks up the cards, she’s running late. but, But, BUT! The Morgan horses stop next to her and Almanzo offers her a ride the (long?) two blocks to school. She accepts. Little girls (and women) around the world squeal! Laura is unsure what to say, she introduces herself. Almanzo says that his sister told him about her. Inquiring minds want to know what she told him, because I’m guessing it wasn’t “You should spend time with her.” Laura changes the subject to name cards. Almanzo has one in his pocket to show Laura. She tries to think up a compliment on his name but fails. She doesn’t know if he means her to keep it or not. I know that he, of course, meant her to keep it, but I know fourteen year old girls would have a couple dozen different questions bouncing around inside their head. She gives him one of hers, and then they are at the school. He tries to help her down, but she jumps down too nervous to let him help her, but she does notice his dark hair and deep blue eyes
The school bell is ringing, and we just have time to hear about the look on Nellie’s face when Laura and Almanzo drove up.
I think I may have been long winded in describing my favorite chapter as the description may be longer than the actual chapter!