How do you follow something as terrific as Eddie’s Chapter 24 post?
I’ll have to give it my best shot!
Christmas is tomorrow, but for the Ingalls family there will be no celebrating. They’ve decided that Christmas is just too sad without Mary there to enjoy it with them. I wonder, if it was that difficult for them, how must it have been for Mary all alone far away from home and family?
A week without school, but full of studying for Laura. There’s that teacher’s certificate and it’s almost within reach. Laura is only two months away from turning sixteen. Alas, studying just isn’t the same without Mary. Even Ma joins in, declaring that reading her church paper isn’t the same without Mary being there to read aloud to. Through all the sadness of missing her, they have to agree that Mary is doing well and being in school is a wonderful opportunity for her. They miss her, just the same.
Ma worries about money though…such a burden Laura has to bear, not yet sixteen, but feeling the need to help support the family and keep her sister in school. A more expected and accepted fact of life in that time. Laura assures Ma that she will be able to get her teacher’s certificate and earn some money. Ma hopes that the extra money will allow for Mary to be able to come home for a visit the following summer. Did they send her to school wondering if they wouldn’t be able to see her until she was done with school. All those years? I can’t even imagine…
Laura goes back to her studying and Ma to her paper when Carries announces that Mr. Boast is coming and bringing someone with him.
“That’s him now, at the door!”
“‘That is he,'” said Ma.
Ma, ever the teacher.
They’re not there for Pa, but Laura. The second man, Mr. Brewster, is looking for a teacher. Laura? A teacher?
Laura’s heart seemed to leap and fall back, and go on falling.
And so does mine whenever I read that.
Yes, we know Laura is not old enough. That seems of little importance to Mr. Boast. He and Mr. Brewster want to know if she will teach this school if she can get her certificate. Ma asks where the school is. Twelve miles south of them, and Laura’s heart sank even further and mine with it. Of course, the promise of twenty dollars each for two months of teaching seals the deal along with Mr. Boast’s assurance to Ma that he knew Mr. Brewster back east. Just how well did he know Mr. Brewster back east?
The realization of being paid that princely sum of forty dollars seems to have sent Laura’s heart back to her chest. She excitedly accepts the offer. Now to wait for the superintendent. Will Laura be able to pass? Ma gives her a pep talk until:
It was only a moment before Carrie exclaimed, “That’s him now—–”
“‘This is he,'” Ma said almost sharply.
“That’s he coming — It don’t sound right, Ma —”
“‘Doesn’t sound right,'” said Ma.
“Right straight across from Fuller’s Hardware!” cried Carrie.
Poor Carrie…she just can’t win tonight.
And so the examination begins. I wonder if Laura wishes her slate and pencil weren’t so conveniently laying out on the table. He gave her quite an examination for someone who didn’t really think it was necessary after hearing her at The School Exhibition the night before! He does skip the history portion though.
Certificate in hand, Laura is a teacher!
Every time I read the following passage I get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Every single time for the forty years that I have been reading that Pa says:
“That’s fine,” he said. “That’s pretty fine for a fifteen-year-old.” He meant to speak heartily but his voice had a hollow sound, for now Laura was going away.