Guest post by Sandra Hume and Erin Blakemore
Erin: Cut to another round of jump-into-the-Barnum deathmobile. Laura wants to take a shot at this bad boy (perhaps freeing Almanzo’s arms up for more favorable purposes?).
Sandra: This chapter is so FRAUGHT. Taming of the … Slough?
Erin: “Please don’t pull so hard, I want so much to drive you.” Rrrawr.
Sandra: That’s what she said.
Erin: Oh, wait. Laura’s gentle-yet-strong touch is HORSE MAGIC.
Sandra: Equine equality.
Erin: Just like a woman, Laura senses what Barnum needs.
Sandra: Just like a woman, Laura says “to hell with you and your advice, I’m going to do what I think is best.”
Erin: I get the feeling she is just fine being conspicuous. The woman just TAMED BARNUM!—
Sandra: She’s “dizzy from the excitement,” friends.
Erin: —whoops, never mind.
Sandra: I have always felt really bad that they missed, like, pretty much half of singing school thanks to that dadburned horse. But maybe they liked the extra unchaperoned time?
Erin: After a rousing rendition of Song of the Grass and some round singin’ (is it intentional that Pa only taught Laura, Carrie, and Grace the round? OMG), it’s time for some suggestive passing of peppermint balls. I mean, the young gentlemen treat the young ladies to some candy.
Sandra: 1880s analogy: Laura’s singing is to Almanzo as Almanzo’s horses are to Laura?
Erin: Fast and furious? Ahem. Back to singing school. You have to wonder at their innovation when they close the singing school down the day they get to the last page in the book. Bummer!
Sandra: Was Laura looking at her tattered old singing school book when she wrote this?
Erin: Barnum is calm now, in time for the changing season.
Sandra: I want to talk about the grapes.
Erin: Special request song! Don’t chide her for her glee, y’all.
Sandra: I really want to talk about the grapes.
Erin: OH, SNAP! Laura’s hand is appealingly white. Manly’s hand is appealingly sun-browned. Hand plus hand equals…BACK-HANDED PROPOSAL?!?!?!
Sandra: Hands … touching hands … reaching out … touching me … touching you … Yikes, wrong Ingalls!
Erin: Laura gently suggests that, um, having a ring might seal the deal.
Sandra: As a kid I thought this was kind of bitchy. Now I think she’s badass.
Erin: Fast-forward one week. It’s grape picking time. Does that sound decadent to you, too?
Sandra: THE GRAPES! “No, Laura, we are going to take a hella long ride today, because we must get to Lake Henry so we can feed each other frosted wild grapes.” Friends, the grapes are wild and the grapes are frosted. Bessie and Manly picked the grapes from the buggy and “ate of their tangy sweetness.” She says they watched the water. Maybe she did, but he? Was so watching her eat those grapes.
Erin: Stealth engagement, part the second! A cool slip over the first finger (remember? apparently people wore their engagement rings a bit differently back then.)
Sandra: I always thought Laura got my birthstone for her engagement ring because I was just that special.
Erin: I thought it represented their fiery passion. Wait, is that hesitation in Laura’s voice as she accepts Almanzo?
Sandra: Horses … home … horses …. home …
Erin: Almanzo knows how to convince a girl. He tells her about the little house he intends to build for her on the tree claim.
Sandra: Methinks he had her at “little house.”
Erin: Very on-brand, Manly. The lovers steal home and listen to two other lovers, Pa and Ma, in the middle of a serenade. This is essentially the prairie version of intense erotica. Unspoken emotions, reflected adoration…oh, goodness.
Sandra: Barnum stands quietly. Symbolism alert.
Erin: Apparently Laura is feeling it too, for she brazenly suggests that Almanzo kiss her. Okay, she tells him he may, which is probably answering all of his prayers since he knows better not to do so without her permission. PS: Eight-year-old Erin is now in a swoon. Smelling salts, anyone?
Sandra: Meanwhile, 10-year-old Sandra is all: wha? They haven’t kissed YET?
Erin: Cruel Laura does not describe the kiss.
Sandra: Never thought of it that way. I wonder if a description would have added to it, or taken away from the mystery?
Erin: If it was anything like my first kiss, the latter. Back inside, the fiddle equivalent of Al Green is packing up the violin and reveals that he knew what was going down on this trip. Both Pa and Ma seem a bit…hesitant here. Is it because they don’t talk about emotions, or because they think it’s not a great match?
Sandra: You think? I always thought the hesitation was over the first daughter leaving the nest.
Erin: Come on! Ma’s comment is a trifle arch.
Sandra: She does say it “gently.” I love how Ma does and says everything “gently.”
Erin: It’s the ultimate Ingalls modifier. “DRAW THE BROOM”…she said gently. “PA COULD SPAN MY WAIST WITH HIS HANDS…” she mentioned gently. Oh, yeah. The big announcement. Laura counters that she couldn’t have those wild horses without their very manly owner. Touché.
Sandra: Touché indeed. Question of the day: What was Laura too shy to say? “I love my horsey, buggy-race-winning, grape-eating boyfriend?”
Erin: “Ma. Remember that really long winter? The man makes his own pancakes. ‘Nuff said.”