Sunday, November 29, 2009

Little House on the Prairie

Little House in the Big Wood

"Uncle Henry went home after dinner, and Pa went away to his work in the Big Woods. But for Laura and Mary and Ma, Butchering Time had just begun. There was a great deal for Ma to do, and Laura and Mary helped her."

eating pig's tail and cracklings as treats - they never seem to mention eating any vegetables

Pa tells Ma there will be a dance at the sugar harvest

"Ma smiled. She looked very happy, and she laid down her mending for a minute...

A dressmaker had made it, in the East, in the place where Ma came from when she married Pa and moved out west to the Big Woods in Wisconsin. Ma had been very fashionable, before she married Pa, and a dressmaker had made her clothes. The delaine was kept wrapped in paper and laid away. Laura and Mary had never seen Ma wear it, but she had shown it to them once."

"Then one night Pa said, 'We'll go to town tomorrow.'... They were so excited that they did not go to sleep at once."

Mary's golden hair, Laura's brown.

"Mary's said:
Roses are red
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet,
And so are you.
Laura's said only,
Sweets to the sweet.

The pieces of candy were exactly the same size. Laura's printing was larger than Mary's.

"So Laura gathered up the pebbles, put them in the pocket, and carried the pocket in her lap. She did not mind very much when Pa laughed at her for being such a greedy little girl that she took more than she could carry away. Nothing like that ever happened to Mary. Mary was a good little girl who always kept her dress clean and neat and minded her manners. Mary had lovely golden curls, and her candy heart had a poem on it. Mary looked very good and sweet, unrumpled and clean, sitting on the board beside Laura. Laura did not think it was fair."

Little House on the Prairie

"Eat your breakfast, Laura," Ma said. "You must mind your manners, even if we are a hundred miles from anywhere."

Pa said, mildly, "It's only forty miles to Independence, Caroline, and no doubt there's a neighbour or so nearer than that."

"Forty miles, then," Ma agreed. "But whether or no, it isn't good manners to sing at the table. Or when you're eating," she added, because there was no table."

"Will the government make these Indians go west?"

'Yes,' Pa said, 'When the white settlers come into a country, the Indians have to move on. The government is going to move these Indians farther west, any time now. That's why we're here, Laura. White people are going to settle all this country, and we get the best land because we get here first and take our pick. Now do you understand?'

'Yes, Pa," Laura said. "But, Pa, I thought this was Indian Territory. Won't it make the Indians mad to have to-"


"Then Pa said something to Ma that made Laura sit very still and listen carefully. He said that folks in Independence said that the government was going to put the white settlers out of the Indian territory. He said the Indians had been complaining and they had got that answer from Washington.

Farmer Boy

the big boys come to thrash the teacher "Sometimes they made two little boys fight each other, thought the little boys didn't want to fight and begged to be let off."

"They settled down cozily by the big stove in the dining-room wall. The back of the stove was in the parlor, where nobody went except when company came."

"Almanzo looked at every kernel before he ate it. They were all different shapes. He had eaten thousands of handfuls of popcorn, and never found two kernels alike... you can put all the popcorn kernel by kernel into the milk, and the milk will not run over. You cannot do this with bread. Popcorn and milk are the only two things that will go into the same place."

"They talked about spareribs, and turkey with dressing, and baked beans, and crackling cornbread, and other good things... Almanzo ate four large helpings of apples'n'onions fried together. He ate roast beef and brown gravy, and mashed potatoes and creamed carrots and boiled turnips, and countless slices of buttered bread with crab-apple jelly."

"Some women made a new-fangled shape, round, with a hole in the middle. But round doughnuts wouldn't turn themselves over. Mother didn't have time to waste turning dounghnuts; it was quicker to twist them."

"The band played, and everybody sang [the national anthem]. From the top of the flagpole, up against the blue sky, the Stars and Stripes were fluttering. Everybody looked at the American flag, and Almanzo sang with all his might. Then everyone sat down, and a Congressman stood up on the platform. Slowly and solemnly he read the Declaration of Independence."

"But all the land our forefathers had was a little strip of country, here between the mountains and the ocean. All the way from here west was Indian country, and Spanish and French and English country. It was farmers that took all that country and made it America."
"How?" Almanzo asked.
"Well, son, the Spaniards were soldiers, and high-and-mighty gentlemen that only wanted gold. And the French were fur-traders, wanting to make quick money. And England was busy fighting wars. But we were farmers, son; we wanted the land. It was farmers that went over the mountains, and cleared the land, and settled it, and farmed it, and hung on to their farms."
"This country goes three thousand miles west, now. It goes 'way out beyond Kansas, and beyond the Great American Desert, over mountains bigger than these mountains, and down to the Pacific Ocean. It's the biggest country in the world, and it was farmers who took all that country and made it America, son. Don't you ever forget that."

"Mother said it was high time Almanzo went to school, if he was going to get any schooling that winter....

"What do I have to go to school for? I can read and write and spell, and I don't want to be a school-teacher or a storekeeper.

"You can read and write and spell," Father said, slowly. "But can you figure?"

...he studied hard to learn the whole arithmetic, because the sooner he knew it all, the sooner he would not have to go to school any more."

"Well, son, you think about it," said Father. "I want you should make up your own mind. With Paddock, you'd have an easy life, in some ways. You wouldn't be out in all kinds of weather. Cold winter nights, you could lie snug, in bed and not worry about young stock freezing. Rain or shine, wine or snow, you'd be under shelter. You'd be shut up, inside walls. Likely you'd always have plenty to eat and wear and money in the bank... That's the truth, and we must be fair about it... But there's the other side, too, Almanzo. You'd have to depend on other folks, son, in town. Everything you got, you'd get from other folks. A farmer depends on himself, and the land and the weather. If you're a farmer, you raise what you eat, you raise what you wear, and you keep warm with wood out of your own timber. You work hard , but you work as you please, and no man can tell you to go or come. You'll be free and independent, son, on a farm."

No comments: