Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.
Almanzo still wasn't sure how to handle what Laura had done. He had asked
Christie Norton to the circus, and she had not seemed pleased. It was obvious
they didn't like each other, though Manly wasn't privy to what caused the
problem between them. Almanzo ended up not caring for Christie either, but it
didn't excuse Laura's actions.
He was working at the Feed and Seed when he saw her. Laura and her siblings
were making their way into town for school. Best to talk to her right away. Nothing good could come out of delaying the inevitable. Almanzo hopped down from the platform and walked over to Laura and her siblings.
"Howdy, Beth," he said when he reached them.
"Can I talk to ya for a few minutes?"
"Well…I really should get to school."
"We have five minutes before the bell rings," said Albert. Laura glared at him.
"Hey Albert, do me a favor," Almanzo said. "Let my sister
know Laura's with me and she'll be at school as soon as we're done."
Albert shrugged. "All right." He grabbed Carrie's hand and headed into the schoolyard.
Almanzo put his arm around Beth's shoulder and led her to the bench next to
the Sweetheart Tree. How could he tell her he knew she was the
mysterious clown who had kissed him? I guess I better just say it.
"Beth, I wanna talk to ya about what happened at the circus."
"Are you mad?" she asked without looking at him.
"No, just kind of confused. Why would ya do such a thing?"
"I don't know what came over me, Manly." He seriously doubted that
was the case. Laura always had a purpose in mind.
Almanzo lifted her chin so she would be forced to look him in the eye.
"I've never tried to encourage this crush of yours." He immediately
saw how his words stung her. Tears swam in her eyes, but she would never cry in
front of him. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.
He spoke to her softly, like a father talking to a child. "You'll get
over it when ya meet someone your own age.” He reached up to tug one of her braids, but she
turned her back to him.
The school bell rang and she began to stand. He gently grabbed her hand.
“I'm not done yet.” Almanzo had to suppress a chuckle when Laura plopped down with a sigh and crossed
her arms over her chest. “Christie was very embarrassed. I know the two of you
don't get along, but it wasn’t very nice to humiliate her like that."
"You were laughing too." Laura's frown accused him of what he already knew he was guilty of.
"You're right. I wasn't havin’ as much fun with her as I thought I
would. But it was wrong for me to laugh. I apologized the next day.” Almanzo
raked his hand through his hair. “She told me there was a problem with her
dress. Is that true?"
Laura hung her head. "I basted the skirt…but I didn't sew it to the
"So ya planned all this?" He had hoped he was wrong. Why would she do such a thing?
Laura stared at her feet for a few moments, then nodded.
"That was meaner than the trick you played on Nellie and me with the
cinnamon chicken.” Almanzo clutched the bridge of his nose between his thumb
and forefinger. “I hope you'll grow up and stop playing these childish pranks
As soon as the words tumbled out of his mouth Laura stood and clenched her hands by her sides. Her face was almost as red as her hair. "I'm not a
little girl anymore, Almanzo. I'm a woman. Soon I'll be a teacher."
He shook his head. "Beth, there's more to bein' a woman than age."
"You're just like Pa. He wants me to stay his Half-pint forever, and
you want me to keep being your favorite girl. Neither one of you can see how
much I've changed."
Almanzo thought about what she said. Maybe she had changed since they first
met, but she was still far away from womanhood. Maybe he should try to make her
feel better. "Beth, I know you've grown up some, but there's no reason you
havta change overnight. It'll happen in its own time." Again he reached
for one of her braids.
A furious Laura pulled away from him. "I'm a woman, Almanzo, and I'm
going to make you see it. You just wait." She picked up her things and
stomped out of town.
"Beth," he called after her. "Come back, Beth."
Almanzo stood and put his hands on his hips, staring after Laura until
he lost sight of her. He strolled over to the Feed and Seed and grabbed the
clipboard off the nail in the office. He glanced at his list of orders. Within
moments, he threw the clipboard on the desk and paced the platform. Almanzo
glanced over at the schoolhouse where Laura should be. What was it that didn't
allow him to keep his distance from her? He looked forward to seeing her
walk into town every morning on her way to school. She would smile and wave,
making his day go smoother.
He chuckled when he remembered Laura sitting in the front room of his house in
his robe after her fight with Nellie Oleson. Being feisty always got the better
of her; and yet, it was the thing that made her so special. Laura never backed
down from a confrontation and never shied away from speaking her mind. He
witnessed that today.
Sitting down on the platform he let his legs dangle over the side. Visions
of Laura's visit to the Wilder farm to return his robe a few weeks back flashed
through his mind. When he had stared into Beth's face, he thought for an
instant he felt an attraction to her. Almanzo wrote it off as a slight
concussion from when they bonked heads reaching for the basket at the same
time. Maybe Beth took that as a sign he was interested in her.
Almanzo walked over and started stacking sacks of grain for Mr.
Carver's order. As much as he enjoyed Laura's company, he would have to work
hard to keep a safe distance from her. He didn't want to encourage her feelings
for him. It would be unfair to let her believe they would ever be anything more
Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.
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