Through Eyes of Green
LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos
Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.
Almanzo saw them at the bottom of the school steps. Laura smiled and laughed with a young man he didn’t recognize. He tensed up when he saw her put her hand on the boy’s shoulder. They chatted as they walked towards the Feed and Seed.
“Hi, Manly,” Laura said when she reached him.
“Howdy, Beth.” The boy seemed close to Laura’s age. “Who’s your friend?”
“This is Dylan Walters.”
The boy extended his hand. “Almanzo Wilder,” he said with a nod.
“He just moved here from Minneapolis with his pa,” explained Laura.
Dylan stood with his books slung on a strap over his shoulder. “Yeah, Pa wanted to get out of the city for a while.”
Laura peered up at him, her lips opened in a wide smile. “Can you come over for supper tonight, Manly?”
“I wish I could Beth, but I gotta finish working on the barn.”
She sighed. “Maybe Sunday after church then.”
Almanzo nodded. She was clearly disappointed, but she knew what farm life was like. “Sunday it is.”
She turned to face her friend. “Would you like to come over tonight, Dylan? Ma’s apple pies are the best in town.”
He shrugged, as if he hadn't a care in the world. "Sure. Pa’s in Sleepy Eye and won’t be back til late. I woulda gone with him, but he didn’t want me missing school. Wasn't looking forward to cooking for myself. I’m pretty bad.”
Laura laughed, making Almanzo wish he hadn’t turned down her invitation.
“Why don’t you come home with me now then? Maybe Albert and you can go fishing later.”
“Sounds good. Your brother is a nice kid.”
“See ya later, Manly.”
“See ya, Beth.”
Almanzo returned Dylan’s wave. He watched as Laura passed her schoolbooks over to him. He heard the boy say, “Why does he call ya Beth?”
“I’ll tell you on the way home, but I have to stop off at the Mercantile for a slate pencil first.”
Almanzo stared at them for a few moments. Dylan seemed awfully friendly around Laura. He wondered if the boy was interested in more than just friendship. He couldn’t wait to get done his work so he could ask Eliza Jane about him.
Eliza Jane didn’t understand why Almanzo was so interested in Dylan. He had never shown a burning desire to talk about her other students.
“How much time does he spend with Laura?” asked Almanzo.
Suddenly aware of why he was dying to know about the young boy she replied, “Surely, you’re not jealous,”
He shifted in the wagon seat. “No, course not, it’s just…” He glanced over at Eliza Jane who was trying to stifle a laugh. “Well, maybe a little.”
“That’s ridiculous." She pursed her lips together as she often did when she found something funny. "Laura only has eyes for you.”
That didn't mean Dylan didn't have eyes for Laura. Of course, he trusted her, but she could be a bit naive at times. “And how do ya know that?”
“Almanzo, she brightens up the minute you walk into a room. Haven’t you ever noticed the way she looks at you?" She shook her head. "You don’t have anything to worry about.”
He prompted Barnum into a trot, only half convinced that Eliza Jane was right.
Laura rode home with Almanzo Sunday after church. “Is everything okay?” she asked.
“Yeah.” He focused his eyes on the road.
“Then why are you so quiet?”
He shrugged. “Nothing wrong with being quiet.”
She placed a hand on his shoulder. “No, but it usually means something is on your mind.”
She already knew him so well. That made him feel a bit better. “What’s the story with you and this Dylan kid?”
“The story?” The skin on the bridge of her nose crinkled. Confusion was a good sign.
“He sure likes spending time with ya.”
“Well, he’s a bit behind in school and I’ve been trying to help him catch up.”
That made sense. “Oh.”
She leaned back and stared at him for a few moments. “You didn’t think there was anything else going on, did you?”
Yikes, this was not the way he had wanted this conversation to go. “Of course not,” he rushed to say. “It’s just…ya know…” Flustered, he blurted out, “Did ya tell him we were courting?”
“It never came up. We talk about schoolwork mostly. That and his ma. She died last year. That’s why his pa moved out here. He’s trying to get away from the memories.”
“That’s too bad,” Almanzo said with genuine sympathy.
“I don’t know what I would do if I lost Ma or Pa.” She glanced over at him. “Or you,” she added with a kiss on his cheek.
That was just what he wanted to hear. “Don’t worry, Beth, I ain’t going nowhere.”
Dylan figured it might just work. He had asked Laura to tutor him until he was caught up at school. Of course, he never planned to catch up. And the more time they spent together, the more Laura would see that she belonged with him, not that annoying Almanzo Wilder. He pretended to like him to stay in good favor with Laura, but he was a rival for her affections and, as such, Dylan despised him.
The weather had gotten colder at the beginning of November, but there were a few nice sunny days which could fool people into thinking spring was on its way instead of winter. On such a day, a frustrated Laura sat on the school steps with Dylan, instructing him on what he needed to do to improve his grades. She obviously didn’t understand why his work hadn’t gotten better since the tutoring sessions began two weeks ago.
“How about we go down to the lake to study today?” he suggested.
She raised her eyebrows. “I don’t know. I’ve got a lot of homework to do, and I need to finish my chores before I go out with Almanzo tonight.”
Ugh, him again. He was so tired of hearing about Manly. He flipped out his lower lip into a pout.Maybe being silly would sway her. “Aw come on. My pa let me borrow the wagon so we don’t have to walk.”
Her hesitation told him she was considering it. She was probably too polite to really say no. “Well, all right, but let’s stop by the Feed and Seed so I can tell Almanzo where I’ll be.” He shook his head, but drove her there without a word.
“Howdy, Beth.” He glared at the boy next to her on the wagon seat. “Ya bringing Laura home, Dylan?”
A self-satisfied grin spread across the boy’s face. “Naw. I’m takin her down to the lake.”
She smiled. “I should be home in plenty of time to go out with you tonight.”
His eyes remained fixed on the boy when he responded, “Can’t wait to see ya. I’ll be by about five-thirty.”
“I’ll be ready. See ya, Manly.”
Dylan chirruped to the horses and Almanzo watched the wagon pull out of town. He didn’t like the glee he saw in the boy’s eyes. That boy was up to no good. Almanzo tried to go finish his work, but thoughts of what Dylan was planning distracted him. After twenty minutes he ran to the schoolhouse to see Eliza Jane.
He took the stairs two at a time and pushed open the door. “Hey Sis, can ya walk home today?”
“Certainly, are you going somewhere?”
“I gotta find Laura.”
She stood up from her desk, concern etching her face. “Is something wrong?”
“I dunno. She went out to the lake with Dylan. Can’t explain it…he just looked like he was gonna cause trouble.”
“Now Almanzo, you shouldn’t let your jealousy make you think ill of the boy.”
He clenched his hands by his sides. “I’m trying not to Sis, but he seemed real happy to see how bothered I was when he told me they were going out there.”
She crossed her arms over her chest. “Are you sure you didn’t imagine it?”
Enough of this. He was wasting precious time. “We’ll talk about this later. Right now I have to find her.”
Almanzo jumped into his wagon and slapped Barnum into a gallop. He couldn’t ignore his instincts. He just hoped he would be in time.
Dylan sat close enough to smell the perfume Laura had dabbed on that morning. He was confident as he pretended to pay attention to her conjugating verbs that she would find him a much better suitor than Almanzo, who was too insecure and awkward for someone as feisty and strong-headed as Laura. She needed a man who could tame her wild nature and make her into a good wife and homemaker.
Laura slammed her palms down on the book in her lap. “Dylan, you’re not even listening to me.”
He widened his eyes to appear contrite. “I’m sorry Laura, you just smell so good.”
Laura blushed. She didn’t feel comfortable when he spoke that way. “Thank you, but you really need to focus on your English.”
“I’ll try.” He did his best to sound sincere when he really had no interest in schoolwork.
Laura leaned in to show him what she had written on the slate. She could see Dylan staring at her and chose to ignore him. “Now, if you look at the verb “extract”…”
She pushed Dylan away as soon as she felt his lips on hers. “What are you doing?”
“Aw, come on. You know you’ve been wanting me to kiss you.”
She stood as the heat of anger flushed her face. “How dare you!”
When he stood up, he was several inches taller than her. “What’s the matter? Almanzo never kiss you before? Wouldn’t surprise me none if he was too afraid to show you some love.”
A loud smack filled the air as her palm slapped his cheek. A bright red splotch appeared. "I’ve had enough of this. Consider your tutoring over.”
Laura picked up her things and turned to walk away. Dylan grabbed her arm and squeezed it.
“Let go of me,” she ordered.
“I’m just trying to show you how much I care about you.”
Both her arms now in his grasp she struggled to free herself.
Laura turned to see a wagon coming up fast. She didn’t care who was in it. She just wanted to get away as quickly as she could. She pushed hard against Dylan which caused him to lose the hold he had on her left arm. She slid her dinner pail down into her hand and swung it at his head. He reeled backwards, holding onto his head with both hands. Laura ran towards the wagon, seeing Almanzo on the seat.
Almanzo pulled Barnum to a stop and jumped down. He caught Laura in is arms and held her close. “It’s all right, Beth. I’m here.”
“Oh, Manly,” she panted as she tried to catch her breath.
“Did he hurt you?”
She shook her head. “He just doesn’t like to take no for an answer.”
Imaging what must have transpired Almanzo became incensed. “Stay here,” he said.
“Almanzo don’t.” But he never heard her. He was half way to Dylan, who was scrambling up into his father’s wagon. He pulled the boy off, tossing him to the ground. They wrestled, but Dylan was no match for the stronger, larger Almanzo.
He straddled the boy and held him by the shirt. Pointing his finger in Dylan’s face he spoke through clenched teeth. “You stay away from her.”
“I’m not afraid of you,” he taunted.
“You better be. Because if I see you near her again, they’ll be picking pieces of you off the ground.”
He leaned on Dylan with all his might as he stood. The boy grunted. He walked back towards Laura who was standing by his wagon.
“Manly, look out!” she screamed right before Dylan tackled him to the ground.
Almanzo tasted blood when his chin hit the dirt, causing him to bite his lip. He flipped Dylan off his back and grabbed Dylan and pulled him into his fist. Then he dumped the boy on the ground.
He pointed at him. “Don’t ever try anything like that again.”
Dylan swiped at his bleeding lip with contempt. “This ain’t over, Wilder.”
“Oh, yes it is,” replied Almanzo. He wiped away the blood dripping down his chin. He glared at the boy before helping Laura into his wagon.
“Are you all right?” she asked.
He nodded. “I’m fine. Let’s get you home.”
When Almanzo stopped his wagon in front of the Ingalls's farm, Laura embraced him. She touched his swollen lip. “I’m sorry about all this.”
He shook his head. "You got no reason to be sorry.”
“You knew what he was up to all along." She lowered her eyes. "I should have seen it.”
“No, I was plum jealous is all.” He caressed her cheek. “The thought of another man laying his hands on you…” Almanzo shook his head. “It just drives me crazy.”
His eyes widened. “You do?”
“Do you think it never bothered me when you were courting those other women? I spent a lot of time wishing I were older so you would notice me.” She smiled in embarrassment. “Christie Norton had to be the worst. Knowing you were together made me dislike her even more.”
Almanzo allowed himself to chuckle at her admission. “None of them could hold a candle to you. They don’t have your fire.” He pulled her close and kissed her.
A creak from the barn door interrupted them.
“I didn’t know Almanzo was bringing you home, Half-pint. You’re late.”
Admitting she had been foolish in trusting Dylan was nothing compared to explaining things to Pa. “He wasn’t supposed to. I got into a bit of trouble today and Almanzo rescued me.”
“What kind of trouble?” he asked when he saw Almanzo’s lip.
Laura wasn’t quite sure what to say. She was embarrassed to admit what had happened, and feared how he would react. “Can we talk about it when I get inside?”
“I gotta go anyway,” said Almanzo. “Eliza Jane is probably sick with worry after how I rushed off earlier. Can we have supper in town tomorrow night instead?” He glanced at Charles. “If it’s okay with you, Mr. Ingalls.”
“From the look of that lip, I say you both deserve a night out. Laura can go if she wants.”
“Thanks Pa.” Laura hopped out of the wagon. “I’ll see ya tomorrow, Manly.”
“See ya, Beth, Mr. Ingalls.” Almanzo tapped his horse and headed towards home.
Laura told her parents what happened with Dylan and how Almanzo showed up just in time.
“Well, I’m going to ride out to talk to Mr. Walters,” an angry Charles said.
“Please don’t Pa. It will only make it worse,” said Laura.
“Half-pint, who knows what would have happened if Almanzo hadn’t showed up.”
“But he did, and I’m fine. Really I am. Besides, I think Almanzo scared him off. I don’t think he’ll be bothering me anymore.”
Charles looked at Caroline for advice. “Why don’t we give the boy a few days to apologize before we go talk to his father? Who knows, maybe he regrets it already.”
Charles pulled the pipe out from between his lips. “I won’t say a word for now, but if that boy touches you again, I want to know.”
Laura nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Caroline squeezed her shoulders. “Why don’t you go upstairs and relax for a bit before supper?You’ve had quite a day.”
“I think I will.”
Caroline watched Charles’s eyes follow Laura up the ladder. He gazed over at Caroline with a frown and then disappeared outside. She knew it was taking all his self-control not to drive to the Walters place. She had a good mind to go over there herself. Thank God for Almanzo.
“Laura,” Caroline called up the ladder.
“Why was Almanzo at the lake this afternoon?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I’m just glad he was.”
Two days later, Laura stopped by the Feed and Seed on her way out of town.
“Oh, hi Beth. You stay after school for something?”
Laura wasn’t sure if she should tell him, but he would probably find out sooner or later. “Mr. Walters stopped by to see me.”
Almanzo jumped off the platform. “What did he want?”
“To tell me he’s taking Dylan back to Minneapolis." She sighed. "I guess this isn’t the first problem he’s had with him since his mother died.”
He stood with both hands on his hips, the way Laura often saw him stand when he listened. “How did he hear about it?”
“He saw Dylan’s swollen lip. He told his pa some of what happened and I filled in the rest. Dylan’s never come back to school.”
“I’m glad we won’t be having any more trouble with him.”
She nodded. “Mr. Walters wanted me to pass along his apology to you.” She wasn't sure she should ask, but she simply couldn't keep her curiosity from getting the better of her. “Manly, what were you doing out at the lake that day?”
He shuffled his feet nervously and diverted his gaze when he answered, “Didn’t like what I saw. He had you in that wagon and he looked at me with this …I don’t know…mischief in his eyes, kind of like daring me to stop him. I got scared about what might be happening between you two." He shrugged. "It was foolish, I guess.”
“Yes it was,” she said matter-of-factly. “When are you going to learn that you’re the only man I want to be with?”
He flashed her a crooked smile and pulled her into a sweet kiss.
Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.