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 Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)

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PostSubject: Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)   Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:29 am

Second Chance

LHOP inspired fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

This story begins right before Mary finds out she is going blind. Her ex-fiancé, John Sanderson Jr. leaves his job in Chicago and returns to Walnut Grove to find out if Mary still has feelings for him.

Note 1: I used a scene or two from the show and some of the dialogue may seem familiar. It was partially taken from “I’ll be Waving as You Drive Away.”

Note 2: This story assumes that the Edwards family never left Walnut Grove. Whether or not the Garvey family also lives in Walnut Grove at the same time as the Edwards family is irrelevant to this storyline.


Part 1

The chug-a-chug of the train numbed his mind. How long had it been since he left Chicago? It seemed like a lifetime. John Jr. hadn’t even written his parents to tell them he had left his job at The Tribune. The fast pace of city life had been exciting and exhilarating at first. But now John yearned for the slow and steady way of life in the prairie town he had called home.

John hoped his parents would understand his decision. Grace and Isaiah had been so wonderful to him since his mother’s death. He hated to disappoint them, especially considering how proud they were of him – getting a college scholarship, landing his job at The Tribune and finally getting his own byline.

“Sleepy Eye Minnesota,” the conductor yelled. “All off for Sleepy Eye Minnesota.”

The announcement startled John. He grabbed his briefcase and bag and exited the back of the train. Such a long time had passed since he had last seen this platform – the day he went off to college.

The stagecoach driver took John’s bag and strapped it down with the other passengers’ luggage. They were soon on their way and John spent the ride filled with anxiety.

The driver stopped the stagecoach in front of the Walnut Grove Post Office. John hesitated before he stepped off the coach and took his bag from the driver. He headed out of town towards his parents’ home. As he meandered towards Grace and Isaiah’s farm, he wondered how much had changed at the Edwards’ homestead. Passersby nodded to John, but he didn’t know any of them. He smiled back and gave a quick wave.

When he came to the trail leading up to the Edwards’ home, he stopped. He could see the farm from the top of the hill. John saw a boy and a girl tending to the animals. Could that actually be his brother and sister? His anxiety forgotten, John ran towards the house screaming, “Carl! Alicia! I’m home! I’m home!”

Carl and Alicia looked up to see their older brother running towards them. “Ma! Pa! Come quick!” Alicia shouted and then ran to catch up with Carl who was standing beside John Jr.

“Alicia, what’s wrong?” Grace asked as she opened the door. Her mouth fell open when she saw her three children hugging.

Isaiah followed Grace out with his shotgun. “Isaiah,” she said as he reached the porch. “Our son is home. Thank God, our son has come home.”

Isaiah was too shocked and overjoyed to respond. He hobbled behind Grace to greet his oldest son.

The Edwards family enjoyed a wonderful homecoming. Dinner tasted especially good that night. John explained everything to his parents and was relieved when they supported his decision. They even offered to let him stay in his old room. Then John asked the question that had been on his mind since he boarded the train in Chicago. “How’s Mary?”

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Charles Ingalls was tired. He had been up the entire night trying to find a way to tell Mary. As he stared into the creek, he prayed once again that the Lord would work a miracle. Mary came up to her father and sat alongside him.

“You look tired Pa.”

“Don’t worry about me Mary. I’m fine. How are your eyes?”

“Well, these new glasses seemed to work all right at first. But now I’m having trouble seeing again.”

A tear fell down Charles’ cheek. He looked up at his daughter. Mary knew something was wrong. “Pa what’s bothering you? You’ve been quiet ever since we got back from the doctor. My eyes, they’re going to get better, won’t they?”

“You see … it was the scarlet fever. It … it weakened the muscles in your eyes.” Charles sniffled as he tried to hold back his tears.

“But I’m going to get better, right Pa?”

“No darlin. The doctor thinks it’s going to get worse. He thinks … he thinks … you’re eventually going to lose your sight.”

The tears fell down Mary’s face as she stared at her father. “I’m going to be blind. I’m going to be blind!”

Charles reached out to his daughter. She pulled away and stood up. “No, the doctor’s wrong! He’s wrong!” Mary ran up into the pasture, leaving her father at the creek to cry alone.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Isaiah and Grace glanced at each other when John asked about Mary. Carl and Alicia asked to be excused to go finish their chores. Grace got up and went to sit in the chair next to John. She put her hands on his shoulders and squeezed him hard.

“John,” Grace began. “Mary has been having some trouble with her eyes lately. We all thought it was eye strain. She’s been studying so hard to become a teacher.”

“Did she get some new glasses or something?”

“Yes she did but …” Grace paused. “John … Mary is going blind.”

John shot out of his chair with such force that the chair toppled onto the floor. He began to pace, holding his head in his right hand.

“This could ruin everything. My plans … No, this can’t be!”

“What are you talking about John? What plans?”

John turned towards his mother. He looked at his father who was still sitting in silence at the head of the table.

“I wanted to wait until I was sure how things were going to turn out,” John explained. “The main reason I came back to Walnut Grove was to see if Mary still had feelings for me.”

“After all this time?” Grace asked. “Even after what happened in Chicago?”

“I was a fool in Chicago. I realized that night how much I still cared for Mary. I didn’t think she could ever forgive me… so I tried to forget her. But I couldn’t. I finally decided to move home, concentrate on my poetry and see if Mary still loved me.”

“That lass sure had a thing for you,” Isaiah interrupted.

“Isaiah!” Grace admonished.

“Well she did,” Isaiah said in his defense.

“A lot has happened since then.”

“That’s true,” Isaiah admitted. “Mary has had a swarm of beaus buzzing around her since you called off the engagement. Seth is the latest one.”

“I don’t remember a Seth,” John said.

“Seth and his father are new in town,” Grace explained. “Mary and he are quite serious. Caroline and I were talking about it just the other day.”

“Talk, talk, talk is all you women do,” Isaiah teased.

“How serious?” John asked. “Has Seth asked Mr. Ingalls for her hand?”

“I don’t think so. I’m sure Caroline would have mentioned it.”

“Then I have to go talk to Mary tonight. Pa can I borrow the rig?”

“Yup, but ya better hurry. It’ll be dark soon.”

John started for the door. “Uh, John…”

“Yes Pa?”

“I hope it all works out. I always wanted to see you two git hitched.”

“Thanks Pa.” John slammed the door on his way out.

“Isaiah, you shouldn’t encourage him,” Grace said with worry in her voice.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Suppertime at the Ingalls place was not its usual flurry of activity. It was a silent affair. The silence more pronounced by the absence of Mary who had gone to bed early. A knock at the door pierced the silence like a pin puncturing a balloon. Pa got up and opened the door. A smile came to his face when he saw the visitor. He extended his right hand and said, “John, what a surprise. I didn’t know you were visiting your folks.”

“Hello Mr. Ingalls. It’s more than a visit. I’m home to stay.”

“Isaiah must be happy.”

“Yes, he and Grace are excited and surprised too. I hadn’t written them to tell them I was coming home.”

“Well come in John. The family has grown a little since the last time you were here, but Caroline and Laura will be happy to see you.”

“Thank you, Mr. Ingalls.” As John entered the house Laura and Ma ran over to embrace him. After a few moments of small talk, John worked up the courage to ask if Mary was home.

“She’s upstairs,” Ma said. “She hasn’t been feeling well so she went to bed early.”

“Grace told me what the doctor said. Is there any chance he could be wrong?”

“I keep praying for a miracle, but it’s in the Lord’s hands,” Pa answered.

“Mr. Ingalls, could I talk to you outside for a moment?”

“Sure son.” Charles reached to get his pipe and a match from the mantle and walked outside with John Jr. to the barnyard fence. Mary, who was still awake in the loft, got out of bed and kneeled beside the window. She opened the shutters and tried to make out their faces.

“Mr. Ingalls, I know the last time we spoke it ended badly…”

“Yes it did.”

“But I’m encouraged by the warm welcome I received tonight. You see, the real reason I came home was to… to see if Mary might still have feelings for me.”

“I see,” Charles responded through clenched teeth, the smoke from his pipe filling the night air.

“I know this problem with her eyes might complicate things, but it doesn’t change the fact that I love her.”

“Son, I would like to believe that. But you came to me once and asked for her hand. I happily gave it and I trusted you when you said that you loved her. Mary stayed behind while you went after your dream of becoming a writer; a dream that took you all the way to Chicago. And while you were away things changed, you changed. I took Mary to Chicago to see you and she came back hurt because you said you didn’t feel the same way anymore. How do I know that won’t happen again?”

“I won’t make excuses for what I did. But I can tell you that I broke it off with the young woman I was seeing right after the ball that night. I’ve been faithful to Mary ever since. I just didn’t have the courage to come home and tell her until now.”

“Mary is a young woman now. The decision is hers to make. But I will always be her father, and if she gets hurt again I’ll be very disappointed in you.”

“I understand sir. Thank you, Mr. Ingalls.”

“It’s late. Mary is probably sleeping. Why don’t you come back tomorrow morning and talk to her.”

“I will. Thanks again Mr. Ingalls.”

Charles watched as John drove away. He wondered what Mary would say.

The shutters in the upstairs bedroom closed. Mary tried to imagine what the two men were talking about. When she heard footsteps coming up the ladder, she raced back into bed and pretended to be asleep. The last thing she needed was for Laura to pester her with questions.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


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PostSubject: Re: Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)   Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:30 am

Part 2

Early the next morning Caroline heard a knock at the door. She wasn’t surprised to see John Jr. Charles had told her to expect him.

“Good morning Mrs. Ingalls. Is Mary home?”

“Yes she is John. Why don’t you come in and I’ll call her.” John removed his hat and walked inside.

“Thank you.”

“Mary,” Caroline called up to the loft. “Someone is here to see you.”

“Who is it Ma?” Mary asked, even though she knew who it was.

“John Jr. is here.”

“I’ll be right down.” Mary looked at herself in the mirror one last time.

John heard footsteps above and soon saw a set of black boots coming down the ladder. As Mary hit the bottom rung she turned to face him. She was more beautiful than he remembered. John tightened the grip on his hat and swallowed hard. “Hello Mary.”

“Hello John,” Mary responded without a smile.

“I was hoping that I might be able to convince you to take a walk with me.”

“Would that be all right Ma?”

“If you would like to.”

“Are you sure you don’t need my help with anything?”

“I can manage.”

“Thanks Ma.” Mary hugged her mother and walked out the door that John had opened for her.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Isaiah went back to the house after milking the cow. When he opened the door he looked around the kitchen. Grace was busy at the stove cooking breakfast. “Where’s John?” he asked.

“He walked out to the Ingalls place already.”

“Hmmm.”

“Isaiah, what do you think of all this?”

“Think of what?”

“You know, John leaving his job in Chicago and coming all the way back home to see if Mary still loves him.”

“Well I guess it don’t hurt nothin to see if she does.”

“But what if she turns him down? You of all people know what a sensitive, tender soul John is. Do you think he would move back to Chicago?”

“Don’t know. But don’t forgit, he’s a man now. We can’t think of him as a boy anymore Grace.”

“I know, it’s just hard to stop mothering him; especially now that he’s home.”

Isaiah walked over to Grace and kissed her on the cheek. “That’s one of the reasons I chose you to help me raise them kids.”

“You chose me!” Grace said. “As if I would ever have married the likes of you for any other reason,” Grace teased. “Breakfast is ready. Why don’t you go wash up and I’ll get you a plate.”

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Mary and John walked along the banks of the creek. He wanted to declare his love for her, but was afraid of how she would respond. John spoke of the weather and his homecoming. When Mary asked about his job in Chicago he replied it was fine. John glimpsed Mary looking at her reflection in the creek. He wondered if she was thinking about her eyes.

“So…I came by last night, but you were sleeping.”

“I wasn’t sleeping. I know you stopped by. I watched you from the upstairs window as you talked to Pa.”

“Did…did he tell you what we talked about?”

“No. But I would like to know why you’re here.”

He wasn’t used to her being forward. Mary was so shy and unsure when they were younger.

“Why don’t you sit over here,” John said as he directed her to a large rock. Mary sat down and looked up into his face. He looked down at his feet for a moment before meeting her eyes, those beautiful blue eyes.

“Mary, I don’t know where to start, but there is a lot I want to say. I hope you will hear me out. First, I want to apologize for how I treated you when you came to visit me in Chicago.” Mary winced as she recalled the trip.

“I wasn’t thinking clearly then, but I am now. I need to know if… if perhaps… you still care for me…maybe…even still…love me.”

John paused for a moment to let Mary think about what he had said. When she didn’t respond, he continued. “I know it’s been some time since we last saw one another, but I still love you. I wasn’t sure if you could ever forgive me, so I stayed in Chicago. But a few weeks ago, I decided to leave my job and come home to Walnut Grove. I had to know if you still loved me. I had to find out if I still had a chance at a life with you.”

Mary didn’t know what to say. She hadn’t expected this. The apology yes, but not John’s declaration of love. She thought about that night in Chicago. The night she found out that John had been seeing another girl. They were at a ball. John danced with Mary, but he was distant. She thought Chicago was changing him. He wasn’t the young man she was engaged to any longer. As she remembered the pain of that night, Mary found the courage to speak.

“John, you took what was supposed to be a wonderful reunion and ruined it. I vowed that I would never love anyone again…because it hurt too much. Of course, I have loved since then. Time took away the pain, and I only really think about it when Laura mentions our being engaged, which she does every once in while. She’s always looking for advice on boys lately.”

“Mary, I know how much I hurt you. But you have to believe me when I say I realized my mistake right away. I broke it off with that girl later that night and I’ve been faithful to you ever since.”

“Why did you wait so long to come tell me?”

“I told you, I didn’t think you could forgive me.”

“But now you think there is a chance?”

“I don’t know if there’s a chance, but I had to find out. I couldn’t wait any longer.”

“Maybe you should have. I haven’t been very well lately.”

“I know. Grace told me what the doctor said. It doesn’t change anything for me.”

“But it could change things for me. John, I might be…” she could barely bring herself to say the word. “I could be blind. I know my eyes are getting worse. The doctor gave me these new glasses a week ago and now they’re as bad as my old ones. Last night when you were outside talking to Pa, I could hardly see the two of you.”

“Mary sighted or blind, I love you. You have to believe that.”

“John it isn’t that simple. We can’t just pick up where we left off. I’m not the same person and neither are you. Besides, I’m seeing someone else right now.”

“Are you talking about Seth?”

“How do you know about Seth?”

“Grace told me.”

“Seth and I are very close.”

“Has he asked you to marry him?”

“No.”

“Would you marry him?”

“I don’t know,” Mary answered with tenderness in her voice.


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PostSubject: Re: Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)   Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:37 am

Part 3

Charles had put in half a day’s work at the mill and then began to walk the dusty road home. Mr. Hanson had told him the mill was going to close after this last order was complete. He paid Charles his final wages and wished him well. Hard times had fallen on the little town of Walnut Grove. Many of the townspeople talked of moving on. Charles couldn’t believe what was happening to the place his family called home for so many years.

But the financial hardship befalling Walnut Grove was the lowest item on his growing list of concerns. Mary’s eyesight worsened. The family expected the doctor’s horrible prediction to come true at any time. And the return of John Jr. came with more unexpected problems. The weight on Charles’ shoulders was overpowering. What would they do if Mary went blind? Could he ever trust John Jr. to take care of Mary after what happened in Chicago? And, with things so uncertain, would he need to leave his family to go miles away to find work?

When Charles reached home he saw Mary and John by the creek. He decided not to interrupt them and made his way into the house. He found Caroline making dinner. She greeted him as he washed up.

“You’re just in time Charles. I’m about ready to put dinner on the table.”

“Good, I’m starving.” He paused to dry off his hands. “We finished the last order at the mill today. I’m not sure when it will open again.”

“Are you going away to find work?”

“I don’t know yet. I don’t want to leave when we’re so unsure about Mary…but I might not have any choice.”

Caroline nodded and gave him a small smile. “Why don’t you sit down and eat while it’s hot.”

Charles sat down at the head of the table. “When did John Jr. get here?”

“Right after the girls left for school.”

“And they’ve been talking all this time?”

“Yes. I was going to call Mary in for dinner, but I didn’t want to interrupt them.”

“I wonder if that’s a good sign or a bad one.”

“Well I guess it would depend upon how you want it to end up,” Caroline quipped.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

“Mary, I know my return has been a shock to you. And I know that it has come at perhaps the worst possible time, but I hope you will at least think about what I have said.”

“I will John, but I need time to figure out this nonsense with my eyes.”

“I’m not going anywhere. Take all the time you need.”

“I should go back to the house and see if Ma needs some help. It’s past dinner time and I saw Pa go by a few minutes ago.”

“Can I walk you to the door?”

“Sure.”

Mary and John said their goodbyes at the front door and then Mary went inside. She greeted her parents but did not mention John’s name. She wasn’t ready to talk to them yet.

“You must be hungry,” Ma said. “Can I get you some dinner?”

“I can get it myself,” Mary responded in an almost defiant tone.

“I know you can, but I thought you might be tired.”

“Well I’m not, and I would appreciate it if you would stop treating me like I’m helpless!”

“Mary,” Pa interjected in a harsh tone. “Don’t talk to your mother that way.”

Mary’s mood soften and she broke into tears. She ran to her mother and hugged her. “I’m sorry Ma. It’s just all this nonsense with my eyes and now John Jr.”

“Don’t worry about it dear; I understand.” Caroline wiped a tear from Mary’s face.

“Why don’t you wash up and I’ll get you a plate if you like.”

“Thanks Ma.”
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


Laura and Carrie walked home after school. When they entered the house, Mary was sitting in Ma’s rocking chair. Usually when she sat there Mary would sew, but her eyes couldn’t focus on such fine work these days.

“Hi Mary. Hi Ma.” Laura gave her mother a kiss and then knelt beside the rocking chair.

“Mary, it’s such a nice day, after I finish my chores I thought we could take a walk to the lake.”

“No thanks.” Laura looked over at Ma.

“I could do some fishing and you could bring a book if you like.”

“I don’t feel much like reading right now Laura. Besides, that magnifying lens is too heavy to carry all the way to the lake. It might rip my pocket.”

“Are you sure? You could just put your feet in the water for a while.”

“I don’t want to go to the lake! Now leave me alone Laura!” Mary got off the rocking chair and climbed up the ladder to the loft.

Ma walked over to Laura. “Thank you for trying to help Laura. I’m sorry that Mary yelled at you that way. She’s just upset right now.”

“I know. I wish I could do something. I feel so sorry for her.”

“Laura, she doesn’t need your pity. She needs your prayers. When she loses her sight, she’ll need all the strength that God and our love can give her. Now why don’t you get started on those chores. And thank you for doing your share and Mary’s too. It’s been a big help to your Pa and me.”

“Can I still go out to the lake for a while?”

“As long as you catch us a few good fish for supper.”

“I will Ma.”

Laura left the house and walked out to the barn to start her chores. As she worked, she thought about Mary. For years she had been so jealous of her. Mary was always prettier and smarter than her. She had an easier time making friends too, especially boyfriends. Seth came to mind. He hadn’t been out to see Mary in quite a while. She didn’t even know if he had heard about Mary’s latest visit to the doctor. If he loved Mary so much, where was he?
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Charles and Caroline sat in bed. Charles smoked his pipe and read the newspaper while Caroline tried to find a Bible passage to help her worried heart. “Did she say anything to you?” Charles asked his wife.

“No… it worries me. I thought she would at least have come to me to talk about it.”

“Well, maybe she’s already made her decision.”

“Maybe, but it’s not like her to be so secretive. I’m worried about her. The way she spoke to me today and then to Laura… She’s shutting us out. I don’t like it.”

“It’s understandable I suppose.”

“She’s trying to deny what’s happening to her. She talks about this “nonsense” with her eyes, like she’s going to be just fine tomorrow. What are we going to do Charles?”

“The same thing we have been doing…pray.”

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

John Jr. wrote some thoughts down in his journal. The light from the oil lamp grew dim. He thought about his talk with Mary as he stretched out on the bed. Their walk by the creek today reminded him of all the walks they took before he went away to Chicago. Sometimes they talked about their future, other times he recited poetry to her, and then there were the quiet times where they just enjoyed one another’s company. He missed that. He didn’t realize how much until today.

He blew out the lamp and laid down in the darkness. He folded his arms behind his head and looked up at the ceiling, but couldn’t see anything yet. John wondered if Mary’s doctor was right. Would those beautiful blue eyes wake up one morning to a sea of darkness that surrounded her, choked her, and left her gasping for breath? He felt that his fate somehow rested on the answer to that single question.


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PostSubject: Re: Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)   Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:38 am

Part 4

The next morning, most of the Ingalls family sat down to breakfast. Pa sipped his coffee while Laura and Carrie poked at their hotcakes. Ma walked to the kitchen to put another pot of coffee on the stove.

“Pa! Pa!” Mary screamed from the loft. Charles knocked over his chair as he raced up the ladder.

“Help me Pa! I can’t see! I…can’t…see!” Charles hugged his daughter tight as he held back tears.

Mary continued to cry, afraid of the darkness around her. “I’m afraid Pa! I…I can’t breath! Help me Pa!” Charles rocked her back as forth as he whispered in her ear that he was right there. He squeezed her harder. The tears now flowing down his cheeks.

Downstairs, Ma grabbed Laura’s hand as they both fought off their tears. Carrie’s eyes focused on the loft, frightened by the screams of her oldest sister. The nightmare had begun.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

John heard the sounds of Grace in the kitchen. He had slept later than he wanted to. After throwing on his shirt and pants, he walked into the kitchen.

“Good morning John,” Grace said with a smile.

“Morning Ma. Is Pa around?”

“He’s in the barn I expect.”

“Thanks.” John gave Grace a peck on the cheek before going outside. He found Alicia feeding the chickens.

“Hey Alicia, would you like to take a walk to the lake after breakfast?”

“Well, I promised Ma that I would help her with the mendin, but I’ll see if she’ll let me go.”

“Is Pa in the barn?”

“Yes. He’s doin the milkin and Carl’s tendin the horses.”

“Pa,” John said as he walked into the barn. “I would have milked the cow.”

“Now don’t go talkin to me like I’m an old man. I can still milk a cow if my son sleeps the mornin away,” Isaiah teased.

“I’m sorry. I meant to get up sooner.”

“What fur? Me and Carl are used to doin it by ourselves.”

“Well if I can’t help with chores, at least let me pay you room and board.”

“Nonsense, you’re my boy. You ain’t gotta pay to live here.”

“I’m a man now Pa. I paid my way in Chicago and I’ll pay my way here.”

“Suit yurself. You work it out with Grace. I’m goin to git me some breakfast. You bout done Carl?”

“Yeah Pa. I’ll be right in.”

“Say Carl,” John began. “Once chores are done, would you like to join Alicia and me at the lake?”

“Sure. Maybe I’ll catch us some supper.”

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

The Edwards’ children wasted away the afternoon. They played and laughed along the shores of the lake like they did when they were little. As they sat down to their picnic lunch of leftover fried chicken and corn bread, the conversation took a serious turn.

“John?”

“Yes, Carl.”

“Where were you yesterday?”

“At the Ingalls place.”

“Did you see Mary?” Alicia asked.

“Yes.”

Carl and Alicia looked at one another and then back at John. “Why?” they asked in unison.

“Because I need to know if she still cares for me.”

“But I thought Seth was her beau now,” Alicia responded, confused.

“He is, but that doesn’t mean she can’t have feelings for me too.”

“Is that why you came home?” Carl asked with a disappointed look on his face.

John smiled at his younger brother. “Mainly. I couldn’t wait to see you two and Ma and Pa of course, but I wouldn’t have left Chicago if it weren’t for Mary.”

Alicia was even more confused. “You left Chicago, your job and everythin, without knowin if Mary loves you?”

“Yes.”

“What if she says no? What will you do then?” Carl asked.

“I’m not really sure.”

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

“I’ll be back in a couple of days to check on her,” Doc Baker said as he opened the door. He tipped his hat at Caroline.

“Thank you Doctor Baker,” said Caroline as she shut the door behind him.

Charles came in from the barn a few minutes later. “What did he say?” Charles asked his wife.

“He gave Mary a sedative so she could sleep. He suggested moving her downstairs for a while, until she gets used to things. He’ll be back in a couple of days.”

“I’ll bring the bed down from the soddy and set it up here in the kitchen. Has she said anything since I left? ”

“No,” said Caroline. She answered Doctor Baker’s questions, but nothing else. He said she would sleep for a few hours.”

“I’ll go get that bed.” Charles headed towards the door with his head hung low.

“Charles?” Caroline called after him. “I need a few things from the mercantile. Were you planning a trip into town today?”

“I didn’t see much use with the mill closed.”

“Never mind, I’ll ask Laura then. She can bring the eggs in to Mrs. Oleson to trade for what I need.”

“Sure,” Charles nodded and made his way to the sod house.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Laura walked slowly towards town. She didn’t want to face Mrs. Olseon today. Laura knew the woman would ask about “poor Mary” and she wasn’t sure she could control her own tongue right now. “That old busybody,” she said to herself.

As Laura got to the bridge by the post office, she stopped. John Jr. was heading into the mercantile and Seth was coming her way.

“Hello Laura,” Seth said when he saw her.

“Hi Seth. I haven’t seen you around much lately,” her voice full of hidden accusations.

“My Pa and me were in Sleepy Eye setting up a new livery. It took longer than expected.”

“Have you been by to see Mary yet?”

“No. I’m going to head out there this afternoon.”

“Seth, there’s …a…something you need to know.”

“What?” Seth asked, puzzled by Laura’s hesitation.

“Well…a…she’s been having a lot of trouble with her eyes lately.”

“Didn’t she go to the doctor? She was supposed to go right before I left.”

“Yes she did…but…it didn’t go too good.”

“I’m sure once she’s done studying for her teacher’s exam her eyes will be fine.”

“She’s not fine Seth!” Laura yelled back. “And you would know that if you were here!” Laura didn’t care that she was screaming in the middle of the street. Overcome with grief and anger she had to strike out at someone, anyone.

Seth was surprised by Laura’s reaction. “Calm down Laura. I couldn’t help it.”

“Calm down. Calm down. My sister is blind and you want me to calm down!” As soon as the words tumbled out of her mouth, she wished she could take them back.

“Mary is…is b-l-i-n-d?” Seth said in disbelief.

They stood in silence. Laura was afraid to open her mouth again; afraid of what might come out next.

“I’ve got to go Laura.” Seth ran towards his place with Laura calling after him.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

John Jr. had heard the commotion outside. After buying a couple of writing tablets from Mrs. Oleson, he headed out to see what was going on. He found a flustered Laura walking over the bridge towards him.

“Laura,” he called as he walked over to her. “Is something wrong? I heard yelling.”

“Oh John,” Laura cried.

John put his hands on her shoulders. “What is it Laura? Is it Mary?”

Laura nodded. “Mary woke up this morning…and she couldn’t see.” Laura tried to calm herself.

“How is she?” John asked with concern.

“I don’t know,” Laura answered trying to slow her breathing. She wiped the tears from her face. “She won’t talk to anybody. She just sits in bed, staring right out in front of her.”

“I have to go see her.”

“Doctor Baker gave her some medicine. She’s going to be asleep for a while. Maybe you could come by later.”

“I’ll stop off at home and tell them what happened. Then I’ll head out to your place.”

“I’ll let Ma and Pa know you’re coming.”


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PostSubject: Re: Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)   Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:40 am

Part 5

Laura opened the door to the house quietly in case Mary was still sleeping. When she entered, she found Mary sitting in Ma’s rocking chair. Mary turned her head trying to figure out what was going on in the room around her. It was strange to see the sister she had always been so jealous of feeling alone and afraid of the world around her. Laura was ashamed of the jealousy she harbored so often. As she walked over to her sister, she placed a hand on Mary’s arm. Mary jumped.

“Oh Mary, I’m sorry. I should have let you know I was here.”

“Don’t touch me!” Mary hollered.

Laura felt the anger rise inside her. But how could she be angry with poor Mary. Laura paused before speaking again. “Mary, I really am sorry. I just wanted to see if you needed anything.”

“No. Leave me alone.”

“Are you thirsty? I could get you some water.”

“I said leave me alone!”

“How about I brush your hair?”

“I can do that.”

“I know, but you haven’t. And I thought you might want to get dressed.”

“Why do I need to get dressed?”

“I saw John Jr. in town this morning and he’s coming for a visit later.” Laura hoped that the cheery sound of her voice would lighten Mary’s mood.

“No, he can’t. I don’t want him to see me like this,” Mary said in alarm.

“He’s worried about you. As soon as he found out, he wanted to come right away, but I told him you might be sleeping.”

“How could you Laura?” Mary scolded her sister. “How could you tell him I was…blind?” Mary began to cry.

“He asked how you were. After I ran into Seth I…”

“You saw Seth? Laura please tell me you didn’t say anything to him.”

“Well…I…I blurted it out by accident. I’m sorry.”

“Laura!!!”

“For pete’s sake Mary, people are going to find out. You can’t stay inside the house forever.”

“Why not? There’s nothing for me now. I can’t read or go to school. I won’t become a teacher. Everything I ever wanted is gone. All I have left is the darkness…the never ending darkness.”

Laura softened towards her sister. She had never heard Mary talk that way. “Is that really how you feel Mary?”

“Yes…it is.”

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

By the time John had reached home he was out of breath. He had run most of the way. He knew Isaiah and Grace would want to know about Mary. Isaiah was out in the field working. John walked over to meet him.

“Hey Pa,” John said as he stood there with his hands in his pockets and looked down at the tilled soil. “I thought you should know…” John’s voice became raspy and he felt the tears welling up in his eyes. “I thought you should know that Mary’s blind.”

Isaiah reached over and hugged his son. They stayed that way, in silence. Isaiah stroked John’s hair as John broke down into tears.

“Why Pa? Why? I keep asking myself why this happened.”

“Don’t have the answer to that one son. Sometimes things happen that we don’t rightly understand. How’s everybody holdin up?”

“I don’t know. Laura told me when I ran into her in town this morning. She was pretty upset.”

“Well, I’m bout finished here. Let’s say I wash up and we take a ride out there to see if they need anythin.”

“Sure, I was planning to go anyway.”

“I’ll see if your Ma wants to come along. Maybe Caroline could use a hand.”

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Charles stepped out of the barn and heard the sound of wagon wheels. As he looked up the hill, he saw Isaiah, Grace and John Jr. coming towards him. Isaiah stopped the horses alongside Charles.

“I was wonderin if there was anythin we could do.”

“I can’t imagine what,” Charles responded in discouragement.

John got down from the back of the wagon. “Is Mary awake?”

“Yes John, but she doesn’t want to see you.”

“Why?”

“Laura told her that she saw you in town. Mary doesn’t want you to see her this way.”

“Gosh Mr. Ingalls, it’s not like she’s going to regain her sight. She’ll have to face me sooner or later.”

“I know John. She’s just not ready yet. Give her some time.”

“Is Caroline in the house?” asked Grace.

“Yeah, she’s…a…fixing dinner.”

“I think I’ll go in and see if I can give her a hand.” With Isaiah’s help, Grace got down from the wagon seat. She grabbed the basket of food that she brought for Caroline and headed towards the front door.

“Grace,” Charles called after her. Grace turned around to face him. “Be prepared. Mary’s in the front room. She might not talk to you and if she does, it won’t sound like the Mary you’re used to.”

“Don’t worry Charles. I’m sure we’ll be fine.” Grace knocked and went inside.

Charles and Isaiah decided to go for a walk. “Want to come along son?” asked Isaiah.

“No thanks Pa. I think I’ll stay here.”

After Charles and Isaiah disappeared over the hill, John walked towards the house and looked in the window. Mary sat in the rocking chair next to the fireplace. Grace and Caroline were next to the cook stove making dinner while Laura and Carrie set the table. As the others worked and talked, Mary would turn her head, perhaps trying to make out the noises and conversations around her. Maybe even wondering if they were whispering about her. John had never seen Mary look so sad – not even on the day he left Walnut Grove to go to school in Chicago.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

As promised, Doctor Baker returned a couple days later to check on Mary. After his examination Caroline and Charles followed him outside.

“How is she Doctor?” Charles asked.

“Physically, she’s fine. But she’s living in anger and fear.”

“She barely speaks to anyone,” Caroline said with worry.

“She’s got to get up and start doing things for herself.”

“She’s blind Doc. We have to help her,” Charles argued.

“If you do too much, she’ll stay in that chair forever.”

“I’ve tried. But I can’t even convince her to get dressed,” Caroline said in dismay.

“I’m not trained in the care of the blind and neither are the two of you. There are schools though, that teach the blind how to do for themselves. The closest one is in Burton, Iowa.”

“But how could we send her away after what’s happened. She needs us.”

“Trust me Caroline, with the proper training Mary will be a different person.”

Charles looked at his wife. “She has to go; you know that as much as I do.”

“Yes,” Caroline nodded, wiping a tear from her eye.

“Can you contact them for us Doc?”

“Certainly; as soon as I get back to town. Believe me; you’re doing what’s best for Mary. She might even thank you for it one day.”

Charles and Caroline said their goodbyes to Doctor Baker and went inside to break the news to Mary, hoping that one day she would know it was the right decision.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Isaiah had stopped by the Ingalls place on his way home. Things were still tense there. Mary resented that she was being forced to go to Iowa and Charles and Caroline were still hoping that it was the best decision. Laura and Carrie were being careful not to give their parents anything else to worry about.

As Isaiah reached his farm he saw his two younger children outside doing their chores. After he unhitched the team he headed into the house.

“Afternoon Grace,” he said and walked over to plant a kiss on her cheek.

“Grace smiled at him. “Afternoon Isaiah. Did you get a chance to stop by and see Charles and Caroline?”

“Sure did. Didn’t stay long though. Tension’s so thick you can cut it with a knife.” Isaiah shook his head. “Such a durn shame what happened. John around?”

“He’s reading in his room.”

“John, can you come out here son?” Isaiah called towards John’s room.

A second later John opened his door and joined Grace and Isaiah in the kitchen.

“You wanted to see me Pa?”

“Yeah, why don’t you sit down a second.” John sat down at the kitchen table and Isaiah picked a chair next to him.”

“I stopped by the Ingalls place on my way home.”

“How’s Mary?” John asked softly.

“The same.” Isaiah rubbed his hand over his bearded chin. “Charles and Caroline are sending Mary to Iowa.”

“Iowa?! What’s in Iowa?”

“They got a school for the blind there. Doc Baker thinks they can help Mary.”

“When does she leave?”

“End of the week.”

“That’s so far away. How long will she be gone?”

“Don’t know yet.”

“I have to see her before she leaves Pa.”

“I thought as much. I spoke to Charles about it. He still doesn’t think she’ll talk to you.”

“I have to try Pa. I can’t let her go without seeing her at least one last time.”

“I know. Charles said you should stop by day after tomorrow. That will give him time to talk to her.”

“Thanks Pa.”

Isaiah smiled. “Aww, wasn’t nothin.”

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Two days later, John found himself walking the familiar road to the Ingalls place. He wasn’t sure what to expect. It seemed so ironic that it was now Mary leaving him behind. How different their lives might have been if he had never gone to Chicago.

As John reached the barn, he became nervous. A million things ran through his mind. What if she wouldn’t see him? What would Mary be like now that she was blind? How long would she have to stay in Iowa? How would she feel when she came home? He shoved those thoughts aside and made his way to the front door. He rapped lightly.

Charles was on the other side of the door when it opened. John thought Charles suddenly looked old. He hadn’t noticed it the other day.

“Hello Mr. Ingalls. May I speak with Mary?”

“Sure John. Come on in.” Charles opened the door wider to let John enter. Mary was sitting on the bed Charles had brought down from the soddy. “Caroline and I will be outside. Grace is sleeping in the other room.”

“Thanks Mr. Ingalls.” Charles nodded at John as Caroline and he went outside, closing the door behind them.

Mary was dressed in a pink calico print. Her long blond hair had been brushed until it shined. Her packed travel bag sat at the end of her bed.

“Hello Mary.”

She stood up and turned to face him before answering. “Hello John.”

“How are you feeling?”

“Fine and yourself?”

“I’m fine too.” John didn’t know what to say to her. Should he bring up her trip to Iowa or should he wait until she mentioned it? “I’m glad your Pa let me come by today.”

“Me too. I’ve been meaning to stop by your parents’ place but I’ve been busy getting ready to go to school in Iowa.”

“My Pa told me. How long will you be gone?”

“Just until this nonsense with my eyes clears up.”

“What do you mean?” a confused John asked.

“Well once I can see better again, I’ll probably come home.”

John walked towards her and spoke softly. “Mary, you don’t believe you’re going to see again, do you?” He went to place a hand on her shoulder, but stopped.

“I’m sure everyone has blown this whole thing out of proportion. With the proper rest my eyes will be fine.” Mary smiled as she spoke to him.

John’s voice became raspy as he fought to hold back the tears. “For gosh sakes Mary, you’re blind. It’s not going to clear up.”

“Don’t say that! I will see again,” Mary said defiantly.

“Mary it’s… it’s not good to fool yourself like this. You have to face the fact that you’ve lost your sight.”

“I should have expected this from you. You never believed in me,” Mary accused. “You never believed in us…not enough to stay in Walnut Grove anyway.” She began to cry. “No, you had to go off to Chicago and make a name for yourself… while I stayed here and thought of you night and day. And when I finally got a chance to see you…you broke my heart.” Mary angrily wiped away the tears.

“It wasn’t like that and you know it,” John answered in his defense.

“All I know is that I never want to see you again. Get out.” When she didn’t hear him leave she screamed, “I said get out!”

John walked towards the door. His eyes were so full of tears that he had to wipe them away so he could find the door handle. He turned back to her and shook his head in disbelief.

“Goodbye Mary.” Sure that he would never see his dear Mary again, he walked outside and left the door open behind him.

Charles saw John leave the house and called after him, but John didn’t look back. He felt it was over now and that coming home was the biggest mistake of his life.


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PostSubject: Re: Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)   Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:40 am

Part 6

John hadn’t said a word since he came back from his visit with Mary. He walked in, went to his room and closed the door. Grace knew it was a bad sign. She thought John had been crying. Isaiah and Grace had agreed to leave him alone for a while, but worry soon overtook her.

Graced knocked on his door and opened it without waiting for a response. John was at his writing desk. He didn’t bother to turn around to see who had come in. Grace walked up behind him. John felt one of his mother’s hands in his hair and the other resting gently on his shoulder.

“John,” Grace began. “I’m worried about you. You haven’t spoken to anybody since you came home. Will you please talk to me?”

John stood up from his desk and faced his mother. Tears had formed in the corners of his eyes. He dared not blink, for the tears would start flowing like a waterfall and he wasn’t sure he could stop them. Grace brushed the back of her hand across his young face.

“John, just because you’re a man now doesn’t mean you don’t get hurt.”

John hugged Grace and let the tears flow. Mary came to his mind. He wondered if she hated him. She was so cold and callous - not like the Mary he knew and loved. Perhaps that Mary was lost to him forever…just like his dreams.

After the river of tears had run dry, John stepped back from Grace and motioned to her to sit on his bed. He sat down next to her, finally ready to talk. John told his mother about the visit and how it ended. Grace shook her head and thought a few moments before offering some motherly advice.

“You know John…Mary is a very frightened and angry young woman right now. That’s one of the reasons Charles and Caroline sent her to the blind school.”

John nodded as Grace continued. “Mary, like you, thinks all her dreams are lost…” John looked up at his mother. She still knew him so well.

“But if she goes to the blind school and learns how to help herself, she’ll find that her dreams are only delayed a little while.”

“How can she be a teacher when she’s blind?”

“I don’t have all the answers John, but I do know that God wouldn’t give Mary and her family a burden greater than they can handle.”

John’s attention turned to the part of his conversation with Mary that was bothering him the most. “Do you think she was right?” John asked.

“About what?”

“When she said I never believed in us?”

“I don’t think so. She’s hurtin right now. That’s why she got angry and said those things. You were trying to make her accept that she’s blind. She’s just not ready yet.”

“Do you think she could still love me?”

“Only Mary knows for sure. But if you’re meant to be together, then you will be. Trust me.”

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Charles looked out the window from his seat on the train. This was the most difficult trip he had been on. At least he was on his way home to his loving wife – she would understand.

Mary had begged Charles not to leave her at the Burton School for the Blind. She wrapped her arms around him and pleaded with her father to take her home. Charles had pried her arms away, told Mary he loved her and left the blind school, hoping that Mary didn’t hate him.

It was the director of the school that had encouraged a quick goodbye – to make it easier on both of them. But Charles hadn’t found it any easier. His baby girl was still in a strange place, with people she didn’t know and couldn’t see.

As the train chugged along, Charles’ tortured soul longed for his wife’s assurance that he had done the right thing.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Mary had been in Burton for two weeks. She felt she learned more in those two weeks than she had in the fifteen years of her life. It was still hard for her to accept being blind, but the more she learned, the less scary the outside world became. She hoped one day she would be as confident around others as she had been when she was sighted.

Her teacher, Adam had become her confidant. She trusted him with her fears and sometimes even her hopes. Adam always listened carefully and seemed to have the right words to reassure her. It was like he understood those fears. But Mary knew only another blind person could fully understand.

A voice broke through her thoughts. “Mary?”

“Yes, I’m here Adam.”

“It’s dinner time. Can I walk with you to the dining room?”

“Yes please,” she smiled.

Mary walked over to Adam and they continued along the corridor. Adam’s hand brushed Mary’s and her heart skipped a beat. She felt that old familiar feeling of butterflies in her stomach - like she used to have when she was with John Jr. or Seth. It seemed so odd that she should feel that way. All during dinner she was distracted. She was conscious of Adam next to her – the smell of his clothes, the scent of his soap, the gentle way he spoke and the laughter in his voice. She had never noticed before.

Adam turned towards Mary and asked, “What was your favorite subject in school Mary?” Deep in her thoughts, Mary did not answer him.

“Mary? Mary are you okay?” Adam asked in a worried tone.

“Wh… what?” Mary turned towards the sound of his voice, embarrassed that he had caught her daydreaming.

“I said…what was your favorite subject in school? But since I’m boring you I’ll just let you eat in peace,” Adam teased.

“I’m sorry Adam. I was just thinking abut something.”

“Good things I hope.”

“I think so,” Mary answered, not sure what to say.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Laura and Carrie were on their way home from school when Mrs. Foster called to them from the Post Office. “Oh Laura, Carrie can you come here a minute?”

As Laura and Carrie got closer they saw Mrs. Foster had an envelope in her hand. Mrs. Foster smiled when she handed it to Laura. When she stopped to look at the postmark, Laura saw that it was from Burton, IA.

“Oh thank you so much Mrs. Foster. I can’t wait to get home so Ma and Pa can read it!”
“You’re welcome Laura. Give your folks my best.”

“I will,” Laura smiled back at her.

The girls ran home as fast as they could. When they saw their Pa coming out of the barn they yelled, “Pa! Pa! A letter from Mary!”

They all rushed inside so that they could read it together. Ma was given the honors. She opened the envelope with a hair pin and removed the letter. As she unfolded it, she saw Mary’s fine penmanship. Her hand caressed the page and a tear fell down her cheek.

“Well what does it say?” Charles asked.

“Dear Family,

It’s been over two weeks and I have learned so much…”

Caroline read the letter twice and then folded it back into the envelope.

“Oh Charles, I can’t believe it. She’s learning to read and her writing is so straight. That ruler makes her penmanship as fine as ever.”

“She sounds happier too,” Charles said, relieved.

“Yes she does. We made the right decision in sending her there.”

Charles nodded. “At least now I’m finally sure.”

“I can’t wait until she can come home,” Caroline said as she hugged her husband. She went into her bedroom and put the letter in the trunk that she kept at the foot of her bed – the one filled with important things.

That night after supper, Pa played his fiddle. He played joyful songs to celebrate the good news that the letter from Mary had brought. Pa’s fiddle sang the old familiar tunes that the Ingalls family loved so much. The little house on the prairie was filled with happiness. It almost let them forget that Pa was leaving in the morning to go find work.


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PostSubject: Re: Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)   Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:42 am

Part 7

Charles tugged on Laura’s braids. “You’re the oldest right now, so I expect you to help your Ma while I’m gone.”

“I will Pa,” Laura replied, being sure not to cry. Ma had asked her not to. It was hard enough on Pa as it is, she had said.

“Carrie, you make sure you mind your Ma and help Laura with the chores,” Charles said as he hugged her.

“I will Pa.”

“And you…” Charles smiled at baby Grace, “You don’t go growin too much while I’m gone.” He planted a kiss on Grace’s tiny face.

Charles glanced up at his wife. The look they shared spoke the words they couldn’t say in front of their children. Caroline always missed him so much when he was away and worried about his safety. Charles was unsure how far he would have to go to find work or how long he would be gone. So many farmers were out looking since the railroad starting putting the pressure on to break up the Grange. He hugged her tightly and said he loved her.

Caroline nodded and gave him a quick smile. “I love you too. You’ll write when you’re settled?”

“Of course I will.”

Charles picked up his pack and put his hat on his head. “I’ve got to get going. I love ya.”

As Charles turned to go he saw Isaiah Edwards approaching from the hill. “What in the world is he doing here?” Charles wondered. “Did Grace say anything to you Caroline?”

“No Charles.”

“Good morning Isaiah,” Charles said when his friend was in hearing distance.

“Charles.” Isaiah came to stand beside him. “Mornin Caroline, girls.”

“I wasn’t expecting to see you today,” said Charles.

“Well, the missus and I talked it over. It don’t make much sense me stayin in Walnut Grove when there’s no work to be done… so I figered I would tag along with you if you don’t mind. John can take care of things here.”

Charles’ eyes lit up at the news. “Mind…of course I don’t mind. I’d appreciate the company. These trips can be awful lonely.”

“I…a…I asked John to come by and check on you ladies while we’re gone. I hope that’s okay.”

“Why of course; we would love to see him,” Caroline replied with a smile.

“Well, got a long trip ahead of us. What do ya say we get to movin on Charles?”

Charles slapped Isaiah on the back. “Sure thing friend.”

The men headed up the hill away from the house. They turned back every once in a while to wave at Charles’ family. They soon disappeared over the horizon leaving Caroline and the girls praying for their safety and hoping they would come home soon.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Mary sat at the table in her room trying to read. She couldn’t concentrate at all. Her thoughts went back and forth between John Jr. and Walnut Grove and her growing attraction to Adam Kendall. She closed the book and stood up from the table. She began to pace the floor in the small space between the table and the left side of her bed.

When she thought about Walnut Grove and going home before, it had always been with a small amount of sadness because she knew she would have to face John Jr. and make a decision whether to accept his proposal. Now that sadness was magnified by the thought of leaving Adam behind in Iowa. She had come to depend on him more than she realized. She wasn’t sure she was ready to say goodbye when the time came.

A knock at the door brought her back to reality. “Mary are you in there?” Adam called.

“Yes, I’m here. Please come in Adam.”

He opened the door and entered the small room. “You didn’t come down for class. Is everything okay?”

“I’m fine. I was just reading and lost track of the time.” Mary laughed. “My Ma and Pa were always telling me to turn the lamp out and go to bed when I was home. I can get so lost in a book sometimes. It’s nice to be able to read again. I missed it.”

“It’s your turn to help with the baking tonight,” Adam reminded her.

“I know. I won’t forget.”

“Do you want some company? I’ll have some free time later.”

“Well…sure…if you don’t have anything else planned.”

“I’ll see you around 4:30 in the kitchen.”

“Okay.”

Adam closed the door leaving Mary alone with her thoughts again. ‘Could Adam be attracted to me too?’ she wondered.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

John Jr. was at the Ingalls farm repairing a broken fence. He had been out at the place quite often since Charles and Isaiah had left three weeks ago. John wasn’t really needed at home. Carl and Alicia took care of the chores and Grace was busy with the housework so often that John had more free time than he knew what to do with.

“John,” Caroline called to him from the front door, “It’s time for dinner.”

“Okay Mrs. Ingalls, I’ll be right in.”

John put down the hammer and walked over to the lean-to, which was off the kitchen, to go get washed up before eating. It was Saturday, so Laura and Carrie were home for dinner time. They had helped Ma with the baking and then set the table. After saying grace they all dug in and started to chat.

“Hey John, we received another letter from Mary the other day,” Laura said.

“How is she?”

“She sounds great. She’s learning all sorts of things. She can read and write now, she makes her bed and cleans her own room, and she even helps with the baking. She told me they were going to teach her how to sew next.”

“That’s good to hear.”

“Has she sent you a letter?” Laura asked.

“Laura, eat your dinner please,” Caroline interrupted.

“Yes Ma.”

“It’s alright Mrs. Ingalls. No she hasn’t. I was hoping she would, but not yet.”

“She’s very busy with her school work right now John. She hasn’t written to anyone other than her family. I’m sure it’s nothing.”

“I’m sure you’re right Mrs. Ingalls. Well, I should get back to work. I want to finish before the end of the day.”

John got up from the table and went back outside. When he finished repairing the fence he left without saying goodbye.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----

Adam was already in the kitchen when Mary got there. As she entered the room she heard his laughter. “Well I hope you weren’t laughing at me,” said Mary jokingly.

“No, I was just telling Susan that the last time I was in the kitchen was the day one of the students mistook the cheyenne pepper for the cinnamon. Do you remember it Mary?”

“That was my first day here. You said that you had some of the hottest apple pies in the school’s history.”

“Seems to me that was also the night you threw your dinner at me,” Adam teased.

Mary blushed when she thought of the incident. “Well, I was a different person then.”

“Yes…you were.”

Mary felt her cheeks get hot again. She wondered if there was a hidden meaning in his words.

“I don’t think anybody here is going to eat tonight if we don’t stop talking and start cooking,” Mary admonished.

“You are right Miss Ingalls. Let’s begin.”

“Begin what?”

“The cooking,” Adam answered, confused by her question.

“Oh, right.”

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

The church congregation in Walnut Grove was having a picnic after services that Sunday. As Caroline and the girls rode in their wagon into town, they could smell Caroline’s fried chicken and apple pie. It made them think of Pa; apple pie was his favorite. They had received a letter from him a week ago. He was in Rochester, MN. He and Mr. Edwards had found work. A man driving a wagon had come across them a day after they left Mankato and had offered them a ride in exchange for doing some work at his homestead. This led to some other jobs around town and they soon found themselves in Rochester working for a freight company.

As Caroline stopped the horses, she saw Grace, John, Carl and Alicia on the steps speaking with Reverend Alden. Laura got out of the back of the wagon, took baby Grace from Carrie and watched while Carrie jumped off. Caroline came down from the wagon seat and grabbed her Bible. They walked up the steps to the church and greeted Reverend Alden and the Edwards family.

“Good morning Caroline. Good morning girls. It’s wonderful to see you again,” said Reverend Alden with a big smile.

“Good morning Reverend,” they all replied.

The Edwards and Ingalls families walked into church together and filed quietly into their benches. Reverend Alden spoke about the hardships that had befallen the small town of Walnut Grove and asked that everyone pray for the members of the community that were away trying to support their families. As Laura looked around, she saw that many of the fathers were missing today. The congregation stood to sing, Onward Christian Soldiers before they were dismissed.

Grace and Caroline decided to picnic together with their families. It was nice to see them all together again. The ladies unfolded the tablecloths and got dinner ready while the children sat along the shore of the lake.

“Look at how they’ve grown Caroline,” said Grace.

“I know. It makes me so proud to watch them. I wish Mary were here.”

Grace nodded. “Have you heard from her lately?”

“We got a letter this week.”

“How is she?”

“She’s doing well. The letters that come from the school say she is an excellent student. She’s going to learn to sew.”

“Oh my, I never thought she would be able to…” Grace stopped herself. “I’m sorry Caroline. I wasn’t thinking.”

“It’s alright Grace. I wonder how she does it all too. I’m so glad we sent her there. But I wish she could come home soon.”

“You miss her don’t you?”

“Yes I do.”

Grace and Caroline finished laying out the food and then sat down. “Caroline?”

“Yes?”

“Does Mary… ever mention John in her letters?”

Caroline knew Grace was hurting for John. Only another mother could understand her plight. She knew the answer wouldn’t be the one Grace or John was looking for, but she couldn’t lie either. That would just give them false hopes. She stopped fidgeting with her hands long enough to answer. “No, she doesn’t.”


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PostSubject: Re: Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)   Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:42 am

Part 8

Mary had spent the past two weeks trying to master sewing. Every time she struggled with a stitch she thought of Laura. Her sister had always been so jealous of how straight and even Mary’s stitches used to be. What would her sister say if she could see her now?

A hand touched Mary’s shoulder. “Yes Adam?” Mary whispered trying not to disturb the rest of the class.

“Can you come help me a minute?” Adam asked in a low voice.

Mary got up and followed him. They entered another small classroom where the students were learning to read. Adam explained that one girl was having trouble remembering her Braille letters. He asked Mary to help her.

“Jenny, this is Mary Ingalls.”

“Hello Mary.”

“Hello Jenny,” Mary said with a smile.

“I thought Mary could sit with you and review the alphabet.”

“Would you like that Jenny?” Mary asked.

“I sure would.”

Adam went back to the rest of the class. Every once in a while Mary heard Adam’s voice and footsteps coming towards them, but he never interrupted. Mary wondered what he was up to.

After class ended, Jenny and Mary talked for a few minutes. Mary found out that Jenny played the piano and to return the favor Jenny agreed to play something for her. They made their way to the music room. Mary had taken her first steps after going blind in that room. Adam told her to walk with confidence to where he stood. When she got there, Adam grabbed her hand.

“See, it’s not that bad,” he had said.

She was too busy arguing with him about how pointless it all was to notice her hand in his. But lately, every time they touched, even if by accident, Mary made a point to remember it.

“Well there you are ladies,” Adam said as he walked in. “I could recognize your playing a mile away Jenny.”

“Thank you Mr. Kendall.”

“I have to go help with the baking now Mary.”

“Thanks Jenny.”

“I’ll see you later Mary. Bye, Mr. Kendall.”

Adam took a seat on the piano bench next to Mary. “Do you play any instruments?”

“No. I tried to learn once…but it ended badly.”

“What were you all thumbs?” laughed Adam.

“No, the man I was taking lessons from was addicted to morphine.” Adam’s face turned serious at the revelation. “He had been injured in the war. He always acted strangely; happy one minute then angry the next. He even yelled at me once for not playing something right.”

“What happened?”

“He died.”

“I’m sorry Mary, I had no idea. I wouldn’t have made light of it otherwise.”

“It’s alright.” Mary hesitated. She was uncomfortable with Adam so close. She thought he might hear her heart racing. “That’s why I’ve put off music class. I know we’re expected to learn an instrument, but I haven’t tried since then.”

“I can talk to Mr. Nash about it if you like.”

“No…no I don’t want any special treatment. I’ll get by it.”

“I know you will.”

“Adam…do you think blind people forget what their family looks like? I mean…over time, does your mind erase the pictures of people that you carry around with you to stay connected to the outside world?”

“What makes you ask?”

“All this talk of music reminds me of how much I miss my Pa playing the fiddle. I could listen to it for hours. And when Pa plays happy songs, his blue eyes sparkle.” Mary paused. “I know I’ll hear his fiddle again once I’m home, but I’ll never see that look in his eyes again. I can imagine it now…but what if I forget it? What if…what if my family becomes just a bunch of faceless people?” Mary held back her tears.

“That’s not going to happen Mary.”

“How do you know? How can you be sure?”

“Because you carry those memories inside you. They won’t fade away as long as you hold onto them.”

“It’s strange; I’m worried about forgetting what my family looks like, but I’ve never seen anyone here. What memories of the people here am I going to have when I leave? Even you, what memories of you will I have to hold on to Adam? I’ve never even seen you.”

“So look at me.” Adam took Mary’s hands and placed them on his face. She ran them over his forehead, his nose and his mouth and chin. The tears that Mary had been fighting began to flow.

“What color is your hair?”

“Brown.”

“And your eyes?”

“Blue.”

“Thank you Adam,” Mary whispered.

There was silence and Mary used the moment to wipe away her tears.

“What do you look like Mary?”

It had never occurred to her that Adam was blind. She always assumed he was sighted. As she lifted his hands to her face, Mary knew why Adam always seemed to understand her fears. He had experienced them too.

Mary was sure he noticed how quick she was breathing as he touched her and Mary found that the pace of Adam’s breathing had increased too. Adam cupped Mary’s chin in his hand and leaned towards her. A few inches from her face, he stopped. She felt the warmth of Adam’s breath. He kissed her and whispered, “Thank you, Mary.”


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PostSubject: Re: Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)   Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:43 am

Part 9

It had been a long three months since Charles had waved goodbye to his family and left to go find work. But now he was on his way home. His legs ached and the sole of one boot was worn through, but he wouldn’t stop. He wanted to spend suppertime with Caroline and the girls.

As Isaiah and Charles came to a fork in the road, Isaiah bid farewell to his traveling companion and turned off towards his farm. Charles continued along until he saw the little house come into view. He stood on the hill a moment and thanked God he had once again returned home safely.

Charles quickened his step. He couldn’t wait to hug his wife and children. Carrie opened the door and stepped outside, headed towards the outhouse. She looked up and caught sight of a man with a familiar stride and hat.

“Ma! Ma! Pa’s back! Pa’s back!” Carrie yelled as she ran towards him.

Caroline came running outside with baby Grace in her arms. Laura followed right behind. Carrie was in Charles’ arms by the time Caroline reached them. Charles shifted Carrie to one side and reached to embrace his wife.

“Welcome home!” Caroline said with a wide smile.

“I missed you,” Charles said and gave her a quick kiss.

“I’m so glad you’re home Pa!” Laura reached over to give him a hug. “We got a letter from Mary today, but we saved it so we could read it together.”

“I can’t wait Half-pint,” he replied as he ran his hand over the top of her head.

“Well let’s get inside; supper’s almost ready,” Caroline explained.

“I’ll meet you there. I want to take a dip in the creek before I eat.”

“Alright Charles.”

Caroline turned to go, but Charles grabbed her by the arm. He cupped her face in his hand. “It’s so good to be home.” He smiled and kissed her again before walking down to the creek.

After supper, Ma took Mary’s letter off the mantle. She opened the envelope and pulled out the pieces of paper inside. Caroline stopped to look over at Charles who was sitting at the table smoking his pipe. She smiled.

“What?” Charles asked.

“I missed the smell of your pipe,” Caroline answered.

“I thought you hated the way it smells.”

“I do,” she smiled. “But at least that smell means you’re home.”

Everyone laughed.

“Well are you going to read us that letter or do we have to guess what’s inside?” teased Charles.

“Patience is a virtue Charles.”

“Well I have none; so read it,” he laughed.

“Dear Family,” Caroline began. “I have so much to tell you. First of all Laura, you will be happy to know that your stitches are probably straighter and more even than mine will ever be. I have spent the past few weeks struggling to learn to sew. If it weren’t for Adam, I would have given it up by now. But I’m told my beadwork is some of the finest the school has ever seen.

And Ma, Adam has asked me to sit in on some of his classes with the newer students. We work on reading and writing Braille. It’s like I’m a teacher, just the way we planned.”

Caroline put the letter down in her lap for a moment to wipe away a stray tear. Then she continued.

“I hope Pa is home now. I’m sure you miss him terribly. I miss all of you a great deal. Having Adam here has made it easier though. He is such a wonderful teacher!

You might not believe this, but I’m learning to play the piano. I didn’t want to at first. I haven’t tried to learn an instrument since Mrs. Whipple’s son died. Adam even offered to speak to Mr. Nash so I wouldn’t have to, but I don’t want any special treatment. So I finally began learning last week and I don’t sound too bad. I’m sure with Adam teaching me, I’ll do well. He makes me so eager to learn; especially since I found out he’s blind.

Did you know that Pa? I always assumed he was sighted, but he’s been blind since he was a boy. He was in an accident and hit his head. It’s nice to know that Adam can really understand me.

Well I guess I should go study. Tell Carrie that I hope Laura isn’t bossing her around too much. Give everyone a kiss for me. Maybe by the next time I write, I’ll know when I’m coming home.

I love you all.

Mary”

“She sounds excited,” said Charles.

“And happy,” Caroline replied.

“I can’t wait until she can come home…” said Laura. “Even though I like having the bed all to myself.”

Charles and Caroline laughed.

“I want Mary home now,” whimpered Carrie.

“We all do Carrie. It shouldn’t be much longer,” Caroline answered.

“Let’s say I play us a tune or two before bedtime,” Charles said as he got up from the table.

He hadn’t played his fiddle in months. It felt good in his hands. He played happy songs and his eyes sparkled with joy as his family surrounded him – smiling, laughing and dancing. It was good to be home.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Dressed in his nightshirt, Charles came back from the kitchen with a glass of milk. He crawled into bed and was just about to pick up the newspaper when Caroline put down her Bible and asked, “What did you really think about Mary’s letter?”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“She talked a lot about Adam – what a wonderful teacher he is, how he encourages her to do things, how much he understands her…”

“So?”

“Don’t you think that’s strange?”

“Caroline, the girl is miles away from home, in a strange place without her family. She probably spends most of her time with Adam - he is her teacher - and that’s probably why she talks about him all the time.”

“No, it’s more than that.”

“Well, I’m sure they’re friends too.”

“I’m talking about something more than friendship. I think she loves him.”

“Now Caroline, she didn’t say that.”

“She doesn’t have to. I’m a woman and her ma, and I’m telling you she’s in love with Adam.”

“Not that I’m saying I agree with you, but so what if she is?”

“What about John?”

“She’s made no commitment to him.”

“No…but that young man gave up his job and life in Chicago to ask for a second chance. While you were gone Charles, he came by at least twice a week to help run the farm. He even repaired that broken fence you didn’t get to before you left. John’s trying very hard to prove how much he loves her.”

“But that doesn’t mean she loves him,” Charles replied matter of factly.

“I know, but Grace is worried about him. She even asked me if Mary mentioned John in her letters.”

“And did she?”

“No,” Caroline answered in a despondent tone.

“Well maybe she hasn’t decided how she feels about him yet.”

“Or maybe it means she loves Adam.”

“Caroline, it could mean one of a hundred things; only Mary knows for sure. Now…”Charles said as he moved closer to her. “I thought you missed me.”

“Oh really Charles,” Caroline replied, pretending to be angry.

She reached over and put out the lamp and then snuggled into his arms.


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PostSubject: Re: Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)   Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:44 am

Part 10

Mary and a group of students were on their way back from a picnic. They walked hand in hand, using the fence to guide them back to the school. Mary was at the front of the line and spoke with authority as the students stepped up the stairs and went through the front door.

“Quiet down please; other students may be working,”

The group dispersed once attendance was taken. Mary liked being in charge. It reminded her of how Mrs. Simms used to let her teach class in Walnut Grove when she was preparing for her teacher’s exam. It seemed like a lifetime ago.

She shook the memories from her mind and went to find Adam. As she walked down the hallway, she listened for the sound of his voice. When she got there it sounded like class was almost over. Mary lingered outside the doorway. A few moments later, students filed out of the classroom. Mary waited for the din of footsteps to stop and then entered the room.

“Adam?” she called.

“Yes Mary.”

“Everyone is back inside. I took attendance when we came in.”

“Thanks Mary. You’ve been a big help to me these past few days.”

Adam moved closer to her and took her hands in his. “Have you given any more thought to what we talked about?”

“That’s all I’ve thought about.”

“But you haven’t decided yet, have you?”

“No…it’s a big decision. I want to make the right choice.”

“I hope you make the right choice too…the one that is best for you.” Adam let go of her and walked towards the hallway.

“Adam…”

He turned around. “Yes?”

“Thank you… you know…for understanding.”

“Sure,” Adam replied and then turned to continue out of the classroom and down the hallway.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

As Mary sat in her room brushing her golden hair she thought about how quiet Adam had been at supper that night. And when he did speak, his voice was missing the laughter she was used to. Mary knew that she was the reason he was so out of sorts. While Adam said he understood, she knew it bothered him that Mary was taking so long to consider his proposal. She hadn’t been completely honest with him; something she decided was best to fix right away.

Even though it was the middle of the night, Mary walked down the hallway to Adam’s room. She knocked lightly on his door.

“Who is it?” he asked.

“It’s me, Mary.”

“A…hold on a second.”

Mary could hear Adam fumbling around in his room. There was a shuffling of papers and the moving of chairs. After a moment or two Adam opened the door.

“I…a…I wasn’t expecting anyone; especially at this hour,” Adam explained

“I know. I’m sorry it’s so late, but I need to talk to you right away.”

Adam led her inside and closed the door. “You’ve decided?”

“No, but I need to tell you why it’s taking so long.”

“We’ve talked about this already.’

“Not really. When you asked me, I was thrilled. I wanted to say yes right away. But then I started thinking about my Ma and Pa and my sisters and how much I really miss them. And my thoughts wandered to Walnut Grove and all my friends there.”

“Mary, we’ve been through this and I understand…” Adam interjected.

“Adam please; I…I haven’t told you everything.”

Adam heard Mary rubbing her hands together in nervousness. He reached out to grasp her hands in his. “What is it?” asked Adam tenderly.

“Can I…can we sit down?”

“Oh, sure.” Adam pulled a chair away from the table for Mary and then sat down across from her.

“A while back I was engaged to a young man from Walnut Grove,” Mary began. She heard Adam take a quick breath, but he didn’t say anything, so she continued. “We were supposed to be married. We even found a spot to build our house…but then John received a letter about a college scholarship. So we agreed to wait and John moved to Chicago.”

It was hard for Mary to relive these memories. While she thought of them often, she had never spoken about them to anyone. Mary’s throat felt dry and her voice became raspy as she continued.

“We wrote to one another, but it wasn’t until Pa got sent to Chicago for the Grange that I saw John again. He broke off our engagement.”

“I’m sorry Mary, but you have to believe me when I say that won’t…”

“That’s not all,” Mary interrupted. “Before I went blind, John came to see me. He had left his job in Chicago and returned to Walnut Grove. He…he says he still loves me.”

Mary tried to imagine Adam’s reaction.

“He asked me to marry him.”

“What did you say?” Adam asked, his voice quivering.

“I told him I would think about it. He stopped by the house right before I left Walnut Grove. We had a fight. I haven’t written him since I got here.”

“I wish I had known,” Adam replied in a troubled manner. “At least it all makes sense now.”

“I’m sorry. I should have told you sooner. But I never expected you…I never planned to…I didn’t know that things were going to change so much between the two of us.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to write Ma and Pa and tell them I can come home in a month.”

“Then what?”

“Then…I’m going to go home and talk to John.”

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

John had gone into town to pick up some ink and a sack of sugar for Grace. When he entered Oleson’s Mercantile he was surprised how empty it was. He found Mr. Oleson in the store room packing up merchandise.

“Hello Mr. Oleson.”

“Oh, hello John.”

“What’s going on?”

“With all the families leaving Walnut Grove, I have to pack all this stuff up and sell it to a wholesaler. I won’t get half of what I paid for it.”

“I’m so sorry Mr. Oleson. Do you happen to have some ink and a sack of sugar?”

“Sure John. Let me get that ready for you.”

John said goodbye to Mr. Oleson and told him that he hoped things got better soon. He looked around at the once flourishing town and felt sad that so many of the businesses were closed. Now that the banker had left, the people of Walnut Grove knew it was just a matter of time before the town folded and they would be forced to move on.

“John!” Mrs. Foster yelled out to him from the window of the Post Office. “I’ve got something for you.”

He walked over to the window. “It’s a letter from Iowa,” she explained.

“Really?” John said in disbelief. “Thanks Mrs. Foster.”

John took the envelope and looked at it. It was postmarked from Iowa as Mrs. Foster had said. He decided to go out to the lake so he could read it in private. John sat down on a large rock next to an oak tree and opened the envelope. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before unfolding the pages.

“Dear John,

I’m sorry I haven’t written until now. I’ve been very busy learning or should I say relearning how to do some of the things I found so simple before. It seems that I have been away from home forever. But I’m happy to say that I will be coming back to Walnut Grove in three weeks.

Once I’m home I would like for us to get together for a visit. I’m sorry that I was so angry with you the last time we spoke. I hope that you can forgive me.

Please say hello to your family for me. I hope to see you when I get home.

Sincerely,

Mary”

He wasn’t quite sure what to make of Mary’s letter. He thought it was a good sign that she wrote to him, but she hadn’t mentioned reaching a decision yet. ‘Perhaps she would prefer to do that in person’ he thought. John made his way towards home hoping that he could talk to Grace about it.

Grace was outside taking clothes off the line when John reached the Edwards’ farm. As soon as she saw him, she smiled. “I thought you had walked to Sleepy Eye for the sugar.”

John shrugged his shoulders and tried to smile. “Ma, can I talk to you about something?”

“Sure. Can we do it out here?”

“Yeah, we can work while we talk.” John reached up and began taking clothes off the line and putting them in a basket. “I got a letter from Mary today.”

“What did she say?”

“She apologized for not writing sooner, and for being so angry with me the last time I saw her.”

“Anything else?”

“She’s coming home.”

“Oh, John that’s wonderful news!”

“She wants to see me.”

“Did she say what for?”

“No. What do you think it means Ma?”

“I don’t know John. I think it’s a good sign that she wrote to you and wants to see you…but I can’t say for sure.”

“I just wish she had said more in her letter. She’ll be home in a couple of weeks, but I don’t know if I can wait that long.”

“You don’t have much choice. Besides, worrying about it won’t change anything. Now are you going to fold that shirt a fourth time or can it go in the basket now?” Grace chuckled.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Charles and Caroline had been busy getting ready for their trip to Iowa. They had asked Isaiah and Grace to watch over Laura, Carrie and baby Grace while they were gone. It had been a good thing that Isaiah had found Charles and him some odd jobs over the past few weeks or Charles might not have been able to afford to take Caroline with him. They couldn’t wait to see Mary again.

As they boarded the train they said goodbye to the girls and thanked Isaiah and Grace again for taking care of them. The train was crowded, but they would have stood in the car all the way to Iowa to go get Mary. They were like children at Christmas time.

After the long ride, Charles hired a coachman at the train station to take them to the Burton Hotel. The next morning they would make their way over to the blind school to see Mary. In her last letter, she mentioned there was something she wanted to talk to them about. The rest of the letter seemed cheery enough, so Charles and Caroline didn’t think there was any reason for concern.


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PostSubject: Re: Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)   Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:51 am

Part 11

The next morning Charles and Caroline struggled to get out of bed. Between the train ride and the excitement of seeing Mary, neither one of them slept much. And Charles spent part of the night wondering how he was going to support his family now that nearly every business in Walnut Grove had closed its doors.

After breakfast, they took a coach to the Burton School for the Blind. Charles opened the door and let Caroline walk in first. As she entered the foyer she saw Mary in the waiting room to her right.

“Mary!” Caroline exclaimed.

“Ma!” Mary screamed in delight as she got up from the loveseat. “I didn’t know you were coming.” Mary walked over to hug her mother.

Caroline held onto her tightly. Tears of joy streamed down Caroline’s face as she continued to embrace the daughter she hadn’t seen for months. She stepped back to place a small kiss on Mary’s cheek and then pulled her close again.

“Well didn’t you miss me?” Charles teased.

“Oh, Pa!” Mary walked over to him and they hugged for a few moments.

Mary stepped back from Charles and said, “Ma, Pa I want you to meet my teacher, Adam Kendall.”

“Mr. Kendall,” Caroline said.

“It’s good to meet you Mrs. Ingalls,” Adam said as he shook her hand. “Please, call me Adam.” He walked over to Charles and shook his hand as well. “Mr. Ingalls.”

“Ma, Pa let me show you around. You better stay close, you could get lost in here.”

Charles reached for Caroline and they went hand in hand behind Mary. Adam tagged along in case they had any questions about the school. They spent the day together watching over classes, touring the school and finally sitting down to dinner. After his meal was finished, Adam got up from the table.

“You’ll have to excuse me, I have a class. I’ll talk to you later Mary.”

“Alright Adam.”

Mary thought this would be the perfect time to talk to her parents. She dished out a piece of apple pie to each of them and then sat down at the head of the table.

“Ma, Pa do you remember in my letter I mentioned that I wanted to speak to you about something?”

“Yes,” Caroline answered.

“First of all, I want to thank you for sending me here. If I hadn’t come, I would probably still be sitting in the dark feeling sorry for myself.”

Charles and Caroline smiled at each other. Charles reached over to rest one of his hands on top of hers.

“I was hoping you didn’t hate me for it,” said Charles.

“I was angry at first; but with Adam’s help I got beyond my anger and fear. I know I can face the world as a blind person just as well as I faced it before.”

“We’re so proud of you Mary.”

“Well I wouldn’t feel that way if it weren’t for Adam.”

“You talked a lot about him in your letters. He must be very special,” said Caroline.

Charles glanced over at his wife with a knowing look. Caroline was prying. He shook his head.

“Yes, he is. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. You see, Adam is leaving to open a new blind school in Winoka, in Dakota Territory. He’s asked me to go there and help him teach. I could help other blind children, the way Adam helped me.”

“Do you want to go?” asked Caroline.

“When he asked, I wanted to say yes right away. But that means I would go home, visit with everyone and then leave right away. I don’t know when I would be free to come see all of you again.”

“And what about John? Does he know you’re thinking of leaving Walnut Grove?” asked Caroline.

“I wrote to John and told him I was coming home. I also said I wanted to see him. I was so angry with him the last time we visited. I want to tell him how sorry I am.”

“Do you love him Mary?”

“I’ve been asking myself that very same thing for the past few weeks…and I haven’t come up with an answer. I’m in love with what we used to have – the promise of a new life together, the chance to have a family and a place to call home so that we can grow old together. I used to think that John and I were soul mates. We had so much in common back then and we wanted the same things. But after John went to Chicago, he changed. I don’t think we have as much in common anymore.”

“Just because you don’t have a lot in common doesn’t mean you don’t love him,” Caroline explained.

“I know. But Adam and I do have a lot in common… and I’m not talking only about being blind. Adam understands me in a way John never did.”

“I think part of that is because you’re older now. It wasn’t important to you back then,” stated Charles.

“But just because Adam understands you, doesn’t mean you’re meant to be together,” Caroline interjected.

“I can’t really explain it. I just know that I like the person that I am even better when I’m with Adam. He pushes me to do things I never thought I could do now that I’m blind. Like sewing; I thought that was lost to me forever, yet because Adam kept encouraging me, I learned to sew again.”

“Mary it’s his job to encourage you to do things for yourself. You shouldn’t misinterpret that to mean he has feelings for you,” Caroline said with worry in her voice.

“Ma, we do have feelings for one another. That’s one of the reasons Adam asked me to go to Dakota with him. I’m not even sure when it happened. We just started seeing one another in a different light. And Ma, this would give me a chance to be a teacher…something you and I have always dreamed about. I could never do that in Walnut Grove.”

“But would you go all the way to Dakota to teach if you didn’t have feelings for Adam?”

“Yes, but I want to go because Adam will be there too.”

“Has Adam proposed to you?” Charles asked, wondering about Adam’s intentions.

“Pa, we aren’t going there to get married; we’re going to teach.”

“Winoka’s a big city; it’s nothing like Walnut Grove.”

“Pa, if I wasn’t blind would you still be as worried about me going to a big city?”

“Yes, blind or not a big city like Winoka isn’t the place for a young woman to be alone.”

“I won’t be alone; I’ll have Adam with me.”

“But he’s blind too,” Charles replied.

“Didn’t you just send me here so that I could learn to take care of myself? What do you expect me to do, go home to Walnut Grove and sit inside the house the rest of my life so nothing bad ever happens to me? What makes you think I can’t handle living in Winoka?”

“Mary, it’s not that we think you can’t handle it. Your Pa and I worry with you being so far away, in a place that you don’t know and that isn’t safe.”

“Ma, there were times while I was here that I was so homesick I didn’t think I would survive…but I knew I would see all of you one day. When Adam told me he was leaving to go to Dakota, I realized that I might never see him again. And whether or not we get married some day, I just don’t want to be apart from him. I don’t even want to think about my life without Adam in it.”

Mary had given Caroline her answer. She knew that Mary was in love with Adam. She remembered feeling the same way about Charles so long ago. Caroline never wanted to be the wife of a pioneer. She wanted to stay in one place, make a home, have a family and live out her life. But when love called to her, she knew she had no choice but to follow Charles Ingalls, even if it meant going to the ends of the earth…and she expected that Mary would follow Adam there too.


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PostSubject: Re: Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)   Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:52 am

Part 12

Mary was as confused as ever. The conversation with her parents hadn’t helped her make up her mind. She sat alone in her room wondering about the future. The answers to her questions still eluded her. Mary knew she cared for Adam and she wanted to teach, but was that enough to leave her family and perhaps never see them again.

And as always, there were thoughts of John - his decision to move back to Walnut Grove to be with her, weighed heavy on her heart. When John came to visit after his return, she felt happy to see him. He seemed sincere. But could they recapture what they once felt for one another. She didn’t love him now; she knew that. Would that change if she went back home and they began dating again? She just didn’t know.

Mary had to make a decision by tomorrow. Her parents and she were leaving the next day. Adam would need to make plans for her arrival in Winoka if Mary decided to join him. Mary blew out the lamp and climbed into bed. She laid down and hoped that sleep would overtake her. But sleep proved to be as elusive as the answers she was searching for.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Charles and Caroline shifted and turned in their bed. After fifteen minutes of trying to clear her mind, Caroline sprung up and lit the lamp.

“Charles, are you awake?”

“Yes,” he replied and turned over.

“What do you think Mary is going to do?”

“I don’t know Caroline. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

“But Charles…Dakota is so far away. Who knows if we’ll ever see her again.”

“Don’t you think our parents felt the same way when we left the Big Woods?” Charles sat up so he could look at her. “They accepted our decision without trying to influence us. Our families knew we had to make the choice that was right for us.” Charles cupped Caroline’s face in his hand. “And we have to let Mary make the choice that’s right for her.”

“We weren’t blind.”

“No we weren’t. But Mary was right; we can’t bring her home and protect her from the unknown. She has to live the life she was destined to live.”

“I know you’re right Charles…” Caroline said with eyes full of tears. “But now that we’ve just gotten her back; it’s hard to think she could be leaving again so soon…and maybe for good.”

Charles reached over and pulled Caroline into him. “I know,” he said. “I know.”

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

John sat outside staring up at the stars. In his hands he held the telegram that Charles had sent. They would be leaving Iowa the day after tomorrow. John hadn’t received another letter from Mary, so he expected they would get together after she came home. He hoped she brought good news with her. John heard the front door open and turned to see Isaiah.

“Kin I sit with ya, Son?”

“Sure, go right ahead Pa.”

Isaiah rubbed his beard and searched for the right words.

“So…she’s comin home soon.”

“Yeah.”

“And she wants to see ya.”

“That’s what the letter said.”

“What do ya think that’s about?”

“Well, it probably means she made a decision on whether or not to accept my proposal.”

“What if she says yes?”

“I guess we’ll get married.”

“And if she says no?”

John shrugged. “I could move back to Chicago.”

“Ya could.”

“Or I could stay here.”

“Yep.”

“But then I would probably be running into Mary all the time.”

Isaiah nodded.

“I’ve stayed in touch with the Editor at the Tribune. He told me that if I ever wanted my job back, he would make room for me.”

“That’s mighty nice of um.” Isaiah stared up at the sky. “So ya would probably head back there, huh?”

“Probably.”

“Then I guess we better hope Mary says yes. Cus Grace and I would hate to see you go.” Isaiah stood up. “But we understand, ya have to do what ya think is right.”

John looked up at Isaiah with a smile. “Thanks Pa.”

Isaiah smiled and slapped him on the back before heading into the house. John looked up at the starry sky one more time. He crumpled up the telegram and tossed it aside as he made his way indoors.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Two days later Mary and her folks boarded a train headed for Walnut Grove. They said goodbye to Adam at the station and Mary told him she would write soon. The train ride was long and none of them spoke much. Mary was pondering how her conversation with John would go. Caroline was involved in her own thoughts of how Mary’s decision would affect them all. And Charles was still looking for the answer to his prayers – a way to support his family while living in Walnut Grove.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

The train pulled into the station at Sleepy Eye. Charles helped Mary and Caroline down from the train and told them to wait so he could find a coachman. As he turned around, he saw Isaiah Edwards coming towards them.

“Hullo Charles!”

“Hello friend.” The two men hugged.

“Hope ya don’t mind a ride home”

“We would love one,” Caroline responded.

Mary smiled. “It’s so nice of you to meet us here Mr. Edwards. I can’t wait to get home.”

“Well then, let’s git you all piled up into my wagon and we’ll head towards my place.”

“How are the girls?” asked Charles as they walked along the platform.

“Fit as fiddles. And that Grace, she’s probably grown an inch since ya left.”

“Oh, I can’t wait to see them,” Caroline said in her most motherly of voices.

“Do ya need help gettin into the wagon, Mary?”

“Yes please, Mr. Edwards.”

Isaiah scooped her up in his arms and placed her gently down in the back. “Ya all set?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”

Isaiah and Charles hopped up onto the wagon seat. With both women in the back, Isaiah headed off towards his farm.

“The roads are a bit dusty; no rain the whole time ya been gone.”

Charles almost hated to ask. “How are things in town?”

“Quiet. Nels had to sell off most of his stuff to a wholesaler. The school, the bank and the feed and seed are closed. The blacksmith is stayin for a while until most of the folks pack up and leave. Don’t know what I’m gonna do yet.”

“Me neither. I haven’t had much time to think about it.”

Caroline shook her head. “I can’t believe this is happening”

“But it is. The farmers just can’t stand up to the railroad,” Charles replied.

“Nope…not enough money on our side and too much money on theirs,” quipped Isaiah.

“Will we have to move Pa?”

“I hope not darlin. There won’t be any work with everything in town closed. I’ll have to leave home to find something. But if Oleson’s Mercantile shuts its doors, we’ll have no choice. I can’t leave all of you alone without a way to buy supplies.”

“Let’s not think of that right now Charles. Mary’s home; we should be celebrating,” said Caroline.

“You’re right. You get to pick the songs tonight Mary.”

“I can’t wait to hear your fiddle Pa.”

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

After a joyous reunion at the Edwards place the Ingalls family made their way home. Charles thanked Isaiah, Grace and John for taking care of the girls and the farm. John had brought Charles’ team and wagon back to his parents’ house with him so the Ingalls family could ride home that night. Mary and John made plans to get together the next morning at the Ingalls place. John still didn’t know what Mary was going to say. Everyone was so concerned with catching up that he hadn’t had a chance to speak with Mary alone.

Charles played the fiddle that night. Mary asked him to play only happy songs. Even though she left the dancing to her sisters, Mary tapped her foot and clapped along to the music. She knew that sparkle was in Pa’s eyes. Caroline was in her rocking chair with baby Grace in her lap. Tonight everything seemed perfect in the little house on the prairie – Mary was home; the fiddle made a joyful noise; and their love for one another could withstand any of the problems life threw their way.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

The day started off gray and bleak. Thick, dark clouds hung overhead. John borrowed Isaiah’s rig to drive out to see Mary. He figured they could go for a short drive if it didn’t rain. John approached the Ingalls farm and stopped the wagon. He got down from the seat and walked towards the door. John took a deep breath before knocking.

Charles opened the door and greeted a very nervous John. “Good morning John. Come on in, Mary will be ready in a minute.”

“Thanks Mr. Ingalls.” John removed his hat as he walked in and said hello to the rest of the family. It looked like they had just finished breakfast. John played with his hat while he waited. He was too anxious to carry on a conversation.

Mary came out into the front room. “Hello John,” she smiled. “I’m sorry I kept you waiting.”

“That’s all right. I brought Pa’s wagon. I thought we could take a drive.”

“Sounds good.”

“Mary, perhaps you should take your shawl. It’s a little cool today.” Caroline held the shawl out in front of her.

Mary grabbed it and thanked her mother. John reached for Mary’s hand and then turned towards the door.

“John,” Charles called. “I wouldn’t go too far. It looks like a storm is brewing.”

“I won’t Mr. Ingalls…and if starts to rain I’ll bring Mary back right away.”

They made their way to the wagon and John helped Mary up onto the seat. He walked around the rig and hopped up alongside her. They drove out to the lake and Mary shared some stories from her time in Iowa.

John stopped the horses along a grove of trees and tied them up. Mary held his hand as she got out of the wagon. She slipped and fell into his arms. They stood together for a few moments. Mary could feel the warmth of his breath on her face. He leaned in closer to kiss her; but as if shaken from a dream, he stepped back. He looped his arm around hers and they walked to the shore.

“I’ve always loved it out here by the lake,” Mary said. “It’s one of my favorite places to come and think about things.”

“Mine too.”

“I didn’t know that.” Mary thought a moment. “How often have you come here since you’ve been home?”

“A few times,” John admitted with a smile.

A cool wind rustled through the trees. Mary put her face into it and took a deep breath. “There’s nothing like a prairie wind.”

“Sounds like a line of poetry,” John replied. “Would you mind if I used it?”

“Of course not. I always enjoyed your poetry. I’m sure that sentence will sound as sweet as a song when you’re done with it. Have you written anything since you’ve been back?”

“Some, but not much the past few weeks. I’ve been too anxious waiting for you to come home.”

Mary blushed. “Well I’m here.”

“So you are. And I was hoping you made a decision.”

“Before we get to that I…I want to apologize for what I said before I left for Iowa.”

“Don’t…” John started to say.

“Please, let me finish. I was scared and angry. The darkness seemed to be all around me. I thought if I didn’t talk about it, somehow it would go away…I would see again. But there you were, trying to make me face my fear. I probably never would have if I didn’t go to Iowa. I’m sorry if I hurt you. I hope you can forgive me.”

“Mary, there’s nothing to forgive. I understand, really I do. But now I need you to understand me. I’ve been waiting for months for some word that you’ve made a decision…and when your letter finally came, you didn’t even mention it. I know that I told you to take all the time in the world, but with things the way they are in Walnut Grove…Pa’s talking about moving on, at least until things get better. Mary I need to know….did you make your decision?”

“Yes, I have.”


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PostSubject: Re: Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)   Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:54 am

Part 13

Mary had practiced her words a million times, but standing before John she knew somehow whatever she said, it would come out wrong.

“Are we near that big rock?” she asked. “I could use a seat.”

“Oh, sure; it’s right over here.”

John took Mary’s hand and led her to the rock. Mary used her fingers to find a flat spot and then sat down. She heard John sit down on the grass in front of her.

“You said you came to a decision,” John reminded her.

“Yes, I did,” said Mary. She glanced up at the sky, as if she were searching for divine guidance, clasped her hands together and looked into John’s face.

“John, what would you say if I told you I have a teaching job waiting for me?”

“A teaching job…where?”

“Winoka, in Dakota Territory.”

“That’s so far away…and Winoka’s a big city. Wouldn’t you be better off here with your folks?”

“You sound just like my Pa,” Mary chuckled.

“Aren’t you scared to be all alone in Winoka Mary; especially when you’re…”

“Blind?” she interrupted. “Yes I am blind, John. But I just spent months in Iowa learning how to take care of myself. Ma and Pa won’t always be around.”

“But I could be there Mary…if you’ll let me.”

“Can’t you see…I don’t want someone to help me. Before I went blind, I planned on becoming a teacher. My family and I had no idea where I would be teaching. It could have been Iowa or Dakota.”

“I suppose.”

“But now that I’m blind, you think I should give up on my dream so I can stay close to home, protected from the outside world.”

“That’s not what I meant Mary. I just think it’s good to approach the world with caution. Besides, I don’t like the thought of you being out there all alone.”

“I won’t be alone. Adam will be there.”

“Didn’t you tell me he was blind too?”

“Adam doesn’t let his being blind stop him. He knows what he has to do and he does it. It’s one of the things I like most about him. And because he feels that way, Adam is always encouraging me to try things I think I can’t do since I’ve lost my sight.”

John stood up and began to pace. “So are you telling me you want to go to Dakota because Adam said you should?”

“No, I’m telling you I want to go to Dakota because I can. And because other blind children deserve a chance to learn what Adam taught me.”

Something suddenly occurred to John and he came to stand in front of Mary. “Are you in love with him?” he asked.

Mary stood up. “I don’t know. I care for him…but I can’t say that I love him anymore than I can say I love you.”

She stopped and waited for a response. After a few moments of silence Mary called to him.

“I’m here,” he answered in a low voice.

“I’m sorry John. I didn’t mean for it to come out like that.”

“It’s all right.”

Mary reached for John’s hand. “John, listen to me. For months I thought about your proposal. There were many times I was sure I would come home, and we would pick up the pieces of our shattered relationship, mend them, and find a way to get back what we lost. But as I got closer to coming home I had doubts…and I realized I want to live my own life, without having to depend on anyone too much. And that just wouldn’t be the case for us.”

Mary let go of his hand and touched his face before continuing. “You would always want to help me, to protect me, and keep me safe. And while that’s a wonderful way to show someone how much you love her; it’s not what I want. We’d both be unhappy.”

“You’re probably right,” John answered, his voice raspy from holding back the tears.

A few drops of rain began to fall.

“I guess I better get you home. It looks like all that rain we’ve been missing is heading our way.”

Mary took John’s arm and wrapped it around hers. They walked back to the wagon in silence. John helped her onto the wagon seat and then hopped up alongside her. John grabbed the reins and prodded the horses into a quick trot. He felt Mary’s hand on his arm.

“No need to hurry…a little rain never hurt anyone,” she said with a smile.

John smiled back and slowed the horses down before asking Mary if she wanted him to recite his latest piece of work.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Charles and Caroline heard wagon wheels outside the front door.

“Now remember Caroline, we’re not going to ask Mary how it went. If she wants to tell us about it, she will.”

“Yes Charles,” Caroline replied as she nibbled on her right pointer finger – the telltale sign that she was contemplating something.

The front door opened and Mary walked in. She turned back, said goodbye to John again and waited to hear the wagon pull away before closing the door.

“So how’s John?” Caroline asked. She glanced at Charles who was giving her a stern look.

“He’ll be fine,” said Mary. “I know he’s disappointed, but I think he understands.”

“What’s he going to do now?”

“He’s going back to Chicago. His job is waiting for him.”

“Did he mention if Isaiah made a decision about leaving yet?” Charles asked.

“Mr. Edwards hasn’t said so, but now that John is leaving he’s pretty sure his Pa will pick up and move.”

“Mary, why don’t you sit down a minute. Your Pa and I would like to talk to you about something.”

“All right.” Mary walked over to the table, pulled out a chair and sat down. “Is everything ok?”

“Everythin’s fine darlin. Don’t you worry,” Charles answered and reached over to pat Mary’s hand.. “It’s just…I’ve been trying to figure out how I’m going to support this family now that almost every business in town is closed.”

“I was in the Mercantile today…” Caroline interjected, “They’re only staying open for people to buy last minute supplies. Then they’ll be closing too.”

“Without the Mercantile, I can’t leave to find work. Your Ma and the girls wouldn’t have supplies until I got back…and who knows when that would be.”

“What are you going to do Pa?”

“I thought we could try settling down in Winoka for a while…if that’s okay with you.”

“Really?”

“Now Mary, I don’t want you to think we doubt you can handle yourself in Winoka…” Caroline began. “But since we have to move anyway, we’d like to be close to you, if that’s okay.”

Mary’s eyes widened and a big smile came to her face. “Of course it’s okay. The hardest part about accepting that teaching job was knowing I might never see all of you again. When do we leave?”

“We should be ready by the end of the month,” answered Charles.

Mary got up from the table and walked over to the ladder heading up to the loft. “I better write a letter to Adam so he’ll know when to expect us,” she said as she placed her foot on the bottom rung.

“Ma…”

“Yes Mary?”

“Was it wrong of me not to admit I love Adam when John asked me?”

“I don’t think so. It would only have hurt him.”

Mary took her foot off the ladder and turned to face her mother. “I wasn’t even sure I loved Adam until we boarded the train in Iowa. As the train moved us farther and farther away…I found myself wishing I could run back and never leave him.”

“I understand,” Caroline said as she glanced over at Charles. “I felt the same way about a young man once. And even now, when we’re forced by circumstances to be apart, my heart aches until he returns.”

“Now Caroline, don’t go filling her head with such nonsense,” Charles teased. “She’s got a letter to write.”

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
to be continued


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PostSubject: Re: Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)   Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:55 am

Part 13 (cont'd)


John walked in to find Isaiah and Grace having dinner. Carl and Alicia were away at school.

“Hello John,” Grace said with a smile. “Let me get you some dinner; it’s still hot.” She stood up from her chair.

“No thanks Ma. I think I’ll just go to my room.”

The smile left Grace’s face and she looked over at Isaiah who was still seated.

“When do ya leave for Chicago?” Isaiah asked as John was about to open the door to his bedroom.

“Two weeks. That will give me enough time to wire my boss and have him set up a place for me to stay.” John turned to face them.

“I’m sorry John. I hoped it would all work out,” said Grace.

“It did Ma…just not in the way I wanted it to. Mary’s been offered a teaching job at a blind school in Winoka, Dakota.”

“I can’t believe she wants to be so far away from her family.”

“She doesn’t, but she wants to teach and that’s where the job is.”

“Did Charles say anythin about pullin up stakes and movin on?” asked Isaiah.

“I didn’t talk to him much,” John answered.

“I wish you didn’t have to go John,” Grace said with sadness.

“I’m sorry Ma, but I came back to see if Mary still loved me, and she doesn’t. I don’t want to follow Pa and you to some strange place that doesn’t feel like home. Chicago’s like a second home to me; so I’ll go back there and start working for the paper again while I try to put aside my feelings for Mary.”

“Are you sure there’s no chance for the two of you?” asked Grace.

“There isn’t Ma. Mary wants to live out her dream of being a teacher…and I don’t fit into that dream. But it’s okay. Not that long ago, Mary put her feelings aside and watched while I chased my dream of becoming a writer. I’m just returning the favor.”

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Isaiah rode out to visit with Charles after dinner to see if he planned to leave Walnut Grove. His wagon pulled in front of the Ingalls house and as he turned to get down from the seat he saw Charles coming out of the barn.

Charles smiled when he saw him. “Isaiah, what a surprise. Good to see you friend.”

“Good to see you too Charles. Though I was wonderin how long I would be seein ya.”

“Why don’t you come into the house and we can talk about it. Caroline baked a strawberry pie today.”

“Don’t mind if I do.”

The men sat down to pie and coffee and talked about Charles’ decision to move to Winoka.

“Ya never seemed like the city type Charles. Ain’t the noise gonna bother ya?” asked Isaiah.

“Not as long as we’re together,” Charles replied. “Besides, I need a job. There’ll be jobs in a city like Winoka.”

“That’s true.”

“And Caroline wants to go?”

“None of us wants to go Isaiah. But the railroad has given us no choice. Since we’re being forced to pull up stakes and move on, we want to be close to Mary.”

“John’s goin to Chicago.”

“Mary told me,” Charles answered. “How’s Grace handling it?”

“She don’t want him to go, but he’s a man now. He’s gotta make his own decisions.”

“They’re not kids anymore. Mary is off to teach and John’s going back to the newspaper. Soon enough it will be Carl, Alicia, Laura and Carrie headed out on their own. Sometimes I wonder if they’ll remember all this.”

“What do ya mean?”

“Will they remember the Big Woods, and how long we traveled after we left Wisconsin? Will they remember how we all pulled together to make a home in Kansas? The pioneering life will come to an end somewhere Isaiah…and I wonder what will be left behind for my children; so they can remember what it was like.”

“Guess I never thought about it before. Don’t think about the future too much. I’m too busy tryin to figer out the present,” Isaiah laughed at himself. “Speakin of the present, can I have some more of that pie?”

Charles laughed from deep inside himself. The first real laugh he could remember having in months. Isaiah stayed and talked for a while longer and then left for home. Charles would be sad to leave his friend behind. But that was the way of the pioneer – leaving the old life behind to start a fresh and hopefully better life in a new place.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Two weeks later John Jr. stood on the platform at the train station in Sleepy Eye. The Ingalls family came along to say goodbye. Grace had promised she wouldn’t cry, but she did in spite of herself. Mary and John walked arm in arm down the platform.

“I guess this is goodbye,” John said.

“I guess so.”

“You’ll write won’t you?”

“As soon as I get settled in Winoka. Don’t forget, I want clippings of all your articles.”

“I won’t forget,” John assured her.

They hugged for a long moment. Mary wiped a stray tear from her face. She stepped back and remembered how she had stood on the same platform to say goodbye to John before he left for college.

“God bless you John.”

“You too, Mary.”

John picked up his bag and headed towards the train.

“Go to a window…” Mary called to him. “I want to wave as the train leaves.”

“I will.”

John boarded the train and found an empty window seat. The train started to move and John leaned out the window so he could see everyone. As the train went around the bend, the last thing John saw was Mary waving her white handkerchief at the end of the platform.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

A week later Isaiah was out at the Ingalls farm to help Charles pack up his wagon.

“It’s been a while since the family had to travel this far,” said Charles. “I appreciate your help with packin up Isaiah.”

“Aw, it’s nothin. What time are you leavin?”

“First light. I want to get started right away.”

Isaiah looked down at his feet before answering. “Makes sense.”

Both men were trying not to cry. They had been friends since they had both lived in Kansas. It was hard to think of going separate ways again.

“Isaiah, have you and Grace decided where you’re going to settle?”

“Naw, she’s pretty broken up bout John leavin.”

“Would you want to settle in Winoka?”

“Never gave it no thought.”

“I’d appreciate the company on the trip. And like I said the other day, there will be jobs in a city the size of Winoka.”

“I dunno Charles. I don’t really want to go back to city life”

“C’mon on Isaiah, you know it’s easier to settle down where there are friends than to go to a strange place where you don’t know a soul. Our kids will love it too.”

Isaiah thought a moment. “You got yurself a deal. But…a…your family better come over for supper tonight.”

“Why?” asked a puzzled Charles.

“Well, somebody’s gotta help pack my wagon,” Isaiah chuckled.

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

The next morning dawned clear and bright. The Edwards family made their way over to the Ingalls place and helped Charles load the last few things onto the wagon.

“I made some extra biscuits for you Grace,” Caroline said, and handed the basket up to her friend who was on the wagon seat next to Isaiah.

“Well then, it will be my job to make supper tonight.”

Caroline nodded in agreement and then took her place beside Charles in their wagon. Charles handed baby Grace to Caroline and took hold of the reins. The Ingalls family took one last look at the house. It held so many memories; and of all the places they had lived, this was the one they considered home. Charles chirruped to the horses and both wagons began the long journey to Winoka, Dakota.

Charles didn’t know if Winoka would be the last stop he and his family would make as pioneers. He hoped not. Even though it was an unspoken rule that the pioneer never backtracked, Charles hoped one day to return to Walnut Grove, and to the little house on the prairie.


----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----

EPILOGUE

Winoka, Dakota wasn’t the last stop for the Ingalls family. After a short time, the noise and chaos of the city drove Charles to make one of the most difficult decisions a father has to make. He left his daughter Mary and took the rest of his family back home to Walnut Grove. Charles and Caroline would travel back to Winoka to attend Adam and Mary’s wedding.

The Edwards family moved east after their time in Winoka and Charles bid farewell to his dear friend once again. But this would not be the last time Charles and Isaiah saw one another. For somewhere in Chicago’s future, deals were being made and money was exchanged. A young reporter for the Chicago Tribune would stumble upon these happenings…and it would cost him his life. Distraught and full of grief, Isaiah would contact his dear friend Charles to help him discover why John Jr. had been killed.

Note: Even though according to the series, Charles and Laura paid a visit to Mr. Edwards prior to John Jr.’s death, I have excluded that part for the purpose of this story.


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PostSubject: Re: Second Chance - Mary & John Jr. story (Season 4)   Today at 11:01 am

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