A Word of Thanks
LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos
Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.
Almanzo waited in his wagon for Eliza Jane to come out of school. When his sister appeared on the door step, Laura Ingalls followed behind her.
“I can’t thank you enough Laura.”
“I’m glad I could help Miss Wilder.”
Eliza Jane hugged Laura, a smile on her face. They walked down the stairs together and stood in front of the wagon.
“Hey Laura, you comin,” her brother Albert called from the bridge leading into town.
“Gotta go,” she said. “Bye Miss Wilder. Bye Manly.” Laura raced off, her braids flying around her head.
Almanzo helped Eliza Jane into the wagon. “What was that all about?”
His sister couldn’t wipe the triumphant smile off her face. “Remember the ruckus in front of the school this morning? Well, Laura rallied the other children into beating up Bart Slater. He’s promised to behave from now on.”
“So we ain’t leavin Walnut Grove?”
Almanzo grinned. “I guess I better stop by the Feed and Seed and tell Mr. Miller.” On the way there, he couldn’t help but tease his sister a bit. “Sure seems odd you condonin fightin.”
“I did no such thing. I told the children they shouldn’t bully each other.” Eliza Jane glanced up at the clear sky before she confessed, “But if it wouldn’t have been improper I would have given Bart Slater a punch or two.”
The next morning, Almanzo saw Laura and her siblings walking into town for school. Laura and Albert were laughing and even Carrie seemed more at ease than usual. Almanzo jumped down off the platform and ran over to greet them.
“Mornin,” he said. “Can I talk to ya for a minute, Beth?”
“She won’t be late for school,” he told Albert and Carrie.
Almanzo led her by the hand to the bench in front of the Sweetheart Tree. Laura glanced at the names carved into its trunk before sitting down next to him.
“I wanna thank ya,” he said.
“For gettin that Slater boy to tow the line.” Almanzo removed his hat and stared at the ground, finding it difficult to say what he felt. “I really didn’t want to leave Walnut Grove. I’ve made a lot of friends here. I woulda done it for Eliza’s sake, but I hated the thought of it.”
“I didn’t want you go either,” admitted Laura, a blush covering her cheeks.
“That’s sweet of ya.” Almanzo looked up into her chocolate brown eyes. “I didn’t know you were such a great leader.”
Laura giggled nervously. “I just wanted to help Miss Wilder. She’s a good teacher and the rest of us shouldn’t have to lose her because of one troublemaker.”
“It means a lot to my sister that you would do somethin like that when some people seemed too interested in not angerin Mr. Slater.”
“Having money doesn’t give you the right to treat others poorly.”
Almanzo nodded. “It meant a lot to me too.”
The crimson color returned to her face and Laura lowered her head to hide it from him. Almanzo lifted her chin and smiled. His hand instinctively went up and caressed her hair, then traveled down her braid.
“Remind me not to get ya angry at me,” he teased.
“You already have.”
“Well, at least ya didn’t get a bunch of people together to beat me up.”
“Oh Manly,” she said pursing her lips. The school bell rang. “I should go.”
“Have a good day at school.”
“I will now that Bart doesn’t cause any trouble.”
Almanzo watched Laura run up the stairs to the school house. Hands on his hips, he shook his head. “She sure is a feisty one,” he said out loud.
He hopped back up onto the platform of the Feed and Seed. Almanzo shot a quick glance at the school house. He wondered what Laura would do to amaze him next. And thanks to her, he would be staying in Walnut Grove to find out.