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.
Eliza Jane closed the door of the schoolhouse and walked over to the Feed and Seed to find her brother.
“Almanzo,” she called.
His blond head poked out of the doorway. “Yeah Sis.”
“I have a favor to ask of you. Laura Ingalls is taking a temporary teaching job in Curry. Would you mind driving her back and forth?”
“I dunno Sis,” he replied warily. “Can’t Mr. Ingalls do it?”
“Caroline was just telling me the other day how busy he is at the mill with Mr. Garvey away.”
“And there’s nobody else?”
“What’s wrong with you Mannie? Laura and you have always been friends, and you’re always saying Barnum could use the exercise.”
Almanzo removed his hat and jumped down off the platform. “I just don’t wanna give Beth the wrong impression.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’ve tried my best not to encourage this crush of hers. If I take her, she might think it means somethin it don’t.”
“I honestly don’t believe she feels that way for you anymore.”
Surprisingly hurt by the remark he asked, “Whatya mean?”
“I honestly think she’s passed being enamored with you. She hasn’t said anything about the buggy ride you took her on a few weeks ago, nor has she asked to go again. Besides, there are new young men coming into town all the time. And of course there’s the matter of Perley Day. She seemed quite taken with him while he was here.”
“Perley Day never woulda been a likely suitor for her. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself.”
“I think you’re being too hard on him. I know he’s irresponsible and reckless at times, but he truly seemed to like her. I wonder what might have happened between the two of them if he had stayed.”
“I don’t wanna talk about him, Eliza Jane.”
“Then why don’t you tell me what’s really bothering you.”
“I already told ya.”
“I think you’re making more of this than there is. All I’m asking is for you to drive her to and from work.”
Almanzo looked down at his feet as he shuffled his boots in the dirt. “What boys have been noticing her?”
Eliza Jane was puzzled by his question, but she answered it anyway. “Jimmy Hill and Christie Kennedy are no longer courting, and I understand he was quite smitten with Laura when his family lived in town before. There’s that new boy, Seth whose father bought the old Jenkins farm, and even Bart Slater is taken with her, though he knows she would never have him.”
“Whatya know about these boys?” he asked suspiciously. “I mean, we all know Slater is trouble, but what about the other two?”
“Since when did you become so protective of Laura Ingalls?”
He was stunned by the question. “I…uh…I just don’t wanna see her gettin hurt is all.”
“Well, if you ask me you’re acting like someone who is interested in more than mere friendship.”
“Don’t be silly Eliza Jane. Beth is just a kid.”
“If you say so Almanzo. So, are you going to take her?”
“Well, seein as there’s nobody else, I suppose I havta.”
“I suppose so.”
“Don’t make a big deal out of it when ya tell her.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” she replied. After a moment she added, “You know Almanzo, it seems the only one making a big deal out of this is you.” She gave him that older sister look over the rim of her eyeglasses and then walked over to Nellie’s Restaurant to wait for him to finish working.
Almanzo moseyed back into the office of the Feed and Seed. How could Eliza Jane accuse him of being interested in Beth? She was just a friend. They were interested in the same things and that’s why he enjoyed spending time with her. He certainly didn’t see Laura as a love interest.
He remembered the women he had courted since moving to Walnut Grove, all refined young ladies who could have been good wives, but something was missing — they didn’t share his passion for the farm. They tolerated how he went on about his plans for purchasing another hundred acres, but when they sweetly smiled at him he could tell he was boring them to death. But not Beth. Her eyes lit up when he spoke about the farm of his dreams. She even helped him break in Barnum. He had to admit he had more in common with her than any of the young women he had dangled on his arm. Surely though, there was no future with her. She was so much younger than he.
Almanzo took off his hat and scratched his head. He walked onto the platform and gazed over at the schoolhouse. What was it that made him argue against bringing Laura to Curry? There wasn’t really any reason he couldn’t bring her. Work at the Feed and Seed had been kind of slow. He shook his head. Eliza Jane was right; all he was doing was bringing her back and forth to work. Why should Laura think there was more to it than that?