Through Eyes of Green
LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos
Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.
Almanzo saw them at the bottom of the school steps. Laura was smiling and laughing with a young man Almanzo didn’t recognize. He tensed up when he saw her put her hand on the boy’s shoulder. They chatted as they walked towards the Feed and Seed.
“Hi Manly,” Laura said when she reached him.
“Howdy Beth,” he replied warily. He looked at the boy who was probably close to Laura’s age. “Who’s your friend?”
“This is Dylan Walters.”
The boy extended his hand. “Almanzo Wilder,” he said with a nod.
“He just moved here from Minneapolis with his pa,” explained Laura.
“Yeah, Pa wanted to get out of the city for a while.”
“Can you come over for supper tonight Manly?”
“I wish I could Beth, but I gotta finish workin on the barn.”
Laura shrugged. “Maybe Sunday after church then.”
“Sunday it is.”
“Would you like to come over tonight Dylan? Ma’s apple pies are the best in town.”
“Thanks Laura. Pa’s in Sleepy Eye and won’t be back til late. I woulda gone with him, but he didn’t want me missin school. Sure wasn’t lookin forward to cookin for myself. I’m pretty bad.”
Laura laughed, making Almanzo wish he hadn’t turned down her invitation.
“Why don’t you come home with me now then? Maybe Albert and you can go fishing later.”
“Sounds good. Your brother is a nice kid.”
“See ya later Manly.”
“See ya Beth.”
Almanzo returned Dylan’s wave. He watched as Laura passed her schoolbooks over to him. He heard the boy say, “Why does he call ya Beth?”
“I’ll tell you on the way home, but I have to stop off at the Mercantile for a slate pencil first.”
Almanzo stared at them for a few moments. Dylan seemed awfully friendly around Laura. He wondered if the boy was interested in more than just friendship. Almanzo couldn’t wait to get done his work so he could go ask Eliza Jane about him.
Eliza Jane didn’t understand why Almanzo was so interested in Dylan. God knew he had never shown a burning desire to talk about her other students.
“How much time does he spend with Laura?” asked Almanzo.
Suddenly aware of why he was dying to know about the young boy she replied, “Surely, you’re not jealous,”
“No, course not, it’s just…” He glanced over at Eliza Jane who was trying to stifle a laugh. “Well maybe a little.”
“That’s ridiculous. Laura only has eyes for you.”
“And how do ya know that?”
“Almanzo, she brightens up the minute you walk into a room. Haven’t you ever noticed the way she looks at you? You don’t have anything to worry about.”
He prompted Barnum into a trot, only half convinced that Eliza Jane was right.
Laura rode home with Almanzo Sunday after church. “Is everything okay?” she asked.
“Then why are you so quiet?”
“Nothin wrong with bein quiet.”
“No, but it usually means something is on your mind.”
He smiled. She already knew him so well. “What’s the story with you and this Dylan kid?”
“He sure likes spending time with ya.”
“Well, he’s a bit behind in school and I’ve been trying to help him catch up.”
“You didn’t think there was anything else going on, did you?”
“Of course not,” he rushed to say. “It’s just…ya know…” Flustered, he blurted out, “Did ya tell him we were courtin?”
“It never came up. We talk about schoolwork mostly. That and his ma. She died last year. That’s why his pa moved out here; he’s trying to get away from the memories.”
“That’s too bad,” Almanzo said with genuine sympathy.
“I don’t know what I would do if I lost Ma or Pa.” She glanced over at him. “Or you,” she added with a kiss.
“Don’t worry Beth, I ain’t goin nowhere.”
Dylan figured it might just work. He had asked Laura to tutor him until he was caught up at school. Of course, he never planned to catch up. And the more time they spent together, the more Laura would see that she belonged with him, not that annoying Almanzo Wilder. He pretended to like him to stay in good favor with Laura, but he was a rival for her affections and as such, Dylan despised him.
The weather had gotten colder at the beginning of November, but there were a few nice sunny days which could fool people into thinking spring was on its way instead of winter. On such a day, a frustrated Laura sat on the school steps with Dylan, instructing him on what he needed to do to improve his grades. She didn’t understand why his work hadn’t gotten better since the tutoring sessions began two weeks ago.
“How about we go down to the lake to study today?” he suggested.
“I don’t know, I’ve got a lot of homework to do, and I need to finish my chores before I go out with Almanzo tonight.”
“Aw come on, my pa let me borrow the wagon so we don’t have to walk.”
“Well all right, but let’s stop by the Feed and Seed so I can tell Almanzo where I’ll be.” Dylan shook his head, but drove her there without a word.
“Howdy Beth.” He glared at the boy next to her on the wagon seat. “Ya bringin Laura home, Dylan?”
A self-satisfied grin came across the boy’s face. “Naw, I’m takin her down to the lake.”
“I should be home in plenty of time to go out with you tonight,” she told Almanzo.
His eyes remained fixed on the boy when he responded, “Can’t wait to see ya. I’ll be by about five-thirty.”
“I’ll be ready. See ya Manly.”
Dylan chirruped to the horses and Almanzo watched the wagon pull out of town. He didn’t like the glee he saw in the boy’s eyes. He was sure Dylan was up to no good. Almanzo tried to go finish his work, but his mind was distracted by thoughts of what Dylan was planning. After twenty minutes he ran to the schoolhouse to see Eliza Jane.
“Hey Sis, can ya walk home today?”
“Certainly, are you going somewhere?”
“I gotta find Laura.”
Suddenly concerned she stood up from her desk. “Is something wrong?”
“I dunno. She went out to the lake with Dylan. Can’t explain it…he just looked like he was gonna cause trouble.”
“Now Almanzo, you shouldn’t let your jealousy make you think ill of the boy.”
“I’m tryin not to Sis, but he seemed real happy to see how bothered I was when he told me they were goin out there.”
“Are you sure you didn’t imagine it?”
“We’ll talk about this later. Right now I havta find Laura.”
Almanzo jumped into his wagon and slapped Barnum into a gallop. He couldn’t ignore his instincts. He just hoped he would be in time.
Dylan was sitting close enough to smell the perfume Laura had dabbed on that morning. He was confident as he pretended to pay attention to her conjugating verbs that she would find him a much better suitor than Almanzo, who was too insecure and awkward for someone as feisty and strong-headed as Laura. She needed a man who could tame her wild nature and make her into a good wife and homemaker.
“Dylan, you’re not even listening to me.”
“I’m sorry Laura, you just smell so good.”
Laura blushed. She didn’t feel comfortable when he spoke that way. “Thank you, but you really need to focus on your English.”
Laura leaned in to show him what she had written on the slate. She could see Dylan staring at her and chose to ignore him. “Now, if you look at the verb “extract”…”
She pushed Dylan away as soon as she felt his lips on hers. “What are you doing?”
“Aw come on Laura, ya know you’ve been wantin me to kiss ya.”
“How dare you!”
“What’s the matter, Almanzo never kiss ya before? Wouldn’t surprise me none if he was too afraid to show ya any lovin.”
A loud smack filled the air. “I’ve had enough of this. Consider your tutoring over.”
Laura picked up her things and began to walk away. Dylan grabbed her arm and squeezed it.
“Let go of me,” she ordered.
“I’m just tryin to show you how much I care about ya.”
Both her arms now in his grasp she struggled to free herself. From his wagon seat, Almanzo could see Laura trying to pull away. He slapped Barnum hard.
“Ha Barnum! Ha boy!” he hollered.
Laura turned to see a wagon coming up fast. She didn’t care who was in it; she just wanted to get away as quickly as she could. She pushed against Dylan which caused him to lose the hold he had on her left arm. She slid her dinner pail down into her hand and swung it at his head. He reeled backwards, holding onto his head with both hands. Laura ran towards the wagon, seeing Almanzo on the seat.
Almanzo pulled Barnum to a stop and jumped down. He caught Laura in is arms and held her close. “It’s all right Beth. I’m here.”
“Oh Manly,” she panted as she tried to catch her breath.
“Did he hurt you?”
She shook her head. “He just doesn’t like to take no for an answer.”
Imaging what must have transpired Almanzo became incensed. “Stay here,” he ordered.
“Almanzo don’t.” But he never heard her. He was half-way to Dylan, who was scrambling up into his father’s wagon. Almanzo pulled the boy off, tossing him to the ground. They wrestled, but Dylan was no match for the stronger, larger Almanzo.
He straddled the boy and held him by the shirt. Pointing his finger in Dylan’s face he spoke through clenched teeth. “You stay away from her.”
“I’m not afraid of you,” he taunted.
“Ya better be. Cuz if I see ya near her again, they’ll be picking pieces of ya off the ground.”
He leaned on Dylan with all his might as he stood up. The boy grunted. He walked back towards Laura who was standing where he had left her.
“Almanzo look out!” she screamed as Dylan tackled him to the ground.
Almanzo tasted blood as his chin hit the dirt causing him to bite his lip. He flipped Dylan off his back and stood up. Almanzo grabbed Dylan and pulled him into his fist. He dumped the boy on the ground.
“Don’t ever try anythin like that again.”
Dylan swiped at his bleeding lip with contempt. “This ain’t over Wilder.”
“Oh yes it is,” replied Almanzo. He wiped away the blood dripping down his chin. He glared at the boy before helping Laura into his wagon.
“Are you all right?” she asked.
He nodded. “I’m fine. Let’s get you home.”
When Almanzo stopped his wagon in front of the Ingalls farm, Laura embraced him. She touched his swollen lip. “I’m sorry about all this.”
“You got no reason to be sorry.”
“You knew what he was up to all along. I should have seen it.”
“Naw, I was plum jealous is all.” He caressed her cheek. “The thought of another man layin his hands on ya…” Almanzo shook his head. “It just drives me crazy.”
“Do you think it never bothered me when you were courting those other women? I spent a lot of time wishing I were older so you would notice me.” She smiled in embarrassment. “Christie Norton had to be the worst. Knowing she was courting you made me dislike her even more.”
Almanzo allowed himself to chuckle at her admission. “None of them could hold a candle to ya. They don’t have your fire.”
Almanzo pulled her close and kissed her. The waves of passion blew over him. Even the cold breeze could not chill him. He held her tighter, feeling the curves of her body against his.
A creak from the barn door ended the interlude. They rushed to compose themselves before Charles reached them. He ignored their flushed faces.
“I didn’t know Almanzo was bringing you home Half-pint. You’re late.”
“He wasn’t supposed to. I got into a bit of trouble today and Almanzo rescued me.”
“What kind of trouble?” he asked when he saw Almanzo’s lip.
Laura wasn’t quite sure what to say. She was embarrassed to admit what had happened to her pa, and feared how he would react. “Can we talk about it when I get inside?”
“I gotta go anyway,” interrupted Almanzo. “Eliza Jane is probably sick with worry after how I rushed off today. Can we have supper in town tomorrow night instead?” He glanced at Charles. “If it’s okay with you Mr. Ingalls.”
“From the look of that lip I say you both deserve a night out. Laura can go if she wants to.”
“Thanks Pa.” Laura hopped out of the wagon. “I’ll see ya tomorrow Manly.”
“See ya Beth, Mr. Ingalls.” Almanzo tapped his horse and headed towards home.
Laura told her parents what happened with Dylan and how Almanzo showed up just in time.
“Well, I’m going to ride out to talk to Mr. Walters,” an angry Charles said.
“Please don’t Pa. It will only make it worse,” cried Laura.
“Half-pint, who knows what would have happened if Almanzo hadn’t showed up.”
“But he did, and I’m fine; really I am. Besides, I think Almanzo scared him off. I don’t think he’ll be bothering me anymore.”
Charles looked at Caroline for advice. “Why don’t we give the boy a few days to apologize before we go talk to his father? Who knows, maybe he regrets it already.”
“I won’t say a word for now, but if that boy touches you again Half-pint, I want to know.”
“Why don’t you go upstairs and relax for a bit before supper,” suggested Caroline. “You’ve had quite a day.”
Laura nodded. “I think I will.”
Caroline watched Charles’s eyes follow Laura up the ladder. He gazed over at Caroline with a frown and then disappeared outside. She knew it was taking all his self-control not to drive to the Walters place. She had a good mind to go over there herself. Thank God for Almanzo.
“Laura,” Caroline called up the ladder.
“Why was Almanzo at the lake this afternoon?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I’m just glad he was.”
(cont'd in another post)