[note - this is my first attempt at fanfic. It's based on the tv series. The only change I've made is that baby Grace was born at the beginning of season 4 and it's to be assumed Caroline was pregnant during the hiatus rather than expecting us to believe 9 months passed in 1 episode]
Mary took Carrie’s hand and ran down the road towards home. For once, boys weren’t buzzing around her. She enjoyed the relief. She wanted to give Laura and Jimmy some privacy. She had a strong hunch Laura would get over her phobia of kissing that day.
It was a lovely day, unseasonably warm for early November. The leaves from the few deciduous trees that grew around there were gathering in piles and and blowing about in the gusts of wind. For some reason, she was in a particularly good mood that day.
Ma was standing beside the table reading a letter in her hand. She was smiling. When Mary and Carrie came in, she looked up and said “Girls, guess what!”
“What?” they both answered with excitement.
“It’s a letter from Grace. She says they are thinking of moving back to Walnut Grove!”
“That’s wonderful, Mal!” Mary answered, still smiling, but with just the tiniest lack of enthusiasm.“I best get to my chores,” she said, still trying to hide the nervousness in her voice.
Later that evening Caroline was sitting by the fire sewing. She’d just finished feeding the baby and had put her down to sleep. Mary and Laura sat at the table studying.
“It would be so nice to see Grace again,” she said. “How long has it been now, about a year?”
“Something like that,” Charles answered, barely even acknowledging her. He was engrossed in an article he was reading about the gold rush in California.
“And I’m sure she’d love to meet Baby Grace.”
Charles didn’t look up from the newspaper, but replied, in kind of a smug voice, “I told Isiah they wouldn’t have any luck out in California and that they’d be back in no time. Whatever possessed him to change his mind and head out there when we were already halfway back from gold country, for the life of me I’ll never figure. Of course Isiah’s always been a strange one.”
“I wonder where they’d stay, though, now that their house has been sold?” Caroline asked.
“Hmm.. probably Isiah’s old place,” Charles answered. “You know, that run-down old shack,” he laughed.
“Charles, you’re terrible!” Caroline admonished, but still with a smile on his face.
“Of course he’d probably have to add another room.”
Eventually Charles looked up and took a puff of his pipe, and said, with a contented smile, “You know, Edwards owes me one for handling the sale of his house. I don’t know how he’d have managed otherwise.” Then in a more serious tone he said, “The Garveys couldn’t have turned out to be nicer neighbors, though”.
Caroline smiled and nodded her head in agreement.
“I bet Carl and Andy would be great friends,” Laura said cheerfully, though all evening she’d seemed just a little preoccupied.
Mary had a pretty good idea why. She wouldn’t press Laura for the details about her and Jimmy, though. If Laura wanted to talk about it she would.
It was late at night and all the others had gone to bed, but Mary couldn’t sleep. She grabbed her history book and quietly climbed down the ladder, then sat down at the table and turned on the lantern. For once, though, she found it a little hard to concentrate on studying. She was thrilled by the thought of seeing the Edwards’ again, especially Alicia, but it dawned on that if they moved back that John, Jr. would probably be coming home this year for Christmas.
It was still painful to think of John. Funny, Laura had just mentioned him the other day. His words to her at the cotillion last spring kept echoing in her ears, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
She stopped and put her book down, feeling a slight tension headache coming on. Lately her glasses didn’t seem to be helping as much as they used to. She said nothing to Pa about it, though. She knew they couldn’t afford to buy a new pair of glasses, besides, she could still see pretty well with the ones she had. She wondered though, if it was her distance vision so much that was bothering her as it was that every now and then things seemed just a little dim. If she went outside at night, it was hard for her to get around without a lantern, and she was finding it a little difficult now to read with the light of just this one lantern. She had to hold the book so that it was right up next to the light. The print was pretty small, though.
She’d first noticed something strange about the way she was seeing at the fair a couple months ago. She’d never forget how beautiful the view was from high up in the air on that hot air balloon. She could see the farmlands for miles around, yet she remembered everything looked a little hazy– odd, since there’d hardly been a cloud in the sky that day. She couldn’t decide for sure if it was just her imagination running away with her. Surely; what else could it be?
She thought of Patrick. He was such a nice boy, and had always treated her like a lady. She just wasn’t ready for a serious beau again yet.
But it was just a momentary thought. Her headache was subsiding, but she decided it was best to go back to bed. “It’s just all the studying I’ve been doing lately,” she assured herself. Maybe Pa was right when he said that if she stayed up too late studying she really would fall asleep in class the next day. She closed her book and quietly tiptoed back up the ladder.