This is part 1 of another that Maggie and I wrote together! :)
A Halloween Party at the Ingalls Homestead: By Maggie & Christina
In Memory of Little Jack and Mike Landon in honor of their birthdays.
It was a cool, crisp day on the prairie. A heavy chill was in the air. Laura was outside feeding the chickens, while Caroline was collecting the eggs so that she could be ready to walk into town with the girls on their way to school. Carrie was with Laura. She wanted to play, but Laura was busy.
"Go on, Carrie. I can't play now," Laura said, sternly as she was trying to throw the feed to the chickens, while Carrie was trying with all of her might to catch some in her tiny hands.
"I wanna help too," her younger sister pleaded.
"Carrie!" Laura continued, but was interrupted by their Ma.
"Girls, please stop bickering," Caroline said, shaking her head, as she pulled her shawl closer to her chilled body. "Come along, Carrie. We have to get your Pa's breakfast ready. Laura, please do hurry. You have to eat your breakfast and get ready for school so that you won't be late."
Once inside the little house on the banks of Plum Creek, the Ingalls family was enjoying a nice, hot breakfast. "More coffee, Charles?" Caroline asked her husband, with a warm smile. "No thank you, darling'. I am fine. I need to get to the Mill. See you all later." He gave each of his girls a kiss on the head, and his wife a soft one on the lips, and off he went.
It was at that moment that Carrie dropped some eggs on the floor. Jack quickly came and licked them all up, before Caroline could get them off of the floor. "Jack was hungry!" Carrie said with a giggle.
"I suppose he was," Caroline said with a sigh. "Come along girls. I don't want you two late for school." The girls grabbed their books and slate and it was off to school for Mary and Laura and Caroline had errands to run, with Carrie in tow.
On the way to town, they were all admiring the leaves and all of the different colors that they displayed. Mary was picking some up to save and Laura just loved the way they crunched beneath her shoes. CRUNCH-CRUNCH. Suddenly, an idea came over Laura. "Ma, may I ask you something?"
"Halloween is coming up, do you suppose Mary and I could have a Halloween party?"
"Oh, could we, Ma?" Mary pleaded excitedly.
“A Halloween party? Well, I suppose..... I'll have to ask your Pa, but I am sure it will be fine. If it's okay with him, it is with me."
"Oh, boy!" Laura said, jumping up and down. Jack was a little bit ahead of them all, chasing his tail around in circles, barking wildly.
As they got closer into town, they noticed Pa standing with Mr. Hanson. "Pa, Pa!" Mary and Laura yelled, as they ran towards them.
"Whoa, what is it?" he asked as they finally were standing before him.
"Well, we want to know if we can have a Halloween party at our house for our friends!" Mary asked, breathlessly.
"Please, Pa, please!" Laura begged.
"Please, Pa!" Carrie added with a laugh.
"What does your Ma say?" he said, looking over at Caroline. His eyes met hers.
"I told them it would be okay with me, if it is with you," his wife said gently.
"Mmm. Let me see…You want to have a Halloween party, huh? Well......."
"Pa!" Laura and Mary said in unison.
"Okay, I say let's have a Halloween party, and what better day, than Halloween it's self? Oh, and tell them to come before it gets dark. All the ghosts and goblins will be out then."
"Oh, yeah!" Laura shouted. "That will be so fun!"
"Be sure to invite all of your friends, and please extend an invitation to Nellie," Caroline said, looking at Laura.
"Nellie! But why, Ma?" Laura asked, with disappointment in her voice. Charles let out a hearty laugh.
"Because she invited you two to her party, remember? It's the only polite thing to do. That wasn't funny, Charles."
"I know, Caroline, I just couldn't help myself!" He laughed out loud again.
"Yes, Ma. I suppose you know best," Laura muttered, stifling her laughter.
They all said their goodbyes at the Mill. Caroline and Carrie went to Oleson's Mercantile, and Laura and Mary ran towards the schoolhouse, eager to ask their friends.
Ms. Beadle dismissed everyone for recess. Laura and Mary were busy inviting their friends to there house for their Halloween party. Laura and Mary invited Christy and Cassie Kennedy, and three new girls they liked in class, Maureen, Christine, and Sarah. They also invited their friends Rhonda and Misti. Laura wanted to invite her friend Larry, with whom she liked playing baseball, but Mary pointed out sensibly that if they invited him, they had to invite other boys, because he wouldn’t want to come to a party if he were the only boy. Lastly, they invited Nellie Oleson.
They both had been dreading this invitation, and that’s why they saved it for last. “You ask her,” Laura said. “You’re older.”
“No, you ask her,” Mary said. “You’re better at asking anyway.”
“You had no problem inviting everyone else,” Laura told her.
“I like them,” Mary pointed out.
“And you don’t like Nellie?” Laura pretended to be surprised, and both girls giggled. Finally, they’d approached Nellie, who was swinging on the swing by the big tree in the schoolyard. Willie was pushing her, just like always. Sometimes Laura and Mary felt sorry for him; he was like Nellie’s slave. Other times they felt he deserved it, because he himself was so annoying.
Nellie and Laura glanced at each. “Nellie?” Mary ventured. “Laura and I are having a Halloween party, on Halloween, at our place.”
“Yes?” Nellie smirked. She wasn’t going to make this any easier for them, and she probably knew that it was Caroline who wanted Nellie invited to the party, not Laura and Mary themselves.
Mary looked at her little sister nervously. “Our ma said we have to invite you,” Laura said bluntly. Mary nudged her. “I mean, we wanted to invite you,” Laura corrected herself. At least Mary didn’t see Laura’s fingers crossed behind her back.
“Well, I don’t know,” Nellie said. “The last time I went to a party at your house I nearly got my toe bitten off by a crab.”
“It’s too cold out to go wading, that won’t happen again,” Mary reassured her. Laura gave her sister a look – she didn’t want her reassuring Nellie of anything; if Nellie was afraid of the crab, maybe she wouldn’t come.
“I’ll have to check with mother,” Nellie replied, just as Willie yelled, “I wanna go, too!”
“You can’t, girls only,” Laura countered.
“But you came to Nellie’s party at my house!”
“It was Nellie’s party, not yours,” Mary said.
“Oh. I guess not. But couldn’t I come anyway?” Willie begged.
“No,” Laura said. “We don’t want you to!”
“Laura,” Mary warned her.
“Well, we don’t.”
Mary rolled her eyes. “Well, we just wanted to let you know. We hope you can make it.”
“I’ll have to check with mother,” was all Nellie would say.
As Mary and Laura walked away, Laura said, “She can’t even say ‘thank you?’”
“Let’s just hope her mother says no,” Mary said, as the girls sat down on the steps.
Soon the school day came to an end. Half of the kids ran down the steps and all across the schoolyard, like they did everyday. Laura and Mary finished cleaning the erasers and they put on their bonnets. “See you tomorrow, girls,” Ms. Beadle said happily.
“Yeah, see you tomorrow, Ms. Beadle,” Mary said.
When they got to the bottom of the steps, they looked over and noticed Nellie and Willie setting on the steps in front of the store, Willie was eating licorice. “Mother told you not to eat that, Willie!” Nellie scolded. “Why look, there is Laura and Mary. All of a sudden she shouted, “Laura, Mary, come here!”
“I wonder what she wants?” Laura said, rolling her eyes in disgust.
“Only one way to find out,” Mary answered. “Let’s go over there to see.”
“I already asked my mother,” Nellie said, in a stuck up sort of way.
“No you did not!” Willie began, but was cut off my his nasty natured sister.
“What does he mean?” Laura asked, losing her patience.
“He means nothing,” Nellie said. “I will see you all on Halloween, just before dark, right?”
“Right.” the sisters said in unison.
“Good, then that’s settled. See you then!”
“Well, there goes that!” Laura said with an attitude.
“There goes what?” her sister asked.
“Guess Nellie is showing up after all!” Laura sulked all the way home.
“Why do you have to ruin everything, Willie?” Nellie gave her brother a shove. He stumbled onto the next step, then picked himself up and climbed back up. When he had settled down next to his sister once again, he said, “What are you talking about?”
“You just had to tell Laura and Mary Ingalls that I hadn’t talked to mother yet. You’re lucky they didn’t believe you!”
“Well, you didn’t talk to her!” Willie exclaimed. “Why’d you say that you did?”
“Because,” Nellie snipped. “You know mother will let me go if I want to. Besides, I had to tell Mary and Laura that I asked mother so they’re not suspicious.”
“Suspicious of what?” Willie was getting exasperated.
Nellie sighed. “You’re so stupid sometimes. So they don’t get suspicious of what really is going to happen on Halloween.”
Willie just glared at his sister out of the corner of his eye. He wanted to know what really was going to happen on Halloween – he really did – but he didn’t want to give his sister a chance to be mean to him again. Even Willie knew when he had had his limit.
“Don’t you want to know what’s really going to happen?” Nellie prodded.
Willie perked up. “Yeah! What’s gonna happen?”
“Well, if I tell you, you have to promise not to tell anybody. Not Ma, not Pa, and especially not any of the kids at school. Do you promise?”
“Yeah! Yeah!” Willie said eagerly.
“First of all, you have to help me at the party.”
“Why would I help you? I’m not even invited to that party.”
“That’s exactly why you should help me,” Nellie coaxed him as sweetly as she could. “Because you’re mad that I was invited and you weren’t. You are mad about that, right?”
“Yeah,” Willie said dully. He had a feeling that Nellie was going to talk him into some scheme where he would have to do something she just didn’t want to do. But he wouldn’t do it unless something was in it for him. “What’ll you give me if I help you?”
Nellie thought for a second. What could she give him? “I’ll get Ma to make a batch of candy apples,” she said at last. “And I’ll only have…6. Then you can have all the rest.”
“Okay!” Willie exclaimed, not bothering to realize that when Mrs. Oleson made candy apples, she usually only made 12 for the children to share. Nellie wasn’t going to be giving him anything his mother wouldn’t already. But Willie was too excited at the thought of candy apples to think of this.
“Good. Now listen carefully.” Nellie leaned in and started whispering.
Willie leaned in closer towards Nellie, so that he would not miss a word of what she was whispering. “I have an idea, and I know it will really get at that Laura Ingalls!” Nellie seethed.
“What is it?” Willie asked curiously, as he bit into a piece of licorice.
“You know how crazy she is about her dog, Jack, don’t you?”
“Yeah! What about it?”
“As the party is taking place, you come and take Jack and hide him for awhile. Don’t keep him too long mind you, but just long enough to put an old scare into Laura.”
“Why me?” Willie said in protest.
“Because stupid, she did not invite you to her party, and you are going to get back at her for that.”
“Oh, yeah! I forgot. What if we get into trouble?”
“We won’t. I’ll see to that.”
For days leading up to the party, Nellie kept building Willie up, so that he would be angry enough at Laura to want to pull that Halloween trick on Laura, and boy was it working. Willie could not wait to give his trick on Laura this Halloween.
Back on the Banks of Plum Creek, the Ingalls family were preparing for the party. Laura and Mary were cleaning up their loft. “There, that ought to do it,” Mary said, as she finished making the bed.
“Boy, am I pooped,” Laura said, as she took in a deep breath.
It was at that moment that Caroline called the girls to supper. “Girls, come on down now, please. Supper is ready.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” They answered.
They each took their turn climbing down the stairs. As Laura got to the bottom, Caroline asked Laura to go and get her Pa, who was in the barn. “Laura, could you please go and get your Pa, and tell him to please hurry, while the food is still nice and hot?”
“Yes, Ma!” Laura made a mad dash for the door, she quickly opened it and then went to leave it wide open, only to hear her Ma say, “Laura! The door!” The door then shut quickly.
They all had a nice dinner of biscuits and gravy. Caroline was an excellent cook, and her family knew it.
They were planning the menu on what to have at the party. Ma was going to make her potato cakes. The girls loved them. Pa promised to carve a nice, big pumpkin for them to set on the center of the table.
After dinner was over, Pa got out his fiddle and played a few songs, and then the girls were off to bed. The party was tomorrow.
"It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong."