The images in the Wordless Wednesday post below are from De Smet, South Dakota, the real “Little Town on the Prairie.” De Smet is the town where the last half of By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, and Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years take place. Here are thirteen quotations from Laura Ingalls Wilders’ books, from those years.
It was a big house, a real house with two stories, and glass windows. Its up-and-down boards were weathering from yellow to gray and every crack was battened, as Pa had said. The door had a china knob. It opened into the lean-to over the back door.
This house had board floors; not as comfortable to bare feet as the earth floor of the shanty, but not so much work to keep clean.
The surveyors had left their stove! It was a larger stove than the one that Ma had brought from Plum Creek; it had six lids on top and two oven doors, and it was all set up with its stovepipe in place. Spaced on the wall beyond it were three doors. All of them were shut.
Laura tiptoed across the wide floor, and softly opened one door. There was a small room, with a bedstead in it. This room had a window, too.
Softly, Laura opened the middle door. She was surprised. Steeply up in front of her went a stair, just the width of the door. She looked up and saw the underside of a slanting roof high overhead. She went up a few steps, and a big attic opened out on both sides of the stairs.
That made three rooms already, and still there was another door. Laura thought that there must have been a great many surveyors to need so much space. This would be by far the largest house she had ever lived in.
She opened the third door. A squeal of excitement came out of her mouth and startled the listening house. There before her eyes was a little store. All up the walls of that small room were shelves, and on the shelves were dishes, and pans and pots, and boxes, and cans. All around under the shelves stood barrels and boxes.
All day long, except when he went through the storm to do the chores, Pa was twisting more sticks of hay in the lean-to.
Laura picked up all the hay her hands could hold and shook the snow from it. Then, watching Pa, she followed his motions in twisting the hay. First he twisted the long strand as far as his two hands could do it. Then he put the right-hand end of it under his left elbow and held it there, tight against his side, so that it could not untwist.
Laura’s stick of hay was uneven and raggedy, not smooth and hard like Pa’s. But Pa told her that it was well done for the first one; she would do better next time.
She put the button in the center of the square of calico. She drew the cloth together over the button and wound a thread tightly around it and twisted the corners of calico straight upward in a tapering bunch. Then she rubbed a little axle grease up the calico and set the button into the axle grease in the saucer.
“Give me a match, Charles, please,” Ma said. She lighted the taper tip of the button lamp. A tiny flame flickered and grew stronger. It burned steadily, melting the axle grease and drawing it up through the cloth into itself, keeping itself alight by burning. The little flame was like the flame of a candle in the dark.
“I was wondering…” Almanzo paused. Then he picked up Laura’s hand that shone white in the starlight, and his sun-browned hand closed gently over it. He had never done that before. “Your hand is so small,” he said. Another pause. Then quickly, “I was wondering if you would like an engagement ring.” “That would depend on who offered it to me,” Laura told him. “If I should?” Almanzo asked. “Then it would depend on the ring,” Laura answered, and drew her hand away.
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