If you are a boy, don't read it unless you like Little House on the Prairie. :) Also, it suggests Catholicism. (Sabbath, church, prayer, etc.)
Chapter 1-The Trip BeginsEdit
Charlotte Mingles had hair the color of walnut shells. Her eyes were as brown as chocolate. She had fair skin and was content in the little log house in the Big Woods.
When Lottie (Charlotte) packed for the trip, she only packed her cream Sunday dress, grey work dress, checkered everyday dress, and her doll. She put those items in a trunk with her Ma's, Pa's, older sister Eve, and little Nellie's things. Ma carefully placed in her china deer.
Her china deer was colored quite authentically, and it was positioned behind a pink rose bush. Its ears were perked up to attention, and its beady black eyes shone. It had been Pa's first gift to Ma. They couldn't leave it in Wisconsin all alone with only the spiderwebs for company!
Pa pushed the trunk into the wagon with the feather mattresses, stove, Ma’s rocking chair, and a small trunk of food and kitchen supplies. The mattresses were both in the back corners, the trunks were lined in the corner by the seat and the right side, and the stove was tied down tightly by the trunks.
Eve and Lottie carried a satchel apiece filled with their rag dolls, a picture book and a bible, and some charcoal pencils and a few sheets of paper.
Lottie was thirteen, Eve was fifteen, Nellie was ten, and their family was moving to the West in their covered wagon.
Lottie was wearing her gray calico work dress and her blue apron with the white sprigs. Eve was in her pine-colored work dress and her scarlet apron with white sprigs.
Ma ushered them into the wagon and Pa helped her up with Nellie. Pa stepped onto his seat and started the horses. Lottie nearly fell out as the wagon lurched forward.
They passed quiet, shy deer, and jumpy bunnies. When the thick trees began to thin, Lottie saw the town. She had never been to town before. All the houses were gray and plain. Children laughed and played in the yards. Every now a then a cheery woman was seen hanging clothes on the clothesline.
Pa pulled the horses to a stop and the girls scrambled down and waited for instructions. "We're going to visit the store, girls. Put on your sunbonnets and be polite. We need to get some supplies before moving west," Ma said.
Lottie tied on her bonnet and they walked into the store. There were rows after rows of food, candy, calicos, fabrics, gardening tools, furs, hats, pre-made bonnets, pencils, paper, books, journals, and threads of every color and size. Lottie found her breath whisked away. She and Eve went through all the rows, smiling and cooing over everything. The kind store man gave them each a candy stick. Ma bought one yard of checkered fabrics to make towels. She bought some flour, coffee, tea, and different colored calicos to make the girls new day dresses. Lottie's fabric was light pink with sprigs of orange all over it. Eve's was blue with gold flowers that beautifully complimented her black tresses. Nellie's was a peach color that looked dashing on her brown-golden hair and brown eyes.
When the horses, Sing and Lass, pulled out onto the open prairie, the girls thanked their Ma heartily and each (besides Nellie) began to sew their dress. Lottie made her's simple and full and lined it with orange fabric. Ma was busy sewing Nellie's dress, and Eve was at work on her dress, so when Lottie finished the simple pattern, she had nought to do.
She pulled out her satchel and showed her rag doll all the sights of the empty prairie. Her doll was named Lilly and Eve's was Rose. Nellie's was named Violet. Lilly had black yarn hair, black button-eyes, a red yarn mouth, and a red dress with white sprigs. Lottie laid Lilly on the bed and looked out of the gap in the back of the wagon.
Dark clouds loomed in the near distance. Lottie mentioned this to Ma, who tightened the hole to a mere peek-hole. Lottie plastered her face to the canvas hole in vain attempt to see the clouds. When Ma wasn't looking, she opened it a crack more and watched as the clouds surged forward and rain pelted the roof of the little wagon as it slowly moved onwards. Eve kept stitching on her dress, but Lottie reached a finger out of the hole and felt wet rain on it. Ma was putting the shade over Pa as he drove the horses. As Lottie watched the rain, she felt the wagon gently lurch to a stop.
They had come to a rushing river. Pa didn't say anything, but got out of the wagon and unhitched Sing and Lass. He tied them under a nearby tree and put the brakes on the wagon. "We'll try to cross the river tomorrow," he said. Ma took a spider pan, some dough, and some butter out of the kitchen supplies trunk and ran hurriedly to another tree to start a small fire. She made thin, small loaves of bread and smothered them in butter. Lottie slipped under the wagon and spread out a quilt to sit on. Ma brought the rather tasteless loaves over and provided some cold mashed potatoes. She couldn't make a bigger fire because the tree might catch fire. Eve and Nellie joined Lottie and they had a poor supper. When she was done, Lottie carried the dishes out by the front of the wagon and set them in the grass to rain-rinse. Then she wiped them dry and put them back in the trunk.
Nellie and Eve fell asleep on their mattress with a couple of quilts. Ma and Pa were sitting on the bench, conversing quietly in inaudible tones. Lottie fell asleep.
Chapter 2-The Town of Reek-manEdit
Lottie awoke in response to a jerk that sent her flying onto the floor. She sat straight up and watched as Pa attempted to pull the horses and the wagon over the river. Water splashed into the wide hole on the end of the wagon. It had come undone! Lottie grabbed the flying rope. It refused to tighten. Nellie looked over the edge into the ugly brown churning water, and tripped! Eve grabbed her by the hem of her dress and screamed for Ma. Ma turned and looked from her perch on the seat, and gasped. She ran to Eve and pulled them both into the wagon. Then she helped Lottie tighten the rope and tie it firmly. A jolt ran through the wagon, and they were thrown off of their feet. Ma put Lottie, Eve, and Nellie on the bed and told them to hold on to the wires that supported the canvas. She hurried back to the seat and flicked the reins to make the horses go faster. Pa slapped the horse's backs, and they ran onto the banks.
Pa was soaked through and through from wading in the water, so he walked up the river and back to dry himself by means of the sun.
Ma cooked some soup for dinner, and it was ready by the time he returned. She had managed to make a delicious meal of rabbit meat stew, some light cornbread, and water. Lottie ate with relish. It was her first good meal in several days. The meal was so contenting that she fell asleep right by the wheel of the cart, and Pa had to carry her to bed. She sleepily dragged open her eyelids and glanced at the moon high above her. It shone beautifully and courageously at her. She blinked her eyes and fell happily asleep.
In the morning, Ma woke her up and gave her a piece of cold cornbread for breakfast. Pa was already driving the horses, and some wee cornbread crumbs in his beard suggested that he had already had breakfast.
The horses galloped and whinnied with a fresh new day rising in the sky behind them. Lottie laughed as she stuck her head out of the hole in the back. Her hair was whipped forward towards the rising sun, and a bundle of it was blindly thrown into her mouth and eyes. Spitting it out, she watched the grasses blurring by.
The horses were having a great time! They leaped and ran with excitement.
“Lottie! Get your head back in here! Your hair is getting mussed, and your sunbonnet is limp!” Ma broke Lottie’s thought with a sharp tug into the wagon. “Besides, we don’t want you to fall out, now, do we?” “No, Ma,” Lottie admitted. She meekly sat down and worked on her quilt. The ceasing wind startled her, and she looked up to see a wagon riding up behind them.
The rough-looking men were shouting and laughing as they gained on the wagon. Ma tightened the hole and ran to the front of the wagon. Lottie shivered as she heard the yells and laughter of the rough men dying away.
“Ma, who were they?” “Don’t worry about it, they were just having fun, Lottie, now sit down. We are approaching a town, and you don’t want to fall head-over-heels in front of it.” Lottie quickly sat, but a question remained on her mind. Boldly, she voiced it. “Ma, may I use the mirror and comb?” “Of course, just be careful with the mirror.” Lottie got up and held the wires that supported the canvas to walk to the chest. She opened it and dug to the bottom, where, covered in soft quilts, was the mirror.
It was a shiny piece of glass with a smooth carved frame that Pa had made. It was their only glass, but Ma hoped to get another when they got to a town where they could buy some cheap glass.
Lottie held the mirror and pulled the wooden comb through her hair up to the start of the braids that hung down her back. She smiled at her reflection and carefully replaced the objects in their proper places.
Then she went back to her seat and watched with interest as the horses clip-clopped towards the town. A sign in front of the town announced: Reek-man.
The town was small and hardly habited. A few girls and boys ran by on their way to school. One mother carrying a child stepped out of a store and watched the wagon go by. Lottie only saw a school, all-goods store, hotel, church, and a few small houses. It was a very sad looking, and Lottie wanted to leave immediately, although this thought was not voiced. She just quietly sat on the mattress and looked at the tiny town of the name Reek-man. None of the children walking to school even glanced at her, and the mother with the young child stared so hard that Lottie wished she would stop. A man came out of a house and stared, then grunted and threw dishwater into the street, where it splashed Lottie’s face and dress. She grumbled to herself quietly.
Suddenly, the wagon lurched in front of the hotel. “Hold my hand, girls,” Ma said in a low voice. Eve took Ma’s right hand, Nellie took Eve’s, and Lottie took Nellie’s hand. In Ma’s right hand was a satchel containing all of their money and treasured belongings. In it was a total of ten dollars which would pay for a bed and breakfast at the hotel. Pa unhitched the horses and led the girls into the hotel. At a desk in the front room, a man with a very curly mustache watched them walk up. “We’d like a room for five, and dinner,” Pa said gruffly, pushing up the ten dollars. The man nodded, and called “Sarah! These people want a room for five. Prepare it, but take them to the dining room first.” A large girl in an ugly, crisp dress led them to a room with a long table.
The table had platters covered with screens to keep away the flies. Ten rough-looking railroad men were scooping food onto their plates. A cheerful girl with red braids was flitting ‘round, serving food and passing plates.
Ma and Pa sat down, and the girls soon followed. Lottie cut up Nellie’s steak and served her mashed potatoes and a roll. Eve quietly poured Nellie some milk. Then Lottie and Eve served themselves. No words were passed at the table except for ‘please pass the butter,’ ‘thank you,’ and ‘you’re welcome.’ Lottie felt terribly animated and still. She wanted to say something, but children are to be seen and not heard at the dinner table. The silence pressed Lottie until she seemed to shrink with the horrible stillness. Finally, Pa asked her “Would you like some more potatoes, Lottie?” Then she was able to reply with a grateful, “Yes, Pa, thank you,” which cleared her mind and let her breath clearly.
After dinner, Sarah led them to a room with two beds made with feather mattresses. The was a washstand with a full pitcher and a fresh towel. The room was clean, but dark and lonely. Pa stepped out while the girls dressed, then Lottie washed her face and hands and fell asleep as he came in for his turn. Lottie knew that she would be happy to leave Reek-man in the morning.
Chapter 3-Calling to the MoonEdit
The next day Lottie ate breakfast with a cheery spring in her step. It was a wonderful meal, but she tasted nothing of the pancakes and syrup, of the eggs and toast, not even of the oranges or apples. She was focusing on one thing: leaving Reek-man.
Lottie ignored the staring eyes as the horses trotted towards the open prairie again. She had finally left Reek- man never to return! Ma and Pa even seemed grateful. The horses perked up their heads once they passed the town’s edge, and Lottie felt them go faster.
She took a piece of paper and a pencil out of her satchel and drew quietly. She sketched Ma, the horses, and an idea for a future best dress.
Just as she finished sketching the shining, waving grasses twinkling in the prairie sun, Ma passed her some soup and a bun, and the wagon stopped for the night. Lottie looked around her.
There was an eery, dark river, and the grasses were dark and threatening. The moon that was full and comforting a few days ago now looked like something a wolf might howl to.
Suddenly, a wolf yowled in the dark, a sound that sent shivers down Lottie’s spine. She saw the dark figure of a mangy-looking mutt in the distance. Pa quietly took down his gun and started a fire by the wagon. The wolf shook his mane and disappeared into the darkness beyond the horizon.
Eve, Nellie, and Lottie went down by the fire to eat. Ma kept the soup warm on the hot fire, and refilled everyone’s bowls until they could eat no more. Lottie felt more satisfied when she was done. The fire was low, Nellie was sitting in Lottie’s lap, and Eve was sitting drowsily by the fire. A flying, ghastly figure interrupted the peace. A wolf! Lottie’s heart throbbed.
Pa grabbed the gun, and Ma picked up Nellie. Lottie and Eve leaped up. The wolf bounded towards Ma, and two more appeared. The two jumped at Pa, while Ma ran to the wagon. Lottie felt the air vibrate with the shot of the gun. A wolf lay dead at Pa’s feet. The wolf’s partner howled at the moon and flew to Eve and Lottie. Pa was running towards Ma, who had put Nellie under the wagon and was wielding a long wooden spoon. Lottie kicked at the wolf, but it bared its teeth and pushed her down. Eve screamed as the wolf made as if to bite Lottie. Lottie kicked again, and it yelped. The air vibrated, and the wolf dropped dead before Lottie heard the deafening bang of the gun.
Pa helped Lottie up. Ma held Nellie, and Eve hugged Ma’s arm. Lottie shivered as Pa helped them into the wagon and reloaded the gun. Ma closed the hole in the back to a hole smaller than Lottie’s smallest finger. She tucked a kitchen knife under the mattress and fell asleep. Pa stay awake on the wagon seat, gun in hand, carefully watching the horses.
Lass gently whinnied, and Lottie closed her eyes only for a moment.
Lottie tucked the covers under the mattress and sat Lilly on the pillow.
Eve was dressing Rose, and Nellie was making Violet watch the passing grasses. Ma was doing the wash, and Pa was whistling as he flicked the reins. Lottie began to set up some small stones as teacups and set Lilly in front of one. Nellie made Violet knock on the door (mattress), and the tea party began!
The girls were laughing and having such a good time that Lottie didn’t notice when the horses led the cart to a town. She looked up, and stared at the hotel in front of her. It had a sign that said Quincy’s Hotel. The town seemed cheerful. The kids waved and smiled at her, and a plump old woman nodded and grinned. Lottie waved to the kids and smiled at the kindly woman. Ma said to Lottie, “This is our new home. We’ll live here.” Lottie smiled at her. Ma gestured to a small house with a half-peaked roof way in the distance. It was about three miles away. “That’s our shanty.” “Are we going to go to school?”, Lottie asked.
“Yes, you will have new friends and a polite teacher named Mr. Justin.”
Lottie was perfectly happy as Pa tied up the horses in the small barn and anchored the wagon behind the barn.
It was an abandoned claim shanty. That was why there was a barn and a lean-to.
Then Ma and the girls explored the house. They stepped into a medium sized room about thirteen fifteen. It was perfectly empty other than a table, bench, and three chairs. The two other rooms each had a desk with no chairs. Pa had worked much of the time it took to fix up the house building a cabinet and woodbox. After that he nailed up a high shelf for Ma in two of the rooms, and Ma screwed hooks into them for hanging clothes on. Then she pinned two old sheets on the shelfs like curtains. The sheets could be tied apart to display the options of clothes.
Ma and the girls put the curtains up, and then Ma struggled to get dinner on the table in time. She boiled some corn and chicken, and they had chicken soup for dinner and supper.
Pa had just enough time that day to make two bedsteads. He took a log and split it in half, and then the halves in half. This provided him with four wooden boards, and he nailed those together to make a rectangle. He got another log and cut it into fourths and nailed them under the rectangle for legs. After that he just bore holes along the rectangle’s sides and strung rope through it to hold up the mattresses. Lottie helped hold his hammer and nails while he fitted the boards together, and lifted the frame while he hefted the legs under it. He proudly said to her, “What would I do without you?” She answered, “You would do much better.” He laughed at that and ruffled her hair. She smiled at him, and they nailed the legs on.
After such a hard day at work, Lottie was happy to pull up the covers and fall asleep.
“Lottie! Charlotte Mingles, are you sick? It’s getting late!” Ma called. “Coming, Ma!” Lottie had overslept. She pulled on her gray work dress and the white apron with blue sprigs. Ma smiled When she saw her. “Ha-ha! Get up, lazy bones, and go feed the cow!” Lottie nodded and ran towards the front door - - Then stopped. Cow?
Suddenly she ran to the barn and thrust open the door. A perfect white cow with brown spots mooed at her. A little brown calf’s head peeked around its mother. Lottie laughed and it snorted. Now they would have milk and butter! She milked the cow and fed them both some hay and water. Then she took the picket ropes and pinned them out on the prairie where there was plenty of fresh grass.
When she was back inside eating cornbread, she asked Ma, “Ma, just think, cows! What are their names?” “The cow is named Muddy, and the calf is named Doe. Pa got them for ten dollars each, a real bargain.” Lottie beamed a their good luck. A cow!
Every day Lottie got up and made the bed, then she got into her checkered red and white everyday dress and combed and braided her hair. Then she carefully pinned the braids on top of her head and rushed outside. She pinned the horses and cows in a fresh place and milked Muddy. She patiently fed Doe some milk. She must dip her hand in the milk and help Doe learn to lap it up instead of thrust her head in it. Then she got fresh water from the well that Pa had dug some days ago, and carried it to the house. Then she pulled the comb through her hair to the braid and washed her face and hands for breakfast.
Breakfast was usually cornbread or hotcakes. Sometimes they had fruit with it.
Pa was saving up for a buggy. He showed it to them one day at dinner in a catalog. It was brown sleek wood with a top that could be up or down. There was a handle to hold to when you got in, and a step tucked behind the wheel to help you up. It had a waxed paper cover for riding in bad weather, and there was a cushioned seat with a low back. They all agreed it was lovely.
That evening Pa brought it home with him from shopping in town! “I’ll pay for it when the crop grows up,” He said. “Oh, Samuel!”, Ma exclaimed, “It’s beautiful!” He smiled at her and spun her around. “Like it, Elizabeth?” Ma laughed and said, “Yes, very much so!” Pa started making a shed for it immediately.
The shed was to be built against the wall of the barn that was farther from the house. There would be two poles opposite the wall and a slanted roof pointing away from the barn.
One day Ma said, “Girls, it is high time we started a garden! Lottie, get the hoe from the lean-to, Eve, you can get the shovel, and Nellie, get the watering can. Lottie got the hoe and came back just in time. Ma meant what she said. They all quickly changed into work dresses and pulled strips of grass off of the dirt behind the house. Ma and Lottie hoed it, and Eve dug little trenches.
Then they had to get the seeds in. The problem was they had no seeds. Lottie volunteered to go get some in town. Pa was plowing the fields, so he couldn’t go, so Ma agreed to let Lottie dress up and go to town.
Lottie put on her best dress. It was cream lawn with a stripe in it, and a high neck. Ma pinned a bit of lace over the neck in a ruffle, and tied Lottie’s hat under her chin. Lottie’s hat was straw with a cream ribbon around it and pink robin feathers sewn in carefully. The hat was handmade by Ma, and it was so delicate that it looked store-bought. Lottie felt exquisite when Ma showed Lottie her reflection in the mirror. Lottie then hitched the horses to the buggy.
They did look handsome, all glossy cream to match her dress. Lass and Sing arched their backs proudly, evidently feeling honored to pull such a fine buggy. Lottie flicked the reins and they trotted towards town. She came to town quickly and tied Lass and Sing to the horse post. Then she walked into Dawson’s Goods. Her heart slowed when she saw about ten men stop their checkers games to stare at her. She boldly raised her chin and primly stepped to the desk. “Are you Mr. Dawson?” “Yes, What would a young woman like you want today?” “I would like to see your seed selection. My Ma is making a garden, and we need carrot seeds, and potato seeds and the like.” “Well, let’s see what I can get for you.” Some of the men had gone back to their checker games, but two younger boys and three men still watched in interest. Mr. Dawson showed her seeds of all types, and she bought all types of vegetables and even bought some morning glories and forget-me-nots. When she had paid for everything, she took her package and walked out of the store. Out there, a young man watched her come out of the store and put the package in the buggy. She watched him warily out of the corner of her eye. He had dark brown hair and eyes, and tan skin. He looked like a farmer from his callused hands and strong muscles. As Lottie climbed into the buggy, one of the feathers of her hat was whisked away in the wind. She cried out as it flipped away. Suddenly the farmer jumped out and carefully grabbed it between his fingers. He stepped up to her and said, “These yours, miss?” Lottie murmured, “Thank you, yes.” She had only now seen how close he was to her own age. “May I drive you home? Your Pa can come back later for the buggy.” “No, thank you.” Lottie hesitated, then asked, “May I inquire about your age?” “I’m twenty-one.” He slowly said. He was really nineteen, but the law said a man must be twenty-one to have a claim, and he thought that age didn’t matter if you had sense enough. His father agreed, so he told everyone he was twenty-one. Lottie said shyly, “I’m thirteen.” “What’s your name?” Asked the young man. “My name is Charlotte Mingles, but everyone calls me Lottie.” “I’m Troy Ford.” “Bye, Troy.” “Bye, Lottie.” Lottie flicked the reins and rode away. Troy watched her go. His brother Chap came out of the store and said, “C’mon, Troy, we need to plow the fields.” Troy reluctantly hopped on his sleek white horse Snow Queen and rode back to his claim. Troy also had a glossy partner for Snow Queen. His name was Jack Frost. They were perfectly white thoroughbreds, and everybody knew about them in town. As Lottie rode slowly across the prairie, she noticed how low the sun was getting. She leaned forward in the buggy seat and flicked the whip. Lass and Sing reared and went flying across the prairie. When Lottie got in the house, the buggy in the shed and the horses watered and fed, the table was set for dinner. Ma and Pa turned to look at her. Pa stood up. “Young lady, what took you so long at the store? It’s been hours.” “I’m sorry. My feathers fell off of my hat and I stopped to chat with Troy Ford on the way back.” Pa softened. “Very well. Next time don’t take so long, though.” “Yes, Pa.” “Now wash up for dinner, Lottie,” said Ma. Lottie quickly changed out of her best and washed her face and hands. It had been quite a day!
Chapter 5-Autumn Comes TwiceEdit
Lottie tilted the watering can to get the last little drops onto the sprouting morning glory. The garden was doing nicely, and fall was dawning. Ma was worrying her head off about what to do for winter clothes for them all. Pa had the harvest in, and sold the hay. After he paid off the buggy, there were two hundred dollars left. Ma took up twenty of those dollars and drove the girls to town in the buggy. She bought three orange and red plaid dresses that were pre-made. Then she bought a pre-made brown dress that had dark brown ribbons around the edges for Lottie. Eve got a silver with blue ribbon, and Nellie got black with gold ribbon. They thanked Ma and mentioned that they would need shoes. Ma said, “Oh my, you’re absolutely right!” She bought them all black button-ups and black lace-ups. That night Pa and Ma called Eve and Lottie into the kitchen. “You’re going to have another sister or brother soon,” announced Pa. Lottie whooped and jumped up with joy, and Eve said, “What will we name it?” “We don’t know if it’s a boy or girl yet,” said Pa. “We certainly we will soon!”, exclaimed Ma. The next day Eve made Ma and Pa’s bed, too, instead of just their own. Lottie was less sluggish with the tiring chores, and Nellie helped scrub the floor without having a fit. Ma was grateful for the extra help, and at the end of the day she told Pa, who scuffled their hair and told them to keep up the good work. A few months later, Lottie was tossing the dishwater out into the slough when Nellie ran up to her and said, “Oh, Lottie, tell Pa to get the doctor!” Pa carefully passed the baby to Lottie. She held its head and rocked it back and forth. The doctor said, “She’s a beautiful baby. I only deliver beautiful babies.” She was beautiful. She had a small tuft of brown-golden hair and pink lips with big, round blue eyes. Lottie pulled the blanket tighter around it and passed it to Ma. Ma smiled and cooed gently. The baby gave off a cute little yawn that sent the room saying with glee, “Aw.” “What should we name it?”, Nellie asked. “Her, Nellie,” corrected Ma. “What should we name her?” “I like Autumn," said Eve. “Okay, Autumn it is,” announced Pa. Lottie rubbed Autumn’s cheek gently with a finger and giggled. Imagine Autumn coming twice in one year! As you can imagine, the next day was quite busy. Ma was asleep in bed with the baby, and Pa was still finishing the cradle he had been working on. He was sanding the sides so that Autumn wouldn’t get a splinter. Eve and Lottie had to do the chores alone, and make dinner and supper alone. Therefore, they chose a simple meal of chicken soup and cornbread for both times. Nellie had to scrub the floor and help with the dishes. She did so with a will, but doing chores is usually more fun if you do it by your own free will. The next day Pa congratulated them all and gave them tea with milk in it for a reward. Lottie was so proud of herself that she forgot how hard it had been to do the chores. That night they were sitting outside with blankets wrapped around themselves and the rocking pulled outside for Ma. Ma was holding Autumn, and Pa and the girls were sitting around her. Pa broke the silence. “Girls, your Ma and I have been thinking that you should go to school this year. Your Ma wants you to have an education, and learn to read and write.” Ma added, “It’s a wonderful opportunity, and I’ve been planning it since we first came here. Also, we’re moving to town for the winter. It will be easier for you to go to school, and it will be pleasant to be so close to the stores.” Lottie nodded with understanding and waited to hear when they would move. “We’re moving day after tomorrow, to be done before Sunday. Then you will start school on Monday. It all fits together perfectly,” said Pa. As you may imagine, the next day was hectic with preparation for the move. They packed all of their clothes into the trunk and brought the table, chairs, and desks. Then Pa packed all the food and tied the animals behind the cart. They would leave the next day.
Pa helped Ma into the wagon with the baby and stepped into the seat himself. The reins flicked, and Lass pulled the wagon forward. In the buggy, Lottie shouted, “Hi-yah!”, and Sing bounded away. Poor Eve and Nellie screamed and held to the buggy tightly. Pa laughed as Lottie left him in the dust. Ma called, “Put on your bonnets!”, but they were too far away to hear. Lottie said, “Whoa, boy, whoa,” as they stopped in front of the town house. Lottie jumped out and put Sing in the barn and the buggy in the shed. Then the girls stepped into the house. It was very pleasant. There was a stove and a desk and rocking chair. There was also a woodbox. Again, they had gotten lucky and bought a home with unneeded furniture in it. Ma and Pa walked in, and they got busy. Ma pushed the furniture around until it looked like this: Then Nellie asked, “Ma, what does that door lead to?” There was a door next to the door to the lean-to. Lottie ran to open it. “Oh!”, she gasped, “We have an upstairs!” Pa helped them push up the mattresses and desks. Then they did those rooms. Lottie and the girls complained that there was nothing in the parlor by the bedrooms, but Ma said that it couldn’t be helped. Lottie stretched and got out of bed. It was Sunday. She got dressed in her cream dress with the stripe in it. Then she pulled the curling papers out of her hair. Her hair bounced into perfection. She had bathed the night before. That way she wouldn’t have to break the Sabbath and wash it. She pinned the lace over her neck and put on her button shoes. They were her best. Ma called them down to breakfast. It was a cold chicken pot pie from the night before. They would eat this nearly all day long. After the unappetizing meal, they set out walking towards the church. They couldn’t ride the buggy because hitching the horses and driving them would be work. On the way Lottie saw plenty of other people walking towards the church. The girls her age waved, and the adults nodded and smiled. The boys were trying not to roughhouse. The church was white and small, but it had a steeple and a bell. The bell rang as the Mingles stepped into the church. The inside had windows lining the sides of the walls, and there were about five pews on each side. In front of the pews was a platform that was about fourteen-ten. On it was a pulpit. Pa led them to the middle seat. There were little pockets of fabric on the backs of the pews in front of them, and they held the hymn books. A girl about Lottie’s age, who was smartly dressed, stepped onto the platform and stood behind the pulpit. She said, “Here we gather to stand before the Lord.” Everybody responded, “Alleluia.” “Please join along in singing ‘Here we stand’ on page fifty-one in your hymnbook.” Lottie flipped through the hymnbook until she found it. A prim-looking woman began playing a piano that stood on the back of the platform. “Here we stand before the Lord. / All might and main has gone. / We are quite humble / on the shore. / We’re standing ‘for the Lord.” “The wind doth blow, / The sea doth tremble, / But we will not move. / We stand for the Lord, / and he will protect us from all harm. / Standing ‘for the Lord.” The preacher, Father Arthur, preached beautifully. He looked young and polite, and Lottie saw a young woman in the front row who looked as though she might be his wife. Lottie decided that he was her favorite preacher ever, and always would be. When they went home, they sat around the kitchen table to discuss the mass. “I liked Father Arthur,” stated Lottie bluntly. “His sermon was beautiful, all about life and meaning.” At this comment by Eve, Lottie felt ashamed that she had been too absorbed in her thoughts about him to notice his fine way of gestures and speech. Ma said, “Wonderful observation, Eve!”, and Lottie felt all the more shameful. She blushed, and Ma asked, “Is it too hot in here for you, Lottie?” “No, Ma.”
Chapter 7-School and Friendship Go TogetherEdit
Ma woke Lottie up extra early. Lottie dressed in her orange, red, and brown plaid dress. Ma had ironed it the night before, so it was crisp and prim. Ma let her wear hoop skirts with it. For breakfast they had hotcakes, and Ma packed them soup in jars and buns for dinner. She slipped in a piece of apple pie for each of them. Lottie saw her do so, and smiled. Ma winked at her, but put a finger to her lips. Lottie nodded with understanding. Ma gave Eve the dinner pail, which she had covered with a checkered cloth, and they were off. “Wait!”, called Ma, “You forgot your shawls.” Ma pulled the brown knitted wool shawls over their shoulders and pinned them with pins they had never seen before. Eve’s was gold with a raised “E” in the middle. Lottie’s had a raised “L,” and Nellie’s had an “N” in the center. They all chimed, “Thank you, Ma!”, then Eve ushered them along. When Lottie saw the school, she smiled. It was so quaint and simple, with whitewashed boards and windows lining the sides and one window in the front. Just like the church. The door was next to the window. Through the window, a kindly looking man with combed black hair and gray eyes nodded to them in greeting. Lottie saw the girl who had walked to the pulpit onSunday. She had black hair that was braided and pinned over her head. Her eyes were also black, and she wore a dress that was a dashing scarlet over her slim form. A little boy was talking to her in pleading tones. Finally she took a piece of candy out of her white shawl and gave it to him. Lottie stepped up to her and said, “Hello, I remember seeing you at church yesterday. Are you Father Arthur’s daughter?” “Yes, actually, I’m the daughter of Father Arthur and Belle Frank. My name is Sadie Frank.” “I’m Charlotte Mingles, but everyone calls me Lottie.” “Lottie, how would you like to split dinner? I have a cookie.” “Great! I have a thick wedge of apple pie, so we could split it easily.” “It’s a deal, Lottie. I have a feeling we’re going to be the best of friends!” Then the teacher rang the bell and they ran inside. The first room took up one-fourth of the school. It was about 5 - 10, and hooks lined it’s wall, interrupted only by the window, door, and the little shelf with the bell on it. Lottie put her shawl on a hook, and place the dinner pail beneath it. She kept her pin on her dress above the breast pocket. Then she followed Sadie, who had been to school before, into the main room. The main room was about 10 - 15. The desks were filled except for three in the back. Two other girls rushed past Lottie and took one desk together. They were almost tardy. Lottie and Sadie took the desk by the window, and Eve took the one next to them. Another girl walked in and sat by her. Mr. Justin walked in. Everybody stood up and chorused, “Good morning, Mr. Justin,” “Good morning, class,” he replied, “take out your bibles and recite your psalms.” Lottie was suddenly grateful for all the times that Ma had taught them psalm after psalm on Sundays in the Big woods. Then Mr. Justin saw Lottie, Eve, and Nellie. “Wait! We have some new people this year. Please step forward.” He took a big album out of his desk and asked, “What are your names?” Eve spoke for them all, “I’m Eve Mingles, and this is Charlotte Mingles and Nellie Mingles.” “Okay, and what would you like your psalms to be?” “If you don’t mind, I would like psalm one hundred and four,” said Lottie clearly. “I’ll take psalm ninety-one,” said Nellie. “Psalm nineteen will work for me,” added Eve. “Thank you, you may return to your seats.” Lottie slid back onto her bench with Sadie, Eve slipped into her seat, and Nellie took her place on one of the front benches for the younger children. “Now you may recite your psalms. Try to learn a little more of it every week.” Nellie said clearly when her turnarrived, “Whoever goes to the lord for safety, / whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, / can say to him, / ‘You are my defender and protecter.’” Lottie said with gesture and grace, “Praise the Lord, my soul! / O, Lord, how great thou art! / You are clothed in majesty and glory; / you cover yourself with light.” Eve softly said, “How clearly the sky reveals God’s glory! / How plainly it shows what he has done!” Then they studied math, then English and spelling, next geometry, and, finally, history and science. They closed school with a prayer, and Mr. Justin said, “Remember, class, come here for Sunday school on Sunday after church. We will discuss the psalms and forms of prayer.” Lottie made a mental note to tell Ma about it. In their house that evening, Ma and Pa talked with the girls about school. “How did you like it, girls?”, Ma asked. “I loved it! We chose a psalm for ourselves to recite every morning!”, Nellie stumbled. “We chose our own psalm, and we recite it every morning,” corrected Eve. “How about you, Lottie, did you like it?”, asked Pa. “Oh, very much so. I made friends with the daughter of the minister. She’s sweet. And, Ma, they have Sunday school after church in the schoolroom. May we go?”“Well, I don’t see any reason why not!”, said Ma. A knock on the door interrupted the conversation. Lottie answered the door. It was Troy Ford! He said, “Is this your pin?”, and held out her new pin, “I saw it on the road near the schoolhouse, and, since it has the raised ‘L,’ I guessed it might belong to you.” “Yes, thank you.” Troy nodded to Ma and Pa and got on his horse. It was brown and sleek with a black mane and tail. “Yah, Duke!”, cried Troy, and he rode away. Lottie was slow to close the door. “Who was it?”, asked Nellie. “Troy Ford,” said Lottie. “Troy’s a good man,” contributed Pa, “he hardly looks twenty-one, but he’s strong and a good farmer.” Lottie changed the subject. “This soup is delicious, Ma!” Ma and Pa shared a meaningful smile.On Tuesday, Eve introduced Lottie and Sadie to her new friend, Summer, who had sat next to her the day before. Lottie spent recess with Sadie. She strolled Lottie across the hills of leaves. A girl suddenly leaped from behind and pile of leaves and threw the brown and orange flags at them. Then she gasped. “Oh, I’m so sorry! I thought you were my playmate, Day. Have you seen her around?” “No.” “Hey! You want to hang out with us?” “Sure!”, said Lottie. “I’m Lisa.” Lisa was brown all over. Brown eyes, hair, and skin. Her dress was even brown! She was not quite slim and not quite plump. When they found Day hiding behind a pile of leaves, Lisa introduced them. “Day, these are our new friends, Lottie and Sadie.” Day had blonde hair and fair skin. She was perfectly slim and wore a beautiful pink dress with ruffles and light blue edging. “Hi! I’m Day, the daughter of mister and misses Tailor. My mom sews clothes, and pretty much everything else in her shop. Have you ever been there?” “No, but I’m sure I’d love to go,” said Sadie. No wonder Day had such nice clothes! The girls chattered until school began, and then they got seats next to each other. Lottie pointed out, later that afternoon, that she had never had a friend other than her family before going to school. “School and friendship go together,” shrugged Lisa.
At Sunday school, Lottie saw Ma talking to Mrs. Frank. This was usually a good sign. Sometimes it meant play dates and sometimes it meant . . . “Supper. I’ve invited Ms. Belle to supper with Father Arthur and Sadie,” Ma announced at dinner. Lottie jumped with joy! “Let’s start cleaning for them!”, said Eve. Lottie swept out the rooms and made the beds while Ma cooked baked potatoes, steak, and green beans. Eve was ironing the curtains, and Pa was outside with the horses to stay out of Ma’s way. Lottie’s braid had come undone and sweat clung to her forehead, but she thought it was worth it to see Sadie that evening. As Lottie passed the kitchen on her way to the lean-to for another bucket of water for scrubbing, she came across the woeful cries of Ma. “Lottie, what will we have for dessert?” Lottie thought fast. “Maybe we could bake an apple pie?” “No, we don’t have apples.” Then Lottie got a great idea! “What about those green pumpkins that Pa got at the store the other day? We could make a pie out of those.” Ma snapped her fingers. “Lottie, that’s it! Go get me a big one. I’ll make two pies andthe rest can be boiled for a side dish.” Boiled pumpkins are delicious. They are very similar to sweet potatoes. You can put sugar and butter on them and it tastes almost the same as a sweet potato. Lottie loved boiled pumpkins, but they rarely ever ate them that way. Her thoughts were interrupted by Ma saying, “Lottie, the pies are done! Is that Father Arthur’s buggy in front of the house?” “Yes, Ma, they’re here!” Lottie flicked the pies on the back of the stove and took off her apron. “Lottie, Pa is holding the fort down for us, go get changed!” Lottie got on her brown dress with dark brown lining and pinned her hair over her head. Eve was in her silver and blue dress, and Nellie wore her black and gold dress. Eve held Autumn while Lottie wiggled her into a sweet pink dress with white lining. Ma called them down, and Lottie greeted Sadie. Father Arthur carried a piece of furniture into the room. Ma gasped at it. It was a round half-circle table with carved wooden legs and a shiny, smooth surface. “Art, I think she likes it,” laughed Ms. Belle, “It’s your’s to keep, Elizabeth. We don’t have enough room for it in our house, so I thought you might like it. This morning when you told me about that empty room upstairs, I immediately thought of this table. Do you think it will look nice against the wall between the two doors?” “Yes, thank you so much!” Ms. Belle and Ma carried it upstairs and sat it between the two doors, against the wall.Ma spread a doily on it and Ms. Belle put a vase of prairie roses in the center of the doily. Lottie, Sadie, Eve, and Nellie, all agreed that it was lovely. Autumn expressed her thoughts with a gurgle and a coo from within Lottie’s arms. Ms. Belle laughed, and soon laughter was breaking out from all sides, because now everyone knew why she was named Belle--her laugh sounded like bells tinkling in the sky. As the sun went down, everyone chattered and had a good time. As the evening light filtered through the windows, Lottie smiled at little Autumn in the cradle, Eve in the chair next to Ma, and Nellie, struggling to reach the bread. Everything was perfectly happy. Sadie gave Lottie and Eve name cards to demonstrate her friendship. Lottie’s name card said in beautiful print: Charlotte Mingles
It had a printed wisp of red roses above the name, tied in a bunch by a pink ribbon. With a light pink background. Eve’s said:
It had an apple tree above it, on a background of blue, with little red-ripe apples scattered below the tree. Eve hugged Sadie, and Lottie squeezed her. Then Sadie explained, “These cards are the new thing. I got them printed at the newspaper store.” Lottie loved her cards. She traded with Sadie for one of hers. Sadie’s said “Sadie Frank,” with a silver background and blue and golden flowers spread around it. When the Franks left, Lottie sighed as Ma put away the food, and Pa pulled Autumn onto his knee. Ma sat next to him in the corner of the room, and Eve and Lottie gathered at their feet.Lottie looked at Eve. Eve’s hair shone like moonshine in the light. Her eyes were a delicate light blue. Lottie hugged Eve as Pa began to sing softly, at a most uncomely moment, “Oh, cook me soup, Nellie, cook me soup, and I’ll love you f’rever. Oh, cook me chicken, and cook me pie, and I’ll love you f’rever. Cook me some pumpkin, and snail jamboree, and I’ll love you for ever and ever.” Lottie smiled at him, and Autumn yawned. Lottie glanced at the moon, the same moon from weeks ago out on the prairie. The same moon that had comforted Lottie and scared her to death. The same moon that had guided and betrayed them on their journey, ever moving westward.