Meanwhile, back in De Smet…
Laura and Mary are taking a breather in the crisp outdoors only to learn that they distrust the sun. Even the promise of codfish gravy can’t stop the bickering and sense of hopelessness … which is exacerbated by fears about the seed wheat, Almanzo and Cap, and the potential for another storm.
Sure enough, the wind starts to howl once more, and we’re treated to what I consider to be one of the book’s most memorable passages …Pa shaking his fist at the elements and daring the wind to howl, to beat them, to blow them down. It is terrible to remember that Pa can’t play the fiddle anymore; his hands have been so stiffened by the bitter cold and unrelenting work that it’s just not going to happen.
This time, Laura’s the one to help them gather up their resolve. She begins to sing “Song of the Freed Men” (only to be corrected by Pa and told to sing in B flat — did the Ingalls family have perfect pitch or is this just a sign of the more music-educated times?).
After taunting the storm with their singing, it’s time for bed. Laura and Mary wonder if it’s okay to pray for Cap and Almanzo. Mary prays for their redemption if it’s God’s will, to which Laura replies, “I think it ought to be. They were doing their best.” (Summary of the book’s theme, much?)
Four days later, the blizzard is still raging…and the last of the seed wheat has been placed in the coffee mill to grind. They can only wait and hope (though Pa knows about Almanzo’s stored seed wheat). Sure enough, the storm subsides and they look out the peepholes they’ve scratched out of the frost-covered windows, waiting for word on their fate.