These Happy Golden Years, Chapter 23: Barnum Walks

Guest post by Sandra Hume and Erin Blakemore

Erin: Cut to another round of jump-into-the-Barnum deathmobile. Laura wants to take a shot at this bad boy (perhaps freeing Almanzo’s arms up for more favorable purposes?).

Sandra: This chapter is so FRAUGHT. Taming of the … Slough?

Erin: “Please don’t pull so hard, I want so much to drive you.” Rrrawr.

Sandra: That’s what she said.

Erin: Oh, wait. Laura’s gentle-yet-strong touch is HORSE MAGIC.

Sandra: Equine equality.

Erin: Just like a woman, Laura senses what Barnum needs.

Sandra: Just like a woman, Laura says “to hell with you and your advice, I’m going to do what I think is best.”

Erin: I get the feeling she is just fine being conspicuous. The woman just TAMED BARNUM!—

Sandra: She’s “dizzy from the excitement,” friends.

Erin: —whoops, never mind.

Sandra: I have always felt really bad that they missed, like, pretty much half of singing school thanks to that dadburned horse. But maybe they liked the extra unchaperoned time?

Erin: After a rousing rendition of Song of the Grass and some round singin’ (is it intentional that Pa only taught Laura, Carrie, and Grace the round? OMG), it’s time for some suggestive passing of peppermint balls. I mean, the young gentlemen treat the young ladies to some candy.

Sandra: 1880s analogy: Laura’s singing is to Almanzo as Almanzo’s horses are to Laura?

Erin: Fast and furious? Ahem. Back to singing school. You have to wonder at their innovation when they close the singing school down the day they get to the last page in the book. Bummer!

Sandra: Was Laura looking at her tattered old singing school book when she wrote this?

Erin: Barnum is calm now, in time for the changing season.

Sandra: I want to talk about the grapes.

Erin: Special request song! Don’t chide her for her glee, y’all.

Sandra: I really want to talk about the grapes.

Erin: OH, SNAP! Laura’s hand is appealingly white. Manly’s hand is appealingly sun-browned. Hand plus hand equals…BACK-HANDED PROPOSAL?!?!?!

Sandra: Hands … touching hands … reaching out … touching me … touching you … Yikes, wrong Ingalls!

Erin: Laura gently suggests that, um, having a ring might seal the deal.

Sandra: As a kid I thought this was kind of bitchy. Now I think she’s badass.

Erin: Fast-forward one week. It’s grape picking time. Does that sound decadent to you, too?

Sandra: THE GRAPES! “No, Laura, we are going to take a hella long ride today, because we must get to Lake Henry so we can feed each other frosted wild grapes.” Friends, the grapes are wild and the grapes are frosted. Bessie and Manly picked the grapes from the buggy and “ate of their tangy sweetness.” She says they watched the water. Maybe she did, but he? Was so watching her eat those grapes.

Erin: Stealth engagement, part the second! A cool slip over the first finger (remember? apparently people wore their engagement rings a bit differently back then.)

Sandra: I always thought Laura got my birthstone for her engagement ring because I was just that special.

Erin: I thought it represented their fiery passion. Wait, is that hesitation in Laura’s voice as she accepts Almanzo?

Sandra: Horses … home … horses …. home …

Erin: Almanzo knows how to convince a girl. He tells her about the little house he intends to build for her on the tree claim.

Sandra: Methinks he had her at “little house.”

Erin: Very on-brand, Manly. The lovers steal home and listen to two other lovers, Pa and Ma, in the middle of a serenade. This is essentially the prairie version of intense erotica. Unspoken emotions, reflected adoration…oh, goodness. 

Sandra: Barnum stands quietly. Symbolism alert.

Erin: Apparently Laura is feeling it too, for she brazenly suggests that Almanzo kiss her.  Okay, she tells him he may, which is probably answering all of his prayers since he knows better not to do so without her permission. PS: Eight-year-old Erin is now in a swoon. Smelling salts, anyone?

Sandra: Meanwhile, 10-year-old Sandra is all: wha? They haven’t kissed YET?

Erin: Cruel Laura does not describe the kiss.

Sandra: Never thought of it that way. I wonder if a description would have added to it, or taken away from the mystery?

Erin: If it was anything like my first kiss, the latter. Back inside, the fiddle equivalent of Al Green is packing up the violin and reveals that he knew what was going down on this trip. Both Pa and Ma seem a bit…hesitant here. Is it because they don’t talk about emotions, or because they think it’s not a great match?

Sandra: You think? I always thought the hesitation was over the first daughter leaving the nest.

Erin: Come on! Ma’s comment is a trifle arch.

Sandra: She does say it “gently.” I love how Ma does and says everything “gently.”

Erin: It’s the ultimate Ingalls modifier. “DRAW THE BROOM”…she said gently. “PA COULD SPAN MY WAIST WITH HIS HANDS…” she mentioned gently. Oh, yeah. The big announcement. Laura counters that she couldn’t have those wild horses without their very manly owner. Touché.

Sandra: Touché indeed. Question of the day: What was Laura too shy to say? “I love my horsey, buggy-race-winning, grape-eating boyfriend?”

Erin: “Ma. Remember that really long winter? The man makes his own pancakes. ‘Nuff said.”

Exeunt

 

Posted in These Happy Golden Years
18 comments on “These Happy Golden Years, Chapter 23: Barnum Walks
  1. Leslie says:

    OMG, I’m trying so hard not to wet myself as I read this again! Bravissimi!! :_)

    Also:
    “I have always felt really bad that they missed, like, pretty much half of singing school thanks to that dadburned horse. But maybe they liked the extra unchaperoned time?”

    *I always felt that way too!!* but never thought about them liking slinking off early to get more “alone time.” Gawds, I’m so naive! 🙂

  2. melissa says:

    Love the recap of one of my favorite chapters in the series! Funny but I heard “Sweet Caroline” the other day and it has been in my head ever since LOL!

    Kind of off topic, but relates to the singing school links. I’m always curious when I read that such-and-such, in this case Laura’s singing school book are on display in Mansfield. I guess I’ve always believed that they lost pretty much everything in the house fire.

    Gotta wonder how long Almanzo had been planning this and how the conversation with Pa went down!

  3. Daniel0107 says:

    Erin and Sandra, your creative summary is great, love the style!
    Now, from a guy’s perspective here, the singing school was just an excuse to have a legitimate courtship outing. Bringing Barnum gave him reason to leave early for time with Laura alone, albeit with a wild horse.
    Same with asking her out for the grapes. Hey, was it about frosted grapes? No, that is the fun sublety of courtship, making reasons to be together.

  4. Laura is SO-O-O restrained in writing this chapter! The most we get from her is the shakiness after the ring and the kiss and Pa clearing his throat. As a kid, I was always, “WHUT. That was it? Where’s the gooey detail?” Sigh. I would never chide Laura for her glee.

    Thanks for the awesome summary, bee tee dubs. 🙂

  5. LauriOH says:

    I’ve always assumed Laura was driving Barnum in circles around the church/school while Almanzo tried to jump in as in the end they were able to stay until the end.
    I think the proposal with the stars was more romantic to me at 15 instead of 8 but that says more about me than Laura.
    I tend to agree with Sandra about Ma and Pa’s hesitation. However, now I’m thinking Ma seemed to go fairly willingly after Pa to build a house in the middle of nowhere, not acting like say Mrs. Brewster. They probably know that Almanzo’s going to be a farmer and stay in once place – will that be okay for their daughter? But hey, she gets a nice horse out of the trade so it’s all good.

  6. I’m never one who is accused much of being innocent :), but I *so* didn’t read so many double meanings into this chapter, even as an adult! You’ve done your job, ladies… now I *must* go back and re-read the chapter with this less naive perspective! 🙂

  7. Hallie says:

    Oh god, please summarize more chapters like this. Absolutely hilarious! And I agree, I never saw so many double meaning is what went on.

  8. WakeboardMom says:

    I always felt like my house was so crazy compared to the Ingalls’ home. No one ever did anything “gently.” And I knew I’d never find a man whose hands could span my waist. : (

    I always loved, “You may kiss me.” Swoon indeed. So much better than Ana and Christian!

  9. Sue says:

    Oh, my innocence has been stripped from me.

    And now I wonder if Manly ever made pancakes for Bessie in the little house.

  10. Samantha says:

    oh my gawd you two have me absolutely ROLLING!!!

    Sandra: As a kid I thought this was kind of bitchy. Now I think she’s badass.
    Erin: Apparently Laura is feeling it too, for she brazenly suggests that Almanzo kiss her. Okay, she tells him he may, which is probably answering all of his prayers since he knows better not to do so without her permission. PS: Eight-year-old Erin is now in a swoon. Smelling salts, anyone?
    Sandra: Meanwhile, 10-year-old Sandra is all: wha? They haven’t kissed YET?
    Erin: Cruel Laura does not describe the kiss.
    Erin: “Ma. Remember that really long winter? The man makes his own pancakes. ‘Nuff said.”

    I absolutely LOVE reading the chapter reviews on this site. Having grown up with this as my first true series obsession, and now as an adult have gotten completely sucked into other series like Harry Potter, Twilight, Sookie Stackhouse, and now Outlander (of all things) i SOOO Heart re-reading and re-living the excitement of LIttle House!! The 9 year old in me is Squeeing in delight!

    Thank you!

  11. Sonya says:

    Laura’s holding out for the bling! I remember as a girl being surprised that it was garnet and pearl. The diamond industry has so conditioned us to think that engagement rings have to be diamond. I must admit that I used to yearn for more description of passion between Laura and Almanzo. Except for the hand caress, it seemed almost like a business deal going down!

    I hadn’t thought about Ma always being described as doing things gently. I’ve been looking at Ingalls/Wilder photos lately and Ma does not look especially gentle. She kinda looks like a tough old broad! Pa, OTOH, does look rather like the jovial wanderlust that he is portrayed to be.

  12. Sandra O'Brien says:

    Another triumph, ladies, hilarious! And you got the chapter with the kiss–yahoo! How many times I have misquoted Laura to my husband as I hold my face up to the ‘faint moonlight’ and say “You may kiss me now.” haha 🙂 (She actually says “You may kiss me good night.”)
    Such fun–thank you!

  13. You’ve done it again – I madly love your tour de force dialogues! More, more, more.

  14. BB/VA says:

    I always thought that Laura wanted a little time to think it over when she said, “it would depend on the ring.” After all, she had all those other guys following her around (Ernie Perry and that lawyer dude, plus who knows how many others). Maybe one of them would have come up with a better ring.

  15. Tracy Sapp says:

    I read somewhere that Laura said to Almanzo, ” Aren’t you going to kiss me?” When they were standing at the door of the Ingalls homestead after he gave her the ring. He said, ” I didn’t think you would like it.” This may have been in the Pioneer Girl manuscript.

  16. mary power says:

    it’d be cool if someone did a rewrite for the chapters originally covered here in the form of an obnoxious youtube series. no offense

  17. You’re not alone Samantha, I’m a big fan of Harry Potter and Outlander, too!

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