Her mother said that Laura could come with her while she milked the cow. They got all their fresh milk from the cow, Sukey. Laura could carry the lantern that would give them a little light.
So Laura put on her coat and her mother buttoned it up. Laura put her hands into her red mittens. Her mittens would keep her hands warm; they hung by a red string around her neck. Her mother lit the candle in the lantern. Laura was proud to be helping her mother with the milking and she carried the lantern very carefully. Its sides were made of tin, with places cut in them for the candle-light to shine through.
Laura walked behind her mother on the path to the barn. The barn was the animal’s house; the cows, chickens and pigs lived in the barn. Little bits of candle-light from the lantern leaped all around her in the snow. The night was not yet quite dark. The forest was dark, but there was a grey light on the snowy path and in the sky there were a few faint stars. The stars did not look as warm and bright as the little lights that came from the lantern.
Laura was surprised to see the dark shape of Sukey, the brown cow, standing at the barnyard gate. Her mother was surprised, too. It was too early in the spring for Sukey to be let out in the forest to eat grass. She lived in the barn. But sometimes on warm days her father left the door open so she could come into the barn’s yard. Now her mother and Laura saw Sukey behind the fence, waiting for them.
Her mother went up to the gate and pushed against it to open it. But it did not open very far, because their cow was standing against it. Her mother said, “Sukey, move over!”
She reached across the gate and slapped Sukey's shoulder. Just then one of the dancing little bits of light from the lantern jumped between the bars of the gate and Laura saw long, black fur and two little eyes. In the darkness her mother had just hit a bear.
The second half of the story will be posted next time.