Early that morning, Laura's father has gone to town to trade his furs for things the family would need. Now it was late evening and her father had not come home yet. Laura worried that he might have gotten hurt. He might have been eaten by a bear. Mother put supper on the table for Laura and Mary. Then they got ready for bed. They said their prayers and snuggled into the trundle bed.
Their mother sat by the lamp, mending one of Laura’s father's shirts. The house seemed cold and still and strange, without father.
Laura listened to the wind in the forest. All around the house the wind made a crying sound as though it were lost in the dark and the cold. The wind sounded frightened.
Her mother finished mending the shirt. Laura saw her fold it slowly and carefully. She smoothed it with her hand. Then she did something she had never done before. She went to the door and pulled the leather latch-string. The leather latch-string was a type of lock. She pulled it inside through its hole in the door, so that nobody could get in from outside unless she opened the door from the inside. She came and took baby Carrie, all limp and sleeping, out of the bed.
She saw that Laura and Mary were still awake and she said to them: “Go to sleep, girls. Everything is all right. Your father will be here in the morning.” Then she went back to her rocking chair and sat there rocking gently and holding Baby Carrie in her arms.
She was sitting up late, waiting for their father. Laura and Mary meant to stay awake, too, until he came. But at last they went to sleep.
In the morning her father was there. He had brought candy for Laura and Mary. He also brought two pieces of pretty calico cloth to make them each a dress. Mary's was a china-blue pattern on a white background and Laura's was dark red with little golden-brown dots on it. Her mother had calico for a dress, too; it was brown, with a big, feathery white pattern all over it.
They were all happy because her father had got such good prices for his furs that he could afford to get them such beautiful presents.
The tracks of the big bear that Laura and her mother met last night were in the snow all around the barn and there were marks of his claws on the barn walls. But Sukey and the pigs were safe inside.
All that day the sun shone, the snow melted some more. Water ran from the ice hanging on the edge of the house. The ice grew thinner. Before the sun set that night, the bear tracks were only shapeless marks in the wet, soft snow.
After supper her father sat Laura and Mary on his knees and said he had a new story to tell them.
The Little House in the Big Woods
Chapter 1 - Part 1: Introduction
Chapter 1 - Part 2: Wolves in the Night
Chapter 1 - Part 4: Smoked Meat
Chapter 1 - Part 5: Food for Winter
Chapter 1 - Part 6: Butchering Time
Chapter 1 - Part 7: After Butchering Time
Chapter 1 - Part 9: Winter Night
Chapter 1 - Part 10: About the Author & Where to Find the Book
Chapter 2 - Part 1: Winter Days and Winter Nights
Chapter 2 - Part 2: Jack Frost
Chapter 2 - Part 3: Laura and Mary Helped Mother with the Housework
Chapter 2 - Part 4: Churn on Thursday
Chapter 2 - Part 5: The Best Time of All
Chapter 2 - Part 6: Her Father Began to Play his Fiddle and Sing
Chapter 2 - Part 7: Father Told Stories
Chapter 2 - Part 8 - The Story of Grandfather and the Panther
Chapter 3 - Part 1: Introduction (The Long Rifle)
Chapter 3 - Part 2: Making Bullets
Chapter 3 - Part 3: Cleaning the Gun
Chapter 3 - Part 4: Loading the Gun
Chapter 3 - Part 5: Where and Why to Keep a Gun
Chapter 3 - Part 6: The Story of her Father and the Voice in the Forest Part 1
Chapter 3 - Part 7: The Story of her Father and the Voice in the Forest Part 2
Chapter 4 - Part 1: Christmas in the Forest
Chapter 4 - Part 2: Making a Gift for his Wife
Chapter 4 - Part 3: Christmas is Coming
Chapter 4 - Part 4: Children Make Pictures in the Snow
Chapter 4 - Part 5: Prince & the Blue Dress (part 1 of 3)
Chapter 4 - Part 6: Prince & the Blue Dress (part 2 of 3)
Chapter 4 - Part 7: Prince & the Blue Dress (part 3 of 3)
Chapter 4 - Part 8: Christmas Morning
Chapter 4 - Part 9: Santa Claus Only Gives Presents to Children
Chapter 5 - Part 2: The Weekly Bath
Chapter 5 - Part 3: Being Quiet
Chapter 5 - Part 4: The Story of Grandfather's Sledge and the Pig (part 1 of 4)
Chapter 5 - Part 5: The Story of Grandfather's Sledge and the Pig (part 2 of 4)
Chapter 5 - Part 6: The Story of Grandfather's Sledge and the Pig (part 3 of 4)
Chapter 5 - Part 7: The Story of Grandfather's Sledge and the Pig (part 4 of 4)
Chapter 5 - Part 8: Sunday Music
Chapter 5 - Part 9: Birthday Spanking
Chapter 6 - Part 1 - Introduction (Two Big Bears)
Chapter 6 - Part 2 - Getting Ready to Go
Chapter 6 - Part 3 - Milking Sukey the Cow (1 of 2)
Chapter 6 - Part 4a - Milking Sukey the Cow (2 of 2)
Chapter 6 - Part 4b - Review Questions: Milking Sukey
Chapter 6 - Part 4c - Answers for Review Questions
by John Larrysson
A native English speaker who has been teaching practical English in Hong Kong for over two decades.
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