Home is Where the Heart is"

Chapter 6 GOING HOME

“Carrie, your mother and I have been talking”, Pa said. It was morning and the whole family except Ma, who was doing a morning shift at the restaurant, was sitting at the table. “We realize that maybe we have been a little bit unfair with you. Since we moved here you have been doing a lot more than your share of the chores. We really appreciate that, we’re happy to have such a responsible daughter. Not that we consider it responsible to run away though”. Pa’s face become strict for a moment. He looked seriously at Carrie, who looked down on her plate.
“However”, Pa continued, “we’ve decided that there are going to be some changes in this house. Cassandra, starting today you will be responsible for taking care of Grace. You will walk with her both back to school and home again every day, and you have to watch her every afternoon that your Ma is working. Albert, you’ll be doing the cooking all the nights that Ma’s not home, and James you’ll be doing most of the cleaning. Understand?”. All three nodded. Not happy about it, but not wanting to make their Pa angry.

“But what about me?”, Carrie asked.
“Well, Carrie”, Pa said with a big smile, “you won’t be here”.
“I won’t? What do you mean, Pa?”
“Well, at least not for a while. I talked to Laura last night and she said she would love it if you came for a visit. That is if you still want to go?”
“Oh, Pa! Of course I want to go! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”, Carrie got up and hugged her father. She was so happy! She had never thought her parents would actually let her go to Walnut Grove. But she really was – she was going home!

The following week was really busy for everyone. While Albert, James and Cassandra were busy with their extra chores, Ma helped Carrie get ready for her trip. Carrie’s parents had worried about the travelling arrangements, but luckily they found out that Mr. and Mrs. Henderson, who lived across the street, where going to make a trip through Minnesota the very same week, and they agreed to travel through Walnut Grove so that they could accompany Carrie. It wasn’t decided how long Carrie was going to stay, but Pa said he’d come and get her when she was ready to come home. That way he would get to spend some time with Laura too.

But Cassandra wasn’t happy about Carrie’s trip.
“I can’t believe you’re leaving”, she complained. “I thought things were different now. But you’re still angry with me, aren’t you?”.
“No, Cassandra. I’m not angry with you. But I really want to go to Walnut Grove. I have to. I wish you’d understand… You’re still my sister, and I will be back”.
“Do you promise?” Cassandra asked.
“Yes, I promise”, Carrie said. “I’ll be back when I’m ready. This is just something I have to do, ok?". “Ok”, Cassandra finally said. But she still wasn’t happy. She couldn’t believe that now that she and Carrie were finally speaking again, Carrie was leaving them!

The journey from Burr Oak was long, but Carrie was so excited to be going home, she hardly thought about it. She couldn’t wait to get there! To see her old house, the school, Oleson’s mercantile. Everything! Carrie was really looking forward to seeing her sister Laura again, and Rose and Almanzo. And she was curious about Jenny. Carrie hoped she was nice. Luckily the Hendersons believed children should be seen and not heard, so they left her alone with her thoughts for most of the trip.

Then finally they arrived in Walnut Grove! Laura was waiting for Carrie outside Nellie’s Restaurant. Nellie was Nancy Oleson’s sister, and she had gone to school together with Laura. Nellie and Laura had always hated each other when they were little, but now as adults they were good friends. But Nellie had left Walnut Grove, with her husband and her little twins, even before Carrie and her family left. Now it was Nellie’s parents who ran the restaurant.

Laura run up to Carrie as soon as she got out of the wagon.
“Oh Carrie! I’m so glad you are here!”, Laura said as she gave her little sister a big hug. “Just look at you, you look so grown up! Not a little baby anymore, huh?”
“Of course not, I’m 13 years old now, you know”, Carrie said with a smile . “It’s so good to be home!”.

Mrs. Henderson’s voice interrupted them.
“We have to be going now Carrie. I hope you’ll have a wonderful time”.
“Thank you Mrs. Henderson. And thanks for taking me here”, Carrie replied.

Laura and Carrie walked over to the restaurant, where Almanzo waited together with two girls. The youngest appeared to be about 2 years old, and Carrie knew it had to be Rose. She hadn’t seen her since she was just a little baby so she didn’t really recognize her. She had strawberry-blonde hair, and was wearing a cute yellow dress. The older girl looked about the same age as Carrie and was holding Rose’s hand. She had dark braided her, just like Carrie, and was wearing a blue dress.

“Well well, Carrie Ingalls. You’ve become a real lady” Almanzo said. “I’m sure you remember our little Rosie, and this is Jenny – she’s your cousin. Or something like that….”. Almanzo looked a bit confused, and Laura started laughing.
“Don’t you mean niece? Or sister maybe?” Laura said with a laugh. “Oh, I don’t know, you’re related somehow”.

Carrie felt a bit shy when she met Jenny.
“Hello, it’s nice to meet you”, Jenny said politely.
“Hello”, Carrie said quietly.

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