Home is Where the Heart is"

Chapter 7 PICNIC ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK

The next morning Carrie felt really confused when she woke up. It took a while before she realized she wasn’t in her room in Burr Oak anymore. She was at Laura’s house in Walnut Grove! Carrie couldn’t help smiling. But as she thought about the previous night she became more serious. The dinner had been rather awkward. Both Laura and Almanzo had tried to get Carrie to join in the conversation, but Carrie had only answered shortly to all questions. She didn’t really feel like talking about Burr Oak, especially not in front of Jenny.

Carrie looked over to the other bed in the small room she was sharing with Jenny, but the bed was empty and had already been made. She got up, and washed her face and hands. Then she slowly put on a dress and combed and braided her hair.

When she walked into the kitchen Laura was making some sandwiches. Rose was sitting in her high chair by the table.
“Finally!”, Laura said. “I thought you were going to sleep all day! Jenny has gone to school, and Almanzo is working at the mill. I thought you and me would take Rose with us and have a little picnic by the creek. How does that sound?”
“Perfect!” Carrie replied. “This is going to be great, Laura”.
“Well, don’t get too used to it. Tomorrow you’ll be going to school with Jenny”, Laura said with a smile.
“What? Why do I have to go to school?!” Carrie was shocked. She sure hadn’t expected this!
“Of course you have to go to school. You can’t just ignore your education. Besides, do you really think Ma and Pa would have let you come here if I hadn’t promised to make sure you’d go to school every day?”
“I guess not…” Carrie muttered.
“Just don’t tell them I let you get today off ok? I thought you deserved a day to relax after your trip. Besides it will give us some time to catch up.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell them. I wouldn’t even tell them if you let me have every day off from school” Carrie said, smiling at her sister.
“Nice try!”, Laura replied. Both sisters started laughing.

Laura and Carrie settled down near Plum Creek with Rose and their picnic basket. They all sat on a big red blanket. Little Rose was thrilled to be out on a picnic with her mother and aunt. She was talking and singing the whole time. But after they had eaten she soon became tired, and finally fell asleep on the blanket.

“So….are you ready to tell me what’s wrong now?” Laura asked. Her face was serious now. She had been worried about her little sister ever since she got her father’s telephone call.
Carrie didn’t know what to say. She didn’t really want to talk about her problems.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Come on, Carrie. I’ve known you all your life. I think I know when something is bothering you. Besides Pa told me you’re not happy in Burr Oak”.
“Well…I’m not happy there. I hate it!”, Carrie felt the tears burning in her eyes. She didn’t even want to think about Burr Oak now that she was finally home again.
“Why? Is it because of Cassandra?”, Laura asked.
“What do you know about that?”
“Pa just told me that you and Cassandra haven’t been getting along very well lately. Do you want to tell me about that?”. Carrie didn’t reply.
“You can trust me, you know. I’m your sister. Maybe I can help”, Laura said. Carrie looked at her. Laura looked serious but friendly. Maybe she really could help her?
“I don’t know what happened”, she said. “Cassandra just changed completely when we moved to Burr Oak. She has some new stuck-up friends. They all dress like Nancy Oleson!”

Laura couldn’t help laughing.
“Really?” she asked. Carrie smiled and nodded.
“And they are all just as mean as Nancy was too. I just don’t get it. Me and Cassandra were so close. She wasn’t just my sister, she was my best friend. But as soon as we arrived in Burr Oak, things changed. We sort of made up before I left, but I’m not sure if things will ever be like they used to be”
“Probably not”, Laura said.
“Huh?” This wasn’t the response Carrie had expected.
“Well, you were best friends when you were younger. But things do change when you get older. You’ve both changed a lot since you moved”.
“I haven’t changed”, Carrie objected.
“Sure you have. I hardly recognized you. You’re not a little girl anymore. You seem so responsible and mature. Of course to me you’ll always be my little baby sister”, Laura said with a smile.
“Thanks…I think”, Carrie said. She couldn’t help smiling.
“Anyway, you shouldn’t expect you and Cassandra to be best friends again. Not many sisters can stay best friends. I mean me and Mary were best friends when we were little”.
“You were?”
“Sure we were. We did everything together. But as we got older we realized we didn’t have that much in common. Mary always liked the nice and quite games, and she loved to read and study. I guess I was kind of a tomboy. I loved to play ball or go fishing. So we both found other friends. But friends come and go, but sisters are forever. Like Pa would say, nothing is more important than family”.

“I guess you’re right. Do you think me and Cassandra will ever be like sisters again?”, Carrie asked.
“Of course. Just give it some time”.
“Thanks, Laura. Does this mean I have to go back to Burr Oak?”
“Well…sooner or later you’re going to have to go back. It is your home, you know. But you don’t have to leave until you’re ready”.

Laura stood up. Rose had woken up, and was now chasing a beautiful yellow butterfly.
“I better get back to the house now. Are you coming with me?”
“No, I think I’ll take a walk”, Carrie said.
“OK, just be back in time for dinner”. Carrie nodded, and Laura picked up the basket and walked back to the house with Rose.


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