Laddie: a true blue storyby Gene Stratton-Porter
"[...] "Of course!" I said stoutly, and then my heart turned right over; for I never had been in our Big Woods alone, and neither mother nor father wanted me to go. Passing Gypsies sometimes laid down the fence and went there to camp. Father thought all the wolves and wildcats were gone, he hadn't seen any in years, but every once in a while some one said they had,… See more details below
"[...] "Of course!" I said stoutly, and then my heart turned right over; for I never had been in our Big Woods alone, and neither mother nor father wanted me to go. Passing Gypsies sometimes laid down the fence and went there to camp. Father thought all the wolves and wildcats were gone, he hadn't seen any in years, but every once in a while some one said they had, and he was not quite sure yet. And that wasn't the beginning of it. Paddy Ryan had come back from the war wrong in his head. He wore his old army overcoat summer and winter, slept on the ground, and ate whatever he could find. Once Laddie and Leon, hunting squirrels to make broth for mother on one of her bad days, saw him in our Big Woods and he was eating SNAKES. If I found Pat Ryan eating a snake, it would frighten me so I would stand still and let him eat me, if he wanted to, and perhaps he wasn't too crazy to see how plump I was. I seemed to see swarthy, dark faces, big, sleek cats dropping from limbs, and Paddy Ryan's matted gray hair, the flying rags of the old blue coat, and a snake in his hands. Laddie was slipping the letter into my apron pocket. My knees threatened to let me down.
"Must I lift the leaves and hunt for her, or will she come to me?" I wavered.
"That's the biggest secret of all," said Laddie. "Since the Princess entered them, our woods are Enchanted, and there is no telling what wonderful things[...]".
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Laddie Stanton is a young man in his early twenties who lives with his parents, his younger brother Leon, and his younger sisters Sally, who gets married, Shelley, who goes away to music school, May, and "Little Sister," the youngest who simply adores Laddie. Their home is somewhere in Indiana, probably northern Indiana near the Limberlost region where so many of Mrs. Porter's books are set. There are also older brothers and sisters who have married and live in their own homes. The time must be late 1800s. The story is based on memories of Mrs. Porter's own childhood, and as the character who represents her, "Little Sister," is about seven and Mrs. Porter was born in 1863, it would make the time around 1870. The only modes of transportation mentioned are walking, horses, and trains--no automobiles, and there are references to the Civil War as something fairly recent. The mother and father reminisce how they married in Pennsylvania, moved to Ohio for a little while where they had encounters with Indians, and then came further west to Indiana to settle down. "Little Sister" narrates how the Pryor family has moved nearby from England trying to escape some deep, dark secret, and how Laddie falls in love with the Pryor daughter, whom he calls "The Princess." This is a really nice book that I enjoyed reading immensely. It is a bit slow at times, but the story is very pleasant. The Stanton family genuinely love and protect one another. They attend church and strongly believe in God. Morality, honesty, and simple kindness and civility are emphasized throughout. Other than a couple of curse words from Mr. Pryor, the bitter "village atheist," there is no bad language. And I am not alone in my assessment. The Book Peddler offers this book and says, "As with other works by this author, the dichotomy between the life of nature and beauty and that of 'the outside world' is the focus of this story. Subtitled 'A True Blue Story,' it's as memorable as Freckles and Girl of the Limberlost." Someone, whose name I failed to note, wrote, "Like Stratton-Porter, Little Sister was not meant for a life indoors. Her joy in life is being with nature, not living and working in confined rooms. This novel is a good one to read to understand Stratton-Porter's childhood and how it later affected her life and work. It is as important as a biography, because it is written by Stratton-Porter about herself."
A most beautiful story of a small town farm family. It is written thru the eyes of the youngest child of 12 in the family. She takes you thru all the good times, hard times, tragic times, etc. in vivid detail. It is truly like watching a movie. I could not put the book down. It teaches values sort of lost in today's world.
A childs view of God and life in another more innocent rural century.