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Laura Ingalls never forgot the first time she met Nellie Oleson. It was on Laura's first day of school, when she lived in Minnesota.
Laura and her big sister, Mary, and her sister, Carrie livedon a farm with their Ma and Pa and their bulldog, Jack. Living on a farm meant Laura was a country girl.
Laura loved being a country girl. She loved to run out of the house in the morning and see the dew sparkling on the prairie grass. She loved to wade in the creek where the minnows swam.
She loved to poke a stick at the old crab who lived in the creek and watch him come out snapping his sharp claws. She loved the good smells of hay and earth and wind.
Nellie Oleson was not a country girl. She was a town girl.
When Nellie Oleson first saw Laura, she wrinkled up her nose as though she smelled something bad. She didn't she was just being snooty.Nellie's I fatherowned a store, and Nellie thought that made her very important.
"Hmph!" sniffed Nellie Oleson, looking Laura and Mary up and down. She looked at their faded dresses and their long legs sticking out from under the hems. She looked at their braids, tied with thread.
"Country girls!" she said.
Laura didn't much like Nellie Oleson, if she did have, Pretty yellow curls even I tied with big blue ribbons. Nellie's dress store-bought. It was smooth and white, with light blue flowers all over. Nellie wore shiny black shoes, and her dress was as light and delicate as a spring day. She was pretty as a picture, except for that wrinkled-up nose.
Laura and Mary were barefoot. When the weather was warm, they always wentbarefoot.They loved the feel of the soft grass and warm dirt beneath their feet.Ma made all their clothes. She bought sturdy red calico for Laura's dresses, and sturdy blue calico for Mary's. Laura and Mary had never had a white dress like Nellie's.
But Laura and Mary were too busy that first day of school to worry much about Nellie Oleson. They had never been to school before, even though Laura was almost eight and Mary was going on nine. Until now, the places they had lived-in had been too far from any town for them to go to school.
They were excited to meet their teacher, Miss Beadle. She led them insidethe one-room schoolhouse and showed them where to sit.
Ma had given Laura and Mary a book to study from. But they did not have a slate.
"I will lend you mine," Teacher said.
"You cannot learn to write without a slate."
She lifted up the top of her desk and took out a piece of black board. That was the slate. There was a piece of chalk, too, to write on the slate with.
At noon, all the other children went home to eat.Laura and Mary's house on the farm was two and a half miles away. That was too long a walk to go home for dinner.So Laura and Mary took their dinner pail and sat in a shady spot against the in a schoolhouse.They ate their bread and butter and talked.
"I like school," Mary said.
"So do I," said Laura. "But I don't like that Nellie Oleson that called us country girls."
"We are country girls," Mary pointed out.
"Yes," Laura said proudly. "She needn't wrinkle her nose!"