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Going to Grandpa's
Winter was almost over in the Big Woods of Wisconsin where Laura lived with her Ma, her Pa, her big sister Mary, and her little sister Carrie. For days the sun shone and the weather was warm. The icicles dropped one by one from the roof of their little log cabin. The trees shook their wet branches, and chunks of snow fell.
Pa had been helping Grandpa collect sap from the trees in the Big Woods. Grandpa and Pa boiled the sap in a big kettle to make maple syrup.
One night, Pa came home late from helping Grandpa. He sat down in front of the fire and took Laura and Mary on his knees. He told them that Grandpa was almost finished making maple syrup.
"He's going to finish up next Monday," Pa said. "He says we must all come to his house to celebrate."
Pa's blue eyes twinkled. He had been saving the best for last.
"Hey, Caroline," he said to Ma, "there'll be a dance!"
Ma smiled. She looked very happy. She laid down her mending for a minute.
"Oh, Charles," she said.
Then she went on with her mending, but she kept on smiling. "I'll wear my delaine dress," she said.
Ma's delaine dress was beautiful. It dark green with a little pattern all over it that looked like strawberries. A dressmaker had made it in the East. That's where Ma had come from before she married Pa and moved out west to the Big Woods of Wisconsin.
The dress was kept wrapped in paper and laid away. Laura and Mary had never seen Ma wear it. But she had shown it to them once. She had let them touch the beautiful dark red buttons that buttoned up the front. She had shown them how tiny and perfect thestitches were.
The dance must be very important if Ma was going to wear the beautiful delaine dress. Laura and Mary were excited. They bounced up and down on Pa's knee and asked questions about the dance.
Finally, Pa said with a laugh, "Now you girls run along to bed! You'll know all about the dance when you see it."
Laura couldn't wait until Monday.
When Monday morning finally arrived, everybody in the little house got up early. They were all in a hurry to get to Grandpa's. Pa wanted to be there to help gather and boil the sap. Ma would help Grandma and the aunts make good things to eat for all the people who were coming to the dance.
They ate breakfast and did the morning chores quickly. Pa packed his fiddle carefully in its box and then pulled the big sled up to the gate.
Outside, the air was cold and frosty. Pa tucked them all under blankets in the sled, and away they went.
The horses shook their heads and pranced. The sleigh bells rang merrily as the sled rushed through the Big Woods to Grandpa's house. Laura felt snug and warm under the layers of robes.
In no time at all they came to Grandpa's house. Grandma came to the door and stood there smiling, calling to them to come in.
Grandma said that Grandpa and Uncle George were already working in the maple woods. So Pa went to help them. Laura and Mary, and Ma, with Baby Carrie in her arms, went into Grandma's house and took off their wraps.
Laura loved Grandma's house. It was much larger than their house at home. There was one great big room. Then there was a little room that belonged to Uncle George. And there was another room for the aunts, Aunt Docia and Aunt Ruby. And then there was the kitchen, with a big cookstove.
The day seemed very short. Laura and Mary played while Ma helped Grandma and the aunts in the kitchen. Laura liked to run the whole length of the big room. The floor was made of wide, thick slabs of wood. It was smoothed all over, and scrubbed clean and white.
The whole house smelled good. There were the sweet, spicy smells from the kitchen. There was the smell of the logs burning in the fireplace. And there was the smell of a clove-apple on the table in the big room.
At suppertime Pa and Grandpa and Uncle George came back from the woods with buckets full of hot maple syrup. Grandma put a huge brass kettle on the stove, and Pa and Grandpa poured the syrup into it.
Uncle George was home from the army. He wore his blue army coat with the brass buttons and he had bold, merry blue eyes. He was big and broad.
Laura looked at him all the time she was eating supper. She had heard Pa say to Ma that he was a wild man. Laura had never seen a wild man before. She did not know whether she was afraid of Uncle George or not.
When supper was over, Uncle George went outside the door and blew his army bugle. It made a lovely, ringing sound, far away through the Big Woods. The woods were dark and silent, and the trees stood still as though they were listening.
Laura went outside to watch Uncle George play his bugle. But when he stopped, she ran quickly back into the house.
Ma and Grandma were tidying up the kitchen while Aunt Docia and Aunt Ruby made themselves pretty in their room.Little House Parties. Copyright � by Laura Wilder. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.