These Happy Golden Years (Chapter 27)
These Happy Golden Years
Laura Ingalls Wilder
School Days End
At the end of the last day of school in March, Laura gathered her books, and stacked them neatly on her slate. She looked around the schoolroom for the last time. She would never come back. Monday she would begin teaching the Wilkins school, and sometime next fall she and Almanzo would be married.
Carrie and Grace were waiting downstairs, but Laura lingered at her desk, feeling a strange sinking of heart. Ida and Mary Power and Florence would be here next week. Carrie and Grace would walk to school without her, always after this.
Except for Mr. Owen at his desk, the room was empty now. Laura must go. She picked up her books and went toward the door. At Mr. Owen’s desk she stopped and said, “I must tell you good-by, for I shall not be coming back.”
“I heard you were going to teach again,” Mr. Owen said. “We will miss you, but we will look for you back next fall.”
“That is what I want to tell you. This is good-by,” Laura repeated. “I am going to be married, so I won’t be coming back at all.”
Mr. Owen sprang up and walked nervously across the platform and back. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Not sorry you are going to be married, but sorry I didn’t graduate you this spring. I held you back because I… because I had a foolish pride; I wanted to graduate the whole class together, and some weren’t ready. It was not fair to you. I’m sorry.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Laura said. “I am glad to know I could have graduated.”
Then they shook hands, and Mr. Owen said good-by and wished her good fortune in all her undertakings.
As Laura went down the stairs she thought: “The last time always seems sad, but it isn’t really. The end of one thing is only the beginning of another.”
After Sunday night supper at home, Almanzo and Laura drove through town and northwest toward the Wilkins claim. It was three and a half miles from town, and Barnum walked. The twilight deepened into night. Stars came out in the vastness of the sky and the prairie stretched dim and mysterious far away. The buggy wheels turned softly on the grassy road.
In the stillness Laura began to sing:
“The stars are rolling in the sky,
The earth rolls on below,
And we can feel the rattling wheel
Revolving as we go;
Then tread away my gallant boys,
And make the axle fly!
Why should not wheels go round-about,
Like planets in the sky?”
Almanzo laughed aloud. “Your songs are like your father’s! They always fit.”
“That is from the ‘Old Song of the Treadmill,’” Laura told him. “But it did seem to fit the stars and buggy wheels.”
“There’s only one word wrong in it,” Almanzo agreed. “No buggy wheels of mine will ever rattle. I keep ’em tight and greased. But never mind. When the wheels roll around in this direction for three months more, you will be through teaching school, for good!”
“I suppose you mean, for better or worse,” Laura said demurely. “But it better be for good.”
“It will be,” Almanzo said.