After The Prairie: A continuation of the lives of Michael London's Little House On The Prairie TV characters.
For episode summaries and a list of characters, please visit the homepage listed in my profile.
Introduction: This fan fiction series takes place after the end of Little House: A New Beginning, also known as Little House on the Prairie. It picks up where the final episode "The Last Farewell" left off.
I will mention a few things. First, the TV show had major continuity errors. For my series, I am going to say that the year is 1890, and Laura Ingalls Wilder is 23 years old. Secondly, since the age gaps between some of the characters were never well-defined, I'm going to define them myself. Finally the fate of some of the characters will not known right away, but things will be revealed in time.
As for the fate of Albert Ingalls – there is much debate on whether his character did die or not. My belief is that he did die and so he is not alive in this series.
Now it's time for the legal stuff:
Disclaimer: This fan fiction is based on the Michael Landon television series. The storylines do not follow the Little House books, Ms. Wilder's real life, the Beyond the Prairie movies, or 2005 Little House miniseries. I am not affiliated with these groups. I do not own the characters from the books, movies, or TV series.
Episode One: "Goodbye and Hello" (Part One)
Note: I've decided to refer to Mr. Edwards by his first name Isaiah for this series.
Late Spring, 1890
This takes place a few days after "The Last Farewell". Laura, Almanzo, Jenny, Rose, and Isaiah have decided to come and stay with Charles, Caroline, and their family in Bur Oak Iowa.
"Oh Ma," said Laura. "I can't wait to see how much they've grown up. I've missed them so."
The train pulled into the station at last. Rose squealed in delight. Charles and Caroline exchanged content glances. Isaiah and Jenny grinned. Almanzo hugged Laura and gave her a huge peck on the cheek.
"Finally Beth. Now maybe I can get some real food," he said.
"When we get to the house," said Caroline.
"Now Manly, you better give my Ma time to rest before you ask her for a home cooked meal, said Laura.
"Who said your Ma was goin' to cook it Beth?" he said jokingly nudging Laura.
"Almanzo Wilder!" said Laura in mock admonishment.
"Come on, we better get off this train before it starts up again," said Charles grinning.
Although they heartbroken Walnut Grove was gone, they were happy their ltown hadn't died in vain. The Wilders and Isaiah were to begin a new life in Bur Oak with the Ingalls family. They were to stay in Ingalls' home until they found jobs and places of their own. Charles and Caroline, who had lived in cramped quarters for so long, finally had the big house they always wanted to provide a comfortable home for their children.
They got off their passenger car and headed to the baggage car to pick up the rest of their things. After that, they saw James appear in the crowd.
"James!" yelled Laura handing Rose to Almanzo. She went to hug her brother. "I've missed you so much!"
"I've missed you too, Laura" he said hugging back.
Everyone greeted him with a warm welcome.
"Look at how much you've grown," said Laura.
James now sixteen had grown taller than Laura. His blond hair and darkened into a light shade a brown and he had a slightly muscular build.
"Yeah, I'm taller than you now," he said.
"That's not too hard to do," laughed Laura.
Jenny walked up to James.
"Hi," she said.
"Hey you must be Jenny," he said.
"Yup," she replied.
"I think Carrie and Cassandra will be very happy to see you," said James. "You're the same age you know."
"I know," said Jenny. "I can't wait to meet them."
"Well we best be getting to the house," said Isaiah. "My stomach's so sick of train food that a horse would taste good!"
Everyone laughed as they headed to the wagon James had brought to the station.
The wagon stopped in front of the Ingalls' home on a busy residential street in Bur Oak.
"Ma, the house looks beautiful," breathed Laura, taking it all in. Sure the boarding house had been a mansion, but Laura enjoyed the architecture that wasn't seen in Walnut Grove. Everyone unloaded the wagon and then Isaiah and James went to return the wagon and horses to the neighborhood livery.
"It is beautiful," agreed Caroline smiling. After the difficult first year in Burk Oak, the Ingalls' luck had changed and they were able to move into a bigger home. The house was about the size of Laura and Almanzo's first home in Walnut Grove.
"Well let's go inside-" Laura began.
Caroline was about to say something when Charles stopped Laura.
"Wait, half-pint. I want the girls to run out here. Wait until you see Grace!"
A little later James and Isaiah retuned. Charles looked at the dark house disappointed. He turned to Caroline. "Well let's go inside. I thought for sure the girls would be home. They haven't seen their sister Laura in years."
Caroline smiled knowingly to herself. "I suppose the girls had something important to tend to," she said looking at Charles. Charles caught her eye and nodded in understanding.
"I suppose you're right," he said grinning.
They went inside the house and into the kitchen.
"Sure is dark in here for a welcome home," he said loudly.
He turned on one of the lamps and there stood Carrie and Cassandra holding a cake.
"Surprise!" they yelled. Caroline promptly turned off the kerosene lamp and opened the curtains, revealing the wagons and people scurrying by.
"Well I see you girls have made me a cake, but what's everyone else gonna eat?" joked Isaiah.
He pretended to try and grab the cake away. Everyone laughed as the cake was placed on the dining room table.
"You sure haven't changed, Mr. Edwards" said Carrie and she swatted his hand away.
"Look like you have, Carrie," Laura said.
Although the quiet girl with brown hair and brown eyes still wore her hair in braids, she had matured a lot over the years. After Laura had married, Charles helped Carrie to realize that she was now the "big girl" of the house, and needed to act like it. It took some time, but Carrie finally mended her childish "little sister" ways.
Carrie was now very much like her mother. Both Carolines did their best to keep their temper, but when each had finally had had enough, watch out!
"How I've missed you Laura," said Carrie who had found a new level of respect for Laura since her marriage. Laura was no longer the bossy older sister, but now a role model.
Cassandra joined them. Although Cassandra was an aware and sensitive child, she was quick to let someone know when she didn't like what they were doing. At times, Cassandra acted too much in haste, but she was gusty young girl who wasn't afraid to take chances.
Laura had one arm around each of them when Rose walked up and pulled at her mother's skirt.
"I can't believe how much you've grown Rose," said Cassandra kneeling down to her niece.
"I can't believe how much you haven't grown, " said Almanzo good-naturedly to Cassandra.
"Hey!" said Cassandra standing back up as tall as she could. She had always been small for her age.
"Don't make fun of us short people," said Laura "I can still fight you know."
"Oh you wanna fight do you? " said Almanzo making mock fists. Laura joined him.
Meanwhile Carrie, Cassandra and Jenny greeted each other.
"It's so good to meet you both, " said Jenny.
"It's going to be great having another girl our age around here" said Carrie.
"Oh great, more girls" said James jokingly. "There's too many womenfolk around here as it is."
Carrie, Cassandra and Jenny all looked at him exclaimed "James!"
Suddenly everyone stopped their greetings as footsteps could be heard coming down the stairs. Suddenly one blonde braid appeared, and then another. Then a face appeared to go along with them.
"Grace!" said Laura.
The eight year old ran to greet her second eldest sister. Grace's blonde hair and facial features made her look very much like Mary had as a child, but Grace in personality, was more like Laura.
"Well I'll be," said Isaiah. "If she hasn't gotten quite pretty in the last three and a half years. B'fore you know it the boys will be after her."
"Boys? Yuck!" said Grace making a face.
"You say that now," said Laura. "Just you wait Grace."
Everyone migrated into the living room where a photo sat on one of the end tables. They were silent for a moment as Laura picked it up.
"If only Albert could share this moment with us," said Laura wistfully.
Albert had died of a rare blood disease several months back, but he had spent his last days in Walnut Grove and had been buried there. His death had been hard to them all - especially to Charles and Laura.
Almanzo put an arm around Laura. "I know you miss him Beth," he said. "We all do."
Laura tried to hold back her tears. "Yes I do, but Albert wouldn't have wanted me to cry. Today is about celebrating." She placed the photo back on the end table with one arm, while she dried her tears with the sleeve on the other arm.
After a few moments of silence, Charles spoke. "We best be figuring out the sleeping arrangements."
After a moment Caroline spoke. "Well I thought we should put Isaiah in the back room behind the kitchen, put Jenny upstairs with the girls and put Laura, Almanzo, and Rose in the guest room downstairs."
"Now Caroline I think Laura and Almanzo are going to want some privacy," said Charles starting to get in a better mood.
"We're plenty used to small spaces, Pa," said Laura as she exchanged a glance with Almanzo.
"Not after living in that mansion," said Charles jokingly, referring to the boarding house Laura used to run. "Now this place may not be as big, Half-Pint, but it's big enough to give you two your own room."
"Well Mr. Edwards can share a room with me" said James. "It gets awful lonely in there by myself anyway." Albert has once occupied the empty bunk bed in James's room.
"That's fine with me," said Isaiah. "I'll enjoy the company."
"Rose and I could take the back room," said Jenny after a moment. She turned to Laura. "Then you and Uncle 'Manzo could use the guest room."
"Ma says it gets cold in that back room. I think you and Rose should take the guest room" said Laura.
"Yeah Beth and I will be fine in the back," said Almanzo.
"That's because we'll be closest to the kitchen," Laura joked.
They all laughed.
"Okay it's settled then-" began Charles.
"Actually Pa," interrupted Carrie. "We kind of wanted Jenny to share with us." Carrie and Cassandra exchanged glances.
"All five of you girls in one room?" said Caroline matter-of-factly. "I can hear the giggling now. How will Rose ever get to sleep?"
"Well I guess Rose is old enough to stay in the guest room by herself," said Laura looking at Jenny. "Rose has had her own room after all."
Rose shook her head. "What's wrong Rose?" Laura asked her four-year-old daughter. "Don't you want to have your very own room in Grandma and Grandpa's house?"
Rose looked right at her mother. "No Mama," she said matter-of-factly. Laura, looking concerned, turned towards Caroline. "I think she's nervous about staying in a strange room. When we first moved to the boarding house, it was the same way."
Jenny exchanged a disappointed glance with Carrie and Cassandra. "Well I guess I'll sleep downstairs with Rose then."
Carrie learned down to Grace with an idea. "Grace," she said "How you would feel about giving Jenny your bed and sleeping downstairs with Rose?"
"Would you like to share a room with your Auntie Grace?" Laura asked Rose, kneeling by her.
The little girl's demeanor changed. "Okay!" said she smiling. She had taken an instant liking to Grace.
Grace, who normally shared a room with Cassandra and Carrie, didn't like this idea. "N-" She caught the glance of Caroline.
"You've always wanted to be a big sister," Cassandra chimed in. "You get to look after Rose."
Jenny chimed in. "I would like to get to know your sisters better Grace."
Grace was beginning to give in. She looked at Caroline once more. "I suppose." Caroline smiled at her youngest child warmly "Okay I'll share with Rose" Grace took Rose by the hand and smiled at her.
"It's settled then," said Charles. "Let's get the bags into the rooms and then we'll have us some of that cake!'
Later that night as everyone danced, Isaiah took a turn playing the fiddle so that Charles could dance with Caroline.
After a few moments of dancing Caroline spoke. "Charles, I was just thinking about Harriet Oleson," she said.
"Now Caroline, you've gone and spoiled my good mood," Charles joked.
"Charles!" admonished Caroline while smiling. "Now I'm serious. I think it's a shame that she was unable to see Walnut Grove one last time."
"I agree with you there," said Charles. "You know, Nels was a good friend. I'll wonder what will become of him and his family. We always along got along when we saw each other, but never got to writing each other the way I do with John Garvey."
"Sometimes we makes good friends, but then we go our separate ways," said Caroline.
"I suppose you're right," said Charles. "We always had our disagreements with the Olesons. It's probably for the best."
They danced together some more, thinking of the family that for better or worse, had been a large part of their lives for many years. Caroline said what was on both their minds.
"Do you think we'll ever know what became of them?"
"Well here we are," said Nels Oleson, "Minneapolis."
After staying in a hotel for a few days in Mankato, Nels, Nancy, Willie and Willie's wife, Rachel, had left for Minneapolis to be close to Harriet who was still ill in the hospital.
The Olesons stepped out of the train station and Nels hailed a taxi coach.
"I've never been to a city so big before," said Rachel as she looked around.
"This place is much bigger than Winoka ever was," Willie admitted.
"Where's Winoka?" asked Nancy.
"It's a place in North Dakota we lived for a couple months; the Ingalls were there too." Willie said.
Nancy rolled her eyes at the thought of Carrie and Cassandra.
The driver had finished loading the luggage on top of the taxi. He started to look impatient.
"Come on," said Nels as he helped Nancy into the taxi, "Let's get to the hotel and wash up and eat lunch. We want to make sure we have our strength when we see Harriet." Willie helped Rachel in.
Harriet Oleson lay in her hospital bed musing to herself. Here she was a successful businesswoman who had fallen into a deep depression. Although she had attended her son's wedding, and made a small peace with Willie and Rachel, she knew relations with them were still strained. Then, while one daughter had grown to be a successful and happy woman, the other was, to put it mildly: difficult.
Still, Harriet loved all her children and wanted nothing but the best for them. As she chewed her popcorn, she thought carefully about why she was in the hospital. The demise of Walnut Grove had given her a wake up call. The doctors kept saying that she was very ill, yet Harriet for the first time in the last six months began to doubt this. After all she was a hypochondriac.
She thought back to the day she just couldn't get out of bed. She wasn't ill, at least physically, but something was wrong. Doctor Baker certainly couldn't figure it out, which didn't surprise Harriet, but neither could the city doctors, ever after running test after test after test.
But when Harriet received the news of the destruction of Walnut Grove, an ache stirred in her. Why was she having this reaction she wondered? It was a backwater little town in the country. She was from back east. She had sacrificed her lifestyle and left her family to move west to a town she had never heard of. How in the world had Nels convinced her to bring Walnut Grove it's first (and only) store? Try as she might to deny it, she missed that little town.
Harriet's eyes widened as she bolted upright in her bed, causing the bowl of popcorn to topple. She had felt despair when she first came to the hospital, much like she did when Nellie had moved away, but as the months passed that despair had eroded and she had come to enjoy the attention and pampering she received at the hospital. Now that pampering had come at a cost—the cost of being able to see Walnut Grove one last time.
"Now, remember," said Nels trying to prepare Willie, Rachel, and Nancy for their first visit with Harriet, "Harriet had been very ill for a long time. She may not be in the best of shape. It's possible that we won't even recognize her." He turned to begin up the stairs in the hospital lobby when suddenly Harriet, wearing a new dress, burst into the lobby from the outside with shopping boxes.
"Nurse I think I forgot one of my old dresses here-" she turned around "Nels!"
Nels and the other Olesons stared at Harriet flabbergasted. "Harriet! I thought you were sick!" Nels exclaimed.
"I thought I was too Nels," she said dropping the boxes and running to hug him tearfully. "But I'm not anymore."
Nels's expression of shock quickly changed to one of warmth, happiness and love. "I've missed you so much, Harriet" said Nels as he embraced her.
Willie, Nancy and Rachel smiled, happy to see Harriet was all right.
"Mother, you're all right," said Willie smiling.
Nancy spotted the boxes Harriet had brought. One of them had her name written on it. She picked it up. "I'll say," she said.
That night in Bur Oak, Charles and Caroline lay in their bed eating their own bowl of popcorn. Or rather, Caroline was eating it while Charles stared at the uneaten kernels in his hand.
"It's been quite a day, hasn't it?" said Caroline.
"Sure has," said Charles.
"It's good to have Laura here," said Caroline.
Caroline sat up in bed. "Charles, I know something is wrong."
Charles sat up in bed. "Caroline," he began. "This whole thing has just gotten me thinking. Albert's gone, and so is Walnut Grove. And here we are in Bur Oak just biding our time."
"Charles Ingalls," said Caroline scolding him. "For as long as I have known you, you have never just bided you time. You've worked hard to give this family the best life possible, and it's finally paid off."
"I know, Caroline, I know," said Charles. "But there are more important things than having a big house. Having your family is what makes life worth living."
"I agree," Caroline.
"I was thinking about Mary and Adam in New York," said Charles. "They're all alone up there-"
"-and doing just fine" said Caroline. She smiled and added "but I do miss them."
"Caroline, you ever thought about moving to New York?"
There was a pause, and then Caroline inhaled sharply. "Well, the thought has crossed my mind," she began slowly. She turned to look at her husband. "But you hate the big city... New York is much bigger than Bur Oak, and we're so settled here."
"I know," said Charles. "But as a man gets older, some things matter less to him and others matter more." He turned to look at his wife. "If I had all my children with me, I think I could stand to live in the big city this time around."
"All your children Charles?" said Caroline leaning towards him. "You're going to ask Laura and Almanzo to come with us?"
"Yes I am," said Charles. "Isaiah, too. I want us all to be together in New York."
Harriet and Nels lay in their bed in the Minneapolis hotel room. It had been quite a day for them, being reunited after six long months. As much as they argued, Nels and Harriet did love each other and didn't take their twenty-seven years of marriage lightly. Although Harriet was often the decision-maker, and sometimes went a little too far, or often a lot too far, there were times when she would discuss things with Nels first.
"Nels," she said quietly knowing that he was awake.
On any other night, Nels may have gone back to sleep, or tried to anyhow. But he hadn't seen his wife in six months. "What is it, Harriet?"
"Do you ever wish you could be close to Nellie again?" she began.
"Of course I do," he replied.
"Well," she continued, "Nels we haven't really discussed what we're going to do now that Walnut Grove is gone." She paused, deciding to come right out and say it. "I think we should move to New York City to be close to the Nellie and the grandchildren... and Percival " she added quickly.
Nels turned around completely to face his wife. "Why Harriet, I think that's a wonderful idea!"
"You do, Nels?" she asked smiling.
"Yes, I do. Tomorrow we'll tell the children. Let's get some sleep."
They both went back to sleep with a smile on their face.
"Rachel and I won't be going to New York with you."
Willie had made his announcement gently but firmly. Nels sighed. He mentally braced himself for what could be a nasty showdown. He looked over at Harriet.
"But Willie," she said bewildered. "Why not?"
"Harriet," Rachel began "We've gotten an offer from my Pa."
Rachel's father, Harrison Brown, had moved to Montana earlier in the year. He had a successful blacksmithing business out there.
"W-What kind of offer?" asked Harriet. "If it's money, I can more than-"
"It's not money, Mother" said Willie. "At least not in the way you're thinking. Harrison has been nice enough to offer me the job of accountant for his company."
The Olesons' table at the fancy hotel restaurant grew strangely quiet while they waited for Harriet's reaction.
Harriet remained strangely calm. Whether it was the six months in the hospital or the fact her relationship with her son was strained, one couldn't say for sure, but Harriet did not react the way anyone thought she would.
"I see," she said finally after what seemed an eternity "You and Rachel have to lead your own lives." She nodded at them. " Excuse me."
Nels looked as his wife left the table and looked back at Willie and Rachel.
"It went better than I thought it would," said Rachel trying to be helpful.
"Yes," admitted Nels slowly.
"But you don't agree with what we're doing, Pa do you?" said Willie.
Nels took a deep breath, choosing his words carefully. "In any other situation I would support you two completely. But Harriet did have a mental illness, and I thank God she was able to bring herself out of it. But she is still recovering... and the best thing for her is to be surrounded by family"
"Pa," said Willie looking down. "Mother has you. She also has Nancy and soon Nellie and my niece and nephew."
Nels was about to say something, when Rachel spoke up.
"My Pa doesn't have anyone, Nels" said Rachel. "I love my Pa, and I want to be with him, just as much as you and Harriet want to be with Nellie."
"That I can understand," said Nels.
"I'm going to miss you," said Willie. "I've never lived so far away from my parents before."
"You're going to do just fine," said Nels patting Willie on the shoulder solemnly but proudly.
"We're going to visit as soon as we can," said Rachel.
"Yeah because I don't think Mother's going to fancy coming to Montana," said Willie.
The three laughed, as the mood lightened.
"I'm going to go check on Harriet," said Nels getting up from the table. "I think we're done here. I'll have them add the dinner to our bill," he finished as he left.
Nancy, who had been silent all this time, finally spoke.
"Well aren't you going to try to change their minds?" she asked angrily. "We just can't move to New York!"
"Sorry Nancy," said Willie as he helped Rachel up. "You're just going to have to tell Mother and Father that you lied about liking Nellie after all."
Rachel leaned down and took Nancy's hand. "Nancy, you should give her a chance. I mean you and I sisters by marriage, Is having one really that bad?" She and Willie left.
But your not Nellie, Nancy though darkly.
It was several weeks later. After taking care of the necessary business the Ingalls, Wilders, and Isaiah were ready to head to New York. At the train station Isaiah swung Grace up into a passenger car.
"You know this train here is gonna have a layover in Minneapolis," he said to Grace.
"A lot of people think that's the capital of Minnesota, but it's actually St. Paul," she replied.
"I see they've been teaching you well up in those Bur Oak schools," said Isaiah. "Course I prefer learning when things are by going there."
"Well we are going there," said Grace. As they settled into their seats, Grace pointed to a curtain at the end of the car. "What's that?" she asked Laura.
"That's the first-class section" explained Laura. "They get to sleep in beds in private rooms, but these chairs will be comfortable enough for us."
As the train began to move Laura opened a new remembrance book and started writing.
CONTINUED IN EPISODE TWO