Content Note: Animal Mistreatment
Chapter 4 is Christmas, so Laura will finally get a doll that isn't a vegetable! Woot!
Aunt Eliza and Uncle Peter and and Peter (Junior?) and Alice and Ella come to play with Laura and Mary and they make snow angels and get presents and it's all very lovely, even when Ma breaks into Laura's OMG DOLL reverie to demand that she share her things because IF YOU ARE A VIRTUOUS PIONEER, ALL YOUR STUFF IS PUBLIC PROPERTY. Which, I guess if you live in the same 1-room house all your life, maybe it kind of is. But still.
Chapter 4 was always a little traumatizing for me, though, because there's this:
“Eliza had a narrow squeak the other day, when I was away at Lake City. You know Prince, that big dog of mine?”
[...] “Well,” Uncle Peter said, “early in the morning Eliza started to the spring to get a pail of water, and Prince was following her. She got to the edge of the ravine, where the path goes down to the spring, and all of a sudden Prince set his teeth in the back of her skirt and pulled.
[...] “He tore a big piece right out of the back of it,” Aunt Eliza said. “I was so mad I could have whipped him for it. But he growled at me.”
[...] “So then she started on again toward the spring,” Uncle Peter went on. “But Prince jumped into the path ahead of her and snarled at her. He paid no attention to her talking and scolding. He just kept on showing his teeth and snarling, and when she tried to get past him he kept in front of her and snapped at her. That scared her.”
[...] “I turned right around and ran into the house where the children were, and slammed the door,” Aunt Eliza answered.
“Of course Prince was savage with strangers,” said Uncle Peter. “But he was always so kind to Eliza and the children I felt perfectly safe to leave them with him. Eliza couldn’t understand it at all.
“After she got into the house he kept pacing around it and growling. Every time she started to open the door he jumped at her and snarled.”
[...] “How long did this go on?” Pa asked.
“All day, till late in the afternoon,” Aunt Eliza said. “Peter had taken the gun, or I would have shot him.”
“Along late in the afternoon,” Uncle Peter said, “he got quiet, and lay down in front of the door. Eliza thought he was asleep, and she made up her mind to try to slip past him and get to the spring for some water.
“So she opened the door very quietly, but of course he woke up right away. When he saw she had the water pail in her hand, he got up and walked ahead of her to the spring, just the same as usual. And there, all around the spring in the snow, were the fresh tracks of a panther.”
“The tracks were as big as my hand,” said Aunt Eliza.
“Yes,” Uncle Peter said, “he was a big fellow. His tracks were the biggest I ever saw. He would have got Eliza sure, if Prince had let her go to the spring in the morning. I saw the tracks. He had been lying up in that big oak over the spring, waiting for some animal to come there for water. Undoubtedly he would have dropped down on her.
OMG OMG OMG SHE NEARLY SHOT THE DOG.
This is why you shouldn't keep guns at home, kids. Because your dog will try to communicate to your mom that there's a panther at the well and your mom will kill your dog.
Which: What? We've had dogs and cats all my life, some of them more strong-willed than others, but even I knew as a child that when something like this happens, the dog is trying to tell you something. It may not be "little Timmy fell down the well" or "panther!" but dogs are communicative creatures. But, no, let's just jump to the dog being irreparably ill and shoot it.
Also, Uncle Peter asks if the children received not COAL in their stockings, but SWITCHES. For whipping.
“Well, well!” Uncle Peter said. “Isn’t there even one stocking with nothing but a switch in it? My, my, have you all been such good children?”
But they didn’t believe that Santa Claus could, really, have given any of them nothing but a switch. That happened to some children, but it couldn’t happen to them. It was so hard to be good all the time, every day, for a whole year.
Chapters so far: 4. Mention of corporal punishment so far: 2.
And then Ma makes pancake people and they eat them from the feet up. And it is AWESOME. Now I want some pancakes.