Fandom: Little House on the Prairie (TV)
Characters: Harriet Oleson, Nels Oleson, Mrs. Foster, Hiram Baker
Prompt: 027 - Parents
Word Count: 705
Summary: Harriet finds out that she’s gong to be a mother.
Author's Notes: My little table
“Congratulations Mrs. Oleson.”
Harriet couldn’t get the image of Dr. Baker’s smiling face off her mind. Or his words: You’re going to be a mother.
Harriet wanted children, she supposed, but she wondered what kind of mother she would be. Her father loved her and had given her anything she wanted, and while her mother loved her, too, Harriet always felt closer to her father. Maybe it was because she and Mama had argued constantly about her figure and finding a husband…
Harriet sighed as she leaned against the side of the building that housed Dr, Baker’s office when Mrs. Foster came walking by.
“All you all right, Harriet?” she asked.
“Oh, yes, Mrs. Foster” said Harriet. “I was just enjoying the pleasant day. I may even go for a walk.”
“All right,” said Mrs. Foster looking at her strangely. Although Mrs. Foster was her friend, Harriet didn’t feel close enough to confide in her. Harriet picked up her skirts and walked over the bridge into the countryside.
Harriet rarely ventured out of town on foot, but today she found solace in the quiet of the country. The children were in school and the farmers’ wives were at home, working the early afternoon chores and gathering vegetables for supper. Harriet soon found herself at the lake.
Harriet stared down at her reflection. Harriet Oleson. Married. A Mother. Just a few years ago she never would have imagined it. After a man named Russell Harmon had broken their engagement, Harriet had sworn she would never marry. But here she was.
Harriet held her stomach. Maybe she would be good mother. After all she could give the child everything it would need and want. Yes, this child was privileged, after all its parents had money and status.
But then she thought of Nels. She had insisted on waiting to have children. Maybe he had been disappointed at first, but he had gotten used to things. Maybe now he didn’t want children. After all life was good for them. They quarreled quite a bit, but they were comfortable, and had already achieved a place of respect in Walnut Grove.
Harriet thought, how would I tell him? Finally she stood up and decided to rehearse.
“Uh Nels, I-“
“Nels, I’m going to have a child. And that’s that.”
“Remember Nels how you said that you wanted to be a father?”
Harriet fell to her knees in frustration. “Oh Nels!” she whined. “I’m going to have a baby!”
“What?!” came a voice.
Harriet turned and almost tripped and fell into the river as Nels stared at her.
“Harriet!” he cried and ran to help her. When she was standing upright he smiled. “That was close. You’ve got to be more careful.”
“Yes,” said Harriet. “I suppose I do.”
“I can’t believe it, Harriet. A baby!”
“So, you’re happy about it Nels?”
“Of course!” he cried.
“But, I said I wanted to wait-“
“Yes you said you wanted to wait.” Nels reminded her. “I’ve always wanted children. Why did you want to wait?”
“Oh, I don’t know Nels,” said Harriet. “Maybe because of Mama. I don’t want to nag my children all the time.”
“You don’t want to nag,” said Nels slowly. But he decided to avoid an argument. “Well, I think sometimes we can’t help being like our parents.”
“Yes,” Harriet replied. Her face brightened. “I’ll be more like Papa. Papa gave me everything I wanted. I was his favorite-”
“Harriet,” said Nels warningly. “Come on. Let’s go home.”
“How did you know I was here anyway?” Harriet asked as they headed towards town.
“Mr. Hanson told me he saw you walking out of town, and you never leave town if you can help it.”
“And now I have more of an excuse to stay put,” said Harriet.
“Harriet, it’s good to get some exercise.”
“Not when I’m with child. I should take it easy.”
“When don’t you take it easy?”
“I’ll have you know I work hard in that store, Nels Oleson. If it weren’t for me-”
“I know, I know, there wouldn’t be a store.”
“That’s right and-“
“I don’t think arguing is good for the baby.”
Harriet shut her mouth.
Title: What Changed?
Fandom: Little House on the Prairie (TV)
Characters: Harriet Oleson, Nels Oleson
Prompt: 077 – What?
Word Count: 465
Summary: Nels questions Harriet about what changed her attitude towards black people.
Author's Notes: My little table
It had been an exciting day, but the homecoming of the members of the Harriet Oleson School for the Blind had tired everyone out, and Nels and Harriet were happy to retreat to their bedroom that night.
Still, neither one was quite tired enough to fall asleep. Nels smiled at his wife as she got into her side of the bed.
"What?" she said, somewhat caught off guard by Nels's impish look.
"I was just thinking of the way you stood up to Larabee today," said Nels. "You did a good thing."
"He's a hateful man," said Harriet with venom in her voice. "Some people will never change," she muttered.
"I don't know about that," said Nels. "You did."
"What do you mean?" she responded.
"The way you treated Joe Kagan, Mrs. Terhune, and the black children, and how you stood up for them. You never would have done that before."
"Well," said Harriet shifting on her pillow. "I suppose I have changed. It's not unusual."
"No," agreed Nels. "But what changed you? What made you feel differently about black people?"
Harriet sighed, and closed her eyes to gather her thoughts. "Well," she began, "do you know who Sampson is?" Nels nodded. "One night during the trip, I overheard Sampson and Mr. Kagan talking. Do you know what Sampson was asking Nels? He was asking Mr. Kagan why I didn’t like him."
Nels nodded patiently. "Go on," he urged gently.
"Mr. Kagan replied that it was because Sampson was black and I was white, and to some people skin color mattered. You see," Harriet was twisting the quilt on the bed, "Sampson didn't understand the difference in skin color. Nels, he's never had eyesight. Can you imagine never knowing what color looks like?"
"No," said Nels.
"Well, because of that, Sampson didn't understand how color could make so much difference between people. To him, people were just people." Harriet stopped for a moment. "Nels, when I heard that, and stopped to think about it, I realized that little boy was right." Nels had a hint of a smile on his face. "It's the person's character that's important, not the color."
Nels squeezed her hand, and Harriet looked at him.
"I'm proud of you, Harriet."
"Well believe it or not, I'm proud of myself."
"Oh, I believe that," said Nels. They shared a chuckle.
"I have missed you, Harriet," said Nels.
"And I've missed you," she replied. "But I wouldn't change a thing. I'm glad I went on the trip," she declared. "Even if it was dirty, hot, long, and two perfectly good pairs of shoes were ruined!"
Nels grinned. "I guess you haven't changed too much," he said.
"No," agreed Harriet shuddering at the thought of losing another good pair of shoes.
Title: Courting Mrs. Oleson
Fandom: Little House on the Prairie (TV)
Characters: Harriet Oleson, Caroline Ingalls, Mrs, Kennedy, Mrs. Woodworth, Lars Hanson, Hiram Baker
Prompt: 081 - How?
Word Count: 705
Summary: In order to make Nels jealous, Lars Hanson pretends to court Harriet.
Author's Notes: This is based on what Caroline described in the episode “Family Quarrel”.
My little table
Lars Hanson took a deep breath as Dr. Baker smiled at him reassuringly.
“You’re our last hope,” the doctor mouthed from the distance.
Lars had been “assigned” by Dr. Baker to court Harriet Oleson. Well, to pretend to anyway. Nels and Harriet had had a huge falling out, and now Nels was living in one of the rooms above the post office. Dr. Baker figured if they could make Nels jealous, he would run back to Harriet and make up with her.
As Lars walked up the steps of the mercantile Dr. Baker quickly retreated to his office.
Meanwhile in the mercantile, right before Lars arrived, Mrs. Woodworth, Mrs. Kennedy, and Caroline Ingalls had been trying to convince Harriet to reconcile with Nels. “Please, Harriet, please reconsider,” said Mrs. Woodworth.
“Think of the children,” added Caroline.
“Think of how they’ll miss their father,” said Mrs. Kennedy.
“Are you suggesting I reunite with Nels for the children’s sake?” Harriet said darkly.
“No,” said Mrs. Woodworth trying a different tactic. “We’re suggesting you reunite with Nels because you love him.” Mrs. Woodworth, who was in her late fifties, smiled knowingly at Harriet.
“I know you two quarrel a lot,” said Caroline gently, “but I know you two are happy together.”
“Yes,” said Harriet in a softer tone than usual. “Maybe I will give things another chance with Nels.”
The three other women nodded. “Good,” said Mrs. Woodworth. “Now I would like to buy five pounds of flour if you don’t mind, Harriet.”
“Of course,” she replied. As Harriet began to scoop the flour, her mind on other things, the bell on the front door of the mercantile rang.
Lars Hanson entered carrying a bouquet of flowers.
The four women’s heads all slowly turned towards each other, and then towards Lars. What was he doing with those flowers?
“Good- good morning, ladies,” said Lars shakily. Caroline, Mrs. Kennedy, and Mrs. Woolworth nodded to him. Lars looked at Harriet and smiled. “And good morning to you, Mrs. Oleson. May I say you look lovely?”
Harriet looked at him for a long moment unsure of how to respond. Finally she grunted and went back to scooping the flour.
“I wanted to offer my sympathies to you, Mrs. Oleson” he continued coming closer to her. “That Nels is a fool!” he declared.
At this point, Caroline, Mrs. Kennedy, and Mrs. Woolworth exchanged troubled glances.
Harriet stared at Lars. “Actually Mr. Hanson I-“
Lars had reached the front of the counter and extended the flowers towards Harriet. “The way he has treated you has been unacceptable.”
Harriet looked at him almost slacked-jawed.
“I mean, dear Harriet” he said, softening his voice, “that it breaks my heart to see what Nels has done to you. You need someone who can provide for you: be a man, not a bully!”
He tried to put the flowers in Harriet’s free hand. Harriet drew back her hand in shock, realizing his intentions. “Just what do you think you’re dong Mr. Hanson? How dare you!” With that she threw a scoop of flour on him.
Lars, still holding the flowers, stepped back in shock.
But Harriet wasn’t finished. She came from behind the counter, brandishing the flour scoop. “Get out of this store!” she screamed.
“I’m- I’m sorry!” Lars yelled turning red and he stepped back. He tried to say more, but realized that he better get out of there. “Sorry!” he yelled before running out the door.
Harriet lowered the flour scoop and turned back to the other three women, who were as horrified as she.
“I can’t believe Mr. Hanson would do such thing!” Mrs. Woodworth said as Harriet placed the scoop on the counter.
“Neither can I,” sighed Caroline looking suspiciously in the direction of Dr, Baker’s office.
“Mrs. Oleson,” said Mrs. Kennedy, “I’m sure it was just a joke.”
“I doubt that,” said Harriet. “Nels did this… but how could he?”
“Now I am sure Mr. Oleson had nothing to do with this,” said Caroline.
Harriet wasn’t listening. She struggled to maintain her composure in front of her customers. “I knew he wanted to hurt me, but after fourteen years of marriage I-“
“Harriet,” Mrs. Woodworth began, “really, I do think it was a joke that went horribly wrong. One that Nels had nothing to do with.”
“Joke or not, it doesn’t matter,” said Harriet standing straighter. “Nels and I can’t turn back time. We can’t fix things between us. Our marriage is over,” she said looking at Mrs. Woolworth.
“Mrs. Oleson, please reconsider,” said Caroline.
“I’ve made up my mind, Mrs. Ingalls,” replied Harriet. “I am taking the children, and I’m moving back east for good.”
Caroline shook her head in sadness. As Mrs. Kennedy and Mrs. Woodworth tried to reason with Harriet, Caroline rushed out of the store. She still felt that she had helped to cause the rift between Olesons. As she walked, she saw Dr, Baker sprinting towards the mill. She met his eye and gave him a sharp look. He looked away quickly.
As Caroline continued home, she wondered how it would ever be possible to save the Oleson marriage now.
Title: Leaving College
Fandom: Little House on the Prairie (TV)
Characters: Harriet Oleson, Nels Oleson, Eleanor Oleson, Nelson Oleson Sr.
Prompt: 088 - School
Word Count: 1,085
Summary: Nels tells his mother that he’s leaving college to marry Harriet.
Author's Notes: This is based on what Nels said at the end of the episode “May I Have This Dance?”
My little table
“You wanted to talk to me, Nels?”
Eleanor Oleson, Nels’s mother, sat contentedly in her armchair at the Oleson’s comfortable but modest home. The Christmastime snow shone through the large looking-glass window behind her. She looked up from her book and smiled at her eldest son.
“Yes, Ma” said Nels sitting down nervously in the armchair opposite her. This armchair belonged to his father, Nelson Senior.
“Well what is it?” she said when Nels didn’t speak.
“It’s about Harriet and I, Ma” said Nels. “We-“
“You’re not calling off the engagement are you?” she said with a catch her voice.
“No, Ma, nothing like that,” Nels smiled. Eleanor simply nodded. “We’ve decided upon a wedding date. Well not the exact date, but we’ve got it narrowed down to the month.”
“And when would that be?” said Eleanor.
“You mean a year from this next March,” said Eleanor.
“No, I mean this next March.”
“But Nels, so soon? There’s not enough time to plan a proper wedding,”
“Weddings have been planned on shorter notice,” Nels replied. “Besides, I know with your help we can pull it together.”
Eleanor buried her cheek in one hand and then looked up. “Nels,” she began, “I think you should at least wait until you graduate school to marry. To balance your last term of school and a new wife-“
“Ma,” said Nels taking a deep breath. “I won’t be returning to school in January.”
Eleanor removed her book from her lap and laid it on the little table between the two chairs. “Whatever do you mean Nels?”
“I mean I’m done with school. I don’t want to continue.”
Eleanor started to speak several times, each time changing her mind. Finally she said. “Maybe you can transfer to a school closer to home for your final term. You must be homesick.”
“No Ma. I miss the family, but I’m not homesick. I’ve realized that college isn’t for me.”
“Nels,” said Eleanor. “Do you know what this family went through to send you to school? You are so close. Nels how can you give up now?”
“The truth is that I haven’t been happy for quite a while,” he replied. “Things aren’t the same this time around. My old friends have graduated, and well I’m older. It’s different. In fact I think the only reason I’ve stayed in school for this long is because of Harriet.”
“You mean, she told you to stay in school?” said Eleanor with some interest.
“Not exactly,” he said. “It was because I know if I left school I wouldn’t see her. And then of course I began courting her.”
“I see,” said Eleanor icily. “It’s clear to me what has happened here: You’ve been distracted by Harriet. God blessed you with a second chance to get your education, and you’re willing to throw it away for a woman!”
“Not just any woman. The woman I love and want to marry,” Nels declared.
Eleanor put her other cheek in her other hand. “If only you could have finished school earlier…” she trailed off.
“But I couldn’t,” said Nels. “And I’ve done a lot of growing up in the years I wasn’t in school.”
“Not enough apparently,” said Eleanor, “or else you wouldn’t do something as foolish as to leave school in your final term!”
Nels buried his head in his hands.
“Does your Pa know?” Eleanor asked.
“Yes,” said Nels looking up. “I had meant to tell you two together, but Pa overhead by accident when Harriet and I were talking. I asked him to tell you, but he told me I had to do it myself.”
“As is right,” said Eleanor. “You must take responsibility for your actions, Nels. And let me tell you Nels, if you leave college now you will make a huge mistake. In fact you will ruin your life if you marry Harriet.”
Nels stood up stiffly. “Ma, I think it would be best if we spent some hours apart,” he said. And he left the room.
Nelson Sr. rushed into the room a few moments later. “Goodness, Ellie, what did you say to our son?”
“I told him he would ruin his life if he left college to marry Harriet.”
“Well Nelson,” she said walking to the window, “It’s true. I think I could understand if it was a different kind of woman. But a woman like Harriet! She is proud, persnickety, and vain! She is precisely the opposite of the type of woman I want for Nels. How can a woman like that uphold the values we have taught Nels? She will spoil their children rotten!”
“But Nels loves her, and she loves, him,” said Nelson.
“Love is not enough to build a marriage on, Nelson.”
“No,” he agreed “But it’s the foundation of a marriage. Nels has brought home some very kind women, but he hasn’t loved any of them. Harriet brings out something in Nels that those others women can’t.”
“I know,” Eleanor admitted. “And I don’t understand it. How can he love a woman like that?”
Nelson came and put his arms around Eleanor. “Why question it?” he said. “Love is strange sometimes.”
“But what of his schooling? Why would he want to leave now?”
“You know he hasn’t been happy ever since he returned. Thinking back on it now I think he only went to college in the first place to make us happy. But I don’t think he ever wanted that business degree.”
“Maybe you’re right,” Eleanor admitted. “I guess I did put a lot of pressure on him. We’re not rich, but we’re comfortable and we’ve worked hard to get to where we are. I wanted him to have the chance you didn’t.”
“But it’s not for him,” said Nelson. “Whatever Nels ends up doing, it will be something he can do without college.”
“I guess so,” said Eleanor. Nelson patted her shoulder and left her to her thoughts.
Eleanor looked out the looking-glass window and watched Harriet and Nels walk by, making footprints in the snow. Nels did not smile and wave at her as he usually would. The couple walked arm-in-arm while Eleanor watched, deep in thought.
Nels, I want you to be happy. My only fear is that if you marry Harriet, you will fight her at every turn. Is the love you two share strong enough to withstand the trials of marriage?
Eleanor did not come around that day, but she would come around before the wedding.