In this installment of the Little House series the Ingalls family (Pa, Ma, Laura, Mary and baby Carrie) leaves their small house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin and head for Kansas. Pa has made the decision to relocate to Indian country due to overpopulation of the Big Woods. Pa wants to live where animals roam free and aren't frightened away by loud axes and shotguns. Although Ma wants to put off the move until the warm weather arrives, Pa tells his family that they must cross the Mississippi river before the ice cracks. As the Ingalls move West they make camp in a new place each night. The Ingalls are faced with rainstorms, flooded land and swollen rivers. They endure a terrifying experience in which they attempt to cross a swiftly rising river and nearly lose their lives, as well as the lives of their horses, Pet and Patty. In all the hubbub, the family loses sight of their family dog, Jack, who they fear has drowned in the river. The Ingalls, and Laura in particular, are devastated by the loss of Jack. As the Ingalls make camp in the high prairie at nightfall Laura sees a wolf approaching and alerts Pa. Pa grabs his rifle and then realizes that the wolf is in fact Jack, who has managed to cross the river and track down his family. As Laura goes to bed that night she is full of contentment, reunited with her beloved Jack. As the family continues their drive across the prairie Pa stops the wagon and announces that he will build their house in this exact location, not far from the Verdigris River. Log by log Pa builds their log cabin with the help of Ma, who gets a sprained foot when a log falls on her. Pa makes friends with Mr. Edwards, a kindly neighbor who is also building a log cabin for himself. Mr. Edwards pitches in and helps Pa finish the cabin in record time. That night Ma makes a delicious dinner and invites Mr. Edwards to stay for dinner as their guest. Pa breaks out his fiddle and Mr. Edwards dances along to the songs. One day Pa comes racing home on Patty and announces that he has just seen a pack of fifty wolves. Pa is clearly shaken by the experience but he tries to downplay it so as not to frighten the children. Rather than talk about the wolves, Pa tells the family that he has met new neighbors who live six miles away and that he has spotted many Indians in the area. Laura is fascinated by the idea of Indians and yearns to see a papoose. That night Laura is awoken by the loud sound of howling wolves. As she looks out her window with Pa they see half a dozen wolves staring back at them. As Laura settles back to sleep Pa tells her that he and Jack will keep their family safe from the wolves. As the Ingalls continue to set up house Mary and Laura explore their environment, spending their days chasing snakes and playing in the wild grass. One morning as Pa goes out hunting he chains up Jack so that he will not follow him. He advises Laura and Mary not to unchain Jack, no matter what. That afternoon as Laura and Mary are playing outside they see two Indians arrive at their log cabin and walk inside their house as bold as brass. Mary and Laura are filled with fear and rage. Although Pa has instructed them not to unchain Jack under any circumstances they realize that their Ma and Carrie may be in grave danger.
This report prepared by Sandra Calhoune