Miss Plum let the children out early that afternoon and James, Cassandra and Grace rushed through town to head home. Grace busted through the front door.
"Are they here Ma? Are they here?" Grace asked excitedly. Caroline chuckled.
"No. Mary and Adam got on the train today; I received a letter from Mary. Then, Laura, Almonzo and Rose will be on the stage. They left yesterday." Caroline replied. Grace pouted.
"I wish they would hurry up." Grace stated. Charles, James and Cassandra rushed in.
"Ma! We found Pa." James laughed.
"I didn't realize I was lost." Charles replied with a smile.
"When will Laura be here? I want to see Rose!" Cassandra said and Caroline nodded.
"Soon Cassandra. They have to be able to get here." Charles said pulling one of Cassandra's braids lightly. Cassandra holds her braid.
"Ma, why do I have to wear these braids? Mary said she didn't." Cassandra said.
"But Laura wore braids until she was sixteen. Or almost sixteen at least." They all whirled and around and looked at the voice who spoke up.
"Carrie!" Caroline hollered and ran over to hug her. The two hugged each other tightly.
"Oh, I've missed you Ma." Caroline let go of Carrie. "I've missed all of you so much." Carrie hugged Cassandra, James and Charles. Finally, she got to Grace and held onto her for the longest. "How are you baby sister?" Grace nodded.
"I'm glad you're here. Ma said that it will take a while for Laura and Mary to get here, so at least you're home." Grace stated. Carrie nodded with a smile.
"Yes. Laura is in Sleepyeye. Mary is in New York. I wasn't very far away at all compared to them." Carrie replied.
"How was the trip?" Charles asked with his hands on his belt. Carrie nodded.
"It was good." She was still holding her suitcase with both hands on the handle. After a few minutes, she sat it on the floor to take the hat off of her head. It must be new; it looked awfully fancy for something Caroline would make. But Carrie was sixteen and a school teacher so she could afford fancier things than Ma could. Carrie's dark hair was swirled around her head in a bun. "I'm glad to finally be home. I had to take off this hat. It looks beautiful but it made my head dreadfully hot."
"Here, let me take your suitcase for you." Caroline replied. "I will put it at the foot of my bed." Caroline took the suitcase from Carrie and walked across the room and put it by the bed before coming back into the room. Carrie looked around the house. "I certainly have missed being here. It feels like so much has changed since I was last here and it has only been one term." Carrie chuckled.
"Have you talked to any other schools in the area to see if you'll be teaching again?" Caroline asked her. Carrie nodded.
"Yes. In fact, that was something I didn't want to write in my last letter, but something that I wanted to tell you in person. I will be teaching again next term." Carrie said with a huge smile on her face.
"Really? That's good. Where at?" Cassandra asked. Carrie looked at everybody before she finally spoke.
"I will be teaching here! I will be the teacher for the school right here in Walnut Grove!" Carrie exclaimed.
"Oh that's wonderful! You won't have to leave home again for a while then." Caroline said hugging her.
"That's one part of why I'm so excited." Carrie stated. "I feel like so much goes on while I'm not here. Plus I want to teach at the school I was taught in." Carrie paused.
"So that means that Miss Plum won't be teaching us anymore?" Cassandra asked and Carrie nodded no.
"I'm sorry Cassandra. She's getting married and has said that she can't teach anymore because her husband is going to need her help on the farm. But don't worry; I'm going to be a good teacher. Maybe not as good as Ma or Laura; but I'm going to try." Carrie said with a smile.
"I'm glad." Grace replied. Charles looked at his watch.
"Everybody, why don't we head over to Nellie's? It's about time for the stage to come in." He replied.
"Oh Charles! You don't really think that Laura and Almonzo will be on that stage do you? They wouldn't have time to get here from Sleepyeye." Caroline stated trying to be the voice of reason. Charles smiled really big.
"Come on Caroline. It couldn't hurt to go and see if they are here yet. Let's just hop in the wagon and go over there." He said. Caroline sighed after a moment.
"Alright, let's go." She said with a smile. They all went outside and hopped into the wagon. "Now, just don't be disappointed if Laura and Almonzo aren't there." Caroline said to the children. They galloped into town. Nels Olsen was standing there waiting for the stage to come in when they got into town.
"Hello Mr. Ingalls, Mrs. Ingalls." Nels started to say. "Carrie!" He exclaimed. "You're back from your first teaching job. How was it?" Carrie started to talk when the stage pulled up.
"Here they are!" Charles exclaimed. Two people got out of the stage, but neither was Laura or Almonzo. Caroline sat back smiling, but didn't say anything because she wasn't the type to point out when she had been right. Trying not to show his disappointment, Charles got Caroline and the children into the wagon and drove home. When they got there they saw a wagon was parked by the barn. There wasn't anybody in it.
"I wonder whose wagon that is." Caroline said. They got out and walked into the little house where Laura was sitting at the kitchen table with Rose.
"Grandma!" Rose exclaimed when she saw Caroline. She rushed over and grabbed her.
"Rose!" Caroline kissed her cheek and tears just poured out of her eyes. Laura stood up and smiled. After a few minutes Caroline hugged her.
"I've missed you Ma." Laura said. They embraced and nobody said a word until Caroline started laughing.
"What? What's so funny?" Laura questioned. Caroline had a hard time controlling herself.
"Your Pa drove into town because he was sure you were going to be on the stage." Caroline said and that made Laura laugh. Oh how Grace loved to hear her sister Laura laugh. She smiled.
"Almonzo decided it would be better just to come in the wagon." Laura said.
"That way when Laura is complaining about the ride being too long I can speed up and we can get here faster." Almonzo said with a smile walking out of the kitchen.
"I don't care how you got here. I'm just glad you are." Caroline replied and smiled. Then she hugged Almonzo.
Grace couldn't help but smile. Carrie was home from teaching. Laura, Almonzo and Rose were here from Sleepyeye. The only thing that would make this better is if Mary and Adam were here. Then the whole family would be here. Grace swallowed hard. Well not all the family because Albert couldn't be there; but there wasn't anything she could do to stop that. She was too little when he died anyway. The doctors just weren't sure what to do about his blood disease so he died, but he wouldn't be gone in the hearts of any of the Ingalls family. No matter how far apart they were, Grace said she would always carry a piece of each member of her family in her heart. Even at nine years old, she was keeping that promise.