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Laura Ingalls Wilder
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Laura lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin in a little gray house made of logs. The great, dark trees of the Big Woods stood all around the house. There were no other houses nearby. There were no roads. There were no people. There were only trees and the wild animals who made the Big Woods their home.
At night, Laura lay awake in the little trundle bed she shared with her sister Mary, and she listened in the dark. She could not hear anything at all but the sound of the trees whispering together. Sometimes, far away in the night, a wolf howled.
It was a scary sound. Laura knew that wolves could eat little girls. But she also knew that her Pa would never let anything happen to her. Pa's arms were strong, and his eyes sparkled blue when he smiled. He had built the log house from good solid logs. He kept his gun over the door, and he always kept watch over Ma and Laura and Mary and their baby sister, Carrie.
Still, Laura's eyes would open wide when she heard the howling of the wolf moving closer in the night.
"Go to sleep, Laura," Pa would gently say. "Jack won't let the wolves in."
Jack was their good old bulldog. He lay on the floor in front of the door, keeping watch, too.
So Laura would snuggle deeper under the covers of the trundle bed, close beside Mary, and go to sleep.
One night, Laura heard two wolves howling. Pa saw that Laura could not go to sleep. He picked her up out of bed and carried her over to the window so that she could see the wolves.
The two wolves were sitting right in front of the house. They looked like big, shaggy dogs. They pointed their sharp noses at the bright moon and howled.
Jack paced up and downin front of the door, growling. The hair on his back stood up, and he showed his sharp, fierce teeth.
The wolves howled, but they could not get in. Laura felt safe and warm with Pa beside her.
In the morning, the wolves were gone. Pa went out to do his chores around the farm. Pa worked hard all day long. Ma worked hard too, doing all the work that had to be done around the house. Laura and Mary helped. After the day's work was done, Ma sometimes cut paper dolls for Laura and Mary to play with.
But the best time of all was at night, right before supper, when Pa came home. In the winter, Pa would come into the warm house after tramping through the snowy woods. He would have tiny icicles hanging on the ends of his mustache. He would hang his gun on the wall over the door. Then he would throw off his fur cap and coat and mittens, and call, "Where's my little half-pint of sweet cider half drunk up?"
That was Laura, because she was so small.
Laura and Mary would run to climb on his knees. They would sit on his lap while he warmed himself by the fire.
After he was all warmed up, he would play a game with Laura and Mary. One game they loved was called mad dog.
Pa would run his fingers through his thick, brown hair, standing it all up on end.
He would drop down on all fours and start growling. Then he would chase Laura and Mary all around the room. He would try to get them cornered where they couldn't get away.
Laura and Mary were quick at dodging and running, and Pa usually couldn't catch them. But one night he did catch them against the wood box, behind the stove. They couldn't get past Pa, and there was no other way out.
Pa let out a terrible growl. His hair was wild andhis eyes were fierce. Suddenly, it all seemed real. Mary was so frightened that she could not move. Laura looked at Pa and thought about the wolves in the night. As Pa came nearer, she screamed. With a wild leap and a scramble, she went over the wood box, dragging Mary with her.
All at once, there was no mad dog at all. There was only Pa standing there with his blue eyes shining, looking at Laura.
"Well " he said to her. "You're only a little half-pint of cider half drunk up, but by Jinks You're as strong as a little French horse "
"You shouldn't frighten the children so, Charles," Ma said softly. "Look how big their eyes are."
Pa looked, and then he took down his fiddle. He began to play and sing so they wouldn't be frightened anymore.
""Yankee Doodle went to town, He wore his striped trousies, He swore he couldn't see the town, There was so many houses.""
Laura and Mary forgot all about the mad dog. Pa kept time with his foot. Laura and Mary clapped their hands to the music while he sang.
""And I'll sing Yankee Doodle-de-do, And I'll sing Yankee Doodle, And I'll sing Yankee Doodle-de-do, And I'll sing Yankee Doodle ""
All alone in the Big Woods, the little log house was cozy and warm. The fire was shining on the hearth, and Jack lay blinking at the jumping flames. Everything was merry and bright when Pa played his fiddle and sang in his deep, happy voice.
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