One afternoon, Laura & Mary were walking slowly home from school. Mary was a bit upset because Nellie had told her that the white on Mary's dress collar and her white pinafore didn't match, and even though she didn't show it, Mary was still upset that Nellie thought something was wrong with her outfit, even if she knew that Nellie's opinion didn't matter.
Neither girl talked, they just walked along, looking forward to where they were walking; watching their little house get closer and closer.
"Hey, isn't that the new calf - Garnet out there with Pa?" Laura asked Mary. Mary, startled by Laura's voice breaking the silence, quickly looked up.
"Yes, I think it is," Mary turned to tell Laura.
"Come on, let's run home!" Laura grabbed Mary's hand and they ran over to the barn next to their house.
Pa gently guided Garnet around the field near the barn. He didn't even realize the two girls running up behind him.
"What are you doing with Garnet?" Laura asked. She wondered if Pa was preparing her to be a pet for the girls. However, she was wrong.
"I'm preparing her to go to the market at a fair in a nearby town. She probably won't get a good price, but it'll be good enough for us to keep the farm."
"But you can't give Garnet up! The people that buy her could do anything to her!"
"Half-pint, you're just too young to understand. We need to keep the farm and we need the money. Garnet just can't be ours anymore. That's why I tell you not to name the new animals when they are born. You have Jack and the chickens, not to mention the horses!" Pa seemed a bit angry with Laura for questioning his decision, but he sighed and patted her on the head before putting Garnet back and then going inside to wash up.
"Oh, Pa can't sell you, Garnet!" Laura sighed, hugging Garnet. "You're going to be a part of the family now! You can't be hurt by some new owner!"
Garnet, who seemed to understand, looked up at her a bit fearfully.
Later that night, Ma came up to check on the girls after dinner.
"Ma, does Pa have to sell Garnet?" Laura asked. Mary pretended to be super interested in her writing homework, but she was secretly listening to what Ma said.
"Pa is doing what he thinks is best, and if that's what he thinks, then we all have to go along with it or don't say anything at all. It will provide us money, Laura. You are too young to understand, but don't you want to keep our house and barn, and for us and Garnet to be happy?"
"But Garnet won't be happy if he's dead!" Laura told her defiantly.
"Watch how you speak to me and you don't know what you're talking about. Stop prying into affairs that don't concern you and get back to your homework!"
Ma walked down the loft ladder, leaving Laura and Mary to silently do their homework.
Laura just couldn't focus on her geographical reader. It was so hard to do with Garnet filling up her mind.
"I have an idea!" Laura smiled suddenly.
"What?" Mary asked, turning to look at her expectantly.
"What if we set Garnet loose in the woods? Then Pa wouldn't be able to find her and we could just say he ran away!" Laura began to get excited, but she was careful to keep her voice down so that Ma & Pa couldn't hear what she was scheming.
"Laura," Mary let out an exasperated sigh. "Really! You think that setting a calf loose in the woods is a good idea? Garnet will end up bad off anyway, because a calf can't just fend for itself out there! That would be terrible!"
"I guess you're right," Laura replied, but in fact, she didn't think Mary was right at all.
The next morning, Laura stepped out of bed softly in her slippers. She grabbed her clothing and dressed in the barn so that no one would hear her.
After she was dressed, she quietly guided Garnet out of her stall and they set off into the woods together.
In a tiny clearing in the woods, Laura said goodbye to Garnet and prepared to let her run off. "Garnet, good luck," Laura whispered softly and sadly, nearly tearing up.
Garnet just looked down at the ground.
Just then, Mary walked up, "Laura, wait!"
Laura spun around in surprise. "Mary?"
"I trailed you here - I heard you get up. Laura, you can't do this."
"I have to, Mary."
"No! You cannot just do this. Laura, bring Garnet back - please. If you don't, I'll tell Ma and Pa what you did to Garnet. They'll be so mad!"
"Fine, I'll come home then," Laura rolled her eyes and the two girls walked out of the woods together; each secretly planning ways to save Garnet from being sold away.