Later that day after school, Mary and Laura sat on their bed in the loft.
"Suppose we bought the cow?" Laura suggested."What?" Mary didn't seem to understand.
"Suppose we pulled together enough money to get the winning bid at the auction? We could get Garnet back, and then Pa and Ma would have enough money to keep the house and barn! It would be perfect! We could hold fundraisers and host all sorts of money raising events and everything!" Laura was nearly shouting with excitement. Luckily, Ma was out calling on a neighbor and Pa was working at the mill.
"Hmm...." Mary thought. She wasn't sure if it would work, but she was sure that Laura was onto something. "I, I - I just don't know." Mary sighed, her voice sounding a bit unsure.
"Well I do know!" Laura folded her arms a bit defiantly. "We may as well just count the money, right?"
The girls took down their secret money stashes that consisted of a few pennies and maybe a dime or two, making the girls somewhat rich (well, rich for a kid at least!).
However, all they could scrounge up was a penny. Both girls had spent most of the money on Christmas presents and birthday presents that had recently passed.
"A penny, a single penny," Mary sighed in defeat.
"Now we'll never win the auction! Garnet could even go for ten cents!" Laura groaned."Ten cents?" Mary shook her head, "No Laura, Garnet could go for much more than that - maybe even a whole dollar!"
Laura just looked away. Neither girl wanted to face the disappointing truth; they probably wouldn't be able to win the auction even if they had another whole dollar!
"We could hold fundraisers," Laura shrugged. Even she was starting to lose hope.
"No - if Ma and Pa found out, they'd stop us in an instant; we'd be bothering people for money and going behind Ma and Pa's backs at the same time."
Both girls just sat in silence.
Early the next morning, Mary went to Pa to do some secret searching. "Pa, how much do you think Garnet will go for at the auction?" Mary crossed her fingers that maybe Garnet would go for less than a dollar, but she knew that wasn't going to happen.
"I'm thinking he might be going for a few dollars - maybe up to five!" Pa smiled, thinking that Mary and Laura had finally accepted what was going to happen.
The girls schemed while at school during recess. They decided that they would have to go to the auction, just in case a penny really did win them something. During recess, they found fifty cents in the grass. They doubted it would still do it, but it didn't matter - they still had to try!
Early the next morning, before the sun came up, Laura and Mary dressed in their Sunday best. Pa would leave for the auction a little after sunrise, but with a wagon, he would get there faster than the girls.
Laura and Mary trailed through fields and forests, trying extremely hard to get there fast and keep their Sunday bests clean. It proved to be a somewhat hard task.
"This grass sure is high," Laura cried out to Mary. Mary was going a bit slower because she was taking care not to lose the auction money.
"It's not that bad! Stop complaining," was Mary's grumpy response. Laura just rolled her eyes and continued the journey.
Suddenly, Laura tripped over a sharp rock that nearly pierced through the sole of her boot. She stumbled and did a face-plant into the muddy dirt. Luckily, it wasn't wet or anything, so the mud did not stick to her like usual.
It still really hurt though, and Laura could barely think of having to continue on.
By the time Laura got up, Mary had come up behind her, and she too, tripped on the rock. Laura helped her up and both girls continued on despite a few scraped news.
They looked up, suddenly, and saw a large arena.
"Laura, I think we're here."
When they entered the arena, the auction had already started. In fact, Mary worried that Garnet had already been auctioned off. She couldn't tell otherwise because there were so many people crowded around that she could barely look any farther than 3 feet in front of her and she was elbow to elbow with her sister and other strangers. She almost began to regret coming, but Mary knew it was what they had to do.
They made their way to the auctioneer and spoke to him in private about entering a 51 cent bid in for the calf. He agreed. It wasn't how they normally worked things, but he felt sorry for the two girls because he knew the calf would go for much more than half a dollar.
When the girls made their way back to their places, they spied Pa and Garnet taking the center of the stage. Both girls held their breath as the auctioneer wound up the auction.
"$1!" the first person called out. That was when they knew they had lost. The auctioning went all the way up to four whole dollars!
The winner looked like a poor boy. he was barely even wearing a real shirt - it was more like an undershirt. How could he have afforded $4?
He went up and shook Pa's hand and the cow, Garnet, who had once been Garnet Ingalls was now going to be Garnet somebody. Somebody - somebody they would probably never know or see again.
The two girls hugged. Laura was nearly in tears, and Mary was in tears. Both girls knew that now, Garnet was out of their reach - and worst of all, Pa was probably glad about it!
"Laura, Laura," Mary sighed. She herself was extremely upset, but she knew her place and responsibilities as an older sister; and part of that, came the responsibility.
"But...Mary," Laura sobbed a bit. She knew that it wasn't good to cry, but even if she wasn't really supposed to, she still did.
"I know," Mary nodded, choking back tears. She knew that it was silly to cry over an animal being sold away; especially if it was for money for the family, but Mary too, still couldn't help it.
The girls looked on, preparing to leave before Pa saw them. Suddenly, Mary felt a tiny pat on her back. She spun around. Never in a million years would she have been able to guess or believe who it was she saw. Even Laura wiped her tears away and gasped.
"Samantha?" Mary asked in a choked whisper. She couldn't believe it. The two girls' best friend was at the auction?"
"Samantha, what are you doing here?" Laura asked.
"Well," Samantha smiled a bit mysteriously. "Would you believe this?"
In Samantha's other hand, was Garnet's lead! "You bought Garnet?" Laura asked.
"I did," Samantha nodded, "But not for the reason you think - my Grandmary won't allow me to have a another pet. I.......I got Garnet for....for you."
Mary and Laura were too stunned to speak. "You, what?" Mary asked, nearly gasping for breath.
"How ever did you know Garnet was ours?" Laura was just as surprised as Mary.
"I heard you two scheming at recess - I knew that the calf wouldn't go for too much more than a few dollars, so I asked my Grandmary for some money to help a friend - or two friends, in need. She agreed, and since we were coming to the auction anyway! Our stable and house hand went up to receive Garnet, just because my Grandmary thought it would be more proper that way! Here we are!" Samantha was smiling brightly, and even Garnet sported a bright mood.
"I don't know how to thank you enough!" Mary cried out and Laura nodded in agreement.
"You don't need to....that's what friends are for," Samantha told them.
The three girls hugged each other tightly. Laura and Mary didn't know if Ma and Pa would approve of Garnet returning to their family, but it didn't matter at that moment.
Because that's what friends are for.