One of Caroline Ingalls’ prize possessions was a copy of the book Millbank, a book she often read aloud to the family. It was a saga novel by Mrs. Mary J. Holmes, and its full title was “Millbank; or, Roger Irving’s Ward.”
Although the book isn’t mentioned in the Little House book series until On the Banks of Plum Creek, Laura mentioned it as being given to Caroline by her brother Tom, while they lived in Pepin Wisconsin, in the Big Woods, in the Pioneer Girl manuscript.
Uncle Tom Quiner, Ma’s brother, came to make us a visit. I liked Uncle Tom, he was always so pleasant and he dressed so nicely. He brought Ma a book called “Millbank.” Ma said it was a novel and not for little girls but she read it aloud to Pa at night by the light of the glass lamp and Ma read it aloud to us all in the evenings.”
This was the only mention of the book in the Pioneer Girl manuscript.
For the print Little House books, readers are introduced to Millbank when Laura is trying to get out of having to attend school, with the book obviously having been read so many times by Ma that Laura knew the opening sentences by heart.
Ma said that a great girl almost eight years old should be learning to read instead of running wild on the banks of Plum Creek.
“But I can read, Ma,” Laura begged. “Please don’t make me go to school. I can read. Listen!”
She took the book named Millbank, and opened it, and looking up anxiously at Ma she read, “The doors and windows of Millbank were closed. Crape streamed from the door knob—”
“Oh, Laura,” Ma said, “you are not reading! You are only reciting what you’ve heard me read to Pa so often. Besides, there are other things to learn—spelling and writing and arithmetic. Don’t say any more about it. You will start to school with Mary Monday morning.”
- On the Banks of Plum Creek, Chapter 19 The Fish-Trap
- Hardcover Book
- Jane, Holmes Mary (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 402 Pages - 03/01/2019 (Publication Date) - Wentworth Press (Publisher)
You can also read the novel online here as well as download it in PDF or ePub format.