Little House on the Prairie

Season 4 Episode 20

A Most Precious Gift

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Feb 27, 1978 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
66 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Charles and Caroline are thrilled to be expecting their fifth child, but Caroline causes anxiety for both herself and Charles by becoming obsessed with delivering a son. Meanwhile, Carrie believes she is going to be a mommy when she brings some some dead eggs and attempts to hatch them herself.moreless

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  • Otherwise nice episode was hampered by making Caroline's emotional distress too over the top.

    This episode was made less enjoyable by taking Caroline's obsession and outbursts too far. Every plot needs some kind of conflict to be entertaining and it would have been alright to use Caroline's insecurities for this purpose but it seems to me they suddenly and drastically took her too far out of character from the normally level headed person she was throughout the series, to an emotional wreck making other peoples lives miserable.

    A minor point... It was a little surprising to me how little objection there was about the use of psychics from a devout Christian couple. From my experience devout Christians always react with strong disagreement to that sort of thing.

    I had to laugh at what someone pointed out in the trivia section. This episode spanned months and months and Carrie found her eggs at the beginning. Wouldn't she have either gotten tired of keeping them warm all this time or they would have fallen apart by then?moreless
  • Caroline and Charles find out that they are going to have another baby but Caroline almost ruins the joy of the event for herself and other by her obsession about delivering a son.moreless

    Mrs. Sims (formerly Miss Beadle) and Caroline Ingalls both find that they are expectant mothers and are delighted. It is soon clear, however, that Mrs. Sims is not suffering the anxiety of needing and wanting to have a son the way Caroline is. She obsesses to the point of seeing fortune tellers and choosing only names for boys. When Mrs. Sims delivers a healthy boy, Caroline feels much worse but when she herself goes into labour and a beautiful and perfect baby girl is born, she is as happy as any new mother would expect to be.

    They name the baby 'Grace', which was the same name that Laura gave her little foundling a couple of episodes ago.

    A very enjoyable hour of television.moreless
  • Charles and Caroline discover they are going to have another baby.

    Carrie finds some birds eggs in a next and decides to take them home and hatch them.

    Caroline visits Mrs Simms; they discuss the impending pregnancy of Mrs Adams. Mary Ingalls is helping Mrs Simms teach school due to the pregnancy.

    Caroline begins to feel poorly, suffering dizzy spells and exhaustion. Charles insists on taking Caroline to see Doc Baker. Caroline is sure she is suffering from the “change”. He informs her she is pregnant. The Ingalls are delight with the news.

    While out looking for Bandit Laura comes across and fortune teller. Caroline sees the fortune teller who tells her she will have a baby boy.

    Mrs Simms gives birth to a baby boy and Caroline becomes upset when she realises she may not have a boy.

    Caroline is sure the baby will be a boy, to “replace” the son they lost. Charles tries to reason with Caroline an emotional discussion erupts. Charles takes the girls to stay with the Garvey’s until Caroline is feeling better.

    Caroline gives birth earlier than expected, and Charles had to deliver the baby, a baby girl, Grace. Both Caroline and Charles are delighted with their new arrival.

Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Melissa Sue Anderson

Melissa Sue Anderson

Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)

Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

Dr. Hiram Baker

Charlotte Stewart

Charlotte Stewart

Miss Eva Beadle/Mrs. Simms (1974 - 1978)

Michael Landon

Michael Landon

Charles Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Karen Grassle

Karen Grassle

Caroline Quiner Holbrook Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Lili Valenty

Lili Valenty

Madame Maria

Guest Star

Joshua Bryant

Joshua Bryant

Adam Simms

Guest Star

Merlin Olsen

Merlin Olsen

Jonathan Garvey

Recurring Role

Patrick Labyorteaux

Patrick Labyorteaux

Andy Garvey

Recurring Role

Hersha Parady

Hersha Parady

Alice Garvey

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (10)

    • This is the first time we see Caroline (or any cast member, for that matter) visit the gravesite of Charles Frederick Ingalls Jr, who died in Season 1 and would have been about three years old at this point, had he lived.

    • Carrie finds and is allowed to keep some baby bird's eggs in the very beginning of the episode, before Caroline even finds out she's pregnant. She still has the eggs the day before Caroline gives birth. It's hard to believe that Carrie would have been allowed to hang on to these eggs for months and months on end. At the very least, they would have smelled badly and been prone to cracking.

    • When Caroline goes to visit Charles Jr's gravesite, she verbally expresses what she feels Charles would think about her if she didn't give him a son of his own. These deep-rooted emotional feelings of Caroline's are explored more deeply in Season 7's I Do, Again.

    • Right after baby Grace is born, and Caroline is so visibly happy and at peace for the first time in nine months, Charles says, "We have a problem. We have to name her, and the only names you chose were Graham and Nathaniel." He said it jokingly, and Caroline smiled, but that was pretty gutsy of Charles to say something like that at that particular moment. After all the pain Caroline went through when she wanted the child to be a boy, why on Earth would Charles risk completely stepping on his wife's happy mood by making a comment like that? It seems very out of character.

      Reply: Charles' facial expression showed that he was gently teasing her, and at the same time, dealing with the very real problem of what to name the new baby girl!

    • Early in the episode, Carolie resists going to the doctor because the Ingalls can't afford it. Charles simply says "You let me worry about that." However, they must have some extra money: Charles is able to pay Andy Garvey to work as a farmhand, and Caroline thinks nothing of throwing 10 cents away at the fortune teller's.
      Reply: For Caroline, it wasn't so much the money as the fact that she thought she was going through "the change," and she didn't necessarily want to hear Doc Baker tell her that. That's why she was reluctant about going to the doctor. She just used the whole "We can't afford it" bit as an excuse not to go.

    • This episode marks one of the very few occasions where Charles really yells at Caroline. This occurs during the scene in the barn, where their unborn baby's gender is being discussed, and it's surprisingly tense. Even Caroline seems stunned by Charles' tone, especially when he compares her behavior to little Carrie's childish behavior. Despite his understandable frustration, you'd think Charles would know better than to inflict even more stress on his very pregnant wife, who was already in so much emotional pain. Being such a smart and compassionate man, he should have realized that yelling at her could have been very harmful to her and the baby.
      Reply: To be fair to Charles, it's not as if he was in her face screaming at her. He raised his voice, yes, but he tried to maintain a gentler voice at the same time, if you listen carefully. He was clearly trying to drill into Caroline's head that she needed to stop obsessing over the baby's gender, because if she didn't stop, it would create even more serious problems for their entire family. He did it because he loved her and didn't want her to continue on this way.

    • In real life, Grace Ingalls went on to become a teacher, just like her grandmother, mother and sister Laura.

    • The real Grace Pearl Ingalls was born in Burr Oak, Iowa, which is where the Ingalls on this show moved at the beginning of Season 9, when Grace was four years old on the show.

    • In Laura's books, none of her teachers were married women, and it is strongly implied that married women didn't teach at all. They certainly didn't teach while pregnant, as Mrs. Simms does in this episode. Granted, Michael Landon chose to create this series and its episodes the way he wanted, but you'd think he would have been more historically accurate.

      REPLY: That would be absolutely correct. My great grandmother taught in two different states in the 1900-1910's, and as soon as she got married, she had to quit. As a child, I remember her talking about that being the norm.

    • The real Grace Ingalls was not born in Walnut Grove; she was born in Burr Oak, Iowa on May 23, 1877. Her family had previously lived in Walnut Grove, and later moved back, but not until Grace was four months old.

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Caroline: You didn't answer my question.
      Charles: Oh yeah. I want a baby that will grow up to be just as wonderful as its parents.
      Caroline: But what kind of a baby?
      Charles: A healthy baby.
      Caroline: Wouldn't you like a boy to carry on the family name?
      Charles: Oh, come on, Caroline, nobody knows the name Ingalls outside of Walnut Grove.
      Caroline: But if you could choose--
      Charles: Well, that's just it. I can't choose, and it's not my choice to make.
      Caroline: But suppose you could. Would you want another daughter, or wouldn't you like a son this time?
      Charles: (sighs) If I answer you, will you let me go to sleep?
      Caroline: Yes.
      Charles: All right, let's see. I want a son. But it's not my choice to make, so what do you say we stop this silly conversation and get some sleep? (kisses her and turns over)

    • Caroline: (about Madame Maria) Well, she took my wedding ring, and she put it on a string, and the string kept moving back and forth, back and forth. And you'll never guess what happened.
      Carrie: What happened?
      Caroline: The string suddenly stopped.
      Charles: What does that mean?
      Laura: Well, it means Ma's gonna have a boy!
      Charles: (laughs) Oh.
      Caroline: It's silly, isn't it?
      Charles: You bet it's silly. I can't imagine you wasting hard-earned money for that.

    • Caroline: You know, sometimes, when we're all sitting at dinner, I feel like there's someone missing, and now that place will be filled by our son.
      Charles: (getting upset) I don't know why you have to keep saying that. We don't know for sure if it's going to be a boy.
      Caroline: Because I want a boy, for you.
      Charles: Well, I don't! Not if it means nine months of misery.
      Caroline: You built this cradle for our son.
      Charles: Caroline, I built the cradle for our child!
      Caroline: I've seen you with Andy, working together.
      Charles: Exactly! If I want someone to help me around the farm, I'll hire him! I don't have to father him!
      Caroline: You don't understand.
      Charles: All right, what if you weren't pregnant? If you weren't pregnant, then we wouldn't have anything to worry about, would we? Caroline, when we had the girls, all we cared about was having a healthy, happy family. That's all.
      Caroline: Well, of course I want him to be healthy!
      Charles: HIM! Why does it always have to be "him?" Caroline, we had a son, and he died. It's over. (pauses) God, you''re as bad as Carrie with her dead eggs, trying to give birth to chicks!

    • After finding out that Miss Beadle had a baby boy, Caroline is crying
      Charles: Caroline, honey, what's the matter?
      Caroline: It's not fair. She doesn't need a son! She already has Luke!
      Charles: What difference does it make?
      Caroline: It makes a lot of difference. You said so.
      Charles: Oh, come on now, that's not fair. We were joking. We have a wonderful family!
      Caroline: We don't have a son! But we will, Charles. We will.
      Charles: We don't know that for sure.
      Caroline: I do, Charles. I know it.

    • Caroline: (when the fortune teller is working her "magic") What does it mean?
      Madame Maria: It means that you will give birth to a son, Mrs. Ingalls!
      Caroline: (smiles) You may be right. But there's just as much chance that you could be wrong.
      Madame Maria: I can foresee the future. I cannot make you believe. My fee is ten cents.

    • Charles: Caroline Ingalls, we have a problem.
      Caroline: Oh, how can we have a problem? Just look at her!
      Charles: Well, because we have to name her, and the only names you chose were Graham and Nathaniel.

    • Carrie: Pa! Pa! Look what I found!
      Charles: What is it, honey?
      Carrie: Eggs!
      Charles: Oh, no, honey, you shouldn't have done that. Chicks aren't born the way humans are.
      Carrie: But I didn't mean anything. I'll put them back.
      Charles: I'm afraid they're not gonna hatch. They'll be too cold without their mama.
      Carrie: All because of me?
      Charles: Hey, now, don't feel so bad. It's not your fault. You didn't know.
      Carrie: I know! I'll be their mama!
      Charles: What?
      Carrie: I'll take care of them myself, and then they'll hatch!
      Charles: I'm afraid it just won't work.
      Carrie: It'll work, Pa! They never saw their real mama! I'm gonna go put them under my pillow right now!

    • Andrew Garvey: I suppose your Pa wants a boy.
      Laura: What's so great about boys, anyway?
      Andrew: Well, can you fix the barn roof?
      Laura: Sure. Can you have a baby?

    • Caroline: You built this cradle for your son.
      Charles: Caroline, I built the cradle for our child!

  • NOTES (1)

    • The real Grace Ingalls died from diabetes in 1941, at the fairly young age of 64. She died before older sister Carrie, who passed on five years later (also from diabetes, oddly enough) at the age of 75, which means that Laura outlived both of her baby sisters (she died in 1957 and was the last surviving Ingalls family member).


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