Sitting by the water, Laura wonders why Almanzo is so quiet since he brought her out there to talk to her. He admits that what he wants to tell her is a little too difficult to say, so she suggests that he write her a note. His pencil breaks quickly, and all he is able to write is that he loves her and wants to...
Laura presses him on to just come out with it, and he admits he wants to marry her. She immediately accepts, and they share a kiss.br />
That night, at Nellie's restaurant, Nels Oleson finds his daughter reading with the receipts left unattended. He is unhappy to find out that the food costs more than what was actually paid and Nellie explains most customers refused to pay.
They argue over Nellie's inability to cook and Nellie maintains that she never wanted the restaurant in the first place and blames her father for not standing up to her mother. He insists that he would not have been able to stop Mrs. Oleson as she is bent on finding a way to attract a husband for Nellie. His daughter storms out as her mother walks in and the two Olesons argue themselves over Nellie's unwillingness to learn how to cook or clean. Harriet decrees that she will find someone to teach Nellie.
At dinner, the Ingalls host Almanzo and Charles cheerfully presses Almanzo over the surprise Laura has told them about. Almanzo admits that he has proposed to Laura, but they all know Charles is adamant about them waiting until Laura is 18. Almanzo doesn't want to wait that long and the two men go out to the barn to talk.
Charles explains that his reservations over the difference between Almanzo's and Laura's ages hasn't been an issue for a long time. However, Laura is still sixteen and hasn't yet decided what she wants to do with her life. Almanzo is at an age where he is set with his life and Charles wants to make certain that Laura is willing to stand by him even through difficult times. Almanzo understands, but won't give the appearance that he agrees and leaves.
Charles confronts Caroline over her knowledge of what the two were planning and Caroline admits she did know. She doesn't want to get into issues of who is right or wrong.
Inside, Laura is angry at her father and insists that, if losing Almanzo is the rseult, she won't wait. Caroline goes up to the loft and talks to her afterwards. She explains that Laura shouldn't rush into a marriage for fear of losing Almanzo. If he loves her enough, he will be willing to wait the two years.
The next day, Laura meets Almanzo on the road and he pressures her to leave Walnut Grove with him and that her life is her own and not her father's. He tells her to choose between marrying him and honoring her father's wishes. She tells him she needs to take more time and he counters that she is still a little girl.
At the blind school site, work on rebuilding is moving along. Dr. Baker arrives with a letter for Adam from his father and Charles reads it to him. Instead of being from Mr. Kendall itself, it is from his law office notifying Adam of his father's death. Besides being difficult in an emotional sense, it is also a financial concern as Adam's father had offered the funds to rebuild the school.
Laura accompanies Adam to settle the estate. At his father's law office, his partner explains that Mr. Kendall liked to live well and died in severe debt. There will be nothing left after the sale of the house and other possessions.
In Walnut Grove, a newcomer arrives searching for Mrs. Oleson. He introduces himself to Mr. Oleson as Percival Dalton and he has been invited by Mrs. Oleson to train Nellie. While Nels goes to assist his wife, who has encountered problems with the plumbing again, Nellie brings a regular customer into the kitchen to reassure him that Caroline is doing the cooking.
Her parents bring Mr. Dalton in and explain that he will be teaching Nellie how to better operate the restaurant and hotel. Nellie is not enthusiastic about it and Nels confides in Caroline that he is not certain this will work. He asks about Adam and Laura - who will return the next day - and about Almanzo who has already left town.
Dalton's solution is controversial. Having met Mrs. Ingalls and taking note of Nellie's lack of skills, he advises making a deal with Caroline. In exchange for a share of the profits and putting her name on the restaurant, they will try to convince Caroline to work full-time while Dalton himself will work with Nellie in the evenings. Harriet is very unhappy with this arrangment, but Percival insists it will only be temporary.
Charles picks up Adam and Laura in Sleepy Eye and saddens his daughter with news that Almanzo has not returned. Wanting to get home quickly in order to cry, Laura is surprised by a huge courthouse building for rent. Her father advises her that it will be expensive, but she believes that very few people would have need of such a large building. Inside, she sees how big the building is and, while inspecting it, runs afoul of the caretaker - the crusty Houston Lamb.
They argue back and forth as Laura presents the need for the blind school to him. She refuses his demand for $100 per month and he finally settles on $40 per month if he can stay in his room, with two months rent in advance. She agrees and wants time to get the place cleaned up and goes outside to tell her father and Adam. They drive off, not noticing that Almanzo is in town and spots them.
At the Ingalls' house, they go over the money they have and might be able to raise soon, but it won't be enough to maintain the school. They will need a miracle to cover the other expenses. In short order, Mr. Oleson arrives to present Dalton's idea to Caroline. She and Charles initially refuses, especially since the time away from her family would be lengthy and the money wouldn't be sufficient enough to cover it. Nels explains that Caroline would be taking in 50% of the profits which could amount to a considerable sum. Caroline talks to Charles privately outside the house and shows him the estimates. This could more than pay for the rent, but Charles is concerned about how this is only a temporary situation and they will not be able to cover the rent once Nellie returns to full-time status. Caroline believes it will work out in the end and God will provide. She goes inside and accepts the offer, telling Adam to rent the building.
In the meantime, Dalton is having a difficult time with Nellie who refuses to even try to learn how to cook and continues to insult his short stature. In a fit of temper, she rages that she never wanted in the restaurant and the only reason she was given it was in order to catch a husband. Dalton takes her messy egg mixture and dumps it over her head. Before he storms out, he tells her that he doesn't understand why Harriet built the place for her as she has no talent for cooking, her personality turns off the public and, as a pretty girl, she doesn't need a business to catch a husband.
He crosses paths with Caroline who is on the way in and is shocked to see Nellie looking positively radiant, despite being covered with food. She tells Caroline that he told her she was pretty.
Less impressed is Mrs. Oleson who is horrified at how he treated her daughter. Dalton will not beat browbeaten by Harriet, however, and firmly tells her that Nellie refuses to learn and he is not being paid to be insulted. He advises her to shut the restaurant down unless Mrs. Ingalls is willing to remain. They are interrupted by Nellie who astonishes everyone by apologizing for her rudeness and asking him to stay and teach her. She promises to work hard and he agrees to stay.
Caroline goes up to the attic to comfort a crying Laura who is distraught that Almanzo hasn't come back and is certain he never will. She tries to claim that she never really liked Almanzo and Caroline plays devil's advocate by mentioning how she herself never cared for him either and mentions how he's not particularly handsome or intelligent. Laura counters that he really is those things and Caroline mentions that she must really love Almanzo, despite saying that she doesn't. She tells Laura how she and Charles had a fight when they were courting and she feared they would never get back together. She recommends that Laura keep her mind occupied by helping Mary and Adam clean up the new blind school. Miss Wilder has given her leave of her studies to go to Sleepy Eye for two weeks. Laura agrees to go.
In the main room, Charles is pleased that Laura will take her mind off her troubles. He is also glad they discovered the type of man Almanzo is if he's not willing to wait to marry her. He tells his wife he wishes he knew where Almanzo is and she tells him casually that he's in Sleepy Eye. He had written to Eliza-Jane and made her promise not to tell Laura. Charles doesn't understand why his wife is sending their daughter to Sleepy Eye, knowing that Almanzo is there.