Little House on the Prairie (1974–1983): Season 7, Episode 12 - Oleson vs Oleson - full transcript

Caroline Ingalls joins in protest with the rest of the Walnut Grove women to try to convince Charles and the other men to sign a petition addressing the injustice of a law that transfers a woman's property rights to her husband after marriage.

Harriet: Nels!

- Nels!
- One...

2, 3...

7, 8...


I cannot read your
writing on this order.

What are you doing?

I'm trying to count
today's receipts.

I don't know why.

We did precious
little business today.


Oh, for heaven's sakes!
Why don't you just let me do it?

All right, dear.
Fine. You do it.


Aren't you going
to lock up?

Oh, you can't
trust me to lock up.

If you want
things done right,

do them yourself.


Nels: Willie!

How many times
do I have to tell you

not to leave your things
scattered all over the house?!


This time,
I'm locking it away.


For 2 weeks.
Now, you know the rules.


Now maybe this'll teach you
to put your things away!



All right.

Where is it?

I don't know what
you're talking about.

Oh, you certainly do know
what I'm talking about!

I don't know why it is you're always,
always picking on poor Willie.

I am not
picking on him.

I am trying to teach him
a sense of responsibility!

Oh, you don't
have to teach him

a sense of

Heaven's sakes,

He's only a child!

Harriet, I am
very serious about this.

Oh, nels,
you're so funny when you're serious.



Harriet, I am not
going to allow you

to give that back
to him.

You are not
going to allow...

All right, go ahead!
Give it back to him.

I intend to!

Nels, nels, nels.

What are you doing?

- I'm leaving!
- Oh, nels.

You don't need me
around here.

Oh, well...

No, you don't want me
to help with the store.

You don't want me to help
with the children.

Nels, do you have
to be so sensitive?

listen here. You're not going anyplace!

This is
one decision

you are not going to make for me,

Now, you...
You wait a minute!

- Caroline.
- Nels.

- Father!
- Nellie.

I need a room.
I can't say how long.

A room?

That's right.

To live in?

Of course
to live in.

But you live at home
with mother and Willie.

I've moved out.

You moved out?

I don't want
to discuss it.

Nellie, I'll see you
at the lecture tonight.

Oh, yes.

- Good night, nels.
- Caroline.

The room!

This is the only room
available right now.

It's fine.

With the lady
lecturer in town,

all the good rooms
are taken.

Oh, I understand.

This is really
quite comfortable.

Well, do you wanna go to the
lecture with percival and me tonight?

Oh, I don't think so.

My first
night of freedom.

Hardly the time to...
To go to some dry lecture.

what will you do?

I don't know.

There's so many things
to choose from.

Don't worry about me.
I'm fine.

All right.

See you
in the morning.

and early.

So many things
to choose from.

I've never seen
nels so forceful.

He came in there
like a... like a lion.

Well, he'll probably
go out like a lamb.

I'm not so sure.

Are you
almost ready?

Caroline, to be
honest with you,

I think one of US ought to stay
here and be with the children.

Why? Albert is perfectly
capable of tending to them.

Suppose you're right.

What is it?

To be very honest
with you,

I just don't feel right about
going to this women's meeting.

I mean, what if I'm
the only husband there?

It's gonna be
very embarrassing.

It's not a women's
meeting. It's a town meeting.

It's a meeting
about women, isn't it?


Well, what if I'm
the only husband there?

Well, there's only
one way to find out.



Don't want a tie.

Caroline, I just
thought it might be...

Might be nice if I went over
and checked on nels.

Be the neighborly
thing to do.

You weren't planning to stay long
enough to miss the meeting, were you?

No, no. It'll just take me
a minute. Just a minute.

I'm going
to save you a seat.


- Nels.
- Charles.

I, uh... I heard you were
camping out here for a few days.

News travels fast.
Come on in.

Well, I don't want
to disturb you.

I just wanted to check with you,
see if you had anything to do this evening.

Nothing that
can't be changed.

What do you have in
mind? Cards? Checkers?

Better than that.

Running around the
country like you are,

talking to groups
like this.

If you'll excuse me,
I have to begin.

Oh, yes, of course.

Sit down,
darling. Watch your tummy! Don't...

Brought your own
reinforcements, huh?

Don't be silly. The man was
alone. He had nothing to do.


My name is
Elizabeth Smith,

and I surely am glad to see so
many men in attendance here tonight.

Doesn't look like
so many men to me.

I know I'm supposed to be
a women's speaker,

but tonight I'm here
to speak to you men,

and what I want to talk about
is just plain being fair.

It's clear to see that the
way the laws are written up,

a woman gives up all right
to her own property

the minute she gets married.

Say a woman inherits land

or is given a piece
of property for her dowry.

The instant she says,
"I do,"

that property goes
to her husband to handle

any way he sees fit.

And it's not only property.

A man has complete guardianship
over their children as well.

Why, he can pack the lot of them
off to an orphanage if he wants to,

and the wife can't
say a thing about it.

Now, I have
a petition here

asking our state legislators
to change these laws.

Before I leave town,

I hope every man
in walnut grove will sign.

Want to go over to
Nellie's for a piece of pie?

- All right.
- Nels, you want to join US?

- What?
- We're going to have a piece of pie.

- Want to join US?
- Oh, no, thank you.

You go ahead
without me.

I think I'll have
a word with Harriet.

See? Told you they
wouldn't be apart very long.

I'm glad
you were right.

Nels: Furthermore,

since I own everything...

You own?

I own everything,

I expect to be shown
a little more respect.

I want everything
done my way.

Ah, that is the end
of the discussion.

Your way...

Ah, ah, ah.
End of discussion.

Now, you just go
and fetch my slippers.

I'll relax in my chair

in my living room.


You have to get your own slippers tonight,

But I thought
we agreed that you...

You agreed.

You know this store
belongs to me, nels,

but if you want to
take it away from me,

you just go right ahead.

You try running the whole
store all by yourself, nels.

Don't expect
any help from me.

That goes for
running the house

and taking care
of Willie.

You wanted it all, nels.

You can have it all!


End of discussion, nels!

Forget the slippers.

Nellie, that pie
was delicious.

Not too sweet?

Perfect. You won't find
a crumb on my plate.

I need a room.

Charles: Ha ha ha!

Oh, I wish I could've
been there

when nels give Harriet
the old one-two.

It's about time somebody showed
her she doesn't own this town.

I guess.

I wish I could've seen
the look on her face.

I know you think
it's funny

because Mrs. Oleson is
so bossy sometimes.


Well, all right.
Most of the time.

It's not just her.
It's nels.

I never thought
he had it in him.

I know he's
a good-hearted man,

but it does seem like
he's stealing her property.

Stealing? How could he
be stealing? It's his wife.


So what's his is hers,
and what's hers is his.

Not according
to the law.

Oh, I don't think they're
gonna be apart very long.

I just hate to think
that my husband

can at any time just
take something that's mine.

Oh, my darling,
if that's what's bothering you,

we can take
everything we have

and split it up,
put our names on it.

Caroline gets the brush.

Charles gets
the suspenders.

Caroline gets
the Bible...

Smile a little.
It was just a joke.

I don't think
it's funny.

All right.

Whether you like
Mrs. Oleson or not,

it's still not fair that her husband
can take away her property on a whim!

Well, I don't think it's worth
getting this upset about.

I'm sure he won't be
mad at her very long.

I'm disappointed
in you, Charles.

You're usually the first one
to stand up for what's fair!


Your mother has left home.

No. That would've
scared him.

Willie... I don't want to upset you,

Well, Willie,
there comes a time in everyone's life when

you have to face
certain... certain situations, and...

You talking to me?

I didn't... I didn't hear you come in.

Oh. Willie, I don't
want to upset you, but...

Did ma ever come
home last night?

No. No, she didn't.

As a matter of fact,
that's what I wanted

to talk to you about.

I thought we might have
a man-to-man talk.

Can we... can we talk
about this later?

I gotta
go to school!

Of course.

Come on.
Let's take a break.


That was some
speech last night.

What do you think of
that Elizabeth Smith?

I don't think much of it
one way or the other.

Sure set
Caroline off, though.

Can't figure it.

I mean, I don't see
how a piece of paper

is gonna make a husband treat his
wife decent if he hasn't got a mind to.

You gonna sign
that petition?

I don't know. I don't
know if I agree with it.

Agree with what?

Well, there's a certain trust
between a husband and a wife,

comes from knowing everything
you got is shared.

All of a sudden, you start
dividing everything up,

I think something happens
to that trust.

My family's been
getting along fine.

Just don't see any reason to fool
around with something that works.



How's the petition

Well, it would be going a lot
better if you'd add your name to it.

I'd be happy to.

You would?


Oh. Well...

How many signatures
do you have already?

Uh, to tell you the truth,
yours is the first.

Well, I'm not surprised.

You know, we already have
a law like this in New York.

Yes, I know.

Maybe other men will sign
now that you have.

Well, I doubt that.

My signature doesn't
mean very much.

Now, if you could
get someone like...

Say, Mr. Ingalls,
you'd have something.

He carries a lot
of weight in this town.

Mrs. Ingalls, have
you met miss Smith?

- How do you do?
- Hello.

Mrs. Ingalls!

I wonder if, uh...

If we might talk...

you have the time.

Well, sure.

After work?

I'll be here.

Wait till you see the griddle
cake Nellie made this morning.

You saved it?

It's a work of art.


Well, heaven sakes,
don't sneak up on me like that.

What are you doing
hiding behind a tree?

Nellie, I'm not
hiding behind the tree.

I'm spying.

- Spying?
- Yes, spying.

It's my store,

and I want to know what
kind of business I'm doing.

Well, it looks like you're
doing a booming business.

I know.

And it's just not fair.


come on in.

Hi. Oh, I'm sorry
I'm so late.

Oh, it's all right.

You wouldn't believe
how busy we were today.

- Let me take your coat.
- Thank you.

Have you eaten?

Oh, you cooked supper!

I cooked supper. I fed
the children. I cleaned up.

All you have to do is
sit right here and relax.

Thank you.

I made a pretty good stew
if I do say so myself.

Just put a little
more seasoning in it.



You know what I was thinking
about on the way home?

No. What's that?


Remember how hard
we worked,

raising those logs
for that cabin?

- Remember?
- Mm-hmm.

Oh, we've done
so many things together...

Side by side.

That was
a long time ago.

I know, sweetheart.

Don't you think it'd be nice to
have it written down somewhere

that we're
equal partners?

Just for the record.

It's about the petition,
isn't it?


Elizabeth Smith
left it

to see if I could
get some signatures.

That's really nice.

Now here I thought we were
sharing a few memories together,

and all the while,
you're trying

to trick me into
signing the petition.

Oh, Charles, I wasn't
trying to trick you.

All right,
I'll sign it.

That's what you want. Make
you happy. I might as well.

You'll figure out a way to
get me to sign it anyway.

that isn't fair.

Fair? You try to
sweet-talk me into signing

I don't believe in,

and you talk
about being fair?

All right,
where is it?

I said I'd sign it.
I'll sign it.


Now what?

Oh, you're a man
of principles.

I don't want you to sign
something you don't believe in.

Caroline, we have done
nothing but argue

since that woman
came to town.

Now, if this is what our life
is gonna be like from now on,

no, I won't sign.

Where are you going?
I cooked supper here.

To bed!

Nellie: Good morning, mother.
Harriet: Oh!

Morning, mother.


You seem awfully
quiet this morning.

I've been watching
the store all day.

Watch the people
come in, go out.

It's my store.

I should
be over there

driving the hard bargain
and making the best deal.

Well, maybe you
should go back.

I'm sure if you talk
things out with him.

Maybe you're right.

Caroline: No!
Harriet: Huh?

No, you shouldn't
go back.

I shouldn't?

You did
the right thing.

You have to stand up
for what's yours.

Well, I...

You did
the courageous thing,

and every woman
in this town knows it.


Maybe if I can
get other women

to follow your lead,

our husbands just might see
how serious we are about this thing.


Percival, I won't
be able to cook today.

I have work to do.

But we need you.

- Mrs. Oleson.
- Yes?

You'll have to
fill in for me.

All right.

I will.

I'll be back
this afternoon.

You remember
the restaurant.

Sometimes you
go there with me.

That's where
I'm gonna be.

You don't have to worry.

Well, here's your Dolly.


- Oh, really?
- Yeah.

Well, come here.

Aw, I'm going
to miss you.

Both: Hi.

Hi. How was
school today?

Fine. Laura's teaching US
about this place called Asia.

What's this?

That is
my suitcase.

Come on. Sit down. I
want to talk to you a minute.

I'm going away
for a few days.

- Where to?
- Nellie's.

Nellie's? Why?

To have
a little adventure

and to prove
something to your pa...

And to myself.

Oh, pa's going with you?


Now, while I'm gone,
I want you

to just be yourselves
and have a good time.

Am I supposed to do
the cooking?

Oh, no, no, no.
Your pa can do that.

Well, who's
gonna watch grace?

Oh, your father
can attend to that.

Doesn't sound like pa's
gonna have much fun.

Now, give me a kiss.

Kiss? Oh, no, no.
No kiss.


Oh, listen, if you
need to talk to me,

you can always
come by Nellie's.

I'll be there
any time of the day.

And, uh, oh, remember.
Have a good time.

- Bye.
- Bye. - Bye.

Ah, just stop
your worrying.

Mark my words,
things are gonna get back to normal

now that that Elizabeth
Smith's left town.

I hope you're right,

Aw, I am. You know
the way women are,

they get a bee
in their bonnet

about things,
they get all excited...

I don't
wanna discuss it!

Leave me alone. Well,
I don't wanna hear about it anymore.

If you can't help with
the twins during the day,

I will not work
in the post office.

Hold on, woman.
Take this mail.

I'll take this mail,
and don't you call me woman.

If you want the mail,
here. Here. Mail, mail. You want it?!

You can have
all of it.

I'll tell you what...

Here. Mail, mail, mail.

You wanna own it,
here it is!

And then take it all!

Morning, Mrs. Foster.

Now it is.

I take you're handlin'
the mail now, huh, Orville?

Looks like.

You go ahead
and find your own.

I gotta look
after the young'uns.

Do you still think things are
gonna get back to normal, Charles?


Don't eat so fast.

It's bad
for your digestion.

Slow down.
Slow down.

Hello, Charles.
Come in.

Caroline's moved into the
boardinghouse with Harriet.

I know.

You knew
she was moving?

Well, no, but I knew
she was going around,

talking to all the women
in walnut grove,

trying to get them to leave
their husbands.


Well, just until
the petition is signed.

Oh, the petition. Wish I'd
never heard of that petition.

You know,
I don't know why Caroline's doing this,

but she's making me more
determined than ever not to sign.

I may.

What are you
talking about?

I got tired of Harriet
running things all the time,

but at least when she was here,
the customers were happy,

and I had some time
to myself.

Nels, listen to me. That's what
they hope is gonna happen.

They don't think we can
take care of ourselves.

But we're going
to show them.

- We are?
- You're darn right we are.

You took a firm stand
on this, nels.

Don't back down now.

One for all...

All for one.

I gotta go home now.

I gotta do my laundry.

- Good night, Charles.
- Night.


Yes, thank you.

You know, darling,
I'm really surprised

that your ma didn't ask you
to move into Nellie's.

She did.

Well, you're not
gonna go, are you?

Well, I don't want to,

but it means so much to her,
and I've gotta stand behind her.

Besides, she's right.

Well, it just sounds
crazy to me.

You know, almanzo,
it would help a lot

if you'd sign
the petition.

- I don't mind signing it.
- You don't?

No. Just as soon as your pa does,
I'll be happy to.

Well, he may
never sign it!

Well, I can't sign it
until he does.

After all, I have to
work with him.

Well, you have to
live with me!

Now, don't be ridiculous.

I'm not being

I'm sorry.
I'm sorry.

I didn't mean...

Do you have
to go tonight?


I think it can wait
until tomorrow.

No upright...

Over easy for you.

Thank you,
Mrs. Oleson.

Harriet, you are
a good cook.

Oh! Thank you!

Oh, yes, I'm getting
your eggs right now.

Oh, this is
so much fun.

Hardly seems
like work at all.

That's because we're
doing all the work.

What'd you say,

Oh, here's another
fresh pot of coffee.

Oh. Oh! All right.

Careful now.
Careful, careful.

Is it heavy? Yes.

Can't remember
ever being so busy.

I don't know what you said to those women,

Mrs. Ingalls,
but it must have been pretty convincing.

Well, it's easy to sell something
when you really believe in it.

Well, no matter
what happens,

that petition sure has
been good for business.

Grace, you're just
going to have...

Hey, wait a minute!

You haven't finished
your breakfast.

That's all right.
We're late anyway.

All right,
all right.

Nice breakfast. Mommy's
not here right now.

There, you sit...

You gotta sit
right there.

Now here,
have a nice piece of bacon.

Want a nice
piece of bacon?

I'll have a nice
piece of bacon.

I'll make you some
really good oatmeal.

Ok? Oatmeal. Mmm!


Wait till you
smell this.

Good oatmeal.

I want mommy!

Honey, come on.
Don't cry.

Now don't cry.

I'm gonna give you a
nice glass of milk. Huh?

Huh? Right from the cow. Huh?

Here. Have that.

Watch pa.
Watch pa.


Oh! Ohh!

Don't cry, honey!
It's all right!

Please don't...
Don't cry!

Want a cup
of coffee?


All right. Now get
off to school.


Oh, Laura.

I'm so glad you
decided to join US.

It means
a lot to me.

I know.

I'll put your things
in with mine.

are you sure we're doing the right thing?

Well, it's attracting
a lot of attention.

But has anyone signed
since you've been here?

No. Just percival.

Well, what makes you so sure
that anyone else'll ever sign?

Laura, I can't
guarantee anything,

but when you
believe in something,

you have to be
courageous enough to say,

"this is
what I stand for,"

and patient enough

to let them
think about it awhile.

I know
you'll miss almanzo...

Oh, ma, what if pa never
signs that petition?

We'll be stuck here
for the rest of our lives!

He'll sign.

He's a stubborn man

but he's fair.

He'll sign.

Oh, look who's
joined US.

Wonderful. Laura,
you won't be sorry.

It's marvelous.

Most exciting thing that's
ever happened in walnut grove.

And she's such a sweet girl,
and she joined US.

We were here first!

Just give me time.
Just wait a minute.

Nels, you got any more
of that canned meat?

I'm sorry, Orville. All we
got left is canned vegetables.

You boys are buying
me out completely.

All right, give me some of this
and some more diaper material.

You got some of that
just yesterday.

I know. Anything's
better than washing them.

All right.
Just a minute.

Excuse me. Excuse me,
please. Excuse me.


Excuse me.

Well, well, well.
Look who's here.

for the week?

That's right.

Canned goods? What's the matter,

Don't you know
how to cook?

No. That's one thing you
and I had in common, woman.

How dare you?!

And don't
you woman me!

Oh, you're horrible!

Hey! Hold on now.
Wait a minute.

Stop that now!
Stop it!

Stop that!

Stop it!

Watch out, nels!

Stop it!
Stop it!

Harriet! Oh, Harriet, over here.

haven't heard

how nels took
your store away.

Wait till you
hear the story.

She has to tell you the story.

Wait'll you
hear this.

It all happened
the night...

Remember when
Elizabeth came?

She was
telling US...

Where does he
put it all, god?



What are you
doing here?

I had to talk
to you.

Now, we've gotta
do something

make pa sign.

Now, hold on.

I thought we agreed
to stay out of this.

I know...

Now, your ma and pa
are gonna work this out

if we just
leave them alone.

I'm not so sure.

It's not gonna
be much longer.

Well, I'm
gonna see to that!

I'll tell you
about it later.


Oh, no.

Hi, pa.

Morning, half-pint.

What are you doing out here
talking to the enemy?

I'm not the enemy.

No, I was just fooling.

Folks around here
don't seem to have

much of a sense
of humor these days.

How are
you doing?

Not much of a mother,
if that's what you mean.

Your baby sister won't
eat anything but sugar.

She cries her way
through that.

She misses ma.

I suppose.

How about you?
Do you miss her?

Sure, I miss her.

She misses you, too.

You sure?

She said she wants
to talk to you.

Well, I'm not going
over there, no, sir.

I'm not going over there,
begging in front of all those women.

Pa, no one's asking you
to go beggin'.

Ma just thought you two
could meet in the church,

where you
could be alone.

None of the other women
would know.

She said that?


About 2:00?


She's come
to her senses!

I'm gonna go
get cleaned up.

Laura, how could you
have done this?

Well, I just thought
that if you thought

that pa had something to say and pa
thought that you had something to say,

you'd both say it,
and it would just make things better.

You tricked US
into meeting here.


That was wrong.

Well, I just thought if you
two could get together,

maybe you could work it out.

I know you meant well.

Things are
worse than ever.

Well, they're
certainly not better.

Don't you want a
little bit of your stew?

a little stew?

Daddy made it.

Pa made
this good stew.

It's as good
as ma makes.

It's almost as
good as ma makes.

Pa, do women need husbands
to take care of 'em?

Who told you that?

One of the kids at school.

No. I don't think
it's true.

Men and women
help each other.

It's not
a one-sided thing.

Well, he said that's why the men in
walnut grove won't sign mom's petition...

'cause women need
to be taken care of.

Is that why
you won't sign?

No, that is not why
I won't sign.

Hurry up and
finish your supper.

I want you to watch
the children tonight.

I'm going to go
in town and eat.

Here you go,
my happy baby.

Just a little bit.

Just a little,
teeny bit.

Hi, nels,

What brings you here?

nothing special.

Just thought I'd
come into town,

get a little dinner for myself.

I'm not much
of a cook either.

Oh, I can cook,
all right.

Just can't stand the taste of it,
that's all.

That bad, huh?

Yeah. You're a good cook,
though, aren't you, nels?

Oh, yeah. I just
can't cook enough.

See nothing wrong with the 3
of US having dinner together.

Mind making
that 4?

What, you, too,

Afraid so.

The more
the merrier.

we'd all like a table.

Sorry. We don't have
anything available.

Well, we'll just
wait outside.

Well, you can wait
outside if you like,

but I'm afraid
we've run out of food.

all out of food.

There's no point
in waiting.

I'm sorry.

I just can't believe that
whole restaurant's out of food.

How much can
those women eat?

What are we
going to do now?

Don't feel much
like going home.

Neither do I.

Church is
always open.

Why not? We can pray
for something to eat.

Men, join US.

Hot water will take
the stain right out.

The embroidery...

use crushed

I'll give it
a try.

Thank you, reverend.

How did we ever get into
this mess in the first place?

They started it.

Have a feeling they're gonna finish it,

It's finally getting
through my skull.

People like Caroline
and I and yourselves,

maybe we don't need a
petition to have what we have,

but maybe there's
a lot of people who do.

Maybe so.

Pa: I think so.

I was so busy telling
Caroline how foolish she was,

I didn't
bother to listen.

Does that mean
you're ready to sign?


Yeah, I think
I'm ready to sign.

Nels: Let's go!


Come here.

What changed
your mind?

I just decided
we're on the same team.

Laura: Ma had won her fight

and the petition was on its way
to the legislature.

She says someday women
will even have the right to vote.


But I doubt it.