While making an out-of-town delivery, Albert and Charles meet and travel with the Cooper family. A horrifying accident occurs en route with the parents, and in the blink of an eye, their two young children are orphans. Unable to place them with any living family members, and knowing that he is not in a position to adopt them himself, Charles is forced to step back emotionally and hand them over to the state…until a spontaneous decision changes everything.
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Upon being sold a generous piece of land, Almanzo is eager to begin building a home for himself and his fiancee Laura. He hires his friend Harv Miller to assist him with his crop and help take care of Eliza Jane's house. Eliza Jane develops a quick fondness for Harv, but the feelings might not be mutual. Meanwhile, Laura is offered a teaching job at a faraway school, and Nellie gets a surprise that leaves her mother speechless.
Almanzo's dreams of building a home do not go quite as planned, forcing him to postpone the wedding until he can get back on his feet. Laura suggests an idea for them to earn some money, but it ultimately drives a wedge into their relationship. Meanwhile, Eliza Jane is convinced that she has found the love of her life, and with no friends to talk to, her diary is the only way she can express her emotions.
Jonathan and Andy Garvey move to Sleepy Eye in a quest to rebuild their lives. Jonathan decides to become a deputy sheriff to clean up the town of crime, but his job is a dangerous one that ultimately threatens his young son.
A former football star, settles back into his childhood town of Walnut Grove with his wife and son, and he shows an active interest in coaching the boys' football team. Although his intentions are good, he ends up overexerting the kids with long practices and a philosophy that values winning at all costs.
The orphanage in Sleepy Eye faces a difficult situation when two young brothers meet with a potential adoptive family. The younger child refuses to speak and shows symptoms of emotional trauma, so the family is only interested in taking the older child. Rather than be separated, the boys run away to the nearby blind school, where the kindly Houston agrees to help. Although the aging Houston would love to adopt them himself, it creates problems that he cannot handle by himself, so Charles and Jonathan must intervene.
16-year-old Annie Crane, a beautiful girl who lives with her adoptive parents in Walnut Grove, exhibits an incredible gift for painting, despite her physical blindness. A man who owns a string of art galleries recognizes Annie's talent and expresses his confidence in her work, which leads to a public art exhibit in Sleepy Eye. Upon finding her biological daughter's name in the paper, a woman named Marge Crosby sends her husband to confront Annie, but the girl--who vividly remembers being abandoned b y her mother as a toddler--fiercely refuses to meet with her. Everyone backs away out of respect, but as Annie's passion for painting is tarnished by this newfound pain, her adoptive mother teams up with Caroline to fix what has been broken.
Newlyweds Laura and Almanzo have been having some relatively harmless arguments lately, but it reaches a whole new level when Laura suspects that he's cheating on her, then decides to leave him. Elsewhere, Charles is the proud owner of a beautiful new glass window, but installing it is a little more challenging than he anticipated.
To sharpen writing skills and increase cultural awareness in her classroom, Laura arranges for her students to correspond with children from other areas. Albert connects immediately with his pen pal, but as it turns out, they are both going to unhealthy lengths to impress each other in their letters.
Charles and Almanzo expand their business by delivering goods to Sleepy Eye. After arguing about the quickest way to get there, they decide to make it a race, which produces interesting results.
A freak accident threatens Adam's life, but when he wakes up, he realizes that his eyesight has returned. Everyone is thrilled for him, but Mary becomes concerned when he decides to abandon his teaching career and pursue another lifelong dream. Meanwhile, Harriet is determined to lose a few pounds after her son-law makes some negative comments about her weight.
As his heart swells with hope for a law career, Adam heads to Minneapolis for the big exam, but nothing seems to go his way once he arrives there. Is achieving this dream proving to be more than he could handle after all? Back in Walnut Grove, Harriet is struggling with her diet, and Nels believes that a visit from her thin, beautiful cousin Miriam will motivate her to stick with it.
A female activist arrives in Walnut Grove to encourage the men to share equal property rights with their wives. After getting into a huge fight about it with her husband, Harriet Oleson goes to live at the hotel. Matters worsen when Caroline decides to follow Harriet's lead, setting off a firestorm that threatens even the town's most close-knit families.
When Percival's parents Benjamin and Edna arrive for a visit, Harriet and Benjamin clash miserably over their grandchild's religious upbringing. Nellie's joyous pregnancy is tainted by the strenuous fighting, but the families eventually reach an unusual agreement.
While Almanzo is eager to start a family with Laura, she is not ready to give up her teaching career just yet. Determined to help Laura change her mind, Almanzo offers to care for his brother Royal's two young sons while he and his wife are on vacation, which proves to be an unfortunate mistake.
Former boxer Joe Kagan moves to Sleepy Eye and offers his assistance with the maintenance of the blind school while Adam and Houston are out of town. Joe is clearly in love with Hester Sue, but she refuses to get involved. Later, when she is unable to get through to a struggling student, Hester questions her teaching abilities and ends up making some foolish choices.
Laura promptly resigns from her teaching position when she is forced to integrate French and art appreciation into the curriculum, for the sake of earning school funding. Mrs. Oleson takes over the position and begins to altar the classroom instruction, while Laura struggles to accept her role as a fulltime housewife. The students, meanwhile, are frustrated with their new teacher and hatch a plan to get things back to normal.
An attractive, yet painfully insecure teenage girl named Sylvia becomes the victim of a violent rapist. As she deals with her domineering father and attempts to keep her secret at school, Albert serves as an unexpected source of comfort for her. A romance soon blossoms, and all is well until Sylvia is revealed to be pregnant.
Rumors fly around town that Albert is the father of Sylvia's unborn child. Despite Mr. Webb's threatening objections, the young couple continue to meet secretly and grow in their affection for one another. Albert quickly becomes a huge source of solace in Sylvia's life, but in the end he is not quite able to protect her from the dangerous rapist, who cons an unsuspecting Albert into informing him of Sylvia's whereabouts.
Adam is thrilled to officially be a lawyer, but he is unable to find a job. With no other options available, he decides to leave the blind school in Hester Sue's hands, pack up with Mary, and become Walnut Grove's very first lawyer. His first client is Edgar Mills, a man who seems to have swindled the townspeople into purchasing a worthless piece of land.
When Laura announces her pregnancy, Caroline believes that she herself is also expecting--until Doc Baker confirms a painful truth that sends Caroline into a deep depression. With emotions running high, Charles decides to cheer his devastated wife by taking her on a vacation to her old hometown. As they meet up with old friends and revisit their favorite childhood places, they rekindle the romance and find a way to grow closer than ever. Meanwhile, Albert steps up to take care of the farm, and Laura and Almanzo have their hands full with Carrie and Grace.
While making an out-of-town delivery, Albert and Charles meet and travel with the Cooper family. A horrifying accident occurs en route with the parents, and in the blink of an eye, their two young children are orphans. Unable to place them with any living family members, and knowing that he is not in a position to adopt them himself, Charles is forced to step back emotionally and hand them over to the state...until a spontaneous decision changes everything.
James and Cassandra go home with Charles, and they adjust quickly with the Ingalls family and their new school. Just as they are beginning to thrive again, a pair of adoptive parents come along, but their ulterior motives may put the children in danger.