It's been years since he last saw her, and he still feels empty inside. Oh yes, ever since Kate Thorvald left on that stagecoach, Dr. Hiram Baker hasn’t been the same. There isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t think about. After she left Doc Baker tried to forget her, and all of the pain he felt when they broke off their engagement. But he just couldn’t do it, almost everything reminded him of her.
Every patient he tended to, it reminded him of all the times Kate would join him on his rounds. Every wedding he’s been to reminded him of the potential wedding he and Kate might have had. All the babies he delivered since she left reminded him of the potential future they might have had. Even Laura Ingalls, now Wilder, reminded him of Kate.
He remembered that day when Kate and himself joined the Ingalls for supper. While he and Charles went fishing, Kate spent her time with Caroline and the children. After fishing, the duo found Kate playing in the Ingalls’ yard with Laura and Mary. Seeing her running around with the two children made Hiram smile. But then Charles made a remark that made his smile falter.
“Well would you look at that. You got your bride to be running around like a kid.”
After that, something seemed to bug Hiram. He began to wonder about the age difference between himself and Kate, something he never questioned before until now. What really put doubts in his mind was when Laura brought up the idea of him and Kate having children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. After that he knew he was too old for her. She realized that too when she watched him deliver Helga Olafsen’s baby. That night, the two parted ways. And Doc Baker hasn't been the same.
But now Laura was having a baby. Doc Baker remembered the first time he met Laura, her head barely reaching the counter and Oleson’s Mercantile. Now she was a grown young woman, married with a baby on the way. Seeing Laura pregnant made Hiram think of Kate, since she and Laura were so close. Doc Baker wondered if Kate was married and if she had any children. He found that out one day.
Dr. Hiram Baker was running low on some supplies, so he decided to visit Oleson’s Mercantile. He walked into the Mercantile to find Harriet Oleson gossiping with Mrs. Foster and Nels Oleson doing some book work at the front counter. As soon the bell jingled, Nels looked up.
“Afternoon, Doc. What can I get for you?”
Hiram walked past Mrs. Oleson and Mrs. Foster, the former glancing at him as he walked past.
“Morning Nels, Harriet, Mrs. Foster. Well Nels, it seems that I’m running low on some supplies, and I was wondering if you could help me out.” Hiram pulled out a list and gave it Mr. Oleson.
“Alright. I’ll see what I can do.” With that, Nels walked into the store room. While Hiram waited, he couldn’t help but listen the conversation Mrs. Oleson and Mrs. Foster were having. He didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but one word caught his attention: Kate.
“Oh Mrs. Foster, isn’t it just wonderful? Just a few years ago Kate got married, and now she just gave birth last week! And not only that, but she had twins! A boy and a girl, just like Nellie! I can’t wait to go and visit her next summer!” While Mrs. Oleson squealed with joy, Hiram felt his heart break a little. So she did get married after all. And she had children. Hiram wonders if Kate still had that ring he made her.
Mrs. Oleson must have known Hiram was listening so she started to talk louder, as if to brag about it. “Oh, but I wish I knew their names! Kate said she and Thomas were still thinking of names, but I know she’s hiding something from me! I keep telephoning her but she giggles every time I ask!” Harriet just grunts in annoyance.
Hiram, too, was wondering what Kate had named her babies. But before he could continue speculating, Nels came back with the supplies. “Here you go, Doc. I got everything you asked for. Do you need more candy for the kids? Doc?”
Hiram was shaken from his thoughts as Nels asked if he was alright. He said he was fine, but didn’t need any candy for now. So Hiram paid for his oods and started to leave. But before he could leave Mrs. Foster said, “ I almost forgot to tell you Dr. Baker, but there’s a letter waiting for you at the post office.” Hiram thanked Mrs. Foster and turned to leave, knowing that Harriet Oleson’s eyes were burning at the back of his head.
After picking up his letter from the post office, Hiram went upstairs to his room. After shrugging off his jacket and hat, he sat on the bed to look at the letter. When he glanced at the return address, he was shocked. Kate’s name was on the top left corner, but Thorvald had been replaced with Kennedy. Hastily, Hiram opened the letter and began to read.
Forgive me for not writing to you these past few years, but I could not bring myself to start a letter. I wrote this letter to see how you were doing after we parted all those years ago. I’m not sure if my auntie has been mentioning to you how I am doing, but probably not, considering how she felt about our engagement. But I do know that she’s been telling everybody that I’ve finally married. I hope that you’re not too offended that I’ve married another man. His name is Thomas, and he treats me right. He’s a big lawyer down here in Chicago, but he has the kindest heart. He let me finish my studies at the university, and I’m now a nurse at the hospital here. I married him a year after I left Walnut Grove, but I had trouble conceiving. It wasn’t until late last year that I found out I was with child. And now just last week I gave birth to twins. Twins, can you believe it Hiram? I wasn’t sure if I could conceive one, but two? Anyway, I had a boy and a girl, and they’re both doing fine. I refused to tell auntie what I named them because I know she would have a fit, especially with my son. I named my daughter after Laura Ingalls, which reminds me, will you say hello to her for me? She was such a sweet girl when I visited, and I want to know how she’s doing. If she’s married and has children, I want to know Hiram. But my son, and I do hope you won’t tell auntie this, but I named my son after you, Hiram. After I left years ago, I’ve always wanted a son just like you Hiram, and I hope one day he’s a good man just like you. I hope this letter finds you well and if you read it, please write back. I’d love to hear from you.
All my love,
PS. I still have my ring you made me, but I put it on a necklace chain so I can have it close to my heart.
Hiram felt tears gather in his eyes after he finished the letter. And yet, he felt his heart swell to hear she named her son after him. Hiram hugged the letter close to him and started to weep. He was glad that she still had that ring, but still felt sad that another ring had taken it’s place. All these years he told himself that Kate deserved better. But now, he was starting to ponder over that again. “No, I won’t think about that now. I’ll think about it tomorrow.” And with that, Hiram fell asleep, imagining that Kate was laying beside him. and that her two children were his.