In On the Banks of Plum Creek, Laura’s beloved rag doll, Charlotte, is given to a spoiled neighbor’s baby. Charlotte had been a Christmas gift Laura’s mother had made her, and the girl sorely misses her doll. Later, she discovers her beloved doll, discarded and frozen in an iced-over puddle, and fiercely reclaims her. This all takes place in the chapter “The Darkest Hour is Just Before Dawn,” when Laura, her sisters, and mother are without Pa, and in need.
This morning, in my own pre-dawn house, while everyone was yet sleeping, I thought of Charlotte again, and how I’ve returned to that image all through the varied years of my life, looking for treasures to mend in frozen puddles. Sometimes I wonder where my own daughters will be, years from now, all grown up, enmeshed in families of their own. What have I made or given them that they would rescue from sleeting rain and mud? Something dear, I hope. Something beloved.
Darling Charlotte lay in her box under the eaves, smiling with her red yarn mouth and her shoe-button eyes. Laura lifted her carefully and smoothed her wavy black-yarn hair and her skirts. Charlotte had no feet, and her hands were only stitched on the flat ends of her arms, because she was a rag doll. But Laura loved her dearly.
–– Laura Ingalls Wilder, On the Banks of Plum Creek