By the Shores of Silver Lake Book Discussion - The Black Ponies
The girls awoke to sunshine coming through their canvas tent. "Hurry up, we're going for the washing," laughed Lena. They didn't need to dress since they hadn't undressed the night before. Breakfast was jolly. Aunt Docia had made pancakes and afterwards there was a huge stack of dishes to be washed, but nothing like Lena was used to. Most days she and her ma would be busy cooking and cleaning, three times a day for forty-six men. This was why they hired out the laundry work.
After their chores were done, Laura helped Lena harness the buggy to the black ponies and the girls took off. It was within minutes that Lena had them running. Faster and faster the ponies flew while the girls laughed and sang. They knew they were safe for there was nothing out there but wild grass to run into. After a while Lena slowed the ponies down to let them breathe, but it wouldn't be long before they wanted to bolt again. Lena promised Laura she could drive them on the way home.
They arrived at the claim shanty and the homesteader's wife came out carrying their basket of clothing. She apologized for her unkempt appearance. Her daughter Lizzie had just gotten married the day before. Lena and Laura couldn't believe it. Lizzie was only thirteen; she was their age. Both girls told each other it would be quite some time before either of them got married. They weren't ready to settle down and they were having way too much playing around.
As promised, on the trip home Laura did get to drive the ponies. She too had them running in no time. When they finally stopped to unhitch the horses, it was then they discovered the top layers of clothing from the basket ended up on the buggy floor under the seats. They quickly straighted out the basket and brought it into the shanty.
After they ate their dinner and finished the dishes they ran back out to the ponies. Jean and Lena rode them bareback, hanging tightly to their manes for balance. Lena then persuaded Laura to climb aboard Jean's pony. With Lena's help Laura mounted the pony before the horse bolted. She hung on to the mane for dear life. An afternoon of scratched up legs, a bloody nose from the pony's head hitting her and falling off twice; Laura had a wonderful afternoon. When Aunt Docia finally called them in for supper, Ma looked at Laura in shocked amazement. She looked like a wild indian. Her hair was no longer pulled back in tight braids, but flowing wildly about her face. She and Lena made quite the pair. It had been a long time since Lena got an afternoon to do as she liked.