Monday, April 26, 2010

By the Shores of Silver Lake Book Discussion - Payday

Every payday Pa figured out how much each man had earned. He took into consideration the days worked, how much was owed to the store, and then what was owed for room and board. He then subtracted the amounts from each man's wages and made out a time check.

One morning, Laura saw a buggy pull up in front of the store and a man went running inside while two men waited for him in the buggy, keeping a close lookout. Soon the man came out, got back into the buggy and quickly trotted away. Laura ran out of the shanty with Ma hollaring after her. Something had happened she was sure of it.

Her heart beat rapidly until she saw Pa come out of the store heading towards her. When he got into the confines of the shanty he took a canvas bag out of his pocket. The bag carried the men's pay. Caroline wrapped it in a clean cloth and stashed it into an open sack of flour. The man Laura spotted was the paymaster and he was carrying thousands of dollars in cash to pay all the men in the camps around the area. That night hardly anyone slept because that money was in the flour sack.

The following day, men gathered at the store to collect their pay. Some didn't understand the payout method and Pa had to explain the process to them. Though they worked a month, it took two weeks to file the paperwork and receive the money from the paymaster. In two weeks they would receive the previous two weeks' pay and so on and so on. Some were not happy with that answer. That evening Laura spotted a crowd of men gathering outside the store. Ma scooted the girls inside and closed the door. The men banged on the door of the store yelling for Pa to come out. They demanded their other two weeks of pay. Then they yelled for Pa to open up the store. "Come back tomorrow morning and I will let you have all the goods you want on your account," Pa said cooly.

Ma held Laura back as she tried frantically to run to her Pa's defense. It was then that Big Jerry showed up. The crowd now gathered around him as he spoke and he convinced them that in the morning they could all take what they wanted. He then talked a few men into a poker game while the rest dispersed towards the bunk house.

That next morning Big Jerry rallied the men to the neighboring Stebbins camp where a riot was taking place. The men all returned well after dark. Pa found out they roughed up the paymaster and then placed him in a lumber wagon and started him back east looking for a doctor. Ma was upset by all of this and Pa comforted her by setting her down on his knees. "Next summer we will all be settled on a homested," he assured her.

Synopsis provided by Lorrie

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