By the Shores of Silver Lake Book Discussion - On the Pilgrim Way
One Sunday evening Pa's fiddle was singing. Outside the door a strong voice sang along. Standing on the other side of the door were two men covered in snow, one of which was Reverend Alden. Everyone was pleasantly surprised, for the last time they saw him was on the banks of Plum Creek.
"And here are my country girls all grown into women!" Reverend Alden's voice bellowed.
Laura was choked up with joy at seeing the Reverend.
"We are glad to see you again sir." Mary's face shone with brightness.
It was then the Reverend noticed the blankness in her eyes. He looked at Ma and then to Mary again. Ma quickly introduced him to Mr. and Mrs. Boast. The Reverend then introduced his young traveling companion as Reverend Scott Stewart. As the two men stood by the stove thawing, the ladies prepared a fine meal. Pa returned from the stable with two more homesteaders, both of whom were on their way back to settle on the Jim River. Reverend Alden said there's a settlement on the Jim, a town called Huron. The Home Missionary Society sent him out to look it over and make it ready to start a church there.
After the men had eaten supper Reverend Alden came into the pantry where Ma and Laura were washing dishes. He thanked Ma and told her how sorry he was for Mary's affliction. Ma said it was God's will and she was thankful that all her children were spared the worse from scarlet fever. He then told Ma about colleges for the blind and a very good one was located right in Iowa. Ma was interested, so Reverend Alden promised to make inquiries. "We can't afford it, but perhaps later if it doesn't cost too much we might somehow manage. I always wanted Mary to have an education."
"We must trust in the Lord to do all things for our best good," he said, and with that they held a short prayer meeting before saying goodnight. Laura knew then and there that she would be glad to work hard and go without anything for herself, so that Mary could go to college. The Boasts soon went home and once again Carrie's bed was placed down near the stove for the tired travelers.
Tucked away upstairs sharing the remaining bed, the girls talked about the blind school Reverend Alden had mentioned. Mary worried about the cost. "Ma knows," Laura whispered and she then promised, "I will study hard, so I can teach school and help."
The following morning the men enjoyed a good hot breakfast, after which the Boasts were invited back over for another preaching service. Pa played the fiddle and they all sang a hymn. As the team and wagon pulled away, Reverend Alden said, "You have had the first church service in this new town." He then promised to be back in the spring to organize a church.
"What's the name of the town that's going to be here?" Carrie asked.
"It's DeSmet, named for a french priest who came out here pioneering in the early days," Pa answered as they headed back into the warm house.
Pa knew with two homesteaders here already he had better make tracks for Brookins tomorrow morning come rain or shine.