By the Shores of Silver Lake Book Discussion - Pa's Bet
Mr. Hinz and the two Mr. Hartbornes boarded at the surveyors house, sleeping on the floor in front of the stove. During the afternoons their hammers could be heard pounding on the framework of their new buildings. Pa seemed to have been gone a long time. Ma would not let any more strangers sleep in the house. It was warmer outside and the rest had to sleep in their wagons. Ma still charged twenty five cents for supper and still lots of men came to eat.
Late in the afternoon on the fourth day Pa came home with the news that he had gotten the claim. He told the girls all about his adventure. He said when he got to the land office he couldn't get anywhere near the door because there were that many people. He had to stand in line and wait his turn. Pa said he had to wait for the second day before it would be his turn. When the land office closed on that first day Pa had gone to get some supper at the hotel. It was there that he overheard one man talking about the very piece of land that he had picked out last winter. Soon after Pa finished his supper he made fast tracks back to the land office and settled down on the doorstep to spend the night. He wouldn't be the only one. About forty others soon joined him and next to him was the two fellows he heard talking. By sun up there must have been a couple of hundred men pushing and shoving against him in that line.
Just as the door opened one of the men held Pa back and told the other to get in. As Pa started to fight back another man jumped in to help. It was Mr. Edwards. Pa said he would have never gotten the claim had it not been for him. Edwards just started that fight and as soon as Charles ducked inside the land office he snuck out. It was some time before the crowd quieted down. Pa tried everything to persuade Mr. Edwards to return back to DeSmet with him, but to no avail. But he did send along his greetings.
"Well girls, I've bet Uncle Sam fourteen dollars against a hundred and sixty acres of land, that we can make out to live on the claim for five years. Going to help me win the bet?"