By the Shores of Silver Lake Book Discussion - The Building Room
Laura was eager to show Pa the sack of almost empty beans hidden in the pantry. It was now full of money.
"Caroline, what have you girls been up to?" Pa said looking into their smiling faces. The sack held fifteen dollars and twenty fve cents. While Laura and Ma started supper they filled Pa in on what had happened while he was away. But before they were done talking, a wagonload of seven strangers pulled up to the door. Now that Pa was home the strangers could sleep on the floor near the stove. That next morning there was hardly time to talk because there were so many men for breakfast. Laura could hardly keep up with the dishes. By the time she finished, she had to begin peeling potatoes for dinner. She didn't care, she was helping Ma and Pa get rich.
One morning she saw Pa driving a load of lumber towards the townsite. Ma had told her Pa was putting up a building for them on the townsite. Lots in town were going fast and Pa thought he could make money by putting up a store building. They still had six months before they must build on their homestead. That week the house was filled with steady boarders, men who were building houses on their townsite or on their homestead claim. You could see Main Street growing up from the muddy ground. Within two weeks on the brown prairie a town had sprung up. New unpainted buildings pushed up thin false fronts, some even two stories high.
The supplies in the Surveyor's house was starting to run out and Ma had to buy supplies in town. They weren't making as much money now, only a few cents profit from every meal sold. One day at the lunch table Laura overheard a man say he was putting up a hotel. His wife was due on the next lumber haul and he expected to be doing business within the week.
As suddenly as the hurry had begun it ended. One evening it was just Pa, Ma and the girls at the table. It was quiet, peaceful and cool. "Laura and I counted up," Ma said. "We made over forty dollars." Laura was hoping they could save it towards sending Mary to college.
Pa said he expected the surveyors to show up any day now and he warned Ma to be ready to move so he could turn the house over to them. That next morning they washed the bedding and started to pack.