Friday, October 29, 2010

By the Shores of Silver Lake Book Discussion - The Shanty on the Claim

After the first night in the new house, a new day dawned and promised to be a
busy one. Pa set out with the shovel on his shoulder. He was off to dig a well.
While Mary kept Grace busy, Ma, Laura and Carrie set out to finish unpacking and making the house a home. They pulled everything out of the house. But there
was too much stuff and they were having a problem fitting it all back into place. Pa was back home with a new well dug before the ladies had it figured out. He went off again to build a cover for the top to keep Grace safe.

After trying many different things, the house was finally put in order. Trunks, beds, table, chairs, whatnot and all of the other belongs were finally in place. After dinner Pa and Laura worked on making a window and hanging a front door. They they put tar paper on the outside of the house. Tar paper was not pretty but it kept out the wind from coming in through the cracks in the walls.

At the supper table Ma decided that she needed to do some baking. Pa promised to go to find some firewood from Lake Henry. Laura and Carrie begged to go with Pa. They missed seeing trees. There were no trees to be seen anywhere on the Dakota prairie. Pa assured then that pretty soon there would be plenty of trees because the government was making everyone plant trees on each tree claim. Soon there would be plenty of trees for shade.

Early the next morning Pa headed out to Lake Henry for the load of firewood and Laura took Ellen to drink from the well. She enjoyed her time outside alone. She rolled on the fresh grass until she discovered a grass stain on her dress. Soberly she headed back to the house.

The girls unpacked their pretty belongs and set them on the whatnot to make the room look homey. Ma was just about to put up the shelf for the china shepherdess when she heard Pa outside. He seemed excited and the whole family went out to see what was going on. Pa had a wagon load of little trees. He explained that they were cottonwoods that had grown as seedlings from The Lone Cottonwood that they had seen when they came from Brookings. Carefully he pulled one tree from the wagon.

"This one is for you Caroline, where do you want it? he asked. Ma wanted it right outside the door to provide shade for the house. One by one more trees were planted by each of the family members and those was their special trees. Soon the whole house had a windbreak of cottonwood trees.

"The last tree if for Grace. Send her out to help me plant it Caroline".

But Grace wasn't in the house. They looked around the house and she wasn't there. Where could she be?Soon everyone was running and screaming for Grace. Laura headed for the big slough. She prayed that Grace hadn't gone in there, they would never find her in that tall grass.

Synopsis provided by Marilyn

By the Shores of Silver Lake Book Discussion - Moving Day

It was moving day and every member of the Ingalls family was happy. Ma and Mary were happy that this would be their last move, forever. Laura was happy because she was looking forward to living outside of town. Carrie was happy to see the homestead. Pa was happy to be moving again, anywhere, and Grace sang and was happy because everyone else was happy.

After the breakfast dishes had been washed and dried, Ma packed them into the tub to ride safely in the wagon. Pa had taken the stove and stovepipe, along with the table and chairs and loaded them in as well. He tugged on his beard and decided that he had to make 2 trips to the homestead to get it all there with a place for all of his girls to ride in the wagon. So as he left to unload this trip, Ma and Laura rolled the beds, packed the lamps and prepared for his next load. It was all ready for him when he returned. The last item to be tucked safely into the quilts was the fiddle.

The family climbed into the wagon. They were on their way home. Ma noticed that Laura wasn't wearing her sunbonnet and beckoned her to do so. Laura didn't like wearing her sunbonnet because she couldn't see past the bonnet's sides. Reluctantly she pulled it on and looked straight ahead at the backs of her father's horses who were leading the way.

Carrie noticed a beautiful set of horses in the distance. Pa told her that they were the Wilder boys'. Almanzo was driving and his brother Royal was beside him. The boys had homesteads in the area. Laura looked at the beautiful animals and wondered how much they cost. Pa told her that they must cost nearly $300. That was a lot of money and Laura could only dream of such a matched pair of beauties.

Soon they came to the homestead. Pa had built a rough shack the day before and Ma chuckled at the sight of it. Pa promised that he would finish building it later that day and they would all be moved in soon. There were no windows and no door, but there was a root cellar. It was a very small house, but at least they were there and no one could jump their claim.

By the end of the day, the curtains was put up for the bedrooms, the beds were made and the stove was set in its place. After dinner the family spent the evening enjoying the peace of the open prairie. The stars were twinkling overhead and the frogs in the Big Slough were croaking. Pa asked for the fiddle and played a song. Ma sighed and declared that she would hang the bracket for the china shepherdess as soon as the roof was finished over their heads. When she was safely in her place, it would finally be home.

Synopsis provided by Marilyn

By the Shores of Silver Lake Book Discussion - Living in Town

The surveyors had come back to reclaim their house. The Boasts had gone out to live at their claim, and there was nowhere for the Ingalls family to live except in Pa's unfinished building in town. Carrie and Laura walked to town with Mary between them and Pa's wagon following close behind. Laura felt lonely and scared in a new world with so many people in it.

They came to town and to the building. It was a long building with a door in the front, windows on each side, and a door at the back. Sunlight could be seen coming through the crack in the wall boards and the knotholes. Pa noted to Ma that he had much work to do to finish the building but he thought that they would be warm enough now that spring had come. He would soon put up some siding to fill in the crack in the walls. Ma requested a staircase to the loft but then portioned off some rooms with some sheets so they would have a place to sleep until real walls could be built.

Moving in was completed and night fell. There were streams of light coming from the windows of buildings across the street. Sometimes feet walked along the sidewalk in front of the building. At last the night was silent but Laura felt crowded.

In the morning she awoke to Pa singing and she was surprized to feel snow on her face. Pa came over and told her that there was a foot of snow on the bed. Laura and Mary lay still as Pa dug them out and then watched as the did the same for Carrie and Grace. Then they all hurried to dress by the warm stove. BRRR.

Ma moved the breakfast table close to the stove near Mary's chair. She warmed her shawl and wrapped Grace in it. They swept the snow into the corners of the room. Pa promised to make a partition to keep the heat near the stove. Laura and Carrie helped to hold the boards as he sawed and nailed them.

In a few days the snow was gone and the warm weather returned. Birds flew overhead without stopping on Silver Lake. They didn't like to be near a town full of people, and neither did Laura. She wanted to be out on the prairie with the grasses, the wolves and Pa's fiddle. She asked about moving to the homestead and Pa promised that they would move as soon as he sold this building.

Carrie loved living in town. She would sit by the window and watch the things going on outside it. Sometimes Ma would let her go to visit the little girls across the street but mostly the little girls would come to visit Carrie. Ma would rather keep Carrie at home. One day Ma thought that it would be good practice for Laura to teach school if she taught the little girls. So, when they arrived she sat them down and gave them lessons to learn. At the end of the day Ma invited them to return each day for Laura to teach them more. Every day they came but it became harder for Laura to teach because they fidgeted so much.

One day they didn't come. A crowd had gathered across the street. Ma was anxious until she saw Pa coming towards the house. He came in and told them to prepare to move to the homestead. The crowd had just learned of a murder outside of town. One of the local men had moved out to his homestead and was murdered by claim jumpers. Pa headed out the door again on his way to get a load of lumber and someone to help him build a claim shanty so they could move to it tomorrow. No one would be able to jump their claim.

Synopsis provided by Marilyn