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.