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.