The unnamed narrator is the youngest of three sisters. She has lived her entire life in the Hôtel Splendid . Her grandmother built it next to a swamp. Her sisters traveled the world with their mother. When the mother died, the sisters returned.
Groups of speculators, geographers, contractors, and eventually workers come through under a plan to build a railroad through the swamp. Up against the decaying hotel, the swamp that threatens to engulf it, and the sisters who don’t give her any help, the youngest perseveres through the ups and downs. There’s something enigmatic about her accounts though they are largely banal: the state of the plumbing and the health of her sisters are most common. Maybe it’s the short, non-compound sentences. Or the profound image of the isolated hotel in the middle of a hungry swamp created without long, descriptive passages.