A Countess From Canada

Cover of book A Countess From Canada
Categories: Fiction » Classic

Beyond the Second Portage"Oh dear, how I should love to go out!"Katherine Radford stretched her arms wearily above her head as shespoke. There had been five days of persistent snowfall; but thismornin


g the clouds had broken, showing strips and patches of bluesky, and there was bright sunshine flooding the world again, withhard and sparkling frost."Why don't you go?" demanded Phil, who was the youngest. "Milesand me don't mind having a holiday at all.""Speak for yourself if you like," growled Miles, who was thirteen;"but I want to get this schooling business over and done with, sothat I can start doing something useful.""And speak grammatically, please, or else keep silent. You shouldhave said, 'Miles and I'," remarked Katherine with quite crushingdignity, as she turned from the window to take her place at thetable once more. Phil thrust his tongue in his cheek, after themanner beloved of small boys, and subsided into silence and anabstracted study of his spelling book.The schoolroom was a small chamber, partitioned off from the storeby a wall of boards so thin that all conversation about buying andselling, with the gossip of the countryside thrown in, was plainlyaudible to the pupils, whose studies suffered in consequence. Thestovepipe from the store went through this room, keeping itcomfortably warm, and in winter 'Duke Radford and the boys sleptthere, because it was so terribly cold in the loft.Katherine had come home from college in July, determined to teachschool all winter, and to make a success of it, too, in a mostunpromising part of the world. But even the most enthusiasticteacher must fail to get on if there are no scholars to teach, andat present she had only Miles and Phil, her two brothers, aspupils. This was most trying to Katherine's patience, for, ofcourse, if there had only been pupils enough, she could have had aproperly constituted school, and a salary also. She might evenhave had a regular schoolhouse to teach in, instead of beingcompelled to use a makeshift such as this. But everything musthave a beginning, and so she had worked on bravely through theautumn, hoping against hope for more pupils. In the intervalsbetween teaching the boys she kept the books for her father, andeven attended to the wants of an occasional customer when 'DukeRadford was busy or absent.The store at Roaring Water Portage was awkwardly placed forbusiness. It stood on a high bank overlooking the rapids, and whenit was built, five years before, had been the centre of a miningvillage. But the mining village had been abandoned for three yearsnow, because the vein of copper had ended in a thick seam of coal,which, under present circumstances, was not worth working. Now thenearest approach to a village was at Seal Cove, at the mouth of theriver, nearly three miles away, where there were about half a dozenwooden huts, and the liquor saloon kept by Oily Dave when he was athome, and shut up when he was absent on fishing expeditions.Although houses were so scarce, there was no lack of trade for thelonely store in the woods. All through the summer there was aprocession of birchbark canoes, filled with red men and white,coming down the river to the bay, laden with skins of wolf, fox,beaver, wolverine, squirrel, and skunk, the harvest of the winter'strapping. Then in winter the cove and the river were often crowdedwith boats, driven to anchorage there by the ice, and to escape thefearful storms sweeping over the bay. The river was more favouredas an anchorage than the cove, because it was more sheltered, andalso because there was open water at the foot of the rapids even inthe severest winter, and had been so long as anyone could remember.As the morning wore on, Katherine's mood became even more restless,and she simply yearned for the fresh air and the sunshine. She wasusually free to go out-of-doors in the afternoons, because the boysonly worked until noon

A Countess From Canada
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