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The Last Resort - Chapter 08|
I was getting very depressed and longed to go back to England. I wrote to the Red Cross to see if they would get me back to England as I didn’t think the atmosphere that my children were in was right. If they could get me back as soon as possible, I would be very grateful. Well, I waited and waited for a reply but none came. I thought that they had forgotten about me and I was going to write to them again.
I was busy washing. How I hated washing in the winter. First of all, I had to collect icicles hanging from the roof and fill my water barrel. I had to melt the icicles in the tub on the kitchen stove. I had to scrub the clothes on a scrub-board. This took lots of water and if I had a barrel full of water, I thought I was in heaven. I had to hang the clothes out in the freezing cold which really didn’ t dry them but that was the only place to hang them. Many times the clothes were frozen solid when I brought them in and really were wet when they thawed out. No wonder I hated washdays in winter.
As I was hanging out the washing, the pastor of our church came by and stood talking to me. I invited him in and offered him coffee. It was almost lunch time and Arthur would soon be in and as the pastor showed no sigh of leaving, I asked him to stay if he didn’t mind potluck. To my surprise, he accepted. I quickly laid the table and had the lunch all ready when Arthur came in. He was just as surprised as I was when he saw Pastor Moffat.
After we had said grace, the pastor said: “I have just come from the Red Cross and our wife wants a divorce.”
My heart stood still when he said that and I looked at Arthur. His face had gone very white and he jumped up from the table.
He said: “If that’s the way she wants it, that’s the way she can have it.”
He grabbed his hat and was going to walk out but the pastor stopped him and said: “No, that’s not the way it should be. Children need a father as well as a mother. I want you to come to my house this evening and we will talk this over.” To my surprise, Arthur did go to see the pastor and he was gone for such a long time that I began to wonder if he had gone to the beer parlor instead. I was very nervous when he came in but we decided to give our marriage another change. Maybe if I had been Canadian, things would have been very different but I was a stubborn Englishwoman and Arthur was just as stubborn as I.
I guess it was hard on him as well. He had been footloose and fancy free for so long and now we had tied with a wife and children to support. He had to be tied down to a steady job. Arthur had spent months prospecting in Northern Quebec. He had worked in the States and all parts of Canada so I am sure he must have resent the fact that his carefree lifestyle was over.
For awhile, things changed and I was so busy preparing for Christmas that I forgot how unhappy I was. I was so thankful that Gladys came in everyday on her way to the post office and we would sit over coffee and grumble about how far apart places were over here. We didn’t have the money to go any father than Sioux Lookout. Although we had both made many friends, we were both homesick for England.
Well, Christmas was almost here and how can anyone not be excited about Christmas? I had so much to cook with - no shortage of anything here. Not like England where we only had two ounces of marg, sugar, tea, lard and cheese for a week. I felt very guilty for having so much.
Gladys had asked if we would like to go to her house for Christmas Eve. My goodness, what a wonderful cook she was. Here I was trying to push English cooking onto Arthur while Gladys had all these marvelous Canadian dishes prepared. I decided that I would try and do better. Maybe I did too much grumbling and not enough doing.
I remember the first breakfast I served Arthur in our little house. It very nearly ended in disaster. I had cooked him eggs and bacon and I saw him put jam on his plate to eat with his toast. I couldn’t believe it!
I snatched his plate away and scraped all the jam off and said: ‘You can’t eat jam when the people in England are starving.”
He said: ‘I don’t care whether the people in England are starving or not. I work hard for this food and I’m going to eat when I want and what I want.”
We both ended up mad.
The first time I made Arthur tea, you would have thought I was giving him poison. He asked me how long ago I had made it and seeing that he looked mad, I said: “Ten Minutes ago.”
He said: “I don’t care how your mother made tea. She was probably used to drinking boiled tea all the time but I’m not going to drink that black looking stuff.”
We had a row over that.
Another time, I served pancakes rolled up with lemon and sugar for dessert. That’s how we had pancakes in England. When I put them in front t of Arthur, he looked at them as though he had never seen them before and said: ‘What’s this?”
I said: “pancakes. Can’t you tell?”
He said: “We have these for breakfast with butter and syrup.”
He wouldn't eat them. We had many little upsets like that - mostly over food.
Now to get back to Glady’s We enjoyed ourselves so much that it was eleven o’clock before we knew it. We had only intended to stay until ten as we had Richard and baby Sally Ann. We said goodnight and left. We didn’t have far to go thank goodness. As soon as we got in, I started to wash the children and get them ready for bed. As I was getting the baby’s bottle ready, Arthur said to me :”We had better hurry and put the lights out before anyone comes.”
I looked at him and said: “It’s eleven-thirty. Surely no one will come at this time of night.” However I did hurry up, fed the baby and put her to bed. I quickly washed and got into bed myself. I told Arthur to hurry up and put the lights out. He had just put the lights out when we heard a banging on the door. “Open up Art. Merry Christmas. Where’s the booze?”
I told Arthur to keep quiet and they would go away. No such luck. They kept up the banging and shouting so Arthur got up and opened the door. Before I knew it, all these men were in my bedroom. Of course there wasn’t a door on our room so they were in there wishing me a Merry Christmas and calling Arthur a sly dog for keeping me hidden. Arthur hadn’t kept me hidden but they were probably too drunk to recognize me. Anyway, they dragged in chairs and made Arthur get glasses. They poured out some kind of wine and every time they wished me a Merry Christmas (which was many many times,) I had to take a little sip. What a stupid fool, I felt. I could’ve choked Arthur. I was boiling mad on the inside but smiling on the outside. I would’ve felt better if I could’ve reached my dressing gown. As it was, I had to sit with a sheet wrapped around my neck, drinking with six men. By the time the men were ready to leave, I was a nervous wreck. I know one thing for certain. I would never be caught like this again.
I told Gladys about this and she laughed her head off. I sure didn’t feel like laughing. on the whole, we did have a nice Christmas with a real tree all decorated up. We got Richard a little black puppy named Tippy instead of a truck.
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