Monday, January 25, 2010

SMOKE AND MIRRORS 26th installment

Alice Crepeau, left, with her Dad, Jules. Louis center with Maria Roy Crepeau and her daughters, Florida and Cecile. Circa 1918.

When Flora got home from school she found her mother in the sewing room ripping apart Edith's blue dress. She had torn it at the cattle fair on Saturday. "I got a letter from father, "Margaret said. "And there are no fires there, thank goodness."

When Flora and May had left from school, in the morning, the haze had been so thick, they could not see the Montgomery's house next door. Hot dry summers bring on the forest fires. But the haze had soon cleared and it hard turned into a lovely day.

"Father is happy about the election at end of October, as he will be coming home. And I am happy, because Herb will be coming home as well. That boy is making me ill. He has not spoken to Marion since she arrived in Montreal. Father also saw in the papers that Mr. Jackson wants to leave St. Francis but he didn't seem so pleased about that." Margaret gave Flora a piercing look. "What do you know."

Flora was stunned. "Nothing," replied Flora, truthfully.

"Well, the students are always the last to know. I wonder who will take his place. Would you stir the stew on the stove, Flora?"

Flora didn't know what to say. She knew what she wanted to say. That perhaps if the parents of the community left their teachers alone to do their work, they wouldn't want to leave. Did Margaret have a word with him, as father had instructed her, Flora wondered. Was she a cause of this? If there had been a meeting, neither her mother nor Mr. Jackson had let on.

She walked over to the stove, where a beef stew was simmering in a iron pot and took the large wooded spoon and lifted the heavy lid with a potholder and began to stir. The carrots and peas and beef eddied before her, supper. But she suddenly didn't feel like eating. And then Edith breezed by her holding a letter, very agitated.

"Leave Mother and me, Flora please," she said.

So Flora took the stairs up to talk to May, with a book on her lap, but staring into her dressing mirror, her normally sparkling eyes were wide and blank. Her lips, usually animated, were extended into a pout: Her pretty girl look.

"I wonder what Edith had to say to Mother that is so urgent," Flora said.

"Oh, didn't she tell you. Dede Miller has broken her ankle and cannot go work as a tutor in Montreal. She has asked Edith if she can take place, but she must have the answer tomorrow.

"In Montreal? With the French family?"

"Yes, isn't it exciting. Then Marion and Edith can go to Dominion Park, together."