Any other day, Flora would have had her mother right there at her side at homework time to help keep her on task. She'd be working at the kitchen table and her mother would be busy nearby with some end of day chore, sweeping out the ashes from the stove or wiping down the icebox. Mother Margaret had a sharp memory and even sharper opinions on a slate of popular topics, from eugenics to church union to suffrage, with the latter being her very favourite, that would woman suffrage, or universal suffrage - women's right to vote - an interest that got her in hot water with many of the other church ladies and just about all the church men.
Margaret, a pleasing looking woman of 54, was famous in her birth family for being 'the one who knows things.' She had worked, in her youth, as the Eastern Townships' first female telegraph operator.
But today, no homework help was forthcoming. No sewing help either. "It will have to wait," Margaret shot back from her sewing room off the kitchen, "I hardly have time enough to sew this pocket into my corset for tomorrow's train trip. To protect my cash. Father's orders...And come in from the verandah, Flora dear, the wind is picking up and you'll catch a chill."
That was not like Margaret, refusing to make a quick repair on a frock or stocking, especially on a school night. Mother must be very nervous about her trip, Flora figured. She was heading off to Three Rivers to visit her oldest daughter, Edith, who was teaching in a company school at Radnor Forges, near that place. There, she would meet father Norman and then accompany him back to his railway camp near La Tuque.
By the determined sound of her sewing, the steady tap tap tap on the pedal, and chug a chug a chug of the needle, Flora sensed there was some anxiety associated with this trip.
Just a change of colour. There it was again. That silly sentence, popping into her head, right out of nowhere. And if she didn't do well on her exam, or if she failed, heaven forbid, she was in for it.