It was a bleak day in November, with a thick, gray sky, and a great, noisy, blustering wind that had a knack of facing you, no matter which way you were going; a wind that would be in ill-favor anywhere, but in northern Alberta, where the wind is not due to blow at all, it was what the really polite people call “impossible.” Those who were not so polite called it something quite different, but the meaning is the same.
There are districts, not so very far from us, where the wind blows so constantly that the people grow accustomed to it; they depend on it; some say they like it; and when by a rare chance it goes down for a few hours, they become nervous, panicky, and apprehensive, always listening, expecting something to happen. But we of the windless North, with our sunlit spaces, our quiet days and nights, grow peevish, petulant, and full of grouch when the wind blows. We will stand anything but that. We resent wind; it is not in the bond; we will have none of it!
“You won’t have many at the meeting to-day,” said the station agent cheerfully, when I went into the small waiting-room to wait for the President of the Red Cross Society, who wanted to see me before the meeting. “No, you won’t have many a day like this, although there are some who will come out, wind or no wind, to hear a woman speak—it’s just idle curiosity, that’s all it is.”
“Oh, come,” I said, “be generous; maybe they really think that she may have something to say!”
“Well, you see,” said this amateur philosopher, as he dusted the gray-painted sill of the wicket with a large red-and-white handkerchief, “it is great to hear a woman speak in public, anyway, even if she does not do it very well. It’s sorto’ like seeing a pony walking on its hind legs; it’s clever even if it’s not natural. You will have some all right—I’m going over myself. There would have been a big crowd in if it hadn’t been for the wind. You see, you’ve never been here before and that all helps.”
Then the President of the Red Cross Society came and conducted me to the house quite near the station where I was to be entertained. My hostess, who came to the door herself in answer to our ring, was a sweet-faced, little Southern woman transplanted here in northern Canada, who with true Southern hospitality and thoughtfulness asked me if I would not like to step right upstairs and “handsome up a bit” before I went to the meeting,—“not but what you’re looking right peart,” she added quickly.
When I was shown upstairs to the spare room and was well into the business of “handsoming up,” I heard a small voice at the door speaking my name. I opened the door and found there a small girl of about seven years of age, who timidly asked if she might come in. I told her that I was just dressing and would be glad to have her at some other time. But she quickly assured me that it was right now that she wished to come in, for she would like to see how I dressed. I thought the request a strange one and brought the small person in to hear more of it. She told me,