It was late when Mrs. Costello fell asleep, and very early when she woke, startled out of her dreams by a long wailing sound. She listened, and in the dark winter morning could hear the wind sweeping through the pines and round the house with loud intermittent gusts, like moans and outcries of pain. The moments of silence between these gusts had something weird and awful, and she could not resist the desire to get up and look out at the weather. But just as she drew aside the blind, a cloud of frozen snow was dashed against the glass, rattling sharply, while the wind again passed on with its ominous wail. Nothing whatever could be seen; the pale dim dawn was veiled by mist and snow, and each time the icy particles were driven against the window, they left behind them a thicker curtain of frost. Mrs. Costello went shivering back to bed, but she did not sleep again. She began to consider anxiously how far the boat that was carrying her dead could have come before the storm commenced. At midnight it had been quite calm, probably indeed till four or five o’clock; and if the sailors had foreseen the change, they would most likely have made all possible speed. If they did so, the wind and current both being in their favour, they ought to be here now; but if, as was quite equally likely, they had stopped last night at some port, would they venture out in this storm?
She began to regret that she had not caused the body to be sent by land, so as to have only to cross the narrow current which divided the island from the Canadian shore. She had decided against this plan on account of the greater distance and the difficulty of transport, but now these seemed less formidable than the uncertainty and possible danger of the route she had chosen.
She was glad when Lucia awoke, and she could speak of her uneasiness. By this time the wind had grown more violent, and blew continuously, and the rattling of snow like frozen dust against the window seemed never to cease. A dim daylight had begun to creep into the room, but it was even colder and more cheerless than the darkness. Presently a young Indian girl, whom Mrs. Hall had trained for service, came softly into the room and began to coax the still burning embers of the fire into a blaze. She went about her work with a silent deftness which would have done credit to the best of housemaids, and yet in all her motions there was something of that free natural grace which belongs to her people. When she had done, and was standing for a moment to see if the fire ‘drew’ properly, Mrs. Costello spoke to her. She understood no English, however, or at least she understood none addressed to her by a strange voice, and said so in her own soft musical language. When the question was repeated in Ojibway, however, her face brightened, and she was perfectly ready to answer all Mrs. Costello chose to ask.
She said the weather had only changed towards six o’clock. No boat, however, had arrived, but it might be on the other side of the island, where the passage was broader and safer than on this, the Canadian side.