She ran over to a shelf that had escaped her notice, and the ill-fitting lamp chimney rattled as she moved. It was stacked high with the same empty syrup cans that at Gertie’s did the duty of flower-pots. But these held flour, now quite mouldy, and various other staple supplies all spoiled and useless. She started to say “the larder,” but, remembering in time, put her hand over her lips that she might only think it.
And now she had come to that other door. She must see what was there.
“Having a look at the shack?”
She gave a stifled scream and for a moment turned so pale that he hastily set down his pail and went over to her.
“I guess you’re all tuckered out,” he said kindly. “No wonder. You’ve had quite a little excitement the last day or two.”
With a tremendous effort, Nora recovered her self-control. She walked steadily over to one of the packing-box stools and sat down.
“It was silly of me, but you don’t know how you startled me. Don’t think I usually have nerves, but—but the place was strange last night and I didn’t sleep very well.”
“Do you mind if I open the door a moment?” she asked after a short pause. “It isn’t really cold and it looks so beautiful outside. One can’t see anything out of the window, you know, it’s so cobwebby. I must clean it—to-morrow.”
Try as she would, her voice faltered on the last word.
She threw open the door and stood a moment looking out into the bright Canadian night brilliant with stars. It was all so big, so open, so free—and so lonely! You could fairly hear the stillness. But she must not think of that. Ah, there was the light that she had been told was the Sharp’s farm. Somehow, it brought her comfort. But even as she watched, the light went out. She came in and closed the door.
He was sitting on one of the stools, pipe in mouth, reading a newspaper he had already read in the train.
“Well, what do you think of the shack?”
“I don’t know.”
“I built it with my own hands. Every one of them logs was a tree I cut down myself. You wait till morning and I’ll show you how they’re joined together, at the corners. There’s some neat work there, my girl, I guess.”
“Yes? Oh, I was forgetting; here’s the kettle.” She brought it over to him from the shelf. He filled the kettle carefully from the pail while she stood and watched him. She took it from his hand and set it on the stove to boil.
“You’ll find some tea in one of them cans on the shelf; leastways, there was some there when I come away. I reckon you’re hungry.”
“I don’t think I am, very. I ate a very good supper on the train, you know.”
“I’m glad you call that a good supper. I guess I could wrap up the amount you ate in a postage stamp.”
“Well,” she said with a smile, “you may be glad to learn that I haven’t a very large appetite.”