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Canadian Life as I Found It
Chapter XXIII January, 1906

WE had as pleasant a Christmas Day as we could have away from home. `'Ve had just a few friends to spend the day—the captain and his nephew, our Scotch boys, and the two R 's. They all seemed to enjoy themselves.

Mabel gave us a very nice little dinner. We sat and talked and smoked, then we had afternoon tea, smoked again, and at 6.30 p.m. had the remains of dinner for supper.

After that we had a few songs, and wound up with "Auld Lang Syne" and "God save our King." We all drank your health, and you would have been astonished if you could have dropped in upon us; you could never have thought you were in a shack on the prairie, for our friends all turned up in perfect fig, and one of them confided to me he had not had a shirt collar on for over four years, and between you and I, I do not think that he derived much comfort from having it on then. They all said that it was the first real Christmastide they had had since they left home, so we were all the more glad that we had been able to offer it them, and in pleasing others, feeling far less lonely and homesick ourselves.

New Year's Day we went to spend with the captain and his nephew. They entertained us most hospitably, and we passed the afternoon building castles in the air. They all made up their minds to go home in 19o8, and get me to mind their places, whilst they are away. I thought it would be much better if we all went home together, but I am afraid that our castles have no solid foundation and are likely to crumble over our heads, as we could not leave all together, nor could I look after all the holdings if I were left behind. However, it is understood in the meantime that we are, God willing, all to meet again next Christmas Day for another dinner.

We are having lovely weather, of course cold, but not too cold as long as we get no wind; it is the wind out here that makes it so bitterly cold. If any one asks you about the climate, just tell them that I went out driving in a flannel suit yesterday, but do not tell them anything of the fur coat I had over it, nor of the fisherman's helmet that I wore under my cap. Our little cottage is very nice and warm. You have no idea what a comfort it is to be able to live like civilized beings again, for this is a palace to what the old shack was, and Mabel has made it look quite homelike in spite of not having much furniture; but our pictures make the place look very smart, I am glad that we brought them.

I got a proper scare coming home from Loganton post office the other day—I got caught in a snowstorm, and was lost for a time. I must have driven round in a circle, for five times I came to a deserted shack. I tried letting my horse find its own way, but the poor beast was properly lost also. It was not a nice sensation, I can assure you; but I am glad to say that I was only lost for about an hour, then the weather cleared, and I could see a light in the distance and made for it. I found that I was only 4 miles from home. I shall not go again when the weather is at all doubtful. If I had driven my Indian pony she would have brought me straight in, but I had one of the team not used to go in single harness, and he was a perfect fool without his mate—felt lonely I suppose, as his master certainly did. We killed our pig at Christmas, and it has proved very good eating. Young D— shot it, and then we bled it, for neither of us knew how to compass its death any other way.

I have ordered a few trees to be sent up in the spring from Ontario, some fruit trees and some firs, so as to try and make this place look a little less bare and lonely.

Another night I got a worse scare. I was riding home over the trail, hearing wolves howling round about, when suddenly something jumped up against me and began scrabbling my leg. I had nothing but a short crop to defend myself with, and in the dark night I could distinguish nothing. I made sure it was a wolf and hit out with all my strength; but by the yelp the poor creature gave, I knew that it was a dog seeking protection. Also a little further on I came upon two men in a buggy, to whom the dog, a wolf-hound, belonged; but I had a proper scare that time, I can assure you.

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