• Jan Redford

Isobel's First Week in Loup - June 29 - July 1, 1915

Tuesday, June 29, 1915 -My first night in my tent


Never in all my life did I spend such an interminable night as last night. Sure and I thought it would never end. I suppose it was the yowling of the dogs and the unaccustomed hardness of the bed. Huskie dogs sniffing around are not a source of joy, and canvas after a feather bed seems far from luxuriant. I shall make myself so tired to-night that I must sleep and very soon I will be accustomed to it. Do you know, with all my winter things and my sleeping bag I wasn’t a bit too warm. The coldest winds here are certainly most penetrating.

My grandmother's bed in her tent in the Linstead's home


The Linstead's house with the school chapel in the background and fish flakes in the foreground


Wednesday night, June 30, 1915


I washed my hair before supper and took a bath after supper so I had a perfectly legitimate excuse to sleep in. My window goes halfway up and my room is tiny so I really could have saved the money for my tent after all. The cleansing episode amused Mrs. Linstead very much. I could see good-humoured tolerance written all over her face. I gave her plenty of good reasons though why washing was good and I hope they sink in.


To-day has been a wonderful day – a blue day I call it; for with such an expanse of sea and sky ‘tis little else you see. I took my walk this afternoon up on a hill overlooking the bay for I wanted to see just how much ice there was. The ice appeared first this morning- around Battery Point. It is now halfway across the opening of the bay in loose pans with growlers here and there. Its vivid whiteness against the blue of the water is a wonderful sight but the thought of all it means to these poor people makes me hate it. From the hill this afternoon I could see it stretching, a mass of solid white, to the distant horizon. Oh I pray that the wind may change.


I don't believe that any sea could be bluer than the Straits were this afternoon. I lay deep in the moss on the hillside and let the wind toss my hair while I feasted my eyes on the wonderful colour. It was hard to close them through they ached. And to leave at last was like tearing myself away from a marvelous masterpiece (and snaring the beautiful polish of its frame as I came, for I scraped the hill with my heavy boots as I slid down). Have you ever walked over a thick carpet of lichen? Do you know the delicious scrunch it gives as your feet crumble it into powder? Have you ever taken a walk, when each separate step is a delight, when the crispness of the air makes you feel like dancing, when the strange wonder of the Creator’s handiwork makes you want to walk slowly in solemn thankfulness? If you have, you may know what these walks mean to me and why if find it so hard to keep them out of the pages of this diary.


But I mustn’t forget to tell of the school. It is getting along more smoothly now. I found it absolutely necessary to send home the kiddies under five as they were too much to cope with. So I hope that to-morrow I can manage better. I am still experimenting and have made out no definite time-table yet. I have great difficulty though in understanding the children. They pronounce “the” like a Frenchman, leave out their “h’s” in the proper place only to tack them on where they are not wanted, and twist their tongues around vowels in a most outlandish fashion. And some of them are still too scared of “teacher” to do more than whisper.


(The ice now looks like beads strung across the bay)


And I nearly forgot to say that my patients are progressing splendidly. It is most gratifying. Mr. Ryland’s eye is nearly better. George Ryland’s little baby’s feet are quite recovered and the three little kiddies with the dreadful sores are almost well. May all my treatments to come prove as satisfactory. I shall establish quite a name for myself at this rate. I always throw in lots of hints about fresh air and cleanliness when people are in a state to be frightened and I hope they take root. My one sorrow is that I can’t take a picture of myself knotting my brows in grave consideration or looking imposingly wise. ‘Tis a pity as much good acting should be wasted.


Later

There was a lay reader here to-day and he gave out notice of a prayer-meeting. Marion came over to get me and it is a good thing I went. For the poor thing couldn’t sing and as no one else responded to his appeal I had to. You know, here no one joins in till the leader is well into the swing of it and without an organ it was rather hard getting the proper pitch. However I didn’t much mind that, only I wished I could sing. The last tune “O Paradise, o paradise” the people did not know and helped only by one feeble voice I had to sing the whole six verses. I was so afraid my voice would crack before I reached the end. The student came over afterwards and talked in the kitchen with us till ten. He was a scared-cat – afraid of the dogs – and I did not like him. He had a heavy stick, but all the same requested the pleasure of somebody’s company on the way home. How we did laugh at him once the door was closed. Marion escorted the “protecting male” to safety. Why if you are afraid, say I, let anyone else know it.

Marion Linstead with Lill and Piercy


Thursday, July 1, 1915

The ice has come. I got an awful shock when I looked out of the window this morning for I had not really expected it like this. The bay is one solid mass; here and there the beautiful tints of a growler enlivening the dull lifeless expanse. And it stretches in the same monotony till the fog shuts off the view. I may have wanted to see it but oh I wish it would go. I wonder if the “Meigle” can reach Forteau. I am going over to see anyway. There is a slim chance I might get my mail.

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