Whoa Whoa Whoa

But Grandma reminded George that they had after all signed a document upon entering Canada saying that they would be farmers. Grandma was convinced that they must live out their promise. Would they be deported back to Russia if they left the farm? Living the lie would be unthinkable for Grandma.

George said no one would care. The government was not checking up to see who went where after they entered the country.

“This is a free country. You can do as you wish,” George had replied to Grandma’s worries.

The next week a letter arrived. It was from Jake. He told of being ecstatically happy after the first month of teaching. He simply loved the bright young farm kids who came to his school from the surrounding countryside. He talked about how lucky he was to have no discipline problems in the school where he was hired. He said the weather was wonderfully warm and good for playing baseball and taking the kids on a school hike. He had already been invited to visit with the trustees who had taken him into their homes for supper and who had introduced him to their eligible daughters. Their mothers expressed great joy that he had come to their school to teach. The trustees said if all went well he could expect a raise after Christmas.

Then almost as an afterthought the letter went on to say that he was thinking of becoming engaged. He surmised he was old enough to make such an important decision by himself particularly now since he had a steady job. He said he found he could buy things on credit in Morden once the merchants knew he was the teacher. Buying furniture and perhaps a car seemed quite possible in the future.

His letter went on to say that he hoped the farm work wasn’t becoming too much for Grandpa and expressed regret that he couldn’t be home for the harvest. He said since he didn’t have a car he likely wouldn’t be home until Christmas.

Grandpa and Grandma looked at the letter with mixed emotion. They read it over and over again. Their last child, the youngest, their favourite was taking matters into his own hands without consulting them.

Engaged? Not coming home for harvest? No more details about who the lucky girl was?
Was she perhaps one of the Trustees’ daughters? So soon? Only a few weeks of teaching and already an engagement planned?

“We’ll have to ask Mr. E’s son to help,” interrupted Grandpa.

“I hate the man,” retorted Grandma.

“Yes. I know. I know,” said Grandpa. “But it can’t be helped.”

“Peter is as arrogant as his father. I won’t have him in my house. I won’t feed him.”

“Yes you will. You have to. We must finish the field work before winter. I’ll go over there right now.”

Grandpa even surprised himself at how well he had put his foot down when it became necessary to make tough decisions. Maybe he should try this more often.

“Is Jake already engaged?” said Mr. E the moment Grandpa entered the E’s house.

“Oh. Ah. … Well. I don’t know. Why do you ask?”

“Just curious,” Mr. E replied with a sly smile. “Just curious.”

“Well. I came to ask whether Peter could come and help me with some of the last days of threshing and with ploughing the fields before winter.”

“Perhaps. He’s strong and willing but you have to pay me. I cannot have him working for everyone else while my farm work is waiting.”

“Yes, yes. I know. I’m in a fix because Jake cannot come home because of his teaching. I have to have some help. I’ll pay you whatever you want after the harvest.”

“Fine. I’ll tell Peter. You can expect him at your place Monday.”

And so it was. The field work was done and finished without Jake for the first time. Grandpa himself wondered how long he could carry on. He felt himself slowly losing control. Losing control of the farm. Losing control of Jake. Losing his joy in coming to Canada.

MORE pages to follow: click the page numbers below!
Ed Janzen is the editor and publisher of CANADIAN STORIES, a literary folk magazine that publishes short stories and poems from Canadian writers of every province of Canada. Story Quilt is an electronic magazine similar in content. Ed has written four memoirs. He also writes for the old car hobby and has a column in OLD AUTOS - a biweekly newspaper featuring mostly Canadians events and automotive history.
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