Part 10

There were two schools in Dunrea and it was a source of great displeasure to our priest that we did not attend the French school operated by the nuns, but chose instead to go to the public school. There were eight grades taught in the one room and it was impossible not to pick up a lot of information from the higher grades. It certainly taught you to work on your own which was fortunate for me when I had to take my Grades IX and X by correspondence.

Leslie came home one year and Mom bowed to church pressure and sent him to the French school. Because he didn't know a word of the language and couldn't do the lessons, he was required to kneel by his desk every day. Finally he stopped going to school altogether, and hid in a ditch each morning until he saw the children coming home at noon, and again in the afternoon until 4 o'clock came. He was a most unhappy little boy and he missed the freedom of the farm so Grandma took him back. He had grown up there and had become more a part of that family than of ours. We loved seeing him in the summer holidays but we parted without regret each September. In later years he blamed Mom for not loving him enough to keep him instead of "giving him away", but he simply didn't understand the circumstances.

Leslie was a practical joker and one day he set a bottle on a fence post and asked me to try to knock it off with the rifle. I took careful (?) aim and shattered the bottle. Leslie was dumbfounded and said I couldn't possibly have hit it as he had set the sights so high the bullet should have gone a foot or more over the bottle. I rested on my laurels - it was the best shot I ever made.

Another day Grandma was frying chicken for dinner and Leslie came in with a cleaned and plucked prairie chicken and asked her if she would cook it specially for me. He watched me in great anticipation while I was eating it, and although I found it rather tough and stringy and would much rather have had real chicken, I was touched that he had gone to so much trouble for me and I assured him it was delicious. When I had finished the meat Leslie blurted out "You just ate a crow". I was not impressed but he was fun and I loved him.

We soon settled in to life in Dunrea, and Annie Dunlop, who lived next door, became my dear friend. We walked to school up a back lane, running past the Morisette house as they kept their back yard full of pigs that smelled atrocious. Their house fronted on the main street and I don't know why they were allowed to raise pigs. The Bourgets at the other end of the lane kept cows which were almost as bad. Only in Dunrea!

On Arbor day in May we all went to school armed with pails and cleaning cloths and we gave that old school a thorough cleaning. Washing windows and desks was more fun than doing arithmetic any day, and we were really pleased with the difference it made. Harold joined the other boys cleaning the yard and we all went home satisfied with the hard work we had done. Each morning a meadowlark perched on a fence post and sang his heart out. Life was good.

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