The leaves were long gone and the bite of winter had started to fill every morning breeze by the time Karl and Emilie received their first letter from George Bell.
My Dear Family,
I hope this letter finds you all well. I know you are wondering where I am and if I am okay, so I thought I’d write to let you know that I am. I have made it all the way to Ontario, and am presently at the Rockcliffe air station.
What a place this is, here at the air station. They fly both land and sea planes in here and do all kinds of things. So far I have only gotten to go for a ride in a Fairchild FC-2 (that’s a plane), and it was really something, you wouldn’t believe what the world looks like from up in the air! I haven’t started to learn how to fly yet, but one of the pilots said that soon he’d start teaching me.
I am working here for free room and board and twenty cents a day, not much I know, but I get to be around planes all day, and I love it. There is a lot to do here, and I am learning an awful lot of things I’m going to have to know for when I fly.
I sure hope everything is okay at home. I really miss you all and I think about you all the time. I promise I’ll write again real soon, and you can write to me here c/o Rockcliffe air station, Ottawa, Ontario.
Love George Bell.
P.S. I’ll send your bag home soon, and the money I took too.
“Well it seems he’s happy enough,” Karl commented as he set the letter aside to read to the children later when they came home from school.
“Can you imagine, Karl – he is so far away! I know how far away Ontario is because Wilhelm and I traveled from Montreal to Winnipeg by train after we arrived in Canada. It’s a long way from here . . .”
“Yes it is, but I think the boy is probably happier there than he ever was here. In a few years once he’s had the time forget all that happened to his family, he’ll come back, and maybe home won’t look so bad to him anymore.”
“Do you think so?”
“Yes I do. George is a good boy, he won’t forget where his family is, and one of these days he’ll be back.”
“I sure hope you’re right,” Emilie sighed and returned to her butter making.
Karl watched her form the butter into the moulds, and thought about how natural the task had become to her. She did so many things so automatically now, that it was hard to believe that she had not always done these things.
“Do you realize that next week, it will be a year since you came to work here?”
She looked up from her work and smiled at him. “Yes, I’ve been thinking about that too. It’s so funny but I feel like I have lived here forever.”
“Are you happy Em? Are you glad you stayed here after all?” he asked the question he had been wanting to ask her for quite some time now.
“Oh Karl, how can you ask? Of course I’m happy - you know that! I think I have been the happiest here with you, than I ever have been before.”
“What about at home in Germany, surely you were happy there?”
Her answer surprised him, even as it warmed his heart, her face sobered and she shook her head. “Things were not good in Germany when we left. My family had just been killed, and nothing was the same after that happened, there was so much sadness everywhere, and it was easier to leave than stay there with the memories.”
“You don’t talk much about that time, or even about your brother Wilhelm. What was he like?”
Her smiled turned melancholy, “Oh Karl, he was such a wonderful person; I wish you could have known him. You and he would have liked each other – he was so kind and considerate, but so funny too. He always had a smile on his face, and was always there to share a joke, but he was one of the kindest people I have ever met. He had such dreams for us both . . .”
“I’m sorry I never got the chance to meet him, Em. Someday though, I would like to take you back to Germany so I can meet your family there. Would you like to do that, Em”?
A solitary tear rolled down her cheek, “You are wonderful too, Karl” she whispered softly and backhanded the tear away from her face. “Nothing would make me more proud than taking you and the children back to Germany and showing you all off to my family back there.”
He rose from his chair and crossed the room to where she stood. As his eyes met hers in a silent promise, his index finger took a swipe of her freshly made butter. With a saucy grin and a wink he casually sucked the butter off his finger. “We’ll go there one day – I promise you, Em.”
She swatted playfully at his hand that was returning for another swipe of butter, “Quit that; you’ll ruin my perfect looking pounds, Karl Wright! I won’t get a penny for them if they are full of holes from your fingers!”
He moved away and bowed respectively. “Okay Madame, I’ll leave you to your work; but I’ll be back in an hour to sample that butter on some of that fine bread you have baking in the oven.” He kissed the tip of her nose, and bent and kissed her abdomen and almost skipped out the door.