The Three Friends
One of the pages of Longridge's note to Mrs. Oakes flew into the air.
It sailed across the room and landed on the fire.
The journey took place in Canada, in the northwest of Ontario. This part of the country is wild, with woods, lakes, and fast rivers. There are thousands of kilometers of narrow country roads, a few small towns, and lonely farms.
Men from the big paper companies cut down trees deep in the forests. There are Indians and hunters. But most of the time there are no human beings, only wild animals. And silence.
For almost half the year the area is covered in snow, and the temperature falls below zero for weeks. The seasons are different in north Ontario. The plants and flowers do not grow slowly in spring. There is a sudden, short summer when everything grows fast. Then it is fall again with clear blue skies, sunny days, and wonderful, richly colored leaves on the trees: gold and yellow and red.
Through this wild, lonely country, in the fall, the three travelers made their incredible journey.
John Longridge lived alone a long way from one of the small towns, in an old stone house that belonged to his family. He was a tall man of about forty, serious but kind. He was a writer of history books and traveled a lot. But he always returned to the comfortable old stone house to write his books. Mrs. Oakes and her husband Bert lived about a kilometer away. Mrs. Oakes went to Longridge's home every day. She looked after the house and cooked his main meals. Bert looked after the backyard. They understood Longridge very well. While he was writing, they worked quietly around the place.
On the evening before the incredible journey, toward the end of September, Longridge was reading a newspaper by a warm wood fire in his comfortable library. He couldn't turn the pages easily because a Siamese cat with bright blue eyes was sitting on his knees. From time to time, the cat moved his brown front paws as he looked into the fire.
On the floor, with his head on one of Longridge s feet, lay an old white bull terrier. His eyes were closed and his tail moved in his sleep. Some people think bull terriers are strange, ugly dogs. But Longridge loved him: he was a friendly family pet and, at the same time, a strong, brave fighter. The man always enjoyed the look of happiness in the old dog s little eyes.