186 THE PIONEERS OF OLD ONTARIO
wheat growing amid the blackened stumps of the previous year's clearing. The grain had almost reached the ripening stage; there was every promise of an abundant supply of bread at least for another year
"And then the frost came."
What that meant only those who have been through the experience know. The wheat could not be sold; it was useless for bread, and there were no hogs available to turn it into bacon. The bears would have destroyed the pigs if any had been there.
"Did that occur in more than one season?"
The question was put to Mrs. Buchanan.
"In more than one year? The same thing went on for years, and years, and years," the voice ending almost in a wail as memories of the bitter days came back in a flood.
"Not only was our own wheat ruined," said Mr. Buchanan, as he took up the thread of the story, "but the calamity extended over a wide neighbourhood. I have paid—from money earned by toiling in the fields of Peel—two dollars a bushel for wheat which, when ground, would not make bread that was fit to eat."
"And when we had bread we had nothing else in the way of food," continued his wife. "For a whole year the first settlers lived on bread without butter, and tea without milk or sugar. We had cows, but, when I was left alone, they wandered off in the bush and went dry. Hens we brought in again and again, but the foxes took them before we got any eggs.
"It was not so much the deprivation that hurt as the shame of our poverty when strangers came