In the 1930's, men carved out their realm on parcels of land on the Alberta frontier. With their wives and families, they coped with poverty, hard work and loneliness.
After her mother's death, Evelyn is left on a remote Alberta homestead to care for her sisters and the household.
Soon her father bargains to marry her to a man she has never met, and she sees a chance to leave her meagre existence behind. Her dreams for a life shared with love begin to fade as she is left alone once again to care for the home, but this time, completely alone in the middle of the vast prairie.
At last she finds work as a housekeeper for a bachelor, who makes her a bargain. Will Evelyn be able to find her way to a better life? Or will her hopes be shattered once again when all is not what it seems....
Evelyn hung the last of the laundry on the line as the September winds whipped around the corner of the house, making the sheets snap and billow. Wind had never bothered her, but of late it seemed to tug at her hair like a playground bully. Puckish breezes slithered along her bare legs and lifted her skirts, twisting her apron until she became restless and irritable.
The trees told the tales of long summer days, and trembled with trepidation as they awaited the touch of winter’s icy fingers. She could hear them plotting. Secrets whispered through the stand of poplars as the dry leaves stirred and rustled; messages murmured in the swaying limbs.
Throughout the cool afternoons their faint voices spoke to her: Away, they muttered. Far, far away. The leaves swirled in graceful arcs, spinning and twirling to the ground and she saw meaning in every flutter. Falling hopes, futile dreams, lives turning to dust. Short summers passing into long cold winters year after year. Endings. The leaves huddled against the fence, rounded up like cattle for slaughter. ‘’Leave,’’ they sighed. ‘‘Go before you too become dry and brittle. A forgotten ghost of summer memories.’’ The words simmered in the back of her consciousness like a pot of soup on the warmer. The world seemed an alien place. She yearned for comfort in the lonely hours, but everything seemed to have taken on a new, sinister meaning. She began to believe that she would perish at autumn’s end, buried like a bale of hay in a lonely field under mounds of drifting snow.
She took refuge in the silence of the house, only to stare out the window with an aching loneliness in her chest as leaden as the molten sky. The colors of each day faded like the landscape, from green to gold to brown.
She looked in vain around every corner for the ‘little people’, but after the first day she had arrived in this place, she hadn’t seen or heard anything of them here. It was easy to believe she had imagined them, even though the saucer of milk she put out every night was empty each morning. That didn’t convince her of anything, and when she looked questioningly at the barn cats, their innocent round eyes betrayed no knowledge, admitted no guilt. She didn’t know what she expected--perhaps the fey creatures could give her some advice. She felt trapped in a cage and she needed someone to unlock the door--or at least give her a key.