Saskatchewan, 1938. Maurice is a young man from the city, in Ontario, who makes occasional trips to the dustbowl farmland of Saskatchewan to study the weather. His urban charm easily captivates the rural farm-folk, especially the women.
To see someone questioned by Maurice was to watch a window as the curtains opened. He made people more interesting than they were. They rose to meet the interest he had in them, and that was the point, inspired by the quality of his attention.
But when he saw Mrs. Haaring again (it was the following November on his last visit), he didn’t remember her. She mentioned the long, talkative house party at the Hardys. Of course, he said, you taught me that old sea shanty. No, she said gently, that was Miriam Wolfe. He bore his mistake gracefully, without embarrassment or apology. Of course, he said. And she realized how much more he had penetrated her mind than she had penetrated his, which was natural enough, she said to herself, his charm wasn’t his fault. Still, that long night had awakened in her an affection and an interest, and now a disappointment of equal proportion. Apparently he paid less attention than he appeared to, or his attention was no less intense than it appeared to be, but it was short-lived, or his interests were too varied, or his character was not of the same consistency as his manner. In any case, he trailed disappointment behind him and was unaware of it. She was only a vague face in his mind, a farmwife from Belgium, or was it Holland?
From A Student of Weather, by Elizabeth Hay (published 2000).