Dancing Suite, part 2: The Consequences of Flight, 4/?
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Fandom: Murdoch Mysteries
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: William Murdoch/James Pendrick
Characters: William Murdoch, James Pendrick, Julia Ogden, Inspector Brackenreid, Georges Crabtree, James Gillies
Additional Tags: A host of OCs - Freeform, A host of historical figures, Diary/Journal, Fake Academic Essay
Series: Part 2 of The Dancing Suite
The following is taken from a recently defended Master’s cognate in History entitled « The Consequences of Flight : The Rediscovered Diary of a Canadian Homosexual in the Late-Victorian Era. »
The Murdoch Diary, part 1:
Sault-au-Récollet and SS Columbia,
11 and 12 March 1900
11^th^ March. Sunday.
I took Mass today. The ship's chaplain is Anglican, but there is a Cistercian on board, and the Chaplain agreed to let him serve those of us Catholics passengers. An especially generous offer, rather rare occurrence to be of note.
James was bed-ridden until Christmas. I was back on my feet fairly quickly, but it was not the case for him. The entire ordeal, the wound at his shoulder festering and sapping his strength, the shock of our flight, even the basic nature of our accommodations all combined to slow his recovery. I still catch him flinching when someone addresses him as Mr. Beckett. He made a joke Monday that he should have chosen an anagram of his full name instead. I asked him what he meant by it but he changed the subject. By Christmas, he was anxious. He was mostly healed but Cabin fever has set in. I remember it well from my time as a logger. Short days and the cold will eat away at most people. For us, the timing was unfortunate. The winter was far from over with the grim and frost of February still to come. We were both in a bad mood.
Nevertheless, I had been accepted in the village as one of their own, le butler canadien they said, and I was able to move about the village with smiles and hellos rather than ceaseless questions. Despite myself, I made friends. Old Mr. P owner of the General store^1^ and, inexplicably, the Ice Merchant G^2^. The curé^3^ was a frequent visitor too, I think mostly to convince me to make Confession and take Communion. I went to Mass on Sundays, of course, but I will not lie in Confession, so I refrained. I continued to disappoint him for the entirety of our stay. He gifted me a copy of his history of the Parish^4^, from its earliest days as an Indian mission in the times of New France to the present. It was published two years ago with a fine red cloth cover. I found him too inclined to accept interventions of Providence over more scientific explanations, but that is no surprise. I regret leaving it behind.
To keep occupied during the short dark days of winter, we paid Mr. P to ensure we got all the Montreal and Toronto papers. The former we received daily and the latter weekly, brought back from the city to us by a young man who works there but returns home every Sunday. In late January, James was well enough that we would sometimes avail ourselves of the tramway line on warmer days. We attended a few public lectures at McGill^5^, notably one by Doctor Osler^6^. But we could not partake in many paid entertainments, since neither of us were employed and we only had what money I had taken with me from To. (We were only able to access James's Mtl accounts two weeks ago.) We did take in a play at the Theater français^7^ [sic.] and two converts at the Academy of Music^8^. In February Father F also took me to a boxing match, at the Monument National^9^. James refused to come. Despite the more than abundant entertainment in English in the city, we chose to cultivate our French.
Overall, our stay at Sault au Récolet [sic.] was dark, slow and melancholy, with short moments of energy and wonder. Mr. P's store kept us well stocked in paper and ink, and F loaned us a set of drafting tools from the Noviciate. We needed to "lay low" as G^10^ would say and our need to save money did not allow James or I to tinker at all. Any new ideas James had during our stay has to remain paper dreams for the foreseeable future.
12^th^ March. Monday.
Clear skies today. James spent the entire day on the Promenade deck bundled in heavy blankets taking in the pale sun like a tuberculosis patient. It's frightfully cold on deck, but James would not be deterred. I took lunch alone.
It occurs to be we missed the Lord Stanley's Championship finals. Father F was looking forward to it and hoped the Montreal Shamrocks would win against all other teams^1^^1^. There is no way to know today. Perhaps in Paris we can find access to Canadian newspapers. We left Mtl on the first present under heavy snow and I wonder how long the storm lasted^1^^2^. I find myself wondering about all the news we missed. The new we will miss. Once in France, newspapers will be our only link to home. Maybe these are the questions marring James' mood.
He spoke to me after dinner. Attempted to explain his behaviour, his mood. He is confused. He tells me he is not as well as he expected to be once we were finally on our way to Europe. He expected to feel free of all our travails once we boarded the ship. He thought the thrill of adventure would return and we could remake ourselves replacing the pain of what we have lost. He spent all day in the bracing cold searching inward in search of that spark in his heart. He tells me he did not quite find it.
His affections for me have returned. We had not touched in this way in quite some time. I refuse to admit I have counted the days. But now that he sleeps and I write these words by the light of the near-full moon. I wonder if he did not try to distract himself in the pleasures of the flesh.
1. Théophile Paquet (1830-1903), owner of the Magasin général in the village and at times member of the Municipal council. The store building, first opened in 1865, still stands today on Gouin boulevard.
2. Most likely Eugène Gagnon (?-1959). Why would his friendship be inexplicable is not clear. In all probability, Gagnon would have been somewhat younger than Murdoch, but not of a vastly different age or social class.
3. Charles-Philippe Beaubien (1843-1914), parish priest at Visitation-du-Sault-au-Récollet church from 1890.
4. Charles-P Beaubien, Le Sault-au-Récollet. Ses rapports avec les premiers temps de la colonie. Mission -- Paroisse (Montréal: Beauchemin, 1898).
5. McGill University.
6. Doctor William Olser (1843-1919), Canadian physician of world renown, founding professor of Johns Hopkins Medical school. Notably he innovated by focussing on bedside clinical training for medical students and was often considered the best diagnostician of his time.
7. Le Théâtre français, founded in 1885, stood near the corner of Saint-Laurent and Sainte-Catherine streets. Originally planned as a skating rink, the theatre specialized in French-language plays, with a particular interest in French classical theatre.
8. The Academy of Music (1875-1910) was a popular venue on Victoria street, which catered to both the Francophone and Anglophone bourgeois and middle classes.
9. Le Monument national (1893 to today) was a modern venue capable of seating 1620 spectators when it was opened under the auspices of the St. Jean Baptist Society of Montréal. It focussed primarily on entertainment for French Canadians, whether classical or popular, whether theatre or variety, as well as boxing.
10. Possibly George Crabtree.
11. The Montreal Shamrocks did win the Challenge Cup, as the Stanley Cup was known then, on March 7^th^, 1900, against the Halifax Crescent in Montréal.
12. A record-setting 46 cm fell on Montréal on March 1^st^, 1900.