MYSTERIES OF MONTREAL;
BY CHARLOTTE FUHRER
Truth is Stranger than Fiction
During a long practice of over thirty years I have seen many things enacted here in this city of Montreal which, if told with the skill of a Dumas or a Collins, might not only astonish but startle the sedate residents of this Church-going community. I have often, while waiting for the advent of a little midnight visitor, beguiled the weary hours with a narrative of some of my experiences, and have been amused at the expression on the faces of my fair patients when told that my memory, and not my imagination, had been drawn upon for materials. Enquiry having frequently been made as to whether my recollections were published, I have been induced to print this volume, changing only names of persons and localities, so as to avoid identification. Many persons will find it hard to believe some of the occurrences which are herein mentioned, but those who have been concerned (directly or indirectly) with any of the parties to my narratives, will recognize, under the disguise of a false name, some person with whose history they are familiar. Should any discover his own actions here narrated, let him not think that I have wantonly endeavored to open old sores, but rather to warn others from taking that first false step which so often leads to future misery and bitter remorse.
MONTREAL, May, 1881
Early Life and Professional Struggles.
My father, an officer in the Hanoverian Army, having died while I was almost a child, I found myself, at the age of 17, governess in the family of the Baron Grovestein in Hamburg, Germany, where I met my present husband, Gustav Schroeder, at that time one of the most "eligible" young gentlemen in that city.
Though not particularly handsome, Gustav was all that could be desired in other respects. He was young, well educated, and the son of wealthy parents, and of an amiable disposition. Soon after my engagement at the Baron's, young Schroeder's visits (ostensibly to the family) became so frequent, that his friends, who had divined the cause, forbade his having anything to say to me, more than cold civility demanded; and insisted that his visits to the Grovestein mansion should be discontinued. This, it may well be supposed, had quite the opposite effect, and in a short time we were engaged to be married, with the formal, if not the hearty approval of Gustav's relations, and in course of time the marriage ceremony took place, with all the paraphernalia of an Alt-Deutsch Hochzeitsfest.
Now, however, came the question: How are we to live! for my husband had no settled profession, and his parents, though wealthy, could not deprive their more obedient children of their rights to benefit the perverse Gustav. They gave him sufficient to start him in business, with the understanding that he would emigrate to America, their idea being that a German gentleman with a little capital could not fail to make a fortune among the comparatively illiterate Columbians. To New York accordingly we came, and Gustav labored assiduously to establish a business as importer of German manufactures; he soon found, however, that men who did not know Horace from Euripides could drive closer bargains, and make quicker sales than he could, and, as he was too proud to compound with his correspondents in the old country, and insisted on conscientiously paying a hundred cents for a dollar, we found ourselves in less than three years, with diminished capital in specie, and an increased one as regards future candidates for the Presidency, on our way back to our common Fatherland. Through the influence of his friends, Gustav procured a good situation in a merchant's office, but he was altogether unsuited both by temperament and education for such a position, and I soon made up my mind that I must either prepare to enter the world's great battlefield in person, or live in helpless dependence on my husband's relations.
I had often while in America wondered why the ladies of that Republic (so advanced and enlightened in everything else) should submit to a practice so revolting, so contrary to all ideas of morality and refinement as is the system of man-midwifery so widely practiced in the United States. No German lady would think of permitting the attendance of a man at her bedside on such an occasion, and though custom in England seems generally to sanction the absurd practice, yet Her Majesty Queen Victoria never allows her medical advisers to be in attendance in any other capacity than that of consulting physicians. I had discussed the matter frequently with married ladies in New York, and they were generally agreed, that, could only competent ladies be found in the United States, man-midwifery would soon cease to be practiced in that Republic. I accordingly resolved to devote all my energies to the study of that particular branch of the medical profession, and my efforts were crowned with success. In two years I obtained a diploma from the Hamburg University, and soon after prepared to return to America.
[Footnote: Dr. Playfair, President of the Obstetrical Society of London, in his address delivered in February, 1879, said:—"I confess that it is with a feeling of regret, something akin to shame, when I reflect that I am supposed to teach a class of young men the entire subject of midwifery, and the diseases of women and children, in a short summer course of something under forty lectures. The thing is a manifest and ridiculous absurdity, hence we have, of necessity, to omit, year by year, at least half of midwifery proper."
The Principal of Calcutta Medical College writes Dr. Playfair thus:— "To what a hideous extent is the practice of midwifery carried on in England, by utterly unqualified men, whom the unhappy women and their friends believe to be qualified, and the system in your hospitals sadly favors this."
"Yet there are some women who will smother every feeling of modesty and morality, and trust their lives to one of these licentiates rather than commit themselves to the care of a thoroughly trained midwife of their own sex. Surely nothing can be more absurd and irrational."]
About this time a friend of my husbands' informed us that the climate of Canada was very much superior to that of the Eastern States, and much more like that of Germany, and that in Montreal I would be likely to find, not only a pleasant city, but a people more European in style and custom, also a capital field for the exercise of my profession. For Montreal then we sailed with hearts full of hope, and, being fifty-four days at sea, I was summoned by the Captain to attend a lady on board (which I did with the success which has since invariably attended my efforts), and this was my debut as a professional accoucheur.
On our arrival at Montreal we presented letters of introduction to the German Consul, and the leading members of the German Society, and I soon became fully occupied in the exercise of my profession. Dr. X—— (now one of our most distinguished physicians) not only tolerated my vocation, but, with a magnanimity worthy of his genius and ability, gave me counsel and advice, and recommended me as highly as possible to his confreres and the public. Some few resident doctors threw cold water on my enterprise, but, to their credit be it spoken, the profession at large treated me invariably with the greatest kindness and courtesy, shewing thereby a liberality and largeness of heart which is ever the outcome of real ability.
I was not long installed in my new home when, as we were sitting cosily round the fire, the door bell was rung furiously, and on my going down to receive my visitor, I was astonished to find a gentleman with a newborn baby wrapped in the tail of his broadcloth coat. He said he was its father, and that the mother had taken suddenly ill before any provision could be made for its reception, and he implored me to take it, as he would otherwise feel impelled to throw it in the river. I thought my heart would break to see the poor infant so ruthlessly treated, so I took it from him, promising to see it safely to some charitable institution. He told me his name was Ferguson, that he was in business in Montreal, and that if I would deposit the child in some charitable institution and call and see its mother during her recovery, he would pay all necessary expenses. It was too late that night to go out with the child, so I prepared some food for its nourishment and kept it till the next day, resolved to go after dusk and see the Lady Superior at one of the nunneries, but to my chagrin I discovered that the nunnery was closed, and I was obliged to return home with the babe, which, by-the-by, continued to roar lustily all the way, and so attracted public attention to me (its presumptive mother) that I wept as bitterly as the child itself, and was heartily sorry that I had undertaken any such mission.
Next day I set out again in good time, but now a new difficulty awaited me. The good Sister who received me informed me that only those who were baptized and received into the Catholic Faith were eligible for admission. On hearing this I burst into tears; I told her my story, that the child was not mine, but that I was commissioned by its father to deliver it to her, and I besought her so earnestly to take it from me that she very considerately did so, and on my handing her the necessary fee, she undertook to have it regularly baptized and admitted.
In the evening I called to see the mother; she was lying on a miserable couch in a low lodging-house in the Quebec suburbs, yet she had about her the air of a lady, and on her finger glittered a ring set with brilliants. She wept when I told her how her child was disposed of, but said that she had no other alternative, as if her father, who was a lawyer of eminence, had any idea of her predicament, he would cast her off in shame; that when she first discovered her condition she persuaded her paramour to make a formal proposal for her hand, but her father was enraged beyond measure, and threatened her so terribly that she, for a time at least, put away all thoughts of Ferguson from her mind, and had not quite decided how to act, when the occurrence took place which led to the visit aforementioned, and caused the necessity for my attendance. Miss L—— had barely time to call in a carriage at Ferguson's office, and apprise him of her condition, when she was taken ill, and obliged to procure a lodging with all speed. Ferguson selected the wretched hovel alluded to, as being away from all chance of discovery by his or her friends, and after my visit, empowered me to engage a nurse, and make what other arrangements I could for Miss L——'s comfort. She managed to get a confidential friend to telegraph her father from Quebec that she had arrived in that city, and then sent on a letter and had it mailed there, stating that she had gone on the steamboat the previous evening to see some friends off, and, remaining too long on board, was taken away eastward, but would return on receiving the passage money from Montreal.
With this story she managed to deceive her otherwise astute father, and in four days she actually got up and went to her own home in a carriage; insisting on retiring immediately to her room in consequence of the nervous excitement and fatigue she had undergone. The nurse I had engaged to attend her, she on some pretence or another smuggled into the house as a domestic servant, and so not only managed to have an attendant, but to keep up a clandestine communication with Ferguson and the outer world.
In the frantic hope of acquiring a rapid fortune, Ferguson migrated to New Orleans, but just then the American war broke out, and he was pressed into the service. Whether he was killed or not Miss L—— never found out; his letters became gradually less frequent, till finally she lost all trace of him whatever, and she eventually married a wholesale merchant of this city, who is to this day probably unaware of this little episode in his wife's former career. Sometimes I see her in her carriage driving with liveried servants along St. James street, and I cannot refrain from thinking of the innocent babe as it lay in poor Ferguson's coat-tail.
A Just Retribution.
One evening, about the middle of June, 18—, a gentleman called to see me, accompanied by a lady closely veiled. He said he wished me to procure suitable lodging for her, and to attend her on her accouchement, which was now close at hand, stating that no money would be spared to furnish everything necessary either to her comfort or convenience. As I did not know of any lodging suitable to a person of her station, I was puzzled how to act; I did not want to lose a patient, and yet could not, even if so disposed, make room for her in my own house. I knew that my next door neighbor (an elderly French-Canadian lady) was accustomed to take in lodgers; so, leaving the lady and gentleman for a while in my parlor, I went to see if I could make arrangements for the reception of the former. Madame Charbonneau, my neighbor, had all her rooms occupied, but said she was willing for a consideration to give up her drawing-rooms for a time to the fair patient. This was eminently satisfactory to me, as, in the event of an emergency, I would be close at hand; I accordingly arranged for Mrs. Trotter's accommodation, and on reporting to Mr. Dombey, the gentleman aforementioned, he seemed to be perfectly satisfied. From, what I afterwards learned, I am able to inform the reader that Mr. Dombey was junior partner in the house of Dombey & Son, dry goods merchants, in this city, his father, Jacob Dombey, sen., being considered one of the wealthiest importers in Canada. In his youth Jacob Dombey, jun., had been pampered and petted beyond measure, his every whim being carried out even at great expense; arrived at the age of twenty-one he became enamored of a young lady whose father kept a small toy-shop on Notre Dame street, and nothing would content him but a marriage with the "Goddess," as his innamorata was called. At first he was quite proud of his pretty wife, and was to be seen daily in Sherbrooke street, driving her behind a splendid span of spirited bay horses, but after a few months he grew tired of this routine, and with his bosom friend, Richard Fairfax, might be seen, nightly at the theatres and other places of amusement, while his poor wife sat in patient loneliness awaiting his return.
Mrs. Trotter was the daughter of a Civic Official of high standing, and had married at a very early age a retired English Officer, who, being well advanced in years, left her at the age of twenty-four a widow with four children. Trotter was possessed of little besides his pension, which died with him; so Mrs. T. was obliged to eke out a miserable subsistence on the receipts from a little city property left her by her father. Soon after her husband's demise Mrs. Trotter removed to Lachine (a small village on the river side about nine miles above Montreal), in order to live more economically, and soon became acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Dombey, who had taken up their abode there for the summer season. Mrs. Dombey took quite a fancy to the fascinating widow, and they soon became inseparable.
Every evening on the promenade might be seen Mrs. Trotter leaning on the arm of Mr. Dombey, his wife following accompanied by his friend Fairfax; or they were together on the river boating, or enjoying a picnic on "Dixie" Island. Occasionally, when the weather was unfavorable to out-door amusements, they would engage in a rubber of whist, generally ending the evening with a little music. Dombey did not know one tune from another, but his wife praised Mrs. Trotter's singing so highly that he soon imagined that in that art, as in others, she was nearly, if not altogether, perfect. When it became time for Mrs. Trotter to go home, Jacob used to escort her to her cottage on the river bank, about a mile distant from his own residence, and after a few weeks there sprang up an intimacy between them which culminated in the incidents which gave rise to my narrative.
On the day following that on which I had engaged her apartments Mrs. Trotter took up her abode at Madame Charbonneau's, and about six weeks afterwards her baby, a beautiful girl, was born; she sent a message to Mr. Dombey's office, and in the afternoon he called to see her. He was greatly pleased with the baby, and took it up fondly in his arms, and on leaving placed a roll of bank bills in my hand, telling me to get everything necessary for either the mother or her child, also to get the latter whatever clothing it might require. After that he called almost daily, and when Mrs. Trotter was sufficiently recovered to return to her home, he pressed me so strongly to keep the baby till it was a little older, and not to leave it to the tender mercies of an ignorant nurse, that I consented to keep it till it was two years old, and then to obtain for it, if possible, adoption by some respectable married persons.
Margery, the baby aforementioned, turned out one of the most beautiful children I had ever seen. Her father and mother visited her frequently during the time she was at my house, and on my giving her for adoption to Mr. Walker (a respectable Vermont farmer without any children of his own) they were both deeply affected. Dombey was anxious that Mrs. Trotter should take it to her own home, but, as "Mrs. Grundy" had already been discussing her movements, she dare not, without fear of ruining her children, take the baby under the roof. As there was no help for it the baby was allowed to go to Vermont, and grew up a beautiful girl, passionately devoted to the only parents she had ever known; Mrs. Walker dying during the child's infancy, Mr. Walker had her educated as well as his means would permit, and they passed their time in the most perfect harmony and sweet content. After the war, however, Walker found himself almost without a penny in the world, and, thinking to better his fortunes removed to New York, where he managed to make a poor living as a subordinate in the Custom House. Margery regretted this change of circumstances very much, but, being thoroughly devoted to her father, she did not repine, but did all in her power to make his home as happy as could be under such conditions. She missed her accustomed amusements very much, and although in New York she saw many things and found many opportunities which would have been altogether unknown to her in the country, yet she was a long time in becoming reconciled to the close and stifling atmosphere of a great metropolitan city.
One night her father promised her a great treat, they were to go to X——'s theatre to see Mademoiselle B—— in Romeo and Juliet. Margery sat with strained eyes gazing wistfully at the play, laughing and weeping by turns as the great master's power was exerted on the audience by the artists engaged, and at the close she heaved a deep sigh, consequent upon having held her breath so long, and without thought exclaimed aloud:—"Oh, what would I not give to be able to act like that." The manager who was close by, and who had been watching the attentive beauty for some time, overheard the remark, and intercepting the pair on their way out of the theatre said:— "I noticed that you were favorably impressed with the piece; would you like an introduction to Miss B——, the principal actress?" Margery was overcome with delight, and besought her father so earnestly to allow her to go into the green room that he accompanied her thither, and they obtained an introduction to the famous artiste. Miss B—— was quite taken with the innocent enthusiasm of the girl, and invited her to come to her benefit on the following evening, when she was to appear as Parthenia in "Ingomar;" Margery, having obtained her father's permission, readily consented, and all the way home was full of praises for Juliet, Romeo, the manager, and all concerned. On the following evening the manager drew her father aside and whispered in his ear:—"You have a fortune in that girl of yours." Walker, misunderstanding the purport of his words, replied:— "Yes, she is a good and affectionate child, as much so as if I were her natural parent." "You do not understand me," said the other; "I mean she has immense emotional power, which, if artistically cultivated, would, coupled with her personal appearance, make both her fortune and yours."
"Do you think so?" replied Walker; "well, if we had only the means I would certainly have her trained, for, since she has seen Mademoiselle B—— act, her great ambition seems to be to occupy a similar position." After further conversation it was agreed to place Margery under the care of Mrs. L——, with a view of becoming a professional actress; for, although Walker did not at all care for the stage or its concomitants, still he did not wish to throw any obstacles in the way of his adopted child's prosperity. Margery, therefore, was allowed to pursue the bent of her inclinations, and such an apt pupil was she that in a little over eighteen months her debut was announced in the papers, and a crowded house showered floral and other trophies on the beautiful debutante. Offers of engagements from different cities came flowing in, and before long Miss Margery Montague was announced to appear in Montreal. Her fame had preceded her thither, and Fairfax was instructed to secure a box for the Dombey family. Dombey himself (who had followed the career of his child) tried hard to excuse himself from going, but his wife was not satisfied to leave him at home; he sat in the back of the box, and as the applause grew louder and louder, he showered costly bouquets, and other offerings on the stage, his breast meanwhile being torn by conflicting passions. How proud he would have been to clasp her to his heart and call her his own; but he had willfully put her away from him, and now, even could he receive her into his family, would her adopted father be willing to give her up again. With flushed face and beating heart he sought the manager, and begged to be allowed to see the fair artiste, a favor which was granted; and, as he stood before his child, and poured forth the usual stereotyped compliments and congratulations, he bit his lips as he thought that he dared not press her to his heart, but was forced to speak to her in terms of cold politeness.
On their return from the Theatre Mrs. Dombey announced her intention of calling on the talented actress, and the following day she went, accompanied by her daughters, to the St. Lawrence Hall, at that time the most fashionable hotel in the city, where she was cordially received; and the young actress made such a favorable impression on the ladies that they invited her to dine at their house on the following day, an invitation which was readily accepted.
Dombey was greatly moved when he heard that Miss Montague had accepted an invitation to dinner, but there was no help for it, and, as though to make matters worse invitations were sent to a few intimate friends, including Mrs. Trotter. Here, then, was a painful position for the two guilty ones: they were forced to sit and see the child whom they had cast off feted and honored by the woman both of them had injured. It seemed as if a wet blanket were placed over the whole assembly: Dombey sat moodily biting his finger-nails, and as Mrs. Trotter would not sing and Mrs. Dombey could not, matters went very slowly indeed.
When the time came for separating, Mrs. Dombey motioned to Jacob to see Miss Montague to her hotel, but he being deep in a fit of abstraction, his eldest son Charles stepped forward, and before his father could prevent him, was equipped in greatcoat and overshoes, ready for a moonlight stroll. During the evening he had noticed that Charles was rather attentive to the fair actress, and the thought that an intimacy between them was possible drove him to the verge of distraction, Mrs. Dombey noticed his strange behavior, and asked him the cause, on which he muttered something about "Auction lunch— infernal champagne," and some other incoherent exclamations, altogether unintelligible to his unsuspicious wife. When he and his paramour got outside they walked along in gloomy silence for several minutes—at last he addressed her: "Is it not strange that this child, whom I had thought far removed from me and mine, should be brought even into my own house, and eat at my table?"
"Oh, it is fearful; only think what would be the consequence if an intimacy should spring up between her and Charles!"
"Yes, I must send him away at once."
Mrs. Trotter reminded him that this step was unnecessary, as Miss Montague left the next day for Chicago to fulfil a professional engagement. He heaved a sigh of relief, and then, with a passionate tug at Mrs. Trotter's door bell, turned to go away.
"Will you not come in a while, Jack?" she said.
"No, he replied, Clara (Mrs. Dombey) would suspect something. She looked at me very strangely this evening."
"But you will come to-morrow," rejoined the temptress.
"Yes, I will look in on my way up from the office," he said. "Good night."
"Good night, Jack," said she.
As he got to his own door he found Charles leaning pensively against the balustrade, gazing wistfully at the heavens.
"Well, Charlie, have you forgotten your latch-key?"
"N—no Sir," stammered Charles, "but it is so confoundedly hot inside that I did not care to go in."
Dombey reflected that as the thermometer registered only about ten degrees Fahrenheit he had but to open his window to attain as low a temperature as was consistent with comfort; however, he said nothing, and they both walked upstairs.
"Good night, Charlie."
"Good night, Father."
And they entered their respective chambers.
I have heard it said that if two men are placed in one bed, one in love and the other with a toothache, that the man with the toothache will fall asleep first. Here, however, were two men; one, past the prime of life, afflicted with the most bitter remorse; the other, young and susceptible, with all the fever of a youthful passion springing up within his breast. Dombey could not sleep, the thought that what at first was barely possible was now become highly probable goaded him almost to madness. He rose and dressed himself, going quietly out of the front door into Sherbrooke street. Along the street he went at a fearful pace, till, almost faint from want of breath, he turned down the hill towards the city, habit bringing him along the route he was accustomed to take to his office. As he turned the corner of St. James street, he saw (for there were few persons abroad) a young man walking moodily up and down on the side opposite the St. Lawrence Hall; he turned as if he had seen an apparition, and ran rather than walked in the direction of his own home.
Next day Miss Montague departed for the West, Mrs. and Miss Dombey accompanied by Charles went to see her off at the Depot, and with many assurances of a future meeting, should she ever return to Montreal, they separated as the train moved slowly past the platform. As the drawing-room car was just clearing the station, Miss Montague held a piece of paper out of the window, which Charles caught eagerly and placed in his pocket-book. His mother and sister chaffing him on receiving tender messages from the fair artiste, he laughingly produced it.
It was nothing more nor less than a page of an old timetable, and both Mrs. and Miss Dombey laughed at the strange souvenir Miss Montague had left behind her. When they got home, however, Charles carefully opened the paper and observed that opposite each of the cities on her route Miss Montague had placed a figure in pencil thus:—Chicago, 4; Detroit, 2; Toledo, 2; Toronto, 3; New York; 6, Boston, 6. This, though unintelligible to his mother and sister, informed Charles that Miss Montague would go first to Chicago and remain four days, and afterwards to the other cities mentioned, and that he might write or meet her there as opportunity afforded.
That day matters resumed their normal condition in the Dombey family; Jacob breathed freely now that his child had returned to the country of her adoption, and his wife and family were happy because of his improved spirits and appearance. Charles had apparently settled down to business as usual, and Mesdames Trotter and Dombey drove out together as of old. In a few weeks, however, Charles asked his father permission to go for his holidays; a friend having invited him to spend a few weeks at Nahant an island near Boston. There being nothing to keep him in Montreal he had no difficulty in procuring consent, and he departed, taking fishing tackle enough to have supplied the whole Atlantic coast for a season. When his father learned the real object of his visit to Boston, he raved like a madman; he came to see me, and told me the whole story, most of which I had learnt before from other sources and he persuaded me to go to Boston and to take on my self the painful duty of informing Miss Montague who and what she really was, and why it was impossible that she could ever marry Charles Dombey. The poor girl was almost heart-broken, for she had learnt to love her stepbrother dearly, and now she would have to be separated from him entirely. It was not for herself, however, that she mourned the most, it was for him, when he should learn of the wide gulf which separated them from each other. He never did learn it, however; Miss Montague consented (for his sake) to accept an engagement in England, and to trust in years to soften the blow which had smitten her so severely. She wrote to Charles, telling him that, for reasons unexplained, she never could be his wife, although she loved him dearly, and that as there was no use striving against fate, she had bowed to the inevitable, and taken a foreign engagement. At first Charles was desperately cut up, but time, that physician par excellence, healed his wounds, and he is now married to a respectable lady of this city; deservedly successful in his business, and with a stainless reputation. Jacob Dombey staggered along under his load for years, but, unable to contain himself, he one day confessed the affair to his wife, who, instead of denouncing him as the wretch he was, pitied and sympathized with; aye, and not only that, she received his mistress into her house as before, rather than make public his heartless conduct. Truly such an angel never received such heartless treatment, or was so little appreciated. It broke her heart however, and over her grave Dombey resolved to cast Mrs. Trotter off forever, and send her away from the city. He accordingly arranged with her to take an annual allowance and go to New York with her family, vowing that he could no longer endure her presence, which was grown distasteful to him.
This did not at all suit Mrs. Trotter, who had now hoped to become the legal mistress of the Dombey mansion. But all her tears were of no avail, the bitter pangs of remorse were tearing Dombey's bosom, and he would hear of nothing but, her immediate departure for the United States. He determined that however he might have blighted the life of the wife whose excellent qualities he had only now begun to appreciate, nothing should stand in the way of her children's advancement; and the voice of a scandal having already been heard concerning Mrs. Trotter, he felt that her immediate departure was a necessity. She argued and entreated, but it was of no avail, and she accordingly made the best of her case and got from him a liberal allowance. Hers was not of a nature to reform, however; she went from bad to worse, and finally took to smoking opium as a means to relieve her gnawing conscience, ending her days prematurely.
Dombey survived her but a short time. He tried hard to make amends for the past by increased attention to the children of his late wife, but he never fully recovered himself, and finally succumbed to a wasting fever, superinduced by late hours and immoderate drinking. To his last hour his conscience smote him at the triple wrong he had inflicted on his children, his natural daughter, and his confiding wife.
The Bag Baby.
Madame Charbonneau gave such entire satisfaction as Maitresse d'Hopital that I purchased her interest in the lease of the house, and employed her permanently as my aide-de-camp. In a short time we established quite a reputation, and applications for accommodation poured in from all quarters.
One bitter cold day towards the end of March a lady and gentleman arrived by the morning train from the United States. The lady was apparently about thirty-five years of age, while the gentleman might have been from five to ten years her senior, and, although plainly attired, they had the appearance of belonging to the better class of society. The gentleman informed me that they had just arrived from New York, and had put up at the St. Lawrence Hall; but that his wife had taken ill unexpectedly, and, hearing that she would be better cared for in my house than at the Hall, he wished, if possible, to secure rooms and professional attendance. The house being rather full at the time, Madame Charbonneau was obliged to give her the nurse's room (which contained two beds) till some of the other rooms should become vacant; this her husband readily assented to, and arranged to call in the afternoon and bring the necessary funds, which I always made it a point to collect in advance. The lady seeming tired and exhausted, I recommended her to divest herself of her clothing and retire to bed, which she accordingly did, and soon fell into a deep sleep. In the afternoon the gentleman returned, and, having settled the bills, went upstairs to see his wife who was just then partaking of some light refreshment. He expressed himself well pleased with our arrangements, and said he would call regularly to see how his wife progressed.
That night as the nurse was about to retire, she was surprised to find, under the coverlet of her bed, an enormous rag baby, as large as a child of two years old, dressed completely, with shoes, bonnet and veil. Her astonishment can easily be imagined as she held it up to the light and carefully examined it; then, laughing heartily, she turned to Mrs. Roberts (my patient) and said:
"My! who could have put this baby in my bed?" On which that lady replied with evident embarrassment that the baby was a doll belonging to her niece, and that, imagining the bed to be unoccupied, she had, in unpacking her trunk, placed it there for the sake of convenience, and apologized for being so careless. The nurse made no reply, but, being of a jovial disposition, danced with it into the other rooms, exclaiming, much to the chagrin of the lady, that she had found a beautiful baby in her bed. The other patients wondered what it was, and whence it came, and appealed to me for information, but, as I knew nothing about it myself, their curiosity was not gratified in the least. On my questioning the lady she told me a story similar to that which she told the nurse, but her countenance contradicted her assertions, and the idea of any child carrying a doll of the dimensions of the rag baby was too absurd for credence. No more was said about it, however, and the matter passed almost completely from our memory.
For three or four days things went on as usual, Mrs. Roberts getting to all appearances better every day, and her husband's visits being paid with due regularity; one day, however, he failed to appear, and Mrs. Roberts seemed very uneasy. After tea she asked for the evening paper, and hastily scanned its columns, when her eye fell on some item of interest, and she became deadly pale. The American war being then in progress I thought she might have learned of the death of a friend or relation, so I inquired if anything were amiss, and was astonished when she pointed out a paragraph containing an account of her husband's arrest for enlisting British subjects for the American army, and smuggling them across the line, She now took me into her confidence, and explained that she was an accomplice of her husband, and that they had made a practice of enlisting men in Montreal. Her husband usually remained here, as it was dangerous for him to travel to and fro, but she was sent as an escort for each recruit, and the baby was used to avert suspicion, as no sentinel would think of scrutinizing a man closely who went across accompanied with his wife and child. The excess of travel had weakened her frame, and now this shock came to still further shake her system; the result was a premature confinement, and a long and weary illness.
Ere she recovered she got a letter from her husband, bearing the New York postmark. It seems he had been liberated on bail, (having influential friends) and had at once made the best of his way to the United States. His wife soon joined him, taking with her the redoubtable rag-baby, which had afforded us so much food for gossip and conjecture.
A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.
Alfred Grandison was born in the ancient city of Bristol in the year 1831. His father had been bandmaster in a British Cavalry regiment, but had retired some years previous to the birth of little Alfred, and made a comfortable livelihood by teaching the children of the wealthy residents of Clifton, the fashionable suburb of Bristol. Young Alfred soon gave evidence of great musical talent, and used to amuse himself blowing trumpet calls on his father's French horn, although the instrument was almost as big as himself; he also achieved considerable mastery over the piano, the flute and the violin, but, though bright and intelligent enough, and always maintaining a creditable position at school, it was evident that nature had intended him for a musician, and that he could never succeed in anything prosaic or mechanical. Accordingly his father taught him not only to play, but also instructed him in the theory and literature of music, and, when he was old enough, had him entered as a chorister in Bristol Cathedral, where, in addition to vocal music, he was carefully taught the art of organ-playing by the Cathedral organist.
The boy soon became able to play quite skilfully, and when his voice began to give way he obtained a position as organist in the church at Shirehampton, performing on a small instrument with one row of keys. From Shirehampton he shortly removed to a more remunerative position in Bristol, and he was not long there before he fell in love with the daughter of a hotel-keeper in one of the suburbs, whom, in spite of the remonstrance of both relatives and friends, he eventually married, although she was both poor and plain-looking, and at least ten years his senior. "A young man married is a man that's marred" says Shakespeare, and, without venturing an opinion as to the correctness of this theory, we may say that young Grandison had made a great mistake. In a short time his affection, or fancied affection, for his wife became less ardent, and he found himself at the age of twenty-four, married to a woman who had neither taste nor sympathy in common with him, the father of three helpless children, and the recipient of the stupendous emolument of sixty pounds a year. Added to all this his friends, being unwilling to associate with his wife and relations, had, one by one, deserted him, and left him almost alone to brood over his ill-advised alliance.
Whilst moodily glancing at an evening paper he saw an advertisement for an organist who would be willing to go to Canada, and at once seizing at the idea he applied for the post, which he eventually obtained without great difficulty, sailing for Montreal in the spring of 1855, to play the organ and direct the music of one of the leading Episcopal churches in this city. At that time there were, very few musicians of ability in Montreal, and Mr. Grandison soon became quite popular, both professionally and socially. His wife was at first invited out, but, finding that she seldom accompanied her husband on these occasions, her name was, in time, dropped from the invitations, and Mr. Grandison was treated as if he were a bachelor, many indeed being altogether unaware of the fact that he had a wife and family.
Among those who took Grandison by the hand was a certain Mr. Sedley, a professional man of high standing. Mary Sedley, the daughter of the latter was possessed of a remarkably fine voice, and was one of the ornaments of the church choir, so that the family were naturally interested in the advent of a new organist from England, under whose careful training the music of the church was to be developed and improved. It was decided to place Mary Sedley under the special charge of Mr. Grandison, and he accordingly went twice a week to the house to give her lessons in singing, and when there was a special Anthem to be sung his visits were much more frequent. Then the Sedleys gave grand musical parties to which Mr. Grandison was of course, invited, playing Miss Sedley's accompaniment on the pianoforte, while she entranced the assembled company with her singing; in fact, no gathering of the Sedley family was complete without the presence of the handsome and accomplished Mr. Grandison.
All this, in its way, was harmless enough, but Mary Sedley was a blooming girl of seventeen, and Grandison, as I have said was quite a young man, and from the frequent walking home with her alone from services and rehearsals, and other meetings in society, there arose an intimacy which, though unnoticed by Mary's parents, and possibly not by the young people themselves, could not be productive of anything in the long run but sorrow and remorse.
One Saturday night when Mary came home rather later than usual, her father (who, though fond of her, was an austere man) questioned her gruffly as to the cause of her delay, when she replied:—"Oh! papa, I am to sing 'As Pants the Hart' to-morrow, and Mr. Grandison insisted on my trying it with the organ after practice. It is exceedingly difficult, you know."
Her father did not know, and was inclined to be very angry. The next day, however, he forgot it all in the delight of hearing his daughter's voice resounding through the sacred edifice; Grandison was invited to dinner, and everything was once more couleur de rose.
The first winter after Grandison's arrival in Canada he gave a grand concert in Nordheimer's Hall, then the principal concert hall in the city. Mary Sedley was the Prima Donna, and bouquet after bouquet was thrown at her feet, as she retired amid the plaudits of the multitude. After the concert Grandison accompanied them home to supper, and about twelve o'clock took his leave of the family.
About an hour afterwards Mr. Sedley, thinking he heard a noise, got up and searched the house, when, to his surprise, he found the door unfastened. He thought he remembered having secured it as he retired to rest, but was not certain; however, he proceeded, in his search, and on coming to Mary's room, found the door locked, and heard his daughter breathing heavily, as if asleep. Being unwilling to disturb her, he returned to his bed, and, ere morning, the affair had passed from his memory. Had he remained awake, however, he might have seen a man emerge from his daughter's room, and, creeping stealthily along the passage, go out at the hall-door, his daughter, the pure, spotless Mary, leader of Psalmody and sacred lays, following close at his heels, to fasten the door and make good his retreat.
This sort of thing went on for a long time, unsuspected by either Miss Sedley's parents or friends, when Mary became suddenly placed in a very awkward position. A certain Mr. Hazelton, junior partner in a large hardware firm, had long been a suitor of hers, and had asked repeatedly for her hand; her father had hitherto refused to give his consent, owing to her tender age, but he had now withdrawn every obstacle, and left her free to get married if she chose; more than that, he urged Hazelton's suit, and, though unwilling to coerce his daughter in any way, gave her to understand that he was particularly desirous that she should give Hazelton a favorable reply.
Under ordinary circumstances Mary would have had no hesitation in refusing to have anything to say to Hazelton, but for some time rumor had been busy circulating scandal concerning herself and Grandison, and, as she was at that moment not in a condition to bear scrutiny, she was afraid to awaken suspicion by refusing Hazelton's offer, and so he was made the "happiest of men" (?)
A short time after Miss Sedley had become engaged to Mr. Hazelton she went with her father and mother to Cacouna, where they had a summer residence. By a strange coincidence, Grandison also chose Cacouna at which to spend his holidays, and combined business with pleasure by giving occasional concerts at the St. Lawrence Hall, which hotel had just been erected, and was the fashionable resort of those people from Montreal and Quebec who could manage to exchange the heated atmosphere of these cities for the more bracing air of Canada's popular watering place. Mr. Hazelton was unable to leave Montreal, and Mrs. Grandison was not disposed to accompany her husband, even if he could have afforded to take her, in fact, the poor woman, feeling that she was a burden and drag on her husband, had taken to drinking, and had gradually removed herself still further from the pale of fashionable society. Her house (which was situated in a back street in Montreal) was not only untidy, but positively dirty, and her children ran about the streets unclad uneducated, and uncared for.
The Sedleys had not been long at Cacouna when one morning the old gentleman walking out, as was his wont, before breakfast, saw through the fog (which in this district usually hangs about for some time after sunrise) a man descend from his daughter's bedroom window and walk hastily in the direction of the hotel. Both the distance and the fog prevented him from positively recognizing the man's features, but the form and carriage were unmistakably those of Alfred Grandison. Mr. Sedley was, so to speak, "struck all of a heap," he could not believe the evidence of his own senses, and for a few moments he stood rooted to the spot as if thunderstruck; then he rushed into the house, and going straight to his daughter's room upbraided her with her shameful conduct, but was met by a bold and unqualified denial, the young lady stating that she had been till that moment asleep, and that possibly some burglar had been in the premises, whom her father had mistaken for a gay Lothario. She burst into tears and wondered that her father could have such an opinion of her, and suggested that immediate search should be made, to see if any articles of value were missing. Her father was by no means convinced of his mistake, however; he thought it possible that his daughter might not have been aware of Grandison's presence, or that he might only have been about to enter the house when he was frightened away; but that Grandison was there he felt certain, so, going immediately over to the hotel, he charged him directly with his crime, at the same time, presenting a loaded revolver at his head, he threatened to blow his brains out. This, as may be supposed, did not prove a ready means of eliciting a confession from the cowardly Grandison. The poor wretch cowered before the righteous indignation of the broken-hearted father, and swore by every saint in the Calendar that the latter must have been mistaken, and that nothing criminal had ever taken place between the young lady and himself.
Mr. Sedley only half believed these asseverations, but, as may be seen, he was a poor diplomatist, and took the very worst way to arrive at anything like the truth. So saying "Not guilty, but don't do it again," or words to that effect, he left the hotel and returned to his own house. Here he disclosed his fears to his wife, but she scouted the idea as preposterous, and urged him to have Mary's marriage with Hazelton celebrated as soon as convenient, and so put an end to all possible contingencies.
Shortly after the return of the family to Montreal Mr. Hazelton led to the altar with pride the "blushing" Mary Sedley. Good cause, indeed, had she to blush, for never was man more egregiously "sold" than was "Mr. Samuel Hazelton, of the city of Montreal, merchant." The happy couple left by the evening train for Boston, the "Wedding March," which was admirably performed by Mr. Grandison, still ringing in their ears.
About five months after this unholy marriage Mrs. Hazelton called on me, and disclosed to me the whole state of the case, informing me (of which there was little necessity) that her confinement was close at hand, and soliciting my aid to get her out of the difficulty. My first impulse was to call on her husband and acquaint him with the facts: but, remembering that he occupied a prominent position, not only in the mercantile, but also in the religious community; moreover, that a disclosure would in no way mend the matter, and would be a lasting disgrace not only, to the two culprits, but also to Messrs. Sedley and Hazelton I listened calmly to her plans for getting out of the difficulty. She suggested pretending a miscarriage, wished me to invite her to my house, where she would become ill, and unable to leave till after her child was born. The child was then to be conveyed to the nunnery, her husband being deluded into the belief that she had miscarried.
Now, in the ordinary course of business, I would have been perfectly justified in attending her without troubling my head about her antecedents; indeed, had she been unmarried I would possibly have given my services, but in this case the lady was married, and the child lawfully belonged to her husband, whose heir it was, although actually belonging to another man.
I accordingly declined having anything to do with her case, although I promised that, as her confession was made to me in confidence and as a professional secret, I would not disclose it to anyone. Having friends in Boston, she made some excuse to visit them, and she was not long there when her husband received a telegram, stating that his wife had had a premature confinement and lay in a precarious state in Boston, whither her loving husband instantly repaired. The child (a beautiful girl) was sent to Mrs. Sedley in Montreal, and given out to nurse. She was eventually adopted by a childless dry goods merchant in this city who had her educated as his daughter, employing, by-the-by, her own father to give her lessons in music.
One would think that now Mrs. Hazelton had got over this great difficulty, and started in life as a respectable married lady, she would have eschewed her former errors and turned over a new leaf. Unfortunately for all parties, her husband was proud of her musical ability, and insisted that she should continue to take lessons from Grandison, for whom strange to say, he had conceived a great regard. The frequent meetings consequent upon this proved too much for both of the culprits, and in a short time they became as intimate as ever. Since Mary's marriage, Mr. Sedley had quite forgotten his former suspicions of Grandison, and he was cordially received into both houses, being, in fact, almost a member of the family.
Mr. Hazelton was a prominent member of the church and, being a capital speaker, had undertaken to give a lecture in the basement of that edifice addressed to young men; Mrs. Hazelton and some other ladies were to enliven the evening with music, accompanied on the piano by Mr. Grandison. The lecture animadverted at some length concerning the temptations which beset young men, and warned them to avoid vice of all kinds, drinking, gambling, and the rest. Among other things he mentioned the social evil, and contrasted the happy home of the chaste man and his virtuous wife with that of the drunken, vicious libertine. The seducer was anathematized, and a graphic description given of the poor degraded women who had lost the one jewel in their crown. It is needless to say that both Mrs. Hazelton and her paramour felt exceedingly uncomfortable during this discourse; the former who was to have sung a brilliant aria at its close, grew deadly pale, and had to leave the room. The lecturer requested Mr. Grandison to substitute a piano solo, but strange to say, he was unable to perform anything without notes, so the announcement was made to the audience that, owing to the excessive heat (the temperature was about 70 degrees Fahrenheit), Mrs. Hazelton, was unable to perform that evening, and begged to be excused. Grandison was to have gone home with the lecturer to supper, but he said he considered Mrs. Hazelton would be the better of a little quiet, and, stammering out some excuse, slunk away in the direction of his own home.
Mr. Hazelton found his wife reclining on a sofa in the drawing-room, and he at once exerted himself to alleviate her suffering, and gratify her every whim. He propped her up with pillows, and ordered the maid to prepare whatever delicacies the larder afforded, blaming himself as being the cause of all her sufferings. His solicitude in her behalf made her only the more miserable; she had never loved, and never could love, him, but his uniform kindness and attention had excited within her a feeling of gratitude which made her remorse all the more bitter as she thought how he had been duped by the woman who had sworn to love and honor him. The next day was one of those appointed for receiving her singing lessons, but she sent a messenger to Mr. Grandison, telling him not to call for a few days, as she was unequal to even that slight exertion. Mr. Hazelton called to see me in great alarm, informing me that his wife's first child was prematurely born, and that he dreaded a recurrence of that terrible calamity. I, of course, had my own ideas concerning what was the matter, but I promised to call and see her, and do what I could to alleviate her sufferings. I found her well enough physically, but in very low spirits and in tears. She told me what I have informed the reader, adding that she was at the moment enceinte, the father of this child being also Alfred Grandison. I was very much shocked at this disclosure, but contented myself with remonstrating with Mrs. Hazelton concerning the course she was pursuing, urging her to drop all connection with Grandison. This she promised to do, but I subsequently discovered that, far from keeping her promise, she had even gone so far as to plan an elopement with him to the United States.
About two years after Mrs. Hazleton's marriage, Grandison received the appointment of organist to —— Church, Chicago, and, together with his wife and family, left Montreal for the Western city, leaving Mr. Hazelton in undisturbed possession of his wife; the latter, instead of rejoicing at this providential release from temptation, fretted at the loss of her paramour, attributing, however, her fitful humor to her delicate condition.
Shortly after Grandison's departure for Chicago I was summoned to attend Mrs. Hazelton, who gave birth to a fine boy. Mr. Hazelton was in ecstasy at the thought of becoming a father; he gave a grand entertainment on the occasion of the child's christening, and when the guests all agreed that the child had "its father's nose" (which was doubtless the truth) the poor man's delight knew no bounds. Mrs. Hazelton gradually began to be more cheerful, and to try in some measure to make amends to her husband for the wrong which could never be repaired. When, however, he carried her baby up and down, or fondled it upon his knee, the bitter pangs of remorse gnawed at her heart, and made her captious and bad tempered. With all this there was no deep repentance, and when Grandison came to Montreal for his holidays, her husband was completely forgotten once more. Grandison was invited to stay at the Hazeltons' residence, an invitation which to do him justice he endeavored to decline, but Mr. Hazelton pressed him so strongly that he was afraid to awaken suspicion by refusing, and so the wolf became ensconced snugly in the sheepfold, not only without difficulty, but on the pressing invitation of its occupants. Mrs. Hazelton during this visit urged Grandison so strongly that he promised to elope with her so soon as he could conveniently leave Chicago.
He had not been long back at his new residence when his wife died, and letters of condolence were sent to him from all quarters. His wife, who had never been received into society, was suddenly discovered to have been one of its brightest ornaments, and her loss was deeply felt and proportionately deplored. Mrs. Hazelton now thought her opportunity had come, and accordingly wrote to Grandison that she was ready to go to the end of the world with him. He, however, was not particularly anxious to go to such a remote locality; in fact he had made up his mind to remain in Chicago, and (now that his wife was no longer a burden upon him) to turn over a new leaf and become a respectable member of society. Whatever charms Mary Sedley may have had had long since disappeared, and Mr. Grandison's affection was not so deep-seated that he was prepared to tie himself to a comparatively plain old woman for whom he had long since lost every particle of respect. He accordingly took no notice of her letter, and received a second and a third couched in the strongest language of affection. But the more importunate she became, the more did Grandison lose his respect for her; he therefore took no notice of her letters, and determined to keep aloof from her in the future.
When Mrs. Hazelton began to realize that he had deserted her, she grew frantic indeed. She would not believe it; the letters had miscarried, or something else had interfered to prevent his writing. She resolved that, come what would, she would go to him, and, throwing herself at his feet, demand his protection. In the dead of the night she collected her most valuable clothing and jewellery, and, with a little money in her purse, stealthily left her husband's house, carrying her bundle in her hand. She wandered about the streets till daylight, and in the morning entered the Grand Trunk Depot in St. Bonaventure street, and procured a ticket for Chicago. Her husband at first thought she had merely gone to Bonsecours market to purchase provisions for the ensuing week, and that she would shortly return. Breakfast time came, however, and she did not return, and he began to get uneasy; enquiries were made of neighbors and friends at whose houses she might possibly have stayed, but no one had seen her, or knew anything of her whereabouts. The police were next communicated with, and a regular hue and cry was raised in the city concerning her mysterious disappearance. In the meantime the object of their search arrived in Chicago, and at once proceeded towards Grandison's residence. She had not gone far when he approached her with a fashionably dressed young lady on his arm. Mrs. Hazelton ran towards him with a cry of recognition, but, whatever he may have felt towards her before, the sight of her as she now appeared drove every trace of affection from his heart, he looked at her coldly, and without the faintest sign of recognition The effect of this treatment under the circumstances can well be imagined; the wretched woman fell fainting at his feet, raving wildly and uttering the most awful imprecations. By this time a crowd had collected, and the police, thinking she was some madwoman who had escaped, had her removed to an asylum, and placed under medical treatment.
During all this period Hazelton was like a man demented; he caused advertisements to be inserted in the principal papers, describing his wife, and offering a reward for her recovery. The canal locks were dragged from end to end, and every place likely to have been visited by her was thoroughly searched and examined. At the end of about a week Mr. Hazelton received the following telegram:—
Chicago, Oct. 14, 18—. To S. Hazelton, Esq.,
Person answering description in advertisement in Tribune found here to-day, and placed under medical treatment. What shall we do?
—for Chief of Police.
Mr. Hazelton immediately telegraphed a reply, and, taking the next train, was soon able to identify his lost wife. The sight of him made the poor creature worse, and he was forbidden to call till she was in a less excitable condition. In about a week, though still suffering, she was removed to Montreal, and placed under the care of Dr. X——, to whom I communicated what I knew concerning her antecedents. In a comparatively short time she grew much better, and was able to converse intelligently, the subject of her departure and her illness being carefully avoided. Her husband attributed her mental aberration to the old cause, although why she should have gone to Chicago, he never could exactly understand.
Many years have now passed since these occurrences, and all the parties to this narrative are still alive. Mrs. Hazelton has never recovered from the effects of the shock received in Chicago, and sits brooding mournfully and in secret over her past transgressions, while her husband with unceasing devotion heaps coals of fire on her head. Grandison has since moved to New York, where he married again, and became an altered man. I met him in Montreal a short time since, but he carefully avoided all mention of either Mr. or Mrs. Hazelton, and did not dare to call either on them or the Sedleys. Once or twice his name was mentioned at the house of the latter, but it seemed to awaken sad recollections in the breast of Mrs. Hazelton, and was consequently avoided by the family. The latter have lived so far in ignorance of these occurrences, and it is to be hoped they will never be undeceived.
Among the Fenians.
While still young, and unused to the many strange phases of life I had an adventure which, at that period of my career, made a deep impression on my mind. A rough-looking man called on me, and requested my immediate attendance on a sick woman at Point St. Charles, at that time a remote suburb of Montreal. As I hesitated to go with him, having a strange dread of accompanying him to such a lonely place, he seemed to think I was afraid of not receiving my fee, and, pulling a long purse out of his pocket he took out a handful of gold pieces, one of which he tendered me an advance. This made me all the more reluctant to accompany him, as I feared he might be a robber or freebooter of some kind, but, quickly controlling my emotions, I set my reason to work, and argued that, whatever he might be, he could have no motive other than that assigned for taking me with him, that he could gain nothing by way-laying or even murdering me, and so I put on my outer garments and got into the carriage beside him. The night was wet and stormy, and, just as we started, forked lightning flashed across the heavens in all directions, causing the horse to dash madly along as if to overturn the vehicle. This of course was a mere coincidence, but, with all my firmness of will and sound logical reasons for not being afraid, I could not altogether control my emotions as we drove through the lowest and dirtiest parts of Griffintown, which had at that time the reputation of harboring all sorts of Fenians, thieves and marauders. We crossed the canal and got out into the country, the rain descending in torrents, while the thunder crashed louder than ever. I believe that, had I been able to get out, I would have even then retreated, but I had no alternative but to remain and make the most of my position. Beyond a few words at starting, my companion said little; indeed conversation was impossible, as were jolted from side to side of the street, and the crashing of the thunder overhead would have drowned our most powerful efforts.
After about half an hour's ride, the carriage stopped at a lonely house some distance on the Lower Lachine road, and, alighting, we entered, when I was piloted into an upper chamber, where a woman lay on a couch in need of my attendance. I felt altogether re-assured now, and at once opened my satchel to make the necessary preparations for my stay; still the room had not the air of an ordinary bedroom, and the presence of three men, all as rough-looking as my guide, made me suspicious as to their calling, more particularly as there was not a woman to be seen save my patient.
As soon as I had divested myself of my wet garments and hung them at the fire to dry, the men left the room, and I ordered the woman to undress and go to bed, which she did. I then tried to get some information from her as to who her husband was, and what was the occupation of the men I had seen, but she either was or pretended to be too sick to enter into conversation, and I was obliged to restrain my curiosity for the time at least. In about two hours the woman gave birth to a boy, and as soon as I could leave with safety, I donned my clothes and left for home, the man who had engaged me putting me into a cab with great politeness, and paying the driver, he ordered him to deposit me in safety at my residence.
The next morning I was surprised to read in the paper that a quantity of arms and ammunition had been sent here from the Fenian headquarters in New York, and that although it was known that they were secreted somewhere about Griffintown, the police had been altogether baffled in their search for them. A new light now dawned upon me, particularly as I recollected that the room in which my patient lay was filled with long, coffin-shaped boxes, the uses of which I had been unable to guess. I accordingly consulted with my husband as to what course I should pursue. Was I, having come by this information in my professional capacity, to shut my eyes to these doings, or, taking advantage of my position, to inform the police? My husband argued in this way:—If these people had been guilty of a crime, which could not now be ameliorated or averted, it would be a straining point for me to take advantage of what I had learnt by accident and to bring them to justice; but that as in this case a great national trouble might be averted, and many lives saved, by timely information, it was my duty to exert myself in the interests of the community by putting a check on their movements. With this end in view I communicated with Mr. P——, then Chief of Police, and from my description he said he had no doubt but these were the very persons of whom they were in search, and that if I could only manage to frame an excuse for the introduction of a detective, he would make sure of their identity before making any arrests.
My second visit to the house was made in the morning. I found my patient very weak and feverish, and, although it was only what I had expected, took advantage of the fact to express my fears that the case was one requiring the most skillful treatment, and that unless I were permitted to call in a medical man of eminence, I would not be responsible for the consequence. The woman's husband was very much averse to this; but, as I urged it strongly, and his wife (of whom he was apparently fond) seconded my request, he finally consented, and the same afternoon called, accompanied by Detective F——, whom I introduced as my consulting physician. Whilst I mixed some simple remedies for my patient, the detective carefully examined the boxes, which he was unable to move, and which we were both convinced contained arms and ammunition for the destruction of the peaceful inhabitants of Montreal. Mr. F—— carefully noted the position of everything in and about the house, he also took a good look at the surroundings, and then we departed for the police station. The Chief was for making an immediate arrest of the whole party, but I dissuaded him, urging him, in the interests of humanity, to wait till the woman was out of danger; he then agreed to wait for a few days, keeping the house and its inmates under constant surveillance.
The woman got better day by day, and at the end of a week, the Chief, fearful lest something might occur to mar his plans, sent a detachment of armed policemen to arrest the Fenian emissaries and capture the stores. In some way or another the men got wind of the affair, and made their escape across the lines, leaving the poor woman and her helpless babe alone and unprotected. The police entered the house unopposed; they found there several dozen, muskets and rifles, also about a hundred bayonets and five thousand rounds of ball cartridge. The woman refused to give the slightest information as to the names or identity of her companions; she said she knew nothing about the arms contained in the boxes, that the latter had been brought there by a strange man, and left in charge of her husband, and that she had never seen them opened. As the men were evidently by this time safe in Uncle Sam's dominions, the police contented themselves with securing the ammunition, leaving the woman to shift for herself. As I did not like the idea of leaving her in the room alone and uncared for, I explained the matter to the neighbors, who good-naturedly undertook to look after her till she received money from her husband to pay her passage to New York. As, although I had no compunction in assisting to break up this den of ruffians, I pitied the poor woman, who was probably innocent of any crime, I handed her the gold piece which her husband had given me, and did not leave her till assured that the neighbors would look after her till her departure. In later years I have often passed the scene of these transactions, and a shudder passed through my frame as I remembered my experiences among the Fenians.
A Disciple of Satan.
About the year 1866 I was summoned to attend a lady in Berri street, the wife of an officer in the ——th Rifles. Her husband, Captain O'Grady, had taken a furnished house for the winter, the quarters in the Quebec Barracks being unsuited for the accommodation of a lady of her station, and round the house on every hand evidences might be seen of both wealth, taste and refinement. Mrs. O'Grady was a beautiful woman of about twenty-two, and had only been married about a year; her husband, who was an Irishman, loved her passionately, and gave me particular charges concerning her, bidding me spare neither trouble nor expense to render her illness as little irksome as possible. After her baby (a fine boy) was born I attended her regularly every day, and, as she had travelled in her youth and lived for some time in Germany, she invited me to come and see her in the evenings whenever I was at leisure, so that we might converse in the beautiful language of Schiller and Goethe, and chat about that beautiful far-off land. Captain O'Grady quite approved of this arrangement, and often used to join in the conversation; it was in Germany he had met his wife, and he had a great fancy for the soft German language, although speaking it but imperfectly himself.
Shortly after the birth of his child, Captain O'Grady's regiment was ordered to Chambly, and he was obliged to separate from his wife for a time. He used to drive in occasionally to Montreal to visit her, but at this season of the year the roads were very bad, and, as the thermometer sometimes fell 20 or even 30 degrees below zero, the journey was usually attended with much discomfort and even some danger. On Christmas Day, Mrs. O'Grady wished her husband to remain at Chambly and dine at the mess, but he insisted on coming into Montreal and dining with his family. He accordingly set out about eleven o'clock in the morning, accompanied by a brother officer named Churchill, a lieutenant in the same regiment.
It was a bitterly cold day, and the snow, which had been falling heavily for some days, was blown in immense drifts across the roads, rendering them almost impassable. The groom, being accustomed to obey, brought the horses round with alacrity when ordered to do so, but he shook his head ominously as he handed the reins to Captain O'Grady, and jumped into the dickey.
Off they flew through the blinding snowdrifts, the fine horses going at a tremendous speed, and threatening to overthrow the sleigh every instant. The hot breath of the horses froze to the head-gear and harness, rendering it perfectly white, and the three men were obliged to pull their fur caps over their ears to avoid their being frozen. They had not proceeded far on their journey when the road, which in summer was clearly defined by fences on either side, diverged somewhat from the ordinary course, and was made, for convenience, through an adjoining farm, being marked with pine branches, stuck at intervals in the snow. As our party proceeded, even these slight indications were invisible, the drifts rising in some places to a height of twelve or fourteen feet. In one of the latter the sleigh stuck fast, and the occupants were obliged to get out, and wading up to their knees in snow to assist the horses to regain terra firma, or at least a more compact body of snow. Whilst engaged in this operation, Mr. Churchill noticed that the groom's nose was perfectly white, and on examination it was found to be frozen; they accordingly set to work to rub it with snow, and at Captain O'Grady's suggestion he held a large body of snow to it for the remainder of the journey, which had the effect of thawing it out.
In a short time they regained the high road, and went along at a tremendous pace for three or four miles, when they entered the village of Longueuil, which is situated on the south bank of the St. Lawrence, a little below Montreal. They found the river completely frozen over, the cold being intense, but the ice-bridge had only just been formed, and the surface was rough and uneven, causing the sleigh to oscillate fearfully, threatening every moment to overturn. The storm had by this time increased to a perfect hurricane, and the drifting snow was driven with intense force into the faces of both men and horses, causing the latter to bound and gallop fearfully, to the extreme peril of those behind them. O'Grady, however, was a skillful driver, and kept the horses well in hand, calling to them from time to time in a reassuring manner; as for Churchill, he rather enjoyed the little spice of danger, and, as conversation was out of the question, he lit a cigar, and, drawing the buffalo-robes tightly round him, made himself as comfortable as possible. In a short time they arrived at their destination, and throwing the reins to the groom, O'Grady dashed up stairs and in an instant had his wife in his arms. She remonstrated with him about coming in on such a terrible day, but descended to the drawing-room, and, having welcome Mr. Churchill to her house, ordered the servant to set the table for dinner. Just then the groom entered the house to enquire when the carriage would be required in the evening, and the appearance of his nose set the whole party laughing heartily; his proboscis had assumed a deep red hue, and was swollen to an enormous size, giving him a most comical appearance. O'Grady ordered him to bring the carriage round at ten o'clock, and, dinner just then being announced, they prepared, in true English fashion, to celebrate the Nativity.
After dinner, Mrs. O'Grady entertained the gentlemen with music, and, having chatted on various topics very pleasantly they were aroused to the fact that the evening social intercourse must draw to an end by the clanging of the door-bell announcing the arrival of the groom from the neighboring livery-stable with the horses. Taking an affectionate leave of his wife, and promising to come into Montreal to dinner on the following Sunday, O'Grady mounted the box, followed by the light-hearted Churchill, and cracking his whip was soon speeding rapidly along into the howling storm. Churchill lit another cigar, and shut his eyes to avoid the blinding snowdrifts, while the driver was with difficulty enabled to see his way. Arrived at the suburb known as Hochelaga, O'Grady turned his horses' heads towards the river, and they dashed across the ice-bridge at the rate of about twelve miles an hour. On they went at a terrible pace, the sleigh bumping and jolting over the rough road, till bang they came upon a piece of ice, on to which the snow had drifted, and over went the sleigh, turning its occupants head first on the hard, icy road. Churchill was first on his feet, and, though bruised and bleeding, succeeded in arresting the horses, who, now thoroughly frightened, were about to run away; the groom also soon recovered himself and ran to the assistance of his master, but the latter was past all human aid, having fallen from the upper side of the sleigh bead foremost on a piece of ice, and broken his neck. His companions were struck dumb with grief and astonishment; however, they could not stand freezing in the middle of the river, so, righting the sleigh, they placed the dead man gently inside it, and drove slowly to Longueuil, where a friendly habitant placed the best room in his house at their disposal.
Mrs. O'Grady, as may well be supposed, was very much shocked at the news of her husband's death. The body was brought to her house in Montreal, and from thence to Mount Royal Cemetery, where it was interred, a company of rifles firing a volley over the grave. For a time the young widow was undecided whether to go back to her friends in England or to remain in Canada, but, being unwilling to become dependent on her relations, she accepted a situation as governess in a wealthy family residing in the west end of Montreal, placing her infant son under the charge of a nurse.
Mrs. Thomson, in whose service Mrs. O'Grady was employed, was the wife of a wealthy English gentleman who had invested largely in Canadian real estate and national enterprises. She had two daughters, aged 18 and 16, respectively (whom Mrs. O'Grady was expected to train and prepare for entrance into society), also a son about 22, who, although educated as a lawyer, pursued no avocation other than the collection of rents on his father's estate, and minor offices in connection with the investment of his money. Randolph Thomson, the young gentleman in question, suddenly became very attentive to his sisters. There was not a single concert or ball of importance to which he did not take them, whereas before he could rarely be induced to accompany them anywhere. The girls never tried to account for this sudden change in their brother's behavior, being too much engrossed in the enjoyment of the entertainments aforesaid to trouble their heads about the matter; Mrs. Grundy, however, had an idea that the handsome widow who officiated as governess had something to do with the affair, and, a rumor of the kind reaching the ears of Mrs. Thomson, the unfortunate widow was eventually obliged to leave the house, much to the regret of the whole family, but especially that of Randolph, whose brotherly attentions suddenly became less marked, and in time ceased altogether.
Mrs. O'Grady, being once more thrown on her own resources, departed for Sherbrooke, one of the most thriving towns in the Eastern Townships, where she endeavored to make a respectable livelihood by teaching music. She chose Sherbrooke rather than Montreal, because in the latter place every lady who wished to earn her own living started out as a music teacher, and the teachers were rapidly threatening to outnumber the pupils, and to equal many of them as regards want of knowledge.
Close to Mrs. O'Grady's new residence, and removed a short distance from the town, there dwelt a wealthy old farmer named Clarkson. Mr. Clarkson was a bachelor about 65 years old, who, by steady attention to his farm and shrewd speculations, had amassed a considerable fortune, being considered one of the "solid men" of Sherbrooke. Clarkson happening to meet Mrs. O'Grady at the house of one of the principal clergymen, became enamored of her at first sight, and at the first opportunity proposed for her hand. This she was at first both to give, her heart at the time being elsewhere; but, as Clarkson offered to settle all his property on her and her children, and he himself, though neither young nor handsome, was very agreeable, and held a high position in the community, she finally consented, and was led a second time to the hymeneal altar.
Mr. Clarkson was very proud of his handsome wife, he ordered a handsome phaeton and pair of bay ponies from Montreal for her private use, and gave her an unlimited allowance of pin money, and she might be seen any afternoon, fashionably attired, driving from one shop to another, followed by the admiring eyes of the bank clerks and beaux, and the envious glances of the single young ladies of Sherbrooke.
After three or four months Mrs. Clarkson told her husband that she had been invited to go on a visit to Montreal, and urged him to allow her to accept it, particularly as her little boy was afflicted with sore eyes, and there was no oculist of ability in the town. Her husband readily consented, and, with the promise that she would return in a few weeks, Mrs. Clarkson came to Montreal, and calling at my house informed Madame Charbonneau (in my absence) that she wished to remain there if possible, as she was about to be confined. When I got home she confessed to me that she had been on terms of intimacy with Randolph Thomson, and begged me not to inform her husband, as he was exceedingly jealous, and would kill her if he suspected the true state of affairs.
Promising to do the best I could under the circumstances I had rooms prepared for both her and her boy, and secured the best medical attendance for the latter, whose eyes were in a very bad state from long neglect. It was two weeks before Mrs. Clarkson's baby (a boy) was born, and very unpleasant rumors were circulated round the town, which, coming to the ears of the old gentleman caused him to write a very stiff letter, ordering his wife to return immediately. This, of course, she could not do, and as she was unable to frame an excuse for refusing to I do so, she determined to take no notice of his letter, and, if brought to task concerning it, to deny having received it, the letter being unregistered. Fortunately for her, if not for himself, her boy's eyes continued to defy the skill of Dr. Fulford, the oculist to whose care she had committed him, and it was imperative that they should remain in Montreal a week or two longer. This fact was communicated to Mr. Clarkson, but his sister (who had continued to reside with him after his marriage) persuaded him to have nothing more to do with his wife, and related to him the rumors she had heard, allowing them (as may well be supposed) to lose nothing in the narration.
Mrs. Clarkson was naturally very much put out when she learnt how her sister-in-law had acted; but, being both a strong-minded and crafty woman, she determined to put a bold face on the matter, and if possible to pay off old scores with her sister-in-law. She accordingly placed her baby out to nurse, and, as soon as she felt strong enough, set out for Sherbrooke. She found her husband's house locked against her, but, nothing daunted, she went straight to the mayor's residence, and explained that, having gone to Montreal with her husband's permission, she had (as soon as her boy was sufficiently recovered) returned to her home, and found the door locked against her. The mayor (a particular friend of Clarkson's) told her to come with him and he would see her righted, but she refused, saying that she had already gone to her husband's house and been refused admission, and that she would not go again until he came to fetch her; she then departed and engaged rooms at the hotel.
The mayor, wishing to save his friend any public scandal, went to him, and remonstrated with him on his conduct, explaining that, as his wife had gone to Montreal with his permission, he was legally responsible for all her expenses, and that in refusing to admit her into his house he had rendered himself liable for an expensive lawsuit. On this poor Clarkson got so frightened that he ordered his team to be brought round, and, driving to the hotel, implored his wife to accompany him to his house, begging her forgiveness for his conduct, and promising that he would do anything to make amends.
Mrs. Clarkson now felt that she had obtained a grand advantage, and, assuming an air of injured innocence, enquired who had set him against her. Poor Clarkson was reluctantly compelled to admit that his sister had had something to do with it, on which his wife refused to live under the same roof with such a vile slanderer ('), and insisted that, before she returned, the lady who had taken away her character should leave the house. In fact, she managed the affair so well, and exhibited such an amount of "cheek," that the poor man actually sent his sister away, and drove with a magnificent team of horses to bring home the woman whom he had refused to admit into his house.
For several months they lived happily together, Mrs. Clarkson going on a visit to Montreal whenever it stated her. In process of time she gave evidence of being enceinte, and old Clarkson's joy knew no bounds, as he evidently rejoiced at the prospect of having an heir. Had he known, however, that his wife, in visiting Montreal, was invariably met by Randolph Thomson, it is questionable whether his joy would not have been considerably moderated. Before the child was born the old man died, leaving all his property to his wife and his expected heir. His sister, who really was devoted to him, was left without a penny, and entirely dependent on the charity of Mrs. Clarkson. The widow, however, had not forgotten the part played by Mrs. Clarkson during her brother's lifetime, and being now steeped in wickedness, her better nature was almost entirely lost. She turned the faithful sister from her door, and she, the false wife, was with her illegitimate child (born almost immediately after the old man's death) snugly installed in the home that in all equity and justice should have belonged to the woman she ejected.