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The Last Resort - Chapter 01|
The Last Resort - Chapter 01
Since coming to Canada in 1946, so many people have asked me to write a book. I expect that the Americans that I have met wondered what on earth an English Woman was doing in such a remote place - living in a little log cabin surrounded by water, miles and miles from civilization. That’s probably one of the reasons they wanted me to write this book. After much thought and encouragement from my family, here is the story of my life as I have lived it in Canada.
I worked for a beautiful society lady in Knightsbridge, London. One of my duties was to care for her little Sally Ann whom I thought was the most beautiful little girl. I am sure other people thought the same as I often had photographers ask if they could take pictures of Sally Ann. Quite often her picture would appear on the front page of the Evening News under such headings as “Little Sally Ann goes shopping” or “Sally Ann at play.”
I used to feel so proud when I took Sally Ann out -- people would stop and talk to her and tell me what a pretty little girl she was. I am sure people thought she was my little girl.
One beautiful day, I was taking my little three year old son Richard and Sally Ann to Hyde Park to play. Hyde Park was a lovely place, always something going on -- bands playing in the afternoons and evenings; lots of children playing; swings and slides to play on; an open air tea garden, and the best of all, there was the Serpentine (a lake with lots of ducks to feed.) The children always had crumbs to feed to the ducks. Well, I settled myself on the park bench to read my book while the children played. Sally Ann was in a pink sun suit and Richard in a yellow outfit. I could see them out of the corner of my eye playing with other children. All of a sudden I realized the little girl in pink was not Sally Ann. I quickly called to Richard: “Where is Sally Ann?” He pointed to the bid sanctuary and I saw a soldier -- a Canadian soldier at that, giving Sally Ann chocolate. I rushed over to them and took the chocolate away from Sally Ann and gave it back to the soldier explaining that Sally Ann was not allowed to accept anything from strangers especially chocolate or any kind of sweets. Well, the soldier couldn’t understand that and thought that it was very strange, considering that it was wartime and everything was rationed. Anyway, I said goodbye to him and left.
The next day being another beautiful day, we went off to Hyde Park again as it was only a hop, skip and a jump away from where I worked. I had my book and the children had their bags of crumbs to feed the ducks. I hadn’t been reading too long when I heard this little cough and that same Canadian soldier was standing there. I looked at him -- he wasn’t at all bad looking. Good strong white teeth and clean fingernails.
This soldier asked if he could sit down. When I said “Yes” he sat down and proceeded to tell me that he was on leave but stationed in Brighton. He had come to London for a visit and found that he had let his wallet on the platform seat in Brighton railway station and was waiting to hear if it had been found. He also told me that he didn’t have any money. Well, I wasn’t about to give him any if that was what he was hinting. We sat and chatted for awhile. He told me his name was Arthur Williams and that he came from a small town in Northwestern Ontario. He said he would be very glad when he would be shipped back to Canada as he was homesick. Of course I sympathized with him and wished him well. I said “Goodbye” and left.
I decided I wasn’t going to Hyde Park for at least a week, in case I ran into him again, so the next day I took the children to St. James Park, but they certainly didn’t like it there. No Serpentine-no ducks-no-swings or slides and worst of all no little children to play with. They very soon wanted to go back to Hyde Park. I told them that it was too late to go and I would take them home and read them a fairy story, so that’s what we did. Needless to say, the children didn’t want to go to St. James Park again so we took a bus to St. Georges Park. Not too much doing there either but there was a lovely tree called “Peter Pan Tree.” I has lots of little elves and fairies all carved in the bark; gnomes, rabbits and mice sitting on little mushrooms. It is so pretty and the children loved it but after you’ve looked at a tree for half an hour, what else is there to do? Of course that it was too late so we spent the rest of the afternoon where we were. I never intended to go back to Hyde Park for at least a week and I would never have gone back had I known how different my life was going to be. Anyway, the children made such a fuss about my not taking them to the park that I took them there. Who do you think I ran into? Yes, you’ve guessed it. Arthur! He told me that his wallet had be found and sent on to him, and then after we had talked for awhile, he asked me if I would like to go to a show with him that evening. Well, what could I say? He looked kind of lonely and what the heck, it was wartime and I would probably never see him again. I said I would and surprisingly enough we had quite a nice time.
Arthur told me about himself. He had four brothers and three sisters. Two of his brothers were in England - one in the Air Force and one in the Armour division. Arthur had met George in France sitting by his burnt out tank but he never did see Charlie until they were back in Canada. Arthur’s father died while Arthur was still young and his mother was living in a place called Ear Falls.
I saw Arthur a good many times after that. He was now stationed in the village of Godalmin in Surrey. He would catch the afternoon train to London and go on the midnight train back to Godalmin. I did go to Godalmin once to see him and we went out for supper, then to a pub as it was raining hard. There usually was lots of entertainment going on in a pub but we were the only two in there as it was early. When a young boy came to see who had come in, he called out: “it’s only a Canadian and his tart.”
I was so mad that I told Arthur to take me out of there and I never went back to Godalmin again.
On his last night, Arthur told me he was being sent back to France and if he wrote to me, would I answer his letters. I said I would as I thought I would never see him again. After all, he was a Canadian and would most certainly be shipped back to Canada. How was I to know that I was fated to go to Canada?
I would have had some inkling because two months before I met Arthur, a gypsy woman had come to the door and as soon as I had opening the door, she said; “Oh, my dear, there’s tears and tears in store for you - such a dark cloud around you. if you cross my palm with silver, I will tell you your fortune.” I really didn’t believe in that sort of thing but she had raised my interest so I gave her a shilling which was a lot of money in those days. She took my hand and started to tell my fortune. She told me that I would meet a dark stranger . I would cross big water and live in a land of snow and pine and that the Union Jack would not be my flag for much longer. I would have three children and my life was going to be very hard. I would cry and cry and cry but that dark cloud did have a silver lining and if I crossed her palm with a pound note, she would take out her crystal ball and give me the initials of the man I was going to marry.
I did not have a pound note and I don’t know that I would have given it to her if I had, but I have often wondered if the initials would have been A.W. because everything the gypsy told me came true.
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