Thursday, 27 October 2011

Fact and Fiction Mercy Coles and John A Macdonald

October 1864 is when the Fathers of Confederation met in Quebec to create the 72 resolutions that make up the BNA Act of Canada's constitution - they took along their unmarried daughters and sisters too. Mercy Coles wrote of the events in her diary - I used it in creating her character in my novel and used the timeline to help structure the novel. On Wed Oct 26 she writes of John A at dinner with her - read that note here on my posting on Christopher Moore's history blog


When they all returned to their seats the conversation
continued, a little louder, more merry. They talked of
the tour ahead, of Montreal and Ottawa. Of the trip around
the lake, through Kingston and Toronto and on to the Falls of
Niagara. Everyone talked eagerly, looking forward to the trip.
Mercy was eating new potatoes, the taste of home, the first
time she’d enjoyed eating anything in the past two weeks. The
two of them, Mercy and John A, still connected in the dance,
a shift in one causing a change in the position of the other.
A synchronicity of movement though they were turned away
from each other and talked to the people beside them. Mercy
felt how every subtle movement in her changed him, knowing,
with an edge of thrill, that if she were to stand now and leave,
he would follow.

As dinner ended they moved to the drawing room, the
women first as the men lingered behind talking. Mercy sat on
the blue couch by the fire, a silk cushion at her back. She felt
a draft of night air come in through the window; the damp of
it mixed with the smell of the wood smoke in the small room.
Macdonald was the first to enter the room. He walked over to
her bringing her dessert. As if he ought to do it, as if he always
would do it.

He sat with the men and poured himself a drink. The talks
were over, Mowat finished with his finances. Seventy-two
resolutions, the draft completed. Next the tour to convince
the people. He rested back into his chair. He liked the smell
of damp wood, the same as the smell of night in the trees by
his lake and the wet leaves of fall at home. Here it was nearly
winter, rain becoming snow too soon in the season. They
were headed back now, towards home. He closed his eyes for
a moment, smiled. He’d stop, see Hugh John. He raised his
glass, drank.

Mercy sat silent holding her plate. She wished she could
take off her gloves and feel the air on her skin, the coolness of
the fork against her palm, the texture of the plate. She wanted
to touch, feel the air. She could feel the cushion at her back,
was conscious of how her legs touched each other under her
dress, and how her feet rested lightly on the floor, every inch
of skin aware, everything magnified. She watched a drift of
smoke rise to the ceiling, the air quivering in the damp. She
sat eating her cake. There was a crumb at the corner of her
mouth. Raising her hand, she dusted the crumb away, leaving
lemon sugar on her lip. She licked it away, a small indelicacy,
her napkin held in her hand. And she saw Macdonald look up
at her just then, but her small tongue was out of her mouth.

John A watching, smiled as he looked away, the tip of her
tongue sweet in her mouth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Didn't Mercy call John A. an "old humbug" in her diary of the Quebec conference?

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