William collected his hat and overcoat as he walked out of his office. Looking down and dusting off his hat he almost walked into Julia, "Julia! What brings you here?"
"I'm off to visit my father. He called me out of the blue."
"Oh. How long has it been?"
"Years, but he wants to see me." Julia inhaled, "I don't suppose that you could accompany me? It would be lovely for you two to meet. Perhaps there's something that you would like to ask him."
"Julia I couldn't possibly, I have a reception at the mayor's office and my attendance is mandated. Safe journey." William kissed her on the cheek and with that he was off.
Julia pulled up in front of her father's house. Mrs. Hastings, the housekeeper, met her at the carriage. "Miss Ogden, how lovely to see you. Your father is so looking forward to your visit." "Hello Mrs. Hastings, do you know why father called for me?" "No, but I'm leaving first thing tomorrow. I'm going to my sister's, I'll be away for two weeks. He said it had been so long since he'd seen you. I think he wanted some company for a few days while I'm gone." Julia followed Mrs. Hastings into the house and immediately went to find her father. He was sitting in the sun room looking out over the lake. "Hello Julia, I wasn't sure if you'd come. I'm so glad you did." Julia kissed him on the cheek. "Hello Father, whatever is the urgency? I came as soon as I could." "We'll talk this evening Julia, when Mrs. Hastings has retired to her bed. Come, sit next to me and tell me how things are with you." Dr. Ogden gestured towards the chair next to him. Now Julia was confused, her father had made it sound as if there was something of utmost importance he wanted to discuss with her and now he was putting her off until this evening. Perhaps it was just a ruse to get her here. She sat next to him and looked out at the view before her. "I've always loved this place at this time of year." She commented. "The lake takes on a new character." Mrs. Hastings entered with a tea tray, "Now Miss Ogden I'm sure you'd like a cup of tea after your journey." "Thank you Mrs. Hastings, I would indeed." Mrs. Hastings turned to Dr. Ogden "I'm off to the store now Dr. Ogden, is there something special you would like for dinner?"
Dr. Ogden took a deep breath. "Well it would seem that we have some time alone now so I'll get right down to business." "Business?" Julia looked at her father. "Yes Julia, business. I've been unwell for some time." He gazed out at the lake, not wanting to look at her. "Why did you not tell me?" She continued to stare at her father. "I wasn't sure you'd care and I didn't want to disturb you." He didn't give her time to answer. "However things have taken a turn." Julia didn't know what to say so she allowed him to continue. "I have Charcot's Disease." Julia's mouth gaped. "Oh Father. Why did you not tell me this sooner?" "What was the point? There was nothing to be done Julia. We both know the outcome." He now turned to his daughter and smiled at her and placed his hand over hers. "I have a plan Julia and that's why I called you." Julia eyed her father, "A plan? What kind of plan?" He looked into her eyes before he continued. "I want you to help me to die."
It took a minute for Julia to process the words. "How could you possibly ask me to end your life?" Julia was about to storm out of the room when her father took her hand in his.
"You can put reason above emotion."
"How would you know that?"
"Because I've watched you and everything that you've achieved. Albeit from that distance that you and I both seem to need, but I have watched you, and what an extraordinary woman you have become."
"All the more reason why…."
"Let me finish. I know I can trust you. I know I can put my life, my final moments, in your careful hands. That you will not fail me. Darling do not be sad. You are and you always have been, my lovely daughter."
"My lovely Julia."
Julia's tears spilled forth, how could she end his life, but how could she refuse him this last request? "Please Father, give me some time to think about this." Dr. Ogden nodded, "Mrs. Hastings leaves for her sister's in the morning. It needs to be done while she's away." "Very well, I'll let you know my decision this evening." Julia left the room and went outside to get some fresh air. She needed to process her father's request. She needed to talk to someone about this, but who? She went back inside and telephoned Stationhouse Four.
"Thank you for coming William." "Of course." William replied as they hugged. Julia took his overnight bag and put it inside the door. "Please William can we go for a walk? I need to talk this over right now. My father wants my decision this evening." "Of course but what decision Julia? Your phone call was so cryptic." "I couldn't say anything over the telephone William, this is a very grave matter and it's a decision I can't make without discussing it with someone. You are the only one I trust to discuss this with. Please let's get away from the house and find somewhere we can be alone."
"He wants you to end his life? But Julia that's murder!" William was beside himself that Julia's father could ask this of her. "Yes. Now you see why I needed to talk this over with you." William turned to her, "I've heard of this disease of course, please tell me about the symptoms and consequences." Julia went into great detail about the progress of Charcot's Disease and what the final outcome would be. "William shook his head. I can understand why your father would rather end his life than go through that. But, to ask you to commit murder…." "I don't think he sees it that way William. I think he sees it as providing a merciful death. I know I wouldn't want to live with the disease and I wouldn't want to watch anyone else suffer through the agony of slowly suffocating to death." William sighed, "I can see your point, but still…." "Perhaps we can talk with him this evening before I make my final decision." Julia linked arms and led William towards the house. "I've been gone long enough. Let's go back and I'll introduce you to my father."
On entering the house William hung up his hat and overcoat whilst Julia informed her father she had invited him without permission. "I wanted you to meet him anyway father and it would seem that this may be the last opportunity." Dr. Ogden smiled, "I've been wanting to meet him for some time Julia. Please, bring him in." Julia was bewildered. "Ruby," was her father's only reply. Julia called William in and he advanced towards the older man with hand outstretched, "Dr. Ogden, how do you do?" Dr. Ogden offered his hand also. "Detective Murdoch. Your reputation precedes you." William cocked his head. "Ruby!" The Drs. Ogden said in unison. "Ah…." William uttered sheepishly. "Ruby has told me of your exploits Detective. I think she's quite enamoured of you. I'm surprised she hasn't written an article about you yet." William blushed. "She also said you were totally without hubris despite your reputation." "Ah…." was once again all William could say. Julia smiled at him then her father. This was going much better than she had imagined. "Julia would you ask Mrs. Hastings to make tea? We'll take it in the parlour, it's getting cool in the sun room. This way Detective." Dr. Ogden led William out of the room.
As Julia approached the door to the parlour she heard her father and William talking, she stood by the door and listened. Her father appeared to be asking William his intentions towards her. "Ruby told me of your intention to propose to Julia some years ago. Is that still your intention?" How dare he ask that! It was none of his business! Then she relented, it was a question any father would ask if he was concerned for his daughter's welfare. He really did seem to care despite his actions and words in the past. She listened again. William sighed, "Sir, I have tried to propose on several occasions and if it pleases you I would do so again. I would be honoured to have Julia as my wife." Several occasions? Julia knew of only two, the unsent telegram and the day he was waiting at her door. Her father was speaking again, "I have made discrete inquiries Detective. It seems your reputation is impeccable despite your upbringing and occupation. I will admit that a policeman would not be my first choice as a husband for either of my daughters. However, Julia's first husband, despite his social status and standing in the community, didn't exactly work out well. I suspect I know the reason. Ruby tried to talk her out of the marriage but Julia always did think she knew better. I didn't say anything as I would just have confirmed to her that she'd made the right choice. She never did do anything I wanted. I never understood what she saw in the man." "Julia is a strong willed woman," William agreed, "I respect and admire that." "At least you know what you're getting yourself into." quipped Dr. Ogden. "You have my blessing." Julia walked in at that moment. "Julia, what perfect timing. Were you listening at the door?" "N-no father," Julia stammered, "why would you think that? What were you talking about anyway?" "Nothing important my dear…." He smiled at William.
After dinner Mrs. Hastings was clearing the table, "I'll finish up in the kitchen then retire for the night. Is there anything else you require Dr. Ogden?" "No thank you Mrs. Hastings that will be all. I probably won't see you before you leave. Please have a safe trip and give my regards to your sister." "Thank you sir I will." They were now alone. "Why don't we take our tea into the parlour where we'll be more comfortable?" Julia suggested. Mrs. Hastings would be working in the kitchen for a while, she didn't want to discuss things where there was the possibility of being overheard and she couldn't wait any longer. They proceeded to the parlour and took up their seats, Dr. Ogden sitting in his usual chair and Julia and William next to each other on the sofa. Julia looked at William then her father, "Before I give you my decision I think you should tell us what you had in mind." Dr. Ogden looked at his daughter. "I've given this a great deal of thought Julia. I don't ask this lightly. The disease has started progressing more rapidly. I don't want to get to the point where I no longer have any control over my life." "I suppose that's understandable," Julia replied, "I wouldn't want that for myself and I can't expect that of anyone else. What means have you chosen?" "Heroin." Julia nodded her agreement. "When do you want to do this?" she asked. "Tomorrow, after Mrs. Hastings leaves." "So soon father? I thought we'd have time to visit." Now Julia was here and things were going well with her father she wanted it to continue, for the weekend at least. "William do you have to get back right away? Perhaps we could have the weekend together with father?" "I think it should be fine, I have no urgent cases right now." William was happy at the thought of spending the weekend with Julia. He also wanted to be there for her if she agreed to her father's wish. "It's settled then father, I'll agree as long as you're willing to wait." "I'll contact Dr. Bradley in the morning." Julia was puzzled, "Dr. Bradley?" "Yes," Dr. Ogden replied, "he will sign the death certificate." Dr. Ogden stood "Well, I'm off to my bed. I trust Mrs. Hastings has prepared your rooms. I'll see you both in the morning. Goodnight." They were alone. Julia leaned her head on William's shoulder, he wrapped his arm around her and they sat together in comfortable silence.
Julia found herself in the dark. They must have dozed off, she eased herself from William's arm trying not to disturb him but did so anyway. "Julia?" William was confused, he couldn't remember where he was then suddenly realized. "We must have dozed off." "Stay there William, I'll get a lamp." Julia called to him. "Perhaps we'd better go to bed, according to the kitchen clock it's after midnight." "Perhaps." William replied but he'd much rather stay here next to Julia. He took out his watch when Julia returned with the lamp, it seems it was after midnight, maybe they should go to bed. Julia led William up the stairs and paused outside a bedroom door. "Mrs. Hastings has put your bag in the room already, she opened the door and led William in then found the light switch. I think you'll be comfortable in here she said as she extinguished the lamp. William closed the door behind him then took the lamp and placed it on the dresser. Julia stepped closer, he took her in his arms and kissed her, Julia leaned in and wrapped her arms around his neck. "I don't want to be alone tonight William." She whispered in his ear.
The next morning William awoke late, well, later than his usual time. Julia was lying next to him and still fast asleep so he carefully got out of bed trying not to disturb her. He washed, shaved and dressed as quietly as he could then went downstairs. The click of the door latch awoke Julia who was upset to find she was alone. There was no point lying there so she got up and went to her own room where she got ready as quickly as she could. William found Dr. Ogden in the sun room. "Good morning sir." He greeted him. "Good morning, err, I'm not quite sure what I should call you. Murdoch seems rather formal, William too familiar and I'm not sure this is the time or place for Detective." "William will do fine sir." "Right then, William, breakfast is a do it yourself affair this morning. There's still tea in the pot and you can see what else is in the pantry." William was about to exit when he turned to Dr. Ogden, "And you sir, have you eaten?" "I've had toast already, thank you." William nodded and left to find the kitchen. Julia entered the sun room expecting to see William with her father, "Good morning father. Is William up yet?" "Good morning Julia. You'll find him in the kitchen." Julia went looking for William as her father turned his gaze back to the lake. She found him about to pour a cup of tea. "I wouldn't drink that if I were you," she said, "it's probably been sitting there since Mrs. Hastings left. I'll make a fresh pot." "Good morning Julia." William said as he approached and kissed her on the cheek. "I missed you this morning." Julia replied. "I thought it best not to come down at the same time so I got up as soon as I woke. Now, what would you like for breakfast?" William asked.
They took their tea and toast into the sun room where Dr. Ogden was still contemplating the lake. "By the way Julia, there's someone I'd like you to meet. She will be with me when I pass." "A woman father?" "An old friend from long ago. She moved in nearby with her husband six months ago. She was widowed shortly after. We renewed our friendship." Julia was taken aback, "I see … an old friend … and what kind of friendship would this be?" "I'm not a child Julia, surely I'm allowed friends without interrogation." "Of course you are sir." William gave Julia a warning glance. "Sorry father. Of course you are." Dr. Ogden continued to stare at the water, "She'll be coming over later when Dr. Bradley is here." Julia and William ate their toast in silence. When they had finished William suggested they go for a walk. "What time will Dr. Bradley be here father? I assume you would like us to be here." Her father turned to look at her and smiled. "Thank you Julia, yes, he'll be here around 11 o'clock. Enjoy your walk." He turned back to the lake.
They walked down to the water's edge. "Father seems rather morose this morning." Julia observed as she looked across to the islands in the distance. William put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. He too was scanning the islands. "I'm sure I would be too if I knew I was spending my last day on earth." Julia sighed, "I suppose. I hope I'm doing the right thing William." William turned to look at her. She turned her face to him. "Julia, you know I can't condone this but I will support you. If you don't help him die someone else will. I'm sure he'd rather it was you." Julia now turned fully to face William and stroked his cheek. "Thank you. I know I can always depend on you William." William smiled then wrapped his arms around her and hugged her, "You know I'll always be here for you Julia." Then he took her by the hand and in silence they strolled off down the beach.
Arriving back at the house William and Julia found Dr. Ogden in the parlour with whom they supposed was his lady friend. He had brightened up considerably. "Come in Julia, William. Allow me to introduce Mrs. Caroline Hill." Mrs. Hill held out her hand, "Hello, Lionel has spoken fondly of you Julia." Julia didn't respond. William took Mrs. Hill's hand in his and bowed his head slightly, "Mrs. Hill, how do you do?" There was a knock at the front door, the door opened and Dr. Bradley entered. "Lionel?" he called. "In here Henry." Dr. Ogden called. Dr. Bradley entered the room and walked over to Julia. "Julia. It's been a long time, you're looking well." He then looked at William, "And you must be Detective Murdoch. I'm very pleased to meet you." "Dr. Bradley." William nodded and shook the outstretched hand. "Well, let's get down to business." Dr. Ogden announced. "Please everyone sit." William spoke up. "You realize I cannot be present when this takes place? In fact I shouldn't even be present while it's being discussed." Julia looked at him, "William?" "I'm sorry Julia, I cannot witness this. I'll be right outside when you need me." Julia nodded, she understood. William excused himself and left. "So father, when are we doing this?" Dr. Ogden looked at his daughter, "There's no time like the present." Dr. Ogden took a deep breath then continued, "Julia, you will inject the heroin. Mrs. Hill will be with me when I pass. Dr. Bradley will be outside until required to sign the death certificate." Julia looked at her father, "What will he put down as the cause of death?" Dr. Bradley spoke up, "Heart failure." Julia turned to him, "Heart failure? But how will you explain the heroin in his system?" Dr. Bradley once again replied. "There will be no autopsy and the cremation will remove the evidence." "Cremation?" Julia looked at her father aghast. "Father, surely you want to be buried with mother?" "It's better this way Julia," was his only reply.
William was true to his word. He was right outside the door when Julia came out. "It's done William. He passed peacefully." William hugged Julia tightly as the tears rolled down her cheeks. Dr. Bradley took this as his cue to go inside. William led Julia to the bench under the window and sat her down. He joined her placing his arm around her shoulders. "Julia, Dr. Bradley showed me your father's will." "Why did he do that William?" William hesitated, "Your father bequeathed this house to Mrs. Hill … and a small stipend." Julia stared at him, "Why would he do that?" "Apparently Mr. Hill left many debts and Mrs. Hill is about to lose her home. I suppose this is your father's way of making sure she's looked after." Dr. Bradley appeared again and spoke to Julia. "I'll send someone from the funeral home to collect your father's body." Julia nodded her consent and he turned to leave. William took Julia's hand, "We should go inside, it's getting cold out here." "You go inside and warm up William, I need some time alone." Julia smiled weakly at William then rose and walked towards the lake.
William sat opposite Mrs. Hill.
"…We both made choices. We took partners we thought were appropriate. We shared something throughout our entire life. We knew that even after we wed others but we conducted ourselves properly. Our love was secret and eternal. Not a day of my life went by when I did not think of him."
"You sought him out when your husband passed."
"Then he got ill."
"The disease got progressively worse … he was being consumed."
"But you'd only just found each other again."
"Yes. It was a hard decision to make but the disease had started to claim his mind."
"Mrs. Hill, if I may, would you do it again?"
Mrs. Hill stared at him.
"If you had your life to live over again, would you make the same choice?"
"I married my husband because it was the wise decision, the sensible decision. If I could do it over again, I'd take a chance on love."
William half smiled, clapped his hands and rose from the chair.
"Mrs. Hill … I'm very sorry for your loss."
Once again Julia was standing at the water's edge looking out at the islands. William stopped to watch her for a moment then walked over to stand beside her….