Just over a year ago, a plea was made on Facebook in the No Rules Twilight fan fic Recs Club for a Mountie-Ward akin to When Calls The Heart. I hadn't read the book or seen the series but being the good Canadian girl I am (one who dabbles in period pieces anyway) I decided to give it a whirl. I hopped over to IMDB and read the synopsis of the series. I then plotted and planned, while at the same time arranging to travel by train from Toronto back to Halifax with son. The thirty hour train trip was a great inspiration, so this little story was started soon after. I still hadn't read the books or watched the show until many months later when bored at work. Netflix is a dangerous place for there are far too many plot bunnies running around. I was horrified to find so many similarities to what I had written and the show, and therefore mostly likely, to the books. I watched about five episodes and then stopped to finish the story my way. My many thanks and apologies to Janette Oke for what I have done here. I claim no rights to Twilight or When Calls The Heart, but I have taken many, many, many liberties with both for fun.
The ever patient Beachcomberlc performed her magic on this story, slogging through far too many Canadian-isms for her Yankee heart to bear. I would be lost without her and I owe her much more than just thanks. Darling IpsitaC77 made a beautiful banner for the story, one of her best yet. This story is already complete at nine chapters and will post every three days, giving me plenty of time to finish Uncredited (next week).
Thank you for reading.
In a dusty attic, Toronto, Ontario, present day. A young lady, fifteen and bored, roots through box after box, trying to find something to amuse herself with while a storm rages and the power is out. She finds a small book and a soft place to sit near a few stout candles and begins to read. A book plate on the flyleaf reads; Property of Isabella Marie Swan, 1927.
You will have to forgive my handwriting. The motion of the train makes it difficult to maintain good penmanship. Thankfully, I had the foresight to pack several pencils in my carryall as well as this little book.
Well Diary, I did it. I finally escaped Mother's clutches, albeit temporarily. I am enroute to the small town of Kenora to teach for three months. I was so overjoyed when I received the post, Mother threatened to dose me with cod liver oil and send me to bed. She and I fought for hours before Father finally gave me his permission. I don't know what he said to her behind closed doors to get her to change her mind(nor do I want to know), but whatever it was, I am very glad. She insisted on purchasing an entire new wardrobe for me and for her, but I wasn't allowed to tell Father about that. I tried to protest, but she would have none of it. I did not need a bevy of new dresses when teaching at a small, backwater school in the north full of the children of immigrants and miners, but Mother has always gotten her way. Besides, the list of rules and regulations was very clear on my clothing choices, muted and demure colours, as well as my comportment while I am teaching. By and large, they should be very easy rules to follow, especially not being seen about town squired by men. I've no interest in a rough and tumble backwoodsman any more than I have interest in the dandies my mother parades before me on a regular basis. I just know that as soon as I get back to Kingston I will have to choose a husband from one on her list of approved men.
I fear that Royce King is at the top of that list. He may be at the top of the list of every matron in society for their daughters. The bank his father owns is bigger and more profitable than any other in town and is rumoured to be bigger even than some of the ones in Ottawa or Toronto. However, I druther lose the use of my legs than to marry one such as him. He's a smarmy, odious letch who smells of Sen-Sen and raging halitosis.
I know I will have to settle down at some point, marry and raise children, but I want a grand adventure first. I yearn for a bit of excitement to look back on and thrilling stories to tell my children. Mother doesn't understand. She married the man her parents wanted, and she's done nothing of any interest in her life. She wasn't permitted to be her own woman, but it is a new era. King George V is our monarch and William Lyon Mackenzie King is our Prime Minister. Times have changed. It's a new century and I want to have some fun in my life before I'm too old. The fact that I went to normal school and got my teaching certificate was a fight unto itself. Mother objected, seeing it as a waste of time and money to further my education. Father convinced her, somehow; I suspect the trips to Montreal for spring shopping had something to do with her relenting. Mother fumes like a teapot every time I leave the house, even though I'm either at the library helping with literacy classes or at the Immigrant Association Centre. From the way she behaves, one would think I was at a pool hall or dance hall selling myself for ten cents a dance. The only activity of mine she approves of is helping at the Church's crèche. It's an appropriate charitable activity for a young lady of my status and breeding and will aid in my procuring a good match or suitable husband, in her words.
I was so overjoyed when they wrote me for the post in Kenora. It was only short-term, but it's a real teaching position. Mother nearly fainted when I told her. She's of the belief that I'm journeying to the Wild West to be ravaged by Savages the moment I step off the train. Kenora is a perfectly civilized place, or so I have read. Why, just some years ago they changed the name from the awful sounding Rat Portage to the lovely, lyrical Kenora when they incorporated the town. Sure, there is no proper society and most likely little culture, but I can help provide some of that. I will have a school to myself and my very own students to mold for three whole months. I can only hope it is enough time to teach them as much as I want. Who knows how inadequate their schooling has been to this point? Their teacher, Mrs. Evenson, who I'm sure is a fine pedagogue, shattered her leg, the poor dear. She'll be unable to leave her house for months, so I am to double as her housemate as well, in exchange for room and board. I plan to donate my salary back to the school to buy the latest supplies. I'm sure they're faring as well as they can, but there have been so many innovations and improvements in education over the past few years; I'm sure Mrs. Evenson has not been able to keep up. I will do everything I can to get them into the modern world in the short time I'm there.
We are pulling into the station in Toronto now. More tomorrow, dear diary.
Although I was at first reluctant, I'm glad I listened to Mother's tirade and booked a sleeper car rather than use the coach ticket the North Western Board of Education provided. The night was uncomfortable enough in a berth, I could not imagine having to spend the night upright in a seat with all those other passengers. The train steward even found a matron to attend me and my needs. I have to say the tiny bathroom, and you will have to forgive the coarse nature of this passage, it a feat of engineering. The sink has hot and cold running water and the lavatory flushes, albeit very loudly. The entire compartment is smaller than the smallest of rooms in our house. In fact, I believe even the servants' closets are larger, but it has almost every amenity I could ask for. For an almost forty hour journey, that is. I could never imagine going as far as British Columbia via train. Mind, it would be a beautiful trip, to be sure, but I fear that might just be too much adventure. Even for me.
I have never been so scared or thrilled as to be on my own in the big city of Toronto. I had a four-hour layover to change trains and more than enough time for a good meal before reboarding. The matron accompanied me as well as a few other lone female travellers to a quaint cafe for luncheon. It was perfectly lovely fare, simple but toothsome, a nice last meal before the unknown wilds of the west. The streets were teeming with both pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages, with the occasional automobile as well. I remember well the day Father brought his automobile home. The speed was exhilarating, like riding a horse at full gallop, but without the jarring motion. There are not many cars in Kingston, so I was a bit shocked to see so many in Toronto. Perhaps I listened to Mother too much and adopted her prejudices about Canada's biggest city. I didn't find it filthy and ripe with beggars at all like she said it would be. Union Station is grand and the buildings around it were very tall; some looked to be ten storeys or more, although it was difficult to say for sure in the bright noon sun as we walked to and from dinner.
After the chatter of the girls at dinner and the bustle of the city, I was glad to be back in my room and alone in the quiet. The steward had arranged my bed and left the upper berth locked so I wouldn't feel crammed in. I am awfully glad I'm not losing my single room status until about an hour from now. When we stop in Sudbury and take on more passengers I'm to become hostess to another. Having to share a very tiny room overnight with a stranger is much more intimate than I prefer. I will have to accommodate someone for the day, however. It might add another layer to the adventure, meeting this new young lady.
Sleeping was odd. The motion of the train was soothing, but the bed was so narrow, I was afraid I would tumble out if I were to turn over without caution. I woke frequently, but slept well and awoke to the steward's knock feeling rested and content. It was delightful to be awoken with a small pot of hot tea. I could feel the heat of my own blush when I opened the door to take the tray from him. I was scandalously under-clothed with only my nightgown, wrapper and underthings. I'm certain the steward could have cared less about my state of dress, having mostly likely seen guests in all manner of undress, but still, I've never been so glad to be plain of face than this morning. If I had been a beautiful woman or had a shapely form, the steward might have noticed or tried to flirt.
I have more than enough time to finish this entry and wash and dress for the day.
I'm still so very excited, diary. I'm very glad I have you on my journey.