Anne handed Tracy one of her business cards as she spoke. On the back, she had written re: Beauchamp genealogy.
"Please come in and wait."
Anne waited in the small foyer that opened into the center hallway of the home. A broad staircase all polished and carved wood, with an oriental carpet runner, rose to a landing. Brilliant dark eyes of a beautiful woman gazed at her from a portrait hanging on the wall above the landing. How lovely she was, Anne thought, with those high cheekbones and dark hair, especially with her pale skin set off by a gown of deep red velvet.
"Dr. McPhail?" The same lovely face approached her from a door to her right.
"Yes, I have been admiring the portrait. You, I assume?" Anne said and offered her hand.
"Yes, many years ago, now,” Mrs. Beauchamp replied, turning to look at her younger self after touching Anne's hand. "What can I do for you?"
She turned back to Anne, suspicion clouding her lovely eyes.
“While looking into my own family, I found references to yours, I think, as well as a connection between the two. I thought you might like to see it."
"Would you be asking anything in return, Doctor?"
"Not at all. I know you must be concerned because of all that has gone on here, but I don't want anything at all. In fact, I almost didn't come because some of the information might upset you."
"Upset me. Why? Oh, do come in here.”
She took Anne into a library. More of the same dark, carved wood surrounded bookcases fronted with beveled glass doors. Highbacked eighteenth century armchairs, covered with flame-stitched upholstery sat before a fireplace faced with brick that had aged to a pale rose.
Mrs. Beauchamp lowered herself into one, not sitting back, but holding herself upright, ankles together and tucked away under the chair.
"What have you found that might upset me? Does it upset you?"
"Not at all. I have known for some time that one of my ancestors married an aboriginal woman. The family didn't know exactly where they had lived, because he was a soldier, among other occupations, and of course, early records are scanty. Legend had it that they spent time in Vermont. One of my cousins found evidence, a hint really, they had been here. Your library and the church records have been helpful.
The reference librarian showed me a small diary, donated to the library when it was first opened. A young French woman, following her soldier husband, had come here.”
“The diary covered many events, including a scandal," Anne went on, using the French word, "that involved Michel Beauchamp, and his marriage to an aboriginal woman, Marie-Angelique de la Ronde. Later on, I found a baptism of a son, Daniel, whose godparents were your husband's own ancestors. I can't find anyone in the line after 1863 when the last male died in the Civil War. He was a hero, I might add, who was awarded a medal for bravery. I have brought photocopies of all I could, and I have digital pictures of the records at the church, which I can print for you if you would like them."
Anne paused in her account as the maid appeared carrying a tray, which held teacups and a cream-coloured Spode teapot. Mismatched teacups, hand-painted, early eighteenth century design, Anne noted. Mrs. Beauchamp lived with her antiques daily, she thought. No display cases here.
"I would like to read your information," Mrs. Beauchamp said after she had poured the tea. "I assume the diary is in the library?"
"I have it here. Because I was coming out to you, the librarian broke the rules and allowed me to bring it. It is written in ancient French, of which I can read little."
"Perhaps I can help you with that," Mrs. Beauchamp replied, smiling. "I took my degree at the Sorbonne in French. My thesis involved literature of the eighteenth century."
"That would be so helpful," said Anne, digging into her briefcase and pulling out the little volume. "This book has such importance," she said. ”I think it ought to be carefully preserved. The library doesn't have the best facilities for keeping old documents."
"I will discuss it with the librarian."
Mrs. Beauchamp abandoned her cup on a side table and read. Anne settled back into her chair after pouring herself another cup, watching the elderly lady become lost in the past. Finally, Mrs. Beauchamp sighed and closed the book, holding it gently on her lap.
“As you say, Dr. McPhail, that seems to be the only reference to the de la Ronde connection, although the diary does give a picture of life in those times and the attempts people made to have a civilized life in the wilderness."
"Perhaps you would undertake to translate it for the library."
"Perhaps I shall."
A knock on the door frame interrupted them. Thomas Beauchamp came in saying, "May I join you, Mom?"
"Of course. Dr. McPhail, my son, Thomas."
As Anne and Thomas shook hands, and Anne met his gaze, she realized that this was not only a powerful and attractive man but also a worried man as well.
"What’s wrong, Thomas?"
His mother had recognized the worry as well.
"Daniel called from their hotel in Toronto. They’re worried about the baby," he said as he pulled a chair near to his mother and sat down.
"Daniel said the baby has a fever and hasn't been drinking well today. I have him on hold on the phone."
"Daniel and his wife are young, Dr. McPhail," Mrs. Beauchamp said. "We worry about them, perhaps too much."
"How old is the baby?"
"What can I do.”
Anne's manner had changed to her professional calm as she realized that the situation is Toronto was more serious than the family was aware.
"Could you talk to Daniel?"
Once on the phone, Anne asked a few questions.
“What is the baby's temperature?"
"And is the baby nursing?"
"Yes, but he only stays on a little while, and he has been throwing up."
"Has he passed much urine in the past three hours?"
"Only a little."
"He hasn't cried very much. Doctor, what shall we do?"
“What hotel are you at?"
"You are only two blocks from the Hospital for Sick Children. Go downstairs and take a taxi to the hospital. Don't walk. It is too cold. Ask the driver to take you to the emergency entrance. Inside there will be a nurse at the triage desk. Tell her about the fever, the vomiting and the lack of urine. Do you have all that?"
"Yes, thank you. Let me talk to my dad."
Anne handed the phone to Thomas who said, "Call me when you have seen the doctor."
He hung up the phone and turned to Anne, asking, "Does it sound bad?"
"It could be anything, but likely a virus he picked up, travelling. The temperature and the lack of urine mean the baby has to be seen right away because of his age."
"Should we go up there?"
"I would say wait until he calls you back. Can you fly from here?"
"Yes, we have a plane. Thank you," he said, taking one of her hands in both of his. "Daniel is my youngest. His mother died when he was twelve, and I worry about him too much."
"I'm so pleased I could help," Anne said keeping her voice professional and calm, but conscious of the attraction of the dark eyes that gazed into hers. "I should go."
"Could we call you when we hear from Daniel?"
"Certainly. Perhaps you could let the baby's doctor know what is going on?"
Thomas walked Anne out to her car and shook hands gravely, before opening her car door. She drove away, conscious that he stood in the driveway, staring after her.
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