It's May 6th. The Metagama is captured here sailing from Montreal. On board is the Number 3 Canadian General Hospital - The McGill Hospital. 2nd in command is Uncle Montagu's best friend, Henry Brydges Yates.
By the dockside with Uncle M is assuredly, Alice Yates, his wife and Aunt Marguerite's best friend. Emily Yates, their daughter and Montagu Yates, their son and Uncle Montagu's god son.
Uncle Montagu had been instrumental in helping Colonel Birkett get this hospital organized and approved. He sat on the boards of McGill, the Royal Victoria and the Montreal General. He still had much to do to get his affairs in order before he joined the girls in London.
Alice Yates too is staying on in Montreal. Alice is the Regent of the IODE. Marguerite is going to be her agent in England and will work later to set up the IODE hospital in London where later Hammie Gault and my Grandfather will spend time. Alice, as Regent, the CEO, plans to stay in Canada and to hold up the fundraising side from there. Aunt M and Julia Drummond in London will be the feet on the ground.
My bet is that Emily is jealous. Her good friend Martha has gone to England. Gwen and Anna are nearly in England. 16 year old Montagu may want to go too. His hero Hugh Allan is there. Robert Holt, aged 15, is on his way back to Marlborough. It must have felt unfair.
So far, the news is also good. Alec Paterson has survived unhurt from Ypres. Uncle Montagu's daughter, Martha has arrived in the England safely and is with her brother Hugh. Marguerite is having fun on the Lusitania. Gwen and Anna are considered the soul of the ship. Tonight, on board, they will celebrate Dorothy Braithwaite's 25th birthday. After that Aunt M is joining Mr Vanderbilt at the Captain's table.
What could go wrong?
It seems right to me that Uncle M might have joined the Yates' for dinner that night. They might have talked about the good old days with Henry. Probably unspoken was their memory of the Yates' eldest son, Henry. Henry had died aged 15 as a naval cadet in 1911. They were very formal. They would never have embarrassed the other with personal remarks. It took over 20 years of friendship for the two men to ask the other if it was Ok to use each other's first names.
But this did not mean that they did not feel or that they did not love each other and care very much for all their children.
As Montagu left the Yates' that night, I can sense that they both had communicated their unspoken fears and sadnesses. They would have embraced tightly for a long time on the steps before Montagu, all alone now, drove into the night back to an empty Ravenscrag.
Little could they know how tightly they would become entwined in the next few years. Like survivors from a wreck who spend days in lifeboat together, the Yates and the Allans will be bound together by common grief. Their friendship will deepen even further.