I spent the day on the lake with Charlie Scrim. Like my friend John McRuer, Charlie has the consumption. Things aren’t looking good for him either. I just assumed he had gone away for a few days excursion but he said that he went back to Ottawa to get checked by the doctor. The prognosis wasn’t good. The doctor told him to go back to Mowat Lodge and enjoy the time that he had left. There was nothing more that the doctor could do – it was now in the hands of God and Nature.
Yesterday, when I came by Mowat Lodge, Charlie was alone on the verandah. He was in a sorry state. He was coughing but more worrying was the expression in his eyes. He seems to have given up hope. To lift his spirits, I said I would take him out fishing today, which I did.
We went out in the morning. I canoed over from my campsite, left my canoe at the Mowat dock (close to the Trainors and the Blechers) and fetched Charlie. He was finishing breakfast, so I had a cup of tea while he was getting ready. We were out for a good two hours before he got tired out. We were trawling in the middle of the lake with the copper line and lures, but we didn’t catch anything.
“Looks like the fish aren’t cooperating today,” Charlie looked at me with a wry smile. It was his smile that made the whole effort worth it. I didn’t really care about the fish in this circumstance.
“Well, Charlie. Sometime fishing’s not about catching the fish,” I said.
“I don’t think I have too much time left, Tom.”
“That makes two of us, Charlie,” I replied, “I don’t think time is on either of our sides.”
“What do you mean, Tom?” Charlie looked puzzled.
“Conscription. I heard it’s going to be law by the end of the summer.”
Charlie nodded and we continued to fish in silence. Neither of us needed to say anything more on the topic. I brought Charlie back to the Lodge by noon. Annie invited me for lunch. I obliged. Shannon was there too. He didn’t have much to say. I knew that Annie’s invitation for lunch would end up being a charge on my account.
I went back to my campsite in the afternoon. Although the sun had been out a few times, the days had been mostly rainy and damp. The tent canvas never dried properly and started to smell. If the sun wasn’t out tomorrow, I’d have to build a fire to dry the canvas out. If I waited any longer, the canvas would be ruined. Another situation where time was not on my side.
I had to finalize my plan with Winnie. I needed to write her a letter and get Lowrie to deliver it. I was too tired tonight, maybe tomorrow I’d write it. I noticed that there were no voices coming from Little Wap Island tonight. There were no lights either. The Stattens must be gone. I’m sure the Howlands would be arriving tomorrow. I’m sure the Robinsons would be arriving tomorrow too.