Peggy – Part Two

Peggy – Part Two

Main pic: rue Sault-au-Matelot, Battle of Quebec.

Here’s the second part ‘Peggy’, new columnist John Spychka’s short story.

Peggy – Part Two

“Hey Henry! Over here!”

There is Hannah, my girlfriend. She just got in on Yankee Magic, an American cruise ship.

“This city rocks!” she says giving me a big hug and kiss. “There are so many people. And the city looks absolutely wonderful. Wow! Celebrating four hundred years!”

“Speaking of impressive, that’s quite the ship you sailed in on,” I say.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it? There are like over twenty-two hundred guests on board plus nine hundred crew members, three main restaurants, four bars, a theatre, and two pools. It has twelve decks and a total tonnage of like 100,000. It even has those self-levelling billiard tables. Yankee Joy’s home port is New York, of course,” she says.

“Well, I’m glad you were lucky enough to win the cruise. At least we can spend the next twenty-four hours together. Let’s get going. I have something I want to show you.”

From the Old Port, we walk up Mountain Street, turning right on Sault-au-Matelot Street.

Sault-au-Matelot, what does that mean?” asks Hannah.

“A literal translation is perhaps ‘Sailor’s Leap.’ This is one of the oldest streets in North America. Just a block to the west, it runs into Place Royale, or Royal Square, and the famous Little Champlain Street. This area is basically where Canada began back in 1608. Some say that Champlain himself is buried under the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church at Royal Square. However, his tomb has never been found. Historians and archaeologists still argue over its whereabouts.”

We continue eastward on Sault-au-Matelot Street and stop at an art gallery.

“Here we are at the International Art Gallery. I thought you might appreciate this place since you love paintings and are studying eighteenth-century American history,” I say.

“It sounds perfect,” says Hannah.

“This building dates back to before the Battle of Quebec, as do most of the buildings on this street. At that battle, in 1775, Brigadier General Montgomery led the American rebel forces in a failed attempt to take Quebec City. Had Montgomery succeeded, as he had done in capturing Montreal in November of that year, then the French Canadians would have likely sided with the Americans against the British in the American Revolutionary War, and the history of Canada could have been written otherwise.”

“Are you saying that Canada could have become a part of the United States?”

“Who knows, maybe,” I say.

When we enter the gallery, I immediately feel uncomfortable, like we are being watched. I look at Hannah and ask her if everything is okay. She says she is fine. As we browse through the gallery, we find nothing of interest to us, so I inquire.

“Excuse me. But would you happen to have any eighteenth century paintings of the Battle of Quebec?” I ask.

“The Battle of Quebec?” says the salesperson.

“Yes. You know, when Montgomery and his troops attacked Quebec City in 1775.”

“Ohh, that battle. Well, I do have a drawing by Sydney Adamson. Let me get it. It’s in the back.”

As the salesperson goes to the back room, I follow him with my eyes and catch a glimpse of what looks to me like a rock wall. When he returns with the drawing, I ask him about the wall in the back. He tells us that some of the buildings on the north side of Sault-au-Matelot Street are built right up against the eastern side of Cape Diamond.

In the drawing, Adamson clearly depicts several rows of British soldiers firing at patriot soldiers scaling a barrier on Sault-au-Matelot Street.

“Wow. This is amazing,” says Hannah.

“It’s fascinating,” I say.

“So, are you interested in purchasing this item?” asks the salesperson.

“No, no. I could never afford it. But could you tell me why this valuable drawing is in the back room and not in the main gallery?”

“Well, if you must know, it was on display, but the strangest thing has been happening. When I open the store, I find the drawing face down on the floor. I put it back up, but the next morning, the same thing. Nothing is missing, so I know that I wasn’t robbed. So, I just took the drawing down. I don’t want any trouble. Rather odd though, wouldn’t you say?”

“Odd, indeed. Well, thanks for your time. Goodbye.”

As we leave the gallery and walk down Sault-au-Matelot Street, Hannah and I are both in awe of the fact that, in 1775, on this very street, shots could have been fired from any of the buildings in an historic battle. A battle that ultimately helped to decide the fate of Canada. I wanted to know more, but first I had to get something off my chest.

“Hannah? Can I tell you something?”

“Sure, Henry, you know you can tell me anything.”

“Well, I just don’t want you to think that I’m crazy, but it’s been an unusual morning.”

I told her about the face I saw in the mirror, the newspaper being mysteriously opened to the page that contained the article about the alleged sighting of a ship that sank nearly one hundred years ago. And now, we hear about the strange thing with Adamson’s drawing.

“You’re right, Henry. It all sounds a little out of the ordinary, but, really, they’re all isolated incidents that don’t add up to anything. Come on let’s go get some lunch.”

To be continued… 

Peggy – Part One

Categories: News, Opinion

About Author

John Spychka

John Spychka has dabbled in writing since the early ’90s. His closest claim to fame came around 2006 when his work, “The Slava Ladies League Christmas Pyrogy Fiasco,” was shortlisted for the annual Writers’ Union of Canada’s Short Prose Competition. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in English Literature at the University of Calgary and also has a Master’s in English Literature from Université Laval. He has travelled extensively, having lived in Japan and France. John is a manager in a multi-national software company and dreams to one day be able to live off his writing. He lives in Quebec City with his wife and two children.