Letters to a Broken Child – Part 2

In case you didn’t, or don’t have time to visit www.canadianmysteries.ca, to read about Aurore Gagnon’s tragic death I will give the long and short of it.

Aurore was the youngest of three children born to Télesphore Gagnon and Marie-Anne Caron. Aurore’s mom took ill in 1916 and remained in a hospital for two years during which time her brother left the home permanently while she and her sister stayed in a boarding house. Télesphore allowed a widow, Marie-Anne Houde, and her two boys to move in with him immediately after his wife was hospitalized. They continued to live together and a week after his wife’s passing in 1918 they married and Aurore and her older sister Marie-Jeanne moved back home with their father.  Just over two years later Aurore died at the tender age of 10 from blood poisoning and general exhaustion from a great number of untreated wounds all over her body.

The autopsy reports were quite detailed and lengthy as they reported every lesion, cut, gash, sore, and abrasion from head to toe. The court documents recorded Marie-Jeanne’s account of every beating her sister took and the general disrespect that their step-mother showed toward Aurore. After everything was said and done Télesphore received a life sentence but only served 5 years as it was suspected that he was on his death bed. He ended up eventually marrying a third time and lived the good life for a few more decades. His step-mother also received life but was released on good behaviour after serving 15 years and died a year later. At least Télesphore had the decency to wait until both his wives were dead before remarrying.

And now that you’ve got the general understanding of Aurore’s appalling circumstances behind her death, I return you to part 2 of my story.

“Instructed?” Michelle who was seated on the leather chair next to him sits up to attention. “What do you mean by that?”

“Basically she’s saying that she thinks Marie-Jeanne is writing what she is told to write by someone else.”

“I wonder what would make here think that.”

“In the next letter, dated another two months later, the mom indicates that she is getting frustrated by Marie-Jeanne’s letters. That they keep saying the same thing and they sound very cold. Judging from the tone that she uses, she sounds very upset with everything that is going on. She said that she found out more information about this Marie-Anne Houde that’s living at her house. She said the boys are troublemakers and that the neighbours suspect that she had two children who died mysteriously. The mom warns her daughter to stay away from the house as long as she is living there.”

“Wow that is definitely interesting.” Michelle was leaning so far forward in her chair that she had to catch herself from falling. She got up and grabbed the matching milking stool and pulled it up to the right side of David. “The next letter, tell me what’s in the next letter.”

“Well… this one is another two months later. She says she got really bad news from the doctors. Her health is continuing to deteriorate and they say she may only have a few months to live.”

“Oh my God! That is so sad. So what’s going to happen to this poor girl and her siblings? It sounds like she shouldn’t go back to her father, especially if she thinks this other woman is a bad person.”

“Take it easy Michelle. Remember this is history, it’s already happened and there’s nothing we can do to change it. Let me read the fifth letter, maybe the mom will mention about her intentions for her children.” David shuffled his stool closer to Michelle to get a better look at the second last letter. “This is dated the middle of January 1918. She said that the doctors have told her that it won’t be much longer now and that this will most likely be the last letter she will ever write to her. She exclaims how she misses Aurore and her siblings terribly and wishes for them to be there by her side. She talks about how she blames her husband for her impending death because for years he would never let her go to the doctor’s to be treated for anything. She expressly forbids them from going to go back to live with their father because she fears that they will suffer the same fate. Plus she fears that this other woman will treat them with disrespect. She believes that her pleas for her children’s well beings have fallen on deaf ears and hopes that this letter will reach them and warn them of the dangers of going back home.”

“Well she obviously wrote them one last time so maybe she has good news for them and found somewhere else to live. Maybe she was able to convince someone at the hospital that her children are better off elsewhere. Or…”

David gently grabbed her shoulder and pulled her back away from the last letter. “Slow down Michelle. Something looks different about this last letter.”

“What do you mean?” She leaned in closer again but David didn’t budge from his spot over the letter so she resolved herself to wait until he was ready to let her inspect it.

“Just what I thought… uh huh… look at the writing…” he turned his body so that Michelle could lean forward and get a closer view.”

“Nice work Dave. This letter is written by someone else.”

“Not only that, check out the date?”

“It’s from two years later, but it’s written to Aurore as well. What does it say? Who’s it written from?”

“At the bottom it is signed ‘Please forgive me, your loving sister Marie-Jeanne’.”

“Please forgive me? What did her sister do that she needs forgiveness?”

“She starts off by saying that it’s her fault that she’s in heaven now…”

“What?” Michelle was so loud that David practically fell off his stool.

“Save your questions for the internet sweetie. I’m just skimming over what she has to say to her sister and there is nothing in here that can tell us how she died. She only goes on to say that she should have protected her from them but she was too scared. She hopes that even though she is dead that she will somehow find these letters in heaven and then she will know that her mother loved her as did she. She found the letters from their mother in their step-mother’s closet and that she must have hid them so that they would never know how much their real mother loved them.”

David stood up and grabbed his coffee cup and began to walk toward the kitchen when Michelle spoke up, “Wait, that’s it?”

“In a nut shell, basically yes.” As David entered the kitchen, without looking back he asked, “So, you on the internet yet?”

There was no need for her to answer because David could already here the clicking of her keyboard. When he came back in a few minutes later with a fresh cup of coffee he saw her engrossed in her computer screen. Something had definitely spurred her interest.

“So what did you find out because the indignation on your face is speaking volumes right now? How did she die?”

“I’m glad there are no pictures because she suffered immensely. It’s a shame that her mother’s wishes could not be heard. She was only ten years old when she died and according to the date on the letter from her sister she wrote it shortly after her father and step-mother were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.”

“So what are you going to do with the letters?”

“When I go back to work next month I will have them tested for authenticity and then I will bury them at her gravesite in town.”

David grabbed Michelle in his arms and before going back to work he said, “I think that will be absolutely appropriate and if you like we can make it a special day and buy flowers and whatever else you’d like for her grave.”

Next Monday I will delve into the meaning behind my last name ‘Rodrigues’ in commemoration of my distant cousin Kate Izzo’s desire to have an international family reunion in St. Kitt’s in 2014.

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