11 September 2012

CoC - Gaslight: Towards Egypt

The remaining days before our departure were rather event-less. Craig attended to most of the necessary preparations for us. I spent my time mostly at the club more or less enjoying the quiet.

On 20 November 1890 we boarded the steamer Rule Britannia. I was rather surprised to see that inspector Fox was also joining the expedition. Maybe it was to keep an eye on us or some kind of punishment by his superior.

Anyway the journey was a very quiet one until we entered the Bay of Biscay. There we were hit by a heavy storm. This resulted in the tragic death of two seamen. And the ship was so damaged that we had to make an unplanned stop in Gibraltar for necessary repairs. These would take two days.

I took this opportunity to get something of my chest which bothered me since my conversation with Sir Theodore Huntington. I couldn't get the rumours about Dr. Burnside out of my head. And the quiet time at sea had given me a lot of time to ponder about this. On the first afternoon I picked up the courage to talk to Dr. Burnside.

I told him about the gossip that was brought to my attention, and that I had to hear his side of it. I made clear that I do not easily believe such things, but that this was too serious an accusation to ignore. At first he was quiet uneasy about my direct approach. But I thought I saw a hint of relieve as he agreed to tell me about, what happened, but that he wanted to also invite Mr Roquefort lest he couldn't bear to tell this twice. I agreed and we three met later that afternoon in a little café.

There he told us about the pregnancy of his wife. Nearing the end of her term she suffered a severe haemorrhage. He had been unable to save her life. There had been nothing left to do but to fulfil her last wish to save the child. But his child had outlived its mother by only a few hours. I have never before seen a man so heartbroken. At the same time he showed some kind of relieve as if a heavy weight was lifted of his shoulders. He excused himself and retired for the rest of our stay in Gibraltar. Understandably, Mr Roquefort and I were in not in the mood for any kind of conversation. So we also went our separate ways for the remainder of our time ashore.

For me the remainder of the journey went by in some kind of blur. I was thinking about the trust which was put in me by Dr. Burnside to share his darkest memory with me, a young man he had known only for a couple of weeks.

The first thing I clearly remember was our arrival at Alexandria.

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