Read More in Anger Online

Authors: J. Jill Robinson

More in Anger





Saltwater Trees
Lovely in Her Bones
Eggplant Wife
Residual Desire

Copyright © 2012 J. Jill Robinson

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means—graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or information storage and retrieval systems—without the prior written permission of the publisher, or in the case of photocopying or other reprographic copying, a licence from the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Robinson, J. Jill, 1955-
More in anger : a novel / J. Jill Robinson.


I. Title.

67   2012               

Editor: Janice Zawerbny
Cover design: Michel Vrána
Cover images:
Wasp: Ale-ks /
Wallpaper: tommaso lizzul /
Text design: Gordon Robertson

Published by Thomas Allen Publishers,
a division of Thomas Allen & Son Limited,
390 Steelcase Road East,
Markham, Ontario
2 Canada

The publisher gratefully acknowledges the support of The Ontario Arts Council for its publishing program.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $20.1 million in writing and publishing throughout Canada.

We acknowledge the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Media Development Corporation's Ontario Book Initiative.

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund for our publishing activities.

The author gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the Saskatchewan Arts Board and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

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for Steven and Emmett

: What, look'd he frowningly?

: A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.










The diamond in Opal's engagement ring glinted and sparkled as she sewed the skirt of her satin wedding dress, as she stitched the tiny seed pearls and faux orange blossoms onto her wedding veil. Every once in a while one of the ring's claws caught on the veil's netting, and Opal carefully released it. Engagement rings had become the latest fashion in 1913, and though she was not prone to pride, Opal had loved the ring the moment Mac presented it to her. Unaccustomed to wearing rings, she had been aware of the diamond's presence on her hand ever since he slid it onto her finger, its inherent coldness and hardness, and how it didn't give way when it pressed against her skin, or cloth, and everything that wasn't harder than itself. The diamond, just shy of a carat, was set on a very plain and narrow gold band etched finely and subtly with lines. The claws that tightly clutched the diamond were white gold, the round stone remarkable, Mac said, for its clarity and quality; it was, she thought, as clear as invisible must be. She looked at it often, held it up to the light.

—she loved the word—had now been gone from Winnipeg just over three years. Fortunately, she had discovered
some pleasure in missing him; she found she enjoyed the yearning. She liked to sit alone, longing for his return, and imagine how their time together might
in the married years that lay just ahead. Coming closer every day.

Part of Mac's ongoing intrigue for her, she told herself, was wondering what lay beneath that hard, seemingly cold surface. She suspected a hot spring of affection and regard would be revealed once they were secured to each other by God, and after they became more accustomed to one another, more at home. She touched her cheek. Then, surreptitiously, her breast. He has chosen
, she thought happily.
, instead of all the other girls in Winnipeg. In Scotland. In Canada.
“On June 9, 1915,” she announced to herself in a whisper, her needle paused in the air, “Miss Opal Elizabeth King will be officially married to James ‘Mac' Macaulay, solicitor for the Canadian Pacific Railway in Calgary.” How happy she was. Finally, at twenty-five, she was going to be a wife.

Opal had met Mac Macaulay on May 10, 1909, when he walked through the door of the law firm where she worked. She remembered the day clearly, because it was the day she began wrestling with the new typing machine and she had black ink all over her hands and on one of her best white blouses. What a devilish contraption! The machine was supposed to make everyone's life so much easier, but the instruction book made no sense and the salesman was long gone.

It was snowing, but the last few days had been warm enough to soften the ground, so there was mud everywhere, thick gumbo mud that stuck like clay to the bottoms of boots, leaving tracks she would have to clean up again and again. Standing there with
snow on the shoulders of his greatcoat, Mac spoke with a Scottish brogue so strong it took several repetitions before she understood that he wanted to meet with one of the partners, and she introduced him to Mr. Tupper. Mr. Macaulay was a serious-looking fellow, not tall, slight, with a straight, sharp nose and brown hair combed to one side. He nodded politely to her and attempted a small smile.

It was a totally different man who came out of Mr. Tupper's office an hour later. In spite of his obvious distress, he did remember to close the front door as he left, allowing her one final glimpse of his face, which was wet with tears and so black with emotion that it shook her badly. Several months later she dared to ask him what had happened. Mac had quickly learned from Mr. Tupper that it was English, not Scottish, law that was used in Canada, so in order to be called to the bar he would have to repeat his articles. This was particularly bad news for him, he told her, because he had just completed three years of articling in Edinburgh—twelve arduous hours of labour required daily, paid the equivalent of a dollar every two weeks, and wretched living conditions, which were all he could afford. He would tell her that he had made a vow to himself when he finished those hellish years that he would never again suffer like that—and now look what had happened. But thankfully, Mr. Tupper had offered him a job, and the conditions of his articling here were much better. Within weeks, Opal observed that the desperation in Mac's eyes had subsided, fading into a kind of grim determination, where it stayed.

At first Opal was shy around him—he seemed to take everything so seriously—but slowly she grew to like how he spoke,
and how after several months had passed he relaxed enough that he sometimes teased her in a gruff, somewhat peculiar way that unfortunately was not always kind. But she forgave him: maybe that was how one joked in Scotland. His displays of humour were rare enough in any case; normally he remained extremely reserved, but impatient as he made his requests of her at work. And he remained difficult to know, though to all appearances he held the same high moral ideals as she.

Opal convinced herself early on that she and Mac were a good match, and she secretly liked to believe that God had directed him to her—all the way from Thornhill, Scotland, to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and then to that particular law firm on that particular day—and that His plan for them both was simply unfolding as it should. All she had to do was to be patient and have faith. Every night in her prayers she thanked Him, and every morning in her prayers she thanked Him again.

After a year or so Mac began to attend her church—Zion Methodist—and to walk with her from time to time for short distances if their paths should cross. She was not surprised, and she was pleased; His plan for them was unfolding. Eventually her patience paid off. Yes, she said to Mac after two full years had passed since that day in May. She would be glad to call him Mac instead of Mr. Macaulay when they were away from the office.

Opal was invited to the ceremony when Mac was called to the bar. She was so proud of him, and by then so deeply in love. But her heart was aching, too: he would be leaving Winnipeg. The Canadian Pacific Railway had invited him to work for them in Calgary. Because of the land boom in western Canada, speculation in the province had soared, and the CPR was of course
heavily involved. In January 1912 the CPR had created the Department of Natural Resources and opened its Alberta offices, and they indicated that they wanted Mac, and they wanted him as soon as possible. He would start work for them on his thirtieth birthday, April 15, 1912. But what about her? she wanted to ask him but hadn't dared. He hadn't said a word about her. About her and him. Though they had become closer. He had held her hands. He had given her looks that suggested more than mere casual affection. He had come over for dinner many, many times, and enjoyed the company of her family. As he left their house, he always seemed warmer himself, and happier. What was to happen now? It was up to him.

At the farewell dinner the firm held for him, Mr. Tupper praised Mac, saying, “Macaulay is on his way to being a top-notch lawyer.” And Mac's career prospects certainly pleased Opal's parents. Her father had observed approvingly, “Without question, that fellow is going places. No lack of inner fortitude. Sharp, shrewd, and suspicious. Attributes you need in the law. Note that,” he added to his eldest son, Reg, who had just entered law school himself. Opal's mother, Georgie, head bent over the cross-stitched fireplace screen she was working on, nodded in agreement. “No one will ever put one over on
man.” Opal's younger sisters, Lillie and Pearly K, just grinned from ear to ear as they always did whenever Mac's name came up.

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