Title: A Change of Grace
Excerpts from Grace’s Journals 1883-1963: Part 2 of 4
Summary: Taylor ends up traveling back in time to New York in the 19th century. There he meets Kathryn, Benjamin, Joshua and Grace among many others. The story follows both Taylor’s adventures in the past and Isaac and Zachary’s search for him in present (1997/1998) time.
August 15th, 1883
Such a day this has been. That I go to my bed this night a married woman seems well nigh impossible, yet it is so. Certainly not the wedding I have imagined so often, but somehow right. Josh sang me the most lovely song, the tune simply will not leave my mind… ah but it’s so difficult to be completely happy.
Such a day, such a day, joy and sorrow so equally mixed. Joshua came back from the Dakota today terribly unhappy, and without Taylor. He said he was leaving, that he couldn’t come here, not even to say goodbye. His opinion was that Taylor certainly couldn’t be leaving so quickly as he said, he looked tired, mortally tired, ill even, and Josh suspected he was saying he had to leave rather than state he was ill.
Dear diary I shall never tell Joshua what I found, when I returned to the Dakota. I start our married life on a deception, what good can come of that? I begged off the errands Josh and I needed to do, sending him on his own, and ran back to that place. If Taylor were as ill as Josh thought I was sure I would find him still there. It was most fantastic and unbelievable, and I still almost feel it could not have been real, yet when that horrid old man tried to stop me I ran from him, up the stairs and to Taylor’s door.
Dear diary, you know I have been in there, I have spoken to him there, I have seen it with my own eyes, and yet the apartment, dear addled record of my insanity, the apartment was empty! Empty of furnishings, people, any sign of life, the dust thick on the bare floors! Door ajar as if to taunt me with my own illusions. Not a soul in existence! Where then did he go? I thought at first I must have the wrong place, but no, it was correct. That evil old man took me away from there, telling me that things were not always as they seemed, and to go on with my life now and worry not about what had been. Worry not, when my friend and Josh’s has vanished? When he appears to have never, in fact, been there at all?
Ah but around my neck is evidence he was here, I can feel him in it. Has the strain of the past week addled my thinking so much? Am I delusional, a case for the alienist? Ah, Josh shall never know what I have seen. I told him Taylor was gone. Much saddened we are by this, and I find it difficult not to resent him, both inspiring and ruining my wedding day!
But it is my wedding day, my wedding night, and I sit awake in these small hours of the morning, watching my husband sleep in the bed that is ours, in this lovely apartment that belongs only to us, and my sadness at Taylor’s departure is small. This is the start of my life, mine and Joshua’s and perhaps I had best to take that old man, who may not be so bad, at his word. What has been has been, but what will be is still yet to come.
October 23rd, 1883
Against anything we’ve ever thought, I have taken a job! I must say it’s a great deal more interesting that sitting about the parlor!
Joshua’s group is so constantly busy. He leaves here so early and stays out so late, and I find myself dying, veritably perishing of boredom!
Mrs. Case approached me this morning, and offered me a position, registering guests at the inn! Perhaps it annoyed her seeing my wastrel ways! In any event, we now pay no rent to the Case’s. My hourly wage is deducted from it, and I feel so much more useful! Josh laughed when I told him, proclaiming it to be “perfectly scandalous and wonderful”.
Mother would swoon.
February 6th, 1884
I am a disgrace! I am veritably disowned, written out of the will, oh such a hysterical scene it was! And how incredibly funny! Ah, thank the heavens I was able to contain my laughter until they had gone.
My first night playing onstage with Joshua and the boys was a great triumph! Ah, such fun I have never had, and I do believe we sounded magnificent. Unfortunately word reached Mother almost at once, and her disapproval knew no bounds. I feared she would suffer a heartspell so stricken was she!
Josh’s comment, after biting his tongue nearly bloody to wait until her irate departure, was “She’ll get over it.” I find dear friend, that I do not care if she does, or if she does not. I have never been so happy.
June 19th, 1884
I fear for Joshua’s mind. The nightmares continue unabated, he wakes in the night shouting, crying, and spends such time pacing, gazing out of the windows in agony.
He tells me he dreams of the future, that the world is filled with monstrosities, the air unbreathable, the noise unendurable. He fears this is what’s coming, for all of us, for our child, not yet born, still safe inside me.
The source of these dreams, I know in my heart, is Taylor.
Something passed between them, something even I saw, and something the lads have talked with me about on more than one occasion, when they see Joshua feeling poorly and know he hasn’t slept. Andy has told me several times that odd things seemed to happen between Josh and Taylor, and that one day it even ended with Joshua bleeding! I think Andy was a little afraid of Taylor, and was glad to see the last of him. Would that I had been, or Josh.
We both miss him dreadfully. If he were here perhaps it would sooth Josh’s fears a bit. We must find something that will, or else I fear he may break. He’s begun to draw, and the dream images are appearing in his sketches. Perhaps that will help.
November 12th, 1884
My acutest apologies for missing these four days, though I feel my excuse is adequate! Josh and I are parents now, US! How strange and disorienting and wonderful! We have a son, who we have named after his father, though I suspect already that it makes Josh squeamish to have his son named after him. He’s been calling him “J”. I count my blessings that it’s not worse!
Ah, so frightening this is, me a mother. My days already so full what with working at the inn all day, and at the club at night. Mrs. Case has graciously given me leave of my duties and has informed me that I’m “not to worry my head” about the rent. Such a kind soul she is, and her husband too, already doting on little Josh and telling us how handsome he is. I agree wholeheartedly, a more beautiful babe is not in existence in the world. I only hope I remember to feed him! I can’t help thinking back to the cat I once owned… no matter. I believe a great deal of responsibility grows between six and seventeen!
Mother came by today to see him, and I see in her eyes that this lad will heal the breach between us. She loves him already, her eyes shining as she held him. Such a blessing on us. Now dear friend, I must leave you, as the object of my writing cries for attention.
May 5th, 1885
Hard times are upon us now, and so many decisions need to be made.
Joshua, typically, shrugs off all with a grin, but I see the worry deep in his eyes, and in his troubled sleep. The lads came to him yesterday with the news that they will no longer be playing music.
I suppose we’ve seen it coming, since Pete and Mick married. Both of them work terribly hard all day, and are quite exhausted upon showing at night. It’s been a struggle for all, and Joshua and I have discussed the wisdom of it many times, always electing to leave it up to them. So, they have decided. Between their jobs, and their wives who find it all so scandalous (Taylor where are you when we need you here to turn peoples heads?!?!) they have resigned their appointments.
Andy, poor little Andy, he’s so guilty and regretful. He’s hidden from us for four weeks the news that he has been granted a scholarship, unable to decide how to tell us. His mind is so bright, it’s such a great blessing for him, yet he was seriously considering giving up his chance to be an educated man, to stay with us singing in pubs!! On second thought, I question his brightness!!
Pete and Mick’s departure though did bring it out of him, and he departs with our fond wishes.
Now though the decision must be made. Josh and I have been informed that signed to our place as a group means performing as a group, and if we are to continue on our own we shall lose our position. Though Mr. Dieter assures us that have we no qualms about travel, he can see us readily occupied.
I know how badly Joshua wants to continue, and I bite my tongue against my concerns. I am with child again, though Josh does not yet know, and I fear telling him may change his mind about the music. Is it quite safe for me to travel in such a condition? And what of J? To give up our home here and travel… dear friend I simply do not know. Still, the thought is most exciting!
October 1st, 1885
I question the wisdom of our decision to travel, on days like today. My back aches, my head spins, and my ankles have overflowed my shoes. Would that my dear husband, who goes about his merry way, should have some idea of what this feels like!
He was quite concerned to find I was expecting again, and put up a huge battle to bring us back home. I do believe it was my threat to push him into the path of a bus that decided him against it. Still, the trials are numerous, and more than once we have found ourselves barely with a place to sleep.
I question the wisdom of putting little J through this, though he seems happy enough. Such a good baby, he watches our performances from his pram. Raised in show business, according to Josh a very good thing! He says it will be “in the blood”. Why, dear diary, do I have no problem doubting this? Ah but my aching back cares not for the blood! It wants a hot bath and a soft bed and a day off my feet!
November 23rd, 1885
Tonight Joshua performed alone, welcoming from the stage, relayed to me by my dear landlady, our new son, Jordan Samuel. We’ve been here long enough that a goodly portion of the audience knows us, and were glad for us she says. It’s certain she is, an old spinster who never had children, she’s doted on J and is thrilled beyond words to have another child up here. If it looks like this appointment could be long term, I would be happy to stay.
I had a long talk with the midwife, who assures me Jordan is perfect in every way, and was not harmed in the slightest by our travel, though as well off as HE is, I do not welcome a repeat performance any time soon! For him it was a stroll in the park, for me it was a trial! She did speak to me about means of preventing conception, using oddities like copper pennies, vinegar soaked sponges, and something to do with sheepgut! I don’t know about any of that, but she insists it would be to my benefit to learn to use at least one of these “methods” as she termed it. I suppose I will speak more to her of this when she returns tomorrow. For the moment though, I am happy here with a babe on each side, and you dear friend.
December 25th, 1885
A Merry Christmas to you, dear diary, our first home in two years.
Ah but what a welcome our little ones received, Mother and Da Gage fawning over them as if they were inconceivably precious. I do believe they are! How my heart aches though, seeing my babes here in this wholesome, normal, safe, quiet home, knowing I will be bringing them back to chaos and upset, which typifies our home life.
Ah we really have no home, and this holiday made it so clear. Constant travel, while it bothers us little, makes for a very rootless existence, and I wonder where my children will return when they, as adults, go “home for the holidays”. It’s nearly tempting to leave them here, just to give them a taste of normalcy, though I know I could never bear to be parted from them, even for a moment. They shall simply have to take their normal where they can get it, says Josh, and right he is.
Our conversation this night turned, of all things, to our friend Taylor.
We passed by the Dakota on our way out to the Case’s with their gifts from us, and there were lights in the apartment that Taylor once lived in. The temptation to go up was very nearly overpowering, and I was able to resist, and convince Josh to resist, only by remembering that empty, dusty, echoing place I saw on my last visit. Whoever is up there now, it is not our dear friend.
Still, we found ourselves wondering how he spends this Christmas. Does he even exist? Of course I didn’t mention that to Josh, who seems to have forgotten all of Taylor’s mysteries! Not that I have any trouble believing that our friend meant just exactly that to happen! He simply neglected to include ME in the equation. Nostalgia makes one melancholy, and I think I end this writing now to join my husband and my children at the Christmas tree.
June 8th, 1886
Ah, dear diary
Attended Louise’s wedding this day. I do not LIKE that man she has married! I have been told, on no uncertain terms, to leave my nose out of it, both by Lou herself, and by Josh who used logic against me, claiming he and I would not be together had we listened to those around us. Still, he strikes me as a cad, and too wild for Lou’s gentle soul, though she tells me there is little about him she does not know, and she feels no trepidation. I suppose if he is willing to put up with those beads in her hair, he can’t be all bad.
J is madly in love with his “Auntie Lou” and she with him. It will be a challenge to pry him from her when we leave, on the morrow. I wonder if I will be as close to her children, as she is to mine? I seem to be surrounded by an ever growing family, and they are mine! It confounds the mind, yet it is joyful. I do fear, however that the family may increase in size yet again, if I cannot find a way to remedy the problem of the penny falling out!
July 12th, 1886
Such an interesting conversation today with Joshua! We’ve returned to the city, and to the Inn for the next three weeks, our schedule finally bringing us back to the civilized world!
This morning the clasp of my locket broke, and regretfully, I had to part with it so Josh could take it to the jewelers. He returned with none other than Andy, on sabbatical from school! The two of them spend the day wandering memory lane, stopping only to eat and to down many, many, many pints! It’s a wonder the boy was able to pour himself out the door to return home! Of course their conversation was all about the group, and of course Taylor came into it. Josh pulled out the repaired locket and told Andy to touch it, because he fancied it pulsed! Andy of course touched it and found Josh to be perfectly batty! I believe I was wise in not mentioning to him that to my touch, also, it does seem to pulse. As I held it, Josh looked at me strangely, and after Andy left he came to me with his dreams.
It would seem that Joshua’s dreams are nightly of Taylor, and though he hasn’t mentioned it before, the desire to see him again is paramount in his mind. He dreams of him on an enormous stage, in front of a multitude of people. The din, he says, is enormous, and the crowd is rather loud as well! He says he sees him clamored after by thousands, and wondered to me if our friend were famous! The dreams, while not nightmarish as the first dreams of Taylor were, do disturb him. He doesn’t understand them, and says he often sees his friend unhappy, and is afraid he is lonely.
I did not tell him that it is Josh himself I feel is lonely. His only friends have been the boys in the group, and of them he has seen Andy only this once. He has me, and his family I do suppose, though they are not close since Josh has taken to the road, and I know he misses Taylor terribly. I think his own loneliness is mixed up in his dreams, because somehow, dear diary, wherever Taylor is, I don’t think he’s suffering. A spirit that indomitable… but my poor Josh, he longs to see him, starting at every knock on the door. I can see it in his eyes, the hope that fades at the face of a colleague, a salesman, an errand boy. Joshua dreams his wishes, and I wish to be able to grant him those. Ah, but I know in my heart there is no way.
September 13th, 1886
Good news, dear friend!
Louise is expecting her first child! She’s so very excited, and I have to give the cad credit, he is as well. I long to be there with her during her wait, but alas, we are to leave again next week.
While Josh and I both agree that our life is as we want it, times like these make me question. Ah but the joys far outweigh the inconveniences. One very great inconvenience, I am again expecting, right along with Lou! Only she knows so far, though I suspect I won’t keep it from Josh for long. I felt well with J and Jordan, I feel most unwell with this one. I am certain he will notice fairly soon, if he hasn’t already.
A good man, is my Joshua, he let’s me tell things in my own time, yet I see the concern in his eyes. Another pregnancy, on the road. What a life I have chosen. But to make a different choice? No, I’d never do that, I love this too much.
March 14th, 1887
Diary, what care I for what people think?!
Would you think that even one ounce of sympathy would be mine? But no, of course not. Oh this entire pregnancy has been a nightmare from conception, and today I am told I must remain in my BED for the entire completion of it! And how, I must ask, am I to help earn our keep from my bed? Oh and the judgement that has been handed down, from our oh so loving families! That it is the hand of God at work, punishing me for my irresponsible lifestyle, and the “indelible harm” I am doing my children! Bah! There is no harm to our children, they are as loved, or moreso even than we were! And as well cared for! But still I hear it, the judgement from above, only what I deserve, I must come home at once. We’ll see about that won’t we? I think not! That I would surround myself with those people…
There is Louise though, I knew I could count on her. Her own very cumbersome self had traveled here to help us, the cad putting up a protest that went unheaded. I do so love Lou, she thinks for herself! Josh tells me again and again not to worry, my being on sabbatical from the show is acceptable to Mr. Dieter, who to be honest much prefers Joshua anyway, though Josh thinks I don’t know this. But how vexing, to spend the days lying here!
May 22nd, 1887
Many apologies diary, for my continued neglect of you.
It is only this day that I feel strong enough to take pen in hand.
Such a hard birth I have never had, and never shall again, as I have been told that I shall have no more children, ever. I should be thankful for these three, yet I feel that slap in the face most keenly.
Our daughter is a week old and I have only just seen her, a tiny, thin little thing, who seems all head and hair. That we almost lost her, as well I’m told, as myself, seems a nightmare too hideous to ponder. Josh tells me our labor lasted days, that I very nearly succumbed to bleeding and that the babe was blue and unmoving at her final delivery. Of this I remember nothing.
Still, for those who insist it is punishment for our lives, I bring them Amy Louise, as proof positive that this is no vengeful God at work. She is quite small, but utterly perfect and healthy, though her start was difficult. I too have survived the ordeal, and were it revenge would we not both have perished?
Forever grateful I am, in fact, to the most GENEROUS God who has given us 18 months of work here at home. We have moved back to the Inn, where fate, providence, the hand of God, whatever you wish to call it, has vacated our apartment for us, and given us over to the kind attentions of Mrs. Case, who agrees with me that the rest of the world can go hang. And thank God also for Louise and her undying help. We’ll be here now for the birth of her child as well, how wonderful.
April 8th, 1888
Even here in the heart of home, we must uproot! Alas our little home at the Inn is too small for a family grown from two to five, and so we have set our sights elsewhere. Joshua has designs on that ridiculous, gaudy Dakota, though the cost, three thousand dollars for but one year!!! Has him a bit stymied. More likely we will end up at the Knick, which has spring vacancies opening, though it is much too near (under the same roof!) Josh’s parents to suit either of us.
It begins to look as if our 18 months may stretch to a permanent position, should we choose it, and frankly, with three little ones, I do believe that will be our choice. It’s much more difficult to travel now, even across town to visit family, with two walking and one beginning to be too big to carry!
J’s fourth birthday has come and gone, and I find this to be remarkable, that so much time has already passed. I also find it satisfying to note that my little J, Jordan, and Amy, who’s upbringings have been so controversial, are better behaved collectively, than Louise’s little Edward, who though not yet a year old has the household firmly under siege.
July 2nd, 1888
I fear for the health and lives of all of us. An outbreak of influenza has struck the city, young and old alike falling prey to it.
Louise was confined for her bed for near two weeks, poor thing, though she seems to be recovering well. Her little Edward is faring less well though, and Josh’s parents are both ill. Joshua has been coughing but claims it to be naught but the beginnings of a cold.
I pray he’s right, there are many dying, the primary danger seeming to be the very young and the very old. Since so many in my family are very young, dear diary, I wish to take us to a mountaintop somewhere until the epidemic expends itself.
July 5th, 1888
Dark times dear friend.
Joshua has indeed fallen ill, and there is naught I can do to make him comfortable. I feel I’m veritably dropping from weariness, yet he needs me to care for him, as do the children.
I have never been so frightened, the doctors say there is little that can be done, and tell me to make sure he drinks, yet he’s unable to hold down even water. That the fever may carry him off seems well possible, if he doesn’t simply cease to be able to breathe. His worry is for the children, insisting I take them to my parents to get them away from him, yet my parents themselves are ill, leaving me with no real options. Lovely, dear, sweet Mrs. Case offered to take them for me, but knowing they’ve already been in contact, and seeing little Amy with the beginnings of a cold, I hesitate to send them, and possibly bring the contagion into their home. They can hardly afford to be ill themselves, Mrs. Case is very old, and the danger to the old is even more than to the young. We are all basically healthy, and I lean on that thought as my hope.
July 19th, 1888
There seems little reason to go on, diary.
Though I look across this room and see my husband, pale, weak, barely recovered from the pneumonia that nearly took him from me, yet alive and here, I find him small consolation.
The epidemic is burning itself out, say the experts, small consolation to know that it has spared me even a sniffle. Would that it had taken me rather than my children. Joshua tells me to put this journal away, knowing I would write of it, unable even to bear what I may be thinking, yet I am unable to follow this direction.
I must write of it, I must make myself see it, it’s reality on this written page, our family now reduced to two, our families dire predictions of a vengeful God’s retribution finally come true.
We lost poor little Amy on Monday last, Jordan on Wednesday, and finally our little J, yesterday. What God would be so heartless as to take all of our children from us? Mother Gage tells us to count ourselves fortunate it spared Joshua, other entire families have been completely wiped out, yet this is no consolation to me, nor is it to Josh, who would gladly have traded his life, as would I have done.
Louise’s little Eddie is faring no better, and we fear he will be next, and I find an evil, hateful part of my soul will be angry if her babe survives, when mine did not. That this is a deplorable, despicable reaction I know, yet I am unable to help it. Pity the first person who dares to tell me this was the will of God, and my babe’s are better off in his hands. In who’s hands would they ever be better than ours? And what God’s will is acceptable who would do such a thing?
I find the irony bitterly amusing. Had we not done as they all deemed sensible, and returned here to the heart of civilization and normalcy, likely my children would still be alive, as the outbreaks were small elsewhere, and none at all in the last place we lived.
I look now across the room at my husbands tears, and find no sympathy in my heart for him. I have not the strength to comfort him, and there is no comfort for me.
All words to us have been judgmental, proclamations on the type of people we are. Are we not good people?
Ah, for someone, anyone, who could come here and merely understand. Someone who could sooth Joshua’s agony and leave me alone as I wish to be left. I close this now to sleep, knowing I face the bitter, disagreeable prospect of waking again in the morning, to a life that has lost all meaning.