W-MCP2-4.033 TO HILDA MCQUESTEN from Ruby's friend at Ottawa Ladies' College, Miss M.E. Boyd
Nov 19 1906 Monday noon
To: Hilda McQuesten Whitehern, Hamilton, Ontario
From: Ottawa Ladies' College Ottawa, Ontario
[Letterhead Logo, a slim arm holding a flaming torch]:
Damoisis Lucem Domine
Your letter got here in this morning's mail, and I cannot tell you how glad I am that you wrote to me.1 I felt like writing to you several times, but was afraid I might alarm you.
You must not imagine Ruby is dreadfully ill,2 for she is not, and you are quite mistaken in thinking it is for Mrs. Ross and her family that she decided to take this step. She had quite made up her mind to go before Jean's [Ross] name was mentioned at all. It was I who thought of Jean for I felt that she would understand so well our system of duty. Of course she cannot begin to fill Ruby's place but she will be able to keep the girls working just for this four weeks. 3
I do not know just what Ruby said to you, but I am going to tell you the whole trouble, as I understand it. Soon after school was in working order for this term, she was troubled with headaches, which did not seem to get better. She went several times to Dr. Shillington and he tried various medicines but none seemed to have any effect.
You know how noisy this place is Hilda, and when I tell you that we have some particularly noisy girls this year you will understand what a person with a headache feels like.
The May Queen who is rooming just next to me has had the same sort of headache and has almost decided to give up for this year.
I do think that Ruby felt more worried when she saw how quickly Eleanor [Ross] was pulled down, and when Dr. Shillington told her last Wednesday that her temperature was a few degrees above normal and that she must come back & go to bed, she decided to go home.
On Thursday night she had no fever at all and she felt decidedly better, but on Friday she was bilious and could not eat anything at all. She was up for a while yesterday and to-day insists upon taking some of her classes and correcting the examination papers from last week.
I hope she will continue feeling better and I believe with her, that if she can be away from the noise and confusion for a while, her headaches may leave her.
There are worries and worries in a school like this and unless we are really well, it is almost impossible to endure the strain.
Persuade her to rest at home, and above all, I would say keep from her anything which might make her worry.4
Avoid letting her see that you are anxious about her, and I believe with five weeks quiet she will be ready for the rest of the year.
You have no idea how I will miss her, but I feel that unless she gets completely rid of her headaches now, she will surely break down before the end of the year.
Eleanor Ross has been keeping better since last Thursday. The doctor said they might let the special night nurse go yesterday. Of course she is still very ill but we feel now that she is going to get better.
This is a dreadful scribble Hilda dear, but it is now or never for to-day, for I am on duty.
With much love,
M. E. Boyd
1 See also W-MCP2-4.033a for Mary Baker McQuesten's letter to Tom enclosing this letter from Miss Boyd.
2 For Ruby's illness which developed into Consumption (Tuberculosis), and Ruby died in April, 1911. See W6135, W9058, W5622.
3 For the Ross family, see W4651, W5630.
4 Ruby does have many worries: She is frail and is away from her beloved family. Her family, the McQuestens, have been impoverished since the sudden death of her father in 1888 (W2511, W2520), and it is her salary that has been paying for her brother, Tom's university fees so that he might be able to earn a lawyer's salary in order to restore the family's status and prestige. At this time Tom is due to graduate in the spring of 1907 (W5868), and after a few weeks rest, Ruby does return to teaching to finish out the term to June 1907; and she works just long enough to see Tom graduate, and then she becomes increasingly ill until her death in April 1911. See W5758, W-MCP2-4.033a. See also the family biographies.