In Victoria, Laetitia arranged the usual tourist things for her guests. They went to Butchart Gardens, a former quarry turned into a floral show of exquisite beauty made possible by Vancouver Island’s mild maritime climate. They did a city tour that included Emily Carr’s former residence. And they had afternoon tea at the Empress, complete with finger sandwiches and petit fours served on three-tier curate trays by wait staff in period dress.
In the evening they did a ghost walk. Starting at the waterfront, their guide led them through narrow alleys to places associated with the paranormal. There was a spooky story about Robert Service, who was a bank clerk in Victoria before his stories in verse about the Klondike Gold Rush made him famous. Rogers’ Chocolates, where Laetitia had taken her group for a truffle break, is the occasional scene of ghostly happenings when workers allegedly see the spirits of the original owners, recognizable from their portrait that hangs in the store. Oddly, there was no otherworldly happening associated with Francis Rattenbury, the English-born architect of the Empress and Victoria’s Parliament building. He was brutally murdered back in England in 1935. His chauffeur, who was having an affair with Rattenbury’s second wife, was convicted. Perhaps Rattenbury’s ghost haunts Bournemouth, England, the scene of the crime.
Laetitia went back to the Bengal Lounge to write the day’s limerick. Its elegant décor, which evoked the era when Queen Victoria was Empress of India, seemed to go with the gin and tonic she was having.
We all had a sense of euphoria
‘Bout our evening of phantasmagoria
When we learned of each spirit
And sensed we were near it
On the Ghost Walk we took in Victoria