“This is to tell you I am very ill, dying. The doctor says that if I want to let any one know, I must do so at once. You are the only ones that care, and I am writing to you to say good-bye for ever. I have always hoped that some day I should see you again, and my dear home, and my dearest, dearest child. I am sure you will forgive me the wrong I did, and my cruel behaviour. I couldn’t die happy if I didn’t feel sure of that; but, dear father and mother, I know your loving hearts. No words can tell how I’ve pined and longed for my little Jessie, my own little baby, all these years. At first I thought I should have died for want of her, but I knew she was happy—that was my only comfort—and I could not have found clothes nor food for her. I was going to write to you as soon as we were settled, but Harry lost that situation almost at once, and since then we have been on the tramp and never had a home. It has been a cruel life, and I have often thanked God on my knees that my darling was spared it. I know you love her and have taken care of her. Don’t let her forget me, dear father and mother, and don’t ever let her go from you. She is yours—I give her to you, and I thank you with all my heart for all you’ve done for her. Give her my love—oh, that I could kiss her dear little face again! Good-bye, dear father and mother, I can never forgive myself for all the misery I have caused you; but I know you will forgive me, and believe I loved you all the time. The woman here is kind to me, and she has promised to keep this letter safe, and send it to you when I am gone. Good-bye.”
“Your loving daughter,”
The letter, which had been placed in an envelope and directed by Lizzie’s own hand, came in a larger envelope, and with it a slip of paper on which was written in a good firm hand, “Your poor daughter died this morning. Yours truly, Mary Smith.”
The letter bore the Birmingham postmark, but no other clue.
“We don’t even know where she died,” sobbed Thomas, “that I may go and bring her home to bury her,” and this thought hurt the poor old man cruelly.
“If you did know, he probably wouldn’t let you have her poor body, not if he thought you wanted it,” cried Patience bitterly. She could not bring herself to mention her son-in-law by name. “He would hurry her into her grave rather than she should come back to us,” and then she burst into bitter weeping again.
TAKEN BY SURPRISE.
After that first outburst of grief, Thomas Dawson did not speak much of his trouble, but it was none the less deep for that. In fact, it was so deep, and the wound was such a cruel one, it was almost more than he could bear.