‘It begins,’ said Dick, with some difficulty making out the writing, which was extremely small in some words and very large in others, and punctuated mainly with blots—’"Dear Daddy"’——
‘That,’ said Mathews, ‘is conseckens o’ me bein’ sire to little Wellington.’
‘Oh yes,’ said Dick. ’"Dear Daddy, ther ain’t nothing to tell you Wellington has took the mumps and the cat had some more kittens"’——
‘That’s a werry remark’ble cat,’ observed Mathews. ’I never see a animal so ambitious. Wot does the old girl say Wellington has took?’
’By Criky! I hope it don’t go for to make his nose no bigger. Wot a infant he is! Mumps! Go on, Mas’r Dick—the old girl’s doin’ fine.’
‘"The day,"’ resumed Dick—’"the day afor Tuesday come last week"’——
‘Don’t pull up, sir,’ said Mathews as Dick paused to re-read the puzzling words. ’You has to take my old woman at a good clip to get her meanin’—but you’ll find it hid somewere, Mas’r Dick. I never see the old girl come a cropper yet.’
With this to guide him, the reader found his place again with the aid of a blot, a half-inch square, which surrounded the first word. ’"The day afor Tuesday,"’ he went on, ’"come last week Wellington and the rector’s boy Charlie fit."’
‘Werry good,’ said Mathews approvingly.
’"Wellington’s nose were badly done in and he looks awful bad but the rector’s boy"’——
‘Wot does she say about him?’ asked Mathews, staring into space.
‘"The rector’s boy could not see out of neither eye for 3 days."’
Repressing a chuckle by a great effort, Mathews hastily fumbled for his corncob pipe, and placing it unlit in his mouth, continued to look into space with a face that was almost purple from smothered exuberance.
‘"Milord and Lady,"’ resumed Dick, ’"is just the same and Milord always asks how you was and will I remember him to you."’
‘A thoroughbred—that’s wot he is,’ said Mathews, apparently addressing the distant refugees.
’"Miss Elise was heer last week and is that sweet grown that all the woonded tommies fit with pillos to see who wud propos to her. There ain’t no news. Bertha the skullery maid marrid a hyland soldier and they are going for to keep a sweet-shop after the war. Wellington sprayned his ankil yesterday by clyming out of the windo where I had locked him in as he has the mumps."’
‘Wot a infant!’ commented Mathews admiringly.
’"I am sending you a parsil and a picter of me and Wellington. We are very lonesum, daddy, and I’ll be reel glad when the war is over and you come back. It is awful lonesum and Wellington is to. This morning he cut his hand trying to carv our best chair into the shape of a horse. I am feeling fine and hope the reumatiz don’t worry you no more. With heeps of love from me and Wellington, your wife, Maggie."’