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But before he could notice anything in the garden, his attention was
attracted by the sight of Daniel Magor, the postman, standing at the
gate and fumbling with the latch. Thomas dropped the loaf and the
knife, and went out to meet him, leaving the house-door wide open to
the beautiful morning sunshine, which poured in in a wide stream
right across the kitchen, lighting up with golden radiance the
flowers in the window, the old-fashioned photographs on the wall, the
china on the dressers, and the cat lying asleep on the scarlet
cushion in the arm-chair by the fire.
When he saw Thomas coming the postman ceased fumbling with the latch
and waited, holding two letters in his hand.
"Lovely weather, Mr. Dawson. You ain't to work this morning!" he
remarked in a tone of surprise.
Thomas shook his head slowly. "No, my wife is bad, she've been bad
all night with a sick headache. She's better this morning, but I
stayed home to get her some breakfast, and tidy up a bit.
When anybody's sick they don't feel they want to do much."
"You'm right," agreed the postman feelingly. "I gets sick headaches
very bad myself, and when I wakes with one it seems to me I don't
care whether folk gets their letters or not. I am glad I didn't feel
like that this morning, Mr. Dawson, for it's good to be alive on such
a day, and I've got two letters for you."
"Both of 'em for me!" said Thomas in surprise, and holding out his
hand to take them. "I don't think I've had two to once in my life
The postman laughed. "If folks didn't get more than you do we
postmen would soon be out of a job, I reckon!" But Thomas was gazing
at his letters with such a perplexed, preoccupied air, that he did
not reply, and Daniel, with a long, inquiring look at him, said
"Good-morning," and went on his way.
"One is the seed-list," muttered Thomas to himself, as he retraced
his steps through the garden under the budding May-trees, "but it
passes my understanding to know who can have sent the other.
It--it can't be from--from her," he added, with sudden thought,
speaking as though it pained him even to put such a thought into
The old cat, hearing his footsteps on the path, roused herself and
went out to meet him, but for once he paid no heed to her, and
passing into the house sat himself down in the chair by the window,
while he still gazed with troubled eyes at the outside of the
envelope, and the blurred post-mark which told him nothing.
Moments passed before he could summon up courage to open it, for in
his heart he felt almost certain who the writer was, and he dreaded
to read what might be written; and when at last he did make up his
mind, his hand trembled so as he tore open the envelope, that his
misty eyes could scarcely make out what was written, or take in the
"Dear Father and Mother "--for seconds he was unable to read beyond
that beginning, so strange yet familiar it seemed after all these
years of silence--"I hope you will not refuse to open a letter from
me, and I hope that you will try to forgive me for all that's past,
and for what I am about to do. You would if you knew all. I wrote
to you and told you I had married Harry Lang. I hope you had the
letter and read it. I was happy enough for a time, but Harry has had
no work to speak of for more than a year, and though we've sold all
the little I'd got together, we have been nearly starving many a
time. At last, though, Harry has got a good job offered him in a
gentleman's racing stables. It is a fine berth to have got, the
wages is good, and there are rooms to live in, and we can't refuse it
after all we have been through, but they won't allow no children.
"If work hadn't been so hard to get, and we starving, we would have
waited for something else, for it nearly kills me to part with my
Jessie, but I've got to, and, dear father and mother, I hope you will
forgive me, but I am sending her to you. She is all I've got, and I
am nearly crazy at losing her, but I don't know what else to do.
Life is very hard sometimes. I know you will be good to her, and you
can't help loving her, I know. She is very good and quiet, and she
will not give mother very much trouble, and I pray with all my heart
she may be a better child, and more of a comfort to you than I have
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