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Page 37

PART I - CHAPTER IV
THE FATHER


AUTUMN set in, and the red dahlias which kept the wann light alive in their bosoms so late into the evening died in the night, and the morning had nothing but brown balls of rottenness to show.
They called me as I passed the post office door in Eberwich one evening, and they gave me a letter for my mother. The distorted, sprawling handwriting perplexed me with a dim uneasiness; I put the letter away, and, forgot it. I remembered it later in the evening, when I wished to recall something to interest my mother. She looked at the handwriting, and began hastily and nervously to tear open the envelope; she held it away from her in the light of the lamp, and with eyes drawn half closed, tried to scan it. So I found her spectacles, but she did not speak her thanks, and her hand trembled. She read the short letter quickly; then she sat down, and read it again, and continued to look at it.
'What is it, mother?' I asked.
She did not answer, but continued staring at the letter. I went up to her, and put my hand on her shoulder, feeling very uncomfortable. She took no notice of me, beginning to murmur: 'Poor Frank-poor Frank.' That was my father's name.
`But what is it, mother?-tell me what's the matter!'
She turned and looked at me as if I were a stranger; she got up, and began to walk about the room;. then she left the room, and I heard her go out of the house.
The letter had fallen on to the floor. I picked it up. The handwriting was very broken. The address gave a village some few miles away; the date was three days before.

MY DEAR LETTICE,
You will want to know I am gone. I can hardly last a day or two-my kidneys are nearly gone.
I came over one day. I didn't see you, but I saw the girl by the

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