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Jenkyns to Peter, addressed to him at the house of an old school-fellow, whither she fancied he might have gone. They had returned it unopened ; and unopened it had remained ever since, having been inadvertently put by among the other letters of that time. This is it:
“MY DEAREST Peter,—You did not think we should be so sorry as we are, I know, or you would never have gone away. You are too good. Your father sits and sighs till my heart aches to hear him. He can not hold up his head for grief; and yet he only did what he thought was right. Perhaps he has been too severe, and perhaps I have not been kind enough; but God knows how we love you, my dear only boy. Don looks so sorry you are gone. Come back, and make us happy, who love you 80 much. I know you will come back.”
But Peter did not come back. That spring day was the last time he ever saw his mother's face. The writer of the letter—the last-the only person who had ever seen what was writ. ten in it, was dead long ago; and I, a stran. gur, not born at the time when this occurrence took place, was the one to open it.
The captain's letter summoned the father and mother to Liverpool instantly, if they wished to see their bcy; and by some of the wild chances of life, the captain's letter had been detained somewhere, somehow.
Miss Matty went on: “And it was race-time, and all the post-horses at Cranford were gone to the races; but my father and mother set off in our own gig—and, oh! my dear, they were too late—the ship was gone! And now, read Peter's letter to my mother !”
It was full of love, and sorrow, and pride in his new profession, and a sore sense of his disgrace in the eyes of the people at Cranford ; but ending with a passionate entreaty that she would come and see him before he left the Mer. sey: “Mother! we may go into battle. I hope we shall, and lick those French; but I must see you again before that time."
. And she was too late," said Miss Matty ; “ too late !"
We sat in silence, pondering on the full meaning of those sad, sad words. At length I asked Miss Matty to tell me how her mother bore it.
"Oh!” she said, “she was patience itself. She had never been strong, and this weakened her terribly. My father used to sit looking at her, far more sad than she was. He seemed as if he could look at nothing else when she was by; and he was so humble — so very gentlo now. He would, perhaps, speak in his old way -laying down the law, as it were—and then, in a minute or two, he would come round and put his hand on our shoulders, and ask us, in a low voice, if he had said any thing to hurt us. I did not wonder at his speaking so to Deborah, for she was so clever; but I could not bear to hear him talking so to me.
“But, you see, he saw what we did notthat it was killing my mother. Yes! killing her—(put out the candle, my dear; I can talk better in the dark)—for she was but a frail woman, and ill fitted to stand the fright and shock she had gone through; and she would smile at him and comfort him, not in words, but in her looks and tones, which were always cheerful when he was there. And she would speak of how she thought Peter stood a good chance of being admiral very soon-he was so brave and clever; and how she thought of seeing him in his navy uniform, and what sort of hats admirals wore; and how much more fit he vas to be a sailor than a clergyman; and all in that way, just to make my father think she was quite glad of what came of that unlucky morning's work, and the flogging which was always in his mind, as we all knew. But oh
my dear! the bitter, bitter crying she had when she was alone; and at last, as she grew weak: er, she could not keep her tears in, when Deborah or me was by, and would give us message after message for Peter—(his ship had gone to the Mediterranean, or somewhere down there, and then he was ordered off to India, and there was no overland route then); but she still said that no one knew where their death lay in wait, and that we were not to think hers was near. We did not think it, but we knew it, as we saw her fading away.
“Well, my dear, it's very foolish of me, I know, when in all likelihood I am so near seeing her again.
"And only think, love! the very day after her death—for she did not live quite a twelvemonth after Peter went away—the very day after—came a parcel for her from India— from her poor boy. It was a large, soft, white India shawl, with just a little narrow border all round; just what my mother would have liked.
“We thought it might rouse my father, for he had sat with her hand in his all night long; so Deborah took it in to him, and Peter's letter to her, and all. At first he took no notice; and we tried to make a kind of light, careless talk about the shawl, opening it out and admiring it. Then, suddenly, he got up and spoke : "She shall be buried in it,' he said; •Peter shall have that comfort; and she would have liked it.'
“Well! perhaps it was not reasonable, but what could we do or say? One gives people in grief their own way. He took it up and felt it:
It is just such a shawl as she wished for when she was inarried, and her mother did not give it her. I did not know of it till after, or she should have had it-she should; but she shall have it now.'
“My mother looked so lovely in her death! She was always pretty, and now she looked fair, and waxen, and young-younger than Deborah, as she stood trembling and shivering by her. We decked her in the long soft folds; she lay, smiling, as if pleased; and people came
-all Cranford came—to beg to see her, for they had loved her dearly—as well they might; and the country-women brought posies; old Clare's wife brought some white violets, and begged they might lie on her breast.
“Deborah said to me, the day of my mother's funeral, that if she had a hundred offers, she never would marry and leave my father. It was not very likely she would have so many
-I don't know that she had one; but it was not less to her credit to say so. She was such