CHAPTER XVI

ONLY three weeks remained, and she had hoped to spend them with her mother, who was timorous and desponding, and stood in need of consolation. But this was not to be; her father's drunkenness, continued, and daily he became more extortionate in his demands for money. Esther had not six pounds left, and she felt that she must leave. It had come to this, that she doubted if she were to stay on that the clothes on her back might not be taken from her. Mrs. Saunders was of the same opinion, and she urged Esther to go. But scruples restrained her.

'I can't bring myself to leave you, mother, something tells me I should stay with you. It is dreadful to be parted from you. I wish you was coming to the hospital; you'd be far safer there than at home.'

'I know that, dearie; but where's the good in talking about it? It only makes it harder to bear. You know I can't leave. It is terrible hard, as you says.' Mrs. Saunders held her apron to her eyes and cried. 'You have always been a good girl, never a better--my one consolation since your poor father died.'

'Don't cry, mother,' said Esther; 'the Lord will watch over us, and we shall both pray for each other. In about a month, dear, we shall be both quite well, and you'll bless my baby, and I shall think of the time when I shall put him into your arms.'

'I hope so, Esther; I hope so, but I am full of fears. I'm sore afraid that we shall never see one another again--least- ways on this earth.'

'Oh, mother, dear, yer mustn't talk like that; you'll break my heart, that you will.'

The cab that took Esther to her lodging cost half a crown,

-120-

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