have left her. They spoke some little while longer, until it was time for visitors to leave the hospital. It was not until she got into the Fulham Road that tears began to run down her cheeks; they poured faster and faster, like rain after long dry weather. The whole world disappeared in a mist of tears. And so overcome was she by her grief that she had to lean against the railings, and the passers-by turned and looked at her curiously.


CHAPTER XLIII

WITH fair weather he might hold on till Christmas, but if much fog was about he would go off earlier, with the last leaves. One day Esther received a letter asking her to defer her visit from Friday to Sunday, for he hoped to be better on Sunday, and then they would arrange when she should come to take him away. He wanted to see his boy before he died.

Mrs. Collins, a woman who lived in the next room, read the letter to Esther.

'If you can, do as he wishes. Once they gets them fancies into their heads there's no getting them out.'

'If he leaves the hospital on a day like this it'll be the death of him.' The street lamps burnt low, mournful, as in a city of the dead, and the sounds that rose out of the street added to the terror of the strange darkness. 'What do he say about Jack? That I'm to send for him. It's natural he should like to see the boy before he goes, but it would be cheerfuller to take him to the hospital.'

'You see, he wants to die at home; he wants you to be with him at the last.'

'Yes, I want to see the last of him. But the boy, where's he to sleep?'

'We can lay a mattress down in my room--an old woman like me, it don't matter.'

-366-

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