must have burned an awful lot of paper. It would be a messy job to clear it out. Well, he'd better get at it, and light the fire. Father liked to have his tea in good time. He turned to get the bundie of twigs that served as a hearthbrush.
Then he saw the letters. They lay on the bare table, and from the moment he caught sight of them they seemed in some curious way, terrible—like a silent threat. He stared at them stupidly. One was addressed to "Mr. Peterson." The other bore his own name, "Hugh Russell."
It was the first time in his life that he had seen a letter addressed to himself, and for a moment he did not know what to do with it. He took it up, turning it over and over as if it might be expected to reveal its secret without being opened. The touch of it seemed to make him afraid. He knew that he did not want to open it. But that was silly. He tore the envelope slowly.
The writing within was made very plain for a boy of nine. It had taken a long while to write, but there was not a great deal of it.
"Hugh, old chap, I have to go away. It's rough on you to leave you, but I can't see any way out of it. There is no money left—only enough to take me to a place where I can get work. I can't take you with me, but as soon as I can I will come back for you.
"I have written asking Mr. Peterson to look after you. Give him the letter. I am sure he will be kind.