didn't leave him under any misunderstanding. Said I wasn't no orphan-asylum, and he'd better get out of my way. Anyhow, he got. There's his precious Dad's letter."
He tossed it to her.
Mrs. Dan read it slowly: the desperate letter of a desperate man. John Russell told of his hopeless position, almost penniless, owning no relations who could help him or Hugh.
"And on Saturday," she read aloud, "came a letter from a man I knew, offering me a job, on a ship. A good job— if I had not the boy. It's a last-minute chance, owing to an accident to the man who held it: I've barely time to get to Sydney, if I'm to take it.
"I watched you all yesterday. You and your wife were very good to Hugh. You said yourself he was a handy youngster. He would earn his keep with you, I believe. For God's sake, take him with you, and be kind to him. He'11 only starve if I don't take this job. He doesn't need much, but even that I can't give him.
"If you will not, then hand him over to the police in the next town. They will send him to an Orphanage or some such place: they can't if he has a father with him. ril find him as soon as I can make a home for him. I wouldn't throw him on your mercy if I were not at my wits' end. I've packed what clothes he has—of course, you're welcome to anything in the house your people can use.
"You have a child of your own—be good to my boy.