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What follows is a letter found by Prof John Bottomley and the ex-curator of the Lichtenburg Museum. November 1900 Mrs Aberline Australia After waiting for a month, at last I have obtained your address. I thought you might be glad to hear from one who, though an utter stranger to you, yet God granted to be at the bedside of your dying son, and before I tell you about him I want to tender my sympathy to you and the family. I know such a loss must be very great. I might mention that I am not a professional nurse, only an amateur trying to do my bit for my country and my people. The hospital belongs to the so-called Boers. Your son with four of his companions was brought here by some of his own people because they were mortally wounded and could not be taken on to the field hospital. They were all in very great pain, poor lads. Your son was a general favourite in the wards. I always used to call him ?My Laddie?, which he seemed to like very much. One day after dressing his wounds and giving the young man something to drink, your son asked me to hand him a photo which he had in a case in his pocket. After taking it out of his pocket and gazing at the portrait he closed the case and pressed the photo against his breast, he always kept that photo next to his bed. One afternoon when one of his companions had died, he called me to his bedside and said: ?Poor Mother. How I wish I could be back with you in Australia.? So I told him we were going to make him quite well and send him back to Mother. We all expected him to pull through, but God willed it otherwise. I tried everything to make his last hours pleasant and everything I thought you would have done had you been with him. I sat on his bed fanning him and gave him everything he asked for. Once he looked sad and despondent, so I said, ?Poor Laddie, you will be better tomorrow.? Fixing those large blue eyes on me he said, I?ll be on the way to the happy land.? I said, ?You are looking forward to it!? He replied, ?Yes.? He did not want me to leave his bed. If I knelt before his bed fanning him he would say, ?You are too good spoiling me in this way.? I thought I would spoil him for your sake. I remained at his bed until he died. He fixed those large blue eyes on me until I closed them. There I remained. I could not leave my Laddie. I thought my heart would break and those tears that fall for your people as well as for my own dropped on the face of that Laddie whose mother and sisters were so far away. I kissed him for all your sakes. Tell his sisters that I tried to be sister to him. I am only nineteen and he twenty, so he must have adopted me for one, and we try to be kinder to patients coming from the other side, because their loved ones are so far. We had him buried in the graveyard, his name marked with a cross on which is written his name and regiment. His coffin was covered with beautiful wreaths. I attended to his grave as if it were one of my own people, so don?t trouble about that. I prey God that He will comfort you all, as He alone can comfort. Edith Mathews Lichtenburg.
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