Feb. 16 1869
My dear Brother
I am so sorry to hear of your ill health & especially that you have such an unpleasant disease. I hope the remedy will prove effectual in entirely extirpating the monster. 120 feet! how horrible! I do hope there is no more left. I am glad to learn you & Walter are having a prosperous time of it & hope indeed you will soon realize sufficient to return home. As for Walter I suppose we must give up all idea of seeing him but he surely might write. It is too bad not to have written once since our dear Father's death. It looks unfeeling but I don't think it is that - it is I expect the family complaint - procrastination. I have written to him lately & expect you will get the letters by the same mail.
I am glad to see you urge Mama to sell those houses. She will do nothing I advise her to. She is very feeble yet she works & slaves in a marvellous manner - denies herself many things she ought to have & when I remonstrate, pleads poverty. When I say I will pay, then she says "I can have it if I like. I am not without income." One thing I will tell you - she gets up & lights her oven fire every morning & gets her own breakfast. Now you know she never was used to this when she was much younger & it vexes me to see her do it now when she really is not equal to it. But it is no use for me to say anything. I have again and again & you must not mention it directly or she will be angry with me for telling you. I want her, as she will not sell those houses, to make a will because by the present English law, if she dies (& she is likely to go of[f] any day) we could do nothing with them. There would be no heir in England. We could not take rents or do the least thing & she says she wants to make a will & by her direction, I wrote one for her but get her to sign it I can't. Every time I speak about it she has something else to propose - so it goes on from day to day & I don't expect she will sign at all. So the only hope lies in getting them sold, then all would be straightforward.
But I have not told you why she is so saving that she does not have the comforts she ought to have. It is on Fanny's account, - she sends everything to her - things worth literally nothing. Poor dear Papa used to say "Your mother has quite a mania about Fanny" & it is so truly. Fanny is not rich, but she has a nice little house & garden & orchard. Two of her children are off her hands & she is as contented & happy as possible. She laughed most heartily when I saw her last March at Mama's groaning over her. John is very peculiar - but he is not unkind and they seem to get on nicely together, but you cannot persuade Mama so. It is poor Fanny this & poor Fanny that, while I am sure Fanny is much happier than she is. Uncle Hopwood told me when in London that I should have laughed had I seen what she was going to send to Fanny, but he at last persuaded her to sell it & so shocked was she at the small value that she lives in the firm belief that the man cheated her grossly. In fact, the poor dear ought to live with one of us & be taken care of, but she will not as long as she has sense to say no, or strength to lift up a finger against it. I do not think that will be for long. I went to see her at Xmas but you will see by my letter to Walter that I have been very ill & am now at Weston for change. I could not therefore do much for her when I was there. I am getting better every day now & shall try to go up again in the summer & see her. I am very uneasy about her. It seems so unnatural for her to live alone muddling on in her way when she has children able & willing to care for her. Fanny has offered her a home as well as myself & she need be no expense to Fanny. She objected to live with me on account of my son Philip but he is married & gone.
My dear husband unites with me in love to you & your dear wife. I enclose you his likeness, a very good one it is.
Believe me ever
Your loving sister