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Susanna Moodie to Catharine Parr Traill
Traill Family Collection (National Archives of Canada)
I enclose a photo, of the picture cousin Cheesman took of me.1 Is it not like all your girls, especially Kate. I was astonished at the resemblance. I sent one to dear sister Sarah, who seems so pleased with it. Have you heard from her lately? She [is] well, as are all my sisters and poor Tom, but she, poor dear seems to have met with a great pecuniary loss by the burning of Chicago. It seems strange that it should affect her in any way, but she says, 'I draw the greater part of my income from many 1000 shares in the London and Liverpool royal Insurance Company and they are the greatest sufferers in the Chicago fire, having already paid upwards of £400,000 Sterling to it. I shall not be able to draw any income this year or perhaps next either. My instalment to be paid next March was £584. I do not fret about it, I have suffered so much deeper sorrow. I only regret that it will shorten my hands to help others. However, I have not anticipated my income and with economy have enough to live upon for a year and to give poor Tom his usual allowance.' What a noble woman she is -- A real christian. No literary reputation is equal to this.
How have you borne this strange winter? -- some days so warm, and then so intensely, almost unbearably, cold. It is very trying to old people. I have a very large cold bed room with 3 large cranky windows and 3 cold drafty doors, and though I keep a good fire, I can scarcely keep myself warm. I have had to buy wood at $8 per cord and give $1 more for having it cut and piled.I heard last week from dear Robert. His old cough has returned, and he seems ill and dejected. Poor hapless Nell, is no better. When her mother went to take her new winter clothes last week she kicked them about the floor, and would have torn them to pieces, if the keepers and nurses had not interfered. My good Katie is very kind to Robert and the children and gives them many necessary comforts.
I heard from Agnes last week, and dear James sent me the present of a handsome camp chair. They had all been suffering from fever but the baby, who seems quite a jolly little soul. Agnes had sold the remainder of the B.V. lots for 1300 dollars which I hope will get her out of all her difficulties. All her property seems to have been swallowed up in the expences of her marriage. Not one cent will remain for the poor girls. I think her publishing has not been profitable in the long run. The last unfinished edition will most likely be a dead loss. I wanted her to have brought out a second volume of the flowers, as most people who bought the first would have taken the 2nd, but she would not listen to my advice.
If I gain little by my book, I lose nothing.
You must give my kindest love to dear Mrs. Strickland and wish her for me many New Years of tranquil christian peace and comfort, and give my love and affectionate regards to all my nephews and nieces and their families. May the New year bring them many blessings. I hope dear May is well, and her little ones, and that they are getting on in their new vocation.
That my dear Kate is happy and flourishing, a comfort to all who know and love her for her worth. I wish I could step in and kiss you all round, especially the dear old face, that seems looking at me through the dim mist of years in its youthful bloom. So may we see each other when we meet in that better world. Farewell my beloved one, and believe me ever
Your own affectionate
Love to Mrs. Atwood and all the good wishes of the season. I hope before the year again draws round that you will see dear Walter.
1. The date is suggested by the New Year greetings and the reference to the Chicago fire, 8-9 October 1871. Cheesman's miniatures of the sisters seem to have come to Canada at different times (see Letters 99 and 104); here Susanna has apparently had her own miniature photographed, though she had suggested in Letter 99 that Agnes Chamberlin would copy it.