The house was left in a bad state and needed decorating badly. The walls were damp and the wallpaper was peeling. There were big black patches all over the house.’
I started work as a carpenter when I was sixteen and learned how to decorate. I came over and stripped all the walls in your mother’s house and repainted the place.
Your mother lived a simple life Mrs Jacobs. She had one table, one chair that was broken, and two photos upon the mantle. Just before she died I made her a rocking chair – she was unable to walk and was as thin as a pencil. I would carry her over the road to my house so she could eat a proper meal. Because she had been living on a small loaf of bread, a quarter pound of cheese, and three slices of boiled ham a week.
“It seems that you have repaid her kindness; George.’
“I am a Christian man Mrs Jacobs; I would help anyone in dire need.’
“It is very commendable of you.’ How did you find out about me?’
“When I discovered your mother’s body the police asked me to dispose of your mother’s things.’
I came across a letter from the adoption agency hidden in this box along with some other valuables. George handed Elizabeth the box which upon opening it found the diamond ring and the brooch of rubies and sapphires and some necklaces and a rosary.’
Thank you George for giving me this.’
But there’s more Mrs Jacobs; you see to an ordinary person it just looks like an ordinary box but it isn’t; if you would allow me said George as he reached over and found the secret wooden lever and turned it gently and the draws sprang open and gave Elizabeth a start.’
“Sorry Miss, but here look.’ George pulled out the first drawer to reveal the twelve sovereigns then the second which held the deeds to a cottage in Paignton in Devon.
Then the third Compartment which had the letter from the adoption agency inside it.
He had also brought with him the small suitcase with had the books and photos inside.
Elizabeth read the deeds then the letter from the adoption agency before setting the Jewellery box down on the bench and opening the case.
One by one she looked at the photos of he mother, then the photo of John James White and then her half brothers in their uniforms.
She picked up the leather bound copy of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens and read the first line. “Treats of the place where Oliver Twist was born and of the circumstances attending his birth.’
She closed the book and a tear welled up in her eye.’
George quickly gave her a clean handkerchief from his pocket and she wiped the tear away.
Before I go Mrs Jacobs, there is one more thing I must give you.’
George went into the inside pocket of his suit and pulled out a letter which had in beautiful writing “To Elizabeth Emily Stephenson.’ I found this in her bible.’
George handed her the letter then got up to leave.’
“Wait George please wait.’
“I’m sure that you will want to read this letter somewhere privately and on your own.’
My job is done here.’ I will take care of your mother’s funeral for you if you wish.
Going inside the box she took out the gold sovereigns and gave them to George. “Do you think that this will cover the cost of the funeral George?’
These are very valuable Mrs Jacobs and the welfare will pay something towards your mother’s funeral. I want you to have them George she said as she gave them to him.’
But Miss there is a lot of money here.’
“I know that but you deserve it for looking after my real mother.’