Monday Sept 3rd /06
My dearest Father,
Long before you get this letter you will have received the cable giving the sad news of Uncle Dilnot's death or rather Uncle Frank will have had it. Auntie thinks it will be best to send it to him. It has been of course a terrible shock to Aunt Lottie and to me and it is dreadful to think of those poor people at Petone, what a grief-stricken house it must be now. You will like to hear all I can tell you about this sad time. On Saturday evening after we had got back from the Blue Mts. he complained of a pain which he has had at times before & which he always said he suffered was indigestion. After dinner that evening he seemed very uncomfortable & got up from the lounge where we were sitting & went for a little stroll outside the hotel. We never saw him again after that. He never cared to be fussed when he was not feeling well & of course we could not know anything serious was the matter, so Auntie did not go into the smoking-room when she went to bed, but she thought she saw the back of his head as she passed the open door. When I went up later the door was shut. I cannot write much about that terrible Sunday morning, it seemed all a bad dream. Poor Auntie touched his hand when she went to his room & found it cold, a doctor was of course sent for at once & came in a few minutes, but we were prepared to hear that he could do no good. Auntie is bearing it very bravely. We are so thankful that there are some people here, Mr & Mrs Crosby, whom we made the acquaintance of at the Blue Mts, no-one could have been kinder or more helpful than they have been. Mr Crosby saw about all necessary arrangements & sent the cablegrams to Petone yesterday morning. I went into the room with Auntie yesterday morning to see him, he was lying quite naturally & they all say he must have passed away quite peacefully in his sleep. They have been able to get a certificate of death from heart failure & so an inquest is not necessary. He was taken yesterday afternoon to the mortuary chapel, the remains have already been embalmed & now we are awaiting a reply to the cablegram from Petone.
Mr & Mrs Pope, Adelaide people whom we also met in the Blue Mts. have been very kind too, Mr Pope being a solicitor could advise Auntie in several matters. He is too such a kind & genuine sort of man, he was very much concerned when he heard the news yesterday & when they came to see us he said to me "although I have known him only a week I felt I loved him as a friend". This morning he has been in & helped us make an inventory of Uncle's personal effects & we have packed them all up. This afternoon they are coming to take Auntie & me for a quiet walk in the gardens, they say it will do us good, so you see we have very kind friends to look after us although we are so far away from all relations.
12.30 A telegram has come from Frank, they evidently did not get the news till this morning, we were a little uncertain whether it would be delivered there on Sunday. He says as we expected he would "send remains over here".
Auntie Lottie naturally feels now she would like to get home as soon as possible so we shall go to the Orient Office here and arrange to go all the way in the 'Oraga', Mr Pope says there will be no difficulty about that. I must write to Mother now, it is her turn for a letter but I had to write & give you some particulars. When I come home I can tell you many more things you will like to hear. I know how much you will feel this blow - Uncle Dilnot endeared himself so much to all of us at home when he was there did he not? I send you much loving sympathy and I know you will feel the same for us when you hear.
Your loving daughter
May E Sladden