The day after Eric’s eleventh birthday, a stormy, brutally cold day, Richard fell ill. His cart was in the ginnel when Eric arrived home, something which had never happened before. Richard had collapsed on the floor before the fire. Eric threw a blanket over him and ran to Farrar's for Kitty. Together they got him to bed. Doctors had to be paid for, but Dr. Briggs never charged those in greatest need. Richard had been troubled with a cough for some time but was now exhausted by the merest activity. He was unable to get up and was convulsed with coughing fits for weeks.

With almost his last breath, Kitty at his side, Richard told Eric "You're t'man o' t'house now, Eric, lad, you promise me you'll allus tek care o' your Aunt Kitty, 'n' love her as she loves thee."

Consumption killed twenty thousand in Leeds between 1890 and 1910 and Richard was but one, a huge and robust man who had served throughout a war, reduced to skin and bone and a suffering, premature end. Eric knew what he must do; keep his promise. For as Richard had often said, "when a Yorkshire lad gives 'is word, come what may, 'e keeps it."

What was to become of Eric's dream of the Navajo now?

BACK Close