Lyddie’s mother wrote to her to tell her that her baby sister died and to ask for money.
The family’s hopes pretty much rested on Lyddie. She was determined, intelligent, and hard-working. Although she got fired from Cutlers Tavern, she got a new job quickly that was more suited to her. Working in the factory meant long, hard hours, but Lyddie could make more money and gain skills.
Lyddie gets a letter from her mother, and immediately feels guilty for not having sent her money. For the time she has been working, Lyddie has had to use what little money she gets to pay her own bills, such as board and clothing.
The letter, which revealed that her mother could barely write, told a sad tale.
I was exceding surpriz to get your letter consern yr mov to Lowell. I do not no to say. if you can send muny it will be help to Judah and Clarissa. They fel a grate burdun. Babby Agnes is gone to God. Rachel is porely. (Ch. 12)
Her mother is surprised at the move to factory work, and doesn't really seem supportive. Lyddie’s baby sister died, and her other younger sister Rachel was sick. Her mother also asked for money to send to Lyddie’s aunt and uncle, because having her mother and sisters living with them was a burden on them.
At this time, Lyddie was getting paid $2.50 a week and her room at the boardinghouse cost $1.75. That did not leave much left over. Lyddie was also teaching herself how to read, and reading had become a sanctuary. She never had a chance to get much of an education, because she had to leave school when her mother left. She had not felt comfortable leaving the younger children with her unstable mother.
The letter gives Lyddie new resolve.
She must work harder. She must earn all the money to pay what they owed, so she could gather her family together back on the farm while she still had family left to gather. (Ch. 12)
Lyddie feels guilty for not helping her family more. She has to support her mother, pay off the family debts, and continue to support herself. That is quite a burden for a young girl. As much as Lyddie wants to help, she also does not like parting with her hard-earned money, and wishes she could afford little luxuries such as books. Lyddie has nothing for herself.