The Path of Duty, and Other Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 262 pages of information about The Path of Duty, and Other Stories.

CHAPTER I.

A sudden bereavement.

“Awake, my dear child, awake!” These were the words I heard:  I started up, gazing in a bewildered manner into the face of my mother, who had, with some difficulty, succeeded in arousing me from the sweet, healthful sleep of childhood.  My mother drew nigh to me and whispered, “My dear Clara, your papa is dying.”  With a frightened cry, I threw my arms around her neck, and begged her to tell me what had happened.  I was unable to comprehend the meaning of her words.  Since my earliest recollection, my father had never experienced a day’s illness, and so the reader may be able to form some idea of the shock occasioned by her words—­uttered, as they were, at the hour of midnight.  When my mother had succeeded in soothing me, in some degree, to calmness, she informed me, in a voice choked with sobs, which, for my sake, she tried to suppress, that my father had, two hours since, been stricken with apoplexy, in so severe a form that his life was despaired of.  She further informed me that his attending physician thought he would not live to see the light of another morning.  Well do I remember the nervous terror with which I clung to my mother as we entered my father’s apartment, and the icy chill which diffused itself over my body, as I gazed upon the fearfully changed features of my father.  I had never before seen death in any form.  I believe the first view of death is more or less terrible to every child; it certainly was terrible for me to first view death imprinted upon the countenance of a fond father.  I have ever since thought that my father recognized me when my mother led me to his bed-side; but power of utterance was gone.  It was a fearful trial to me, who had seen but ten years of life.  After the first shock, a strange calm took possession of me.  Though many years have passed since that period, I remember, as though it were but yesterday, how I sat during those long hours, scarcely for an instant removing my eyes from my father’s face, but shed not a tear; for, after the first burst of grief, tears refused to come to my relief.  Just as the day began to dawn I heard the physician say, in a whisper, to a kind neighbor who stood by, I think he is going.  At that moment my father opened his eyes, and, looking upward with a pleasant smile, expired without a struggle.  I could never clearly remember how I passed the intervening days between my father’s death and burial.  I have an indistinct recollection of the hushed voices and soft footsteps of friends and neighbors, who kindly came to aid in performing the last offices of love and friendship to the remains of my departed father.  I also remember being led by my almost heart-broken mother into the darkened room, where lay the lifeless body of my father, now prepared for the grave; but I have a more vivid recollection of standing with my mother beside an open grave, and hearing our pastor, in a solemn voice, utter the words,

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The Path of Duty, and Other Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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