The Path of Duty, and Other Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 310 pages of information about The Path of Duty, and Other Stories.
man was the erring but still loved son of the Virginian widow, who for these long dreary years had roamed over the earth, unfriended and unaided, vainly imagining his own arm sufficient to ward off the ills of life.  He had wandered here from the coasts of the Pacific, where he had been wrecked; his money was nearly gone, and his health had become impaired by hardship and exposure as well as his dissipated course of life.  As he afterwards said, he had no intention of reading the book when he purchased it merely out of civility to the stranger who accosted him so kindly; but after the agent left him he opened the book, and a cold dew broke out upon his forehead, for on the title-page he read the name of his mother as the author.  Her thoughts were continually upon her lost son, and in her mind’s eye she often traced his downward career.  She imagined him worn and weary, his days spent in unsatisfying folly, and his moments of reflection embittered by remorse; unconsciously, in writing this little book she had drawn from her own feelings and addressed one in this situation.  She pointed to him the falseness of the world, and bade him judge of the fidelity of the picture by his own experience; and she taught him the way of return to the paths of peace.  And thus it was that the little book which the wretched young man had selected—­some would say so accidentally, others, so providentially—­proved the means of his return from the paths of sin and folly to those of sobriety and usefulness.  He soon told his story to his attentive listener, and informed him of the relationship he bore to the author of the book he had purchased.  As he concluded, he said, ’Oh, my mother, why did I leave you to become the hopeless being I am?’ ’Not hopeless,’ replied his companion in gentle tones.  ’You have youth on your side, and may yet be a useful and happy man.  I now understand the unaccountable interest which I felt in you when meeting you on several occasions before I spoke to you, and I feel that Providence directed me in the matter.’  The agent stayed two days longer in the city, and then departed, the young man with him, for with the promptitude of his nature, to resolve was to act.  He directed his course toward Virginia, the star of hope leading him on, and finally approached his native village.  No words are adequate to describe the meeting between the lonely widow and her long lost, but now returning and penitent son.  When informed that his father had been for some years dead, the shock to him was great, overpowering, but he uttered no repining word.  ‘I could not,’ said he, ’expect the happiness of meeting both my parents again after causing them so much sorrow, and let me be humbly thankful that it is allowed me to cheer the declining years of my aged mother.’  I well remember,” said Mrs. Knights, “the return of the young man to his home, it was but a short time before I left Virginia; but I have been informed by friends still residing there that he was for several years the staff
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The Path of Duty, and Other Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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