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.
story, or if it was only the creation of his own diseased mind, I said, merely to see what he would say next, “What caused your wife to drown herself; was she crazy too?” “Oh no,” replied he, “she was not crazy, but she was worse than that; for she was jealous of me, although I am sure she had no cause.”  The idea of any one being jealous of the being before me was so ridiculous that it was with the utmost difficulty that I refrained from laughter; but, fearing to offend the crazy man, I maintained my gravity by a strong effort.  When he had finished the story of his misfortunes, he came close to me and said, in slow measured tones:  “And now do you think it any wonder that I went raving distracted crazy?” “Indeed I do not,” said I; “many a one has gone crazy for less cause.”  Thinking he might be hungry, I told him I would direct him to a farm-house, where he would be sure to obtain his supper.  “No,” replied he, “this is not one of my hungry days; I find so many who will give me nothing to eat that when I get the offer of a meal I always eat whether I am hungry or not, and I have been in luck to-day, for I have eaten five meals since morning; and now I must lose no more time, for I have important business with the Governor of Canada and must reach Quebec to-morrow.”  I regarded the poor crazy being with a feeling of pity, as he walked wearily onward, and even the high-heeled boot did not conceal a painful limp in his gait.  But I had not seen the last of him yet.  Some six months after, as I was visiting a friend who lived several miles distant, who should walk in, about eight o’clock in the evening, but the “unfortunate man.”  There had been a slight shower of rain, but not enough to account for the drenched state of his clothing.  “How did you get so wet?” enquired Mr. ——.  “O,” replied he, “I was crossing a brook upon a log, and I slipped off into the water; and it rained on me at the same time, and between the two, I got a pretty smart ducking.”  They brought him some dry clothing, and dried his wet garments by the kitchen fire, and kindly allowed him to remain for the night.  For several years, this man passed through S. as often as two or three times during each year.  He became so well known in the vicinity, that any one freely gave him a meal or a night’s lodging as often as he sought it.  Every time he came along his mind was occupied by some new fancy, which seemed to him to be of the utmost importance, and to require prompt attention.  He arrived in S. one bitter cold night in the depth of winter, and remained for the night with a family who had ever treated him kindly, and with whom he had often lodged before.  He set out early the next morning to proceed (as he said) on his way to Nova Scotia.  Years have passed away; but the “unfortunate man” has never since been seen in the vicinity.  It was feared by some that he had perished in the snow; as there were some very severe storms soon after he left S.; but nothing was ever learned to confirm the suspicion.  According to his own statement he belonged to the state of Vermont, but, from his speech, he was evidently not an American.  Several years have passed away since his last visit to S., and it is more than probable that he is no longer among the living.

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