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

Dismissing his companions they assisted him into the house, and to his room, Mrs. Humphrey only saying, “poor misguided boy, what will become of him?”

When they returned to the sitting room their minds were too much agitated to allow them to converse.  After some time passed in silence, Mr. Humphrey said, “we will not attempt to talk of this new sorrow to-night, but we will pray for the poor boy as well as for ourselves, before we retire to rest.”

Opening his Bible, Mr. Humphrey read the forty-sixth Psalm, then kneeling, he poured out his troubled soul in prayer.  He prayed earnestly for the poor youth now lying in the heavy sleep produced by intoxication.  He also prayed for forgiveness, if they erred in the management of the boy, and for future aid in the performance of their duty.  Could the boy have heard the prayer which Mr. Humphrey sent up to heaven on his behalf, hard indeed must have been his heart, if he had not from that moment resolved to forsake his evil ways, and by his future good conduct endeavoured to atone for his past sins and follies.

CHAPTER VII.

When Earnest came down to breakfast the next morning, neither Mr. or Mrs. Humphrey made any allusion to the situation in which he had been brought home the previous evening.  They treated him with their usual kindness, but it was evident, by his subdued manner and downcast countenance, that he felt sensible of his shame and degradation.  They intended to talk with him of the matter, but deferred it for the present.  Mr. Humphrey advised his wife to give him the package herself, as it was to her care it had been committed.  Soon after breakfast was over, he went up to his room, whither Mrs. Humphrey soon repaired with the package in her hand.  Earnest opened the door when she rapped for admission.  He looked somewhat embarrassed, and seemed by his manner to expect she had visited his room for the purpose of talking to him of the event of the last evening.  She made no mention of the circumstance, but seating herself by his side, addressed him, saying—­

“My dear Earnest, you have often told me that you retain a distinct recollection of your mother.  I have never before told you that, previous to her death, she consigned a sealed package to my care, directed to you with her own hand, with the request that I should give it to you on your fourteenth birthday.  The time has now arrived, and by giving you this package I fulfil what was a dying request of your mother.”  As she concluded, she placed the package in his hand, and immediately left the room, thinking he would prefer being left alone to open the package.

When some time had passed, and Earnest did not come down, Mr. Humphrey went upstairs, and softly opened the door of his room.  He found the boy with his face bowed upon his hands, weeping bitterly.  He approached him, and gently placing his hand upon his shoulder, enquired the cause of his grief.

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