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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.
the insidious approach of that foe to human life, consumption.  Going one day to visit my mother, I was so struck by the change so visible in her countenance, I privately asked Aunt Patience if she did not feel alarmed for my mother?  She burst into tears, and was for some time unable to reply.  I had never before seen Aunt Patience so much affected.  I begged of her to tell me if there was any real cause for alarm, for I had hoped she would be able to dispel all my fears in regard to my mother.  Regaining her composure, she told me that consumption was hereditary in my mother’s family.  I had never before chanced to hear it mentioned, but Aunt Patience now informed me that several of the family had fallen victims to that disease, and that she feared it had already fastened upon my mother.

“I am glad,” she said, “that you have spoken to me upon the subject.  I have long wished to make known my feelings to you, but I shrank from giving you pain.  I have been unable to persuade your mother to call a physician.  She imagines herself better; but I can see but too plainly that such is not the case.”

I forebore mentioning the subject to my mother at that time; indeed I could not have done so.  I was now thoroughly alarmed—­almost terrified, and it was with a heavy heart that I returned to the dwelling of Mrs. Leighton.

I had frequently spoken to Mrs. Leighton of my mother’s failing health, and I now felt it my duty to resign my position as governess, for a time at least, and return to my mother, that she might be relieved from all care.  When I returned to Mrs. Leighton’s on the evening in question, I again spoke to her upon the subject, saying that I feared I should be obliged to resign my situation in her family and return to my mother, who evidently needed my attention.  Mrs. Leighton expressed much sympathy for me in my trouble, saying that I ought by all means to hasten to my mother; but added that she did not wish me to resign my position, as she was willing to wait for me for any length of time I might find it necessary to remain at home.  She said, further, that Laura would be quite willing to give some attention to the children during my absence; and she tried to cheer me up, saying that she trusted my mother would soon be better.  I too tried to be hopeful, but the impression that my mother was to die had taken deep hold of my mind.

I visited my mother the next evening, and, to avoid surprising her by suddenly returning home, I informed her that I intended spending a few weeks at home, as I needed rest from teaching, and that Laura would attend to the children during the time I should remain at home.  My mother seemed so cheerful that evening that I began to hope that I might have been too much alarmed; but, when I had opportunity for speaking privately with Aunt Patience, her words confirmed my worst fears.  She informed me that at her earnest solicitation my mother had that day summoned a physician; that he had prescribed some medicine for her, and given her some advice in regard to diet, walking or riding in the open air, &c.  She further informed me that she had herself spoken privately to the physician, requesting him to tell her candidly what he thought of my mother’s case.  He replied,—­

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