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.

Alighting from the carriage, Mr. Egmont addressed my uncle, saying,—­

“Have I the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Wayland?”

He replied in the affirmative, and added,—­

“I know not whether or not I am addressing an old acquaintance; but your countenance is not familiar to me.”

Mr. Egmont replied,—­

“I am not aware that we have ever met before; but this young lady who is your niece, Miss Roscom, has travelled in company with myself and wife, and I wished to leave her in your home before resigning my care of her.”

My uncle seemed overjoyed at seeing me.  He assisted me to alight, and embraced me with true affection.  He immediately conducted me into the house, and introduced me to my aunt.  She was a middle-aged, kindly-looking woman; and I also received from her a cordial welcome to their home.  They invited Mr. Egmont to remain till after tea, but he declined, saying that he had promised to return to their friends as soon as possible.  After some conversation with my uncle and aunt, they advised me to retire to my room and seek rest, after the fatigues of my long journey; and I gladly followed my aunt up the stairs, to a neat bed-room, tastefully furnished.  I was weary both in body and mind, and, lying down upon my bed, I soon sank into a sound sleep.  When I awoke, daylight was rapidly fading before the shadows of evening.  I hastened down stairs, fearful that I had kept my uncle and aunt waiting for their tea.  I enquired of my aunt if such were the case?  She replied saying,—­

“I gave the hired men their supper at the usual hour, but your uncle and I have waited to take our tea with you.”

Can it be possible, thought I, that they take their meals with their hired servants?  I had yet to learn the different usages of life in the city of Philadelphia and in a farm-house in the New England States.  I wisely said nothing to my aunt of what was passing in my mind.  Tea being over, we passed the remainder of the evening in social conversation.  We had much to say, mutually of family matters.  I told them many particulars connected with the death of my mother, of which I had never informed them by letter.  They also told me much concerning their deceased children.  Their son had died at the age of fifteen.  As he had a decided taste for books, my uncle intended giving him an education, instead of training him to the life of a farmer.  For a year previous to his death he attended school in Massachusetts.  Returning home to spend his vacation, his parents thought his health was impaired, but attributed it to hard study, for he was naturally studious.  They were hopeful that relaxation from study, with exercise in the open air, would soon restore him to his usual health.  But their hopes were not to be realized; even then had death marked him for his prey; and consumption, which was hereditary in his father’s family, soon laid him in the grave.  Three months after the grave had closed over their beloved son, Walter, their daughter, Caroline, fell a victim to a malignant fever, which at that time prevailed in the neighborhood, and they saw her too laid in the grave, at the early age of twelve years—­thus leaving them childless and sorrowing.  We shed many tears while conversing of our mutual sorrows; and it was quite a late hour for the simple habits of their household when we separated for the night.

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