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.

A few minutes’ walk brought me to the dwelling of Mr. Leighton.  Lewis conducted me at once to his mother’s apartment.  I saw as yet no other member of the family.  After ushering me into the room, he withdrew, and left me alone with Mrs. Leighton.  I quietly advanced into the room and paused before her.  She was reclining in a large easy chair, and I was much surprised by her changed appearance.  She was very thin and pale, and appeared to be weak and languid; and Mrs. Harringford’s letter was recalled to my mind when I observed how gray was her once beautiful hair.  She extended her hand to me; but, for some moments, was unable to utter a word.  When she relinquished the hand I had given her, she motioned me to a seat.  She seemed agitated by some painful emotion.  I was the first to break the silence, which I did by saying,—­

“Whatever may have been your object, Mrs. Leighton, in seeking this interview, you will see, by the readiness with which I have responded to your request, that I cherish no resentment toward you.”

Becoming more composed, she replied to me in a low voice saying—­

“As I was unable to go to you, I sent for you, that I may humbly ask your forgiveness for the injustice you have suffered from me.  I now acknowledge, what you are probably already aware of, that it was a foolish and false pride which influenced my conduct toward you, when you left my house long ago.  It requires reverses of fortune to convince us of the vanity of all earthly things; and reverses have overtaken me, and more than this; my failing health admonishes me that, unless a change for the better soon takes place, my days on earth will soon be numbered.  During all the time that has passed since we have met, my mind has never been at rest; for though too proud to acknowledge it, I have ever been sensible that I treated you with cruelty and injustice.  But my pride is now humbled and I beg of you to forgive me; for, believe me, I have suffered even more than you.”

I extended my hand to her, saying,—­

“I freely and fully forgive all the past, Mrs. Leighton, and I trust we may be friends for the future.”

After sitting silent for a few moments, Mrs. Leighton again addressed me, saying,—­

“Were it in your power, Clara, would you make me entirely happy?”

I replied that certainly I would.  She regarded me earnestly as she said,—­

“Will you become Willie’s wife?”

I knew not what reply to make to a question so unexpected.  At length I said,—­

“Willie has been a long time absent.  He may have changed his mind; or, he may be already married.”

“I will answer for all that,” replied Mrs. Leighton.

“Willie is here.  He arrived two days since, and would have called to see you ere this, but I begged him to defer calling till I had seen you, and acknowledged my former injustice to you; for I am now sensible that I wronged a worthy and noble girl.”

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