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.


It is a mild and beautiful evening in the early autumn.  Mrs. Harland is alone in her home; she is seated by a table upon which burns a shaded lamp, and is busily occupied with her needle.  She has been five years a wife; her countenance is still youthful, and might be termed beautiful, but for the look of care and anxiety so plainly depicted thereon.  She had once been happy, but with her now, happiness is but a memory of the past.  When quite young she had been united in marriage to Wm. Harland, and with him removed to the City of R., where they have since resided.  He was employed as bookkeeper in a large mercantile house, and his salary was sufficient to afford them a comfortable support,—­whence then the change that has thus blighted their bright prospects, and clouded the brow of that fair young wife with care?  It is an unpleasant truth, but it must be told.  Her husband has become addicted to the use of strong drink, not an occasional tippler, but a confirmed and habitual drunkard.  His natural disposition was gay and social, and he began by taking an occasional glass with his friends—­more for sociability than for any love of the beverage.  His wife often admonished him of the danger of tampering with the deadly vice of intemperance; but he only laughed at what he termed her idle fears.  Well had it been for them both had the fears of his wife proved groundless!  It is needless for me to follow him in his downward path, till, we find him reduced to the level of the common drunkard.  Some three months previous to the time when our story opens his employers were forced to dismiss him, as they could no longer employ him with any degree of safety to their business.  It was fortunate for Mrs. Harland that the dwelling they occupied belonged to her in her own right—­it had been given her by her father at the period of her marriage—­so that notwithstanding the dissipated habits of the husband and father they still possessed a home, although many of the comforts of former days had disappeared before the blighting influence of the demon of intemperance.  After being dismissed by his employers Mr. Harland seemed to lose all respect for himself, as well as for his wife and children, and, but for the unceasing toil of the patient mother, his children might have often asked for bread in vain.

So low had he now fallen that almost every evening found him in some low haunt of drunkenness and dissipation; and often upon returning to his home he would assail his gentle wife with harsh and unfeeling language.

Many there were who advised Mrs. Harland to return with her children to her parents, who were in affluent circumstances, but she still cherished the hope that he would yet reform.  “I pray daily for my erring husband,” she would often say, “and I feel an assurance that, sooner or later, my prayers will be answered; and I cannot feel it my duty to forsake him.”  But on this evening, as she

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