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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.
sits thus alone, her mind is filled with thoughts of the past, which she cannot help contrasting with the miserable present, till her reverie is interrupted by the sound of approaching footsteps, which she soon recognizes as those of her husband:  she is much surprised—­for it is long, very long, since he has returned to his home at so early an hour—­and, as he enters the room, her surprise increases when she perceives that he is perfectly sober.  As he met her wondering gaze a kind expression rested upon his countenance, and he addressed her saying:  “I do not wonder at your astonishment, dear Mary, when I call to mind my past misconduct.  I have been a fiend in human shape thus to ill-treat and neglect the best of wives; but I have made a resolve, ‘God helping’ me, that it shall be so no longer.”  Seating himself by her side, he continued:  “If you will listen to me, Mary, I will tell you what caused me to form this resolution.  When I went out this evening I at once made my way to the public house, where I have spent so much of my time and money.  Money, I had none, and, worse than this, was owing the landlord a heavy bill.  Of late he had assailed me with duns every time I entered the house; but so craving was the appetite for drink that each returning evening still found me among the loungers in the bar-room trusting to my chance of meeting with some companion who would call for a treat.  It so happened that to-night none of my cronies were present.  When the landlord found that I was still unable to settle the ‘old score,’ as he termed it, he abused me in no measured terms; but I still lingered in sight of the coveted beverage; and knowing my inability to obtain it my appetite increased in proportion.  At length I approached the bar, and begged him to trust me for one more glass of brandy.  I will not wound your ears by repeating his reply; and he concluded by ordering me from the house, telling me also never to enter it again till I was able to settle the long score already against me.  The fact that I had been turned from the door, together with his taunting language stung me almost to madness.  I strolled along, scarce knowing or caring whither, till I found myself beyond the limits of the city; and seating myself by the roadside I gazed in silent abstraction over the moonlit landscape; and as I sat thus I fell into a deep reverie.  Memory carried me back to my youthful days when everything was bright with joyous hope and youthful ambition.  I recalled the time when I wooed you from your pleasant country home, and led you to the altar a fair young bride, and there pledged myself before God and man to love, honour and cherish you, till death should us part.  Suddenly, as if uttered by an audible voice, I seemed to hear the words ‘William Harland, how have you kept your vows?’ At that moment I seemed to suddenly awake to a full sense of my fallen and degraded position.  What madness, thought I, has possessed me all this time, thus to ruin myself and those dear to me? 
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