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.
moment she paused:  dare she go further!  Her irresolution was but momentary, for the momentous consequences at stake gave her a fictitious courage.  She quickly approached the door, which at that moment some one in the act of leaving the house threw wide open, and she gained a view of her husband in the act of raising a glass to his lips; but ere he had tasted its fiery contents it was dashed from his hand, and the shattered fragments scattered upon the floor.  Mr. Harland, supposing it the act of one of his half-drunken companions, turned with an angry exclamation upon his lips; but the expression of anger upon his countenance suddenly gave place to one of shame and humiliation when he saw his wife standing before him, pale but resolute.  In a subdued voice he addressed her, saying, “Mary, how came you here?” “Do not blame me, William,” she replied; “for I could not see you again go astray without, at least, making an effort to save you.  And now will you not return with me to your home?” The other occupants of the room had thus far remained silent since the entrance of Mrs. Harland; but when they saw that Mr. Harland was about to leave the house by her request, they began taunting him with his want of spirit in being thus ruled by a woman.  One of them, who was already half drunk, staggered toward him, saying, “I’d just like to see my old woman follerin’ me round in this way.  I’ll be bound I’d teach her a lesson she would’nt forget in a hurry.”  Many similar remarks were made by one and another present.  The peculiar circumstances in which Mrs. Harland found herself placed gave her a degree of fortitude, of which upon ordinary occasions she would have found herself incapable.  Raising her hand with an imperative gesture she said in a firm voice:  “Back tempters, hinder not my husband from following the dictates of his better nature.”  For a few moments there was silence in the room, till one of the company, more drunken and insolent than the others, exclaimed in a loud, derisive voice:  “Zounds, madam, but you would make a capital actress, specially on the tragedy parts; you should seek an engagement upon the stage.”  Mr. Harland’s eyes flashed angrily as his listened to the insulting words addressed to his wife, and, turning to the man who had spoken, he addressed him, saying, in a decided tone of voice:  “I wish to have no harsh language in this room while my wife is present, but I warn each one of you to address no more insulting language to her.”  The manner in which Mr. Harland addressed them, together with the gentle and lady-like appearance of his wife, had the effect to shame them into silence.  His voice was very tender as he again addressed his wife, saying, “Come Mary I wills accompany you home—­this is no place for you.”  When they gained the street the unnatural courage which had sustained Mrs. Harland gave way, and she would have fallen to the earth, but for the supporting arm of her husband.  For a few moments they walked on in silence, when Mr. Harland said, in a voice choked with emotion,

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