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"COME along," said James Harwood to his wife, who, burdened with two children, followed in his steps. Her heart was full, and she made no reply.
"Well, be sullen if you choose, but make haste you shall, or I will leave you behind in the woods."
Then, as if vexed because his ill humour failed to irritate its object, he added, in a higher tone— "Put down that boy. Have not I told you, twenty times, that you could get along faster if you had but one to carry? He can walk as well as I can."
"He is sick," said the mother; "feel how his head throbs. Pray take him in your arms."
"I tell you, Jane Harwood, once for all, that you are spoiling the child by your foolishness.
He is no more sick than I am. You are only trying to make him lazy. Get down, I tell you, and walk," addressing the languid boy.
He would have proceeded to enforce obedience, but the report of a gun arrested his attention. He entered a thicket, to discover whence it proceeded, and the weary and sad-hearted mother sat down upon the grass. Bitter were her reflections during that interval of rest among the wilds of Ohio. The pleasant New England village from which she had just emigrated, and the peaceful home of her birth, rose up to her view-where, but a few years before, she had given her hand to one, whose unkindness now strewed her path with thorns. By constant and endearing attentions, he had won her youthful love, and the two first years of their union promised happiness. Both were industrious and affectionate, and the smiles of their infant in his evening sports or slumbers, more than repaid the labours of the day.
But a change became visible. The husband grew inattentive to his business, and indifferent to his fireside. He permitted debts to accumulate, in spite of the economy of his wife, and became
morose and offended at her remonstrances. She strove to hide, even from her own heart, the vice that was gaining the ascendancy over him, and redoubled her exertions to render his home agreeable. But too frequently her efforts were of no avail, or contemptuously rejected. The death of her beloved mother, and the birth of a second infant, convinced her that neither in sorrow or in sickness could she expect sympathy from him, to whom she had given her heart, in the simple faith of confiding affection. They became miserably poor, and the cause was evident to every observer. In this distress, a letter was received from a brother, who had been for several years a resident in Ohio, mentioning that he was induced to remove further westward, and offering them the use of a tenement which his family would leave vacant, and a small portion of cleared land, until they might be able to become purchasers.
Poor Jane listened to this proposal with gratitude. She thought she saw in it the salvation of her husband. She believed that if he were divided from his intemperate companions, he would return to his early habits of industry and virtue.