Page:Twenty years before the mast - Charles Erskine, 1896.djvu/329

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Twenty Years Before the Mast.

prostrate upon the floor. The two elderly men referred to, lifted him up and tenderly laid him on the bench. It was some time before he regained his consciousness, but when he did, he wept like a child. The other men were also so much overcome that they retired from the cabin. The scene that followed within the cabin during the next half-hour is better imagined than described.

I remained at my father’s boarding-house three days, during which time I learned from the good woman of the house more facts concerning the history of my father’s life since he had left his home. She told me she had heard him say that about a year after his departure, while at work in Hartford, Conn., he drew nine thousand dollars in a lottery. He then stopped drinking, and fully resolved to return to his family and live a sober life the remainder of his days. For seven weeks he refrained from the use of intoxicating drinks. Then, receiving the money, he started for home, but thought he would just call at the tavern and take a parting glass with the boys. That glass aroused the old appetite. "More, more," cried the demon within him, drowning all nobler resolves. So resistless was this thirst that he spent a year in drunkenness, at the end of which time his money was gone. He did not return to his home as he really longed to do when he made that resolve, nor did he send a dollar to his family.

The third morning, after breakfast, I bade my father and the family in the house good-bye, and started for home, traveling a part of the way by the Erie Canal. When I arrived in Boston I found the family well, and astonished them by the story of my adventures in Ohio.