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-one leading to the right and one to the left-lay before them. Which of these were they to follow ? That was the question. Cornelia said they must take the left ; all the other girls judged that the one to the right should be followed. And now Cornelia's habitual obstinacy and self-will took possession of her. And I may as well say, in passing, that if any one has a fault, it is very apt to come in the way at the very worst time. I have often noticed, in travelling, that if a wheel or a bit of harness has a flaw or a weak spot, it is sure to give way when you are on a hill side, or at a broken bridge, so as to give you a turn-over, or at least a tumble. it was with poor Cornelia, as we shall see. Her fault, on the present occasion, brought her into great difficulty and danger. To tell the truth, she was by no means sure which was the right road ; but as she had given her opinion in favour ot that to the left, her pride induced her to speak with great confidence. At last she said pettishly : “ Well, girls, I shall take this path, and you may do as you please !” Saying this, and not deigning to look behind her, she struck into the lefthand path, and proceeded on her way.
The other girls, after a moment's hesitation, took the right-hand road. It was a long way home, and the snow was deep ; but at length, just at evening, they reached the village, and went to their several dwellings. They called by the way, and told the parents of Cornelia what had happened, though they seemed to have no apprehension on her account. But night soon set in, and Cornelia did not come home. Then her parents became anxious. The father went to the door several times ; and the mother, looked up repeatedly from her work, and listened. The old dog, now fat and wheezy, would not sleep by the fire-side as usual, but he sat out on the doorsteps and kept his ears erect, as if uneasy or troubled. Finally the farmer took his hat and went out. It was not dark, for the world seemed dimly lighted up by the snow. Never was there a more dreary night. The snow-flakes came swift and steady, and the bitter wind-chill and screamingtossed it hither and thither, now making it spin along the roof, now chasing it into the angles of the house, and now making it dance like ghosts along the tops of the half-buried walls and fences. Suddenly the thought struck to the heart of the father, “Perhaps my child is wandering in the forest, this terrible night!” He went back to the house, almost faint with apprehension. He took his overcoat and stout cane, while the eye of his wife rested upon him; she saw in a moment what this meant. She sprang to his side, and gazed in his face, now pale and terror-stricken. “You are right, you are right!” said she, “go, but do not
Heaven have mercy upon our child !” Leaving the mother in a state of dreadful anxiety, the farmer called upon his nearest neighbours, and in a brief space, five brave men set out in search of the missing girl. They had got the best account they could from the companions of Cornelia as to her probable route, and, impelled by their fears, pushed as rapidly forward as the encumbered state of the roads would allow. Breathless, and oppressed with terrors which he did not dare to speak, the father of the lost child led the way.
Leaving the party for the present, we return to Cornelia. For some time after her separation from her young friends, she went steadily forward, not turning to see if they followed
her; but at last she became uneasy, and paused to listen. For a moment she thought of turning back and following her friends, but then again her pride interfered. “What !” said Pride, whispering in at both ears, “what! you, Cornelia Blossom-you turn back? You confess you were wrong? You be laughed at by half-a-dozen chits, not one of them so smart as you? Do this, and you lose your place as queen of the village for ever!”
Now perhaps, my young readers, you might think it quite as ridiculous, quite as humiliating, to be led about by that miserable, cross-eyed fellow, called Pride, as it would be to follow the advice of your friends. For my part, I think it is very silly indeed, to let Pride govern us, especially as Pride is very apt to make us do dirty and mean things. No doubt our poor friend Cornelia was very foolish in listening to the fellow; but girls will have their whims, even though they pay dearly for it. Having finally decided not to go back, she went as rapidly forward as she could, and in spite of the deep snow, made considerable progress. But what is the use of getting ahead, when we go in the wrong direction ? Poor Cornelia ! you were all this time going from home, and not towards it; every step you took carried you farther and farther from the object you sought !
Nevertheless, the girl kept on, till at last evening began to set in. At the same time the storm increased, and the path became more obscure. Finally it vanished entirely, and a trackless forest was before her. Her courage now began to give way. She stopped and burst into tears. Yet what cared the trees or the tempest for this ? What sympathy had the snow, or the wind, or the roaring forest, for her ? O, where
was mother, where was father, then ? It is in the time of trouble that our hearts perceive the truth; that we see the value of friends and parents whom we have, perhaps, spurned in the hours of prosperity. What a feeling of contrition now stung Cornelia’s bosom, as this thought crossed her mind. “0,” said she mentally, “how often have I disobeyed my parents ; how have I set at nought their counsel. Here, this very day, did I reject the advice of my father, and come upon this unlucky expedition against his warning! And now perhaps, I am to perish in this forest as a punishment for my folly and disobedience. Dear me—what shall I do—what shall I do ?” The poor girl's voice was lost in the creaking and groaning of the trees, and the hollow roar of the winds.
For a short time she stood still, wringing her hands and then she grew angry.
" It's too bad-it's too bad !” said she, stamping her foot, and throwing herself down upon the
But this did not feel good to her bare flesh, and as the stones and trees did not express any pity or come to her help, she thought it best to help herself. So she got up, brushed off the snow, and went forward. But whither she went she did not know. Her mind was so bewildered that she hardly sought to pursue a definite route. She wandered hither and thither, and at last a terrible fear came over her, and throwing her hands wildly in the air : “ Must I indeed die ?” said she, “must I die in this terrible wilderness ?
O mother ! help ! help !" The piercing cry was caught by the wind and echoed along the hollows of the forest, but the snow-drifts sported not the less merrily, and the tops of the trees revelled not the less madly in the gale.
Poor Cornelia ! you are indeed lost, if One who hears the cry of His children come not to thine aid ! She was now nearly fainting. Her brain soon whirled, and then a dreadful stupor began to creep over her. Her feet and hands were numb; her heart seemed scarcely to beat. Her tongue could hardly utter audible sounds. The trees seemed swimming around her. She paused; her limbs trembled, and faintly exclaiming, “Father ! father! father !” she fell upon the snow. Loud, cold, and indifferent was the storm that dreadful night. What cares the snow-drift, whether it becomes the Winding-sheet of a blighted leaf, a perished flower, or a lost child ? Can trees hear the cry of distress? Will the wind listen to the wail of despair? No—but a father's ear is keen, and a father's ear caught the last appeal of the wanderer. Heaven guided the faint sounds, "Father! father! father!” to his heart. He heard the cry. He rushed forward, and clasped his child in his arms. He was not too late—and I need not tell the rest of the story.