Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/104

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LYDIA H. SIGOURNEY.

hurried to and fro, calling for their parents, or shouting for help, until their strength was exhausted. Torn by brambles, and their poor feet bleeding from the rocks which strewed their path, they sunk down, moaning bitterly. The fears that overpower the heart of a timid child, who, for the first time finds night approaching, without shelter or protection, wrought on the youngest to insupportable anguish. The elder, filled with the sacred warmth of sisterly affection, after the first paroxysms of grief, seemed to forget herself, and sitting upon the damp ground, and folding the little one in her arms, rocked her with a gentle movement, soothing and hushing her like a nursling.

“Don’t cry! oh! don’t cry so, dearest; say your prayers, and fear will fly away.”

“How can I kneel down here in the dark woods, or say my prayers, when mother is not by to hear me? I think I see a large wolf, with sharp ears, and a mouth wide open, and hear noises as of many fierce lions growling.”

“Dear little Jane, do say, ‘Our Father, who art in Heaven,’ Be a good girl, and, when we have rested here a while, perhaps He may be pleased to send some one to find us, and to fetch us home.”

Harrowing was the anxiety in the lowly hut of the emigrant when day drew towards its close, and the children came not. A boy, their whole assistant in the toils of agriculture, at his return from labour, was sent in search of them, but in vain. As evening drew on, the inmates of the neighbouring house, and those of a small hamlet, at considerable distance, were alarmed, and associated in the pursuit. The agony of the invalid parents, through that night, was uncontrollable; starting at every footstep, shaping out of every breeze the accents of the lost ones returning, or their cries of misery. While the morning was yet gray, the father, no longer to be restrained, and armed with supernatural strength, went forth, amid the ravings of his fever, to take part in the pursuit. With fiery cheeks, his throbbing head bound with a handkerchief, he was seen in the most dangerous and inaccessible spots—caverns—ravines—beetling cliffs—leading the way to every point of peril, in the phrensy of grief and disease.