The next summer Bessie learned how dangerous an enemy a large forest could become. There was so little rain during the hot months that things became dry and brittle. One day she heard the cry of “Fire! Fire!” Looking away to the southwest, she beheld a sight that made her feel faint with fear. The woods were ablaze, and the fire was coming directly toward her home.
Her father came to her, explained their danger, told her to warn her mother and then to do all she could to put out any sparks that might fall around the woodpiles, house, or barn. This said, he hastened to join the men in their desperate battle with the fire. When Bessie entered the house, she saw her mother weeping over her little baby, who had been born during the winter months and who had known nothing but sickness and suffering. When Mrs. Worthington heard the news, she continued to weep, and said, “Well, dear, do all you can to put out the sparks; for I think your little brother is dying, and I can not leave him.”
By much hard work, the fire was held in check until evening. Bessie made her rounds with a pail of water and a dipper until her eyes became so painful on account of the smoke and heat that she was forced to lie down on the ground until they quit hurting. As soon as possible, however, she returned to her task, informing her mother frequently of the progress of the fire.
At last word came that nothing more could be done; that the house could not be saved. Seeing that further effort was useless and that each moment increased the danger of their own lives, the men left off fighting the fire, in order to save themselves and to help, if possible, the Worthington family. They soon reached the house. The next question was, where to go. The lake seemed to be the nearest place of safety. Confusion was everywhere, but through it all Mrs. Worthington sat quietly holding her dying baby.
“O Mama,” said Bessie, “aren’t you going with the rest?”
“No,” answered her mother positively; “I shall remain right here with my dying child. I can not move him now and add to his suffering. I know that God can take care of me here as well as anywhere else. Why, Bessie, where is your faith? God can yet send rain and put out the fire.”
“Oh! but if God doesn’t send rain, you will burn up; for the fire is almost here,” cried Bessie. “Do come as far from the house as you can, won’t you?”
“No, Bessie, I told you, no. I shall sit just where I am,” answered Mrs. Worthington; and Bessie knew that it would be useless to press the matter further.
With throbbing heart Bessie ran to her room, which was already getting hot from the fire: she fell upon her knees by the window where she could see the flames leaping from tree to tree, and began to call mightily upon God. “O God!” she prayed, “do send rain or change the wind.” After repeating this prayer several times, she noticed some large drops of water upon the window pane. She knew what it meant: once before God had sent rain to help her in time of danger. Hastening down stairs, she said, “Mama, it’s raining.” “Thank God!” said Mrs. Worthington, “I knew he wouldn’t let baby and me burn up.”