But, in the meantime, how were her parents feeling? The cows returned early and were milked. Mrs. Worthington wondered why Bessie did not come with them, but thought she might have been delayed and would come soon. She prepared supper; but when she got it ready, Bessie was still absent.
“What can be keeping Bessie tonight?” Mrs. Worthington said anxiously to her husband. “She should have come home an hour ago.”
“Oh, I suppose she has stopped somewhere to play,” said Mr. Worthington carelessly.
“No; I don’t think so,” replied his wife. “Bessie always tries to be prompt, and I’m afraid something has happened. If she doesn’t come soon, you had better go to look for her.”
“Well, wait until dark,” said Mr. Worthington; “and, if she isn’t here then, I’ll get some men and we’ll search in different directions. Did you notice which way she went!”
“No,” answered his wife, “but I think she went east.”
At dark Mr. Worthington started out with the searching party. Mrs. Worthington tried not to worry; but when nine o’clock passed and half-past nine came, she felt a great anxiety creeping into her heart. Many times she offered an earnest prayer for Bessie’s protection. After putting Leroy to bed she stationed herself in front of the house to watch.
About ten o’clock some one returned to say that he could find no trace of Bessie.
With straining eyes, Mrs. Worthington looked in the direction in which Bessie had gone, and at last thought that she could see some one approaching. As the figure drew nearer, she could see that it was her child, and with a glad cry ran to meet her. “O Bessie,” cried the mother, “what has happened to detain you? Your father and a company of men are out searching the woods for you. Dear child, where have you been?”
Bessie was very tired and hungry; but she related all that had happened and said: “I’m sorry I couldn’t go farther; for I believe the cows were just a short distance beyond the point where I turned back. But I did not dare to cross the swampy place and go into the woods on the other side.”
“Why, the cows have been home a long, long time, Bessie; and that is what had made your delay seem so strange,” said her mother. “But were you not afraid, dear, when you found that you were so far from home!”
Bessie explained how she had felt and how the Lord had encouraged her and helped her to be brave.
“What time was that?” asked her mother; and when she learned, she said, “Bessie, that was when I was so earnestly praying for you. Surely our God is a mighty God and one who is ever faithful.”
When the searching party returned, they were all glad to know that Bessie was safe at home.
As Bessie approached her sixteenth year, Mrs. Worthington became very anxious about her. The mother thought that she could notice a change in her daughter’s actions and disposition. Instead of being confiding and happy, she seemed listless, forgetful, and nervous. At first the mother could not understand this change; but by close observation she found that her daughter was indulging in light reading.