Jessie shut her eyes and tried to go to sleep, but her nerves were all unstrung, brain and ears were all on the alert, and there seemed to be curious, unaccountable sounds on all sides of her. She had not been alone more than a minute or two before there were strange scraping noises in the kitchen not far from her. “Mice!” thought Jessie, “or beetles.”
She was a fairly brave child, but she had a perfect horror of black beetles, and her heart sank at the thought of them. She drew the shawl over her head as well as she could, and wrapped up her arms in it, but still she felt that the beetles were running, running everywhere, over the walls and over her, and she could scarcely refrain from shrieking aloud in her horror. Then came louder and more dreadful sounds, the cries of people quarrelling; they seemed to be in the very house too; Jessie uncovered her head to hear, then covered it quickly again, sick and faint with fear. A drunken man reeled past the house, singing noisily; to Jessie in the kitchen area he seemed horribly near.
She grew more and more frightened with each sound she heard. She was alone in the dark, with dreadful things happening all around her, in a house that she did not even know her way about. She felt sick and faint with terror and horror of the place, and longing for home and all that she had lost.
Then she remembered suddenly that she had not said her prayers. It had all seemed so strange, and her stepmother had hurried her so, that she had never thought of it until now.
“Oh, I can’t get out and kneel down,” she thought. “I might step on some beetles. I am sure if God sees how dreadful everything is, and how frightened I am, that He will forgive me if I say them here. And she began—
“I trust myself,
dear God, to Thee,
Keep every evil far from me.
“Does that mean drunken men and beetles,” she wondered feverishly, “‘I trust myself, dear God, to Thee;’ if I do, He will take care of me, for certain,” and a ray of comfort crept into her poor little aching heart. “Granp told me so.” And for the first time in her life Jessie felt the true meaning of the dear old grandfather’s lessons in the garden, or by the kitchen fire.
Hitherto she had been sheltered and loved and guarded, been well clothed, and fed, and cared for. Now, for the first time, she felt the need of some one to turn to, and her prayers meant more than they had ever meant before. They came from her heart, and were real petitions.
“Granp said God loved little children, and always listened to them,” and with this comforting thought she at last fell asleep.
THE NEW HOME.
It seemed to Jessie that she was still saying, “Keep every evil far from me,” and trying to go to sleep, when a voice said sharply—
“Now then, it’s time to wake up! Make haste and get your clothes on, for your father and one of the lodgers will be here wanting their breakfasts presently.”