It was a serious moment. As the great waves dashed up over them, each adding to the amount of water in the boat, Bessie looked first at her cousin toiling away at the oars, the great drops of perspiration coursing down his face, then at their friend nearly wild with terror, and then at the western sky. "John," said she to her cousin, "I believe that's rain coming toward us." Until then the boy, who was a little older than Bessie, had been brave; but as he turned to look, his face blanched with terror, and he said, "Bessie, if that is rain, it will certainly sink our boat; for, see, it is nearly half full of water now."
The situation was certainly critical, but Bessie felt that it was not the time to despair. She remembered that in olden times Jesus had calmed the sea. Believing that he could still do the same, she prayed for help from heaven. Then, encouraging her cousin to do his best, she, assisted by their friend, began to bale out the water as rapidly as they could. In a few moments the great drops of rain were dashing down upon them. Without speaking, all kept at their work for what seemed to them an hour, but which was really but a short time. Suddenly it ceased raining; and, looking about them, they saw that the lake was perfectly quiet -- not a ripple could be seen. With trembling voice Bessie said, "John, God must have sent the rain to quiet the water, for I asked him to help us." It was a very wet but thankful crowd that reached home that night.
In the spring that Bessie was fourteen years old, her father sold the beautiful home where she had spent so many happy days, and bought a tract of land in a dense wood farther up the lake. On account of the dense forest, the place appeared very dismal. As the purchaser of their old home wanted possession as soon as possible, Mr. Worthington had time to build only a barn before removing his family. In this building they lived during the first summer. Though these circumstances were discouraging, the Worthingtons tried hard to be brave. By fall a house was ready for them.
Many good things were lacking in this new forest home; but God knew this, and he put it into the hearts of friends and neighbors to supply the family with fruit and vegetables and also chickens. So generously were these supplied that there was no lack.
During the winter following much wood was cut, hauled, and piled out along the roadside in front of the house; but still there was standing timber nearly everywhere one might look, and to the south and west it extended for many miles.
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."
By that time the rain was pouring down; the wind had ceased; and the danger was over. The rain did not put out the fire, but so checked it that, by hard work, it could be kept under control until it died out.
Little Clement lived only a short time after the fire; but just before he died, he looked into his weeping mother's face and smiled three times. As he had never smiled before, Mrs. Worthington always thought that God took that way to encourage her heart.