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A Westmoreland Story
by [?]

Who among my little readers are not older than ten years? Come and I shall tell you a story of what happened to six poor children, all under that age, about fifty years ago. It will be a good lesson for us all, to see what God helped one brave little girl to do.

Agnes Green was nine years old, and had five brothers and sisters younger than herself. Their father was a respectable working man, and they all lived in a small cottage in a wild valley of the mountains of Westmoreland. If you take a good map of England, and look in the north for Westmoreland, you may see Grasmere marked. It is the name of a beautiful valley and also of a lake and a village in it. Beyond this is a smaller valley called Easdale, quite surrounded by high hills, with just one narrow opening into Grasmere. Here, in a lonely cottage, the Greens lived. In fair weather the older children could go to the Grasmere school. Their mother did all she could to keep them neat and comfortable; but she could not afford to have a servant, and so little Agnes was taught to do many more things than are common at her age. She was a very good and clever child, and learned to milk the cow, mend the fire, cook the dinner, nurse the little ones–do all that was possible for her age and strength. Which of you is at all like her? You may say, perhaps, that there is no need for you to learn such things. But you cannot begin too soon to be useful. Had poor Agnes been as helpless as some of you, she and her brothers and sisters must have died of cold and hunger in the sad time I am going to tell you of.

One winter day, Mr. and Mrs. Green had business which made them very anxious to go to a farm-house at some distance from Easdale. There was snow on the ground, but the morning was fine; and to save a long road round by Grasmere, they determined to take a short cut right over the mountains, which they had sometimes done before. So Mrs. Green made everything straight for the day, bidding Agnes take good care of the little ones, and expect her and their father back in the evening before dark; and then both parents kissed the children, and set out on the journey, from which they were never to return. They got safe to the farm, where a number of people were assembled at a sale, did their business, and said they would go home by the same way, although many of their friends advised them not to attempt it, for more snow was evidently coming on.

Evening came, and Agnes made a bright peat fire, which all the children gathered round, expecting every minute to hear their parents’ voices at the door. But it began to get dark and late, and still they did not come. Agnes had often heard of the dangers of snow among the hills, and she soon got uneasy. Her little brothers were afraid too, though they hardly knew for what. They listened to every sound of the wind; they started at times, thinking it was their father’s step; but all in vain. At last Agnes said they must go to bed; and as they had all been well trained to be obedient, they came and said their prayers at her knees, and then went to rest with fearful hearts.

Next morning, when Agnes looked out, she saw there had been a heavy fall of snow, so that the cottage was almost shut up, and it would be impossible for them even to reach the nearest neighbours. And, oh! there was no sign of their dear father and mother’s return. She had a lingering hope that they might have been detained all night at Grasmere; but her fears were far greater. It was, indeed, a terrible situation for six little children to be left in, and her mind being advanced beyond her years, she felt all the danger. But she knew where to look for help; and He who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, heard the cry of this forsaken child, and gave her wisdom and ability for her time of need, as truly as he gave to Solomon on the throne of Israel, long ages before.