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On The Road To Womanhood
by [?]

In their hands the girls carried a scroll; on their backs they carried a bundle, and they were five in number–five girls with rosy cheeks and healthy bodies. But now their cheeks were browned by the sun and their shoulders drooped as they walked by the way.

For they had walked and walked and walked as the morning had turned into noon, and now the afternoon shadows were already falling on the way. Then as the search seemed almost useless, they saw her–the one for whom they had come; the one into whose hands they wished to place their scrolls. Eagerly they watched her as she came slowly toward them dressed in shining white–the Angel Who Rights Things.

When she smiled, they found courage to speak.

“We have come to search for you but we thought we should never find you,” said the oldest of the girls. “We can never grow strong and beautiful if we carry these heavy burdens on our backs. They are much too large for us and we do not like them. We have come to ask you to take them away and make us free. Lo! we have written it all here in our scrolls.”

But the Fairy Who Rights Things drew back as the five handed to her the scrolls which they carried.

“Take away the burdens!” said she. “Oh, no, I could never do that. He that carrieth no burden gaineth no strength. All must carry if they would grow.”

“But we do not like them. If we must have a burden, might we not exchange them? Surely all our friends do not have burdens to carry. We have watched them and we know they have none,” said another girl.

“You are quite mistaken,” said the fairy. “All have burdens to carry. But I can let you choose if you will exchange your own. Let me see what you have brought.”

“Well,” said the first. “Here is mine. I have to go to school. Now father has plenty of money and I shall never have to work. Why should I study and do all the hard work of the school? I hate it all and I want to be free from it. I want to live at home and read, and play, and do as I like.”

“And here is mine,” said the second, lifting it from her back. “I have to go to church every Sunday when I want to sleep. There is nothing there for me and I am so tired of it. But father and mother insist that I go, at least in the morning. I want to be free from the church.”

“Oh,” said the third. “I don’t mind school and I don’t mind going to church but I do mind having to help at home. It is iron and sweep and wash dishes; then wash dishes and sweep and iron. Always something to do when I am in the house. I hate housework and I want to be free from doing it. Mother says all girls should help at home. But it is a big burden.”

“My burden is quite different from the others,” said the fourth. “I cannot dress as I choose. I must wear heavy clothes and low heels. I must dress my hair as if I were old and tidy. All the girls do differently and I want to be like them. Really my burden makes me very unhappy. Please let me change it.”

Then the fairy turned to the last girl, who had been resting her burden against a stone wall.

“What have you here, dear?” she said kindly. “Your burden seems weighing you down. Let me help you open it.”

“Oh dear,” said the girl, and the big tears welled up in her eyes. “This is my home life. Nobody seems to understand me. They scold and fret and fuss all the time. Mother is cross and the children are always bothering me. I want to go away from home and work for my living and then board as the other girls do. I should love to have a little room in a boarding-house where the girls could come to see me. My burden grows heavier and heavier and I am also very unhappy.”