[Narrative] “Girl Stealing” (from the Springfield Gazette, reprinted in Youth’s Companion, December 30, 1847; pp. 137-138)
How singularly sometimes, incidents in the life of an individual which may have transpired at periods distant from each other, and which apparently have no connection, will mutually enhance their interest, respectively. This thought was suggested by an occurrence which took place in our vicinity on Sunday last, and which, in connection with an incident many years its senior, forms the frame-work of the following narration:
Many years ago, when we were but a boy, a startling announcement was made that a young girl, a resident of West Springfield, had been taken from her bed while asleep, by a person who for some purpose had designs upon her life. The attempt had almost succeeded, when for some reason the villain became alarmed, dropped the frightened creature, and escaped. The whole region around was alarmed, and for a long time afterward every family upon retiring for the night, instituted a regular search under beds and in dark closets for concealed child-stealers. We suffered more than we would be willing to acknowledge from fear, and a man with a dark face, green spectacles, and most diabolical whiskers, frequently woke us from horrid dreams, or sat most suffocatingly upon our very frequent visiter the “nightmare.” The event itself with its attendant consequences, was called very forcibly to mind a few days since, by finding in an old scrap-book the following notice clipped from the Republican:
“An outrage of the most extraordinary character, was committed at West Springfield, on the night of the 10th. Mr. Aaron Day’s two daughters, the eldest about twelve years, went to bed as usual in a lower room in the front part of the house, very accessible from the street. The parents slept in the back part of the house. About 12 o’clock the girls’ room was entered, and the eldest taken from the bed in sound sleep. She did not awake till the fellow had carried her out of the house, when she found herself in his arms, and raised a cry of alarm. He spoke
to her in a soothing manner, and charged her to be silent. But she cried murder, when he grappled her throat, and nearly strangled her. Mr. Day by this time was alarmed, came out and saw his daughter approaching him, she being about two rods distant from the house. Mr. Day saw the villain go away, and might probably have caught him, had he not been engrossed with the care of his frightened and almost strangled daughter. It is difficult to imagine the motives of the villain in this act; but the prevailing opinion in the neighborhood is, that she was stolen with the intention to take her life, and then sell her body for dissection. It will be seen that the select men of the town have offered a reward of five hundred dollars for the detection of the villain.”
Last Sabbath afternoon, at the close of the service, a friend remarked to us that the gentleman to whom we had just listened, had recently been dedicated to the service of missions, and was that evening to be united in marriage to the companion who had chosen to accompany him to the scene of his distant and self-denying labors. Now to us there is always something more than simple self-denial in the devotion of a young man and woman to the cause of missions. We deem the spirit that thus induces a young and hopeful man, full of the love of life and home, and the chosen one of his love, accustomed to the care and tenderness of friends, to go into life-long exile, as belonging to the highest grade of christian heroism. The admiration with which we regard them is exalted, perhaps verging too much upon the romantic. We need not say, therefore, that the announcement interested us, and that we determined to walk over the meadows to the village church where the nuptials were to be celebrated, and be a witness ourself to the ever interesting ceremony.
It was a beautiful evening. Swallows were darting through the air, many a sabbath born insect hung glittering on the sunbeams, and every feeling and sensibility of soul which the long reign of winter had held chilled and benumbed, seemed to awake at the touch of spring, and come out to bathe in the balmy atmosphere. Everything was beautiful. The grass was fresh and green, the buds upon the trees just bursting, the river walked silently its sweet path to the sea, and neither in heaven nor in earth was there aught but “good omens” for those who were soon to be joined in wedlock. We thought of this as we walked along with a most commendable superstition.
The bell rang merrily from the hill, and we with the friend accompanying us hurried forward. At last it subsided to a toll, and half running up the lane that led to the church, we stood upon the steps just as the last tone had died away. We entered the church and saw gathered there, a large number of the villagers, and others, who like us, had come from adjoining towns.
After the religious services of the evening had passed, just as twilight crept in at the windows, the minister descended from his desk, and the pair stood before him. There they made their vows and pledges to each other, a blessing was pronounced, and the congregation separated.
“And who was the lady that we have just seen married?” said we to our friend as we bent our steps homeward.
“The same that was taken from her bed many years ago, so mysteriously,” replied he.
Thus she had given her life to the Being who had preserved it in peril, and soon over distant seas and in strange lands will her lips teach of his loving kindness and his all-preserving care.
We take the announcement of the marriage from the regular column, and very properly annex it to this little narrative.
Married in West Springfield, on Sabbath evening, May 16th, by Rev. A. A. Wood, Rev. Isaac G. Bliss, recently dedicated to the mission to the Armenians at Erzeroom, to Miss Eunice Day, both of West Springfield.