Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THE LINE OF GOLDEN LIGHT; OR THE LITTLE BLIND SISTER
 Once upon a time there lived a child whose name was Avilla.
She was sweet and loving, and fair to look upon,
and had everything in the world to make her happy,
but she had a little blind sister, and Avilla could not be
happy as long as her sister's eyes were closed so that she
see God's beautiful world, nor enjoy His bright sunshine.
Little Avilla kept wondering if there was not something that
she could do which would open this blind sister's eyes.
At last, one day, she heard of an old, old woman,
nobody knew how old, who had lived for hundreds of years in
a dark cave, not many miles away. This queer, old woman
knew a secret enchantment, by means of which the blind could
receive their sight. The child, Avilla, asked her parents'
to make a journey to the cave, in order that she might try
persuade the old woman to tell her this
 secret. "Then," exclaimed she, joyfully, "my dear
sister need sit
no longer in darkness." Her parents gave a somewhat
consent, as they heard many strange and
wicked stories about the old woman. At last, however,
spring morning, Avilla started on her journey. She had a
to walk, but the happy thoughts in her heart made the time
quickly, and the soft, cool breeze seemed to be whispering a
song to her all the way.
When she came to the mouth of the cave, it looked so dark
forbidding that she almost feared to enter it, but the
of her little blind sister gave her courage, and she walked
At first she could see nothing, for all the sunshine was
by the frowning rocks that guarded the entrance. Soon,
she discerned the old woman sitting on a stone chair,
spinning a pile of flax into
a fine, fine thread. She seemed bent nearly double with
and her face wore a look of worry and care, which made her
appear still older.
The child Avilla came close to her side, and thought, she is
aged that she must be hard of hearing.
The old woman did not turn her head, nor stop her spinning.
Avilla waited a
 moment, and then took fresh courage, and said, "I have come
to ask you if you will tell me how I can cure my blind
The strange creature turned and stared at her as if she were
very much surprised; she then spoke in a deep, hollow voice,
so hollow that it sounded as if she had not spoken for a
long time. "Oh," said she with a sneer, "I can tell you well
but you'll not do it. People who can see, trouble themselves
little about those who are blind!" This last was said
with a sigh,
and then she scowled at Avilla until the child's heart began
beat very fast. But the thought of her little blind sister
made her brave again, and she cried out, "Oh
tell me. I will do anything to help my dear sister!"
The old woman looked long and earnestly at her this time.
She then stooped down and searched in the heap of the
thread which lay at her side until she found the end of it.
This she held out to the child, saying, "Take this and carry
around the world, and when you have done that, come to me
I will show you how your blind sister may be cured."
Little Avilla thanked her and eagerly seized the tiny
wrapping it carefully around her hand that she might not
 it, turned and hastened out of the close, damp cave.
She had not traveled far before she looked back to be sure
the thread had not broken, it was so thin. Imagine her
to see that instead of its being a gray thread of spun flax,
it was a thread of golden light, that glittered and shone in
the sunlight, as if it were made of the most precious stuff
She felt sure now that it must be a magic thread,
and that it somehow would help her to cure her blind sister.
So she hastened on, glad and happy.
Soon, however, she approached a dark, dense forest.
No ray of sunlight seemed ever to have fallen on the
trunks of its trees. In the distance she thought she
the growl of bears and the roar of lions.
Her heart almost stopped beating. "Oh, I can never go
that gloomy forest," said she to herself, and her eyes
filled with tears.
She turned to retrace her steps, when the soft breeze which
still accompanied her whispered,
"Look at the thread you have been carrying!
Look at the golden thread!" She looked back, and the bright,
tiny line of light seemed to be actually smiling at her,
as it stretched across the soft greensward, far into the
dis-  tance, and, strange to say, each tiny blade of grass which it had
had blossomed into a flower. So, as the little girl looked
she saw a flowery path with a glittering line of golden
through it. "How beautiful!" she exclaimed, "I did not
the flowers as I came along, but the enchanted thread will
make the next traveler see them."
This thought filled her with such joy that she pushed
the dark woods. Sometimes she knocked her head against a
which stood in her way; sometimes she almost feared she was
but every now and then she would look back and the sight of
tiny thread of golden light always renewed her courage.
Once in a while she felt quite sure that she could see the
some wild beast poking out in front of her, but when she
nearer it proved to be the joint in a tree trunk, or some
fungus which had grown on a low branch. Then she would laugh
her own fear and go on. One of the wonderful things about
mysterious little thread which she carried in her hand was,
that it seemed to open a path behind it, so that one could
follow in her foot-steps without stumbling over fallen
or bumping against living ones. Every now and then a gray
 would frisk by her in a friendly fashion, as if to assure
she was not alone, even in the twilight of the dark woods.
By and by she came to the part of the forest where the trees
were less dense, and soon she was out in the glad sunshine
But now a new difficulty faced her. As far as she could see
stretched a low, swampy marsh of wet land. The mud and slime
did not look very inviting, but the thought of her little
came to her again, and she bravely plunged into the mire.
The dirty, dripping mud clung to her dress and made her feet
so heavy that she grew weary lifting them out of it.
Sometimes she seemed to be stuck fast, and it was only
with a great effort that she could pull out, first one foot,
then the other. A lively green frog hopped along beside her,
and seemed to say, in his funny, croaking voice, "Never mind
mud, you'll soon be through it." When she had at last
reached the end of the slippery, sticky marsh, and stood
more on firm ground, she looked back at the tiny thread of
light which trailed along after her. What do
think had happened? Wherever the mysterious and
thread had touched the mud, the water had dried up, and the
 become firm and hard, so that any other person who might
to cross the swampy place could walk on firm ground. This
the child Avilla so happy, that she began to sing softly to
Soon, however, her singing ceased. As the day advanced,
grew hotter and hotter. The trees had long ago disappeared,
and now the grass became parched and dry, until at last she
found herself in the midst of a dreary desert. For miles and
the scorching sand stretched on every side. She could
find a friendly rock in whose shadow she might rest for a
The blazing sun hurt her eyes and made her head ache,
and the hot sand burned her feet. Still she toiled on,
cheered by a swarm of yellow butterflies that fluttered just
her. At last the end of the desert was reached, just as
sun disappeared behind a crimson cloud. Dusty
and weary, the child Avilla was about to throw herself down
on the ground to rest. As she did so, her eyes turned to
once more at the golden thread which had trailed behind her
on the hot sand. Lo, and behold! What did she see?
Tall shade trees
had sprung up along the path she had traveled,
and each tiny grain of sand that the
wonder-  ful thread had touched, was now changed into a diamond, or ruby,
or emerald, or some other precious stone. On one side the
pathway across the desert shone and glittered, while on the
other the graceful trees cast a cool and refreshing shade.
Little Avilla stood amazed as she looked at the beautiful
and the sparkling gems. All feeling of weariness was gone.
air now seemed mild and refreshing, and she thought that she
hear in the distance some birds singing their evening songs.
by one the bright stars came out in the quiet sky above her
as if to keep guard while she slept through the night.
The next morning she started forward on her long journey
round the world. She traveled quite pleasantly for a while,
of how cool and shady the desert path would now be for any
who might have to travel it, and of the precious jewels she
left for some one else to gather up. She could not stop
herself, she was too anxious to press forward and finish her
in order that her little blind sister might the sooner see.
After a time she came to some rough rocks tumbled about in
great confusion, as if angry
 giants had hurled them at each other. Soon the path grew
steeper and steeper, and the rocks sharper and sharper,
until they cut her feet. Before her she could see nothing
more rocks until they piled themselves into a great
which frowned down upon her, as much as to say,
"How dare you attempt to climb to my summit?" The brave
hesitated. Just then two strong eagles with outspread
wings rose from their nest of sticks on the side of a steep
cliff near by, and soared majestically and slowly aloft.
As they passed far above her head they uttered a loud cry
which seemed to say, "Be brave and strong and you shall meet
us at the mountain-top."
Sometimes the ragged edges of the rocks tore her dress, and
sometimes they caught the tiny golden thread, and tangled it
so that she had to turn back and loosen it from their hold.
The road was very steep and she was compelled to sit down
every few minutes and get her breath. Still she climbed
keeping the soaring eagles always in sight. As she
the top, she turned and looked back at the enchanted thread
of golden light which she had carried through all the long,
journey. Another marvelous thing had
hap-  pened! The rugged path of sharp, broken rocks, had changed into
and beautiful white marble steps, over which trailed the
thread of light. She knew that she had made a pathway up
this difficult mountain and her heart rejoiced.
She turned again to proceed on her journey, when, only a
distance in front of her, she saw the dark cave in which
the strange old woman who had bidden her carry the line of
light around the world. She hastened forward, and on
the cave, she saw the old creature, almost bent double,
still spinning the mysterious thread. Avilla ran forward and
"I have done all you told me to do, now give sight to my
The old woman sprang to her feet, seized the thread of
and exclaimed, "At last! at last! I am freed!"
Then came so strange and wonderful a change that Avilla
believe her own eyes. Instead of the ugly, cross-looking old
there stood a beautiful princess, with long golden hair,
and tender blue eyes, her face radiant with joy.
Her story was soon told. Hundreds of years ago she had
been changed into the bent old woman, and shut up in the
cave on the mountain-side, because
 she, a daughter of the King, had been selfish and idle,
thinking only of herself, and her punishment had been that
must remain thus disguised and separated from all companions
and friends until she could find someone who would be
and brave enough to take the long, dangerous journey around
the world for the sake of others. Her mother had been a
princess and had taught her many things which we mortals
learn. She showed the child Avilla how, by dipping
the golden thread into a spring of ordinary water, she could
change the water into golden water, which glittered and
like liquid sunshine. Filling a pitcher with this they
to where the little blind sister sat in darkness waiting for
one to come and lead her home. The beautiful princess
told Avilla to dip her hands into the bowl of enchanted
and then press them upon the closed eyes of her sister. They
opened! And the little blind girl could see!
After that the fairy
princess came and lived with little Avilla and her sister,
and taught them how to do many wonderful things, of which
I have not time to tell you to-day.