Once upon a time there was a little girl named Marie. She was ten years old. She lived with her
father and mother in a small house next to a pond. The pond was open near her house, and there was a
small sandy area almost like a beach. Her father taught her to swim in the pond, and she loved the
water.

From her house, she could cross the open area of the pond and go to the very edge of the
beautiful gray cypress trees which grew there in gay profusion. in a canoe which her father had made
for her. But only to the edge. No further. Her father was very strict about that.

They did not have much money, her parents, but it was a household full of love, and they were
happy. Her father was a craftsman, who had learned to make beautiful furniture from his father, and he
worked from their home, making his furniture in a small shed which adjoined the house. Her mother
kept the home, took care of her family, and was the nurturing spirit of their home.

Marie loved all animals, and spoiled her cat, and spoiled a little mutt which had wandered by
their house one day. He looked starved, and cringed as if he thought that someone would hit him just
for existing. But Marie begged, and so her parents said that she could keep him. He no longer looked
starved, and he no longer cringed. He knew that he was loved, and that he was a member of that
household, so he played happily and kept the goblins and burglars away.

One Saturday her parents needed to go to a nearby town for the weekly grocery shopping.
Ordinarily Marie would have gone with them, but she had an upset stomach, and so her mother made
some light soup for her to eat and told her to just sit and read while they were gone.

And so she did sit and read, until she began to get bored. Her stomach was feeling fine, and it
was a beautiful day outside. Too beautiful, she thought, to just stay indoors. So she went outside and
walked around the yard a bit. What a beautiful day it was!

And then she did something which she knew in her heart was wrong. She decided to paddle her
canoe to the edge of the cypress trees. There was no wind, the weather was wonderful, she knew that
she was an expert swimmer, and so she decided that a quick paddle to the edge of the trees and back
would be OK. If her parents had been there, and seen how much better she was feeling, then surely
they would not object to her doing that.

And so she did, even while knowing that it was wrong. She pushed her little canoe into the
clear water, climbed in, and with a swift stroke of the paddle pushed off the shore and towards the
trees.

When she got to the edge of the trees, she rested a bit before heading back, balancing her paddle
across the canoe and enjoying the sunshine on her face and bare arms. After resting, she started to head
back across the water to her home, when she heard a faint noise, which she had never heard before.
She stopped, looking around to see if she could identify it. Then she heard it again -- coming from just
inside the trees. She hesitated, because she had been told many times not to go into the trees. Only to
the edge and no further.

The noise came again, and she was curious, so she promised herself that she would go only a
few feet and no more. So she pushed the bow of her canoe into the trees. It was darker in there, with
the canopies of the tall trees shading her from the bright sunlight. She heard the noise again, and it was
just off to her right and ahead of her. So she paddled toward it, but every time she got close it would
stop ,and then come again from further on. It sounded plaintive, as if it needed her help, and so she
continued.

Suddenly the water became very shallow, with branches and sunken logs impeding her passage
so that she had to detour around them. The water became so shallow that she could no longer paddle,
so she climbed out and pulled the canoe until she came to deeper water.

The trees looked different to her now. They seemed taller, and somehow cold and forbidding.
She heard strange noises from around her, as if defenseless small animals were being hunted by larger
predators. And she was getting very tired, from paddling, from being sick for two days, and from not
having eaten any lunch before she set out. She sat in the canoe, with her head resting on her breast and
her arms by her side, and fell sound asleep. She did not know how long she slept, but when she finally
awoke, twilight had fallen. And she had no idea how to go back the way that she had come.
It grew darker, and then night fell completely. She thought about her parents, and how worried
they would be for her. She thought about the cat, and the dog, and how they were depending on her to
take care of them.

And then, while she sat there, she saw fireflies. The trees were full of them! Darting hither and
yon, in and out of trees, and skimming along the water. Then a very strange thing happened. As she
watched, the fireflies seemed to form a corridor, with a wall of light on either side. And a voice spoke
to her. Not a voice she could hear, but a voice that she could feel. It said "Follow the fireflies, Marie.
They will guide you home. Just trust the fireflies."

She had faith, and so she paddled down the lit corridor, with deep water and no logs and no
trees in the way. She eventually got to the edge of the trees, and saw that the corridor continued on out
into the pond. So she followed it all the way to her little beach, where her mother and father waited
anxiously for her.

As an old lady, years later, she would tell this story to her grandchildren. She knew that they
did not really believe her, even though they loved to hear her tell it. But she knew it was true. It had
happened to her. And she was saved because she trusted the fireflies.

The End