Edwin got lost and panicked. He followed a flame which led him to a fearsome creature that turned out to be a scarecrow.
‘TWAS through a lone forest, one winterly night,
Young Edwin was urging his steed;
No hamlet or cottage appear’d to his sight,
Nor a taper afar with its radiance bright,
Nor a star pierced the gloom with its silvery light,
To show him which way to proceed.
“Alas,!” thought the youth, “is this forest my grave,
How far do these mazes extend?
Should the bleak, howling tempest continue to rave,
Unless I discover some cottage or cave,
Unable much longer its fury to brave,
My life with this journey must end.”
Just then a fierce gust blew the branches aside,
Which reveal’d a glad sight to our youth;
For a far distant light he that moment espied;
“O! shine, gentle flame, through these dangers to guide,
Nor let thy faint beam to my path be denied,
For I need thine assistance in truth.”
So, cheer’d by the light, he redoubled his pace,
While the flame glided slowly along;
But alas! for young Edwin!—deceived by its rays,
He follow’d the phantom, till lost in a maze,
And far having wander’d in untrodden ways,
He plung’d deep morasses among.
Then dismounting his steed with despair in his breast,
He resolved not to struggle again;
When a faint beam of moon-light which beam’d from the west,
Display ‘d to our hero, fatigu’d and distrest,
The path of which he had so long been in quest,
But had sought mid the forest in vain.
But scarce had he ventured three steps on the road,
When his blood was half frozen with fear;
For before him a tall slender figure there stood,
Which, holding its arms out as wide as it could,
Made young Edwin believe from the form that it shew’d,
That the ghost of some person was near.
Now backward with horror he started and fled,
And wander’d till morning arose;
Then he found ’twas a hand-post had fill’d him with dread,
That a will-with-a-whisp had his footsteps misled,
And that he was like others, of whom it is said,
That they know not their friends from their foes.