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´╗┐Title: Saved at Sea - A Lighthouse Story
Author: Walton, O. F., Mrs., 1849-1939
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Saved at Sea - A Lighthouse Story" ***

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[Illustration: ON THE LOOK OUT.]


A Lighthouse Story






       *       *       *       *       *



It was a strange day, the day that I was born. The waves were beating
against the lighthouse, and the wind was roaring and raging against
everything. Had not the lighthouse been built very firmly into the
strong solid rock, it, and all within it, must have been swept into the
deep wild sea.

It was a terrible storm. My grandfather said he had never known such a
storm since he came to live on the island, more than forty years before.

Many ships went down in the storm that day, and many lives were lost.
But in the very midst of it, when the wind was highest, and the waves
were strongest, and when the foam and the spray had completely covered
the lighthouse windows, I, Alick Fergusson, was born.

I was born on a strange day, and I was born into a strange home. The
lighthouse stood on an island, four miles distant from any land. The
island was not very large; if you stood in the middle of it, you could
see the sea all round you--that sea which was sometimes so blue and
peaceful, and at other times was as black as ink, and roaring and
thundering on the rocky shores of the little island. At one side of the
island, on a steep rock overhanging the sea, stood the lighthouse. Night
by night as soon as it began to grow dark the lighthouse lamps were

I can remember how I used to admire those lights as a child. I would sit
for hours watching them revolve and change in colour. First, there was a
white light, then a blue one, then a red one, then a green one--then a
white one again. And, as the ships went by, they always kept a look-out
for our friendly lights, and avoided the rocks of which they warned

My grandfather, old Sandy Fergusson, was one of the lighthouse men,
whose duty it was always to keep these lamps in order and to light them
every night. He was a clever, active old man, and did his work well and
cheerfully. His great desire was to be able to hold on at his post till
I should be able to take his place.

At the time when my story begins I was nearly twelve years old, and
daily growing taller and stronger. My grandfather was very proud of me,
and said I should soon be a young man, and then he should get me
appointed in his place to look after the lighthouse.

I was very fond of my strange home, and would not have changed it for
any other. Many people would have thought it dull, for we seldom saw a
strange face, and the lighthouse men were only allowed to go on shore
for a few hours once in every two months. But I was very happy, and
thought there was no place in the world like our little island.

Close to the tower of the lighthouse was the house in which I and my
grandfather lived. It was not a large house, but it was a very pleasant
one. All the windows looked out over the sea, and plenty of sharp sea
air came in whenever they were opened. All the furniture in the house
belonged to the lighthouse, and had been there long before my
grandfather came to live there. Our cups and saucers and plates had the
name of the lighthouse on them in large gilt letters, and a little
picture of the lighthouse with the waves dashing round it. I used to
think them very pretty when I was a boy.

We had not many neighbours. There was only one other house on the
island, and it was built on the other side of the lighthouse tower. The
house belonged to Mr. Millar, who shared the care of the lighthouse with
my grandfather. Just outside the two houses was a court, with a pump in
the middle, from which we got our water. There was a high wall all
round this court, to make a little shelter for us from the stormy wind.

Beyond this court were two gardens, divided by an iron railing. The
Millars' garden was very untidy and forlorn, and filled with nettles,
and thistles, and groundsel, and all kinds of weeds, for Mr. Millar did
not care for gardening, and Mrs. Millar had six little children, and had
no time to look after it.

But our garden was the admiration of every one who visited the island.
My grandfather and I were at work in it every fine day, and took a pride
in keeping it as neat as possible. Although it was so near the sea, our
garden produced most beautiful vegetables and fruit, and the borders
were filled with flowers, cabbage-roses, and pansies, and wall-flowers,
and many other hardy plants which were not afraid of the sea air.

Outside the garden was a good-sized field--full of small hillocks,
over which the wild rabbits and hares, with which the island abounded,
were continually scampering. In this field were kept a cow and two
goats, to supply the two families with milk and butter. Beyond it was
the rocky shore, and a little pier built out into the sea.

[Illustration: THE LANDING STAGE]

On this pier I used to stand every Monday morning, to watch for the
steamer which called at the island once a week. It was a great event to
us when the steamer came. My grandfather and I, and Mr. and Mrs. Millar
and the children, all came down to the shore to welcome it. This steamer
brought our provisions for the week, from a town some miles off, and
often brought a letter for Mr. Millar, or a newspaper for my

My grandfather did not get many letters, for there were not many people
that he knew. He had lived on that lonely island the greater part of his
life, and had been quite shut out from the world. All his relations were
dead now, except my father, and what had become of him we did not know.
I had never seen him, for he went away some time before I was born.

My father was a sailor, a fine, tall, strong young fellow, my
grandfather used to say. He had brought my mother to the island, and
left her in my grandfather's care whilst he went on a voyage to
Australia. He went from the island in that same little steamer which
called every Monday morning. My grandfather stood on the end of the pier
as the steamer went out of sight, and my mother waved her handkerchief
to him as long as any smoke was seen on the horizon. Grandfather has
often told me how young and pretty she looked that summer morning. My
father had promised to write soon, but no letter ever came. Mother went
down to the pier every Monday morning for three long years, to see if it
had brought her any word from her sailor husband.

But after a time her step became slower and her face paler, and at last
she was too weak to go down the rocks to the pier, when the steamer
arrived on Monday morning. And soon after this I was left motherless.

From that day, the day on which my mother died, my grandfather became
both father and mother to me. There was nothing he would not have done
for me, and wherever he went and whatever he did, I was always by his

As I grew older, he taught me to read and write, for there was of course
no school which I could attend. I also learnt to help him to trim the
lamps, and to work in the garden. Our life went on very evenly from day
to day, until I was about twelve years old. I used to wish sometimes
that something new would happen to make a little change on the island.
And at last a change came.



My grandfather and I were sitting at tea one dark November evening. We
had been digging in the garden the whole morning, but in the afternoon
it had become so wet and stormy that we had remained indoors.

We were sitting quietly at our tea, planning what we would do the next
day, when the door suddenly opened and Mr. Millar put his head in.

'Sandy, quick!' he said. 'Look here!' My grandfather and I ran to the
door, and looked out over the sea. There, about three miles to the
north of us, we saw a bright flare of light. It blazed up for a moment
or two, lighting up the wild and stormy sky, and then it went out, and
all was darkness again.

'What is it, grandfather?' I asked. But he did not answer me.

'There's no time to lose, Jem,' he said; "out with the boat, my man!"

'It's an awful sea,' said Millar, looking at the waves beating fiercely
against the rocks.

'Never mind, Jem,' said my grandfather; 'we must do our best.' So the
two men went down to the shore, and I followed them.

'What is it, grandfather?' I asked again.

'There's something wrong out there,' said he, pointing to the place
where we had seen the light. 'That's the flare they always make when
they're in danger and want help at once.'

'Are you going to them, grandfather?' I said.

'Yes, if we can get the boat out,' he said. 'Now, Jem, are you ready?'

'Let me go with you, grandfather,' I said; 'I might be able to help.'

'All right, my lad,' he said; 'we'll try if we can get her off.'

I can see that scene with my mind's eye as though it were but yesterday.
My grandfather and Mr. Millar straining every nerve to row the boat from
land, whilst I clung on to one of the seats, and tried in vain to steer
her. I can see poor Mrs. Millar standing on the pier, with her shawl
over her head, watching us, and two of her little girls clinging to her
dress. I can see the waves, which seemed to be rising higher every
moment, and ready to beat our little boat to pieces. And I can see my
grandfather's disappointed face, as, after many a fruitless attempt, he
was obliged to give it up.

'It's no use, I'm afraid, Jem,' he said at last; 'we haven't hands
enough to manage her.'

So we got to shore as best we could, and paced up and down the little
pier. We could see nothing more. It was a very dark night, and all was
perfect blackness over the sea.

The lighthouse lamps were burning brightly; they had been lighted more
than two hours before. It was Millar's turn to watch, so he went up to
the tower, and my grandfather and I remained on the pier.

'Can nothing be done, grandfather?'

'I'm afraid not, my lad. We can't make any way against such a sea as
this; if it goes down a bit, we'll have another try at it.'

But the sea did not go down. We walked up and down the pier almost in

Presently a rocket shot up into the sky, evidently from the same place
where we had seen the flare.

'There she is again, Alick! Poor things! I wonder how many of them there

'Can we do nothing at all?' I asked again.

'No, my lad,' he said; 'the sea's too much for us. It's a terrible
night. It puts me in mind of the day you were born.'

So the night wore away. We never thought of going to bed, but walked up
and down the pier, with our eyes fixed on the place where we had seen
the lights. Every now and then, for some hours, rockets were sent up;
and then they ceased, and we saw nothing.

'They've got no more with them,' said my grandfather. 'Poor things! it's
a terrible bad job.'

'What's wrong with them, grandfather?' I asked. 'Are there rocks over

'Yes, there's the Ainslie Crag just there; it's a nasty place that--a
very nasty place. Many a fine ship has been lost there!'

At last the day began to dawn; a faint grey light spread over the sea.
We could distinguish now the masts of a ship in the far distance. 'There
she is, poor thing!' said my grandfather, pointing in the direction of
the ship. 'She's close on Ainslie Crag--I thought so!'

'The wind's gone down a bit now, hasn't it?' I asked.

'Yes, and the sea's a bit stiller just now,' he said. 'Give Jem a call,

Jem Millar hastened down to the pier with his arms full of rope.

'All right, Jem, my lad,' said my grandfather. 'Let's be off; I think we
may manage it now.'

So we jumped into the boat, and put off from the pier. It was a fearful
struggle with the wind and waves, and for a long time we seemed to make
no way against them. Both the men were much exhausted, and Jem Millar
seemed ready to give in.

'Cheer up, Jem, my lad,' said my grandfather; 'think of all the poor
fellows out there. Let's have one more try!'

So they made a mighty effort, and the pier was left a little way behind.
Slowly, very slowly, we made that distance greater; slowly, very slowly,
Mrs. Millar, who was standing on the shore, faded from our sight, and
the masts of the ship in distress seemed to grow a little more near. Yet
the waves were still fearfully strong, and appeared ready, every moment,
to swallow up our little boat. Would my grandfather and Millar ever be
able to hold on till they reached the ship, which was still more than
two miles away?

'What's that?' I cried, as I caught sight of a dark object, rising and
falling with the waves.

'It's a boat, surely!' said my grandfather 'Look, Jem!



It _was_ a boat of which I had caught sight--a boat bottom upwards. A
minute afterwards it swept close past us, so near that we could almost
touch it.

'They've lost their boat. Pull away, Jem!'

'Oh, grandfather!' I said,--and the wind was so high, I could only make
him hear by shouting,--'grandfather, do you think the boat was full?'

'No,' he said. 'I think they've tried to put her off, and she's been
swept away. Keep up, Jem!' For Jem Millar, who was not a strong man,
seemed ready to give in.

We were now considerably more than half-way between the boat and the
ship. It seemed as if those on board had caught sight of us, for another
rocket went up. They had evidently kept one back, as a last hope, in
case any one should pass by.

As we drew nearer, we could see that it was a large ship, and we could
distinguish many forms moving about on deck.

'Poor fellows! poor fellows!' said my grandfather. 'Pull away, Jem!'

Nearer and nearer we came to the ship, till at length we could see her
quite distinctly. She had struck on Ainslie Crag, and her stern was
under water, and the waves were beating wildly on her deck. We could see
men clinging to the rigging which remained, and holding on to the
broken masts of the ship.

I shall _never_ forget that sight to my dying day! My grandfather and
Jem Millar saw it, and they pulled on desperately.

And now we were so near to the vessel that had it not been for the storm
which was raging, we could have spoken to those on board. Again and
again we tried to come alongside the shattered ship, but were swept away
by the rush of the strong, resistless waves.

Several of the sailors came to the side of the ship, and threw out a
rope to us. It was long before we could catch it, but at last, as we
were being carried past it, I clutched it, and my grandfather
immediately made it secure.

'Now!' he cried. 'Steady, Jem! we shall save some of them yet!' and he
pulled the boat as near as possible to the ship.

Oh! how my heart beat that moment, as I looked at the men and women all
crowding towards the place where the rope was fastened.

'We can't take them all,' said my grandfather anxiously; 'we must cut
the rope when we've got as many as the boat will carry.'

I shuddered, as I thought of those who would be left behind.

We had now come so close to the ship that the men on board would be able
to watch their opportunity, and jump into the boat whenever a great wave
was past, and there was a lull for a moment in the storm.

'Look out, Jem!' cried my grandfather. 'Here's the first'

A man was standing by the rope, with what appeared to be a bundle in
his arms. The moment we came near, he seized his opportunity and threw
it to us. My grandfather caught it.


'It's a child, Alick!' he said; 'put it down by you.'

I put the bundle at my feet, and my grandfather cried, 'Now another;
quick, my lads!'

But at this moment Jem Millar seized his arm. 'Sandy! look out!' he
almost shrieked.

My grandfather turned round. A mighty wave, bigger than any I had seen
before, was coming towards us. In another moment we should have been
dashed by its violence against the ship, and all have perished.

My grandfather hastily let go the rope, and we just got out of the way
of the ship before the wave reached us. And then came a noise, loud as
a terrible thunder-clap, as the mighty wave dashed against Ainslie Crag.
I could hardly breathe, so dreadful was the moment!

'Now back again for some more!' cried my grandfather, when the wave had

We looked round, but the ship was gone! It had disappeared like a dream
when one awakes, as if it had never been. That mighty wave had broken
its back, and shattered it into a thousand fragments. Nothing was to be
seen of the ship or its crew but a few floating pieces of timber.

My grandfather and Millar pulled hastily to the spot, but it was some
time before we could reach it, for we had been carried by the sea almost
a mile away, and the storm seemed to be increasing in violence.

When at last we reached that terrible Ainslie Crag, we were too late to
save a single life; we could not find one of those on board. The
greater number no doubt had been carried down in the vortex made by the
sinking ship, and the rest had risen and sunk again long before we
reached them.

For some time we battled with the waves, unwilling to relinquish all
hope of saving some of them. But we found at last that it was of no use,
and we were obliged to return.

All had perished, except the child lying at my feet. I stooped down to
it, and could hear that it was crying, but it was so tightly tied up in
a blanket that I could not see it nor release it.

We had to strain every nerve to reach the lighthouse. It was not so hard
returning as going, for the wind was in our favour, but the sea was
still strong, and we were often in great danger. I kept my eyes fixed
on the lighthouse lamps, and steered the boat as straight as I could.
Oh! how thankful we were to see those friendly lights growing nearer.
And at last the pier came in sight, and Mrs. Millar still standing there
watching us.

'Have you got none of them?' she said, as we came up the steps.

'Nothing but a child,' said my grandfather sadly. 'Only one small child,
that's all. Well, we did our very best, Jem, my lad.'

Jem was following my grandfather, with the oars over his shoulder. I
came last, with that little bundle in my arms.

The child had stopped crying now, and seemed to be asleep, it was so
still. Mrs. Millar wanted to take it from me, and to undo the blanket,
but my grandfather said 'Bide your time, Mary; bring the child into the
house, my lass; it's bitter cold out here.'

So we all went up through the field, and through our garden and the
court. The blanket was tightly fastened round the child, except at the
top, where room had been left for it to breathe, and I could just see a
little nose and two closed eyes, as I peeped in at the opening.

The bundle was a good weight, and before I reached the house I was glad
of Mrs. Millar's help to carry it. We came into our little kitchen, and
Mrs. Millar took the child on her knee and unfastened the blanket.

'Bless her,' she said, as her tears fell fast, 'it's a little girl!'

'Ay,' said my grandfather, 'so it is; it's a bonnie wee lassie!'



I do not think I have ever seen a prettier face than that child's. She
had light brown hair, and round rosy cheeks, and the bluest of blue

She awoke as we were looking at her, and seeing herself amongst
strangers, she cried bitterly.

'Poor little thing!' said Mrs. Millar. 'She wants her mother.'

'Mam--ma! Ma--ma!' cried the little girl, as she caught the word.

Mrs. Millar fairly broke down at this, and sobbed and cried as much as
the child.

'Come, my lass,' said her husband, 'cheer up! Thee'll make her worse, if
thee takes on so.'

But Mrs. Millar could do nothing but cry. 'Just think if it was our
Polly!' was all that she could say. 'Oh, Jem, just think if it was our
Polly that was calling for me!'

My grandfather took the child from her, and put her on my knee. 'Now,
Mary,' he said, 'get us a bit of fire and something to eat, there's a
good woman! The child's cold and hungered, and we're much about the same

Mrs. Millar bustled about the house, and soon lighted a blazing fire;
then she ran in next door to see if her children, whom she had left with
a little servant girl, were all right, and she brought back with her
some cold meat for our breakfast.

I sat down on a stool before the fire, with the child on my knee. She
seemed to be about two years old, a strong, healthy little thing. She
had stopped crying now, and did not seem to be afraid of me; but
whenever any of the others came near she hid her face in my shoulder.

Mrs. Millar brought her a basin of bread and milk, and she let me feed

She seemed very weary and sleepy, as if she could hardly keep her eyes
open. 'Poor wee lassie!' said my grandfather; 'I expect they pulled her
out of her bed to bring her on deck. Won't you put her to bed?'

'Yes,' said Mrs. Millar, 'I'll put her in our Polly's bed; she'll sleep
there quite nice, she will.'

But the child clung to me, and cried so loudly when Mrs. Millar tried
to take her, that my grandfather said,--

'I wouldn't take her away, poor motherless lamb; she takes kindly to
Alick; let her bide here.'

So we made up a little bed for her on the sofa; and Mrs. Millar brought
one of little Polly's nightgowns, and undressed and washed her, and put
her to bed.

The child was still very shy of all of them but me. She seemed to have
taken to me from the first, and when she was put into her little bed she
held out her tiny hand to me, and said, 'Handie, Timpey's handie.'

'What does she say? bless her!' said Mrs. Millar, for it was almost the
first time that the child had spoken.

'She wants me to hold her little hand,' I said, 'Timpey's little hand.
Timpey must be her name!'

'I never heard of such a name,' said Mrs. Millar. 'Timpey, did you say?
What do they call you, darling?' she said to the child.

But the little blue eyes were closing wearily, and very soon the child
was asleep. I still held that tiny hand in mine as I sat beside her; I
was afraid of waking her by putting it down.

'I wonder who she is,' said Mrs. Millar, in a whisper, as she folded up
her little clothes. 'She _has_ beautiful things on, to be sure! She has
been well taken care of, anyhow! Stop, here's something written on the
little petticoat; can you make it out, Alick?'

I laid down the little hand very carefully, and took the tiny petticoat
to the window.

'Yes,' I said, 'this will be her name. Here's _Villiers_ written on it.

'Dear me!' said Mrs. Millar. 'Yes, that will be her name. Dear me, dear
me; to think of her poor father and mother at the bottom of that
dreadful sea! Just think if it was our Polly!' And then Mrs. Millar
cried so much again that she was obliged to go home and finish her cry
with her little Polly clasped tightly in her arms.

My grandfather was very worn out with all he had done during the night,
and went upstairs to bed. I sat watching the little sleeping child. I
felt as if I could not leave her.

She slept very quietly and peacefully. Poor little pet! how little she
knows what has happened, I thought; and my tears came fast, and fell on
the little fat hand which was lying on the pillow. But after a few
minutes I leaned my head against the sofa, and fell fast asleep. I had
had no sleep the night before, and was quite worn out.

I was awakened, some hours after, by some one pulling my hair, and a
little voice calling in my ear, 'Up! up, boy! up! up!'

I looked up, and saw a little roguish face looking at me--the merriest,
brightest little face you can imagine.

'Up, up, boy, please!' she said again, in a coaxing voice.

So I lifted up my head, and she climbed out of her little bed on the
sofa on to my knee.

'Put shoes on, boy,' she said, holding out her little bare toes.

I put on her shoes and stockings, and then Mrs. Millar came in and
dressed her.

It was a lovely afternoon; the storm had ceased whilst we had been
asleep, and the sun was shining brightly. I got the dinner ready, and
the child watched me, and ran backwards and forwards, up and down the
kitchen. She seemed quite at home now and very happy.

My grandfather was still asleep, so I did not wake him. Mrs. Millar
brought in some broth she had made for the child, and we dined together.
I wanted to feed her, as I had done the night before, but she said,--

'Timpey have 'poon, please!' and took the spoon from me, and fed herself
so prettily, I could not help watching her.

'God bless her, poor little thing!' said Mrs. Millar.

'God bless 'ou,' said the child. The words were evidently familiar to

'She must have heard her mother say so,' said Mrs. Millar, in a choking

When we had finished dinner, the child slipped down from her stool, and
ran to the sofa. Here she found my grandfather's hat, which she put on
her head, and my scarf, which she hung round her neck. Then she marched
to the door, and said, 'Tatta, tatta; Timpey go tatta.'

'Take her out a bit, Alick,' said Mrs. Millar. 'Stop a minute, though;
I'll fetch her Polly's hood.' So, to her great delight, we dressed her
in Polly's hood, and put a warm shawl round her, and I took her out.

Oh! how she ran, and jumped, and played in the garden. I never saw such
a merry little thing. Now she was picking up stones, now she was
gathering daisies ('day days, she called them), now she was running down
the path and calling to me to catch her. She was never still a single

[Illustration: AFTER THE STORM.]

But every now and then, as I was playing with her, I looked across the
sea to Ainslie Crag. The sea had not gone down much, though the wind had
ceased, and I saw the waves still dashing wildly upon the rocks.

And I thought of what lay beneath them, of the shattered ship, and of
the child's mother. Oh! if she only knew, I thought, as I listened to
her merry laugh, which made me more ready to cry than her tears had



My grandfather and Jem Millar were sitting over the fire in the little
watchroom in the lighthouse tower, and I sat beside them with the child
on my knee. I had found an old picture-book for her, and she was turning
over the leaves, and making her funny little remarks on the pictures.

'Well, Sandy,' said Millar, 'what shall we do with her?'

'_Do_ with her?' said my grandfather stroking her little fair head.
'We'll keep her! Won't we, little lassie?'

'Yes,' said the child, looking up and nodding her head, as if she
understood all about it.

'We ought to look up some of her relations, it seems to me,' said Jem.
'She's sure to have some, somewhere.'

'And how are we to find them out?' asked my grandfather.

'Oh, the captain can soon make out for us what ship is missing, and we
can send a line to the owners; they'll know who the passengers was.'

'Well,' said my grandfather, 'maybe you're right, Jem; we'll see what
they say. But, for my part, if them that cares for the child is at the
bottom of that sea, I hope no one else will come and take her away from

'If I hadn't so many of them at home--'began Millar.

'Oh yes, my lad, I know that,' said my grandfather, interrupting him;
'but thy house is full enough already. Let the wee lassie come to Alick
and me. She'll be a nice little bit of company for us; and Mary will see
to her clothes and such like, I know.'

'Yes, that she will,' said her husband. 'I do declare she has been
crying about that child the best part of the day! She has indeed!'

My grandfather followed Jem's advice, and told Captain Sayers, when he
came in the steamer the next Monday, the whole story of the shipwreck,
and asked him to find out for him the name and address of the owners of
the vessel.

Oh, how I hoped that no one would come to claim my little darling. She
became dearer to me every day, and I felt as if it would break my heart
to part with her. Every night, when Mrs. Millar had undressed her, she
knelt beside me in her little white nightgown to 'talk to God,' as she
called praying. She had evidently learnt a little prayer from her
mother, for the first night she began of her own accord

  'Jesus, Eppy, hear me.'

I could not think at first what it was that she was saying; but Mrs.
Millar said she had learnt the hymn when she was a little girl, and she
wrote out the first verse for me. And every night afterwards I let the
child repeat it after me,--

  'Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me,
    Bless Thy little lamb to-night,
  Through the darkness be Thou near me,
    Keep me safe till morning light.'

I thought I should like her always to say the prayer her mother had
taught her. I never prayed myself--my grandfather had never taught me. I
wondered if my mother would have taught me if she had lived. I thought
she would.

I knew very little in those days of the Bible. My grandfather did not
care for it, and never read it. He had a large Bible, but it was always
laid on the top of the chest of drawers, as a kind of ornament; and
unless I took it down to look at the curious old pictures inside, it was
never opened.

Sunday on the island was just the same as any other day. My grandfather
worked in the garden, or read the newspaper, just the same as usual, and
I rambled about the rocks, or did my lessons, or worked in the house, as
I did every other day in the week. We had no church or chapel to go to,
and nothing happened to mark the day.

I often think now of that dreadful morning when we went across the
stormy sea to that sinking ship. If our boat had capsized then, if we
had been lost, what would have become of our souls? It is a very solemn
thought, and I cannot be too thankful to God for sparing us both a
little longer. My grandfather was a kind-hearted, good-tempered, honest
old man; but I know now that that is not enough to open the door of
heaven. Jesus is the only way there, and my grandfather knew little of,
and cared nothing for, _Him_.

Little Timpey became my constant companion, indoors and out of doors.
She was rather shy of the little Millars, for they were noisy and rough
in their play, but she clung to me, and never wanted to leave me. Day
by day she learnt new words, and came out with such odd little remarks
of her own, that she made us all laugh. Her great pleasure was to get
hold of a book, and pick out the different letters of the alphabet,
which, although she could hardly talk, she knew quite perfectly.

Dear little pet! I can see her now, sitting at my feet on a large flat
rock by the seashore, and calling me every minute to look at A, or B, or
D, or S. And so by her pretty ways she crept into all our hearts, and we
quite dreaded the answer coming to the letter my grandfather had written
to the owners of the _Victory_, which, we found, was the name of the
lost ship.

It was a very wet day, the Monday that the answer came. I had been
waiting some time on the pier, and was wet through before the steamer
arrived. Captain Sayers handed me the letter before anything else, and
I ran up with it to my grandfather at once. I could not wait until our
provisions and supplies were brought on shore.

Little Timpey was sitting on a stool at my grandfather's feet, winding a
long piece of tape round and round her little finger. She ran to meet me
as I came in, and held up her face to be kissed.

What if this letter should say she was to leave us, and go back by the
steamer! I drew a long breath as my grandfather opened it.

It was a very civil letter from the owners of the ship, thanking us for
all we had done to save the unhappy crew and passengers, but saying they
knew nothing of the child or her belongings, as no one of the name of
Villiers had taken a cabin, and there was no sailor on board of that
name. But they said they would make further inquiries in Calcutta, from
which port the vessel had sailed. Meanwhile they begged my grandfather
to take charge of the child, and assured him he should be handsomely
rewarded for his trouble.

'That's right!' I said, when he had finished reading it. 'Then she
hasn't to go yet!'

'No,' said my grandfather; 'poor wee lassie! we can't spare her yet. I
don't want any of their rewards, Alick, not I! That's reward enough for
me,' he said, as he lifted up the child to kiss his wrinkled forehead.



The next Monday morning Timpey and I went down together to the pier, to
await the arrival of the steamer. She had brought a doll with her, which
Mrs. Millar had given her, and of which she was very proud.

Captain Sayers sent for me, as soon as the steamer came up to the pier,
to tell me that two gentlemen had come to see my grandfather. I held
the child's hand very tightly in mine, for I had felt sure they had come
for her.

The gentlemen came up the steps a minute or two afterwards. One of them
was a middle-aged man, with a very clever face, I thought. He told me he
had come to see Mr. Alexander Fergusson, and asked me if I could direct
him which way to go to the house.

'Yes, sir,' I said; 'Mr. Fergusson is my grandfather.' So we went up
towards the lighthouse, Timpey and I walking first to lead the way, and
the gentlemen following. The other gentleman was quite old, and had
white hair and gold spectacles, and a pleasant, kindly face.

Timpey could not walk very fast, and she kept running first to one side
and then to another, to gather flowers or pick up stones, to I took her
in my arms and carried her.

'Is that your little sister?' asked the old gentleman.

'No, sir,' I said; 'this is the little girl who was on board the

'Dear me! dear me!' said both gentlemen at once. 'Let me look at her,'
said the old man, arranging his spectacles.

But Timpey was frightened, and clung to me, and began to cry. 'Never
mind, never mind,' said the old gentleman kindly; 'we'll make friends
with one another by-and-by.'

By this time we had reached the house, and the middle-aged gentleman
introduced himself as Mr. Septimus Forster, one of the owners of the
lost vessel, and said that he and his father-in-law, Mr. Davis, had come
to hear all particulars that my grandfather could give them with regard
to the shipwreck.

My grandfather begged them to sit down, and told me to prepare
breakfast for them at once. They were very pleasant gentlemen, both of
them, and were very kind to my grandfather. Mr. Forster wanted to make
him a handsome present for what he had done; but my grandfather would
not take it. They talked much of little Timpey, and I kept stopping to
listen as I was setting out the cups and saucers. They had heard nothing
more of her relations; and they said it was a very strange thing that no
such name as Villiers was to be found on the list of passengers on
board. They offered to take her away with them till some relation was
found; but my grandfather begged to keep her. The gentlemen, seeing how
happy and well cared for the child was, gladly consented.

After breakfast Mr. Forster said he should like to see the lighthouse,
so my grandfather went up to the top of the tower with him, and showed
him with great pride all that was to be seen there. Old Mr. Davis was
tired, and stayed behind with little Timpey and me.

'This is a strong house, my lad,' he said, when the others had gone.

'Yes, sir,' I said, 'it ought to be strong; the wind is fearful here

'What sort of a foundation has it?' said the old man, tapping the floor
with his stick.

'Oh, it's all rock, sir,' I answered, 'solid rock; our house and the
lighthouse tower are all built into the rock; they would never stand if
they weren't'

'And are _you_ on the Rock, my lad?' said Mr. Davis, looking at me
through his spectacles.

'I beg your pardon, sir,' I said, for I thought I had not heard him

'Are _you_ on the Rock?' he repeated.

'On the rock, sir? oh, yes,' I said, thinking he could not have
understood what I said before. 'All these buildings are built into the
rock, or the wind and sea would carry them away.'

'But _you_,' said the old gentleman again, 'are _you_ on the Rock?'

'I don't quite understand you, sir,' I said.

'Never mind,' he said; 'I'll ask your grandfather when he comes down.'
So I sat still, wondering what he could mean, and almost thinking he
must have gone out of his mind.

As soon as my grandfather returned, he put the same question to him; and
my grandfather answered it as I had done, by assuring him how firmly and
strongly the lighthouse and its surroundings were built into the solid

'And you yourself,' said Mr. Davis 'how long have you been on the Rock?'

'I, sir?' said my grandfather. 'I suppose you mean how long have I lived
here; forty years, sir--forty years come the twelfth of next month I've
lived on this rock.'

'And how much longer do you expect to live here?' said the old

'Oh, I don't know, sir,' said my grandfather. 'As long as I live, I
suppose. Alick, here, will take my place by-and-by; he's a fine, strong
boy is Alick, sir.'

'And where will you live when you leave the island?' asked Mr. Davis.

'Oh, I never mean to leave it,' said my grandfather; 'not till I die,

'And _then_; where will you live _then_?'

'Oh, I don't know, sir,' said my grandfather. 'In heaven, I suppose.
But, dear me, I'm not going there just yet,' he said, as if he did not
like the turn the conversation was taking.

'Would you mind answering me one more question?' said old Mr. Davis.
'Would you kindly tell me _why_ you think you'll go to heaven? You won't
mind my asking you, will you?'

'Oh dear, no,' said my grandfather, 'not at all, sir. Well, sir, you see
I've never done anybody any harm, and God is very merciful, and so I've
no doubt it will be all right at last.

'Why, my dear friend,' said the old gentleman, 'I thought you said you
were on the Rock. You're not on the Rock at all, you're on the sand!' He
was going to add more, when one of Captain Sayer's men ran up to say
the steamer was ready to start, and would they kindly come at once, as
it was late already. So the two gentlemen jumped up, and prepared
hastily to go down to the beach.

But as old Mr. Davis took leave of my grandfather, he said earnestly,--

'My friend, you are building on the sand; you are indeed, and it won't
stand the storm; no, it won't stand the storm!' He had no time to say
more, the sailor hastened him away.

I followed them down to the pier, and stood there watching the steamer
preparing to start.

There was a little delay after the gentlemen went on board, and I saw
Mr. Davis sit down on a seat on deck, take out his pocket-book, and
write something on one of the leaves. Then he tore the leaf out, and
gave it to one of the sailors to hand to me as I stood on the pier, and
in another moment the steamer had started.



That little piece of paper which was given me that day, I have it still,
put by amongst my greatest treasures. There was not much written on it,
only two lines of a hymn:

  'On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
  All other ground is sinking sand.'

I walked slowly up to the house thinking. My grandfather was out with
Jem Millar, so I did not show him the paper then, but I read the lines
many times over as I was playing with little Timpey, and I wondered very
much what they meant.

In the evening, my grandfather and Jem Millar generally sat together
over the fire in the little watchroom upstairs, and I used to take
little Timpey up there, until it was time for her to go to bed. She
liked climbing up the stone steps in the lighthouse tower. She used to
call out, 'Up! up! up!' as she went along, until she reached the top
step, and then she would run into the watchroom with a merry laugh.

As we went in this evening, my grandfather and Jem were talking together
of the visit of the two gentlemen 'I can't think what the old man meant
about the rock,' my grandfather was saying. 'I couldn't make head or
tail of it, Jem; could you, my lad?'

'Look there, grandfather,' I said, as I handed him the little piece of
paper, and told him how I had got it.

'Well, to be sure!' said my grandfather 'So he gave you this, did he?'
and he read aloud:

  'On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
  All other ground is sinking sand.'

'Well now, Jem, what does he mean? He kept on saying to me, "You're on
the sand, my friend; you're on the sand, and it won't stand the storm!"
What do you make of it, Jem? did you hear him, my lad?'

'Yes,' said Jem thoughtfully; 'and it has set me thinking, Sandy; I know
what he meant well enough.'

'And pray what may that be?'

'He meant we can't get to heaven except we come to Christ; we can't
get no other way. That's just what it means, Sandy!'

'Do you mean to tell me,' said my grandfather, 'that I shan't get to
heaven if I do my best?'

'No, it won't do, Sandy; there's only one way to heaven; I know that
well enough.'

'Dear me, Jem!' said my grandfather, 'I never heard you talk like that

'No,' said Jem, 'I've forgot all about it since I came to the island. I
had a good mother years ago; I ought to have done better than I have

He said no more, but he was very silent all the evening. Grandfather
read his newspaper aloud, and talked on all manner of subjects, but Jem
Millar's thoughts seemed far away.

The next day was his day for going on shore. My grandfather and Jem took
it in turns, the last Friday in every month; it was the only time they
were allowed to leave the island. When it was my grandfather's turn, I
generally went with him, and much enjoyed getting a little change. But
whichever of them went, it was a great day with us on the island, for
they bought any little things that we might be needing for our houses or
gardens, and did any business that had to be done on shore.

We all went down to the pier to see Jem Millar start; and as I was
helping him to get on board some empty sacks and some other things he
had to take with him, he said to me, in an undertone,--

'Alick, my lad, keep that bit of paper; it's all true what that old
gentleman said. I've been thinking of it ever since; and, Alick,' he
whispered, 'I believe I _am_ on the Rock now.'

He said no more, but arranged his oars, and in a minute more he was
off. But as he rowed away, I heard, him singing softly to himself:

  'On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
  All other ground is sinking sand.'

We watched the boat out of sight, and then went home, wishing that it
was evening and that Jem was back again with all the things that we had
asked him to get for us.

That was a very gloomy afternoon. A thick fog came over the sea and
gradually closed us in, so that we could hardly see a step before us on
the beach.

Little Timpey began to cough, so I took her indoors, and amused her
there with a picture-book. It grew so dark that my grandfather lighted
the lighthouse lamps soon after dinner. There was a dull, yellow light
over everything.

I never remember a more gloomy afternoon; and as evening came on, the
fog grew denser, till at length we could see nothing outside the

It was no use looking out for Jem's return, for we could not see the
sea, much less any boat upon it. So we stayed indoors, and my
grandfather sat by the fire smoking his pipe.

'I thought Jem would have been here before now,' he said at length, as I
was putting out the cups and saucers for tea.

'Oh, he'll come before we've finished tea, I think, grandfather,' I
answered. 'I wonder what sort of a spade he'll have got for us.'

When tea was over, the door opened suddenly, and we looked up, expecting
to see Jem enter with our purchases. But it was not Jem; it was his

'Sandy,' she said, 'what time do you make it? My clock's stopped!'

'Twenty minutes past six,' said my grandfather, looking at his watch.

'Past six!' she repeated. 'Why, Jem's very late!'

'Yes,' said my grandfather; 'I'll go down to the pier, and have a look

But he came back soon, saying it was impossible to see anything; the fog
was so thick, he was almost afraid of walking over the pier. 'But he's
bound to be in at seven, he said (for that was the hour the
lighthousemen were required to be on the island again), 'so he'll soon
be up now.'

The clock moved on, and still Jem Millar did not come. I saw Mrs. Millar
running to her door every now and then with her baby in her arms, to
look down the garden path. But no one came.

At last the clock struck seven.

'I never knew him do such a thing before!' said my grandfather, as he
rose to go down to the pier once more.



Poor Mrs. Millar went out of her house, and followed my grandfather down
to the pier. I waited indoors with little Timpey, straining my ears to
listen for the sound of their footsteps coming back again.

But the clock struck half-past seven, and still no sound was to be
heard. I could wait no longer; I wrapped the child in a shawl, and
carried her into the Millars' house, and left her under the care of Mrs.
Millar's little servant. And then I ran down, through the thick,
smothering fog, to the pier.

My grandfather was standing there with Mrs. Millar. When I came close to
them he was saying, 'Cheer up, Mary, my lass; he's all right; he's only
waiting till this mist has cleared away a bit. You go home, and I'll
tell you as soon as ever I hear his boat coming. Why, you're wet
through, woman; you'll get your death of cold!'

Her thin calico dress was soaked with the damp in the air, and she was
shivering, and looked as white as a sheet. At first she would not be
persuaded to leave the pier; but, as time went on, and it grew darker
and colder, she consented to do as my grandfather told her, and he
promised he would send me up to the lighthouse to tell her as soon as
Jem arrived.

When she was gone, my grandfather said 'Alick, there's something wrong
with Jem, depend upon it! I didn't like to tell her so, poor soul! If we
only had the boat, I would go out a bit of way and see.'

We walked up and down the pier, and stopped every now and then to listen
if we could hear the sound of oars in the distance, for we should not be
able to see the boat till it was close upon us, so dense had the fog

'Dear me,' my grandfather kept saying anxiously, 'I wish he would come!'

My thoughts went back to the bright sunny morning when Jem Millar had
started, and we had heard him singing, as he went, those two lines of
the hymn,--

  'On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
  All other ground is sinking sand.'

The time passed on. Would he never come? We grew more and more anxious.
Mrs. Millar's servant-girl came running down to say her mistress wanted
to know if we could hear anything yet.

'No,' my grandfather said, 'nothing yet, my lass; but it can't be long

'Missis is so poorly,' said the girl; 'I think she's got a cold: she
shakes all over, and she keeps fretting so.'

'Poor soul! well, perhaps it's better so.'

'Whatever do you mean, grandfather?' I asked.

'Why, if aught's amiss, she won't be so taken aback as if she wasn't
afraid; and if Jem's all right, why, she'll only be the better pleased.'

The girl went back, and we still waited on the pier. 'Grandfather,' I
said at length, 'I think I hear a boat.'

It was a very still night; we stood and listened. At first my
grandfather said he heard nothing; but at length he distinguished, as I
did, the regular plash--plash--plash--of oars in the distance.

'Yes, it _is_ a boat,' said my grandfather.

I was hastening to leave the pier, and run up to the house to tell Mrs.
Millar, but my grandfather laid his hand on my shoulder.

'Wait a bit, Alick, my lad,' he said; 'let us hear what it is first;
maybe it isn't Jem, after all!'

'But it's coming here, grandfather; I can hear it better now.'

'Yes,' he said, 'it's coming here;' but he still kept his hand on my

The boat had been a long way off when we first heard it, for it was many
minutes before the sound of the oars seemed to become much more
distinct. But it came nearer, and nearer, and nearer. Yes, the boat was
evidently making for the island.

At last it came so near that my grandfather called out from the end of
the pier,--

'Hollo, Jem! You're late, my lad!'

'Hollo!' said a voice from the boat; but it wasn't Jem's voice.

'Whereabouts is your landing-place?' said the voice; 'it's so thick, I
can't see.'

'Why, Jem isn't there, grandfather!' I said, catching hold of his arm.

'No,' said my grandfather; 'I knew there was something wrong with the

He called out to the man in the boat the direction in which he was to
row, and then he and I went down the steps together, and waited for the
boat to come up.

There were four men in the boat. They were sailors, and strangers to me.
One of them, the one whose voice we had heard, got out to speak to my

'Something's wrong,' said my grandfather, before he could begin;
'something's wrong with that poor lad.'

'Yes,' said the man, 'we've got him here; and he pointed to the boat.

A cold shudder passed over me as he said this, and I caught sight of
something lying at the men's feet at the bottom of the boat.

'What's wrong with him? Has he had an accident? Is he much hurt?'

'He's dead,' said the man solemnly.

'Oh dear!' said my grandfather, in a choking voice. 'However shall we
tell his wife? However shall we tell poor Mary?'

[Illustration: 'HOW DID IT HAPPEN?' I ASKED.]

'How did it happen?' I asked at length, as soon as I could speak.

'He was getting a sack of flour on board, over yonder' said one of the
men in the boat, 'and it was awful thick and foggy, and he missed his
footing on the plank, and fell in; that's how it happened!'

'Yes,' said another man, 'and it seems he couldn't swim, and there was
no boat nigh at hand to help him. Joe Malcolmson was there and saw him
fall in; but before he could call any of us, it was all over with him.
We got him out at last, but he was quite gone; we fetched a doctor, and
took him into a house near, and rubbed him, and did all we could; but it
wasn't of no good at all! Shall we bring him in?'

'Wait a bit,' said my grandfather; 'we must tell that poor girl first.
Which of you will go and tell her?'

The men looked at each other and did not speak. At last one of them, who
knew my grandfather a little, said, 'You'd better tell her, Sandy; she
knows you, and she'll bear it better than from strangers; we'll wait
here till you come back, and then we can bring him in.'

'Well,' said my grandfather, with a groan, 'I'll go then! Come with me,
Alick, my lad,' said he, turning to me; 'but no, perhaps I'd better go
by myself.'

So he went very slowly up towards the lighthouse, and I remained behind
with the four men on the shore, and that silent form lying at the bottom
of the boat.

I was much frightened, and felt as if it was all a very terrible dream,
and as if I should soon wake up to find it had all passed away.



It seemed a long time before my grandfather came back, and then he only
said in a low voice, 'You can bring him now, my lads; she knows about it

And so the mournful little procession moved on, through the field and
garden and court, to the Millars' house, my grandfather and I following.

I shall never forget that night, nor the strange, solemn feeling I had

Mrs. Millar was very ill; the shock had been too much for her. The men
went back in the boat to bring a doctor to the island to see her, and
the doctor sent them back again to bring a nurse. He said he was afraid
she would have an attack of brain-fever, and he thought her very ill

My grandfather and I sat in the Millars' house all night, for the nurse
did not arrive until early in the morning. The six children were fast
asleep in their little beds. I went to look at them once, to see if my
little Timpey was all right; she was lying in little Polly's bed, their
tiny hands fast clasped together as they slept. The tears came fast into
my eyes, as I thought that they both had lost a father, and yet neither
of them knew anything of their loss!

When the nurse arrived, my grandfather and I went home But we could not
sleep; we lighted the kitchen fire, and sat over it in silence for a
long time.

Then my grandfather said: 'Alick, my lad, it has given me such a turn as
I haven't had for many a day. It might have been _me_, Alick; it might
just as well have been _me_!'

I put my hand in his, and grasped it very tightly, as he said this.
'Yes,' he said again, 'it might have been me; and if it had, I wonder
where I should have been now?'

I didn't speak, and he went on,--'I wonder where Jem is now, poor
fellow; I've been thinking of that all night, ever since I saw him lying
there at the bottom of that boat.'

So I told him of what Jem Millar had said to me the last time I had seen

'On the Rock!' said my grandfather. Did he say he was on the Rock? Dear
me! I wish I could say as much, Alick, my lad.'

'Can't you and I come as he came, grandfather?' I said. 'Can't we come
and build on the Rock, too?'

'Well,' said my grandfather, 'I wish we could, my lad. I begin to see
what he meant, and what the old gentleman meant too. He said, "You're on
the sand, my friend; you're on the sand, and it won't stand the storm;
no, it won't stand the storm!" I've just had those words in my ears all
the time we were sitting over there by Mrs. Millar. But, dear me, I
don't know how to get on the Rock; I don't indeed.'

The whole of the next week poor Mrs. Millar lay between life and death.
At first the doctor gave no hope whatever of her recovery; but after a
time she grew a little better, and he began to speak more
encouragingly. I spent my time with the poor children, and hardly left
them a moment, doing all I could to keep them quietly happy, that they
might not disturb their mother.

One sorrowful day only, my grandfather and I were absent for several
hours from the lighthouse; for we went ashore to follow poor Jem Millar
to the grave. His poor wife was unconscious, and knew nothing of what
was going on.

When, after some weeks, the fever left her, she was still very weak and
unfit for work. But there was much to be done, and she had no time to
sit still, for a new man had been appointed to take her husband's place;
and he was to come into the house at the beginning of the month.

We felt very dull and sad the day that the Millars went away. We went
down to the pier with them, and saw them on board the steamer--Mrs.
Millar, the six little children, and the servant-girl, all dressed in
mourning, and all of them crying. They were going to Mrs. Millar's home,
far away in the north of Scotland, where her old father and mother were
still living.

The island seemed very lonely and desolate when they were gone. If it
had not been for our little sunbeam, as my grandfather called her, I do
not know what we should have done. Every day we loved her more, and what
we dreaded most was, that a letter would arrive some Monday morning to
tell us that she must go away from us.

'Dear me, Alick,' my grandfather would often say, 'how little you and me
thought that stormy night what a little treasure we had got wrapped up
in that funny little bundle!'

The child was growing fast; the fresh sea did her great good, and every
day she became more intelligent and pretty.

We were very curious to know who was appointed in Jem Millar's place;
but we were not able to find out even what his name was. Captain Sayers
said that he did not know anything about it; and the gentlemen who came
over once or twice to see about the house being repaired and put in
order for the new-comer were very silent on the subject, and seemed to
think us very inquisitive if we asked any questions. Of course, our
comfort depended very much upon who our neighbour was, for he and my
grandfather would be constantly together, and we should have no one else
to speak to.

My grandfather was very anxious that we should give the man a welcome
to the island, and make him comfortable on his first arrival. So we set
to work, as soon as the Millars were gone, to dig up the untidy garden
belonging to the next house, and make it as neat and pretty as we could
for the new-comers.

'I wonder how many of them there will be,' I said, as we were at work in
their garden.

'Maybe only just the man,' said my grandfather. 'When I came here first,
I was a young unmarried man, Alick. But we shall soon know all about
him; he'll be here next Monday morning, they say.'

'It's a wonder he hasn't been over before,' I said, 'to see the house
and the island. I wonder what he'll think of it?'

'He'll be strange at first, poor fellow, said my grandfather; 'but we'll
give him a bit of a welcome. Have a nice bit of breakfast ready for
him, Alick, my lad, and for his wife and bairns too, if he has any--hot
coffee and cakes, and a bit of meat, and any thing else you like;
they'll be glad of it after crossing over here.'

So we made our little preparations, and waited very anxiously indeed for
Monday's Steamer.



Monday morning came, and found us standing on the pier as usual awaiting
the arrival of the steamer.

We were very anxious indeed to see our new neighbours. A nice little
breakfast for four or five people was set out in our little kitchen, and
I had gathered a large bunch of dahlias from our garden, to make the
table look cheerful and bright. All was ready, and in due time the
steamer came puffing up towards the pier, and we saw a man standing
on the deck, talking to Captain Sayers, who we felt sure must be the new


'I don't see a wife,' said my grandfather.

'Nor any children,' said I, as I held little Timpey up, that she might
see the steamer.

'Puff, puff, puff,' she said, as it came up, and then turned round and
laughed merrily.

The steamer came up to the landing-place, and my grandfather and I went
down the steps to meet Captain Sayers and the stranger.

'Here's your new neighbour, Sandy,' said the captain. 'Will you show him
the way to his house, whilst I see to your goods?'

'Welcome to the island,' said my grandfather, grasping his hand.

He was a tall, strongly-built man, very sun-burnt and weather-beaten.

'Thank you,' said the man, looking at me all the time. 'It _is_
pleasant to have a welcome.'

'That's my grandson Alick,' said my grandfather, putting his hand on my

'Your grandson,' repeated the man, looking earnestly at me; 'your

'And now come along,' said my grand father, 'and get a bit of something
to eat; we've got a cup of coffee all ready for you at home, and you'll
be right welcome, I assure you.'

'That's very kind of you,' said the stranger.

We were walking up now towards the house, and the man did not seem much
inclined to talk. I fancied once that I saw a tear in his eye, but I
thought I must have been mistaken. What could he have to cry about? I
little knew all that was passing through his mind.

'By the bye,' said my grandfather, turning round suddenly upon him,
'what's your name? We've never heard it yet!'

The man did not answer, and my grandfather looked at him in
astonishment. 'Have you got no name?' he said, 'or have you objections
to folks knowing what your name is?'

'Father!' said the man, taking hold of my grandfather's hand, 'don't you
know your own lad?'

'Why, it's my David! Alick, look Alick, that's your father; it is

And then my grandfather fairly broke down, and sobbed like a child,
whilst my father grasped him tightly with one hand, and put the other on
my shoulder.

'I wouldn't let them tell you,' he said 'I made them promise not to
tell you till I could do it myself. I heard of Jem Millar's death as
soon as I arrived in England, and I wrote off and applied for the place
at once. I told them I was your son, father, and they gave me it at
once, as soon as they heard where I had been all these years.'

'And where have you been, David, never to send us a line all the time?'

'Well, it's a long story,' said my father; 'let's come in, and I'll tell
you all about it.'

So we went in together, and my father still looked at me. 'He's very
like HER, father,' he said, in a husky voice.

I knew he meant my mother!

'Then you heard about poor Alice?' said my grandfather.

'Yes,' he said; 'it was a very curious thing. A man from these parts
happened to be on board the vessel I came home in, and he told me all
about it. I felt as if I had no heart left in me, when I heard she was
gone. I had just been thinking all the time how glad she would be to see

Then my grandfather told him all he could about my poor mother. How she
had longed to hear from him; and how, as week after week and month after
month went by, and no news came, she had gradually become weaker and
weaker. All this and much more he told him; and whenever he stopped, my
father always wanted to hear more, so that it was not until we were
sitting over the watchroom fire in the evening that my father began to
tell us his story.

He had been shipwrecked on the coast of China. The ship had gone to
pieces not far from shore, and he and three other men had escaped safely
to land. As soon as they stepped on shore, a crowd of Chinese gathered
round them with anything but friendly faces. They were taken prisoners,
and carried before some man who seemed to be the governor of that part
of the country. He asked them a great many questions, but they did not
understand a word of what he said, and, of course, could not answer him.

For some days my father and the other men were very uncertain what their
fate would be; for the Chinese at that time were exceedingly jealous of
any foreigner landing on their shore. However, one day they were brought
out of the wooden house in which they had been imprisoned, and taken a
long journey of some two hundred miles into the interior of the country.
And here it was that my poor father had been all those years, when we
thought him dead. He was not unkindly treated, and he taught the
half-civilized people there many things which they did not know, and
which they were very glad to learn. But both by day and night he was
carefully watched, lest he should make his escape, and he never found a
single opportunity of getting away from them. Of course, there were no
posts and no railways in that remote place, and he was quite shut out
from the world. Of what was going on at home he knew as little as if he
had been living in the moon.

Slowly and drearily eleven long years passed away, and then, one
morning, they were suddenly told that they were to be sent down to the
coast, and put on board a ship bound for England. They told my father
that there had been a war, and that one of the conditions of peace was,
that they should give up all the foreigners in their country whom they
were holding as prisoners.

'Well, David, my lad,' said my grandfather, when he had finished his
strange story, 'it's almost like getting thee back from the dead, to
have thee in the old home again!'



About a fortnight after my father arrived, we were surprised one Monday
morning by another visit from old Mr. Davis. His son-in-law had asked
him to come to tell my grandfather that he had received a letter with
regard to the little girl who was saved from the _Victory_. So he told
my father and me as we stood on the pier; and all the way to the house I
was wondering what the letter could be.

Timpey was running by my side, her little hand in mine, and I could not
bear to think how dull we should be when she was gone.

'Why, it's surely Mr. Davis,' said my grandfather, as he rose to meet
the old gentleman.

'Yes,' said he, 'it is Mr. Davis; and I suppose you can guess what I've
come for.'

'Not to take our little sunbeam, sir,' said my grandfather, taking
Timpey in his arms. 'You never mean to say you're going to take her

'Wait a bit,' said the old gentleman, sitting down and fumbling in his
pocket; 'wait until you've heard this letter, and then see what you
think about her going.'

    And he began to read as follows:
    MY DEAR SIR,--I am almost over
    powered with joy by the news received by
    telegram an hour ago. We had heard of
    the loss of the _Victory_, and were mourning
    for our little darling as being amongst the
    number of those drowned. Her mother has
    been quite crushed by her loss, and has
    been dangerously ill ever since the sad intelligence
    reached us.

    'Need I tell you what our feelings were
    when we suddenly heard that our dear child
    was alive, and well and happy!

    'We shall sail by the next steamer for
    England, to claim our little darling. My
    wife is hardly strong enough to travel this
    week, or we should come at once. A thousand
    thanks to the brave men who saved
    our little girl. I shall hope soon to be
    able to thank them myself. My heart is
    too full to write much to-day.

    'Our child was travelling home under the
    care of a friend, as we wished her to leave
    India before the hot weather set in, and I
    was not able to leave for two months. This
    accounts for the name Villiers not being on
    the list of passengers on board the _Victory_.

    'Thanking you most sincerely for all your
    efforts to let us know of our child's safety,
         'I remain, yours very truly,

                    'EDWARD VILLIERS.'

'Now,' said the old gentleman, looking at me, and laughing, though I saw
a tear in his eye, 'won't you let them have her?'

'Well, to be sure,' said my grandfather, 'what can one say after that?
Poor things, how pleased they are!

'Timpey,' I said, taking the little girl on my knee, 'who do you think
is coming to see you? Your mother is coming--coming to see little

The child looked earnestly at me; she evidently had not quite forgotten
the name. She opened her blue eyes wider than usual, and looked very
thoughtful for a minute or two. Then she nodded her head very wisely,
and said,--

'Dear mother coming to see Timpey?'

'Bless her!' said the old gentleman, stroking her fair little head; 'she
seems to know all about it.'

Then we sat down to breakfast; and whilst we were eating it, old Mr.
Davis turned to me, and asked if I had read the little piece of paper.

'Yes, sir,' said my grandfather, 'indeed we have read it;' and he told
him about Jem Millar, and what he had said to me that last morning. 'And
now,' said my grandfather, 'I wish, if you'd be so kind, you would tell
me _how to get on the Rock_, for I'm on the sand now; there's no doubt
at all about it, and I'm afraid, as you said the last time you were
here, that it won't stand the storm.'

'It would be a sad thing,' said old Mr. Davis, 'to be on the sand when
the great storm comes.'

'Ay, sir, it would, said my grandfather; 'I often lie in bed at nights
and think of it, when the winds and the waves are raging. I call to mind
that verse where it says about the sea and the waves roaring, and men's
hearts failing them for fear. Deary me, I should be terrible frightened,
that I should, if that day was to come, and I saw the Lord coming in

'But you need not be afraid if you are on the Rock,' said our old
friend. 'All who have come to Christ, and are resting on Him, will feel
as safe in that day as you do when there is a storm raging and you are
inside this house.'

'Yes,' said my grandfather, 'I see that, sir; but somehow I don't know
what you mean by getting on the Rock; I don't quite see it, sir.'

'Well,' said Mr. Davis, 'what would you do if this house was built on
the sand down there by the shore, and you knew that the very first storm
that came would sweep it away?

'Do, sir!' said my grandfather, 'why, I should pull it down, every stone
of it, and build it up on the rock instead.'

'Exactly!' said Mr. Davis. 'You have been building your hopes of heaven
on the sand--on your good deeds, on your good intentions, on all sorts
of sand-heaps. You know you have.

'Yes,' said grandfather, 'I know I have.'

'Well, my friend,' said Mr. Davis, 'pull them all down. Say to
yourself, "I'm a lost man if I remain as I am; my hopes are all resting
on the sand." And then, build your hopes on something better, something
which _will_ stand the storm; build them on Christ. He is the only way
to heaven. He has died that you, a poor sinner, might go there. Build
your hopes on Him, my friend. Trust to what He has done for you as your
only hope of heaven--_that_ is building on the Rock!'

'I see, sir; I understand you now.'

'Do that,' said Mr. Davis, 'and then your hope will be a sure and
steadfast hope, a good hope which can never be moved. And when the last
great storm comes, it will not touch you; you will be as certainly and
as entirely safe in that day as you are in this lighthouse when the
storm is raging outside, because you will be built upon the immovable

I cannot recollect all the conversation which Mr. Davis and my
grandfather had that morning, but I do remember that before he went away
he knelt down with us, and prayed that we might every one of us be found
on the Rock in that last great storm.

And I remember also that that night, when my grandfather said good-night
to me, he said, 'Alick, my lad, I don't mean to go to sleep to-night
till I can say, like poor Jem Millar,

  'On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
  All other ground is sinking sand.'

And I believe that my grandfather kept his word.



It was a cold, cheerless morning; the wind was blowing, and the rain was
beating against the windows. It was far too wet and stormy for little
Timpey to be out, so she and I had a game of ball together in the
kitchen, whilst my father and grandfather went down to the pier.

She looked such a pretty little thing that morning. She had on a little
blue frock, which my grandfather had bought for her, and which Mrs.
Millar had made before she left the island, and a clean white pinafore.
She was screaming with delight, as I threw the ball over her head and
she ran to catch it, when the door opened, and my father ran in.

'Alick, is she here? They've come!'

'Who've come, father?' I said.

'Little Timpey's father and mother; they are coming up the garden now
with your grandfather!

He had hardly finished speaking before my grandfather came in with a
lady and gentleman. The lady ran forward as soon as she saw her child,
put her arms round her, and held her tightly in her bosom, as if she
could never part from her again. Then she sat down with her little
darling on her knee, stroking her tiny hands and talking to her, and
looking, oh, so anxiously, to see if the child remembered her.

At first, Timpey looked a little shy, and hung down her head, and would
not look in her mother's face. But this was only for a minute. As soon
as her mother _spoke_ to her she evidently remembered her voice, and
when Mrs. Villiers asked her, with tears in her eyes,--

'Do you know me, little Timpey? My dear little Timpey, who am I?' the
child looked up, and smiled, as she said, 'Dear mother--Timpey's dear
mother!' and she put up her little fat hand to stroke her mother's face.

And then, when I saw that, I could feel no longer sorry that the child
was going away.

I can well remember what a happy morning that was. Mr. and Mrs. Villiers
were so kind to us, and so very grateful for all that my grandfather and
I had done for their little girl. They thought her looking so much
better and stronger than when she left India, and they were so pleased
to find that she had not forgotten all the little lessons she had learnt
at home. Mrs. Villiers seemed as if she could not take her eyes off the
child; wherever little Timpey went, and whatever she was doing, her
mother followed her, and I shall never forget how happy and how glad
both the father and the mother looked.

But the most pleasant day will come to an end; and in the evening a boat
was to come from shore to take Mr. and Mrs. Villiers and their child

'Dear me!' said my grandfather, with a groan, as he took the little girl
on his knee, 'I never felt so sorry to lose anybody, _never_; I'm sure I
didn't. Why, I calls her my little sunbeam, sir! You'll excuse me
saying so, but I don't feel over and above kindly to you for taking her
away from me; I don't indeed, sir.'

'Then I don't know what you will say to me when you hear I want to rob
you further,' said Mr. Villiers.

'Rob me further?' repeated my grandfather.

'Yes,' said Mr. Villiers, putting his hand on my shoulder. 'I want to
take this grandson of yours away too. It seems to me a great pity that
such a fine lad should waste his days shut up on this little island. Let
him come with me, and I will send him to a really good school for three
or four years, and then I will get him some good clerkship, or something
of that kind, and put him in the way of making his way in the world. Now
then, my friend, will you and his father spare him?'

'Well,' said my grandfather, 'I don't know what to say to you, sir;
it's very good of you--very good, indeed it is, and it would be a fine
thing for Alick, it would indeed; but I always thought he would take my
place here when I was dead.'

'Yes,' said my father; 'but, you see, _I_ shall be here to do that,
father; and if Mr. Villiers is so very kind as to take Alick, I'm sure
we ought only to be too glad for him to have such a friend.'

'You're right, David; yes, your right. We mustn't be selfish, sir; and
you'd let him come and see us sometimes, wouldn't you?'

'Oh, to be sure,' said Mr. Villiers; 'he can come and spend his holidays
here, and give you fine histories of his school life. Now, Alick, what
say you? There's a capital school in the town where we are going to
live, so you would be near us and you could come to see us on holiday
afternoons, and see whether this little woman remembers all you have
taught her. What say you?'

I was very pleased indeed, and very thankful for his kindness, and my
father and grandfather said they would never be able to repay him.

'Repay _me_!' said Mr. Villiers. 'Why, my friends, it's _I_ who can
never repay _you._ Just think, for one moment, of what you have given
me'--and he put his arm round his little girl's neck.' So we may
consider that matter settled. And now, when can Alick come?'

My grandfather begged for another month, and Mr. Villiers said that
would do very well, as in that time the school would reopen after the
holidays. And so it came to pass, that when I said good-bye to little
Timpey that afternoon, it was with the hope of soon seeing her again.

Her father called her Lucy, which I found was her real name. Timpey was
a pet name, which had been given her as a baby. But though Lucy was
certainly a prettier name, still I felt I should always think of her as
Timpey--_my_ little Timpey.

I shall never forget my feelings that month. A strange new life was
opening out before me, and I felt quite bewildered by the prospect.

My grandfather, and father, and I sat over the watchroom fire, night
after night, talking over my future; and day after day I wandered over
our dear little island, wondering how I should feel when I said good-bye
to it, and went into the great world beyond.

Since old Mr. Davis's visit, there had been a great change in our
little home. The great Bible had been taken down from its place and
carefully read and studied, and Sunday was no longer spent by us like
any other day, but was kept as well as it could be on that lonely

My grandfather, I felt sure, was a new man. Old things had passed away;
all things had become new. He was dearer to me than ever, and I felt
very sorrowful when I thought of parting from him.

'I could never have left you, grandfather,' I said one day, 'if my
father had not been here.'

'No,' he said, 'I don't think I could have spared you, Alick; but your
father just came back in right time,--didn't you, David?'

At last the day arrived on which Mr. Villiers had appointed to meet me
at the town to which the steamer went every Monday morning, when it
left the island. My father and grandfather walked with me down to the
pier, and saw me on board. And the very last thing my grandfather said
to me was, 'Alick, my lad, keep on the Rock--be sure you keep on the

And I trust that I have never forgotten my grandfather's last words to

  'It was founded upon a rock.'

                        MATT. VII. 25

  My hope is built on nothing less
    Than Jesu's blood and righteousness;
  I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
  But wholly lean on Jesu's name.
    On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
    All other ground is sinking sand.

  When long appears my toilsome race,
    I rest on His unchanging grace;
  In every high and stormy gale,
  My anchor holds within the veil.
    On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
    All other ground is sinking sand.

  His oath, His covenant, and blood,
    Support me in the whelming flood;
  When every earthly prop gives way,
  He then is all my hope and stay.
    On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
    All other ground is sinking sand.

  When the last trumpet's voice shall sound,
    Oh, may I then in Him be found;
  Robed in His righteousness alone,
  Faultless to stand before the throne.
    On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
    All other ground is sinking sand.


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