Read CHAPTER V of Saved at Sea A Lighthouse Story, free online book, by Mrs O. F. Walton, on ReadCentral.com.

THE UNCLAIMED SUNBEAM.

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 us.’

’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.