Only Tim by
I say, Bee, are you coming?
Claude Molyneux, in all the glory of fourteen summers and a suit of
new white flannels, stands looking up with a slight frown of impatience
at an open bay-window. It has been one of the hottest of August days;
and now at four o'clock in the afternoon the haze of heat hangs over
the sea, and makes a purple cloud of the distant coast. But, for all
that, it is splendid weather; just the kind of weather that a boy likes
when he comes to spend his holidays at the seaside; and Claude, who is
an Indian-born boy, has no objection to a good hot summer.
As he stands, hands in pockets, on the narrow pebbled path under the
window, you cannot help admiring the grace of his slim, well-knit
figure, and the delicate moulding of his features. The fair skin is
sun-tanned, as a boy's skin ought to be; the eyes, large and
heavy-lidded, are of a dark grey, not brilliant, but soft; the light,
fine hair is cropped close to the shapely head. He is a lad that one
likes at the first glance; and although one sees, all too plainly, that
those chiselled lips can take a disdainful curl sometimes, one knows
instinctively that they may always be trusted to tell the simple truth.
Anything mean, anything sneaky, could not live in the steady light of
those dark-grey eyes.
I say, Bee-e! he sings out again, with a little drawl, which,
however, does not make the tone less imperative. Master Claude is not
accustomed to be kept waiting, and is beginning to think himself rather
Coming, cries a sweet treble; and then a head and shoulders appear
above the row of scarlet geraniums on the window-sill.
She is worth waiting for, this loitering Bee, whose thirteen years
have given her none of the airs of premature womanhood. Her smooth
round cheeks are tinted with the tender pink of the shell; her great
eyes, of speedwell blue, are opened frankly and fearlessly on the whole
world. Taken singly, not one of her features is, perhaps, quite
faultless; but it would be hard to find a critic who could quarrel with
the small face, framed in waves of ruddy golden hair that go tumbling
down below her waist. You can see a freckle or two on the sides of her
little nose, and notice that her slender hands are browned by the
sea-side sun; for Bee is one of those lucky girls who are permitted to
dabble freely in salt-water, and get all the benefit that briny breezes
I couldn't come sooner, she says in a tone of apology. We always
have to learn a hymn on Saturdays, and I've had such a bother
with Dolly. She would want to know where 'the scoffer's seat'
was, and if it had a cushion? And it does so worry me to try to
Oh, you poor thingyou must be quite worn out! responds Claude,
with genuine sympathy. But make haste; you haven't got your hat on
Bee makes a little dive, and brings up a wide-brimmed sailor's hat
with a blue ribbon round it. She puts it on, fastens it securely under
the silken masses of her hair, and then declares herself to be quite
In the next instant the girl and boy are walking side by side along
the shore, near enough to the sea to hear the soft rush of the tide.
The blue eyes are turned inquiringly on Claude's face, which is just a
shade graver than it ought to be on this delightful do-nothing day.
Bee, he says after a silence, I don't quite approve of your being
great friends with CrookeTim Crooke. What a name it is! He may be a
good sort of fellow, but he's not in our set at all, you know.
He is a good sort of fellow, she answers. There's no doubt
about that. Aunt Hetty likes him very much. And he's clever, Claude; he
can do ever so many things.
I dare say he can, says Mr. Molyneux, throwing back his head and
quickening his pace. But you needn't have got so very intimate.
We could have done very well without him to-day.
He's Mr. Carey's pupil, remarks Bee quietly. Aunt Hetty couldn't
invite Mr. Carey and leave out Tim.
Well, we could have been jolly enough without Mr. Carey. It's a
mistake, I think, to see too much of this Tim Crooke; he isn't a
gentleman, and he oughtn't to expect us to notice him particularly.
He doesn't expect anything; we like him; he's our friend. The soft
pink deepens on Bee's cheeks, and her ripe lips quiver a little. She
loves Claude with all her heart, and thinks him the king of boys; but,
for all that, she won't let him be unjust if she can help it.
Claude tramps on over sand, and pebbles, and seaweed, with lips
firmly compressed and eyes gazing steadily before him. Bee, as she
glances at him, knows quite well what Claude feels when he looks as if
his features had got frozen into marble. And she knows, too, that he
will be painfully, frigidly, exasperatingly polite to her all the
Matters cannot go on like this, she says to herself in desperation.
Claude arrived only yesterday, and here they are beginning his holiday
with a dreadful disagreement. She has been counting the days that must
pass before she sees him; writing him little letters full of sweet
child-love and longing; wearing a pinafore over her newest frock, that
it may be kept fresh and pretty for his critical eyes. And now he is
here, walking by her side; and she has offended him.
Is it Heaven or the instincts of her own innocent little heart that
teach this girl tact and wisdom? She doesn't proceed to inspire Claude
with a maddening desire to punch Tim's head, by recounting a long
catalogue of Mr. Crooke's perfections, as a more experienced person
would probably have done. But she draws a shade closer to her
companion, and presently he finds a tiny brown hand upon his white
You dear old Empey, she says lovingly, I've been wanting you for,
oh, such a long time!
The frozen face thaws; the dark grey eyes shine softly. Empey is
her pet name for him, an abbreviation of Emperor; and he likes to
hear her say it.
And I've wanted you, old chap, he answers, putting his arm round
the brown-holland waist.
Empey, we always do get on well together, don't we?
Of course we do,with a squeeze.
Then, just to please me, won't you be a little kind to poor Tim?
He's not a splendid fellow like you, and he knows he never will be. I
do so want you to forget that he's a nobody. We are all so much more
comfortable when we don't remember things of that sort. You're not
Angry; no, you silly old thing!
And then she knows, without any more words, that he will grant her
The little boat that Claude has hired is waiting for them at the
landing-place, and Bee steps into it with the lightest of hearts. Aunt
Hetty and the rest will follow in a larger boat; but Mr. Molyneux has
resolved to row Miss Beatrice Jocelyn himself.
He rows as he does everything, easily and gracefully, and Bee
watches him with happy blue eyes as they go gliding over the warm sea.
How still it is to-day! Beyond the grey rocks and yellow sands they can
see the golden harvest fields full of standing sheaves, and still
farther away there are low hills faintly outlined through the hot mist.
The little town, with its irregularly-built terraces, looks dazzlingly
white in the sunshine; but the church, standing on high ground, lifts a
red spire into the hazy blue.
I could live on the sea! says Bee ecstatically. You don't know
what it costs me to come out of a boat; I always want this lovely
gliding feeling to go on for ever. Don't you?
I like it awfully, he replies; but then there are other things
that I want to do by-and-by. I mean to try my hand at tiger-shooting
when I go out to the governor.
But, oh, Empey, it'll be a long time before you have to go out to
Her red mouth drops a little at the corners, and her dimples become
invisible. He looks at her with a gleam of mischief in his lazy eyes.
What do you call a long time? he asks. Just a year or two, that's
nothing. Never mind, Bee, you'll get on very well without me.
The great blue eyes glisten; and Claude is penitent in an instant.
You ridiculous old chap! he says gaily. Haven't you been told
thousands of times that my dad is your guardian, and as good as a
father to you? And do you suppose that I'd go to India and leave you
behind? You're coming too, you know, and you'll sit perched up on the
back of an elephant to see me shoot tigers. What a time we'll have out
Do you really mean it? she cries, with a rapturous face; blue eyes
shining like sapphires, cheeks aglow with the richest rose.
Of course I do. It was all arranged, years ago, by our two
governors; I thought Aunt Hetty had told you. But I say, Bee, when the
time does come, I hope you won't make a fuss about leaving
Not a bit of it, she says sturdily. I shall like to see the
Ganges, and the big water-lilies, and the alligators. But what's to
become of Dolly?
I don't know; I suppose she'll have to stay with Aunt Hetty. You
belong to us, you see, old girl; so you and I shall never be
No, never be parted, she echoes, looking out across the calm
waters with eyes full of innocent joy.
As soon as the boat grates on the shallows, two small bare-legged
urchins rush forward to help Miss Jocelyn to land. But Bee, active and
fearless, needs no aid at all, and reaches the pebbled beach with a
Is tea nearly ready, Bob? she asks, addressing the elder lad, who
grins with delight from ear to ear.
And has your mother got an immense lobster, and a big crab, and
heaps of prawns?
Yes, miss; whoppers, all of 'em.
That's right; the sea does give us such appetites, doesn't it,
Empey? I hope the others will be here soon.
If they don't make haste they'll find only the shell of the
lobster, he answers, joining her on the shore. I shall never be able
to control myself if I take one look at him!
Then don't look at him, greedy! she cries, clapping her hands, and
dancing round and round him, while the fisherman's children stare at
her wonderful golden locks. I didn't forget your weakness for lobster;
Aunt Hetty said I might arrange it all; and we shall have a splendid
He looks at her with his quiet smile, half amused, wholly loving.
Don't be whirling like a Dervish, and making yourself too hot to
eat anything, he says, putting a stop to her evolutions. Let's
saunter along the beach, and sit down a bit, my Queen Bee.
It is a bright, glistening beach, strewn with many-coloured pebbles
and stones, brown, yellow, purple, crimson, and snow-white; there are
empty shells in abundance, out of which charming pincushions can be
constructed by skilful fingers; and, best of all, there are little
heaps of delicate sea-weed, capable of being pressed out into tiny
tree-like forms of coral-pink. Altogether, this strip of shore is a
very treasury for children, and Bee can never come here without wanting
to load her own pockets and everybody else's with heavy spoils.
Claude, who has already been presented with seven shell pincushions,
a polished pebble, and three copy-books filled with gummed sea-weed,
does not care to add to this valuable collection of marine treasures.
He arrests the little hand that is making a grasp at a clam, and says
persuasively, Stop till we come here again, Bee; don't pick up things
this afternoon. It's so jolly to loaf about and do nothing, you know.
She obeys, after casting one regretful glance at that fascinating
scalloped shell; and they stroll on in placid contentment. From this
part of the coast they get a wide ocean outlook, and can gaze far away
to the faint sea-line dissolving into the sky.
How calm it is! Beautiful, infinite sea, suggesting thoughts of
voyages into unknown climes; of delightful secrets, yet unfathomed; of
that enchanting by-and-by which is the children's Promised Land! The
boy and girl are quiet for a time, dreaming their tranquil little
dreams in the silence of utter satisfaction, while the waves wash the
beach with the old lulling sound, and the rock-shadows are slowly
lengthening on the sand.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Drake, the fisherman's wife, is busy with her
preparations indoors. The cottage stands in a sheltered nook, a wooden
dwelling, coated with tar, with nets hanging outside its walls, and a
doorstep as white as snow. A few hardy geraniums in pots brighten the
windows, but garden there is and can be none; the pebbly shore must
serve the children as a playground. Rosy cheeks and sound lungs give
proof that the little Drakes are thriving in their seaside home; and
the youngest, a baby of two, lies placidly sucking its thumb on the
The boat containing Aunt Hetty and her party nears the landing, and
just for one second Claude's brow darkens again. A sturdy lad is
pulling strong strokes, with arms that seem almost as strong as
Drake's; and the lad has a merry brown face and black curly hair, and
wears a scarlet cap set jauntily on his head. It is Tim Crooke, looking
provokingly at his ease among his aristocratic friends, and quite
prepared to enjoy himself.
Aunt Hetty, gentlest and kindest of elderly ladies, is assisted to
land by the clergyman; while Tim takes up Dolly in his strong arms and
places her safely on the shore. And then they all make for the cottage,
Bee lingering in the rear with Claude, and winning him back to
good-humour with a pleading look from the sunny blue eyes.
Surely this tea in the fisherman's kitchen is a banquet fit for the
gods! It is a happy, hungry group that gathers round the deal table;
Bee, doing the honours, pours out tea, and has a great deal of business
on her hands; Aunt Hetty, at the other end of the board, keeps anxious
watch over Dolly, who consumes prawns with frightful rapidity; Tim
Crooke beams on everybody and ministers to the wants of everybody, like
the good-natured fellow that he is. And Claude, true to his unuttered
promise, is kind to Tim in a pleasant, natural way.
At length the meal comes to an end; lobster, prawns, and crab are
all demolished! and the last drop is drained out of the teapot. The
party stroll out of doors, and revel in the cool of the evening air.
How is it that they begin to talk about heroes and heroism? Nobody
can remember afterwards who started the subject; but certain it is that
all, save Dolly, become interested in the conversation, and each has a
word to say. Mr. Carey, the clergyman, is the leading talker; and he
talks well, not priggishly, nor prosily, but speaks the right words in
the right way, and wins the attention of his companions.
Charles Kingsley has told us, he says, 'that true heroism must
involve self-sacrifice;' it is the highest form of moral beauty. And
it's a good thing when girls and boys fall to thinking about heroes and
heroines; the thinking begets longing to do likewise. What was it that
you were saying last night about your favourite hero, Tim?
Tim lifts his head, and a rush of colour comes suddenly into his
Jim Bludso is the fellow I like, he says, speaking quickly.
Wasn't it grand of him to hold the bow of the Prairie Belle
against the bank, while she was burning? The passengers all got off,
you know, before the smoke-stacks fell; only Bludso's life was lost. He
let himself be burnt to save the rest.
It was grand! murmurs Bee, drawing a long breath.
Yes, says Claude, bringing out his words slowly; but I like Bert
Harte's 'Flynn of Virginia' better still. You see, it was Jim Bludso's
own fault that the steamer caught fire. Nothing would stop him from
running a race with the Movestar; and so the Prairie Belle
came tearing along the Mississippi
'With a nigger squat on her safety-valve,
And her furnace crammed, rosin and pine!'
Jolly fun it must have been, but anybody could have foretold the
end. As to Flynn, he was working on the Central Pacific Railway with
his mate, a married man, when they found the whole concern giving way.
And Flynn set his back against the wall in the dark drift, and held the
timbers that were ready to fall, and sang out to Jake to run for his
Oh, that was beautiful! Bee sighs, with her blue eyes full of
tears. Flynn was only Flynn, wasn't he? But Jake had got somebody who
couldn't live without him.
That was just what Flynn felt, he was only Flynn, Claude replies,
pleased that his hero is appreciated. There was something splendidly
deliberate in his self-sacrifice, don't you think so, sir? he adds,
turning to Mr. Carey.
You are quite right, Mr. Carey answers thoughtfully.
Dolly comes running up to the group with shrill cries showing a
little live crab in her small palm. A faint breeze is blowing off the
sea, the west grows golden, and Aunt Hetty rises from her seat on the
We must be going home now, she says. Claude, dear boy, will you
look for my shawl?
Claude obediently goes into the cottage to bring out the wraps; Mr.
Carey hastens off to summon Drake; and Tim finds himself, for a few
seconds, by Bee's side.
Hasn't it been a lovely afternoon? she says. I've been so happy,
haven't you? Oh, Tim, Claude has told me something!
Is it a secret? Tim asks.
No, he didn't say so. He says it was arranged years ago that he is
to take me out to India, by-and-by. I'm so glad, Tim; I'd go anywhere
The golden glow that shines on Tim's face seems to dazzle him, and
he turns his head away from the speaker.
I'm glad that you are glad, Bee, he says quietly. And that is all.
Sunday morning dawns, hot and still, but clearer than the day
before. Aunt Hetty and her nieces are sitting in the bay-windowed room,
which has the usual furniture of seaside lodgings. They have just gone
through their morning readings, and are ready to begin breakfast when
Claude comes downstairs.
How is the wrist, dear boy? Aunt Hetty asks tenderly.
In jumping out of the boat last night he has managed to get a
sprain, but is disposed to treat the matter lightly.
Oh, it will soon be well, thanks, he says, taking his place, and
giving a smile to Bee.
A little later they all set out for church, and Bee and Claude
attract many an admiring glance as they walk together along the
terraces. She wears her new frock, of some soft creamy stuff, and a
quaint granny bonnet of ivory satin lined with pale blue; her short
skirts display silk stockings and dainty little shoes of patent
leather. Aunt Hetty, her tall thin figure draped with black lace,
follows with Dolly, that little witch of eight years old, who is the
pet and plague of the good lady's life. Other seaside visitors look
after the party from Nelson Lodge, and discuss them freely among
themselves; but they do not speak from personal knowledge of Lady
Henrietta Jocelyn and her charges. All they know is that Lady Henrietta
is the maiden aunt of the two girls, and that they were committed to
her care by her brother who died in India.
The church is large, recently built, and smells strongly of mortar
and varnish. In winter Mr. Carey has to preach to a scanty
congregation; but in summer, when the lodging-houses are full, there is
always a goodly number of worshippers.
The Jocelyns, whose home is in town, are accustomed to attend St.
George's, Hanover Square, and never feel perfectly comfortable in this
seaside church, which is, as Bee says, so dreadfully new, and so
unfurnished. She wishes they could all worship out of doors, among the
rocks, with the blue sea murmuring near them; and yet she likes to hear
Tim's voice, as he stands among the other surpliced boys and leads the
Not that Tim is by any means an ideal chorister. His surplice makes
his brown skin look browner, and his curly head blacker than ever; and
there is not a heavenly expression in his quick dark eyes. He is not in
the least like one of those saintly boys we read of sometimes, who sing
and lift their glances upward, and pass gently and speedily away from
this wicked world. Judging from Tim's robust appearance he has many a
year of earthly life before him, and many a hot battle to fight with
the flesh and the devil.
But it is a marvellous voice that comes from the lad's massive
throat; a voice that goes up like a lark's song, carrying heavy hearts
to higher regions with its notes. In future days there are some who
will remember that morning's anthem, which Tim sings with all his
triumphant power and thrilling sweetness. A few fishermen, standing
just within the doors, listen entranced, and one rugged old fellow puts
up a hard hand to hide his eyes.
The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their
voice; the floods lift up their waves.
The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea,
than the mighty waves of the sea.
Thy testimonies are very sure; holiness becometh Thine house, O
Lord, for ever.
The service comes to an end, and Aunt Hetty and her children walk
homeward along the terraces, under a glaring sun. The sea is still
calm, but a light breeze is stirring, creeping off the water and
breathing across the hot sand and shingle. Bee gives a deep sigh of
satisfaction as the zephyr kisses her rosy cheeks.
It's going to be just a little cooler, Empey, she says, as they
draw near Nelson Lodge.
Yes; it must be jolly on the sea to-day, he remarks, following a
little cutter with longing eyes.
When the midday meal is ended, Aunt Hetty repairs to the sofa to
read Jeremy Taylor; and Dolly, having discovered an illustrated copy of
the Pilgrim's Progress, is silently gloating over a picture of
Apollyon, dragon-winged, with smoke coming out of his nostrils. For
fifteen or twenty minutes Claude and Bee whisper by the open window,
and then a gentle sound from the sofa tells them that good Jeremy has
lulled Aunt Hetty to repose.
Claude gives Bee an expressive glance which plainly says, Come
along. Dolly's back is turned towards them; moreover, she has just
lighted upon a whole family of fiends, and cannot take her eyes off the
book. So the pair slip out of the room unheard and unseen, and gain the
beach without let or hindrance.
They shun the pier, and foot it briskly along the shore till they
have left most of the promenaders behind. On and on they go till they
get to the low rocks, and the smooth yellow sands strewn with mussel
and cockle shells; and then they sit down to rest, and listen to the
music of the tide.
You must take me to White Cove one day, Empey, says Bee, after a
pause. There are the most lovely shells to be found there, and agates,
and things. Mr. Carey said that somebody once picked up a bit of amber
I could row you there at once, returns Claude, if it wasn't for
this wrist of mine.
Oh, but it's Sunday; Aunt Hetty wouldn't like us to go.
She wouldn't mind it if I reasoned with her, responds Mr. Molyneux
with perfect confidence in his own powers of argument. All those
little prejudices of hers could soon be got rid of.
Drake says it's rather dangerous near White Cove, observes Bee
after another silence; because of all the sunken rocks, you know.
No, I don't know: I've never been there. But you've set me longing
to see the place, old chap.
Oh, it's lovely! she cries, with enthusiasm. Thousands and
thousands of sea-birds sit on the cliffs; and there are lots of little
caves, all hung with silky green sea-weeds, so quiet and cool.
Claude leans back against the low rock behind him, and looks out
across the sea with eyes half-closed. The horizon line is sharp and
clear to-day; the blue of the sky meets, but does not mingle with the
deeper blue of the ocean; a few white sails can be distinctly seen. Now
and then a gull flashes silvery wings in the sunshine, and its cry
comes wailing across the water to the shore.
Why, there's Tim! says Bee, pointing to a broad-shouldered figure
moving leisurely along the sand.
He hears the well-known voice, and turns instantly.
Well, he may make himself useful to-day, remarks Claude, with a
sudden inspiration. I daresay he'll be glad enough to row to the cove
if we ask him.
Tim is more than glad, he is delighted to be included in the plans
of Claude and Bee. To tell the truth, Sunday afternoon is generally
rather a lonesome time to Tim Crooke. He has no vocation for
Sunday-school teaching, and always feels intensely grateful to Mr.
Carey for not bothering him to take a class. The little vicarage is,
however, a dreary house when master and servants are out; and Tim is
usually to be found wandering on the shore till the hour for tea.
Bill Drake is down yonder, says Tim, waving his hand towards a
block of stone some distance off. And he's got a little boat, a
battered old thing, but
Any old thing will do, interrupts Claude, rising eagerly. We are
not going to show off in front of the pier, you know; we only want to
get away to White Cove and enjoy ourselves. Do you know the place,
Yes, very well. I've been there several times with Mr. Carey; it's
a wonderful place for gulls. I suppose there are thousands of them.
Well, come along, cries Claude; and Bee springs gladly to her
feet. It delights her to see the magnificent Empey growing so friendly
with that good old Tim, and as she trips on, leaving dainty footprints
on the sands, her mind is busy with plans for the coming days. This is
only the beginning of pleasures, she says to herself; the holidays
will last a long time, and they can enjoy many excursions about the
coast. It is all going to be perfectly jolly, now that Claude has
really consented to accept Tim; for Tim is so good-natured and useful
that she hardly knows what they would do without him.
The little boat is a battered old thing indeed, but nobody is
inclined to find fault with it. Bill Drake is quite ready to let the
young gentleman have his way; Bee steps in lightly enough, and seats
herself; the lads follow, and then Tim pushes off, leaving Bill
standing grinning on the shore.
A happy girl is Bee Jocelyn as the boat glides on, and the fresh air
fans her face. She has put on her broad-brimmed hat again; and the
light breeze lifts her bright silky tresses, and spreads them round her
head like a golden veil. She dips one little hand in the waterthe
beautiful sunny water that is as green as an emerald when you look deep
into its depths; and then she trails her fingers in the sea and smiles
Oh, Empey, she says, how nice it would be if one of Undine's
sea-relations were to put a coral necklace, all red and glittering,
into my hand!
Or some strings of pearls, suggests Tim.
She will have a set of pearls one day, remarks Claude, in that
quiet tone of his. They were my mother's, and they are waiting in
India for Bee.
There is an unwonted softness in Tim's black eyes. He is a
stout-hearted, matter-of-fact lad, people say, not given to dreaming;
and yet he is seeing visions this afternoon. He sees Bee, not in her
sailor's hat and girlish frock, but in white robes, with all her wealth
of hair plaited up, and the pearls glistening on her neck. He sees the
merry face grown graver, yet lovelier than ever; and then he tries to
picture her home in that far-off land that he will never behold; a land
of dark faces, and temples, and palms, and flowers.
And Claude will be with her always; what a beautiful poetical life
these two will live together! All the poetry is for them, and all the
prose for Tim. His thoughts don't shape themselves into these very
words, perhaps; but he does certainly feel that it is a dull path which
lies before Tim Crooke.
While he dreams, he pulls as steadily as usual, and they are drawing
nearer and nearer to the little cove. Soon they gain a full view of
those cliffs where the sea-birds sit, tier upon tier, like spectators
in a circus, and the calm air is filled with strange cries. Bee claps
her hands in delight; the sight is so novel, and the birds that have
taken wing sweep so gracefully around their rocky haunts, that there is
a charm, past explaining, in the whole scene.
Meanwhile the tide is rising fast and floats the boat onward to
White Cove. They are making for a landing-place just at the foot of the
sea-birds' cliff, and Tim pulls cautiously, telling Claude to keep a
sharp look-out for the rocks that lie treacherously hiding under the
There's the Chair! cries Bee suddenly. Look, Empey, we are quite
close to it! It was Mr. Carey who gave it that name, because you see
it's exactly like a chair, and it has a seat, and a little ledge where
your feet may rest. Mr. Carey got up there once; it's quite easy to
At high water the tide comes almost up to the footstool of the
Chair, says Tim. I've noticed it standing up out of the sea with a
bird or two perched on its seat. It looks very funny then, when all the
rocks near it are quite covered.
It really is curious, Claude is beginning to say, when there is a
bump and a terrible grating noise. The boat has struck against one of
those traitorous rocks, and her rotten planks have given way. Long
before they can reach the landing-place she will be full of water;
there is already a stream flowing in through the rent in her side, and
Tim, quiet and cool, takes in every detail of the case before Claude
has begun fully to realise their condition. Without a moment's
hesitation he pulls straight towards the little strip of sand that is
to be seen at the base of the Chair.
Quick, Claude, he says in decided tones, the wind is rising, and
the tide is coming in fast. You must get Bee up into the Chair, and
you'll have to follow her; although there's hardly room for two.
Do you mean that we shall have to stay up there till the tide goes
out? asks Claude. Why, it's absurd! Is there no other way to
There is no other way to save your lives, so far as I can
see. Now don't lose time; the Chair isn't so easy to climb, after all.
There are little dents in the rock where your toes may go, but no
projections anywhere. It's just a smooth block of stone.
Poor Bee, who knows that Tim must have good reasons for being
serious, tries to obey him without delay. But how could she ever have
fancied that this dreadful rock was easy to climb! It is nearly as
slippery as glass, and affords so little hold for hands or feet that
she is almost in despair. The boys encourage her with their voices;
Claude is scrambling up after hernot without difficulty, however, for
his sprained wrist gives him many a sharp twinge. And then at last,
after terrible efforts, the footstool ledge is gained, and Bee drags
herself up to the seat of the chair.
But what a seat it is! Merely a niche which looks as if it had been
scooped out of the solid stone and furnished with a narrow shelf. How
will it be possible for her to make herself very small, and leave space
Even in these fearful moments she finds herself thinking of the
eleven swan princes in the fairy tale, and that little rock in mid
ocean on which they stood crowded together when the sun went down.
Claude is here, squeezed into the narrow niche by her side, and he is
calling out to Tim, down below.
Come up, Tim, he cries, and there is a ring of agony in his voice
But Tim's answer reaches them, clear and loud, above the roar of the
I shall not come; there isn't room for three. You know that well
But, Tim, what will you do? I'll come down, and give you my place.
Stay where you are, Tim shouts sternly. You've got Bee to take
care of. And there's a heavy sea rolling in, she'll have to sit fast.
As Tim speaks the flood is surging up to his knees, and the wind,
too, is rising higher and higher. All around him the waves are foaming
over the sunken rocks, and the sea-thunder grows louder and more
terrible every moment.
I'll come down, cries Claude, making a desperate movement to
descend. You sha'n't stop there and drown alone! Do you think I'll be
such a hound as to let you?
But Bee with all her strength, holds him back. Empey, dear
Empey, she moans, stay for my sake!
I'll take my chance, Tim sings out cheerily. I can swim; I mean
to try for the landing-place.
You're mad; the tide will dash you on the rocks! groans Claude, in
despair. And then, so slight is his foothold that he nearly loses his
balance in looking downward; and Bee, clinging to him, screams with
I can't bear it! he says wildly.
How fast the waters rise! Great waves are breaking against the sides
of the Chair, and leaping up nearer and nearer to the ledge whereon the
pair support their feet. Once more Claude calls to Tim, passionately,
I'll never forgive myself if you are lost! Tim, Tim, where are
And the clear voice comes up, somewhat faintly, from below. It's
all right. God bless you and Bee.
A mighty billow flings its cloud of foam over the faces of Claude
and the shrinking girl by his side, and blinds them with salt spray.
But high as the tide is, the Chair is still above its reach, and
although the wave may sprinkle them, it cannot swallow them up. Only
they are deafened as well as blinded, and Bee feels that she is losing
her senses. Surely her brain is wandering, else she could never hear
the notes of the anthem again, and Tim's voice singing the words of the
old psalm in such exulting tones,
The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea,
than the mighty waves of the sea.
* * * * *
When night is closing over the little watering-place there are
rejoicings and lamentations in Nelson Lodge. Aunt Hetty's heart is full
of gratitude; Claude and Bee brought safely home by old Drake, have
fallen asleep at last in their rooms, while she steals from chamber to
chamber to look first at one tired young face and then at the other.
But the tears hang on Claude's lashes as he sleeps; and more than once
Bee moves restlessly on her pillow and murmurs Tim's name.
The wind, that has been blowing hard all through the night, subsides
soon after sunrise. Clouds clear away from the east, and the golden
morning shines upon the creamy cliffs of White Cove. Just at the foot
of one of the low rocks lies Tim; his brown face turned up to the sky,
and his curly hair matted with sea-weed. His life-work is done.
Only Tim;yes, Master Claude; but what would the world be without
such souls as Tim's? Fine manners, fine speech, and fine clothes, of
these he had none, but he had what glorifies the earth's greatest sons,
he had what the angels rank highly and what God loves, a brave, true,