Natty of Blue Point by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Natty Miller strolled down to the wharf where Bliss Ford was tying up
the Cockawee. Bliss was scowling darkly at the boat, a trim new one,
painted white, whose furled sails seemed unaccountably wet and whose
glistening interior likewise dripped with moisture. A group of
fishermen on the wharf were shaking their heads sagely as Natty drew
"Might as well split her up for kindlings, Bliss," said Jake McLaren.
"You'll never get men to sail in her. It passed the first time, seeing
as only young Johnson was skipper, but when a boat turns turtle with
Captain Frank in command, there's something serious wrong with her."
"What's up?" asked Natty.
"The Cockawee upset out in the bay again this morning," answered
Will Scott. "That's the second time. The Grey Gull picked up the men
and towed her in. It's no use trying to sail her. Lobstermen ain't
going to risk their lives in a boat like that. How's things over at
Blue Point, Natty?"
"Pretty well," responded Natty laconically. Natty never wasted words.
He had not talked a great deal in his fourteen years of life, but he
was much given to thinking. He was rather undersized and insignificant
looking, but there were a few boys of his own age on the mainland who
knew that Natty had muscles.
"Has Everett heard anything from Ottawa about the lighthouse business
yet?" asked Will.
Natty shook his head.
"Think he's any chance of getting the app'intment?" queried Adam
"Not the ghost of a chance," said Cooper Creasy decidedly. "He's on
the wrong side of politics, that's what. Er rather his father was. A
Tory's son ain't going to get an app'intment from a Lib'ral
government, that's what."
"Mr. Barr says that Everett is too young to be trusted in such a
responsible position," quoted Natty gravely.
Cooper shrugged his shoulders.
"Mebbe—mebbe. Eighteen is kind of green, but everybody knows that
Ev's been the real lighthouse keeper for two years, since your father
took sick. Irving Elliott wants that light—has wanted it for
years—and he's a pretty strong pull at headquarters, that's what.
Barr owes him something for years of hard work at elections. I ain't
saying anything against Elliott, either. He's a good man, but your
father's son ought to have that light as sure as he won't get it,
"Any of you going to take in the sports tomorrow down at Summerside?"
asked Will Scott, in order to switch Cooper away from politics, which
were apt to excite him.
"I'm going, for one," said Adam. "There's to be a yacht race atween
the Summerside and Charlottetown boat clubs. Yes, I am going. Give you
a chance down to the station, Natty, if you want one."
Natty shook his head.
"Not going," he said briefly.
"You should celebrate Victoria Day," said Adam, patriotically.
"'Twenty-fourth o' May's the Queen's birthday, Ef we don't get a
holiday we'll all run away,' as we used to say at school. The good old
Queen is dead, but the day's been app'inted a national holiday in
honour of her memory and you should celebrate it becoming, Natty-boy."
"Ev and I can't both go, and he's going," explained Natty. "Prue and
I'll stay home to light up. Must be getting back now. Looks squally."
"I misdoubt if we'll have Queen's weather tomorrow," said Cooper,
squinting critically at the sky. "Looks like a northeast blow, that's
what. There goes Bliss, striding off and looking pretty mad. The
Cockawee's a dead loss to him, that's what. Nat's off—he knows how
to handle a boat middling well, too. Pity he's such a puny youngster.
Not much to him, I reckon."
Natty had cast loose in his boat, the Merry Maid, and hoisted his
sail. In a few minutes he was skimming gaily down the bay. The wind
was fair and piping and the Merry Maid went like a bird. Natty, at
the rudder, steered for Blue Point Island, a reflective frown on his
face. He was feeling in no mood for Victoria Day sports. In a very
short time he and Ev and Prue must leave Blue Point lighthouse, where
they had lived all their lives. To Natty it seemed as if the end of
all things would come then. Where would life be worth living away from
lonely, windy Blue Point Island?
David Miller had died the preceding winter after a long illness. He
had been lighthouse keeper at Blue Point for thirty years. His three
children had been born and brought up there, and there, four years
ago, the mother had died. But womanly little Prue had taken her place
well, and the boys were devoted to their sister. When their father
died, Everett had applied for the position of lighthouse keeper. The
matter was not yet publicly decided, but old Cooper Creasy had sized
the situation up accurately. The Millers had no real hope that Everett
would be appointed.
Victoria Day, while not absolutely stormy, proved to be rather
unpleasant. A choppy northeast wind blew up the bay, and the water was
rough enough. The sky was overcast with clouds, and the May air was
raw and chilly. At Blue Point the Millers were early astir, for if
Everett wanted to sail over to the mainland in time to catch the
excursion train, no morning naps were permissible. He was going alone.
Since only one of the boys could go, Natty had insisted that it should
be Everett, and Prue had elected to stay home with Natty. Prue had
small heart for Victoria Day that year. She did not feel even a thrill
of enthusiasm when Natty hoisted a flag and wreathed the Queen's
picture with creeping spruce. Prue felt as badly about leaving Blue
Point Island as the boys did.
The day passed slowly. In the afternoon the wind fell away to a dead
calm, but there was still a heavy swell on, and shortly before sunset
a fog came creeping up from the east and spread over the bay and
islands, so thick and white that Prue and Natty could not even see
Little Bear Island on the right.
"I'm glad Everett isn't coming back tonight," said Prue. "He could
never find his way cross the harbour in that fog."
"Isn't it thick, though," said Natty. "The light won't show far
At sunset they lighted the great lamps and then settled down to an
evening of reading. But it was not long before Natty looked up from
his book to say, "Hello, Prue, what was that? Thought I heard a
"So did I," said Prue. "I sounded like someone calling."
They hurried to the door, which looked out on the harbour. The night,
owing to the fog, was dark with a darkness that seemed almost
tangible. From somewhere out of that darkness came a muffled shouting,
like that of a person in distress.
"Prue, there's somebody in trouble out there!" exclaimed Natty.
"Oh, it's surely never Ev!" cried Prue.
Natty shook his head.
"Don't think so. Ev had no intention of coming back tonight. Get that
lantern, Prue. I must go and see what and who it is."
"Oh, Natty, you mustn't," cried Prue in distress. "There's a heavy
swell on yet—and the fog—oh, if you get lost—"
"I'll not get lost, and I must go, Prue. Maybe somebody is drowning
out there. It's not Ev, of course, but suppose it were! That's a good
Prue, with set face, had brought the lantern, resolutely choking back
the words of fear and protest that rushed to her lips. They hurried
down to the shore and Natty sprang into the little skiff he used for
rowing. He hastily lashed the lantern in the stern, cast loose the
painter, and lifted the oars.
"I'll be back as soon as possible," he called to Prue. "Wait here for
In a minute the shore was out of sight, and Natty found himself alone
in the black fog, with no guide but the cries for help, which already
were becoming fainter. They seemed to come from the direction of
Little Bear, and thither Natty rowed. It was a tough pull, and the
water was rough enough for the little dory. But Natty had been at home
with the oars from babyhood, and his long training and tough sinews
stood him in good stead now. Steadily and intrepidly he rowed along.
The water grew rougher as he passed out from the shelter of Blue Point
into the channel between the latter and Little Bear. The cries were
becoming very faint. What if he should be too late? He bent to the
oars with all his energy. Presently, by the smoother water, he knew he
must be in the lea of Little Bear. The cries sounded nearer. He must
already have rowed nearly a mile. The next minute he shot around a
small headland and right before him, dimly visible in the faint light
cast by the lantern through the fog, was an upturned boat with two men
clinging to it, one on each side, evidently almost exhausted. Natty
rowed cautiously up to the one nearest him, knowing that he must be
wary lest the grip of the drowning man overturn his own light skiff.
"Let go when I say," he shouted, "and don't—grab—anything, do you
hear? Don't—grab. Now, let go."
The next minute the man lay in the dory, dragged over the stern by
Netty's grip on his collar.
"Lie still," ordered Natty, clutching the oars. To row around the
overturned boat, amid the swirl of water about her, was a task that
taxed Netty's skill and strength to the utmost. The other man was
dragged in over the bow, and with a gasp of relief Natty pulled away
from the sinking boat. Once clear of her he could not row for a few
minutes; he was shaking from head to foot with the reaction from
tremendous effort and strain.
"This'll never do," he muttered. "I'm not going to be a baby now. But
will I ever be able to row back?"
Presently, however, he was able to grip his oars again and pull for
the lighthouse, whose beacon loomed dimly through the fog like a great
blur of whiter mist. The men, obedient to his orders, lay quietly
where he had placed them, and before long Natty was back again at the
lighthouse landing, where Prue was waiting, wild with anxiety. The men
were helped out and assisted up to the lighthouse, where Natty went to
hunt up dry clothes for them, and Prue flew about to prepare hot
"To think that that child saved us!" exclaimed one of the men. "Why, I
didn't think a grown man had the strength to do what he did. He is
your brother, I suppose, Miss Miller. You have another brother, I
"Oh, yes—Everett—but he is away," explained Prue. "We heard your
shouts and Natty insisted on going at once to your rescue."
"Well, he came just in time. I couldn't have held on another
minute—was so done up I couldn't have moved or spoken all the way
here even if he hadn't commanded me to keep perfectly still."
Natty returned at this moment and exclaimed, "Why, it is Mr. Barr. I
didn't recognize you before."
"Barr it is, young man. This gentleman is my friend, Mr. Blackmore. We
have been celebrating Victoria Day by a shooting tramp over Little
Bear. We hired a boat from Ford at the Harbour Head this morning—the
Cockawee, he called her—and sailed over. I don't know much about
running a boat, but Blackmore here thinks he does. We were at the
other side of the island when the fog came up. We hurried across it,
but it was almost dark when we reached our boat. We sailed around the
point and then the boat just simply upset—don't know why—"
"But I know why," interrupted Natty indignantly. "That Cockawee does
nothing but upset. She has turned turtle twice out in the harbour in
fine weather. Ford was a rascal to let her to you. He might have known
what would happen. Why—why—it was almost murder to let you go!"
"I thought there must be something queer about her," declared Mr.
Blackmore. "I do know how to handle a boat despite my friend's gibe,
and there was no reason why she should have upset like that. That Ford
ought to be horsewhipped."
Thanks to Prue's stinging hot decoctions of black currant drink, the
two gentlemen were no worse for their drenching and exposure, and the
next morning Natty took them to the mainland in the Merry Maid. When
he parted with them, Mr. Barr shook his hand heartily and said: "Thank
you, my boy. You're a plucky youngster and a skilful one, too. Tell
your brother that if I can get the Blue Point lighthouse berth for him
I will, and as for yourself, you will always find a friend in me, and
if I can ever do anything for you I will."
Two weeks later Everett received an official document formally
appointing him keeper of Blue Point Island light. Natty carried the
news to the mainland, where it was joyfully received among the
"Only right and fair," said Cooper Creasy. "Blue Point without a
Miller to light up wouldn't seem the thing at all, that's what. And
it's nothing but Ev's doo."
"Guess Natty had more to do with it than Ev," said Adam, perpetrating
a very poor pun and being immensely applauded therefor. It keyed Will
Scott up to rival Adam.
"You said that Irving had a pull and the Millers hadn't," he said
jocularly. "But it looks as if 'twas Natty's pull did the business
after all—his pull over to Bear Island and back."
"It was about a miracle that a boy could do what he did on such a
night," said Charles Macey.
"Where's Ford?" asked Natty uncomfortably. He hated to have his
exploit talked about.
"Ford has cleared out," said Cooper, "gone down to Summerside to go
into Tobe Meekins's factory there. Best thing he could do, that's
what. Folks here hadn't no use for him after letting that death trap
to them two men—even if they was Lib'rals. The Cockawee druv ashore
on Little Bear, and there she's going to remain, I guess. D'ye want a
berth in my mackerel boat this summer, Natty?"
"I do," said Natty, "but I thought you said you were full."
"I guess I can make room for you," said Cooper. "A boy with such grit
and muscle ain't to be allowed to go to seed on Blue Point, that's
what. Yesser, we'll make room for you."
And Natty's cup of happiness was full.