But, even in such a case, it afforded some consolation that the stability of the fabric was never doubted, and that the boats of the floating light were at no great distance, and ready to render the people on the rock the earliest assistance which the weather would permit. The writer's cabin being in the sternmost part of the ship, which had what sailors term a good entry, or was sharp built, the sea, as before noticed, struck her counter with so much violence that the water, with a rushing noise, continually forced its way up the rudder- case, lifted the valve of the water-closet, and overran the cabin floor. In these circumstances daylight was eagerly looked for, and hailed with delight, as well by those afloat as by the artificers upon the rock.

[Friday, 2nd June]

In the course of the night the writer held repeated conversations with the officer on watch, who reported that the weather continued much in the same state, and that the barometer still indicated 29.20 inches. At six a.m. the landing-master considered the weather to have somewhat moderated; and, from certain appearances of the sky, he was of opinion that a change for the better would soon take place. He accordingly proposed to attempt a landing at low-water, and either get the people off the rock, or at least ascertain what state they were in. At nine a.m. he left the vessel with a boat well manned, carrying with him a supply of cooked provisions and a tea-kettle full of mulled port wine for the people on the beacon, who had not had any regular diet for about thirty hours, while they were exposed during that period, in a great measure, both to the winds and the sprays of the sea. The boat having succeeded in landing, she returned at eleven a.m. with the artificers, who had got off with considerable difficulty, and who were heartily welcomed by all on board.

Upon inquiry it appeared that three of the stones last laid upon the building had been partially lifted from their beds by the force of the sea, and were now held only by the trenails, and that the cast-iron sheer-crane had again been thrown down and completely broken. With regard to the beacon, the sea at high-water had lifted part of the mortar gallery or lowest floor, and washed away all the lime-casks and other movable articles from it; but the principal parts of this fabric had sustained no damage. On pressing Messrs. Logan and Watt on the situation of things in the course of the night, Mr. Logan emphatically said: 'That the beacon had an ILL-FAURED {171a} TWIST when the sea broke upon it at high- water, but that they were not very apprehensive of danger.' On inquiring as to how they spent the night, it appeared that they had made shift to keep a small fire burning, and by means of some old sails defended themselves pretty well from the sea sprays.

It was particularly mentioned that by the exertions of James Glen, one of the joiners, a number of articles were saved from being washed off the mortar gallery. Glen was also very useful in keeping up the spirits of the forlorn party. In the early part of life he had undergone many curious adventures at sea, which he now recounted somewhat after the manner of the tales of the Arabian Nights. When one observed that the beacon was a most comfortless lodging, Glen would presently introduce some of his exploits and hardships, in comparison with which the state of things at the beacon bore an aspect of comfort and happiness. Looking to their slender stock of provisions, and their perilous and uncertain chance of speedy relief, he would launch out into an account of one of his expeditions in the North Sea, when the vessel, being much disabled in a storm, was driven before the wind with the loss of almost all their provisions; and the ship being much infested with rats, the crew hunted these vermin with great eagerness to help their scanty allowance. By such means Glen had the address to make his companions, in some measure, satisfied, or at least passive, with regard to their miserable prospects upon this half-tide rock in the middle of the ocean.

Records of a Family of Engineers Page 64

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
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