Flags were accordingly hoisted on the beacon-house, and crane on the top of the building, which were repeated from the floating light, Lighthouse yacht, tender, Smeaton, Patriot, and the two praams. A salute of three guns was also fired from the yacht at high-water, when, all the artificers being collected on the top of the building, three cheers were given in testimony of this important circumstance. A glass of rum was then served out to all hands on the rock and on board of the respective ships.

[Sunday, 16th July]

Besides laying, boring, trenailing, wedging, and grouting thirty- two stones, several other operations were proceeded with on the rock at low-water, when some of the artificers were employed at the railways, and at high-water at the beacon-house. The seamen having prepared a quantity of tarpaulin, or cloth laid over with successive coats of hot tar, the joiners had just completed the covering of the roof with it. This sort of covering was lighter and more easily managed than sheet-lead in such a situation. As a further defence against the weather the whole exterior of this temporary residence was painted with three coats of white-lead paint. Between the timber framing of the habitable part of the beacon the interstices were to be stuffed with moss, as a light substance that would resist dampness and check sifting winds; the whole interior was then to be lined with green baize cloth, so that both without and within the cabins were to have a very comfortable appearance.

Although the building artificers generally remained on the rock throughout the day, and the millwrights, joiners, and smiths, while their number was considerable, remained also during the night, yet the tender had hitherto been considered as their night quarters. But the wind having in the course of the day shifted to the N.W., and as the passage to the tender, in the boats, was likely to be attended with difficulty, the whole of the artificers, with Mr. Logan, the foreman, preferred remaining all night on the beacon, which had of late become the solitary abode of George-Forsyth, a jobbing upholsterer, who had been employed in lining the beacon- house with cloth and in fitting up the bedding. Forsyth was a tall, thin, and rather loose-made man, who had an utter aversion at climbing upon the trap-ladders of the beacon, but especially at the process of boating, and the motion of the ship, which he said 'was death itself.' He therefore pertinaciously insisted with the landing-master in being left upon the beacon, with a small black dog as his only companion. The writer, however, felt some delicacy in leaving a single individual upon the rock, who must have been so very helpless in case of accident. This fabric had, from the beginning, been rather intended by the writer to guard against accident from the loss or damage of a boat, and as a place for making mortar, a smith's shop, and a store for tools during the working months, than as permanent quarters; nor was it at all meant to be possessed until tile joiner-work was completely finished, and his own cabin, and that for the foreman, in readiness, when it was still to be left to the choice of the artificers to occupy the tender or the beacon. He, however, considered Forsyth's partiality and confidence in the latter as rather a fortunate occurrence.

[Wednesday, 19th July]

The whole of the artificers, twenty-three in number, now removed of their own accord from the tender, to lodge in the beacon, together with Peter Fortune, a person singularly adapted for a residence of this kind, both from the urbanity of his manners and the versatility of his talents. Fortune, in his person, was of small stature, and rather corpulent. Besides being a good Scots cook, he had acted both as groom and house-servant; he had been a soldier, a sutler, a writer's clerk, and an apothecary, from which he possessed the art of writing and suggesting recipes, and had hence, also, perhaps, acquired a turn for making collections in natural history.

Records of a Family of Engineers Page 67

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
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