With Good Grace
“English heroine,” it said in the newspapers but I think they were talking poppycock. Who wouldn’t go and help people stranded off a wrecked steamship? After the Forfarshire went down, they were clinging onto the rocks for dear life, so I never really thought twice about it. It must have been the few survivors Father and I rescued who broke the story, because round these parts you are supposed to do that sort of thing without a fuss. I am after all a lighthouse keeper’s daughter. I sometimes think it’s having a name like Darling that makes people inclined to write me letters and paint my portrait, or maybe it is just the thought of a young woman rowing through a storm. When I try and work it out, it must have been about that year, 1838, when my cough started.
Now I have a much more difficult journey to make, and this time one that won’t get me a silver medal, nor would it be eased by another fifty pounds from the queen. At least with that I have something to leave my family, as well as these little gifts I have made for those who can get to see me. Thomasin is already here – ‘Grace’s chief nurse’ she calls herself. I really wanted to carry on living at the lighthouse, but conditions can be bleak out there, and Father wanted to see if some country air might help. Even a bracing breeze and wonderful Cheviot scenery couldn’t shake off this awful consumption, so it was decided I should return to coastal parts to be nearer to home. I do hope mam arrives in time. She’s normally reluctant to leave Longstone island and has hung on too long for news of me, so I pray the stormy weather allows the coble to get across before the end.
They are going to bring the box bed from grandad’s old cottage along to Uncle’s house for me. Strangely enough, it was the one in which I was born, so it has come full circle, and somehow that brings me peace.