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Shipwreck Stories for Kids: The Grace Darling Story

Here follows the original text of The Story of Grace Darling, including the illustration from the article, as it was published in The Young American Annual, 1891.

Engraved Portrait of Grace Darling

Vintage Illustration of Grace Darling

The Story of Grace Darling

By Mrs. Alice H. Putnam

One September night long ago, a steamer was sailing off the coast of Northumberland on her way to Dundee. The pilot had steered her safely until they were as far north as the Farne Islands. But here, the high winds and heavy seas, which the autumn weather often brings the sailor, drove the vessel onto a dangerous ledge of rocks, and she was broken almost in two. There were a good many passengers on the boat, and the captain, with his wife, and many others, were washed off the deck and dashed onto the rocks.

On one of these islands stood a tall light-house called the “Folkstone Light.” I suppose it was built of stone, bolted and riveted firmly to the solid rock, for that is the way most of the light-houses on the coast were made. Often the angry waves would beat against it as they rolled over the whole island, but the keeper was faithful, and from sunset to sunrise the bright light would shine far over the water, and was sometimes a comfort and sometimes a warning to the sailors.

The keeper, Mr. Darling, had a daughter who had grown to be a strong, brave girl—as much at home on the water as on the land. She could row and sail a boat as well as any man about there. It was a part of her work to help her father care for the lamps.

On this stormy night it must have carried hope to the poor half-drowned men to know that some one was near who would help them if possible.

When Grace Darling saw the danger the crew were in, she at once begged her father to get out the boats and go to the aid of the drowning men.

But Mr. Darling said “No, we dare not try it. The sea is too heavy; no boat could live in it. Wait until morning.” So hour after hour passed and Grace watched the dreadful storm with a sad heart, for she knew the men would soon grow too weak to cling to the rocks.

At last, towards morning, she said, “Father, I am going. I must at least try to do something for them; don’t say no.”

The father could not hold his brave child back, and she went alone in the little boat that was tossed like an egg-shell on the heavy sea, now up, up, on the top of a giant wave, and then down deep in the trough made between the waves. It was well, then, that Grace had gained a man’s strength by her rowing and swimming, or she never could have guided her boat so surely to the island, and steered safely around its dangerous, sharp rocks to the place where the steamer (or what was left of it) was wedged.

She was thankful to be able to save the lives of the nine sailors who, moment by moment, were growing weaker and less able to hold on to a place of safety. Grace carried them all back to the light-house in safety.
It was not long before people in other parts of England heard of the brave deed, and many letters and beautiful medals, in remembrance of her courage, were sent her. But she received them very quietly, saying that she had only done what she ought to do, and what any one with her strength ought to have done.

She lived some years after this, but though she has gone from here now, I think folks will always love to think of Grace Darling, the brave girl who risked her own to save other lives.

 

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