Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

A Boating Adventure At Parkhurst
by [?]

Once, and once only, did I play truant from Parkhurst, and that transgression was attended with consequences so tragical that to this day its memory is as vivid and impressive as if the event I am about to record had happened only last week, instead of a quarter of a century ago.

I shall recall it in the hope of deterring my readers from following my foolish example–or at least of warning them of the terrible results which may ensue from a thoughtless act of wrong-doing.

I have already mentioned that Parkhurst stood some two or three miles above the point at which the River Colven flows into the sea. From the school-house we could often catch the hum of the waves breaking lazily along the shore of Colveston Bay; or, if the wind blew hard from the sea, it carried with it the roar of the breakers on the bar mouth, and the distant thunder of the surf on the stony beach.

Of course, our walks and rambles constantly took the direction of the shores of this bay; and though, perhaps, a schoolboy is more readily impressed with other matters than the beauties of nature, I can remember even now the once familiar view from Raven Cliff as if my eyes still rested upon it.

I can see, on a hot summer afternoon, the great curve of that beautiful bay, bounded at either extremity by headlands, bathed in soft blue haze. I can see the cliffs and chines and sands basking, like myself, in the sun. On my right, the jagged outline of a ruined sea-girt castle stands out like a sentinel betwixt is land and water. On my left I can detect the fishermen’s white cottages crouching beneath the crags. I can see the long golden strip of strand beyond; and, farther still, across the wide estuary of the Wraythe, the line of shadowy cliffs that extend like a rugged wall out to the dim promontory of Shargle Head.

Above all, I can see again the sea, bluer even than the blue sky overhead; and as it tumbles languidly in from the horizon, fringing the amphitheatre of the bay with its edge of sparkling white, my ears can catch the murmur of its solemn music as they heard it in those days long gone by.

Well I remember, too, the same bay and the same sea; but oh, how changed!

Far as the eye could reach the great white waves charged towards the land, one upon another, furious and headlong; below us they thundered and lashed and rushed back upon their fellows, till we who watched could not hear so much as our own voices. In the distance they leapt savagely at the base of the now lowering headlands, and fought madly over the hidden rocks and sands. They sent their sleet and foam-flakes before them, blinding us where we stood on the cliff-top; they seethed and boiled in the hollows of the rocks, and over the river bar they dashed and plunged till far up the stream their fury scarcely spent itself.

At such times no ship or boat ventured willingly into Colveston Bay; or if it did, it rarely, if ever, left it again.

But such times were rare–very rare with us. Indeed, I had been months at Parkhurst before I witnessed a real storm, and months again before I saw another. So that my acquaintance with the bay was almost altogether connected with its milder aspects, and as such it appeared both fascinating and tempting.

It was on a beautiful August holiday morning that four of us were lounging lazily in a boat down at the bar mouth, looking out into the bay and watching the progress of a little fishing smack, which was skipping lightly over the bright waves in the direction of Shargle Head. Her sails gleamed in the sunlight, and she herself skimmed so lightly across the waters, and bounded so merrily through their sparkling ripples, that she seemed more like a fairy craft than a real yacht of boards and canvas. “I’d give a good deal to be in her!” exclaimed Hall, one of our party, a sea captain’s son, to whom on all nautical matters we accorded the amplest deference. “So would I,” said Hutton. “How jolly she looks!”