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Ida Lewis: The Girl Who Kept Lime Rock Burning
by [?]

Ida Lewis: The Girl Who Kept Lime Rock Burning; a Heroic Life-saver

“Father has the appointment! We are going to live on the island, and you must all row over to see me very often. Isn’t it wonderful?”

A bright-faced young girl, surrounded by a group of schoolmates, poured out her piece of news in such an eager torrent of words that the girls were as excited as the teller of the tale, and there was a chorus of: “Wonderful! Of course we will! What fun to live in that fascinating place! Let’s go and see it now!”

No sooner decided than done, and in a very short time there was a fleet of rowboats led by that of Ida Lewis, on their way to the island in Baker’s Bay, where the Lime Rock Light stood, of which Captain Hosea Lewis had just been appointed keeper.

Ida, Captain Hosea’s daughter, was born at Newport, Rhode Island, on the 25th of February, 1841, and was sent to school there as soon as she was old enough. She was a quick-witted, sure-footed, firm-handed girl from her earliest childhood, and a great lover of the sea in all its changing phases. Often instead of playing games on land with her mates she would beguile some old fisherman to take her out in his fishing dory, and eagerly help him make his hauls, and by the time she was fourteen years old she was an expert in handling the oars, and as tireless a swimmer as could be found in all Newport.

And now her father had been appointed keeper of the Lime Rock Light, the “Ida Lewis” light, as it came to be known in later years, and the girl’s home was no longer to be on terra firma, but on the rock-ribbed island where the lighthouse stood, whose beacon-light cast strong, steady rays across Baker’s Bay, to the greater Narragansett Bay, of which it is only an arm.

The flock of girls in their boats rowed hard and fast across the silvery water with a steady plash, plash of the dipping oars in the calm bay, and ever Ida Lewis was in the lead, heading toward the island with a straight course, and keeping a close watch for the rocks of which the Bay was full. She would turn her head, toss back her hair, and call out in ringing tones to the flock, “‘Ware, shoals!” and obediently they would turn as she turned, follow where she led. Soon her boat ran its sharp bow against the rocky ledge to which they had been steering, and with quick confidence Ida sprang ashore, seized the painter, and drew her boat to a mooring, while the rest of the fleet came to the landing and one after another the girls jumped ashore. Then up the rocky path to the lighthouse filed Ida and her friends, eager to inspect the queer place which was to be Ida’s home.

“How perfectly lovely! How odd! Oh, how I wish I were going to live here! Ida, you are lucky–But just think how the wind will howl around the house in a storm! Will your father ever let you tend the light, do you think?”

The questions were not answered, and those who asked them did not expect a response. They all chattered on at the same time, while they inspected every nook and corner of their friend’s new home. It was a small place, that house on Lime Rock, built to house the light-keeper’s family, but one which could well answer to the name of “home” to one as fond of the sea as was Ida Lewis. On the narrow promontory, with the waves of the quiet bay lapping its rocky shores, the two-story white house stood like a sea-gull poised for flight. A living-room, with wide windows opening out on the bay it had, and simple bedrooms where one could be lulled to sleep by the lapping of waters on every side, while at the front of the house stood the tower from which the light sent its searching beams to guide mariners trying to enter the Newport harbor.