I often think now of that dreadful morning when we went across the stormy sea to that sinking ship. If our boat had capsized then, if we had been lost, what would have become of our souls? It is a very solemn thought, and I cannot be too thankful to God for sparing us both a little longer. My grandfather was a kind-hearted, good-tempered, honest old man; but I know now that that is not enough to open the door of heaven. Jesus is the only way there, and my grandfather knew little of, and cared nothing for, Him.
Little Timpey became my constant companion, indoors and out of doors. She was rather shy of the little Millars, for they were noisy and rough in their play, but she clung to me, and never wanted to leave me. Day by day she learnt new words, and came out with such odd little remarks of her own, that she made us all laugh. Her great pleasure was to get hold of a book, and pick out the different letters of the alphabet, which, although she could hardly talk, she knew quite perfectly.
Dear little pet! I can see her now, sitting at my feet on a large flat rock by the seashore, and calling me every minute to look at A, or B, or D, or S. And so by her pretty ways she crept into all our hearts, and we quite dreaded the answer coming to the letter my grandfather had written to the owners of the Victory, which, we found, was the name of the lost ship.
It was a very wet day, the Monday that the answer came. I had been waiting some time on the pier, and was wet through before the steamer arrived. Captain Sayers handed me the letter before anything else, and I ran up with it to my grandfather at once. I could not wait until our provisions and supplies were brought on shore.
Little Timpey was sitting on a stool at my grandfather’s feet, winding a long piece of tape round and round her little finger. She ran to meet me as I came in, and held up her face to be kissed.
What if this letter should say she was to leave us, and go back by the steamer! I drew a long breath as my grandfather opened it.
It was a very civil letter from the owners of the ship, thanking us for all we had done to save the unhappy crew and passengers, but saying they knew nothing of the child or her belongings, as no one of the name of Villiers had taken a cabin, and there was no sailor on board of that name. But they said they would make further inquiries in Calcutta, from which port the vessel had sailed. Meanwhile they begged my grandfather to take charge of the child, and assured him he should be handsomely rewarded for his trouble.
‘That’s right!’ I said, when he had finished reading it. ’Then she hasn’t to go yet!’
‘No,’ said my grandfather; ’poor wee lassie! we can’t spare her yet. I don’t want any of their rewards, Alick, not I! That’s reward enough for me,’ he said, as he lifted up the child to kiss his wrinkled forehead.