Saving Grace

7 Mar


Here’s 100 words for Friday Fictioneers inspired by the photo prompt below (courtesy of Jennifer Pendergast). It is a true story, or as true as I can make it from examining the flotsam and jetsam of history and imagining myself there that day in September, 1838. I first became aware of this story when I was 10 years old and it has resonated with me down through the years. Come back with me and ask yourself what you would have done.


Saving Grace


With the dawn Grace Darling climbed the iron spiral to the lighthouse’s lamp room. The wind moaned outside and spoke to her of a sea that would forgive naught and call to task the very best seamen this day. She extinguished the great light, trimmed the wick and polished the night’s accumulation of soot from the reflector, then turned and surveyed the rugged Northumberland coast.

On distant Harcar Rock, a vessel had foundered in the night and nine survivors she counted clinging to the splintered bow. Grace flew down the stairs to wake her father.

Together they rowed into history.


Wreck of the Farfarshire

Longstone Lighthouse.

Some links for your reading and listening pleasure




and here.


And, at last, since you made it this far, thank you to those of you who read my offering last week. Was up to my ass in alligators and no one was draining the swamp. I’ll try to do better on reading and commenting this week. Aloha, D.





64 Responses to “Saving Grace”

  1. rochellewisoff March 7, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    Dear Doug,
    How handily you’ve distilled a slice of obscure history into 100 well chosen words. The language of your piece catapults me back to 1838. As always I learned something new.
    Thank you and shalom,
    P.S. Hope those alligators didn’t bite off too much of your backside. ;).

    • dmmacilroy March 7, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      Dear Rochelle,

      Thank you for you kind comments and compliments. Them alligators are nasty, persistent and toothy. Some of the swamp drained. Working on the rest in the garage.



  2. claireful March 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    As well as being a gripping story (the true one, and as re-told by you), I also really like how so you’ve subtly rearranged the usual sentance structure to give us a flavour of the time (as with ‘nine survivors she counted’).

    • dmmacilroyDouglas macIlroy March 9, 2013 at 4:57 am #

      Dear Claire,

      Thank you for noticing that tweak in language and order. I appreciate you stopping by.



  3. Sandra March 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    How well I remember this story from my schooldays. Thanks for the reminder, beautifully written and titled. Well done.

  4. David Stewart March 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    I have never heard that story before. You told it well, packing it all into 100 words. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. sustainabilitea March 7, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    Once again you made everything work in a seemingly effortless yet elegant way. I’ve heard this story and others like it before but to tell it in 100 words is a wonderful feat. Sending you some alligator repellant and lots of packing boxes.


    • dmmacilroyDouglas macIlroy March 9, 2013 at 5:20 am #

      Dear janet,

      Thanks for the lizard repellent. Good to talk to you today. I’m slogging through the list now.



  6. vbholmesvb holmes March 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    Good transition from the portrayal of the everyday duties of the lighthouse tender to the drama of the rescue–well done.

  7. elmowrites March 7, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    I’ve joined you in history this week, Doug, although Iv’e gone a little further both in terms of time and how much I stretched reality. A great insight into this story, I love how much detail you give about her day *before* the famous story starts.

    • dmmacilroyDouglas macIlroy March 9, 2013 at 5:42 am #

      Dear Jen,

      Thanks for liking my story. I love yours. Fibopnaci is one of my favorite all time historical figures. You’re a genius.



  8. yepiratehere March 7, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    That was original, interesting and very well-written! The alligator stuff sounds quite something!

  9. Tom Poet March 7, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    A well told story about a piece of obscure history. What would I have done?…I am not sure you ever know that answer until you are in the moment…Great work as always.


  10. JKBradley March 7, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    That’s a lot a gators.

    Thank you for sharing your story and the story behind the story.

  11. Steve B March 7, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    Vivid imagery, and I like the quick transtition from dutiful drudgery to sudden urgency. Makes me want to find out more! Well crafted.

  12. Anne Orchard March 7, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

    As Sandra says, a great reminder of a story we were told as children. I also loved the way you gave us Grace the person, not just the heroic deeds – far more of a story that way, I think.

    • dmmacilroyDouglas macIlroy March 9, 2013 at 7:59 am #

      Dear Anne,

      Tahnk you for seeing Grace in the story. Not much time to show her. i appreciate the feedback.



  13. tedstrutz March 7, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    Fab Story, Doug! One of your best, for me. Gave me a shiver to hear you tell it.

  14. silentlyheardonce March 7, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

    Nice job Doug. As I read I felt myself rocking.

    • Douglas macIlroy March 9, 2013 at 8:02 am #

      I hope you were in a rocking chair. Thanks for the read and the comment.



  15. nightlake March 8, 2013 at 12:54 am #

    a story well told

  16. Laura Dunlap (@auralind) March 8, 2013 at 2:51 am #

    Another great tale – from history – and well wrought as per usual. My only hitch is wanting to read all your links – and having so many little stories to read. You are a devil.
    But a good one.
    Thanks, Lindaura

    • Douglas MacIlroy March 9, 2013 at 8:04 am #

      Dear Lindaura,

      I am sorry to tempt you with the links. They’re totally optional. Great to hear your voice again. The stories have multiplied like bunnies, haven’t they?



  17. valeriedavies March 8, 2013 at 5:25 am #

    Ah, how could one not love a girl called Grace and Darling? I discovered her when I was eight – beat ya – in my ‘Girls Book of Heroines’ and have often marvelled since at their courage with no life jackets, outboard motors, SOS rockets, or even a cell phone to text for help!!!!
    Lovely story as usual Doug, reverberating with memory and history….

    • Douglas MacIlroy March 9, 2013 at 8:07 am #

      Dear Valerie,

      I absolutely knew you’d be acquainted with Grace. “She had an English heart.”So wonderful to know that you’re checking in on my stories. I wrote this one with you in mind.



      • valeriedavies March 9, 2013 at 8:21 am #

        Did you really, Doug? What a compliment!
        I never miss any of your stories… XXX

      • Douglas MacIlroy March 9, 2013 at 8:24 am #

        Tis’ true, Valerie,

        Thought of you from the get go with this one.



  18. unspywriter March 8, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    Wonderful glimpse into history, and once again you and I were on a similar wavelength, though mine is far more irreverent. 😉

    Here ’tis:

    • Douglas MacIlroy March 9, 2013 at 8:11 am #

      Thank you very much,

      Great minds, eh? Grace had to trim wicks and everything. Your girl just had a single lightbulb to change. Sheesh.



  19. Michael Fishman March 8, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    I liked this one a lot, Doug. My story was based in a house and every story I’ve read so far has been based in a house and I liked that you were thinking outside of that traditional setting. The little bit of history was also very interesting!

    • Douglas MacIlroy March 9, 2013 at 8:13 am #

      Dear Mike,

      I do try to leave the box as far behind aas possible on every story. Headed your way soon.



  20. Sunshine March 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    good to learn historical facts from great stories like this one. very refreshing. ♥

    • Douglas MacIlroy March 9, 2013 at 8:15 am #

      Dear Sunshine,

      History is revealing, isn’t it. Lots to learn about ourselves through studying it.



  21. t March 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    I’ve never heard this tale either – thank you for the ever so well-written education.

  22. anelephantcant March 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Very clever, well done.

  23. rgayer55 March 8, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    It was new to me, Doug. I did click the links and further educate myself. Thanks for providing those and the history lesson. I linked you in my story, which I hope you find amusing.

    • Douglas MacIlroy March 9, 2013 at 8:19 am #

      Dear Russell,

      Yeah, that would be me in the engineroom. How’d you figure that out?

      Loved your story. Will try to avoid that region of the solar system.



  24. elappleby March 9, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Hi Doug
    Really enjoyed your story, especially the last line – my kids were taught about Grace Darling in school, so I already knew about her, but your links were very interesting too. Fabulous take on the prompt.

  25. julespaige March 9, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

    Dang…I wrote a few words went to a link and lost what I wrote…I’d like to think I would have been just like Grace. If I had a bucket list…(I’m not a list anything person) I’d have visit a few light houses on it. Thanks for the history, visiting my spot and taking the time to comment.

    Aloha, Doug. I don’t think it mattered what was for dinner, I read somewhere that Vampires don’t eat people food 🙂

    Thanks again, Jules

  26. JackieP March 9, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    hello Doug! Now I wish history had been this interesting when I went to school. Really well done considering you only had 100 word to work with. As for those alligators, walk softly and carry a big stick. 😉

  27. Carrie March 9, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    I do hope these are metaphorical alligators and not real ones!! I’ve been dealing with some of those troublesome beasts myself 🙂

    Love how so much is packed into the 100 words. You immediately know exactly what the story is with your version.

  28. The Writers Village March 9, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

    Nice that you were able to see that circular staircase and the light as a lighthouse, and connected to a great story that you remembered from childhood. And what a great story it is. I had never heard of it before. Thanks for the nice writing and the links. I enjoyed it.


  29. The Bumble Files March 10, 2013 at 12:12 am #

    Dear Doug,
    This is a fascinating story. Once again, I learned a bit of history today. I love your eloquent choice of words and how you set and describe the scene. Brilliant. You pack a lot in.

  30. kz March 10, 2013 at 2:55 am #

    Together they rowed into history. fantastic.
    so wonderfully written… just spellbinding

  31. billgncs March 10, 2013 at 5:38 am #

    Hi Doug – real heroes inspire us, thanks for sharing this one.

  32. Sarah Ann March 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    A great re-telling of a story I grew up with. I particularly loved the detail of trimming the lamp and cleaning the reflector.

  33. Linda Parkinson-Hardman March 10, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    I love your capacity to weave history into your stories Doug, you always do it so flawlessly; and this was no exception. Thank you.

  34. pennycoho March 10, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    Hi Doug. Excellent. I was right there with the girl racing down the stairs reliving the moments. Well written and like your other commenters I also enjoy the blending of your written word with history! Yes!

  35. moondustwriter March 11, 2013 at 1:52 am #

    great piece of history / you integrated it seamlessly with the prompt
    Hope those alligators are staying at bay
    thanks for the visit 🙂

  36. Perry Block (@PerryBlock) March 11, 2013 at 2:18 am #

    That was fascinating, Doug, an interesting slice of history that I’d never heard about. And to think that she only lived to age 26 after having done such heroic duty … nicely told in very few words.

  37. Joe Owens March 11, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    Now we are learning history in the Firday Fictioneers also? Educational and entertaining!

  38. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) March 11, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    Fascinating story, had never hearse it before. Thank you for sharing.

  39. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) March 11, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    I think you could say amazing Grace btw

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