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A DEED OF DARING.
I. ONE Monday in February, 1880, five boys were playing upon the beach in front of Ply
mouth Hoe, a high hill that overlooks Plymouth Sound. After a time they went into a cave that ran a good way back in the rocky cliff that faces the sea.
2. They played about in the cave without any thought of danger, forgetting that the tide was coming in.
3. As it was blowing almost a gale at the time,
a the tide came in with unusual rapidity, and the
boys were no sooner aware of their danger, than they found themselves hemmed in completely by the surging waters.
4. They screamed loud and long, and fortunately their screams were heard by a crowd of people that stood on the Hoe watching the efforts that were being made to save a ship that seemed stranding.
Every person in the crowd knew the great danger in which the boys were placed, and that minute by minute death was coming nearer to them.
5. With each great wave the tide flowed in further and further, until the cave was nearly full. With each advancing flood the boys could go back only a step or two, until they felt themselves crouching against the hard wet rocks behind them. The boys were face to face with death, and no way of escape seemed possible.
6. The crowd above, with eager voices and beating hearts, discussed what could be done.
No boat would live a moment in the wild waters and raging surf below, that was certain.
What then could be done ? As this question went from one to another, the boys' cries became fainter and more distant as they crawled to the utmost corner of that awful cave.
7. The people looking down upon the still advancing ocean saw that the moment would quickly come when those cries must be silent and the battle of life and death be over.
But there was still time to snatch a victory, and two boatmen offered to attempt the deed of daring that must be done, unless the boys were to perish in their living tomb with a crowd of people just above them.
8. These two boatmen were George Andrews and Thomas Penny, and their names will long be remenibered not only in Plymouth, but throughout England.
Not a moment was to be lost, for the waves were still rushing on, and the boys crouching in their corner. A rope was tied round each man; and he was let down over the sheer face of the rocky cliff all in the rushing waves and seething spray, until he was just above the cave.
9. When there, each brave fellow let himself be washed by the waters into the cave, until he seized a boy and brought him out alive. Then he was hauled up to the top of the cliff with his prize, and this was repeated until all the boys were saved.
It is impossible to paint the full danger incurred by these brave men. They risked being dashed to death against the cliff as they were let down upon their errand of mercy, and they risked being crushed against the sides of the cave as they went in upon the rushing water.
10. No wonder that when the deed was done a ringing cheer went up from all the crowd. No wonder that the people pressed round the two boatmen to shake hands with those who had so nobly done their duty.
All boys and girls who read this deed of un-selfish daring must feel proud to think that they belong to a nation that produces such brave men as George Andrews and Thomas Penny.
1. At the dawn of my third day in the island of Ceylon, I took the coach by the coast road to Colombo. We drove along a splendid road in an avenue of giant cocoa-nut palms, with the sea generally within easy sight, and with a native hut at each few yards.
2. The road was thronged with gaily-dressed natives; and now and again we would pass a Buddhist priest in yellow robes, hastening along, his umbrella borne over him by a boy clothed from top to toe in white. The umbrellas of the priests are of yellow silk, and shaped like ours, but other natives carry flat-topped umbrellas, gilt, or coloured red and black. We met numbers of the native farmers travelling to their temples in carts drawn by tiny bullocks. Such was the brightness of the air that the people, down to the very beggars, seemed clad in holiday attire.
3. As we journeyed on, we began to find more variety in the scenery and vegetation, and were charmed with the scarlet-blossomed cotton tree, and with the areca, or betel-nut palm. The cocoanut groves, too, were carpeted with an undergrowth of beautiful flowers, and here and there was a breadfruit tree.