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SCHOLASTIC INC. NEW YORK TORONTO LONDON AUCKLAND SYDNEY MEXICO CITY NEW DELHI HONG KONG
If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.” No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher. For information regarding permission, write to Scholastic Inc., Attention: Permissions Department, 557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012. This book was originally published in hardcover by Scholastic Press in 2011. ISBN 978-0-545-24331-5 Copyright © 2011 by Kathryn Lasky. All rights reserved. Published by Scholastic Inc. SCHOLASTIC and associated logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Scholastic Inc. 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 12 13 14 15 16 17/0 40
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He would keep his eye out for debris. It was the lost gear. But he couldn’t wait any longer. He was worried about his lobster traps — how many had broken free from their buoys or been dragged by the turmoil of confused winds and currents that followed a storm of such force? If a fisherman was out now it wasn’t the storm itself that was threatening but the aftermath.> PRO LO GU E > M A I N E C O A S T. pushed by a southeast wind. When the nor’easter had blasted through two days before. although it wasn’t the season. He had to check his traps. Ľ 1 ľ . it had been fierce — almost hurricane force. and two fishing trawlers were lost to the south.1883 TH E FOG HAD SET IN THICK after the storm. somewhere off Georges Bank. A ship had gone down. the lost money. O F F SIMON’S LEDGE. No hope for any of those vessels. the lost lobsters.
who had given her some different stomach powders. to support a child — not with all the doctoring that Zeeba required. bodily functions. they did! He wondered if a baby would have made a difference for them. But her numerous afflictions required Zeeba’s full attention. One doctor even told her that she could be a doctor. Hepzibah Plum always set off for the doctor well armed. It would be hard. and pulse rate. for their marriage. That was probably the happiest day of Zeeba’s life. she kept meticulous charts recording her fevers. He and his wife had never been blessed with children. They cost. So dense. he supposed.His income tending the Egg Rock Lighthouse was barely adequate. Edgar Plum peered into the fog. with information. She came back to Egg Rock absolutely hooting about that. dauntingly armed. But between lobstering and getting the occasional deck job on a trawler he could make just about enough for their life at the lighthouse. If it Ľ 2 ľ . She had just gone to a new doctor last month over in Surrey.
so he must be near. It was an odd noise — wood? Possibly. But suddenly there was another sound.would only begin to fray a bit. and the water now was relatively calm. The chop diminished. No sound of waves slapping into one another. smacked by something. where he had set some traps. drifting about. so merry — so human? Ľ 3 ľ . the distant disembodied chimes of a bell buoy cut by the whine of a seagull’s cry. He caught the fishy smell of seals basking in the thick mists of fog on the ledge. He froze at the tiller of his small sailing skiff. A timber or maybe a lobster trap come loose. The remaining noises were intermittent and yet distinct — the luff of his sail as it relaxed in this windless pocket of air. All these were familiar to him. unravel the gray so that he could see something — even just the loom. He was looking for Burnt Porcupine. It was a sweet babbling sound. But then something caught his attention. Everything seemed unusually quiet. or the dark shadow of the island that lifted out of the fog. so sweet. a tone that laced through the fog.
The baby was a girl. As he drew nearer he saw a shape in the water. gently poking it this way or that when it listed too far to one side or the other. He made a sling so he could carry her neatly under Ľ 4 ľ . cozy babbling. began to steer the sea chest toward him. When he picked up the infant he saw that it was wrapped as snug as could be in a gray knit blanket covered by an oilskin cloak. put out his oars. and rags of mist hung in the air as he looked down and saw the sweet face of an infant with red curls like a luminous cloud of dawn light.He quickly lowered his sail. Edgar Plum caught his breath as he spied a tiny hand waving in the air. On either side a dolphin swam. as he had suspected when he first saw her. The lid was flopped open and only attached with one hinge. as if sensing his presence. A baby! He was almost too frightened to row toward it. but the dolphins. The fog had blown off. and began rowing toward the soft. It was rectangular — a sea chest. Overhead a seagull hovered.
“HMS Resolute ! My word!” Edgar Plum whispered to himself. When he brought it over the gunwales he could see letters carved on the lid’s top — HMS Resolute. It had reversed. he thought. It was meant to be. No hope. We’ll call her Hope. He stared into the wind that had just sprung up now from the northwest.his sou’wester jacket. They would not call her Hope. That was the ship that had gone down off Georges Bank. he thought. Before he raised his sail. for the wind had been blowing for the last two days out of the southeast — driving this baby right to me. he reached over and fetched the chest and its lid from the water. When Edgar got home with his bundle. ľ treat her lungs. Hepzibah Plum was hanging her head over a pot of steaming camphor broth to Ľ ľ 5 ľ ľ . The report said everyone was lost. He was so brimful of joy that he nearly whooped out loud. But this was hope.
“Just another minute.” Her voice floated out from the toweling that covered her head and trapped the vapor. The drawstrings had pulled taut again. Around her mouth were vertical crinkles as if invisible drawstrings needed to be pulled for any utterance.” Hepzibah Plum took mincing steps toward her husband. Zeeb.” “Us?” “Come on now. come look at her. “What’s that?” She had a thin. a baby for us. “What in the name of Jesus have you brought home. Gar?” “A baby.” “Hold your horses. Gar looked at Ľ 6 ľ . and her cheekbones protruded so that they cast shadows into the hollows beneath them. She’s pretty as can be. and the hole of her mouth had closed tight. angular face.“Zeeba! Zeeba! Come out from under that tent of yours. Her face was red and blotchy.” But it was only another few seconds before the baby cried out. I got a surprise for you. Zeeba tore the toweling off her head.
“Yes. “We’ll call her Hope. The vertical lines between her eyebrows deepened. “No! We’ll call her Mabel. It was in that moment that Gar decided that he would never tell his wife the truth about where he had found this baby. In fact. “God has finally blessed us with a child. was not barren but had at last given birth. How’d you come by her?” But Gar knew it was not because Zeeba was honoring her mother. “A Ľ 7 ľ . “I was down near Crockett Cove. She was putting her mark on the child. She wanted people to think that she.” A dark look seeped from Zeeba’s eyes. No more powders. after my mother. Hepzibah Plum.her. Gar thought. expecting an “ooh” or an “aah” of astonishment and wonder.” He decided he had to make it as far away as possible. But no sound was emitted.” “Mabel?” Edgar said weakly. You won’t need no more medicines. Mabel.” Zeeba’s brow contracted in a frown. her lips pressed tighter together. but Edgar was oblivious.
I thought I was getting a mite better in my camphor tent there.” He started to hand the baby to his wife.” He took a deep breath. It almost scared her. Zeeba.” She Ľ 8 ľ . You hold the baby. “She ain’t no bastard. you just said so. “I got to go milk the cow. Hepzibah. no relatives. and we’ll treat her that way. firm voice before. “We got to feed her now. “Probably a bastard child.” This was the first time in their ten years of married life that Hepzibah Plum had ever milked their cow. “And we’ll call her May for short.woman down there died in childbirth. We got any milk?” “If you go out and milk Bells we do. She’s hungry.” Hepzibah sighed. nothing.” Hepzibah blinked at her husband.” “I’ll do it. like she was born to us. You and me. “You know. Don’t you ever call her that! She’s ours.” The word went through Edgar like an electrical current. As she walked out the door of the lighthouse she turned and said. She had never heard him speak in this low. She backed away.
” Zeeba pressed her colorless lips into a firm line and turned to the door. She’s May Plum.nodded toward the pot simmering on the stove. Ľ 9 ľ .” “She’s not an interruption. Zeeb. she’s our daughter. “But this interruption hasn’t helped.
WI NT ER 1898 .
had put a compress over her eyes.S E A S O N N O R’E A S T E R . But it had been there for decades and had not yet been felled by any weather. across the kitchen in her rocker. The wind screeched round the squat frame house. darning a sock. Her mother. I got to go to that new doctor that’s come to the village as soon as this weather breaks. “You know. May Plum sat in a pool of lamplight. if my eyes hadn’t got so poor I’d be helping you with them socks.” Ľ 13 ľ . and the clapboards moaned periodically as if in reply. Every now and then the light tower that thrust upward sixtyfour feet into the storm-rent sky seemed to sway just a bit.> 1 > THE BROKEN CHIMNEY IT WA S A L AT E .
“This wind done set in. She knew them. depending on how much he had drunk. . Nothing ever changed. She could feel her mother tense without looking at her. there was just one season in the lighthouse — winter. It might be late for nor’easters but in truth. every word her father might or might not speak. this island all too well. It was always dark yet always too hot inside because of her mother’s insistence on keeping the fire in the cast-iron cook-and-heat stove going.” Gar called from his chair.“It ain’t going to break for the next few days. but her father caught himself just in time and swerved mid sentence to avoid cursing. It’s blowin’ like . May knew what would happen next.” May kept her eyes on the sock. Nothing ever really changed. this room. She knew what was coming. and while others flung open their Ľ 14 ľ . She could predict every sigh and groan of her mother. “Blowin’ like stink. Zeeb.” he concluded. Spring might come. . May realized. She heard his sleeve brush the table and she knew that it would be followed by the splash of whiskey being poured into the mug. not even the seasons.
windows and hung out their linens to catch the fresh breezes for a good airing out. Zeeba did not. if the wind was in the right direction. She regarded these diabolical streams of air as a kind of roaming executioner that could strike anytime. for she was deeply suspicious of drafts. She was always on the alert for an insinuating breeze that in her mind was as pestilent as a rat-borne plague. not girls. When she went to town with her father on a hot day it was almost painful for her to watch the swimmers. It was mostly boys who swam. May could catch the joyous shrieks and whoops of children swimming off the town wharf. as infectious as a flea-ridden rabid dog. Their hair plastered to their heads made them seem sleek as seals and more beautiful than they actually were. She was particularly conscious of Zeeba’s furtive glances and odd comments referring to her Ľ 15 ľ . Perhaps the wet clothing revealed too much of what was beneath the light cottons and muslins that clung to the girls’ bodies. But she was forbidden from entering the water. Come summer. May’s own figure had begun to change in the last year.
But still. the twinkling drops in their eyelashes. their artifacts from that lovely and mysterious underwater world. But could May join them? Never. Like glistening travelers from far away. the children climbed from the harbor onto the wharf.robust health while staring at her waist or the bodice of her dress. it was all she could do not to jump in when she heard those children squealing with delight as they ran off the wharf into the water. The streamlets of water that traced patterns on their shoulders. for their skin glistened with saltwater. Swimming was the one subject on which her father and mother Ľ 16 ľ . She craved the feeling of those rivulets of seawater that coursed down their arms. And when they reemerged she gaped at them in wonder. the rime of salt that formed on their skin as the children baked themselves dry in the sun — these were their keepsakes. carrying their souvenirs from another world. which might be a bit tight. She saw the sparkling little liquid spheres caught in their eyelashes and wondered what it felt like to look through a scrim of water drops. their mementos.
de-ah. no more. however. and since May was doing the darning she got the light. Until they could get to the mainland for oil. Her father seemed genuinely fearful of her swimming. Those had to be read in Ľ 17 ľ . But a few did. My uncle. the Plums could only use one lamp in the kitchen. There was no use arguing with her parents. But she did have schoolbooks she wanted to read.agreed. Bad for your lungs. Swimming never brought anybody any good. May had seen them jumping off the dock in their petticoats. May stole a glance up from her mending and regarded her parents. Zeeba objected because “normal” girls didn’t swim. They were running low on ordinary lamp oil. Was only in the water for a minute.” Gar would not permit her to even wade on the beach of the calm inlet on the back side of Egg Rock Island where the sea furrowed in. It was against the regulations of the lighthouse service board to use its high-quality kerosene for domestic purposes. he went overboard. and was never the same again. “Your mother’s right. They both sat in thick shadows.
School had been May’s only escape from the lighthouse and the unceasing narrative of Zeeba’s illnesses. Zeeba seemed to resent it. the little snorts that issued forth every time May sat down to read or try to do arithmetic problems in the math book. And they Ľ 18 ľ .” as Zeeba called it. but her dark glances. on the big island of Mount Desert. Then just when her mother was feeling better the storm hit so it was impossible for her father to take her in the skiff. She had a peculiar way of staring at her. It wasn’t simply what she said that suggested her irritation with “book learning. That was the single exception. The only book that light was wasted on was the Bible. staring at May so hard it felt as if Zeeba’s eyes were drilling through her. even though it was a short sail. But before the storm set in her mother had had a bad spell with her stomach and insisted that May stay home from school in Bar Harbor. “Can’t waste light on books!” That was Zeeba’s constant refrain. for most of the past month. She would be behind in everything! And whenever she did open her books.daylight only.
Not that May ever received a letter. Too rough. She couldn’t believe how many mistakes she had made in a simple set of fractions. But May couldn’t wait to get back to school even if she was behind in every subject. Why had it begun to grate on her so intensely these last few months? She had lived with it all her life. sealing them off more completely than ever from the big island of Mount Desert. It was useless to be in the same room with her mother when she was trying to do homework. Meanwhile. but right now she felt as if she could not stand another minute. was almost too much. it was nice to go down to the pier when Captain Weed delivered her parents’ mail. The Ľ 19 ľ . The stifling predictability of her life in this house. Still. If only Zeeba wouldn’t get sick again! She glanced at her mother and then at the lamp. on this drear and forlorn rockbound tiny island in a boiling sea. The mail boat had not come out for days now. the storm continued to rage outside. They wrecked her concentration.did.
But even preferable to the word fail was complications. with its strange syncopated rhythms. her lungs were failing. She was extremely proud of her heart. of course. her arthritic joints were failing. Her eyes were failing. It was Hepzibah’s dream to go to Boston and be examined by the finest doctors in America at the Massachusetts General Hospital.space was too tight. and then presumably die very happily. was failing. In general Hepzibah Plum preferred the word fail to sick. Complications suggested the awesome mystery of her illnesses. with its peculiar beat. her heart. It meant a death dignified and certified by Ľ ľ 20 ľ ľ . There was really only room for Zeeba and her sicknesses. It had defied diagnosis by all the best doctors from Bar Harbor to Eastport and right on down south and west to Cape Rosier. and. ľ Boston doctors. She lived to be diagnosed with something horrific. Happily ever after had a meaning for Hepzibah that had nothing to do with storybooks or fairy tales.
It was pulled so tight that it seemed to May to have permanently dragged the top of Hepzibah’s ears into two sharp points. None of May’s organs were failing. The closest she ever came Ľ 21 ľ . Her face appeared waxen and was grooved rather than wrinkled. There were liver spots on her cheekbones.May looked again at Zeeba. She had hardly been sick a day in her life. a health that her mother seemed to almost resent. colorless lips. It was not simply that May and Hepzibah were as unlike in appearance as any mother and daughter could be. but they were just as different on the inside as well. as if they were trying to leap up there and keep company with that nodule of hair. She was robust and brimming with health. was skinned straight up into a knob that perched on top of her head. thin and dark with iron-gray streaks. and beneath her eyes there were small gray pouches with a tinge of yellow that reminded May of raw clams. Two deep trenches ran from either side of her nose to the corners of her thin. How could she be so different from her own mother? Her mother’s hair.
as if they didn’t quite belong? Ľ 22 ľ .” and look at May as if she were a complete stranger. though. window-shopping or maybe even in summer buying an ice cream to share. shake her head. And although May did not envy her mother’s ill health she sometimes wondered if her mother would like her more if she were weaker. “I do envy that girl’s strength. They were coupled through deep feelings. more fragile. Those mothers and daughters seemed as if they belonged together whether they looked alike or not. and say wearily. very sick? Would it bring out a tenderness in her? May thought about the mothers and daughters in Bar Harbor walking arm in arm down the street. Would it please her mother to see her very. On those occasions Zeeba would sigh deeply.to voicing any bitterness was when she would regard May while she was hoeing in the garden or lugging an immense basket of wet laundry to hang out to dry. “Almost unnatural. Did those girls ever catch their mothers looking at them as if they were complete strangers? Did they feel out of place in their own families.” Then in a slightly lower voice she might whisper.
These two flashes were followed by a tensecond gap.” She whispered the word to herself and felt a deep and terrible overwhelming sadness flood through her. The wind temporarily eased and then a few seconds later began again with a thin wail that built to a mournful lament as it scoured around the corners of the house and pried shingles from the roof.“Belong. It was a great deal of work. Each lighthouse along the coast of the country had its own sequence designed to aid mariners in distinguishing one light from another. The flashes were like parentheses in the darkness of the long winter nights whose shadows clung like lint through the short day when hours of light were whittled away minute by minute. May and her father maintained their light. This was the “signature” of the Egg Rock Light. or its characteristic sequence. In all there were over one hundred and fifty instructions for proper lighthouse 23 ľ ľ ľ . ľ Ľ May turned her gaze to look out the window at the two five-second flashes as they swept across the snow.
The first was that the lamps must be lit at sunset and kept continually burning “bright and clear” until sunrise.” From the watch room they could service the light. It was a beacon for ships at sea. time to wind anyhow. wind the clockworks. Edgar Plum’s father had been the first lighthouse keeper of the rock. And now Edgar had tended it for thirty years. warning them of The Bones.keeping. “Yes. “You see it. I’ll tend to it.” “Well. bending it into horizontal sprays. which rose like an Ľ 24 ľ . Pa. and then climb up a short ladder to get inside the lens itself. de-ah?” her father said. rock ledges that lurked just beneath the surface and earned their name from the lives they had claimed from innumerable shipwrecks before Egg Rock Light had been built. When the weather was foggy or stormy. I think that wick is smoking again. May put down her darning and went to the window to watch the sweep of the light more closely. don’t you. It was the extraordinary lens that multiplied the light of the kerosene lamp through its array of prisms. oil its gears. the light was kept burning both day and night.
and rose to start the climb. But she would not say anything.” Ľ ľ 25 ľ ľ . Mother. I need to stretch my legs.” he laughed. Or maybe that’s what gets to my eyes first and why they be failing and then that gives me the headache. But he seemed tired tonight.” “So do I. “Oh. it is. Once inside they could stand on the slowly rotating platform and trim the wick of the lamp. “I’ll go up. I swear I can smell those fumes down here. just below the lantern room. Pa. No matter how much her father drank he was never too unsteady to climb the winding stairs of the sixty-four-foot tower to the watch room.” May said. “You know they rise with the heat up in the lantern room.immense glass beehive. I don’t think the fumes could come down here. “The durned thing ain’t vented properly. May looked at the bottle on the table. ľ Vicious circle.” Zeeba moaned. And of course that’s no help for my eyes. It was almost empty.” “You know. I think that’s what’s been giving me a headache. She never did.
mixing up the endless potions. She had a keen ear for all noises. You think you know so much. May had helped her father with the light. child. preparing hot or sometimes cold compresses depending on which It was not very long until May was able to help her father trim the wick.” May listened. Well.” Since as long as she could remember.“It’s back-drafting. the flap of a schooner’s sails buried in the howling wind as it tacked across the bay. Don’t contradict me. She liked these lighthouse-tending chores. you don’t. The cries of the cormorants when they spotted a school of mackerel. And she knew the sound when the lantern was not vented properly. They were so different from the odious tasks involved in tending her mother — emptying her bedpan when she was too tired to do her business in the privy. and this lantern was not back-drafting. wind up the clockworks. and Ľ ľ 26 ľ ľ . simple tasks at first like hanging the brushes up neatly after he had dusted off the prisms. ľ body part was “failing.
Rainbows. Miss Lowe found as many books as she could with information about prisms.” she said. “Come over to the window. “It’s like a rainbow!” May exclaimed. She held it up to the light. May learned. It seemed magical to her how they multiplied and focused light. She thought of those droplets she had seen ensnared in the eyes of the children who dove off the wharf. The prisms intrigued her. and suddenly what had been a simple beam of sunlight on one side of the prism became bent bands of colored light. were nothing more than millions upon millions of water droplets through which the sun’s rays passed and bent and split into bows of color. She loved climbing into the glass beehive and slowly turning around. For her birthday that year Miss Lowe had given Ľ 27 ľ . who was the librarian in Bar Harbor. So she asked Miss Lowe.her favorite — polish the lens with the brushes and the special solutions. She took out what looked like a triangular piece of glass from her drawer. caught in the glittering reflections of the prisms. Miss Lowe was eager to answer her questions and very excited.
However. but no fire. she did hear a ragged groan and then a gasp. jumping out of her chair. the characteristic sequence of the Egg Rock Light Ľ 28 ľ . and the lens was still rotating in its housing. May now heard her father’s footsteps receding as he climbed higher in the tower. “Pa! Pa! Oh my God!” she yelped. As if to confirm this the light was stammering into the night! The signature of the flash would be broken. but she did not smell kerosene or smoke. There was blood on his hand. then a stuttering of light across the snowfields. She was about to pick up another sock and begin darning when there was a horrendous crash. She raced up the winding stairs. But something had shattered. Then she saw the shards of the lantern’s chimney. Her father was on the rotating platform of the lens. “The lantern!” May screeched. casting shimmering spots of color onto her bare walls.May a small prism of her own. There were always buckets of water up there in case of fire. which she hung up in her room and watched as the light passed through on sunny days.
She felt herself at the vortex of a frightening collision of events. “What the devil! That drunken old fool! I knew it! I knew it!” Hepzibah Plum stood in the doorway of the watch room. She was a tower of dark. She glared at her husband. Never in her entire life had May seen her mother in the tower. The star was awarded to keepers who had been commended for efficiency four consecutive quarterly inspections by the lighthouse service board. Plum!” “Mother!” was all May could say. Then the unthinkable occurred. But never had her Ľ 29 ľ . Her eyes settled on the star that was sewn on the lapel of the indigo blue coat. “They’re going to rip that star right from your jacket. the chimney was broken. Her father was bleeding.garbled. Never had she climbed the stairs. glowering rage. Mr. and sailors would become confused and their vessels fetch up on the deadly rocks and ledges. and the night was growing wilder. the uniform that all keepers were required to wear. May was stunned.
Ľ 30 ľ . and was breaking all around her. Suddenly May felt as if her entire world was as fragile as that glass chimney. threatening to crush her at any moment.father fallen. and never had the chimney shattered and the signature of the light been scrambled.
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