Mary’s father was the keeper of a lighthouse on the coast of England. The light of these lamps shines at night to guide ships on their way and to keep them from dangerous rocks and shoals. The lighthouse seems to say: “Take care, sailors, for rocks and sands are here. Keep a good lookout and mind how you sail, or you will be lost.”
One afternoon Mary was in the lighthouse alone. Mary’s father had trimmed the lamps, and they were ready for lighting when evening came. As he needed to buy some food, he crossed the causeway which led to the land. This causeway was a path over the rocks and sands, which could be used only two or three hours in the day; at other times, the waters rose and covered it. The father intended to hasten home before the tide flowed over this path. Night was coming on, and a storm was rising on the sea. Waves dashed against the rocks, and the wind moaned around the tower.
Mary’s mother was dead, and although she was alone, her father had told the girl not to be afraid, for he would soon return. Now there were some rough-looking men behind a rock, who were watching Mary’s father. They watched him go to the land.
Who were they? They were “wreckers” who lurked about the coast. If a vessel was driven on the rocks by a storm, they rushed down-not to help the sailors, but to rob them, and to plunder the ship.
The wicked men knew that a little girl was left alone in the lighthouse. They planned to keep her father on the shore all night. Ships filled with rich goods were expected to pass the point before the morning and these men knew if the light did not shine, the vessels would run upon the rocks and be wrecked. How cruel and wicked they were to seek the death of the ships’ crews!
Mary’s father had filled his basket, and prepared to return to the lighthouse. As he drew near the road leading to the causeway, the wreckers rushed from their hiding place and threw him on the ground. They quickly bound his hands and feet with ropes and carried him into a shed, where he had to lie until morning. It was in vain that he shouted for them to set him free; they only mocked his distress. They then left him in the charge of two men, while they ran back to the shore.
“Oh, Mary, what will you do?” cried the father as he lay in the shed. “There will be no one to light the lamps. Ships may be wrecked, and sailors may be lost.”
Mary looked from a narrow window toward the shore, thinking it was time for her father to return. When the clock in the little room struck six, she knew that the water would soon be over the causeway.
An hour passed. The clock struck seven, and Mary still looked toward the beach; but her father was not to be seen. By the time it was eight, the tide was nearly over the causeway; only bits of rock here and there were above the water. “O father, hurry,” cried Mary, as though her father could hear her. “Have you forgotten your little girl?” But the only answer was the noise of the waters as they rose higher and higher, and the roar of the wind as it gave notice of the coming storm. Surely there would be no lights that night.
Mary thought of what her mother used to say: “We should pray in every time of need.” Quickly she knelt and prayed for help: “O Lord, show me what to do, and bless my father, and bring him home safe.”
The water was now over the causeway. The sun had set more than an hour ago, and, as the moon rose, black storm clouds covered it from sight.
The wreckers walked along the shore, looking for some ship to strike on the coast. They hoped that the sailors, not seeing the lights, would think they were far at sea.
At this moment Mary decided she would try to light the lamps. But what could a little girl do? The lamps were far above her reach. She got matches and carried a small stepladder to the spot. After much labor she found that the lamps were still above her head. Then she got a small table and put the stepladder on it. But when she climbed to the top the lights were still beyond her reach. “If I had a stick,” she said, “I would tie a match to it, and then I could set a light to the wicks.” But no stick was to be found.
The storm was raging with almost hurricane force. The sailors at sea looked along the coast for the light. Where could it be? Had they sailed in the wrong direction? They were lost and knew not which way to steer.
All this time Mary’s father was praying that God would take care of his child in the dark and lonely lighthouse.
Mary, frightened and lonely, was about to sit down again, when she thought of the old Bible in the room below. But how could she step on that Book? It was God’s Holy Word that her mother had loved to read. “Yet, it is to save life,” said she; “and if mother were here, would she not allow me to take it?”
In a minute the large book was brought and placed under the steps, and up she climbed once more. Yes, she was high enough! She touched one wick, then another, and another, until the rays of the lamps shone brightly far above the dark waters.
The father saw the light as he lay in the shed, and thanked God for sending help in the hour of danger. The sailors saw the light, and steered their ships away from the rocks. The wreckers, too, saw the light, and were angry to see that their evil plot had failed.
All that stormy night the lamps cast their rays over the foaming sea; and when the morning came, the father escaped from the shed. Soon he reached the lighthouse and found out how his little girl had stood faithful to duty in the dark hours of storm.
A Scrapbook Story of Ellen G. White
White, E. G. (1949). Scrapbook Stories from Ellen G. White’s Scrapbooks. Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association. Used by permission.