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A short story by Kate Dickinson Sweetser

Ida Lewis: The Girl Who Kept Lime Rock Burning

Title:     Ida Lewis: The Girl Who Kept Lime Rock Burning
Author: Kate Dickinson Sweetser [More Titles by Sweetser]

Ida Lewis: The Girl Who Kept Lime Rock Burning; a Heroic Life-saver

"Father has the appointment! We are going to live on the island, and you must all row over to see me very often. Isn't it wonderful?"

A bright-faced young girl, surrounded by a group of schoolmates, poured out her piece of news in such an eager torrent of words that the girls were as excited as the teller of the tale, and there was a chorus of: "Wonderful! Of course we will! What fun to live in that fascinating place! Let's go and see it now!"

No sooner decided than done, and in a very short time there was a fleet of rowboats led by that of Ida Lewis, on their way to the island in Baker's Bay, where the Lime Rock Light stood, of which Captain Hosea Lewis had just been appointed keeper.

Ida, Captain Hosea's daughter, was born at Newport, Rhode Island, on the 25th of February, 1841, and was sent to school there as soon as she was old enough. She was a quick-witted, sure-footed, firm-handed girl from her earliest childhood, and a great lover of the sea in all its changing phases. Often instead of playing games on land with her mates she would beguile some old fisherman to take her out in his fishing dory, and eagerly help him make his hauls, and by the time she was fourteen years old she was an expert in handling the oars, and as tireless a swimmer as could be found in all Newport.

And now her father had been appointed keeper of the Lime Rock Light, the "Ida Lewis" light, as it came to be known in later years, and the girl's home was no longer to be on terra firma, but on the rock-ribbed island where the lighthouse stood, whose beacon-light cast strong, steady rays across Baker's Bay, to the greater Narragansett Bay, of which it is only an arm.

The flock of girls in their boats rowed hard and fast across the silvery water with a steady plash, plash of the dipping oars in the calm bay, and ever Ida Lewis was in the lead, heading toward the island with a straight course, and keeping a close watch for the rocks of which the Bay was full. She would turn her head, toss back her hair, and call out in ringing tones to the flock, "'Ware, shoals!" and obediently they would turn as she turned, follow where she led. Soon her boat ran its sharp bow against the rocky ledge to which they had been steering, and with quick confidence Ida sprang ashore, seized the painter, and drew her boat to a mooring, while the rest of the fleet came to the landing and one after another the girls jumped ashore. Then up the rocky path to the lighthouse filed Ida and her friends, eager to inspect the queer place which was to be Ida's home.

"How perfectly lovely! How odd! Oh, how I wish I were going to live here! Ida, you are lucky--But just think how the wind will howl around the house in a storm! Will your father ever let you tend the light, do you think?"

The questions were not answered, and those who asked them did not expect a response. They all chattered on at the same time, while they inspected every nook and corner of their friend's new home. It was a small place, that house on Lime Rock, built to house the light-keeper's family, but one which could well answer to the name of "home" to one as fond of the sea as was Ida Lewis. On the narrow promontory, with the waves of the quiet bay lapping its rocky shores, the two-story white house stood like a sea-gull poised for flight. A living-room, with wide windows opening out on the bay it had, and simple bedrooms where one could be lulled to sleep by the lapping of waters on every side, while at the front of the house stood the tower from which the light sent its searching beams to guide mariners trying to enter the Newport harbor.

The girls climbed the spiral staircase leading up to the light, and looked with wonder not unmixed with awe at the great lamp which was always filled and trimmed for immediate use--saw the large bell which tolled continuously during storm or fog; then they went down again to the sunshiny out of doors, and were shown the boat-house, not so far back of the light that it would be difficult to reach in a storm.

It was all a fairy residence to those young girls, and little could they imagine that bright-eyed Ida, who was about to become a lighthouse-keeper's daughter, was to be known in later years as the Grace Darling of America, because of her heroic life on that small promontory in Baker's Bay!

The Lewis family settled in the lighthouse as speedily as possible, and when their simple household goods were arranged, the island home was a pretty and a comfortable place, where the howling winds of winter or the drenching, depressing fogs of all seasons would have no chance to take from the homelike cheer inside, no matter how severe they were. Books, pictures, a large rag rug, a model of a sloop, made by Captain Hosea, family portraits belonging to his wife--whose girlhood had been spent on Block Island as the daughter of Dr. Aaron C. Wiley, and to whose ears the noise of wind and waves was the music of remembered girlhood--all these added to the simple interior of the lighthouse, while out of doors there was, as Ida said, "All the sea, all the sky, all the joy of the great free world, and plenty of room to enjoy it!"

And enjoy it she certainly did, although she had to rise early and eat the plainest of fare, for the pay of a lighthouse-keeper would not allow of many luxuries. At night she was in bed and fast asleep before her friends on land had even thought of leaving their amusements or occupations for sleep. It was a healthy life, and Ida grew broad of shoulders, heavier in weight and as muscular as a boy. Every morning she inspected her boat, and if it needed bailing out or cleaning she was at work on it before breakfast; then at the appointed hour she was ready to row her younger brothers and sisters to the mainland to school. Like a little housekeeper, after dropping them, she went to market in Newport for her mother, and sometimes her boat would be seen crossing the bay more than once a morning, if there were many supplies to be carried over; then the children must be rowed back after school hours. Small wonder that Ida came to know every rock in the bay, and was able to steer her boat safely in and out among the many obstructions which were a peril to less intelligent mariners.

Towering over all neighboring buildings, the Lime Rock Light stood on its rocky ledge, clearly seen by men on vessels entering or leaving Narragansett Bay, and by officers and men at Fort Adams, as well as by those who lived within sight of the light, and it came to be a daily word, "Watch for the girl," for Ida sturdily rowed across the bay, no matter how furious the storm, how dense the fog.

Late one afternoon, after visiting a friend, she was rowing from Newport at the hour when a snub-nosed schooner sailed slowly into the harbor on its way from New York to Newport with every sign of distress visible among its crew, for not even the Captain knew where lay the channel of safety between the perilous rocks, and the fog was thick.

Ida saw the schooner, and guessed its dilemma. Rowing as close to it as she could, she signaled to the captain to follow her, and her words were carried to him on the heavy air:

"Come on! Don't be afraid!"

Obediently he went on, as the girl directed, and reached the dock of his destination in safety, where he shook hands heartily with his bright-eyed guide before she pushed off again for her island home. Later he spread the news among his mates that there was a "boss in Baker's Bay who knew what she was about," and his advice was, "In danger look for the dark-haired girl in a row-boat and follow her."

This came to be the accepted fashion among captains of the schooners which in that day plied so frequently between New York and Newport, and many a letter of thanks, or a more substantial remembrance, did she receive from some one she had piloted across the angry bay.

Soldiers trying to reach the fort, or sailors anxious to row out to their ships, always found a ready ferry-woman in Ida, and before the Lewis family had been in the lighthouse for many months she was one of the most popular young persons on land or sea within many miles--for who had ever before seen such a seaworthy young mariner as she, or where could such a fund of nautical wisdom be discovered as was stored in her clear head? This question was asked in affectionate pride by more than one good seaman who had become Ida's intimate friend at the close of her first year on Lime Rock, while all the skippers had an intense admiration for the girl who not only handled her life-boat with a man's skill, but who kept the light filled and trimmed and burning to save her father steps, now that he was crippled with rheumatism.

The heat of summer had given place to the crisp coolness of a glorious October day as Ida was just starting to row to the mainland to do an errand for her mother. She looked out of the window, across the bay, to see if there was any prospect of a shower, and her keen eyes glimpsed a sight that made her hurry for the glass. Looking through it, she gave a sharp cry and rushed to the door.

"What is it, daughter?" the captain queried.

But Ida was already out of the house. So he hobbled slowly to the window and, with the use of the glass Ida had dropped, saw his energetic child push the life-boat out of its shelter, drag it to the shore, jump in and row rapidly to the middle of the bay where a pleasure-boat had capsized. There were four men in the water, struggling with the high waves which momentarily threatened to overcome them. When Ida reached them in her life-boat, two were clinging to the overturned craft, and two were making a desperate effort to swim toward shore. The watching captain, through his glass, saw Ida row close to the capsized boat and with strong, steady hands pull and drag one after another of the men into her boat. When they were all in, she rowed with sure strokes back across the stormy water, carrying her load of human freight to shore and receiving their thanks as modestly as if she had not done a remarkable deed for a girl of seventeen. A very fine piece of work was Ida's first rescue, but by no means her last. She loved to row out in a storm and dare the winds and waves to do their worst, and she grew to think her mission a clear one, as life-saver of the light.

A year after her first experience as life-saver, her father, who had recently been paralyzed, died, and so capable was his eighteen-year-old daughter in doing his duties that she was allowed to continue in the care of the light until her father's successor should be appointed. When the news came to her, Ida's eyes gleamed, as if in anticipation of some happy event, and to her devoted Newfoundland dog she exclaimed: "We love it too well to give it up to anybody; don't we, doggie dear? We will succeed to ourselves!" And she did succeed to herself, being finally made keeper of the light by special act of Congress--the appointment being conferred upon her in 1879 by General Sherman as a compliment to her ability and bravery; doubtless because of the recommendation of those fishermen and seamen whose respect for the brave girl was great and who did not wish the government to remove her. In any case, she was chosen for the responsible position as successor to her father, and to herself, as she quaintly put it, and more and more she became devoted to every stone of the small promontory, and to every smallest duty in connection with her work and her island home.

Winter and summer passed in the regular routine of her daily duties as keeper of the light, and every time she lighted the big lamp whose beams shone out over the waters with such comforting gleams for watching mariners she was filled with assurance that hers was the greatest and most interesting mission in the world.

Winter came with its howling winds and frozen bay. A terrific storm was blowing from the north; snow was driving from every direction and it was hardly possible to stand on one's feet because of the fury of the gale. Ida lighted her beacon of warning to ships at sea, and rejoiced as she saw its glowing rays flash out over the turbulent waters. Then she went down into the cozy kitchen and speedily ate a simple supper prepared by her mother. How the wind shrieked around the little house on the island! Ida hastily raised the curtain, to see how heavily it was storming, and she gave an exclamation of surprise; then ran up the spiral stairway to the tower, where in the rays of the steady light she could see more clearly. Far out on the waves, beyond the frozen surface of the inner bay, she saw a light skiff bobbing up and down, the toy of wind and wave; in it by the aid of her powerful glass she could see a stiff, still figure. A man had been overcome by the cold--he would die if he were not rescued at once. Quick as a flash she was down-stairs, in the boat-house, had pulled out the boat, although it was a hard task in such a storm even for one as strong as she, and soon was on her way across that part of the bay which was not frozen. Up and down on the storm-tossed waves her craft tossed, now righting itself, now almost submerged--but Ida pulled on with strong sure strokes, and drew alongside of the bobbing skiff--took hold of it, drew it to the side of her own boat, and, looking into the face of the man in it, saw that he must be rowed to land as quickly as possible if he were to be saved. She saved him. When he regained consciousness he found himself propped up before the warm fire in the lighthouse kitchen, with the most delicious feeling of languor stealing through his whole frame, instead of the cruel numbness which had been the last sensation before he became unconscious. And it added materially to his enjoyment that a bright-eyed, dark-haired young woman hovered around him, ministering to his wants in a delightful way.

The young lighthouse-keeper's next rescue was of a soldier from the Fort Adams garrison who, in trying to cross the harbor in a small boat, was thrown into the bay by the force of the waves, and would have been drowned, as he was not a good swimmer, had not Ida's keen eyes seen him and she gone instantly to his rescue. He was a heavy man, and Ida tried in vain to lift him into her boat, but was not strong enough. What should she do? The great waves were lashing against the boats in such a fury that what was done must be done quickly. With ready wit she threw a rope around his body under the arm-pits, and towed him to shore as hard and fast as she could, at the same time watching closely that his head did not go under water. It was a man-sized job, but Ida accomplished it, and, seeing his exhaustion when she reached shore, she called two men, who aided in resuscitating him.

"Who towed him in?" asked one of them, who was a stranger to Ida.

"I did," she replied.

"Ah, go on!" he said, incredulously. "A girl like you doing that! Tell me something I can believe!"

Ida laughed and turned to the other man. "He will tell you what I have done and what I can do, even if I am a girl!" she said; and the seaman, just landed from a coastwise steamer, looked at her with admiration tinged with awe. "She's the boss of these parts," said his companion, "and the prettiest life-saver on the coast. Just try it yourself and see!"

As the man did not seem to care about risking his life to have it saved, even by Ida Lewis, he went his way, but whenever his steamer touched at Newport after that he always paid his respects to the "prettiest life-saver on the coast."

Twelve months went by, with ever-increasing fame for the girl keeper of Lime Rock Light who had become one of the features of the vicinity, to meet and talk with whom many a tourist lengthened a stay in Newport, and Ida enjoyed meeting them and showing them her light and her home and her boat and her dog and all her other treasures, while in return they told her many interesting things about the great world beyond the beams of her light.

Up in the tower one day--it was in the autumn of 1867--she was looking out over the bay, fearing trouble for some vessel, as a furious storm was raging, and the wind was blowing snow in such white sheets that few captains could make their way among the rocks of the harbor without difficulty, while any one foolish enough to set out in a rowboat would find it impossible to reach the shore.

Out flashed the rays of the beacon-light, and far off on the tempestuous waves Ida saw what seemed to be two men in a boat with a load of sheep. The wind was howling, and borne on its shrieking Ida fancied she could hear the moans of the men and the frightened beasts.

One quick look at her light, to make sure that it was all right to leave, then down ran the life-saver to her self-appointed work. Never was there such a gale blowing in Narragansett Bay, and in the smaller bay white-capped waves and gusts of wind and rain added to biting, stinging cold made it almost impossible even for sturdy Ida to struggle out from the boat-house, to launch her rowboat on the stormy sea. But she never gave in to any obstacles, and soon her little boat could be seen making slow headway across the bay, in the direction of the drifting men and their cargo of sheep.

Now the wind drove her back, now it blew her small craft to one side and the other, but steadily, though slowly, she gained on herself, and at last she reached the men, who could make no headway in the teeth of such a gale, and were simply drifting and watching Ida's acts with incredulous wonder. A young girl--come to rescue them in such a storm as this! Quickly she helped them to climb into her boat, and took up her oars. One man protested. "But the sheep," he said.

"Leave them to me!" commanded Ida, sternly, rowing as fast as she could, her dark hair streaming over her shoulders and her cheeks rose-red from the stinging cold of the air. Neither man ventured another word. Reaching the rocky coast of the island, Ida sprang out after them, pointed out the kitchen door, and said:

"Stay in there and get warm till I come back."

"But--" began one.

Ida was already out of hearing, and the men whose lives had been saved did as they had been told, and in the warm kitchen awaited the coming of their rescuer. In an hour there were footsteps outside, the door opened, and a glowing girl stepped in out of the bitter gale, stamping her almost frozen feet and holding out her benumbed hands to the glowing fire.

"Well, they are all safe on land," she said. "I think they had better be left in the boat-house overnight. The wind is in the right quarter for a clear day to-morrow; then you can put out again."

There was no reply. A girl like this keeper of the Lime Rock Light left no room for pretty compliments, but made a man feel that if she could do such deeds with simple courage, what could he not do with such a spirit as hers! No one ever paid Ida Lewis higher praise than these two rough men when, on leaving, they each gripped her hand and the spokesman said:

"Whenever I see your light shining, I'll put up a prayer for its keeper, and thanking you for what you did for us, ma'am--if my little one's a girl, she will be Ida Lewis!"

Up spoke his comrade: "My daughter's twelve year old come September next, and I hope she'll be your kind. It'd make a new kind of a world to have such!"

While such praise did not turn Ida's very level head, or make her vain, it gave her a deep satisfaction and a tremendous sense of responsibility in her beloved occupation.

Two years went by, and Ida Lewis was a name which commanded respect throughout Rhode Island because of her work for the government, and there was scarcely a day when she did not direct some wandering boatman or give valuable aid to a distressed seafarer, but from the day she brought the men and their load of sheep to shore it was a year before there was any need of such aid as she had given them. Then on a day never to be forgotten by those to whose rescue she went, she saw two of the soldiers who were stationed at Fort Adams rowing toward the fort from Newport. A young lad was at the oars, and he showed that he was not in any way experienced as a boatman. A sudden squall overtook the small boat in mid-bay, and, as Ida Lewis looked at it, it capsized. At the moment Ida happened to be without hat or coat, or even shoes. Rushing to the boat-house, she took her staunch friend to the shore, and launched out in the wild squall under an inky-black sky; and she had to row against a wind that drove her back time after time. Finally she reached the wreck, only to find the boy had gone under. The soldiers were clinging to the bobbing keel of the boat, and Ida grasped them with a firm, practised hand, while at the same time managing to keep her own boat near enough so that when a wave washed them together she was able to help the exhausted soldiers to climb into it. They were unable to speak, and one of them was so exhausted that she feared she could not get him to land in time to resuscitate him.

With wind-blown hair, and eyes dark with determination, she rowed as she had never rowed before, and at last her boat touched the rocky home ledge. Out she jumped, and in less time than it takes to tell it, she had the men before her fire, wrapped in blankets. One of them was unconscious for such a long time that his rescuer was wondering what was best to do--to take the risk of leaving him and row to the mainland for a doctor, or to take the risk of doing for him with her own inexperienced hands. Just then his blue eyes opened, and after a drink of stimulant he slowly revived, and at last was able to talk coherently. The storm was still raging and the men remained on the lighthouse ledge with the girl rescuer, for whom they showed open admiration; then, when the clouds lifted and the moon shone wanly through the rift, they took their own boat and rowed off to the fort. But they were staunch friends of Ida Lewis from that day, and she enjoyed many a chat with them, and had more than one pleasant afternoon on the mainland with them when they were off duty.

At another time she was out in her boat in a bad storm, when through the dense darkness she heard cries of, "Help! help!" and, rowing in the direction from which the cries came, she found three men in the water clinging to the keel of an overturned boat. With her usual promptness in an emergency, she dragged them all into her boat and took them to shore. Another day, from the lighthouse tower, she saw the slender figure of a man clinging to a spindle which was a mile and a half from the lighthouse. In a very short time he would be too exhausted to hold on any longer. She must hurry, hurry! With flying feet she made her boat ready; with firm strokes she rowed out to the spindle, rescued the man and bore him safely to shore.

At this time Ida Lewis was so well known as being always on hand in any emergency that it was taken as a matter of course to have her appear out of the sky, as one's preserver, and the man, though extremely grateful, did not seem as astonished as he might have otherwise been to be saved from such a death by a young girl who apparently dropped from the skies just to rescue him.

In all of these experiences, when she was able to save men's lives at the risk of her own, and was successful by reason of her quick wit and self-forgetful courage, despite the grave chances she took, she never had a single fright about her own safety, but simply flew across the bay at any time of day or night at the sight of a speck on the water which to her trained eye was a human being in danger.

Winter's hand had laid its glittering mantle of ice on Baker's Bay, and on a glorious sunlit morning Ida was ready to start to Newport to make some necessary purchases. When she was just about to push her boat off the rocks she looked over the bay with the intent, piercing glance for which she was famous among fisher-folk, who declared she could "see out of the back of her head," and caught a glimpse of uniforms, of struggling figures in that part of the bay which was so shallow as to be always frozen in mid-winter, and which the soldiers all knew to be dangerous to cross. But there were two of them, waving their arms in frantic appeal for help, as they tried to keep from going under in the icy water of the bay.

There was not a moment to lose. Ida put out from shore, rowed swiftly to a point as near the drowning and freezing men as was possible, then with her oars broke the ice sufficiently to make a channel for her boat. As she came near to them she found that the insecure ice, melted by the strong sun, had given way under them, while they were evidently trying to take a short cut to Fort Adams from Newport.

It was hard work and quick work for Ida's experienced hands to get them into the life-boat; and so nearly frozen were they that she was obliged to rest on her oars, at the same time rubbing their numb limbs as well as she could. Then she rowed for shore faster than she had ever rowed but once before, and, as she told afterward:

"I flew for restoratives and hot water, and worked so hard and so fast, rubbing them and heating them, that it was not long before they came to life again and were sitting up in front of the fire, apologizing for their folly, and promising that they would never again give me such a piece of work to do, or cross the bay in winter at a point where they knew it was a risk." She added, naively: "They were as penitent as naughty children, so I took advantage of it and gave them a lecture on things soldiers ought not to do, among them drinking whisky--even with the good excuse of being cold--and showing them quite plainly that this scare they had had came from that bad habit. They seemed very sorry, and when they got up to go, they saluted me as if I were their captain. Then off they went to the fort."

Several days later she received a letter of thanks from the officers at Fort Adams, and a gold watch from the men she had rescued "in grateful appreciation of a woman's heroism."

On through the long years Ida Lewis, with hair growing slowly a little grayer, and with arms a little less equal to the burden of rowing a heavy boat through fierce winter gales, was faithful to her duties as keeper of the light, now never spoken of as the Lime Rock Light, but always as the Ida Lewis Light; and, although she was always averse to notoriety, yet she was forced to accept the penalty of her brave deeds, and welcome the thousands of tourists who now swarmed daily over the promontory and insisted on a personal talk with the keeper of the light. Had it not been for Mrs. Lewis, both aged and feeble, but able to meet and show the visitors over the island, Ida would have had no privacy at all and no time for her work.

Although she always disliked praise or publicity, yet she accepted official recognition of her faithful work with real appreciation, and it was touching to see her joy when one day she received a letter bearing the signature of the Secretary of the Treasury, notifying her that the gold life-saving medal had been awarded to her--and stating that she was the only woman in America upon whom the honor had been conferred! At a later date she also received three silver medals: gifts from the State of Rhode Island, and from the Humane Society of Massachusetts, and also from the New York Life-Saving Association. All these recognitions of her achievements Ida Lewis received with shining eyes and wonder that such praise should have come to her for the simple performance of her duty. "Any one would rescue a drowning man, of course," she said. "I just happen to be where I see them first!"

But although she was so modest, and although so many honors were heaped upon her, none ever meant to her what the first expression of public appreciation meant, shown by the citizens of Rhode Island.

An invitation had been sent to her, asking her to be present at the Custom-House at Newport on a certain day in 1869. She accepted the invitation, and went at the appointed hour without much thought about the matter. When she reached the Custom-House, to her surprise a committee of prominent Newport residents met her and escorted her to a seat on the platform, from which she looked down on a vast audience, all staring with evident curiosity at the slight, dark-haired woman in whose honor the throng had come together. There were speeches so filled with praise of her deeds that Ida Lewis would have liked to fly from the sight of the applauding crowd; but instead must sit and listen. The speeches at an end, there was a moment's pause; then she found herself on her feet, amid a chorus of cheers, being presented with a magnificent new life-boat, the Rescue, a gift from the citizens of Newport as a slight recognition of her acts of bravery.

Ida never knew all she said in response to the presentation speech; she only knew that tears streamed down her cheeks as she gripped a man's hand and said, "Thank you, thank you--I don't deserve it!" over and over again, while the audience stood up and applauded to the echo. As if that were not enough to overcome any young woman, as she left the building, James Fisk, Jr., approached her and, grasping her hand warmly, told her that there was to be a new boat-house built back of the light, large enough for her beautiful new boat.

It was late that night before Ida fell asleep, lulled at last by the wind and the lapping of the waves, and thinking with intense happiness not of her own achievements, but of the pride and joy with which her mother received the account of her daughter's ovation and gift, and her words rang in Ida's ears above the noise of the waters, "Your father would be so proud, dear!"

For fifty-three years Ida Lewis remained the faithful keeper of her beloved light, and because of her healthy, out-of-door life we catch a glimpse of the woman of sixty-five which reminds us strongly of the girl who led the way to the lighthouse point on that day in 1841, to show her new home to her schoolmates. In the face of howling winds and winter gales she had snatched twenty-three lives from the jaws of death, and in her sixty-fifth year she was at her old work.

A woman had rowed out to the light from Newport, and when her boat had almost reached the pier which had been erected recently on the island shore, she rashly stood on her feet, lost her balance and fell overboard. Ida Lewis, who was rowing in near the pier, instantly came to the rescue, helped the struggling and much frightened woman into her own boat, and then picked up the other one, which was drifting away.

Sixty-five years young, and heroic from earliest girlhood to latest old age! We add our tribute to those heaped on her head by many who knew her in person and others who were acquainted only with her heroic acts, and we rejoice to know that in this year of American crisis we, too, can reflect the heroism of the keeper of Lime Rock Light, for in our hands are greater opportunities for wide service and greater variety of instruments by which to mold the destiny of nations and save life. Proud are we that we, too, are American, as was Ida Lewis, and we can give interest as consecrated and sincere to the work at our hand to-day as she gave, whose daily precepts were work and thrift, and who said, in her quaint way, of the light which had been her beacon of inspiration for so many years of service:

"The light is my child and I know when it needs me, even if I sleep. This is home to me, and I hope the good Lord will take me away when I have to leave it."

Her wish was granted. In the last week of October, 1911, she fell asleep in the lighthouse on Lime Rock, which had been her home for so long, lulled into an eternal repose by the wind and waves, which had for many years been her beloved companions--and as she slept the beacon-light which she had for so long kept trimmed and burning sent out its rays far beyond the little bay where Ida Lewis lay asleep.

Patriotism, faithfulness, service--who can reckon their value? The gleam of Ida Lewis's light flashes inspiration and determination to our hearts to-day.

[The end]
Kate Dickinson Sweetser's short story: Ida Lewis: The Girl Who Kept Lime Rock Burning