(Monday, September 27, 1852)
The ocean mist brushed across my face. Amber, orange and pink fingers of sunlight wrapped around the rails. My seat on the floor of the parapet was wet, but it didn't matter. From my perch high atop the lighthouse, I scanned the horizon. There was no sight of the Misty Pride II. William should've been home weeks earlier. He sailed with his men over six months ago. Where was he and why wasn't he home? Our children needed him and so did I. Waves crashed against the sandy floor far below.
As the sun rose, my frustration grew. "William, where are you? I need you here with me." The words escaped my lips. Turning from side to side, I made sure no one heard my words.
Holcomb would arrive to check the light soon. Each morning he extinguished the light and began his daily chores. I should know the responsibilities after all these months. My presence day after day must irritate him, but the lighthouse was the best vantage point in Misty Cove. I could view the coast from the lamp room. Normally, the sheer beauty along our section of the Massachusetts coastline would take my breath away, but not as long as William was missing.
I could watch from the widow's walk at home. Shivers raced along my spine and the hairs stood up on the back of my neck. Even looking at that part of the house gave me chills. With William missing, I simply couldn't think about that. The name seemed like an warning and I would not give up hope that William and his men were fine. I couldn't give up.
Tears flowed from my eyes and ran down my mist covered face. My thoughts wandered to Marta and Aidan. Our children were our greatest job and they needed a father and a mother. I grew up without my mother because she died when I was young. But, my children needed both parents. I remembered Marta's sad expression when William's boat set out to sea. Before the Misty Pride II had cleared the dock she wanted to know when her daddy would be home because she already missed him.
In my heart, I knew he would be home. He'd been gone for over six months, but he would return to us. How many times had father's fishing boat been late returning to shore? I couldn't remember the exact number of times, but it was common for the men to arrive home later than expected. I leaned against the metal rails and gripped the wet surface with all my might. I wouldn't lose again. I couldn't lose again.
I shook my head and tried to clear my thoughts. Things happened on the ocean. I knew that better than most people. There had to be a good reason why the was late, we just hadn't received the details. I would continue to keep an eye on the dock and speak to any sailors that came ashore. Someone had to know where William and his crew were.
Dark gray clouds moved closer to the lighthouse and obscured my view of the harbor. Maybe it was time to go home and get breakfast. The cloud cover made it difficult to see any boats from the lighthouse, but I could see from the bay window in my bedroom. I'd return to the house to wake Marta and Aidan while Sara prepared breakfast. I had to smile when I thought of Sara. She and I had been close since the day father brought her home to care for me and the house.
I heard footsteps beside me and I turned to see Holcomb. "Good morning, Mrs. Kinsey. Can I help you this morning?" He leaned against the rail.
"No thank you, Mr. Holcomb." I hesitated for a moment. "Why don't you call me Lizbeth?"
He tilted his head toward me. "Are you sure, ma'am?"
Smiling I held my hand out to him. "I am. Do you mind if I call you James?"
He shook my hand and a warm smile crept across his face. "That would be nice." He turned to face the ocean. "Have you seen anything this morning?"
Shaking my head, I spoke. "No, nothing yet. I didn't see any boats coming into the harbor before the clouds moved in." I watched the horizon and soaked in the sparse rays of sun that filtered through the gathering clouds.
James Holcomb kept his feet rooted to the platform but reached out to me with his words. "If you need anything, just tell me. I know the details about your father's accident. Actually, that's why the government brought me to Misty Cove. You can trust me to keep the light shining for Mr. Kinsey to find his way home."
I hadn't thought about the time of year. How could the date have escaped me? The eleventh anniversary of father's accident was only a few weeks away. Tears flowed down my face. I lowered my head into both hands.
Holcomb placed a hand on my shoulder with a tentative touch. "I didn't mean to make you unhappy. Please ignore me and I will leave you alone."
He turned to leave, but I stopped him. "I've been so overwrought about William that I forgot about the anniversary of father's death. I have to remember father, no matter how worried I am about William."
"Can I do anything to help?" He asked in a ragged voice.
"Sara and I set aside time to remember father each year. I want my children to know about their grandfather. He was a wonderful man. It is a shame they will never meet him."
"It's wonderful that you help your children to know their grandfather. I've heard stories about George Sullivan. He was loved and respected by many people." His eyes faced the sea. "I remember the hearings after Grimes let the light go dark during that storm. The first and foremost responsibility of the keeper is to keep the light shining. Grimes deserved to be jailed for shirking his duties."
I touched James shoulder and smiled at him. "I'm glad to know you feel that way. The government built a lighthouse here because the sailors need the beacon. The October Gale of 1841 was bad, but I still believe father could've gotten home if the light had shone that night. He knew this coast better than anyone I know, except maybe William."
"You husband is a competent captain and he will get his men and the boat home if it's possible. There's probably a good reason why they are late."
"I know you're right. Somehow, I have to find out why he isn't home." Determination pushed me to find the information I needed. "I will go to the docks and ask every captain who puts into shore, whether he has heard anything about the ." The heel of my hand slammed against the rails.
"I'll check information I get for details about Mr. Kinsey and his crew."
"Thank you. Please let me know if you hear anything."
"You will be the first person I tell." His words touched me.
I reached for my coat and turned to the door. "Sara is expecting me, so I need to go. The children will want breakfast and they don't like to eat without me." Thoughts of my children brought a bittersweet smile to my lips.
James stepped back to allow me to enter the lamp room. I reached out to touch the reflector that would magnify the light from the lamps. It was clean and that enabled the lamp to shine the furthest distance. It might seem unimportant to many people, but I knew the importance of keeping the lamp room clean and functioning properly.
Curving stone steps led to the door of the lighthouse. My hand laid gently on the rail as I made my way down the stairs. There was a little bounce to my steps when I thought about my children. My boots clinked on the stones as I reached the bottom. James stayed upstairs to begin the morning duties. My horse stood by the hitching post. I climbed into the saddle for the ride home.