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Lansdowne Crescent: Chapter 13

An unwelcomed seaside adventure features in Jean Day’s latest chapter in the account of the lives of neighbours in the English town of Worcester a century ago.

To read earlier chapters please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/lansdowne_crescent/

I wish to include here, a letter from Frank to Carrie written this last summer.

The Falcon Inn, Bude

Saturday Morning, 7.15 August 7

My very dear Carrie,

When you have read this letter you will thank God that I am alive to write it. You said you hoped I should have an adventure and I have had one.

It was in this wise: Harry and I yesterday morning set out from Welcombe to come here and walked on the tops of the mountains along the seashore: of this we got tired and thought we would try a change so descended to the beach. At first it was easy walking but presently it got very difficult over great boulders and rough stones so that our progress was very slow. The tide was coming in fast: we got on as fast as possible so as if possible to get to some easy place to get up. As perhaps a haven or something of that sort.

Having gone some distance on rounding a rock imagine our dismay on seeing that the tide had come in! and our further progress was stopped! To go back would have been probably useless as the tide would very likely have come in behind us so that we were shut in. Imagine us: the vast ocean in front: standing on the beach which was being fast covered by the waves as they came rolling on aided by a high wind: shut in on the right hand and on the left: behind us a precipitous rock: apparently no means of escape. We held a short consultation and immediately determined to try to ascend though it looked almost impossible to succeed.

We started: it was awfully steep and very slippery with nothing but small tufts of grass and loose stones to cling to. I got on ahead of Harry and lost sight of him. I sat for about 7 minutes gazing down the rocks – still no sight of him. Suddenly I saw him down on the beach: he was walking rapidly away in order if possible to round a projecting rock before the tide reached it and then seek some easier mode of ascent. Harry looked like a little dwarf so great was the distance down. Suppose I had slipped: There was nothing on earth to seize hold of. To go down was madness: Harry was now out of sight: but one thing for it – ascend or be dashed to pieces: I preferred the former to the latter.

Hitherto I had carried my Macintosh but climbing became so difficult that I must either have slipped or lose the Mac. I was very sorry to have to leave it but had no alternative. Climbing now became humanly speaking impossible, because immediately above me the rocks were perpendicular and cut from the very rock overhanging. I had to cling to a rock by one hand and make footsteps with the other – a slip or false step would have been certain death. I was then not many yards from the top but there seemed no means of getting there. I could not reach the top. I made a spring and caught some blackberry bushes and heather and pulled myself to the top – was not I thankful!!!. I never was in such peril in my life. If God had not helped me I must have perished – I owe my preservation entirely to him. When I looked down over the mountain I had climbed I could not imagine how on earth I had come up.

Providentially I never felt cooler in my life as when I was climbing though I fell several times that if I had lost my head or took a false step it would have been up with me for certain. I felt certain all the time that I should get to the top. As soon as I was at the top I went to meet Harry which was my joy when before going very far I saw him coming along. You can imagine the joyful meeting having just escaped such great peril. He had climbed up another way. The poor Mac looked so melancholy on the mountain side: but of course I could not have got up with it to the top. The thought makes me tremble now though at the time it did not.

We are going to walk now to Launceston – 20 miles: That will complete 144. We have walked all the way from Minehead here. But I cannot stop to describe the places: Harry has finished breakfast: I must have mine then start.

Let me hear from you as soon as you can: we go to Plymouth tonight.

I hope everybody is well. We have had splendid weather. I remain your very loving brother Frank.

I like Clovelly best of the places we have seen and have some views for you.

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