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An immigrant from Ireland, Jeremy McKetcheon took the place of a wealthy New Englander drafted into the Union Army during the Civil War. Jeremy, terribly scarred by a shell that set fire to his tent, is now a reclusive lighthouse keeper on an island off the coast of Maine. He is haunted by flashbacks of the war, and never expects to find love, understanding, or acceptance.
Beautiful but blind from birth, Abigail Morrison sees the world through the intricate carvings her father brings back from Lighthouse Island when he takes supplies there. She wonders about the artistic carver and why he hides from the world. But when the opportunity arises for her to visit the island, she and her father are tossed overboard in a raging storm. Having seen their distress from the lighthouse, Jeremy attempts a rescue in the frigid waters, and all their lives are changed forever.
Sitting in the middle astride a wooden plank, he pulled at the two oars using all his strength to head in the direction of the floundering mail boat. At the bow, Bailey continued to bark loudly and then looked back at him with a worried whimper.
Jeremy watched in horror as a huge, foaming wave lifted the mailman and his passenger from their swamped vessel and heaved them into the churning surf. Marion bashed his head against the rocks, and blood spread down one side of his face from a gash above his right eyebrow. Unconscious, the mailman slipped beneath the surface.
“Bailey! Go get him!”
The Labrador searched Jeremy’s eyes for a moment.
“Go on! Get him!” Jeremy commanded.
The dog leapt from the rescue boat, plunged into the ocean, and headed toward the rocks where Marion’s body had sunk.
Jeremy rowed toward the hooded figure. She fought her tangled skirts and floundered against the waves trying to stay afloat. Jeremy kicked off his boots and then went over the side. He held onto the boat with one hand and gave powerful scissor kicks with his muscular legs to reach her. Praying that his thigh and calf muscles did not cramp in the ice cold water, he moved forward with strong, steady arm strokes.
Abigail gasped and sucked cold salt water into her nose and sinuses. It stung and made her eyes tear as she choked it back up. She flailed at the water, trying to remember what her father had taught her about swimming as a child, but the lessons had taken place in a calm inlet not a tempest.
“Papa!” she screamed. “Papa!”
Could he hear her above the roar of the sea and the pouring rain? She felt something churning the surface of the water.
My God, a shark?!
Thunder cracked overhead. Teeth closed around her upper right arm. She screamed and reached out with her left hand, but the head she touched had hair, short hair, and she felt a long, floppy ear—a dog.
The heavy wool cape dragged her down. She tried to clutch the dog, but it let go its grip. I’m pulling it under too. She untied the cape at her throat and let it disappear into the surf. Her teeth chattered in her head, and she felt cold, as cold as death. So this is how it feels to die.
No longer able to struggle, she slipped beneath the surface.