THE INCHCAPE ROCK
IN the North Sea there is a great rock called the
It is twelve miles from any land, and is covered most
of the time with water.
Many boats and ships have been wrecked on that rock; for it
is so near the top of the water that no vessel can sail over
it without striking it.
More than a hundred years ago there lived not far away a
kind-hearted man who was called the Abbot of
"It is a pity," he said, "that so many brave sailors
should lose their lives on that hidden rock."
So the abbot caused a buoy to be fastened to the rock. The
buoy floated back and forth in the shallow water. A strong
chain kept it from floating away.
On the top of the buoy the abbot placed a bell; and when the
waves dashed against it, the bell would ring out loud and
 Sailors, now, were no longer afraid to cross the sea at that
place. When they heard the bell ringing, they knew just
where the rock was, and they steered their vessels around
"God bless the good Abbot of
Aberbrothock!" they all said.
One calm summer day, a ship with a black flag happened to
sail not far from the
Inchcape Rock. The ship belonged to a
sea robber called Ralph the Rover; and she was a terror to
all honest people both on sea and shore.
There was but little wind that day, and the sea was as
smooth as glass. The ship stood almost still; there was
hardly a breath of air to fill her sails.
Ralph the Rover was walking on the deck. He looked out upon
the glassy sea. He saw the buoy floating above the Inchcape
Rock. It looked like a big black speck upon the water. But
the bell was not ringing that day. There were no waves to
set it in motion.
"Boys!" cried Ralph the Rover; "put out the boat, and row
me to the Inchcape Rock. We will play a trick on the old
The boat was lowered. Strong arms soon rowed it to the
Inchcape Rock. Then the robber, with a heavy ax, broke the
chain that held the buoy.
He cut the fastenings of the bell. It fell into the
 water. There was a gurgling sound as it sank out of sight.
"The next one that comes this way will not bless the
abbot," said Ralph the Rover.
Soon a breeze sprang up, and the black ship sailed away. The
sea robber laughed as he looked back and saw that there was
nothing to mark the place of the hidden rock.
For many days, Ralph the Rover scoured the seas, and many
were the ships that he plundered. At last he chanced to
sail back toward the place from which he had started.
The wind had blown hard all day. The waves rolled high. The
ship was moving swiftly. But in the evening the wind died
away, and a thick fog came on.
Ralph the Rover walked the deck. He could not see where the
ship was going. "If the fog would only clear away!" he
"I thought I heard the roar of breakers," said the pilot.
"We must be near the shore."
"I cannot tell," said Ralph the Rover; "but I think we
are not far from the Inchcape Rock. I wish we could hear
the good abbot's bell."
The next moment there was a great crash. "It is the
Inchcape Rock!" the sailors cried, as the ship gave a lurch
to one side, and began to sink.
 "Oh, what a wretch am I!" cried Ralph the Rover. "This is
what comes of the joke that I played on the good abbot!"
What was it that he heard as the waves rushed over him? Was
it the abbot's bell, ringing for him far down at the
bottom of the sea?