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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Yellow (11/12/09)

TITLE: Henry Cottle
By Colin Nielsen


On the cliff top where the rain touched the weather-rounded rocks beneath the old lighthouse, a watchman once stood.

When the darkness falls, and the last of the cold sunlight flees into the night, some people still report seeing his ghost to this day, wearing a yellow jacket, bowler’s hat and handlebar moustache, staring out into the angry and ever-changing southern ocean.

His name was Henry – Henry Cottle. After his wife’s passing he moved to the coast and worked the lighthouse for twenty-five years from 1825 to his unfortunate demise in 1850.
He lived as a hermit and not much was known about his life save for a few children’s stories and old wives tales, his whole existence shrouded in a mysterious fog.
One of the old men of the village did give an account worth retelling: the tale of how Mr. Cottle perished.

A huge tempest battered the coast one September afternoon. The gray icy rain pelted flesh like thousands of stinging needles. The watchman stood unmoved at his post on the top of the cliff underneath the lighthouse with his old telescope extended and pointed out to sea.
Monstrous waves, driven by the hundred-year storm, pounded a tiny vessel caught in the swirling vortex of tides and wind and rain. The boat, The Harbor’s Hope, had lost its mainsail and rudder. The severe weather began to tear the ship apart. Some men panicked and jumped overboard into the darkness, never to be seen again. But other sailors managed to release a solitary lifeboat and paddled franticly towards the shoreline.

Henry closed his telescope and edged along the narrow roughly hewn stone walkway down the side of the cliff. The sailors reached the shore on a wave, and saturated by water they crawled across the rocks. They saw only a few feet in front of their faces, until the man in the yellow jacket reached the shoreline. Lightening flashed. Henry extended his free hand to each of the men in turn while gripping the slippery rail.

One by one, then men were saved. Except for one. Unfortunately the unpredictable sea raged and picked him up and smashed him into the rocks. The blow knocked him senseless.
Henry screamed over the howl of the squall but the man did not move. Henry glanced up. The other men disappeared up the walkway. Henry waited until the sea had recoiled into low ebb and then let go of the rail and walked briskly towards the unconscious man across the sharp ice-like rocks.

When the man regained consciousness, he found himself tied to the rail and held upright by Henry’s yellow jacket.

No one ever seen Henry alive again.

While searching his small room in the lighthouse, the local constable found upon Henry’s bedside table a worn bible that was open. Henry had underlined only one verse with a fountain pen.

John 15 : 13
Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

The villagers erected a plaque at the base of the old lighthouse in his honor containing this verse.
I know he is with God now. His final actions prove where he is, but sometimes I wonder if God did not on occasion send an angel, wearing a yellow jacket, bowler’s hat, and handlebar mustache, to be seen as a reminder of Cottle’s sacrifice.

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This article has been read 495 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Deborah Caruso11/19/09
Gripping story about a man that was a doer of God's word! Good writing!
Dimple Suit11/19/09
Your story is filled with love and compassion for others through sacrifice. Good Job!
Lisa Cox11/19/09
I wonder was this from an old folktale? Either way it is very well written and has a classic feel to it. Love the visual picture you created of henrys appearance.
cindy yarger11/21/09
Good story. A few typos but the content was interesting. Thanks.
Mildred Sheldon11/23/09
I loved this story. It pulled me in and I had to find out what happened to Henry. Thank you for sharing such an interesting story and yes there is no greater gift then sacrificing ones life for another.
Jim McWhinnie 11/24/09
Good story line, well-written. Wonderful setting, but it might benefit for a light trimming of some of the adjectives.

Still, great storytelling.
Allison Egley 11/24/09
Oh, I like this a lot. You catptyred the story well, and had me wondering what was going to happen next. Great job.
Noel Mitaxa 11/26/09
So yellow also expresses bravery and sacrifice - no cowardice here. Congratulations on the depth and brevity of your entry, and on your placing.