Mr Benbow and the lighthouse

I’ve written about lost books several times – trying, hoping, that someone will recognise the story and be able to tell me what the title actually is, and who wrote it! There are several from my childhood, one about a little girl who either lives near a lighthouse or goes to stay with relatives who do. I have just about given up my search, and have decided that I will write my own version of the story. I can’t remember very much about it apart from one dramatic scene near the end… Here is my

Chapter one

“Are you sure you should be driving, Violet?” Grandma asked.
I held my breath. If Mummy shouldn’t be driving then maybe she wouldn’t drive and then maybe she would stay here. I looked at the floor, I didn’t want her shouting at me for being nosy or for staring at her.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Mother how else will I get home? I don’t want to stay here in this…” she actually stopped, and I held my breath even more in case she said something rude or awful to Grandma and there’d be a row and then…
“Well, let’s get these suitcases upstairs,” said Mr. Benbow. I didn’t quite know who he was but he seemed very comfortable here in Grandma’s house. He had a blue and white striped shirt and a waistcoat and rather baggy trousers and he seemed to have a piece of rope not a belt. He had a big bushy grey beard and a pipe in his mouth. It wasn’t lit, it was just stuck in his mouth. He saw me looking at him and he winked and I looked at the floor again, I didn’t want to get in any trouble.
“Don’t go Mummy, stay here with us, you can have a holiday too!” Barbara said. I couldn’t hold any more breath and it all came out in a sort of hiccupping cough a sort of ‘hwfhuuur!’ noise really loud.
“Don’t be disgusting Peggy!” Mummy shouted even though she was clutching Barbara and mid-kiss. I immediately apologised and tried to look sorry. I thought about Mr Benbow… I’d read about the Admiral Benbow in Treasure Island and I wondered if there was a real Admiral Benbow and if Mr Benbow was a descendent…
Mummy was hugged by Grandma and rushed off out of the house, slamming the door as Granny was telling us to go and wave her off. Grandma opened the door and we all went outside to wave to Mummy; Barbara was crying… I felt like crying too, in relief that I was still here. Mummy was in the car and shouted ‘bye Babs, be good, love you!’ and with a jerk and then several more jerks set off down the lane. She drove up towards the lighthouse and turned round and then shot off past us, tootling her horn.
Barbara was crying as if her heart would break… I don’t think crying can really break your heart, it was something we learned at school when we were trying to make our stories more interesting – as if your life depends on it, as if there was no tomorrow, as if you own the place, as if to the manner born – I like that last one, as if to the manor born. I realised Grandma was speaking to us, and immediately I paid attention. Mummy gets really cross when I don’t listen, when I’m thinking about something and don’t pay attention. I didn’t want granny being cross with me, not when we’d only been here such a short while.
Mr Benbow had reappeared without me realising, and Grandma was asking if we would like to walk up to the lighthouse with him. Mr Benbow lived there she said.
“Not just lived there, young ladies, I was born there – not actually in the lighthouse but in the keeper’s cottage,” he said in a friendly way.
“To the lighthouse born!” I exclaimed without thinking – oh no! I hope I wasn’t being silly or rude, how did those words come out of my mouth? This always happens…
Mr Benbow looked at me in surprise, his bushy eyebrows went shooting up his forehead and just as I was about to say sorry for being rude and silly he burst out laughing.
“To the lighthouse born!” he said and repeated it several times. “Maybell, you have a most original granddaughter, I can see she and I are going to have a lot of fun together… to the lighthouse born… come on you two ankle-biters, let’s go and visit the lighthouse and when we get back I expect Gran will have a cup of tea for me and maybe some scones for all of us!”
Grandma’s name is Mabel, but he said May-bell which sounded very pretty. This sounded very exciting, to see a lighthouse, I wonder if he means we will just look at it, or I wonder if we can go inside? That would be really, really exciting.
Barbara said she didn’t want to go, she wanted Mummy to come back, she didn’t want to stay here, she hated it… How very impolite, I thought, looking anxiously at Granny. Grandma however was smiling at Mr Benbow and she told him he would have to make do with just me, but she said it in a funny way and blew me a kiss.
So Mr Benbow and me set off to the lighthouse.



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