Harry and Sam were among the small crowd standing at the quayside.

"It's a sad sight Harry, I can see why your missus didn't want to see her off."

"Aye. Where's Alice?"

"Looking for Dominic and Jean. They said they be around here.”

"Morning Mr Wood," Harry didn't recognise the lady.

"How do.”

"She weren't the same after you sold 'er, not like the days when you did cream teas. They was wonderful Mr Wood."

"Thanks, and yes they were weren't they?"

"Nice meeting you, my 'usband's around 'ere somewhere."

"Don't she look sad," said Sam again.

Compton's funnel, and the wheelhouse Harry made in Stockport, had been taken down. They were lying on the deck tied fast with rope.

"-- so they can get her under the bridge at Looe. I guess Arthur knows what he's doing.”

"I'm sure he does. Who's that youngster aboard?” asked Sam.

Harry had spoken on the telephone to Arthur a few days ago.

"Harry, it's me Arthur; Arthur Clayton. Job's a good 'un, I got 'er. I've been keeping an eye on 'er. She looked rough last time so I made some inquiries. I'd 'eard the present owner wanted out so I made an offer and Compton's mine at last. Mind you she cost me a few more bar than I wanted but I thought you'd like to know, particula' as we plan to do what you would have loved to have done. She'll be made seaworthy and be a paddle-steamer once more. My lads are takin' 'er to Looe on 19th May weather permittin'. Come along and give us a wave."

So Harry was able to answer Sam's question.

"The youngster; probably Arthur's youngest lad. I think the older one is son Michael. Arthur said he's going to run the boat."

Presently Dominic and Jean arrived with Alice and not long after the harbourmaster made his final checks. Satisfied all was in order Compton Castle set off once more on a further voyage of discovery.

Watching her being towed away from the quayside re-ignited Dominic's imagination. Fourteen years had passed since Barratt Steer and Harold Rundle had waved good-bye to their steamer from Dyers Hill. Now folks were waving again as a new pilgrimage got under way.

Dominic imagined Barratt at the wheelhouse waving back at them. Then he heard that music again. Barratt was beckoning Dominic to join him on this epic journey. But Dominic just stood and watched and Jean saw the tears roll down his face and held his hand tighter.

"The flames will engulf her when she is south of Burgh Island," he heard from an inner voice. Then he looked to his friends.

"How about driving to Bolberry Down, we've plenty of time. We could look down on her from the cliffs. It's a nice day. We could wave a last good-bye, and I haven't been there for some time. How about it." He said nothing of what really would happen, of the cataclysmic event about to take place.

"Sounds like a good idea to me," said Harry.” We've plenty of time. It'll take some time transferring her over to Clayton's trawler once they've got past Salcombe.”


"Not us, I'm afraid," said Sam. "We've other commitments my friend. Pity, but that's the way it is."

"How about you Harry?"

"Well, the missus is in Plymouth today with a friend so I'm kind of a free agent. Yes, why not. If Jean don't mind I'd enjoy that very much.”

"I have a choice?” asked a bemused Jean. She knew something was brewing. " Of course I don't mind. It'll be fun.”

Turning to Dominic she added, " won't it?” But Dominic only smiled.

"Tell you what, let's get some grub and booze and make a picnic of it.”

As he drove, the magic of imagination filled Dominic's head. The moment was near. Fancy him not remembering how Totnes Castle had met her end out there beyond the cliffs. He could see it all clearly now. It suddenly made sense. Compton was about to join her sister boat.

Meanwhile Compton Castle was crossing The Bar of the Kingsbridge Estuary and turning west round Bolt Head. She had circled the Mew Stones and was heading out to sea on a course for Looe and Cornwall, the county of her birth.

Dominic parked on National Trust land, at the summit of 400 foot cliffs covered with gorse and bracken and known as Bolberry Down. There before them lay a huge panorama. To the east Bolt Head, and to the west Bolt Tail at the edge of Bigbury Bay. The sun shone and the ocean sparkled. Into this seascape Compton Castle would soon be sailing to fulfil her destiny.

An hour or so, and three bottles of wine later, saw two people fast asleep, and another in a haze standing some distance away, nearer the cliff edge to get a better view.

Barratt's tale of Miss Prettijohn came to mind as Dominic looked east in the direction of Hallsands, once her home. Then the tug had been Antony. Now Dominic watched another two boats pass by.

South of Burgh Island a small cloud had shaded a patch of sea at the spot where Totnes Castle had floundered. Dominic heard a murmuring and, turning round, saw Miss Prettijohn pointing upwards. He looked at the sky and joined in her wailing, as angels appeared . Suddenly flames rose from Compton Castle. The end was nigh. The music once again filled the air as the sky darkened and the sea roared. Then all fell quiet except for the sound of the trawler Grassy chugging on into the distance with a lad on the steamer in tow waving to three picnickers on Bolberry Down. Dominic's wailing had woken Harry and Jean who were now standing at his side.

"What was in that wine?” said Dominic.

"Whatever it was , it don't make your singin' any more melodic,” Harry responded.

Dominic looked puzzled. Jean looked worried. " It's o.k Dom, Compton's in safe hands.”

Fourteen years ago Barratt and Harold had jointly burst into song. Not so today. As they collected up their things, Harry alone hummed a song .

"We have,” said Jean.

"We 'ave what,” queried Harry, pausing momentarily.

"Let her go,” added Dominic.

"I'm sure I don't know what you two are on about,”

"Harry, the song you were humming, 'now that I've found you I can't let you go go'.”

" Was I singin' that. Can't say I noticed. Well that's strange, doin' somethin' you ain't even aware of. Funny thing, the brain.”

Yet they had let her go but she would not be forgotten.

For now, Compton Castle belonged to Arthur Clayton and was heading for Looe.

Hearsay 23 The last Tale from Kingsbridge