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Chapter 6
24 July. Whitby.--Lucy met me at the station, looking sweeter and lovlier than ever, and
we drove up to the house at the Crescent in which they have rooms. This is a lovely
place. The little river, the Esk, runs through a deep valley, which broadens out as it
comes near the harbour. A great viaduct runs across, with high piers, through which the
view seems somehow further away than it really is. The valley is beautifully green, and it
is so steep that when you are on the high land on either side you look right across it,
unless you are near enough to see down. The houses of the old town-- the side away
from us, are all red-roofed, and seem piled up one over the other anyhow, like the
pictures we see of Nuremberg. Right over the town is the ruin of Whitby Abbey, which
was sacked by the Danes, and which is the scene of part of "Marmion," where the girl
was built up in the wall. It is a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and
romantic bits. There is a legend that a white lady is seen in one of the windows.
Between it and the town there is another church, the parish one, round which is a big
graveyard, all full of tombstones. This is to my mind the nicest spot in Whitby, for it lies
right over the town, and has a full view of the harbour and all up the bay to where the
headland called Kettleness stretches out into the sea. It descends so steeply over the
harbour that part of the bank has fallen away, and some of the graves have been
In one place part of the stonework of the graves stretches out over the sandy pathway
far below. There are walks, with seats beside them, through the churchyard, and people
go and sit there all day long looking at the beautiful view and enjoying the breeze.
I shall come and sit here often myself and work. Indeed, I am writing now, with my book
on my knee, and listening to the talk of three old men who are sitting beside me. They
seem to do nothing all day but sit here and talk.
The harbour lies below me, with, on the far side, one long granite wall stretching out
into the sea, with a curve outwards at the end of it, in the middle of which is a
lighthouse. A heavy seawall runs along outside of it. On the near side, the seawall
makes an elbow crooked inversely, and its end too has a lighthouse. Between the two
piers there is a narrow opening into the harbour, which then suddenly widens.
It is nice at high water, but when the tide is out it shoals away to nothing,and there is
merely the stream of the Esk, running between banks of sand, with rocks here and
there. Outside the harbour on this side there rises for about half a mile a great reef, the
sharp of which runs straight out from behind the south lighthouse. At the end of it is a
buoy with a bell, which swings in bad weather, and sends in a mournful sound on the
They have a legend here that when a ship is lost bells are heard out at sea. I must ask
the old man about this. He is coming this way. . .