The weather, for some days previous, had been unusually boisterous for the time of year, and had culminated, on the morning on which my story opens, in a “November gale” from the south-west, exceeding in violence any previous gale within the memory of “the oldest inhabitant” of the locality. This is saying a great deal, for I was at the time living in Weymouth, a most delightful summer resort, where, however, the feelings are likely to be more or less harrowed every winter by fearful wrecks on the far-famed and much-dreaded Chesil Beach, which connects the mis- named island of Portland with the mainland. We had dined, as usual, at the primitive hour of one o’clock; and with Bob Trunnion—about whom I shall have more to say anon—I had turned out under the verandah to enjoy our post-prandial smoke, according to invariable usage. My sister Ada would not permit us the indulgence of that luxury indoors, and no conceivable disturbance of the elements could compel us to forego it altogether. We were pacing the verandah side by side, quarter-deck fashion, with our hands behind our backs and our weeds between our teeth, making an occasional remark about the weather as the sheeted rain swept past us, and the trees in the distance and the leaf-denuded shrubs in the garden bowed before the fury of the blast, when a coastguard-man, whom I had occasionally encountered and spoken to in my rambles, came running past, enveloped in oilskins and topped by a sou’-wester. As he went by, seeing us, he shouted, “Ship coming ashore in the West Bay, sir!” and was the next minute at the bottom of the hill, en route, as fast as his legs could carry him, for the town. Our house was situated in a pleasant suburb called Rodwell; the high- road which passed our door led direct to the Smallmouth Sands, at the farther extremity of which was the Chesil Beach; and we conjectured that the coastguard-man had come from the beach along this road to give notice to the chief officer stationed in the town.