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Malachi’s Cove

In Lotta Schmidt and Other Stories, 1867. Originally published in Good Words, Dec. 1864.

Mahala Tringlos gathered seaweed in a cove on the coast of Cornwall, and supported her aged and crippled grandfather by selling it as fertilizer.

She lived a desolate life of the hardest physical labor, hewing a poor path down the cliff side, and harnessing herself like an animal to drag back the heavy weed. The son of a neighboring farmer trenched on her preserves, and with his greater strength and the aid of a pony was able to scoff at the amount of her daily harvest. Mahala was wildly angry and declared that she hoped he would drown. Working one day near her, he fell into a whirlpool from which she rescued him at the risk of her own life. His peril aroused in her the first tenderness she had ever known and, her anger having disappeared, she found that she loved him.