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A Boy Knight by Martin J.

The firemen jumped from the truck


He

paused for a reply, but Frank's ideas were in too much confusion to permit a ready answer. This was strong language to apply to a mere fight. It suggested that there was truth in the surmise of Ned Mullen, that there was more than the fight to account for the unusual stand taken by Father Boone in the affair.

Bill cleared his throat nervously, to continue, when the clang of fire bells sounded, and the rushing of the fire engines and trucks along the street brought the boys in a stampede to the door and the street windows. Frank and Bill were carried along with the others.

(VI)

Ordinarily, the passing of a fire engine engaged the crowd's attention but a few moments. The dashing engine and hose-cart always made a good spectacle. But now as the Club boys looked along the street, they saw not only smoke but flames. And they heard screams. All the fellows rushed out and followed the engine to the place where the police were roping off the fire line. The hook-and-ladder came along at a tearing pace. The firemen jumped from the truck, hoisted up the long, frail-looking ladder, and threw it against the cornice of the roof.

The shock somehow unhitched a connection at the last extension. The ladder hung suspended by only a light piece of the frame. In the window right under the ladder was a woman, and a child of four or five years. The firemen felt

that if they brought the ladder back to an upright position, the last extension would break and they would not be able to reach the window. On the other hand, the ladder, as it stood, could not sustain a man's weight. A minute seemed an hour.

One of the firemen started to take the chance and run up. His foreman pulled him back. "It's sure death, Jim," he shouted. "That ladder won't hold you. You'd drop before you could reach them."

The foreman was right. The men were willing enough but there was no chance of reaching the top, or halfway to it.

Now Father Boone came running up. On learning that lives were in danger he had hastened to the Church, gotten the holy oils, and hurried over to be of service, if occasion required.

The cries of the woman and child were piercing and heart-rending. The life nets were spread and the men shouted to them to jump. But they were paralyzed with fear. One of the firemen was heard to exclaim, "I wish I weighed a hundred pounds less, I'd risk that ladder."

Bill Daly, in the forefront of the crowd, heard him. Two lives at stake! He weighed a hundred pounds less than that man. And, as he hesitated, a great fear clutching at his heart, his mind was filled with a medley of thoughts, in which mingled the idea of sacrifice for his father's reform, the Eye of God, his own worthlessness, his confession not yet made, and the glory of heroic deeds. Again a terrible, piercing cry from above. Without a second's waiting, without warning, before the firemen knew it, he had rushed under the rope, over to the truck, and like a cat, was on his way up the ladder.


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