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Left Guard Gilbert by Ralph Henry Barbour

A copy of this week's Brimfield Times


"You

come pretty near being a perfect chump, if that's what you mean."

Tim shook his head. "It isn't at all what I mean. Now cut out the artless prattle and let me find some sense in this history stuff--if there is any!"

CHAPTER IX

THE WIDTH OF A FINGER

AT chapel the next morning Mr. Fernald, the principal, after the usual announcements had been made, lifted a newspaper from the table at his side and ran his eyes over an item there. "I have here," he said, "a copy of this week's Brimfield _Times_, which tells of an incident of which I had not learned. In telling of a fire on Saturday night last which destroyed a barn and damaged other buildings on the farm of Mr. William Corrigan, some three miles from the village, the _Times_ makes mention of the valuable assistance of a Mr. Grover Brady and four boys of this school. According to the _Times_, Mr. Brady and four boys dashed to the scene in a high-powered automobile, organised a bucket brigade and saved"--Mr. Fernald consulted his authority again--"saved the dwelling house from the devouring element. The metaphor is that of the paper. Possibly the _Times_ is misinformed with regard to the heroic young firemen, although I hope not. I should be very pleased to discover that they were really Brimfieldians. If they were, if they are before me at this moment, I trust

they will signify the fact by standing up. I'm sure we'd all like to know their identity and give them well-deserved applause. Now then, will the modest heroes kindly reveal themselves?"

Silence ensued, a silence broken only by a few whispers and some shuffling of feet. Every fellow's eyes searched the room, or, at least, that is true of almost every fellow. Tim smiled innocently and expectantly at the principal, Clint studied the back of the head in front of him most interestedly, Don observed the scar in his hand absorbedly and Tom grinned because Steve Edwards was whispering from the side of his mouth: "Why don't you get up, you bloomin' hero, why don't you get up?" Harry Walton was smiling that knowing smile of his and doing his best to catch Don's eye. And Don somehow knew it and didn't dare look toward him.

"I'm disappointed," said Mr. Fernald after a minute. "Either the paper is mistaken or the fellows are over-modest. Well, if they won't speak for themselves perhaps someone else will volunteer to wrest them from the obscurity they so evidently court. How about that, boys? Anyone know who the heroes are?"

Again silence for an instant, and then, in various parts of the room, the sudden moving of seats or tramping of feet as though someone was about to get up. But no one did, and some of the younger boys in front began to titter nervously. Mr. Fernald smiled and laid the Brimfield _Times_ back on the table.

"No heroes amongst us, eh? Well, doubtless if any of you had been there you'd have performed quite as well as these unknown young gentlemen did. I like to think so. Dismissed."

"Do you think he suspects us?" asked Tom as he ranged himself beside Tim on the way out. "Gee, I thought once he was looking right at me!"

"That's what it is to have a guilty conscience," replied Tim, in a virtuous tone. "Of course he doesn't suspect. If he did he'd have named us, sure as shooting. The funny part of it is that he hasn't thought about what time the fire was! Maybe the paper didn't say. If he knew that he'd probably be a sight more anxious to find us!"


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