An Amateur Fireman by James Otis
CHAPTER II. 'LISH
CHAPTER IV. SAM
CHAPTER V. TARDY
CHAPTER VI. AN
CHAPTER VII. NEW
CHAPTER IX. THE
CHAPTER X. AT
CHAPTER XII. THE
CHAPTER XIV. THE
CHAPTER XV. THE
WINNING A MEDAL.
CHAPTER I. THE AMATEUR.
I ain't sayin' as how I could run a whole fire, same as some of the
chiefs do; but when it comes to drivin' an engine, Dan Roberts, an'
doin' it in time to get the first water, or layin' hose, I wouldn't
knuckle down to the biggest man in the Department.
Now see here, Seth Bartlett, what's the sense of talkin' that way?
It would be a good deal better, an' I ain't the only one who says it,
if you'd stick right to shinin', an' stop playin' fireman, for that's
'bout the biggest part of the work you do.
Do you s'pose I count on shinin' boots for a livin' all my life?
You've got to make a better fist at it than you have done for a
year or more, else you'll never get into anythin' else. I tell you what
it is, Seth Bartlett, when a man wants to hire a boy, he ain't pickin'
out the feller that's failed up two or three times over; but he
generally looks for the one what's makin' a go of it, whether it's
shinin' or sellin' papers.
I ain't sayin' but you're right, Dan, an' I s'pose it's a good
thing for you to keep right on rememberin'; but it's different with me.
I don't count on any one man hirin' me when I strike out for somethin'
Oh, you don't, eh? What little game have you got? Goin' to
run a bank, or keep a hotel, or do somethin' like that?
You think you're funny, but you ain't. I'm goin' into the Fire
Department when the right time comes, an' don't you make any mistake
Dan laughed loud and long at this announcement, and Seth gazed at
him in grim silence until the explosion of mirth was somewhat subsided,
when he said sharply:
I guess trade must have been pretty good with you to-day, else you
wouldn't be feelin' so terrible funny.
Well, it hasn't. I got stuck on four Heralds this mornin',
an' five Expresses to-night. That comes pretty near cleanin' off
all the profits, 'cause it's awful dull nowadays in my business, Seth.
Then I can't guess why you got so dreadful silly when I said I was
goin' into the Department some day.
It would make anybody laugh, Seth, to hear a feller no bigger'n you
talk of such things. You must be a man to get that kind of a job.
Well, shan't I be in timeand not such a terrible long while
either? I'm fourteen now, leastways, that's the way I figger it out,
an' if I could get one of them early spring moustaches like Sim Jepson
is raisin', folks would think I was a man when I wasn't only eighteen.
Don't you reckon all the firemen were boys once?
Yes, Dan replied doubtfully, I s'pose they was, and he added
quickly as a sudden thought occurred to him, but they had to know a
good deal about the business before they could get a job.
Course they did, an' it was a case of learnin'. That's jest what
I'm doin' when I tend out on fires. I'm gettin' posted, an' by an' by
when I'm old enough you'll see me in the Department, that's all there
is about it.
Seth Bartlett and Dan Roberts were old friends, having made each
other's acquaintance no less than three months previous, when the
former, who had disagreed with Jip Collins on a matter regarding
household affairs, was in search of a new roommate.
Seth owned, or believed he did, certain rights in a small shed
situate in the rear of Baxter Brothers' carpenter shop, where he made
It was a rude affair, originally built for the purpose of sheltering
Mr. Baxter's horse and carriage, but afterward used as a storage place
for such odds and ends as accumulate in a carpenter's work-shop.
Seth had made his home in this shed for nearly a year, having been
given permission to sleep there by one of the owners on a certain cold,
stormy night, and he was not averse to telling his friends how he
worked the snap.
This is his version of what may perhaps be called a business
I did start in to live with Jim Wardwell's folks. You see, business
was mighty good for a spell, an' I got to feelin' way up toney where
nothin' short of a reg'lar room would do me. I paid a dollar a week
jest for sleepin' there. Ten big, round plunks for ten weeks, an' then
I tumbled to myself! You see, it was too rich for my blood when there
come a long spell of bad weather, an' I wasn't takin' in more'n
twenty-five cents a day, so I snooped 'round to see if I couldn't find
somethin' that would be cheaper. Then I struck this shed, an' I says to
myself, says I, 'That's jest my size'; but I knew it wouldn't do to try
to bite it out of the carpenter's ear 'less I had a pretty good story
to put up. I waited four whole days till it turned 'round so cold that
the hair on your head would freeze, an' long towards the middle of the
afternoon it began to snow. Then I said to myself that the time had
come when I'd got to make the trade. I crawled into the carpenter's
shop an' give him a pretty straight story. Told him how bad business
wasWell, he could see for himself nobody would want boots shined in
that weather. He said if I promised him I wouldn't freeze to death,
'cause he didn't want any dead bootblacks on his hands, I could come in
for a spell. An' don't you think I wasn't fixed! All the shavings I
wanted for a bed right there on the floor, an' if the boss of the Astor
House had got down on his knees beggin' me to come to his hotel to
stop, I'd said 'no,' 'cause I couldn't be bothered with the airs they
put on down that way. How long can I stay here? I ain't troublin' my
head 'bout that. I don't let the man what owns the place see me any
oftener than I can help, an' so long's I keep out of sight there ain't
much chance of my bein' fired.
Seth's home in which he took so much pride was by no means as
uncomfortable as one might suppose. With ample material in the shape of
short lengths of boards, he had constructed a tiny apartment in one end
with so great care that only such wind as was necessary for perfect
ventilation found its way in to him, while his bed of shavings was more
rest-inviting and probably more cleanly than was the well-worn mattress
on which he had slept at Mrs. Wardwell's home.
Once having taken possession of this abode, Seth set about making an
honest penny out of his new possessions by allowing Jip Collins to
become his roommate upon the payment of fifteen cents each week, and
for several months these two lived in apparent harmony, although Seth
afterward said that Jip tired him by finding so much fault with the
Then came the time when the lodger insisted upon the use of candles
at night, and in smoking cigarettes inside the apartment, both of which
luxuries or pleasures had been expressly forbidden by Mr. Baxter when
he gave the bootblack permission to occupy the premises.
Jip had not departed in a friendly manner. He believed he had good
cause for grievance against Seth, and on the day he left the lodgings
threatened with many a needless word to make it hot for the would-be
Then Master Bartlett had taken Dan Roberts as a tenant, and the two
had been living as peacefully and comfortably as could be expected,
save at such times as they heard of new and more startling threats from
Jip, up to this moment when the lodger took it upon himself to
criticise his landlord's admiration of a fireman's calling.
Seth Bartlett was not a general favorite among the merchants in the
boot-blacking and newspaper business, owing to the general belief that
he put on airs because of his acquaintance with 'Lish Davis, driver
of Ninety-four engine, which was stationed near Mr. Baxter's shed.
When trade was dull, instead of joining his brother merchants in
pitching pennies or such other games as they might chance to indulge
in, Seth spent his time about the engine-house, on the alert for an
opportunity to be of benefit to some of the men, hoping thereby to so
far earn their favor that he might be looked upon as a welcome visitor.
During no less than two months had he thus apparently loitered
around, bent on one object, and pursuing that steadily, without having
been so fortunate as to attract particular attention. Then on a certain
day, Elisha Davis, the driver, called upon the small workman for a
Seth's freckled face was radiant with delight as he entered the
engine-house for the first time, and his big brown eyes wandered from
the glittering machine, above the pole of which hung the shining
harness, to the apparently complicated apparatus of brass and walnut
over the house-watchman's desk.
'Lish, as his comrades spoke of him, was not in the mood to wait
until the boy's curiosity had been satisfied, for at any instant an
alarm might summon him to duty, and he impatiently called upon Seth to
set about his work, or clear out.
Never before had the bootblack spent so much time over a single pair
of boots; he polished them with his brushes until they shone like
mirrors, then hardened the gloss with a piece of flannel, and when it
seemed as if his work had been done to perfection, blackened the
brilliant surface again with the hope of improving what had apparently
been a great success.
You're not any too quick about the job; but there ain't a lad
around here that could have done it better, 'Lish said approvingly,
and would have given the boy a nickel, but that the latter drew back
I don't want anythin' for the shine; I'd like mighty well to give
you one every day.
Do you go around working for thanks? the driver asked with no
Of course I take my pay from other folks; but I wouldn't let any
fireman put up for a shine.
'Cause I'm jest the same as one myselfthat is, I'm goin' into the
Department when I'm old enough.
Stuck on the business, eh?
[Illustration: 'LISH DAVIS AND SETH Page 8.]
That's jest the size of it! Seth cried enthusiastically. I tend
out on most all the fires in Ninety-four's district, an' sometimes I
get a chance to sneak inside the lines.
You do, eh? Well, I'll have an eye out after this, and if I get my
hands on you there won't be any more such sneaking.
Now, what's the matter with my doin' a little thing like that? It
don't hurt anybody, an' I pick up a good many points.
Some day a falling wall will knock you down, or you'll find
yourself under the wheels of an engine, and then your 'points' won't be
of any particular advantage.
I can take care of myself as well as you, an' if I don't knock
'round when there's a fire, how am I ever goin' to learn the business?
You don't want to learn what's a dog's life at the best. Steer
clear of it, lad, and put your mind on anything else, for a man don't
last long at this kind of work; even if he doesn't get killed offhand,
it's only a question of timeand in many cases a precious short
timebefore a fireman is laid on the shelf, worn out. Now, clear away
from here if you won't take pay for the shine, and remember that I'll
have my eye out after this to see you don't get inside the lines.
Seth obeyed promptly with never a protest, and 'Lish said to the
watchman at the desk:
That's a decent kind of a lad, and if he hangs around here any more
there's no reason why we shouldn't throw a job in his way now and
How does that fit in with the lesson you read to him?
I didn't try to make it fit. If I can scare him out of the notion
he's got in his head, it'll show he ain't suited for this kind of a
life; but if he sticks at it, I'll believe it's worth while to give him
a lift now and then.
If Seth could have heard this brief conversation he would, most
likely, have indulged in the latest jig-step he had learned, and
perhaps neglected his work as bootblack until hunger forced him to take
up the brushes again; but he was ignorant of 'Lish's good intentions,
and went away with a heavy heart, yet having no idea of abandoning his
efforts to learn the business.
He did not cease to spend his spare moments about Ninety-four's
house, and after 'Lish Davis had many times threatened the direst
punishment if he persisted in such a course, but without effect, the
members of the company came to look upon Seth as a boy of pluck, who
would one day force his way into the Department.
However, no one of Ninety-four's men had given him an opportunity
for doing other than blacking boots, and the boy was entirely ignorant
of their friendliness toward him.
Such was the general position of affairs on the night when Dan
Roberts believed it his duty to mildly reprove Seth for spending so
much time in what seemed to be idleness when he should be looking for
After the master of the shed-home had announced so positively that
he would be a fireman in due course of time, Dan, remembering how Jip
Collins had lost his footing in the household, decided he had done his
whole duty in the matter, and straight-way changed the subject of
conversation by saying:
Sam Barney had mighty bad luck to-day. First off, somebody passed a
lead dime on him, an' then he lost as many as fifteen cents at one
How? Seth asked with no slight show of interest.
That's what he can't make out. He had the money in the same pocket
where he always carries it, when all of a sudden it was gone.
Somebody touched him.
Must be, an' Sam thinks he's got an idea who it is.
Can't be any of the reg'lar gang, 'cause I don't know a feller what
would do a trick like that.
Sam's keepin' mighty close about it, an' I wouldn't wonder if he
found the whole business out before long. He comes near to bein' a
reg'lar detective, you know.
But what does he know about the detective business?
Perhaps he's learnin' it same's you are the fireman's racket.
This reduced Seth to silence, and Dan, fearing that he might have
given offence, hastened to say in a most friendly tone:
Of course if a feller studies over anything of that kind he'll soon
come somewhere near knowin' a little about it, an' Sam is posted in
more ways than one.
Then how does it happen he let anybody go through him?
That's the funny part of it, an' the folks what did it must have
been mighty slick, 'cause, you see
Dan was interrupted by the sound of footsteps near at hand, and ever
on the alert against possible danger, Seth made his way to the door of
the shed as he asked sharply:
It's only me, a familiar voice replied, and he knew that the
visitor was none other than the boy of whom he and his lodger had just
Dan was tellin' me you'd lost your money. Didn't come up here
reckonin' he or I'd got it, did you?
I ain't any sich fool as that; but Jip Collins has been makin' a
good deal of cheap talk this afternoon, an' I thought perhaps you'd
like to know 'bout it.
He's allers doin' that, an' I reckon it's more wind than anythin'
I wouldn't wonder if this time he got right down to business, an'
you ought'er keep a pretty sharp lookout, Seth. These are too snug
quarters for you to lose through a feller like Jip.
Come inside and set down, Master Bartlett said as his lodger
joined him at the door of the shed. Dan an' me is here alone, an' you
won't mind if it's dark, 'cause you see I promised Mr. Baxter straight
out an' out that there shouldn't ever be any kind of a light inside.
That's one of the things Jip kicked about, you know.
Sam Barney promptly accepted the invitation. Being an old friend of
Seth's, he was familiar with the household arrangements, and despite
the darkness made his way through the shed to the box-like home in one
corner, where, after some difficulty, he found a block of wood that
served as chair.
Seth threw himself upon the bed of shavings, and Dan lounged
negligently near the entrance.
I should think it would be kind er lonesome in here nights when
it's like this, Sam suggested as he tried in vain to distinguish the
form of either of his companions.
Well, it ain't, 'cause Dan an' me don't spend a great deal of time
settin' 'round after we once get in. We should have been asleep before
this if he hadn't had considerable to say 'bout my tryin' to be a
fireman. He'd jest got through when you came.
Well, say, Seth, you don't b'lieve you're ever goin' to get on to
the Department, jest 'cause you run to every fire Ninety-four goes to,
I don't know why I can't be a fireman jest as easy as you can a
detective, an' some of the fellers say you're workin' mighty hard to be
Well, s'posen I am? and Sam spoke sharply.
I ain't kickin' against it; but was only sayin' that it's jest as
easy for me to get what I'm tryin' for, as it is for you.
Sam's opinion on the subject may have differed from that of his
host, but he refrained from making any reply, and at once began to
speak concerning the purpose of his visit.
Jip Collins is goin' to work some kind of a racket on you, an' I
reckon I can guess pretty nigh what it is. He was makin' a good deal of
talk this afternoon, an' it seems as though the time had come when
you'd better have your eyes open.
Jip's allers had a good deal to say since I told him he couldn't
sleep here any longer; but it never 'mounted to anythin'.
But look here, Seth, this time I b'lieve he'll do some mischief.
He's been tellin' that he'll give you a chance to show how much of a
fireman you are, an' I heard him talkin' 'bout touchin' a match to
shavings, so's to smoke you out, till I've made up my mind that he's
goin' to set fire to this place.
Seth laughed derisively.
I ain't 'fraid of a feller like him.
Then it's all right, an' no harm done in my tellin' you; but if I
was in your place I'd keep my eyes open pretty wide. Now, Jip Collins
can't scare me a little bit; but yet if I was in a snap like this, an'
I knew he'd threatened to set fire, it would kind er stir me up a bit.
Don't you go to thinkin' I ain't glad 'cause you told me, Sam, for
I am, only it don't stand to reason a feller like Jip Collins can do
much of anythin'.
Don't you be so sure of that, Dan Roberts cried. I've heard
somethin' 'bout what Jip's been sayin', though I never b'lieved he had
it in his head to burn the place up; but this much is sure: if it could
be done without his takin' too many chances, he's jest the kind of a
feller what would try it. He claims that, accordin' to the trade, you
give him the right to stay in this place jest as long as you
did, and that it was the same as swindlin' him when I come in.
He knows better than that. I told him we'd try it a spell, an' see
how we got along; the very first night I went all over the business
with him, an' said if we couldn't hitch together easy like, why we
didn't want to stay in the same place, an' he was satisfied with it.
Now, I don't see how I can do anythin' if he's bent on settin' fire to
the shed, more'n lookin' 'round pretty sharp before I go to bed.
If I owned this place same's you do, I should set up nights, 'cause
then's when he'll try his game, Sam said with an air of wisdom. It
ain't likely he'll come 'round here in the daytime; but after the men
have gone away from the shop it wouldn't be anyways hard for him to get
in an' strike a match to some of these shavin's.
But accordin' to that you couldn't do very much work, if you set up
all night watchin' for Jip Collins. You'd have to sleep in the daytime.
I don't see how a feller is goin' to earn his livin' any sich way.
I didn't say you ought'er do it, Sam replied quickly; but was
only tellin' what I believed in. It ain't likely you'd have to stand
watch many nights, 'cause the first time you caught Jip you'd put an
end to it by pretty nigh thumpin' the life out er him; then I don't
reckon he'd come again.
Do you s'pose he's countin' on doin' this all alone?
No; he's got a couple of fellers from Brooklyn that he's chummin'
with jest now, an' most likely they're comin' into the game.
If they do, an' I should watch for Jip till I caught him, there
ain't any great show of my thumpin' him very bad if he's got two others
to lend a hand.
You ain't scared of him, are you? Sam asked quickly.
Not much I ain't; but I'll keep clear from that kind of a racket
till I know somethin' 'bout it. I can't 'ford to have a row, don't you
see, 'cause if any of Ninety-four's men heard I was fightin' my way
along, as likely as not they'd shut me off from goin' to the
engine-house, an' then ag'in when the time comes for me to get into the
Department it would give me a black eye if I had the name of doin' sich
things. I don't s'pose that would hurt a detective; but they're mighty
careful what kind of fellers they have in the Department, an' I don't
count on havin' a bad mark to my name four years from now.
Well, suit yourself about that, of course. It ain't any of my
business, only I thought I'd tell you what Jip's sayin', an' I've got
to get along over towards Hoboken.
Then, from the noise he made, his hosts understood that Sam Barney
was making his way out of the apartment, and Dan asked in a friendly
tone if he had made any new discoveries regarding the theft of his
I'm follerin' up a pretty good clue now, Sam replied in a tone
calculated to give the hearer an impression that he could tell more if
it was necessary, and then with a cheery So long, he rapidly made his
way across the lumber-yard to the street.
CHAPTER II. 'LISH DAVIS.
When their visitor had departed Seth and Dan held a long
consultation as to the advisability of following Sam's advice in the
matter of standing guard during the hours of darkness.
Dan believed that, owing to his having made a study of the detective
business, Sam Barney knew better than they what should be done toward
warding off the threatened attack, and, regardless of the labor
involved, he proposed that a sentinel be stationed just outside the
I'll go on guard until twelve o'clock, and you can sleep all that
time; then I'll call you an' take my turn at it, Dan said after they
had discussed the matter in all its bearings for ten minutes or more.
How do you count on keepin' awake?
That can easily be done, 'cause I'll walk 'round the yard, an' the
nights are just about cold enough to make a feller want to move
I don't believe Jip Collins would dare do what he threatens.
He would if he thought the game could be worked without too much
risk, an' I tell you, Seth, if both of us turn in an' go to sleep he
might carry the whole shed away without our knowin' it.
All right; I'll 'gree to it, though if he should come 'round we
mustn't have too much of a row, 'cause you remember what I told Sam
'bout not wantin' to be taken for a fighter in this neighborhood, else
I'll never get into the Department.
You can be pretty certain I shouldn't tackle him alone, an' if them
two fellers from Brooklyn 'mount to anythin', why you an' I together
wouldn't have too much of a show.
Then, after repeating that he was to be called at midnight in order
to perform his full share of the labor, Seth went into the box-like
apartment, and Dan began his work as watchman.
During the first half-hour he paced to and from one end of the yard
to the other, scrutinizing carefully every unfamiliar object, until it
seemed to him the night was more than half spent.
I must have been here four hours now, an' Sam Barney left 'bout
half-past seven, so I haven't got a great while to tramp 'round, he
said to himself, and just at that moment the clock on a neighboring
steeple struck the hour of eight.
He was both surprised and discouraged at thus learning that the time
was passing so slowly, and it suddenly came into his mind that he was
It was foolish to keep constantly moving around, because if Jip
Collins should come he would see the sentinel and make no effort to
carry out his threats until the coast was clear.
Therefore it was that Master Roberts built a seat from pieces of
board just inside the shed, and seating himself where he could have a
full view of the yard while remaining unseen, he continued his duties
in what appeared to him to be a much wiser, and certainly a more
Here he was protected from the chill wind, and as was only natural,
here also he fell asleep even while saying to himself that nothing
should tempt him to close his eyes even for a single moment.
When the near-by clock struck the hour of twelve Dan was still
wrapped in slumber.
At three o'clock in the morning his repose was most profound, and
just at daylight Seth shook him by the shoulder as he asked with a
How long have you been asleep?
Dan's most intimate friends claimed that he never told a lie, and he
was not tempted to do so on this occasion, even though the truth
provoked mirth at his expense.
It couldn't have been a great while after eight o'clock. It didn't
seem possible I'd go to sleep here, Seth, an' sure I meant to keep my
eyes wide open; but the first thing I knew it was done, an' I haven't
woke up since.
Well, that shows how much need there is to watch for Jip Collins.
He's all wind, that feller is, an' likes to go 'round town braggin'
what he'll do to us; but you'll find every night will be jest like
this. As soon as it's dark he gets where he belongs, an' don't take the
chances of bein' out too late. Comin' up here in the night an' tryin'
any funny business is too much for a coward like him, an' I tell you we
might as well go to sleep as to stand guard.
Nothing could have been more convincing to Dan than this experience.
When the amateur detective left them it seemed positive Jip Collins
would attempt to work mischief before daybreak, and had he been forced
to lie down on the bed of shavings by the side of his landlord, Dan
Roberts would have felt decidedly uneasy in mind.
Now, however, since he had kept such poor watch, and it was evident
the enemy had not been in that vicinity, he came to look at the matter
much as did Seth.
Although no absolute decision was arrived at regarding what should
be done in the future as to standing guard, it was understood between
these two inmates of the shed-home, that such precaution was
Among his other conveniences for housekeeping Seth had a tin
biscuit-box which served him as cupboard, and the two were in the
custom of bringing home at night sufficient for their breakfast next
It was necessary Dan should be ready to begin business at a very
early hour, and when the sun rose these two merchants were usually
making ready for the day's work.
On this particular morning, however, they lingered over the meal,
having much spare time at their disposal because of Seth's early
awakening, and shortly after daybreak both set out, one to visit the
newspaper offices and the other to loiter in the vicinity of the
engine-house until the firemen should require his services, for now
nearly all the company patronized the lad, whom they were pleased to
call the amateur.
It is but right, however, to state that he was paid for such
services. After that first morning when Seth had refused to take money
from 'Lish Davis, he was given to understand that when the members of
the company wanted boots blacked they were to pay for the labor,
otherwise some other of the fraternity would be called upon.
Seth begged for the privilege of shinin' for the crowd free,
declaring that he should not lose any money through such gratuitous
labor, for he would be familiarizing himself with the indoor details of
a fireman's life.
To this, however, 'Lish Davis made answer:
See here, my son, you've got your living to earn, and can't afford
to give up bread an' butter for the sake of getting on to our work.
We'll pay for the shines, or you don't put your nose inside this house,
and as for finding out what we do hereabout, why it's nothing but
drudgery. Cleaning harnesses, setting the machines to rights, and
keeping the place neat as a new pin make up the bulk of the work. So
take a nickel for every shine you give, or out you go, never to come
From that hour Seth had been paid regularly, and, thanks to such
patronage, he was in a great measure independent of other customers,
because there was seldom a day when he did not earn at least
twenty-five cents from Ninety-four's men.
Thus it can be understood that he was warranted in loitering near
the engine-house until his patrons should be ready for his services,
and on this particular morning the first man who came out of doors
found him seated on his box, leaning against the building, whistling
Feeling pretty good this morning, ain't you, kid? the fireman
asked rather as a greeting than for the purpose of gaining information,
and the boy replied in a tone of perplexity:
I ain't certain about that, Mr. Walters.
Not sure whether you're feeling good or not?
No, an' that's a fact. Has Mr. Davis turned out yet?
Well, s'pose he has? Do you want to consult with him?
That's 'bout the size of it.
He's inside with the horses; go right through.
In order that he might not be an unwelcome visitor, Seth had had
sufficient good sense never to enter the building without an express
invitation or permission, and perhaps because he was thus scrupulous
the men were all the more willing to admit him.
Hello! What's up? 'Lish Davis asked as the boy appeared thus
If you ain't very busy I'd like to talk with you 'bout somethin'
that's botherin' my pardner an' me a good bit since last night.
Fire away, lad. I reckon I've got time enough to listen to the
story, unless it is in more than one chapter.
It ain't so very long, an' I'll be quick as I can, Seth replied,
and then he told, without going too much into detail, of his trouble
with Jip Collins, and of the latest threats which the boy had made,
according to Sam Barney's statement, concluding by saying:
Now, I don't believe Jip's got sand enough to do any sich thing as
settin' fire to the shed, an' it's sure he didn't try it last night,
'cause he had every chance; but I've been thinkin' 'bout it while I was
waitin' for the house to be opened, an' it kind-er come into my mind
that perhaps he might make a bluff at it.
I wouldn't be surprised at anything some of these young villains
did, 'Lish Davis said after a brief time of reflection. The general
run of street boys get an idea into their heads, and don't stop to
realize what the consequences may be. Let me see, you live in the rear
of Baxter's carpenter shop, don't you?
There's a brick building butts up against the back end of that lot,
so your only chance of getting out would be to come through the
Well, it wouldn't amount to very much as a fire; but in case one
got started there, you and your partner would stand a good show of
getting a dose.
Seth understood the driver to mean that there was danger of being
suffocated by the smoke, and he admitted that such might be the case,
We can't do as Sam Barney says, an' set up every night watchin',
else when would we sleep?
Why don't you leave this place for two or three days, and find some
That never'd do, 'cause jest as soon as the fellers knew I'd gone,
they'd snoop 'round, an' I'd be thrown out of a home mighty quick.
You might get Baxter to let you put a lock on the shed; that would
keep them out.
I wouldn't like to do it, 'cause you see I've got an idea the
carpenter has forgot all about my sleepin' there, an' perhaps if I was
to flash up so fresh askin' for a lock on the bedroom door he'd think
it was 'bout time for me to skip.
Well, look here, Seth, you might as well give me a shine, and while
you 're doing that I'll see if I can think of a way out for you. I'm
inclined to believe the same as your detective friend does, that it
stands you in hand to keep a pretty good watch, and I'll speak to the
cop on this beat.
Seth set about his professional duties without delay, and by the
time one boot had been polished so perfectly that it reflected
surrounding objects almost as well as a mirror, the fireman asked
How old are you, kid?
Fourteen, accordin' to the way I figger it.
Don't you know?
Well, you see, old Miss Washburnshe was the woman that claimed to
bring me up, though it's precious little she did towards itwasn't no
ways certain herself, but that's what she allowed, so it's good enough
Haven't got any folks, eh?
Well, I did have a mother, you know, till I was a couple of years
old, so Miss Washburn says.
Where's your father?
You see, I never had one, leastways not what you would call a real
father, 'cause when a man is a reg'lar gin-pig, no decent feller is
goin' to own up that he's his relation. The last time I saw him he was
goin' down on the Island for ninety days, an' that was as much as three
You've still got the fool idea in your mind that you're going to be
It ain't any fool idea, Mr. Davis, 'cause it's a fact. That's jest
what I count on bein'.
Look here, my son, I've been thinking about you a considerable bit
since I found it was no use trying to scare you out of the plan, and in
a year's time or so, I reckon, between the captain and Walters and me,
we can get you in up to headquarters. Now, don't jump so! I didn't mean
we allowed you could go there as a recruit; but the captain was saying
the other night that we might work it so's you could get some kind of a
berth theresweeping floors, washing windows, and the like of that,
which, if you keep your ears and eyes open, would amount to the same as
if you went into actual training. You ain't the lad I've got in my eye
if you couldn't soon work your way into one of the classes.
If I only might! Seth replied emphatically, with a long indrawing
of the breath. If I only might!
I allow we'll work it, lad; but you must grow a good bit 'twixt now
I'm hopin' to get an early spring moustache before long. Sim
Jepson's got one, an' I'm goin' to do the same as he did, 'cause the
fellers say he put somethin' on to make the hair grow.
The driver laughed long and loud at this announcement made in the
gravest tone, and called upon every idle man in the building to come
and hear the amateur's latest scheme for getting into the Department.
The boy's face flushed a deep red before 'Lish Davis was willing to
cease laughing at or repeating the proposition; but finally he wearied
of his sport, and, his boots having long since been polished, said in a
I'll speak to the cop on this beat about your friend Collins, and
in the meantime make it your business to hunt him up. Let the little
scoundrel know you've told me; that I'm going to post the policeman,
and that he'll get a mighty hot reception if he should try any of his
firebug business. I reckon some such hint will knock the mischief out
of his head, unless he's a born idiot.
Then Mr. Davis walked away, intent on the morning duties, and Seth
set about his regular work until all the company had been served, after
which he started down-town in accordance with the plan proposed by the
Owing to customers, and they were unusually plentiful on this day,
it was not until late in the afternoon that he arrived at City Hall
Square, where Jip Collins was most often to be found, and here he met
Dan was delighted at learning what steps had been taken for their
safety, although because of the previous night's experience he had
begun to doubt if their enemy would dare carry his threats into effect,
and the two at once made search for Master Collins.
He had been seen thereabouts within an hour by more than one of
Seth's acquaintances; but now although the two searched until nightfall
it was impossible to accomplish their purpose.
It seemed much as if Jip Collins, learning that Seth was in the
vicinity, believed it wisest to keep out of sight, and after the night
had fully come Dan said impatiently:
It's no use spendin' so much time on that duffer, 'cause he won't
show up again to-night. We've told so many of the fellers what 'Lish
Davis said, that Jip will be sure to hear of it before he goes to bed,
an' perhaps that will be just as well as if you had met him, 'cause
there might have been a row. Let's go up and get a bowl of five-cent
soup and a piece of pie. I can stand a ten-cent spread to-night, an'
business has been good enough with you.
To this proposition Seth assented, and the two made their way to a
certain restaurant on Chatham Street, where, after an unusually
profitable day's work, they were in the custom of feasting.
If there was any one thing in which Dan Roberts excelled it was in
his ability to eat very fast and for a long while.
He ordered the waiter to bring him the pie and the soup at the same
time, and it seemed to Seth as if he had but just begun before his
partner was finished.
I reckon I can take one more bowl of that soup, an' then be through
before you are, he said, thoughtfully. I made pretty near forty
cents, an' it's kind'er tough if a feller can't spend fifteen of it,
Go ahead if you want the soup, an' are willin' to pay for it. It
don't make any difference to me, 'cause I'll stay here till you're
filled plum full; but I tell you what it is, Dan, you're gettin' into
an awful habit of eatin'.
Is that what you call a habit?
Course it is. If you didn't think about it every minute, you
wouldn't be so hungry.
I'm pretty near starved all the time as it is, an' I don't know how
I'd get along with any less, Dan replied apologetically, and then, the
soup having been brought, he gave his undivided attention to the
After the feast the boys, having nothing of special importance to
do, lounged leisurely towards their home in the shed, and it was nearly
nine o'clock before they crept into the box that served as chamber,
both feeling tired and sleepy.
Not until they were inside did Seth realize that they had not
searched the lumber-yard, and he insisted that they go at once to make
certain no enemy was hidden near at hand.
What's the use of that? Dan asked petulantly. You can be sure Jip
Collins ain't anywhere 'round here, 'cause some of the fellers have
told him what we said long before this, an' he'll give the place a wide
You ain't sure he knows that I told 'Lish Davis 'bout the threats
he was makin'.
Well, he didn't come last night, an' you was the one that said he
wouldn't dare to show his nose 'round.
I know it; but somehow or other, Dan, it seems as if we ought'er
look out a little sharper, 'cause he might be fool enough to try such a
An' if he did after tellin' everybody about it, he'd go up the
river ten or fifteen years, sureI ain't certain but that it would be
a life sentence.
Yes, I know all that, Dan, but Jip ain't the kind of a feller to
figger on sich things, an' if he gets a notion right solid in his head,
there's no knowin' how big a fool he might make of himself, so let's go
out an' have a look 'round.
It was with an ill grace that Dan followed Seth, and even then his
share in the search was of but little service owing to the fact that he
hurried from one part of the yard to the other without making an effort
to ascertain if any one was secreted in the many convenient
hiding-places near at hand.
After ten minutes or more had been spent by the two boys, Seth
performing his work faithfully and Dan shirking, the partners retired,
and it was as if they had but just stretched themselves at full length
on the bed of shavings when both were asleep.
If Dan had been acting the part of sentinel just inside the shed
door an hour after the two retired, he would have seen in the gloom
three dark forms emerge from behind a pile of boards which he had
failed to look over carefully, and advance cautiously toward the shed
door, halting when they were twenty feet or more away.
Had he been there he would have recognized one of these as Jip
Collins, and most probably suspected that the other two were the boys
from Brooklyn spoken of by the amateur detective.
He would also have heard the conversation which followed; but he did
not because he was asleep, and the lad who was willing to commit a
crime in order to compass his revenge found no impediment in the way.
They're snorin' by this time, that's certain, Jip said to his
comrades, an' even if they wasn't we might talk here for an hour
without their hearin', 'cause Seth's room is in the farther end of the
shed, and there's a whole pile of lumber between him an' the door. He
don't believe in going out much after he's got inside the yard, for
fear the carpenter will see him, so we can make up our minds that
there's nothin' to stop us.
Where do you count on starting the fire?
Right close by the shed door, of course. I know where to get a lot
But it won't do to set it so near, because the fellers might be
burned to death, an' that would be a pretty piece of business, Jip
Gettin' scared, eh?
You don't want to talk to me 'bout gettin' scared, a feller who'd
let another only half his size back him down same's you did last
[Illustration: JIP COLLINS AND THE BOYS FROM BROOKLYN. Page
If you ain't scared, what are you makin' a row 'bout now? We 'greed
to put a fire here so's to singe Seth an' Dan a little.
Yes, I agreed to that much; but I don't count on killing 'em.
Neither do I.
But how can you help it if you build the fire right close to the
door, when there's no other way for 'em to get out?
Don't you s'pose they've got sense enough to wake up before the
thing gets too far along?
I've heard of folks bein' smothered to death while they was asleep,
an' I ain't in this game if that's the way you're goin' to work it.
Then back out if you're scared, an' I'll do it.
Without paying any further attention to his companions, Jip made his
way to the rear of the carpenter's shop, where he knew would be found
an ample supply of light wood and shavings, and when he returned, his
arms filled with the inflammable material, neither of his friends from
Brooklyn could be seen.
CHAPTER III. JIP'S REVENGE.
If Jip Collins had not accused the Brooklyn boys of being afraid, it
is doubtful if he would have dared to set fire to the shed.
Now it seemed to him as if he must carry out the proposed crime, or
set himself down as a coward, and because of being deficient in bravery
his one fear was lest such fact should be generally known.
He was on the spot; the materials for kindling a blaze were in his
arms, and it appeared at that moment to him as if it was absolutely
necessary he should perform what he had so often threatened without
really intending to do.
The shavings and light wood were laid at the door of the shed. Jip
was careful not to place them in such a manner as would be best
calculated to produce the fiercest blaze; but dropped them without
heed, as if saying to himself that chance should decide whether the
building caught fire or not.
He drew several matches from his pocket, and looked around
apprehensively, hearing in every noise the footsteps of an officer
coming to drag him to prison.
After thus hesitating several moments he understood beyond a
peradventure that he was alonethat nothing save his own conscience
prevented him from carrying into effect his plan of revenge.
It should be said that at this moment Jip failed to realize what
might be the consequences of such an act.
One of the Brooklyn boys had suggested the possibility that those in
the shed might be burned to death if the fire was started near the
door; but to this Jip had given little heed. He could not believe that
two active lads like Seth and Dan would be overpowered by a little
smoke, and felt assured the firemen would arrive so soon after the
blaze had been kindled that very little damage could ensue.
After this brief time of hesitation he turned toward the pile of
wood and shavings once more, with a gesture as if impatient with
himself for delaying.
Then he lighted a match, protecting the tiny flame with both hands
until it was a sturdy blaze, after which, instead of holding it to the
shavings, he threw it away.
For one instant his conscience had triumphed; but it was only for an
He lighted another match, hurriedly this time, as if fearing he
might not have the courage to apply it, and when it was fully on fire
muttered to himself:
I'll drop it an' take the chances. If she burns, it's a go, an' if
she don't, I've done as much as I've threatened.
He suited the action to the words, and not daring to wait for the
result, ran hurriedly into the deserted street.
It was his intention to continue on, halting only when having
arrived at his home; but now that the mischief might have been done he
was so thoroughly alarmed that it seemed impossible he could leave the
Partially concealing himself in a doorway he waited almost
breathlessly, hoping fervently the match had been extinguished when it
fell, and as the seconds passed, each one seeming a full minute, a
great hope came into his heart, for he believed chance had decreed that
the fire should not be kindled.
Then a stifled cry of fear burst from his lips, for he had suddenly
seen a bright tongue of flame leap up, and he knew the crime had been
committed in fact as well as spirit.
At this moment he remembered the words of his friends from Brooklyn
as distinctly as if they had but just been spoken, and like a flash
came the realization that perhaps he had done that which would result
in the loss of human life.
The flames increased until they were reflected on the wall of brick
in the rear, and it seemed to Jip as if the shed must already be in a
Why don't somebody send in an alarm? he said, speaking aloud in
his anxiety, although there was no one at hand to hear him. Seth an'
Dan will be burned to death if the engines don't get here mighty soon!
Then came the thought, for he believed the fire was already beyond
control, that it would be impossible to rescue the boysthat he was
indeed a murderer, for it seemed to him as if an exceedingly long time
had elapsed since he first saw the tiny ray of light.
Now his one desire was that an alarm might be sent in, yet no one
could be seen or heard in either direction.
Each moment of delay increased the peril, and when he had waited in
most painful suspense for ten seconds it was impossible to remain
inactive any longer.
Far down the street a red light could be seen, denoting the location
of a fire-alarm station, and he ran toward it as he had never run
before, so nervous when he would have opened the outer door of the box
that for two or three seconds it was impossible to turn the handle.
When he did so the sound of the warning gong, intended to notify the
policeman on that beat that the box was being opened, caused him to
start back in alarm, for he fancied the officers of justice were
already on his trail.
Jip had many times seen a call rung in, and in the merest fraction
of time he recovered from his fears as he understood the cause of this
Then he opened the outer door and pulled down the lever once; and
from that instant until the first engine appeared, which was
Ninety-four, it seemed to him as if an hour had passed, although in
fact the company of which Seth considered himself in a certain degree a
member, had responded to the call in less than three minutes.
Jip was standing by the signal-box when a rumble and roar in the
distance told of the coming of Ninety-four, and he watched as if
fascinated the fountain of sparks which went up from the smoke-stack;
listened to the sharp clicking of the horses' shoes on the pavement; to
the din of the gongs, and the cries of startled pedestrians in the
rearhearing everything, seeing everything, but yet all the while as
if in a dream.
Nearer and nearer came the puffing engine drawn by three plunging
horses as if it had been no more than a toy, and then, his brain still
in a whirl, Jip heard as if from afar off, the question:
Where's the fire?
In Baxter's carpenter shop!
The engine was some distance beyond him by the time he had answered
the question, and from the opposite direction he heard the rush of a
second on-coming machine; then here and there the rumble of wheels and
hoof-beats of horses driven at their utmost speed, until it seemed as
if by that one pull on the lever of the signal-box he had aroused the
Now Seth and Dan would be saved if they were yet alive.
At that moment there was no hope in Jip's mind that they could still
It was as if he had lighted that match an hour ago, so slowly had
the seconds passed, and with the thought of them as deadburned to
death through his actcame wildest terror.
He fancied every fireman on Ninety-four had recognized him as they
rode past in such mad haste, and knew him to be the one who had
committed the crime.
There was no place in his mind for any thought save that of his own
danger, and instantly he started at full speed down the street, never
daring to so much as glance behind him, although no man pursued.
When the joker, which is the name given by firemen to the
combination-bell, in Ninety-four's house rang out the number of the
call sent in by Jip, and as the horses, released by the mechanical trip
moved by the joker, dashed out of their stalls, 'Lish Davis believed he
knew beyond a question to what particular building they were summoned.
Instantly that which Seth had told him came into his mind, and with
it the painful thought that perhaps by his own neglect he had
contributed to what might be a fatal disaster.
And I never so much as warned the policeman on this beat! he said
to himself as he leaped to his seat on the engine, snapped into place
the belt that would hold him there, and with a quick jerk on the reins
released the harness-catch.
Ninety-Four had seldom left the house more quickly, and certainly
the horses were never urged to a higher rate of speed than now, when
'Lish Davis charged himself with criminal neglect.
During the minute and a half which intervened before they reached
the station from which the alarm had been sent, the driver of
Ninety-four conceived an absolute affection for the boy who had so
persistently followed up his idea of becoming a fireman, and, prompted
by the prickings of his own conscience, perhaps, he muttered to
The kid shall go into the Department if I can put him there,
providing it so be we find
He did not finish the sentence, for at that instant it was to 'Lish
Davis as if he must in a certain degree take upon himself the results
of this night's work.
When they dashed past the station he needed not Jip's reply to tell
him whence came the glow of light which could now be seen reflected on
the taller buildings, and Ninety-four got water a full two minutes
before any other engine.
That little bootblack, Seth Bartlett, sleeps in the shed behind the
shop, 'Lish called hoarsely as the men ran swiftly through the
lumber-yard, and, hearing the words even above the tooting of whistles,
the sounding of gongs from the on-coming engines, and the puffing of
steam, Jerry Walters cried:
I'll look out for him, 'Lish!
Every man heard the driver's cry, and knew that the amateur fireman
was in danger.
They also knew where he slept, having been given by the boy himself
a description of his home, and with the first crash of Jerry's axe as
he burst in the door of the shed, the men set up a shout which sounded
like music in 'Lish's ears.
It was Jip Collins who had started the fire, and he also was the
means of saving the lives of Seth and Dan after the mischief had been
wrought, for the firemen gained the box-like apartment not one moment
All unconscious of the danger which threatened, the boys had slept
on until the noisome vapor overcame without awakening them, and when
Jerry carried the two out into the street through the piles of lumber
which were already beginning to blaze, he said to Joe Black as the
latter advanced to help him take the apparently lifeless bodies to one
of the patrol-wagons drawn up near at hand:
I'm afraid the amateur has got more of a dose than he can well
Ten minutes later, when Seth woke to consciousness, Dan was lying by
his side in the bottom of the wagon, and 'Lish Davis bent over him.
It must be that Jip Collins did what he threatened, he said,
speaking with difficulty because of the parched, burning sensation in
Ay, lad, that's what he did, and this town won't be big enough to
hold him after daylight to-morrow morning.
But why are you here, Mr. Davis? What about the team?
Ben Dunton is on hand, and I'm off duty for the time being till I
can make sure whether you're alive or not.
Seth knew that Ben Dunton was 'Lish's relief, therefore the driver
was not neglecting his duty by thus staying with him.
Is it a bad fire? he asked.
The shop and about half the lumber-yard will go. It's nothing to
speak of, lad, save for the fact of its having been kindled that murder
might be done.
I don't believe Jip Collins really meant to kill us. He most likely
thought we would get out before it was very bad. Is Dan all right?
There's nothing much the matter with me, Master Roberts replied in
what he intended should be a cheery tone. I've been awake quite a
spell, an' thought you'd never open your eyes.
Sure you're all right? 'Lish asked, shaking Seth gently as if
doubting whether the boy was fully conscious.
Of course I am, an' now we're inside the lines there's a good
chance for me to look 'round after points. I'm going into the yard to
see what Ninety-four's men are doin'.
I reckon you'll lay where you are for a spell, 'Lish said with a
grim smile, speaking half to himself, and in such a low tone that
neither of the boys heard the words.
Seth attempted to rise; but had no more than gotten up on one elbow
when a most violent nausea assailed him, and he fell back on the rubber
blankets which had served as pillow, feeling much as he
Don't feel like wiggling 'round to any great extent, eh? 'Lish
asked, understanding full well the boy's sensations, and so relieved at
knowing his life had been saved that the temporary sickness seemed as
I don't see what makes me feel so bad, and Seth did his best to
speak in a careless tone.
If it so be you ever get into the Department, lad, this ain't the
first dose you'll take, nor the heaviest. It's the smoke which came
nigh to strangling you, and there ain't a man that answers to
Ninety-four's roll-call who can't tell exactly how you feel.
I've got to brace up pretty soon, or Dan an' me will have to walk
'round the streets the balance of the night, now our housekeepin' is
Don't worry about that, lad. I reckon the captain will give you a
shelter till daylight, and after that we'll see what can be done.
Then 'Lish, understanding that he could render no assistance, left
the two boys to join his comrades, who were fighting the fire as
gallantly in the lumber-yard as they would have done at a palatial
So Jip Collins had sand enough to try an' burn us out, didn't he?
Dan said interrogatively. I'll run across that duffer one of these
days, and when I get through with him he won't set anybody else's shed
The police will most likely get hold of him, 'cause Mr. Davis knows
all about what he threatened, an' even if Sam Barney didn't let out the
whole story, the driver will.
Having said this Seth relapsed into silence, for his bodily
condition was such that it seemed a severe exertion to so much as
The fire was subdued, but not extinguished, when the patrol-wagon
was driven away with Ben Dunton on the front seat, and Dan asked in a
tone of awe:
Do you s'pose they're goin' to carry us up to the engine-house?
It seemed as though that was what Mr. Davis meant; but yet I'm
afraid we're bound for the hospital.
Well, say, you don't catch me inside of one! I ain't goin' to flock
in with a lot of dyin' folks jest 'cause I've got a little smoke down
my throat, and Dan, who was not suffering as much as his partner,
attempted to scramble to his feet, whereat Ben Dunton shouted gruffly:
Lay still there, you two kids, or I'll come down and know the
We ain't goin' to no hospital! Dan cried angrily.
Who asked you to? You don't allow we're running an ambulance for
such kids as you, eh?
Where are we goin'?
Lay still and you'll find out.
Seth had learned enough regarding a fireman's life to know that the
first engine at the scene of a conflagration must be the last to leave,
therefore wherever Ben Dunton might be taking them, there was little
chance of seeing 'Lish Davis until the following morning.
To the great delight of both the boys the patrol-wagon was drawn up
in front of Ninety-four's house, and Dunton asked:
Can you lads get out alone, or shall I lend a hand?
Are we goin' to stay here all night? Dan asked suspiciously.
Of course you are. It's the captain's orders, and you're to have
'Lish Davis's bed.
This was sufficient to cause a decided change in Seth's condition.
The fact that he was to sleep in the engine-house as if he had been
a member of the Department was so great an honor that for the time
being his illness was banished.
The boys alighted from the vehicle without assistance and followed
Ben Dunton into the building, where a report was made to the
house-watchman regarding the guests, who were then conducted to the
There's where you're to sleep, the fireman said, pointing to the
driver's bed. And you want to get in some precious big licks, for it
ain't often 'Lish Davis puts himself out in this fashion for anybody,
especially when he's likely to be on duty six or eight hours. No
skylarking, now, but get between the sheets as quick as you know how.
No second bidding was necessary, and five minutes later the two boys
were enjoying a greater degree of comfort than they had ever fancied
would be possible, Seth refusing to join in the conversation which his
partner would have started, in order to give himself wholly up to
building air-castles, all based on the Fire Department with himself
rising from the grade of recruit to that of battalion-chief.
Slumber closed their eyelids in due time, however, and they
journeyed so far into the recesses of Dreamland that neither heard the
home-coming of Ninety-four, nor the bustle consequent upon cleaning up
and making ready for duty once more.
It was seven o'clock in the morning when Seth awakened, and for the
first time since having been told he was to sleep in 'Lish's bed, he
realized how much inconvenience and possible discomfort he might have
caused the driver.
Say, Dan, we did a mighty mean thing to sleep here, an' perhaps Mr.
Davis had to set up all night. Hustle your clothes on as quick as you
know how, so's we can get down-stairs an' tell him we're ashamed of
Neither of the boys was feeling any the worse for the painful
experience of the previous night, and in a remarkably short space of
time they were ready to descend, but not by the stairs.
For the first time in his life Seth enjoyed the pleasure of sliding
down the pole to the floor below, and this method of descending served
to strengthen certain portions of the air-castles he had built just
before falling asleep.
The driver was found grooming one of the horses, and greeted the
boys before either could speak, by saying cheerily:
Well, how are you getting along after your dose of last night?
First-rate, sir. We're as well as ever; but feelin' mighty mean to
think we used your bed an' kept you up all night.
You didn't do anything of the kind, lad. We got back about four
o'clock, and I found plenty of spare beds for the short nap I wanted. I
reckon you lost everything you owned, eh?
Yes, sir; but that wasn't very much. My box, brushes, and what we
had brought home for breakfast.
How will you get another outfit?
I guess I've got money enough for a second-hand box and brushes;
but if I haven't some of the fellers will lend me what's needed, an'
I'm goin' now to pick up the things, so's to get back in time to do the
There are brushes and blacking belonging to the house, and you can
use them this morning, which will give you a little extra towards
buying a new outfit. Haven't been to breakfast yet, have you?
That don't count, even if we haven't, 'cause we can get something
later, and Seth, knowing where to find the tools of his trade, set
about his customary morning's work, while Dan lounged here and there,
feeling that he was a very fortunate lad in thus being a guest of
Half an hour later, in company with Dan, Seth, richer by thirty
cents, set out in search of a second-hand box and brushes.
Save in the way of questioning him concerning the boy who was
believed to have started the fire in the lumber-yard, none of the men
treated the bootblack other than in their customary manner, and Seth
departed with the fear in his mind that they were glad to be rid of
No sooner had he gone, however, than 'Lish Davis addressed three or
four of his comrades who were near at hand, saying emphatically:
Look here, that boy Seth is bent on getting into the Department,
and I tell you when a lad sticks to one thing as he's stuck to that for
the last year, some one ought to lend him a hand.
You ain't thinking of getting him taken on here, are you, 'Lish?
Walters asked with a laugh.
I've got a plan in my head, and allow that the rest of you can help
me through with it. If all hands of us turn to we can get the boy a job
at headquarters, and he ain't the lad I've taken him to be if he don't
put himself in the way of being received as a recruit when he's grown
stouter and a little older. Now, such a lift as that won't be much for
us, and it may be the making of him.
Do you allow it's a good idea, 'Lish Davis, to help a boy into the
Department when he might learn a trade which wouldn't be that of
risking his life two or three times every day?
Would you turn tinker, or tailor, or candlestick-maker, Jerry
Walters, in order to avoid risking your life two or three times a day?
It's different with me, 'Lish. I've been here so long I couldn't
give it up.
And it would be almost as hard for that lad to give up his idea. I
tried to frighten it out of him when he first came around here; but he
didn't scare worth a cent, and I tell you again that he'll make a
cracking good man for some company one of these days.
If there's anything I can do to help the thing along, you may count
me in, Walters replied, and the other members of the company who heard
the remark pledged themselves to the same thing.
We'll let him hoe his own row till everything is ready, 'cause it
may do harm if he gets to thinking somebody is trying to give him a
What's to be done with the kid who started the fire?
I repeated to the captain all the amateur told me, so I reckon
he'll be attended to. Is Ben Dunton in the house?
Then I'm going out for a bit. I want to see the battalion-chief.
Going to strike for Seth while the iron's hot, eh?
That's what I'm thinking of, Jerry, and while Seth Bartlett was
making ready to continue his business of blacking boots, 'Lish Davis
began in his behalf the efforts which he believed would result
favorably, so far as the boy's ambition was concerned.
CHAPTER IV. SAM THE DETECTIVE.
The sidewalk merchants in the vicinity of the post-office were well
informed of Seth Bartlett's loss by the time he arrived in that section
of the city.
Those who had not heard the story from Dan Roberts read an account
of the destruction of Baxter Brothers' carpenter-shop in the morning
papers during the early part of the day before the business rush began,
and thus it was Seth found himself the centre of a sympathizing crowd
of acquaintances as soon as he crossed City Hall Park.
Master Barney had but just returned from a journey supposed to have
been taken in search of the boy who had robbed him, and he immediately
cast aside his own business troubles in order to work the case against
Jip Collins, as he expressed it.
Sam was among the throng gathered to meet the homeless bootblack,
and when others would have asked for further particulars regarding the
conflagration, even though Dan had given all the information in his
possession, the amateur detective checked the curious ones by saying
This ain't any time to talk foolishness, 'cause if I'm goin' to
take up this case I must get right down to it before Jip has a chance
to run very far.
What do you mean by takin' up the case? Seth asked in surprise,
and Dan Roberts replied quickly:
Sam says he's willin' to go after Jip Collins, an' will stick at it
till he catches him.
That's what I've 'greed to, an' I'm in dead earnest, Seth. Of
course you can't afford to pay a reg'lar detective a whole lot of money
jest to find Jip for you; but I can do the work as well, an' you
needn't put out a cent more'n I'm called on to spend for expenses.
What do you want of Jip? Seth asked in surprise.
To have him 'rested for settin' fire to your shed, of course.
I don't want anythin' of the kind. I reckon he's sorry
enough for what he did without my tryin' to make more trouble for him.
Do you mean to say you're willin' he should burn the shed an' come
pretty nigh killin' you?
Course I ain't willin'; but now it's been done there's no need for
me to try to put him in jail, 'cause it won't do any good, an' I'd feel
bad to think any feller I knew was up to Sing Sing doin' time.
It was evident that but few of the sidewalk merchants agreed with
Seth in the view he took of the matter.
The majority of them believed Jip should be pursued until captured,
and then punished to the full extent of the law.
Some were inclined to the opinion that Sam Barney might possibly
succeed in running down the culprit, but these credulous ones were the
most intimate friends of the amateur detective, and by far the larger
number of the throng thought a formal complaint should be lodged with
the officers of the law against the boy who had so nearly caused the
death of Seth and Dan.
Sam Barney was literally astounded at the forgiving spirit which the
would-be fireman displayed, and this first burst of astonishment soon
gave way to something like anger.
He said in what was intended to be a fine tone of irony:
Well, you're too good, Seth Bartlett, that's what's the matter with
you! Here's Dan been tellin' that you were jest about the same as dead
when Ninety-four's men got in there. The snuggest house in town burned,
an' you thrown out of a home! After all that you've got the nerve to
say there's no reason why we should catch Jip Collins! I ain't certain
as you've got anythin' to do with it. S'posen the cops find out what
was donean' most likely Ninety-four's driver that you claim is a chum
of yours will tell 'emhow are you goin' to help it if they try to
I can't, an' that's a fact; but I haven't got to start the thing
What would you do if you should meet him right here this very
I'm 'fraid I'd thump him.
'Fraid! Sam repeated sarcastically. Why, you ought'er pound his
head off, an' then have him jugged.
You see, it's jest like this, fellers, Seth said in an apologetic
tone as he looked around at his friends and acquaintances,
understanding full well that they disapproved of his leniency. It's
jest like this: If a feller gets to fightin' on the street he's likely
to be pulled in for it, an' then perhaps he has to go down to the
Island for ten days or so. Now you all know I'm tryin' to work into the
Department, an' what kind of show would I stand if there was a record
like that against me? Fellers who get up a name for fightin' don't
'mount to very much, 'cordin' to what I've seen, an' that's why I said
I was 'fraid I might thump Jip. You see, what's done now will stand
against me when I'm old enough to be a fireman, an' I've got to look
out mighty careful for that. Now, so far's puttin' Jip in jail goes, I
don't want anythin' to do with it.
I can't see how that's goin' to give you a bad name, some one of
the throng cried.
I reckon it couldn't; but it might stand against Jip when he grows
up, an' if I should let Sam take the case I'd be hurtin' Jip more'n he
did me, so it wouldn't be fair.
But you don't allow folks can go 'round settin' fire to houses an'
tryin' to burn other people up without havin' to pay for it?
Course I don't, an' Jip ought'er get it hot for what he's done; but
I won't be the one to send him up the river.
If that's the way Seth feels 'bout it we haven't got any right to
kick, Dan suggested, and Sam Barney cried sharply:
I say we have! Jest 'cause Seth is gettin' so awful good on account
of wantin' to go into the Department, there's no reason why we should
let Jip Collins sneak away after what's been done, an' I'll take up the
case on my own hook rather than see him wiggle out of it.
Have you got the feller yet what stole your money? Dan asked in a
meaning tone, whereat the remainder of the company set up a loud shout
of derision, much to the amateur detective's discomfort.
If I haven't that's no sign I can't. I reckon I know enough 'bout
the business to handle two cases at the same time, if I want to, an'
you'll see if I don't pull Jip Collins over the coals before I'm a week
Then Sam stalked away with the bearing of one who feels that he has
been injured, and the remainder of the party discussed the events of
the previous night without further reference to the arrest of the
When the subject had been exhausted Seth made inquiries concerning
any bootblack's outfit which might be for sale, and half an hour later
he was once more the owner of a box and brushes.
The fire has cost me seventy cents, besides the breakfast we lost
when the place was burned, he said to Dan, and the latter replied
I'd have been willin' to give a good deal more'n that right out of
my own pocket, poor as trade has been, than to lose the snuggest
lodgin'-place in this town. We'll never find anythin' that will come up
with that shed.
Cryin' won't help out on it. What we've got to do is to hunt up
another shanty where we can bunk in without givin' up too much money,
for after havin' to buy a new outfit I can't afford to fool away good
dollars payin' for a bed at a reg'lar lodgin'-house.
You'll never get anythin' that will come up to the shanty Jip
Collins set on fire, Dan replied sadly, and as the realization of
their loss came to him with redoubled force now that the time had
arrived when they must search for new lodgings, he gave way to anger
against the boy who had wrought them so much mischief, as if believing
this would mend matters.
Seth waited patiently until his partner had indulged in such
outburst several moments, after which he said sagely:
Now, look here, Dan, scoldin' won't fix things the least little
bit, an' there's no sense in keepin' on tellin 'bout how big a villain
Jip Collins is. What we've got to do is to hustle, an' in the long run
we'll find that will pay better'n ravin'. Do you know of any place
where we can stop for a night or two till I've had time to look 'round
If I did I'd taken it long ago, instead of payin' you fifteen cents
a week for half of your quarters.
Well, we've got to find one; that's all there is to it. Now,
s'posen, instead of tryin' to do any more business to-day, we mosey
right along about it.
Where you goin'?
I don't exactly know. We'll kind-er loaf 'round; that's the way I
found the carpenter-shop, an' if it turns out we don't see a place,
why, it'll be a case of puttin' up the stuff for one night's lodgin's.
I ain't sure as I've got money enough left to pay for a reg'lar
I reckon I can squeeze out what'll pay the bills if you're broke.
Now, come on.
Unconsciously Seth led the way toward Ninety-four's house, not
really being aware he was proceeding in that direction, and after
walking several blocks in silence Dan asked almost sharply:
Are you countin' on their lettin' us hang 'round the engine-house?
Course not. The firemen can't do anythin' like that, you know. We
was mighty lucky to get a bed there last night, an' wouldn't had it
except that we'd been burned out.
Then what are you goin' up this way for?
There's jest as much chance 'round here as anywhere, an' of course
I'd sooner live near Ninety-four, 'cause I do a good deal of shinin'
for the men. Then ag'in, I don't want to lose run of 'em, for perhaps
some day 'Lish Davis'll give me a lift into the Department.
There's no use lookin' here, 'cause we'd known if there was any
place that would suit us.
I ain't so sure of that. You see, we wasn't lookin' for one, an'
now if we go along with our eyes open there's no tellin' but what we
Seth ceased speaking very suddenly, for at that instant the clanging
of gongs could be heard far up the street, and Dan exclaimed:
That sounds like Ninety-four.
Course it is. I'd know her if she was in the middle of a hundred,
an' all of 'em comin' straight for me.
There was no longer a thought in the mind of either of the boys
regarding the necessity of finding a home that night.
Under no ordinary circumstances would Seth have allowed himself to
be prevented from getting possible points, and although Dan did not
share in the aspirations of his friend, he was equally excited by the
prospect of going to a fire.
The two waited breathlessly an instant, expecting Ninety-four would
continue straight on toward them, when from the opposite direction came
the clatter of wheels and the booming notes of the gongs telling of the
coming of a second engine, and they knew that at some point midway the
two engines would be turned at right angles with their present course.
Come this way! It looks to me as though Ninety-four was slackenin'
up! Master Bartlett cried as he darted forward, and Dan readily
followed the advice, for while he did not approve of his friend's
devotion to the Fire Department, he understood full well that Seth was
thoroughly conversant with all such matters as might be learned by an
There she goes, an' I wouldn't wonder if the alarm came from some
of them big storage warehouses, for Ninety-four is headin' straight
The first engine had swung sharply around to the left, and the
driver of the second was urging his horses forward at yet greater
speed, in the hope, perhaps, of getting first water, when the two boys
dashed up the street at their best pace, for to Seth at least there was
but one engine and one point of attraction at any conflagration,
While it is probable he could have picked up as many points from
other companies, it did not so appear to him, and in his mind it was
only from the crew of Ninety-four he could gather such information as
was most desired.
Before they neared the station from which the alarm had been sent
the throng on the sidewalks, added to from nearly every house, had so
increased that it was only by taking to the street regardless of the
danger to be apprehended from hose-carts, hook-and-ladder trucks,
patrol-wagons, or water-towers, that the boys could make any
satisfactory headway, and because of their being thus hampered in their
movements Ninety-four's men had already begun their work when Seth and
Dan arrived at a point outside the fire lines where they could see the
Here a single policeman kept the crowd in check, and Seth whispered
excitedly to his partner:
Now's our time! If we're anyways smart we'll get in before that
copper can catch us. Wait till somebody tries to pass, an' then scoot.
Don't stop if he yells, 'cause he won't dare leave here to chase us.
I thought 'Lish Davis said he'd have his eye out so's you couldn't
get into the fire lines?
That's what he said.
Ain't you 'fraid he'll be mad if he finds you in there?
He knows I've got to do this thing, else I'll never get posted on
the business; but of course if we should sneak in an' he told us to
march straight out ag'in, I'd feel as though I ought'er go. We won't
stand very near Ninety-four, an' then there'll be less chance of his
knowin' we're around.
The opportunity which Seth desired came a few seconds later.
Two gentlemen who were curious to see the workings of the Fire
Department nearer at hand than was possible while they remained outside
the lines, approached the officer on duty with the idea that it was
only necessary to bluster or threaten a little in order to pass him
without difficulty, and while they were alternately entreating and
threatening Seth gave the signal.
Stooping until their heads were beneath the rope, the two boys
darted up the street, which was covered with a veritable network of
hose, and before the officer was fully aware of their intentions they
were lost to his view amid the panting, quivering monsters of steel and
iron whose mission is to save, rather than destroy.
There's 'Lish Davis on the engine! Dan said, speaking indistinctly
because of his breath, which came thick and fast. It looks to me as if
he has seen us.
We'll keep over this way a bit where there's no danger of his
comin'. Watch our men try to get up that stairway! Ain't they the
The fire was, as Seth had first surmised, in a storage warehouse,
and it appeared from the outside as if the entire second floor of the
building was in a blaze.
The men had battered in the doors only to be met by a mass of flames
which seemed to roll in huge columns down the staircase to the new
outlet which had thus been made, and just as the boys arrived the brave
fellows were momentarily beaten back by the scorching element until
they stood on the first landing in plain sight of Seth and Dan.
Jerry Walters and Joe Black were at the nozzle, with Ben Dunton
close in the rear, and at the moment Seth called his partner's
attention to the scene the captain of Ninety-four shouted
Now, hit it up, boys! Get in there! Get in! Get in!
Then it was the flames retreated momentarily, and those who were
doing such gallant battle advanced step by step up the stairs seemingly
into the very midst of the fiery cloud, until they were entirely hidden
by the downpour of black smoke which came from the open doorway in
volume sufficient to drive back even those on the sidewalk.
While this desperate fight was in progress other men had raised a
ladder and were prying open one of the iron shutters on the second
floor in order to use more hose, and, yet trembling with apprehension
for the safety of those friends who had last been seen in the very
midst of the fiery element, Seth involuntarily glanced toward the
remainder of the company on the outside, while Dan looked back to make
certain 'Lish Davis was not preparing to drive them from their place of
That which he saw reassured him so far as any immediate danger of
such kind was to be feared, for the driver of Ninety-four was
unhitching his horses, knowing from the general appearance of the
blazing building that the company had a long task before them.
At that instant a crashing, rending noise as of an explosion sounded
high above the din, and one of the iron shutters which the men had been
trying to force open was hurled from its fastenings and thrown outward
into the street, falling within half a dozen feet of where Davis was
busy with his horses.
Following it was a mighty rush of flame as if the interior was a
seething mass of fire; loud shouts of command rang out, and then came
even above all the din the clatter of a horse's iron-shod hoofs as he
dashed madly away in affright. Involuntarily Seth had followed with his
eyes the flight of the shutter, and, unconscious of even having made a
movement, he sprang toward Ninety-four as if in the time of danger that
was his post of duty.
He saw the heavy mass of metal as it struck the pavement, and
instantly afterward was aware of what very few gave heed to because of
the fact that all eyes were fixed upon the building, from whence might
naturally be expected another explosion.
The nigh horse of the team, one that had been in service only a few
weeks, leaped forward in frantic terror, and by some strange mishap was
dragging his driver behind him.
At the moment Seth had no thought of possible danger to himself. His
mind was upon 'Lish Davis's peril to the exclusion of everything else,
and almost involuntarily he sprang toward the maddened animal, Dan
close at his heels.
It was by accident rather than good judgment that he succeeded in
gaining a hold of the bridle just above the bit, swinging himself
outward by aid of his elbow to avoid being struck by the beast's
His weight was not sufficient to bring the frightened animal to a
standstill instantly; but he succeeded in checking his speed so far
that the engineer of Ninety-four had time to come to his assistance,
and between the two the runaway was stopped.
A buckle on Davis's coat had caught in one of the rings of the
harness, and this it was which held him prisoner after having been
thrown from his feet by the animal's sudden plunge.
Are you hurt? Seth asked anxiously, still retaining his hold of
the bridle, and the driver replied grimly as he scrambled to his feet:
A man is bound to get a few knocks after such a course of
treatment; but I reckon that all the harm which has been done is a
little skin broken here and there. Do you know, lad, it's a mighty
dangerous thing to jump for a horse in that fashion?
[Illustration: SETH CATCHES THE HORSE. Page 68.]
I caught him all right, sir.
Yes, that I know, else I wouldn't be standing on my feet this
minute; but suppose you had missed your hold? He would have had you
under his feet in a jiffy.
But he didn't, so I can't see as that counts very much; but all the
same, I was willin' to take the chances.
'Lish Davis, having assured himself that he had spoken correctly so
far as personal injuries were concerned, took charge of the horse; the
engineer went back to his post, and Seth, fearing lest he should be
driven outside the line, was making his way toward the building once
more with Dan by his side when the driver shouted:
Come back here, you young rattle-brain! How did you get inside the
Crept under the rope when the copper wasn't lookin'. It ain't any
very hard job to do that.
Don't you know you're liable to be arrested for doing anything of
Well, we had to take the chances, you see, 'cause it wouldn't do to
miss a fire like this, Seth replied, half apologetically, and Dan
cried in his shrill tone:
It's mighty lucky for you, Mr. Davis, that he did sneak inside this
I ain't likely to forget that, you rapscallion; but it has got
nothing to do with you lads being where you don't belong, and that's
right about here.
Please don't send us away! Seth cried imploringly. We'll keep out
of sight so the chief won't see us, an' nobody will know where we are.
I'll take precious good care you can't get into more mischief. Come
over here, both of you, an' stick right by Ninety-four till I give the
word to leave. Don't you dare to so much as move till the engine does,
an' if there's any more mishaps, steer clear of them instead of doing
your level best to run into trouble. Are you hearing what I'm saying?
Yes, sir, Seth replied meekly, and then the boys obeyed readily,
for Mr. Davis had stationed them in the very place above all others
where they could see everything which occurred, and Dan said in a tone
It was a mighty good thing, your stoppin' that horse. You never had
a better chance to see a fire than this is, an' we'd better hold on to
it precious close.
That's a fact; but I ain't gettin' so many points as I might if we
You'd better be satisfied with what's a soft snap, even if you
don't get points, Master Roberts replied grimly, and then he gave
himself up to the pleasure of watching the battle between the firemen
and the elements, for a third alarm had been rung in, and the number of
men at work round about was more than either he or Seth had ever seen
engaged at any one time before.
The hours passed to these two small but decidedly interested
spectators as if they were composed of no more than one quarter the
usual number of minutes, and when night came the conflagration was
subdued but not extinguished.
Ninety-four had gotten first water, and, consequently, would be the
last to leave the scene.
Here and there the companies dismissed from this particular duty
were taking up their hose, or already driving away in order to be ready
for the next alarm.
The throng of spectators just outside the lines had diminished in
number until no more than an hundred remained, and 'Lish Davis came up
with the appearance of one who has already done his full duty.
Hello, Amateur! Still here, eh?
You told us to stay, sir.
I didn't allow that you'd hold on to go out with us. We're like to
be here till well towards morning, an' if you lads have got the price
of a bed about your clothes you'd better be leaving. If you haven't,
I'll ante up something to hire one.
We've got the money, sir, Seth replied; but seein' 's we belong
to Ninety-four jest now, why can't we stay till she pulls out?
Please yourself, Amateur, please yourself, was the grim reply, and
as the driver turned away he muttered, If that bloomin' little duffer
don't get into the Department it won't be 'Lish Davis's fault, an' that
goes for a fact.
CHAPTER V. TARDY REPENTANCE.
Seth was as happy and proud as a boy well could be.
Never before had he dared to remain very long near any particular
engine lest some of the firemen should take it upon themselves to send
him outside the lines, consequently all his points had been gathered
as he moved from place to place.
Now, however, he was in a certain sense attached to Ninety-four, and
each member of the company had some kindly word with which to greet
him, for it had become known to all that if the amateur did not
actually save 'Lish Davis's life, he had assisted in preventing that
gentleman from receiving severe injury.
Dan was enjoying the advantages thus arising from his partner's
popularity, which was quite sufficient for him, since, not aspiring to
become a fireman, he thought only of the present moment, and the
privilege of remaining by the engine as if he were really a member of
the Department was some thing of which he could boast in the future
among his comrades.
It is true there was little of interest to be seen after the fire
was apparently extinguished, when the men had nothing more to do than
remain on the lookout for any smoldering embers which might be fanned
into a blaze; but Seth's interest was almost as great as when the
flames were fiercest.
Shortly after sunset hot coffee and sandwiches were served to the
weary firemen, and Master Bartlett believed he had taken a long stride
toward the goal he had set himself, when the captain shouted:
Come here, you two kids, and get your rations. While doing duty
with Ninety-four you're entitled to all that's going.
Dan ran forward eagerly, intent only on getting his share of the
food, for he was very hungry; but Seth walked slowly in order to
prolong the pleasure of obeying the captain's command, and could almost
fancy he was wearing the city's uniform.
He stood by 'Lish Davis's side when the lunch was passed around, and
that gentleman said grimly as Seth blew on the steaming coffee to cool
You mustn't do that if you ever count on being a fireman, Amateur.
Why not? and Seth looked up in surprise.
Because you must get used to hot things. Supposing you could drink
that while it was boiling? Don't you reckon you'd stand the heat from a
blaze better and longer than them who need to have it mighty nigh
This seemed reasonable to Seth, and without stopping to further
consider the matter he instantly raised the cup to his lips, drinking
the hot liquid until the pain was so great as to bring tears to his
Then he lowered the cup slowly, striving manfully to repress any
sign of suffering, and the driver gazed at him admiringly.
That kid has got sand, eh? Davis said half interrogatively as he
turned toward Jerry Walters, and the latter replied:
He showed it when he jumped for the horse. I believe if you should
tell him to roll over on the embers in that 'ere cellar, he'd do it.
I guess you're right, Jerry. Here, Amateur, don't try to drink any
more of that coffee till it cools a bit! I was only stuffing you when I
said you'd stand a better show of being a fireman if you could scald
your throat without feeling it.
This evidence of solicitude for his welfare was sufficient reward
for all Seth had suffered, and he glanced at Dan as if to make certain
that young gentleman was fully aware of the great honor which was being
bestowed upon his partner.
Dan had no eyes except for the rapidly decreasing store of
sandwiches, and no thought save as to how he might get his full share
without appearing absolutely greedy, therefore all this by-play had
passed while he remained in ignorance of it.
Once his hunger was appeased Dan curled himself up on a bale of
half-burned merchandise near at hand, and immediately fell asleep.
For him this association with Ninety-four's men was nothing of more
importance than the gaining of a meal and so much of a night's lodging
as might be possible; but to Seth it was as if the gates guarding the
approach to his desires had been left ajar, permitting him to obtain a
glimpse of that goal he so ardently longed to reach, and he patrolled
the ruins of the building as if upon his shoulders rested all the
responsibility of making certain the fire had been wholly extinguished.
Not until fully an hour after midnight was the welcome word given
for Ninety-four to pull out, and Seth awakened his partner lest he
should be in the way of the tired men.
Get a move on you! he shouted in Dan's ear as he shook him
roughly. There's nothin' more to be done here, an' we don't want to
act like as if we was hangin' 'round, when the machine goes into her
Why don't you kind er loaf here till they have hitched up, an'
perhaps we'll get another chance to stay in the engine-house? Dan
Because I'd be ashamed to do anythin' like that. Get up so's we can
be off before they pull out.
Jerry Walters had overheard this brief conversation, although
neither of the boys was aware of the fact, and he asked as the two were
making their way out through and over the debris into the darkness:
Where are you kids going?
I reckon it's time we was home, Seth replied, giving his partner a
warning shake lest he should say that which would seem to indicate that
they were sadly in need of a bed.
What do you call home now the carpenter-shop has gone up in smoke?
We haven't hired any house yet; but we've got our eye on one up in
Fifth Avenoo, an' if the price ain't more'n we've got in our pockets, I
reckon we'll take it.
Where are you counting on sleeping to-night?
Most anywhere; it don't go hard with Dan an' me to find a place,
Seth replied with an assumption of carelessness, and again shaking his
partner to remind him that there must be no approach to begging.
Look here, Amateur, I don't reckon you know where you're going to
We'll turn in somewhere; that part of it will be all right. So
Hold on here, you kid! and Jerry Walters spoke in a tone which
sounded unusually stern. Have you been with Ninety-four's crew at this
'ere fire, or not?
I reckon we have, Seth replied, with a laugh.
Then we'll take care you have a roof over your heads for the
balance of this night. Wait till 'Lish Davis shows up, and see what he
has to say about letting the kid who pulled him out of a big hole go
off to bunk in the streets. Come back, I say, till the driver gets
We ain't begging for a bed, Mr. Walters, Seth said decidedly, as
he obeyed the command, an' if we turn anybody out as we did last
If you was begging a bed I reckon you wouldn't get it from
me; but since you're so mighty independent I'm just contrary enough to
see that you have one. I reckon it won't strain the rules very hard if
you sleep on the straw, an' that's about the best you'll get up at the
house to-night, unless another alarm is sent in.
At this moment 'Lish Davis returned with the horses, and Jerry
Walters held a short, whispered conversation with him, at the
conclusion of which the latter said gruffly:
Amateur, go on with your partner up to the housethere's no need
of your ridingan' wait there till I come. We ain't going to have any
sulking jest because we've taken it into our heads to see that you get
some sleep 'twixt now and morning.
We ain't sulkin', Mr. Davis, Seth made haste to say, an' we'll go
wherever you say; but I don't want you to think we can't find a
Get on with you! the driver roared as if in a fury of passion, and
when the boys obeyed he said in a low tone to Jerry Walters:
The Amateur has got a good bit of spirit in him, and that's what I
like to see. He shall come into the Department, eh?
I'd like to see him there, for sure, and hope you'll be able to
I don't know as a fireman's life counts much to the city; but if it
does something ought'er be done for the Amateur, 'cause if it hadn't
been for him there'd be one driver short in the Department by this
Dan was in high glee at the prospect of spending another night in
the engine-house, and said in a tone of satisfaction as the two made
their way rapidly up the street:
This is great luck, eh?
Yes, though I almost wish we was to shirk for ourselves.
What's makin' you so foolish all of a sudden? Don't you think a bed
on the straw in Ninety-four's house is better'n bunkin' in anywhere, or
perhaps walkin' the streets for the rest of the night?
Of course it is; but I'm 'fraid the men will think we hung 'round
for jest such a chance.
After your stoppin' that hoss in time to save 'Lish Davis from
gettin' all mashed up, I don't reckon they can accuse you of coaxin'
for a bed.
Seth made no reply to this remark.
He appreciated the invitation which had been given, even more highly
than did Dan, yet feared it might appear to some of the company as if
he should have gone away when the fire was gotten under control, and
that by waiting when there was really nothing to be seen he had laid
himself open to the possible charge of hangin' 'round.
If Dan Roberts expected Seth would be petted and praised because of
having rendered such a signal service to the driver of Ninety-four, he
The two boys arrived at the house a few moments in advance of the
engine, and Seth at once set about trying to make himself useful in the
work of cleaning up, with the result that he rendered no slight
assistance to the weary men; but yet not one of them commented upon the
fact, or even so much as thanked him.
After the horses were cared for 'Lish Davis went to where Seth was
at work and said gruffly, as if offended:
I've shaken some straw out for you kids, an' when you're through
with that job, turn in. Don't get to skylarkin', but keep quiet.
Then the driver went upstairs.
Dan, who was not in favor of working save when it might be
absolutely necessary, crept slyly to the straw and lay down; but Seth
continued at his self-imposed task, and gained much pleasure thereby,
for the men treated the matter as if it was proper he should perform
his share of the labor, which made it seem very much as if he was in
fact a member of the company.
Not until fully an hour after the engine had arrived at quarters did
Seth turn in, and then he was so weary that his eyes closed in
slumber almost as soon as he was stretched at full length on the straw.
The last thought in his mind was a pleasing one; none of the company
had thanked him for assisting in the work, and this was exactly as he
would have had it.
It seemed to the boys as if they had no more than fallen asleep,
although as a matter of fact they had both been in Dreamland fully two
hours, when the clanging of the gong, the thud of horses' feet on the
floor, and the rapid movements of the men aroused them.
Seth had longed for and dreamed of just such an opportunity as this.
To go out with Ninety-four from quarters was very near to being a
member of the Department, and he made all haste to station himself by
the big doors ready to follow the engine.
Get out of there, Amateur! Mr. Davis shouted as he swung himself
into the driver's seat. One fire in a night is enough for you. Lay
down an' sleep; then you'll be in better trim to help with the clean-up
when we get back.
Under no circumstances would Seth have ventured to remonstrate
against any order 'Lish Davis might give, and even had he been disposed
to do so, there was not time.
The driver had hardly ceased speaking before the doors were swung
open, and Ninety-four was drawn out with a rush and a clatter that
sounded like sweetest music in Seth's ears.
'Lish kind er took the wind out of your sails that time, Amateur,
the house-watchman said with a smile as he closed the heavy doors.
Ain't one fire in twenty-four hours enough for you?
I did so want to go out once with Ninety-four, an' it seems
too bad to miss this chance for I'm not likely to get another.
'Cause I can't expect to sleep here very often, an' there's no show
of my happenin' 'round at the very minute an alarm comes in.
Don't be so certain about that. You'll go out with them yet, or I'm
mightily mistaken. You'd better take pattern by your partner, and get
what sleep you can. That's a rule we in the Department have, and it
comes handy at times.
Dan had leaped from the straw when the alarm first sounded; but
instead of making any attempt to follow the engine, crept back again
with a smile of content.
It is not probable he would have deprived himself of sleep even if
permission had been given for him to ride on the engine.
Seth lay down by Dan's side, and despite his disappointment was soon
slumbering peacefully; but only for half an hour, because at the end of
that time he was awakened once more by the noisy return of Ninety-four.
The alarm had been sent in for a small blaze in one room of an
apartment house, and was extinguished almost immediately by the company
whose quarters were nearest the signal station, therefore Ninety-four's
men had no labor to perform.
However, it became necessary to wash down, make ready for a new fire
in the furnace of the engine, roll Ninety-four and her tender to their
respective places on the floor, adjust the harness, start the clock
once more (for it had been stopped by the weight set free when the
first stroke of the alarm rang out), and replace the weight which
fastened the horses in their stalls.
In a portion of this work Seth assisted while Dan remained
apparently asleep on the straw, and when the captain had sent in to
headquarters the three-fours, followed by Ninety-four's number, thus
telling that she was again ready for duty, 'Lish Davis said to the
You didn't miss much that time, eh?
I missed going out with the company, sir.
I don't allow that cuts any very great figger, for there'll be many
another chance when you're in better trim than you were this night.
Anyway, I've helped wash up twice, an' that counts for something,
'cause I'm just so much ahead on points.
Take care you don't stick your nose too near a fire some time, and
get one point too many, the driver said with a smile as he ascended
the stairs wearily, and Seth called after him:
I'd rather it would be that way, Mr. Davis, than never know
anythin' about the business.
You'll do, Amateur, you'll do, if you're driven with a tight curb,
an' that's what I count on seein' that you have.
Then Seth lay down on the straw once more, and slept soundly during
the two hours which followed.
It was seven o'clock in the morning when he finally arose, and
although he would have been pleased to remain there a while longer, the
boy knew it was time to begin his day's work.
Dan grumbled not a little because Seth insisted he should turn
out, declaring he had hardly slept a wink; but, understanding he would
not be permitted to remain there very many moments longer now the men
were already astir, he arose to his feet and lounged lazily around
until Seth had polished the boots of those members of the company who
called upon him for such service.
'Lish Davis came down-stairs just as Seth, his labor finished, was
on the point of leaving the building, and he stopped the boy by asking
in a friendly tone:
Where are you off to now, Amateur?
Out chasin' nickels. It's time we hustled if we expect to find
lodgin's between now an' night.
Flash up here about three o'clock this afternoon, and if I ain't
in, wait for me.
All right, sir.
Then Seth went out of doors followed by Dan, and when they were on
the sidewalk Master Roberts asked curiously:
What do you s'pose he's got on hand for you at three o'clock?
Most likely he don't want his boots shined till then.
It must be somethin' more'n that, Dan replied, sagely.
Of course it ain't. What else could he want of me?
Perhaps he's goin' to give you somethin' for what you did last
I'll feel awful bad if he does.
I'd like to know why?
'Cause then it would seem all the more as if I was really an
outsider; he wouldn't give Jerry Walters anythin' for helpin' him out
of a scrape.
I don't see asJimminey! but there's Jip Collins! Ain't he got the
nerve to be snoopin' 'round here? Say, we can nab him easy as a wink if
you say the word!
I don't want to have him arrested. Anything like that wouldn't
bring back our lodgin's.
To the great surprise of the boys Jip Collins appeared relieved
rather than frightened at seeing them, and instead of running away
advanced rapidly, almost eagerly.
Look here, Seth, I'm mighty sorry I set fire to your place the
other night, an' if there's any way to square it I'll hump myself the
best I know how, he cried while yet some distance away.
It's a big pity you wasn't took in this style before you touched
her off, for then Seth and me wouldn't be huntin' a place to sleep,
Dan said sternly before his partner could speak.
I know that, Jip wailed, and Seth fancied there was a ring of real
sorrow in his tones. I must have been crazy to do it, an' after the
match was dropped in the shavings I hoped they wouldn't catch fire.
Then I sent in the alarm, 'cause the light kept growin' brighter, an'
nobody else saw it.
But you touched her off all the same, and it could readily be seen
that Dan's anger was getting the best of him.
Yes, I did, an' of course you can have me sent up the river for it;
but what good will that do you? Say, Seth, won't you let me square it
It's all over now, Jip, an' the only way to fix things is by
keepin' mighty straight after this. I don't want to send you up
the river, nor I won't; but if the cops get to know who did it I'm
afraid they'll run you in without tryin' to see whether I want it done
I know all that, Seth; but I don't believe I'll get jugged if Sam
Barney keeps quiet. He says he's taken up the case, an' is goin' to
push it straight through so's to show how good a detective he can be
when there's a chance to spread hisself.
How do you know that? Dan asked suspiciously.
Bill Dean told me so. I met him up to the Erie Basin, where I've
Why didn't you stay there?
I did till I was 'most starved, an' had to come out to earn some
money so's to buy grub. Bill was round there last night lookin' for a
feller what runs on a canal-boat, an' jest the same as tumbled over
You'd stood as good a show of earnin' money over in Brooklyn or
Jersey City as here, an' then there wouldn't be so much danger of
runnin' across anybody who knew you.
I'm goin' to Williamsburg; but wanted to talk with you fellers
first, so come up here where I could see if you was in Ninety-four's
What are you countin' on doin' right now? Seth asked in a friendly
Find Joe Carter an' try to get the ten cents he owes me, so's I'll
have somethin' to buy the first lot of papers with.
Joe's gone to Baltimore to live; went off last night, Dan said
promptly, and an expression of disappointment came over Jip's face.
Is he the only feller who owes you anythin'? Seth asked.
Yes, an' I reckon he's the only one who would try to give me a lift
after what I've done. He was
Where's them swell Brooklyn chums of yours? Dan interrupted.
They went dead back on me after I started the fire, an' Bill Dean
says they told Sam Barney all about it. If Sam would only let up on me
I'd show that I could be as square as any of the fellers.
I don't reckon you'll ever do that, Dan cried angrily, and Seth
I'll see Sam to-day, an' do all I can to make him drop the case,
'cause it don't seem to me he's got any right to take it up unless I
say the word. Now, I'm goin' to lend you fifteen cents, Jip, an' you
needn't worry 'bout payin' it back for quite a spell. There's plenty of
places to sell papers in where the fellers don't know you, an' after a
while you can come 'round City Hall again.
You're goin' to lend me money after what I did? Jip cried in
astonishment not unmixed with fear, for he failed to understand why the
boy he had tried to injure should be so generous. I counted on your
thumpin' me, an' I'd stood still to let you do it
If Seth Bartlett has gone crazy there's no reason why I shouldn't
serve you out, Jip Collins! and Dan advanced threateningly. I
ain't sich a chump as to pay a feller for tryin' to burn me to death,
an' I'm goin' to knock your two eyes into one, 'stead of throwin' away
good money on a duffer like you!
Jip made no effort to defend himself, and Dan had raised his hand to
strike the first blow when Seth stepped in front of him.
Don't do anythin' like that, Dan! Jip is sorry, an' there's nothin'
more he can do or say.
There's a good deal more I can do! and by this time Master Roberts
had worked himself into a towering passion.
Go away, Jip! Seth cried, clasping Dan by the body in such a
manner as to pin the boy's arms to his side. Clear out, an' after he
gets over his mad a little he'll come 'round all right.
It would only be servin' me in decent shape if he should jest about
knock my head off, Jip replied penitently, making no move toward
seeking safety in flight.
I won't have Dan fightin' in the streets, an' there's no reason now
why you should be thumped, Seth cried, speaking indistinctly because
of his efforts to hold Master Roberts in check. Get away as quick as
I'll go if you say the word, though I ain't certain but he'd better
do what he's tryin' for. You're a jim dandy, Seth Bartlett, an' I'll
square everythin' with you some day. I'm sleepin' in a boat up at the
Erie Basin, an' I wish you'd come there to see me; I'd like to let you
know how sorry I am for what I did.
Dan was making the most strenuous efforts to free himself from
Seth's grasp, and the latter held him captive only by the greatest
Don't hang 'round here any longer, Jip! Get away quick, an' I'll
see you again some time.
Will you come up to the Basin?
Yes, yes, Seth replied hurriedly, hardly understanding the promise
he made because of his anxiety to prevent a fight, and Jip started off
rapidly, crying as he ran:
You're a dandy, Seth Bartlett, an' I'll pay you off for this as
true as I live!
Not until Jip was two blocks or more away did Seth release his hold
and turn to face Dan in his wrath.
CHAPTER VI. AN OBSTINATE DETECTIVE.
Dan was in a fine temper when Seth finally released his hold, and
after understanding that it would be useless to pursue the fugitive he
turned upon his partner savagely.
A nice kind of a chump you are! Let a feller burn your house down,
an' then pay him fifteen cents for doin' it! After that, when I make up
my mind to give him the dose he needs, you turn against me to help him!
I s'pose that's what you call bein' a chum of mine?
That's exactly what it is, Dan, Seth replied soothingly. After
you've cooled off a bit you'll be glad I didn't let you pitch into a
feller who wouldn't raise his hands.
He didn't 'cause he don't dare.
If a feller had any spunk about him he would dare to do all he
could while somebody else was thumpin' him. Jip feels bad for what he
did to us, an' would stand still to let you pound him; but it couldn't
have done you any good, Dan. You don't want to get the name of bein' a
I'd be willin' to take 'most any kind of a name rather'n let Jip
Collins off without so much as turnin' a hair on his head!
That's the way you feel jest now 'cause you're off your base; but
wait a couple of hours, an' then you'll talk different.
I won't if I live to be twice as gray-headed as ever Methuselah
was, for it's a downright shame to let him go with money in his pockets
after tryin' to kill us.
He was hungry.
It would do him solid good to starve to death.
He turned in the alarm, an' if he hadn't done that we'd been burned
I notice he didn't do it till the fire got a mighty good start, an'
then I reckon it was only 'cause he grew scared. If you're so 'fraid of
gettin' your name up for fightin', you might er stood still and let me
have a whack at him. I don't see how that could have hindered your
slippin' into the Department. I wouldn't be quite so mad if you hadn't
given him the money.
He was hungry, Dan, an' I'd do that much for the biggest duffer in
Dan made no reply to this remark; but with his hands plunged deep in
his pockets walked swiftly away in the direction of City Hall as if his
one desire was to be free from his partner.
Seth was not minded to let him go while in a temper, but at the same
time he knew full well that it would be useless to attempt to stop him
with words, therefore he followed without further remark, biding his
time until the proper moment should come when the soft answer could
Without looking to the right or the left Dan continued on, much as
if bent on running away from his partner, until ten minutes had
elapsed, when he halted suddenly, wheeled about and addressed Seth with
his usual friendly manner:
There's Sam Barney over by that alley!
Glancing in the direction indicated by Dan's outstretched finger,
Seth saw the would-be detective moving cautiously along, looking
stealthily around, and otherwise behaving as if he had suddenly taken
leave of his senses.
Do you s'pose he's countin' on findin' Jip Collins in that fool
I reckon he thinks he's doin' the detective act in great shape,
Dan replied with a laugh, all traces of ill-humor having vanished. He
says a feller in his line of business has to keep his eyes open every
minute, an' sneakin' along in that style is what he 'most likely calls
bein' wide awake.
Sam had arrived at the corner of the alley, and instead of walking
boldly in to make a search, was standing where he might be partially
screened by the building, craning his head forward for a single glance,
and then drawing it back suddenly, repeating these movements about
every thirty seconds with great regularity.
Dan gave full rein to his mirth, for this method of playing the
detective seemed to him very comical; but Seth checked him whenever his
laughter became boisterous.
If he sees us pokin' fun at him we won't be able to make any kind
of a trade, an' I don't want to stir the feller up till things are
I want him to promise that he won't go prowlin' 'round the town
after Jip Collins.
See here, Seth, are you countin' on keepin' that racket up?
If you mean am I goin' to give Jip a lift by tryin' to keep that
imitation detective quiet, I'll say 'yes.' We both have got good reason
to be mighty ugly because he burned us out; but it's all over now, an'
he's sorry. Let's give him one more showyou an' Ian' if he goes
wrong after this I won't say a word against your doin' whatever you
The lines on Dan's face hardened as if he was determined nothing
should turn him from his purpose of punishing Jip in such manner as he
believed the latter's misdemeanors warranted; but after one glance at
his partner the anger vanished.
Go ahead, Seth, an' fix it up to suit you; I'll do what I can this
time, even if it does rub against the grain. It ain't because I'm
feelin' sorry for Jip; but jest to please you.
So long as you do what I ask it don't make very much difference
whether it's for Jip or me, an' you won't be sorry, old man. Now we'll
tackle Sam, an' see if we can make him behave himself for a spell.
I reckon you'll find that a mighty hard job. He's stuck on the
detective business as bad as you are on gettin' into the Department,
an' this is the kind of a case he don't get a whack at very often. I
s'pose he thinks that catchin' Jip would put him way up on the top
Seth did not spend any time arguing the matter with his partner; but
called loudly to the would-be detective:
Hi! Sam! Come over here a minute!
Master Barney pretended not to have heard the summons, although the
words rang out clear and distinct above the noises of the street; but
continued his grotesque manner of reconnoitering the alley, and again
Come over here, Sam! There's no need of your bobbin' 'round in that
style, 'cause nobody is in the alley except a couple of little kids,
who wouldn't be very much frightened if you walked right up on 'em.
This time Sam turned, affected to be greatly surprised at seeing
these acquaintances, and then crossed the street, apparently in an
Don't you know any better'n to break up what a feller's fixin'? he
asked angrily as he stood before Seth and Dan. I was doin' some mighty
fine work, an' you've spoiled it all by yellin' so loud. Now the folks
in there know I'm 'round, an' won't so much as show theirselves.
Do you reckon they believe you're a detective? Dan asked, trying
in vain to check his mirth.
Of course I do! Sam replied hotly. Folks have heard of me before
this, an' it stands me in hand to keep out of sight all I can.
Who did you think was in the alley? Seth asked.
I'm lookin' for more'n one in this town, an' counted on finishin'
up two or three little jobs in the detective line before I lighted out
to nab Jip Collins.
Do you know where he is? and Seth appeared disturbed.
What kind of a detective do you allow I am if I don't know that?
I've got it all figgered out, an' most likely I'll take a spin over to
Philadelphy to-night. If I do, you'll see him in court to-morrow
Oh, has he gone over there? Dan asked with a great show of
interest, pursing his mouth into shape for whistling to prevent an
outburst of laughter.
That's about the size of it; but he needn't think he can run away
Look here, Sam, and now Seth spoke in a serious tone; Jip didn't
try to hurt anybody but Dan an' me, an' we don't want you to bother
him. We're willin' to give him a fair show, 'cause he'll take a big
turn after this.
I can't help what you want, the detective replied obstinately.
When I know that a feller has been burnin' up houses it's my business
to run him in, an' I'm goin' to do it.
What is it to you, so long as we're satisfied? Dan asked sharply.
See here, ain't I a detective?
I ain't so certain of that, Master Roberts cried promptly.
I guess other people know it if you don't, 'cause I've had more'n
one case in this town. Now, so long as that is my business I'm bound to
take up anythin' I hear about, an'
Other detectives don't do that; they wait till the chief sends 'em
out, or somebody hires 'em.
Dan's reply staggered Sam for an instant; but he soon bethought
himself of what seemed to be the proper answer, and replied:
That would be all right if I was on the force; but so long as I
ain't it stands me in hand to work my way along, same's Seth's tryin'
to do in the Fire Department. If I can catch Jip Collins and send him
up the river, it'll be a big feather in my cap.
Would you be willin' to send a feller to jail so's you might get
ahead in the business? Seth asked reproachfully.
Course I would.
Ain't there anythin' we can do to stop you from tryin' to run Jip
You might talk till you was black in the face, an' then I wouldn't
Understanding that it was useless to hold any further converse with
this obstinate detective in the hope of turning him from his purpose,
Seth motioned to Dan, and set off down-town without a word to Sam by
way of adieu.
I'll be in Philadelphy to-night, an' to-morrow mornin' Jip Collins
will be in the lock-up! Master Barney shouted vindictively, and,
glancing back, Dan saw him approaching the alley once more with
cautious steps, as if it were beneath his dignity as an officer of the
law to move in any other fashion.
It'll be all right if he goes to Philadelphy, Dan said sagely;
but I'm mightily afraid he won't get money enough to buy a ticket on
I don't believe he ever thought of goin' there till we talked with
him, an' then only said it to let us believe he knew where Jip was. Sam
ain't any kind of a detective; but he can make a lot of trouble for
Seth was disturbed in mind because of the possibilities that Master
Barney would work mischief for Jip Collins, and Dan shared in such
forebodings, although in a much less degree.
The two were walking on in silence, each trying to devise some plan
whereby it would be possible to divert the amateur detective from his
purpose, when they suddenly came face to face with Bill Dean.
Hello, where are you fellers goin'?
Kind-er late this mornin', eh?
Yes; but we'll make up for it by pluggin' in all the harder after
Bill hesitated an instant as if hardly daring to say that which was
in his mind, and then asked in a meaning tone:
Seen anybody in partic'lar this mornin'?
Yes, we saw Jip, an' then run across Sam Barney, Seth replied.
I suppose Sam still holds to it that he'll pull Jip in?
Yes, an' he counted on findin' him in Philadelphy, 'cordin' to his
Look here, Seth, you've got good reason to make it hot for Jip
after all he's
I wouldn't do a thing to hurt him, an' stand ready to give him a
lift if he needs it.
You're straight as a die, Seth Bartlett, an' I'll bet you won't be
sorry for lettin' up on him, for I'm thinkin' Jip will run different
I hope so; but he ain't out of the woods till somebody sets down on
Sam Barney. We've been tryin' to make him stop; but he won't, 'cause he
thinks it'll give him a big name if he arrests Jip. He's up by
Sweeney's Alley bobbin' round like a jumpin'-jack.
Say! Dan cried, as a sudden and what seemed like a happy thought
came into his mind. Sam says Jip is in Philadelphy; now, s'posen all
hands chipped in enough to buy a ticket for him to go there? He'd never
get back, 'cause he don't earn a dollar in a month, an' Jip wouldn't be
This plan appealed strongly to both Seth and Dan, and the latter
asked as to the probable cost of such a scheme.
This was a question neither of the boys could answer, and after some
thought Master Dean agreed to make the necessary inquiries without
Dan an' me will ante up a nickel apiece to get rid of him, an' in
case you don't have to pay too much, the other fellers who wouldn't
want to see Jip sent to jail ought'er put in the balance.
Master Dean was quite as eager to aid Jip as was Seth, and without
waiting to discuss the matter further started off on his errand of
Then the partners were at liberty to set about the work of the day;
but it was now so late that they could not expect to earn very much
We'll come out mighty slim for supper, I'm thinkin', Dan said
grimly. You've got to knock off in time to meet 'Lish Davis at three
o'clock, an' the trade in evenin' papers won't be much more'n begun by
You needn't go up with me if you don't want toI can meet you
after the day's work is over.
But I do want to go; I wouldn't miss knowin' what the driver has
got to say, not if I went without supper an' breakfast too.
I could tell you all about it.
Yes; but I want to hear for myself, Dan replied decidedly, and
thus the matter was concluded.
Seth worked industriously once he was in that section of the city
where certain rights he claimed were respected by his brother artisans,
and although the majority of the fraternity were fully occupied in
discussing the question of what Sam Barney might succeed in doing, he
refused to spend any idle time, however much interest he felt in the
Dan also attended strictly to business, regardless of the many
temptations to remain idle, and at two o'clock in the afternoon the
partners had earned as much as would suffice to provide them with food
during at least two days; but the question of lodgings yet remained to
We'll go up now to see what Mr. Davis wants, an' then we must
hustle for lodgin's. There'll be no more hangin' 'round Ninety-four's
house after dark, 'cause it looks too much as if we was beggin', Seth
said as he met Dan, who reported that it wouldn't pay to buy another
stock of papers that day.
Master Roberts made no reply to this remark.
He secretly hoped that it might be possible for them to sleep in the
engine-house one more night at least, and believed Seth was foolishly
sensitive about the matter.
According to his views on the subject, there was no good reason why
they should not go even so far as to ask the firemen for a shelter,
more particularly since they appeared to be so well disposed toward
The two boys arrived in the vicinity of the engine-house ten minutes
before the time set, and Seth insisted that they should not present
themselves until the hour named, consequently both lounged around near
by until the clock struck three, when they marched boldly up to the
The driver was on the lower floor as if awaiting their arrival, and
greeted Seth in a manner both familiar and kind:
So you've come, have you, Amateur? I was beginning to think you'd
struck a business rush, and I shouldn't see you before to-morrow.
You said we was to come at three o'clock, so I waited 'round till
Afraid to get here ahead of time, eh?
I thought it was best to do as you told us, though we've been
loafin' outside for ten minutes.
Mr. Davis chuckled audibly, as if in the statement was something
very comical, and not until after several seconds had elapsed did he
speak, when it was to ask:
Well, what have you two kids done about finding a place where you
We're goin' to hustle lively after we leave here. We had to earn a
little money first, an' it was pretty late when we got down-town, so we
couldn't do any huntin'; but you can make certain some place will flash
up before dark.
I wouldn't wonder if it did, Amateur, I wouldn't wonder if it did.
What made you late in getting down-town? I thought you left here
earlier than usual.
So we did, sir; but we met Jip Collins, an'
The kid who started the fire in the lumber-yard?
Yes, sir, an' he's mighty sorry for what he did.
Then Seth repeated what had been said by the repentant boy, and gave
a detailed account of the interview with Sam Barney, all of which
appeared wonderfully amusing, not only to 'Lish Davis, but to all the
men on the floor.
And are you allowing to adopt this 'ere kid who is setting himself
up as a firebug? the driver asked when Seth had concluded the story.
I'd like to give him one more show, for I don't believe he'll go
wrong again, an' if we can get Sam Barney so far away that he can't
come back, it may be done.
But what about us? We're bound to give up all such information as
we may happen to run across, and it's a serious matter to keep a close
tongue on anything of that kind.
Have you got to get Jip arrested? Seth asked in alarm.
It's our duty, and I ain't so certain that he's reformed.
But you never can know till he's been given a chance, an' it would
be mighty tough if he had to have it put down against him when he grows
up, that he's been in jail.
I grant you all that, Amateur, yet the law says man or boy must pay
the penalty for arson, and it wouldn't be fair to make an exception in
What do you mean by arson?
That's the name given to the crime of setting fires, and when the
trick is played in the night, in a building where people are living, it
costs the criminal a good many years of his life.
'Lish Davis was speaking very seriously now, and Seth literally
trembled with apprehension for Jip.
Ain't there anything I can do to help the poor feller out of the
scrape? he asked in a tone which told that the tears were very near
That's what I can't say right on the spur of the minute; but I'll
think the matter over, and it may be we'll see a way out if you're dead
sure he won't try any more such games.
I don't believe he will, 'cause he's feelin' mighty bad, an'
promises to be straight after this.
I've thought all along that he ought'er be sent up for startin' the
fire, Dan said with an air of exceeding wisdom; but Seth has been
makin' such a row about givin' him another chance that I had to hold my
I wouldn't be surprised if the amateur was nearer in the right than
you are, Daniel, though the officers of the law may look at the matter
in a different light. However, the young reprobate hasn't been caught
yet, even if that keen-eyed detective of yours is on his track, and
we'll drop the subject for a spell. What I wanted to see the amateur
about was lodgings.
Dan's eyes sparkled, for he felt certain they were to be given
quarters in the engine-house, and Seth looked really distressed.
What's the matter? 'Lish Davis asked in surprise as he noted the
expression on the boy's face. It don't seem to strike you right
because I'm thinking of where you'll find a shelter.
I'm 'fraid it'll seem like as if Dan an' I were beggin' for a bed.
We can find one after a spell, an' it wouldn't be any new thing if we
knocked around the streets a few nights.
Now, don't distress yourself on the score of begging, the driver
said with a hearty laugh. I've come to know how thin-skinned you are
on that point, and ain't counting on giving either of you the value of
a pin. But it so happens that a friend of mine lives in the next block,
and he's got a room in his attic that he's just dying to let. I was
telling him about you kids, and he'll make what I call a fair trade.
Do you mean that we're to hire a reg'lar room? Seth asked in
Why not, if it comes cheap enough? Now, this 'ere place I'm
speaking of ain't very swell, and I don't allow he could let it to any
but boys like you. He'll give a lease of it, with bed and such
furniture thrown in as his wife can scare up, for fifty cents a week.
By blacking Ben Dunton's and my boots five mornings a week you'll have
the price earned, and it'll pay a heap better than skinning 'round the
streets, likely to be moved on by a policeman a dozen times 'twixt
sunset and sunrise.
Seth looked suspiciously at 'Lish Davis.
The possibility of hiring a reg'lar room at such a low price had
never before entered his mind, and he feared there might be something
in regard to the transaction which was being kept a secret from him.
Now, then, Amateur, what are you staring at? Do you think I'd give
you any fairy story about the place? You'd better have a look at it
before thinking it's a very big bargain, and the driver leaned back in
his chair laughing heartily, although Seth could not understand what
had so excited his mirth.
We'll be mighty glad to get lodgin's at that price, Dan said
promptly, and Mr. Davis handed him a card, on the back of which was
written an address, saying as he did so:
Go to that place, and ask to see the room 'Lish Davis was talking
about. If it suits you, take it, and if it don't there's been no great
You're mighty good to think of us in this way, Seth said, feeling
almost ashamed because of his previous mistrust.
Yes, I reckon I am; but we'll hope it don't spoil me, and again
the driver gave way to his mirth.
CHAPTER VII. NEW LODGINGS.
Dan was so eager to see the new lodgings that he could not wait with
any degree of patience until Seth had fully satisfied himself regarding
certain matters connected with the leasing of them, but insisted on
setting out at once, and his partner felt obliged to accompany him.
Arriving at the address given them by 'Lish Davis, they found
affairs exactly as he had stated.
The room which had been offered at such a low rental was in the
attic of an old-fashioned, pitch-roof house, and although it was not
such an apartment as could readily have been let to adults, to the boys
it appeared as the acme of comfort and even luxury.
Mrs. Hanson, the mistress of the dwelling, had provided a fairly
good bed for the lodgers, and the clothing on it looked so
rest-inviting that Dan declared that it was hard to resist the
temptation to turn in at once.
There were two chairs, a rude stand on which were a water-pitcher
and a basin, a small mirror, and an old table.
The window boasted of a curtain; but the floor was carpetless, save
for two well-worn rugs.
Dan, fearing lest Seth might refuse to hire this very swell
apartment because of the suspicion that some of Ninety-four's men had
agreed to pay a certain portion of the rental in order that it might be
offered at an exceedingly low price, promptly announced his willingness
to take the room, and when this had been done it seemed to Master
Bartlett as if he was in duty bound to ratify the bargain.
We'll pay in advance, he said, as he counted out the required
amount, thereby reducing his cash account to an exceedingly small
There's no need of your doing anything like that, Mrs. Hanson
replied kindly. Mr. Davis says he'll guarantee that the rent is paid
promptly, and that should be enough for me, without taking money before
it is due.
Mr. Davis is mighty good, but there's no reason why he should back
a couple of boys who are able to pay their own way. The rent is so
cheap I was 'fraid he'd been puttin' up money on our account, so's we
could afford to hire it.
He said you were mighty independent, and I guess he's right; but
you needn't be afraid of getting any more than you pay for. This room
couldn't be let to many people, and those who would be willing to live
in such a place we would not want in the house, except in a case like
yours, where a friend of ours says everything is as it should be. Mr.
Davis is a very nice man.
You can jest bet he is, Seth replied emphatically. He's been
mighty good to me.
Then, having counted the money and promised to give a receipt in due
form for the same, Mrs. Hanson left her new lodgers, and Dan cried when
they were alone:
Say, Seth, this kind-er knocks the spots out er Baxter's shed, eh?
It ain't costin' me but ten cents a week more'n the other place did,
an' that bed is worth three times them figgers. Talk 'bout fifteen-cent
lodgin's! Why, the best I ever saw wasn't a marker alongside of this!
It's fine, an' no mistake; but we've got to put up twenty-five
cents every week for it.
That'll be all right. I owe you a quarter for this week's rent, an'
I'll pay it to-morrow or next day; I've got enough in my pocket now,
but kind-er reckoned on havin' a swell lay-out to-night for a
celebration. Hold on here, an' I'll go after some grub.
Do you s'pose we ought'er thank Mr. Davis now for findin' the room
It'll do jest as well in the mornin', an' you're so 'fraid of
hangin' 'round the engine-house that it don't seem as if you'd better
go there for nothin' else but to tell him what we think of the place.
Seth would have been pleased could he have told Ninety-four's driver
what he thought of the new quarters, but Dan's suggestion as to
hangin' 'round was sufficient to prevent him from venturing out.
Then he tried to dissuade Dan from squandering his money on a feast,
arguing that it would be wiser to keep what he had lest there should be
a sudden lull in business; but Master Roberts refused to listen.
Unless you're 'fraid to trust me for my share of the rent, I'm
goin' to spread myself to-night. It's too bad we hadn't known 'bout
this before we come up-town, for then we might er knocked the eyes out
er some of the fellers by showin' it to 'em.
I don't believe we'd better have too much company, or Miss Hanson
will make a kick. It ain't likely she's willin' to have a crowd of
fellers rushin' in and out for fifty cents a week.
I s'pose that's so; but all the same I'd like to have the gang see
how we're fixed.
Then Master Roberts went out to make the purchases, and Seth was
left alone to familiarize himself with his seemingly luxurious
Fully half an hour elapsed before Dan returned, and then he was
accompanied by Master Dean.
I found Bill hangin' 'round Ninety-four's house lookin' for you,
an' thought the best thing I could do was to bring him right up here,
Dan said as he ostentatiously placed half a dozen small packages on the
Ain't you fellers slingin' a terrible lot of style? Bill asked, as
he gazed around him. It strikes me that business must be boomin' if
you can afford all this.
It'll only cost twenty-five cents a week for each one of us, Seth
replied, as if thinking something in the way of an apology was
What? and Master Dean was so thoroughly astonished as to be unable
to speak for several seconds. Then he cried eagerly: Say, you don't
want to take another feller in, I s'pose? I'd like to get sich a snap
I don't know as Miss Hanson would want to take another lodger. You
might ask her, though, after we've been here a spell.
Why not have it settled now?
It seems to me as if you'd better hold off for a while till she
sees how we flash up. 'Cordin' to what she said, I don't believe we'd
got in here if it hadn't been for Mr. Davis.
I'd like to come mighty well, Bill said longingly, and then his
attention was attracted to Dan's movements.
Master Roberts was busily engaged displaying his purchases on the
table in such a manner as to make the greatest possible show, and there
was no question but that he had succeeded in layin' himself out in
Fully a pound of bologna sausage cut in thick slices, four large
crullers, two smoked herrings, two ham sandwiches, a pint of peanuts,
and four apples caused the shaky table to look as if literally laden
Dan pushed it toward the bed, that one of the party might sit there,
placed the two chairs at either end, and invited his companions to join
in the feast.
Pitch in an' fill yourselves way up full! This is the first swell
house I ever lived in, an' I'm willin' to pay for style. After this I
reckon Seth an' me will skin along for grub same's we've allers done,
but I'm goin' to have one blow-out if it takes every cent I've got.
No second invitation was needed, and not until a goodly portion of
the eatables had disappeared did either speak. Then it was Bill Dean
who broke the partial silence.
Say, I've raised money enough to send Sam Barney to Philadelphy, if
you fellers come up with the nickels you promised.
How much will it cost? and Dan began searching his pockets for the
contribution which had been promised in his name.
I can get the duffer over there for seventy-five cents, by sendin'
him with the emigrants. I gave him a big stiff this afternoon 'bout how
we fellers would give him a chance to show how much of a detective he
is, an' he puffed 'way up, allowin' there wasn't many men on the force
in this town who could beat him. He believes it's a great snap to go
off huntin' after Jip, an' hasn't got head enough to think of how he'll
Here's my nickel, and Seth produced the money, Dan following his
partner's example. I'll be glad if we can get rid of Sam; but I'm
'fraid that won't settle things for Jip.
Then he repeated all 'Lish Davis had said regarding the matter, and
when he concluded Master Dean was looking remarkably serious.
If the firemen are goin' to run Jip down, there ain't much show we
can keep him out er trouble. Don't you s'pose the driver would kind-er
From what he said this afternoon it didn't seem as if he would, but
perhaps he'll change his mind after a while, Dan replied, not minded
to cloud this first merry-making in the new home by disagreeable
thoughts, and attempted to change the subject of the conversation by
speculating as to what sort of a welcome Sam Barney was most likely to
receive from the Philadelphia boys.
They'll think he's a mighty good feller till he lets out strong on
what he can do in the detective business, an' then they'll tumble to
him, Bill Dean replied with the air of one who has closed an argument
finally. So long as he leaves town we needn't bother our heads about
him; it's Jip I'm thinkin' of, an' it seems to me as if we ought'er see
him mighty soon.
Why? Dan asked in surprise.
Because he must know what 'Lish Davis says, else he's likely to
knock 'round Ninety-four's house 'most any time.
Why don't you hunt him up?
It's too late to tackle the job to-night; but what's to stop all
three of us from goin' to the Erie Basin after Sam Barney leaves town?
Of course you're countin' on seein' him off?
I ought'er 'tend right out on business, Seth replied thoughtfully;
but perhaps I can waste time enough for that.
Course you can. If you don't get through with the shinin' at the
engine-house as early as usual, I'll hold him over till the next train.
Then we can skip up to the Basin, an' be back in time to start in with
the last editions of the evenin' papers.
After some reflection and many misgivings as to whether he was
warranted in devoting so much of his time to others, Seth decided to do
as Bill had suggested, and a place of meeting was agreed on.
Then Master Dean took his departure, after congratulating the
partners on having found such pleasant quarters, and reminding them for
at least the tenth time that they had promised to ask Mrs. Hanson if
she would take another lodger.
When they were alone once more Seth set about clearing away the
remnants of the feast, and while he was thus employed Dan paced to and
fro, admiring himself in the mirror as he passed and repassed it in
such attitudes as he believed befitted a boy who was the lessee of such
a swell apartment.
Seth was not in a mood for conversation. The question in his mind
was as to whether he was bettering or weakening his chances for
admission into the Department by thus occupying regular lodgings.
The argument was very equally balanced. In the first place, he had
followed 'Lish Davis's advice, and by so doing it hardly seemed as if
he could go astray; but as opposed to this was the fact that he was not
as likely to be awakened by Ninety-four when she responded to an alarm,
and, consequently, his opportunities for getting points would scarcely
be as good.
However, he settled the matter with himself finally by reflecting
that he had already taken the step, and could not well back out now
after having agreed to occupy the apartment, therefore it was unwise to
indulge in misgivings.
There was no trouble in Dan's mind; he was thoroughly well satisfied
with the situation, and instead of discussing any possibilities, he
congratulated Seth and himself very heartily.
All this swellin' will cost us twenty-five cents a week, an' it
stands us in hand to scoop the biggest good time out of it we can. I'm
goin' to turn in, for what's the use of payin' for a bed if you only
get into it for the sake of sleepin'? I want 'er lay awake a spell so's
to know what a great racket I'm havin'.
He had made his preparations for retiring while Seth yet stood at
the window looking out thoughtfully, and once beneath the clothing
Say, hurry up an' get in here! This is the greatest snap I ever
struck! It's twice as soft as what we slept in over to Ninety-four's
house, an' when trade is dull I'll come up here an' snooze all the
You'll stand a good chance of goin' broke if you do, Seth replied
with a laugh, and then he joined his partner.
Dan was not able to remain awake very long for the purpose of
realizing what a great racket he was having, for slumber closed his
eyes shortly after he lay down, and the day had fully dawned before he
was again aware of his surroundings.
But for Seth, Master Roberts might have slept until noon, and even
when he was aroused the desire to linger in that rest-inviting bed was
so great that he proposed to neglect work in order to remain there.
You go over to the engine-house, an' I'll stay here till you've
finished your job there. I don't b'lieve papers will sell very well
See here, Dan, if you're goin' to loaf in bed half the time it'll
be best for us to stop swellin', else we shan't earn enough to pay the
rent. You must come down to business, an' might as well begin now, for
it won't be any easier to get up to-morrow.
Dan was disposed to grumble a little at thus being forced to arise;
but once he had plunged his face into a basin of cold water his
The boys made a hearty breakfast from the remains of the previous
night's feast, and then Dan hurried away to purchase his stock of
papers while Seth went to the engine-house.
Well, how did you sleep last night? the driver asked as he
Great! That place is away up in G; but the only trouble is that I
shan't know when Ninety-four goes out.
It won't hurt if you don't. I've about made up my mind that such
business must be stopped.
Seth looked at 'Lish in pained surprise, and there was an ominous
quivering of his lip as he asked:
What's the reason I can't turn out at the fires? I'll never get
ahead if I don't pick up points.
That isn't the best way to do it, my boy, the driver said in a
kindly tone. I've been thinking about your plan of getting into the
Department, and come to the conclusion that, seeing's you're so set on
it, we'd better lend a hand.
The expression of sorrow on Seth's face changed very suddenly as the
driver ceased speaking an instant, and in its place came a flush of joy
so great as to seemingly prevent him from speaking.
Yes, Amateur, all of us have taken up the idea that you're to be a
fireman, though I don't say as it's the kind of a life a boy should
hanker for, and we've been working to get you into a place where you
can learn the business.
Do you really mean that? Seth cried, fearing lest he had
misunderstood the words.
I shouldn't be saying it if I didn't, Amateur, Davis continued,
gravely. Of course you can't expect any promise of a place in the
Department till you've got more years on your head; but we've struck a
plan which will work all right if you're the lad I've always taken you
Seth was literally breathless now. It would have been impossible for
him to speak, and seeing how great was the suspense Mr. Davis added
We've got a job for you up at headquarters. You'll be called on to
sweep floors, wash windows, build fires, and do odd jobs generally; but
at the same time you'll be in what's called the general school of
instructionwhere the men who want to get into the Department are put
on probation, so to speak. It's been promised us who run with
Ninety-four, that if you behave yourself you shall have a chance to
learn the drill, and once that has been done, Amateur, you'll be in
shape to join us as soon's you've got size to your body.
Big tears of delight stood in Seth's eyes as he stammered and
hesitated in trying to give words to his gratitude, and understanding
what was in his mind, 'Lish Davis added:
Never mind about trying to say anything, Amateur. We don't want
thanks now, because we'll get them when you show yourself the kind of a
boy we've claimed you are. It's a case of your picking up points all
the time; but you'll have plenty of hard work, and mighty poor pay.
You'll get two dollars a week and your grub. Later I'm reckoning you
can sleep in the building; but at the start it's a case of having a
home elsewhere, and Mrs. Hanson's house about fills the bill.
Two dollars every week is big money, Seth managed to say.
Not so much as it seems just now, because you'll need to come out a
bit stronger in the way of clothes. We can't afford to have you go
there togged out the way you are, because we've said you were a kid
that belonged to us. All hands here have chipped in to buy a full suit
like our own, with the exception of the brass buttons, and you must
take it as a present from us. There'll be no squirming on account of
accepting the present, otherwise you don't go on the new job. We'll
have the togs ready in a couple of days, and from this out you'll do no
more shining 'round the town. Spend to-day and to-morrow in settling up
your business, and then we'll launch you into the berth from which
you'll come out a fireman, if it so be you 'tend right close to work.
We've cracked you up mighty high, Amateur, and if you don't toe the
mark it'll be the same as proving us liars.
Again Seth tried to speak, and again he failed, whereupon 'Lish
Davis said gruffly:
I reckon you want time to think it over, Amateur. Take a spin
'round town closing out your boot-blacking business, and flash up here
this evening. Remember, there's to be no more running to fires except
you get a straight invitation from some of Ninety-four's men.
Of course I'll black boots here same as I've allers done? Seth
said in a tremulous voice.
It won't look well, Amateur, it won't look well.
But I'd a good deal rather, Mr. Davis. You an' all hands here have
been mighty good to me, an' there's no other way I can show how I feel
You can keep your eyes wide open up to headquarters, and that'll do
us more good than if you kept our boots in a regular patent-leather
polish all the time.
Please let me do somethin' for you, Mr. Davis. I'll get on up at
headquarters as fast as any feller can; but I want to keep my job here
so's to show how I feel on account of what you're doin' for me.
All the members of the company who were on the lower floor had
listened to this conversation, and now, when 'Lish Davis hesitated to
give the desired permission, Ben Dunton cried:
Let Amateur manoeuvre as he likes, 'Lish. I don't wonder he wants
to do what he can, an' so long as he doesn't black boots anywhere
except here, I can't see that it'll work any harm.
All right, Amateur, Mr. Davis said after a brief hesitation; you
shall do as Ben thinks is right, though there must be no more of that
business outside of this house, 'cause you've just the same as begun to
hatch into a fireman, and we can't afford to have it said we couldn't
ante up enough to keep you going.
Seth was delighted at receiving such permission, for by thus being
allowed to work for Ninety-four's men it was as if he occupied a
definite place among them; whereas if this had been denied it would
have seemed almost as if he had been cast out.
He blacked every pair of boots he could find, and at first refused
to take pay for the labor; but 'Lish Davis prevented such gratuitous
work by saying sternly:
Take your pay like a man, Amateur, and look pleasant about it.
There'll be no chance for you to handle the city's money until after
being at headquarters a month, and in the meantime you've got to pay
your bills. I did count on lending you enough to pull through on; but
perhaps this will be the best way. What about that firebug of yours?
Has the imitation detective caught him yet?
Seth told of Bill Dean's plan to prevent Sam from working mischief,
and the story caused the men to laugh heartily.
That boy Bill must have quite a head on his shoulders, 'Lish Davis
said when his mirth had so far subsided that it was possible for him to
speak. You can tell the firebug that he'd better give this section of
the city a wide berth for a spell, and if he walks a chalk-line it may
be he won't be troubled about that crime of his. If he should get funny
in that way again, however, we'll bring this case up in a jiffy, and
he'll get a long taste of prison life.
Then you will keep the officers from arrestin' him? Seth asked
I didn't say that, Amateur. It may happen that he won't be troubled
while he does what is right; but there's been no promises made.
When Seth had finally finished the work of blacking boots to his
satisfaction, he put the box and brushes away upstairs, and approaching
'Lish Davis, said in a whisper:
You've been awful good to me, an' I promise you shan't be sorry for
I believe you, Amateur, I believe you, else I wouldn't have turned
a hand in the business, even though you did do me a precious good turn
the other night. You're now in a fair way to get into the Department;
but from this out it all depends upon yourself. Keep moving as you've
been doing since I first saw you, and it'll come out all right in the
Then Seth left the building on his way down-town, and it is safe to
say that in all the city of New York there was not another as happy as
he, for it seemed just then as if the goal he had set himself was very
near at hand.
CHAPTER VIII. JIP COLLINS'S RETREAT.
So excited was Seth by this sudden and unexpected change in his
fortunes that he could not bring himself to walk demurely down-town as
he was in the custom of doing; but ran swiftly more than half the
distance, repeating to himself over and over again:
I'm really goin' into the Department after all!
He was so highly elated when he met Dan that the latter instantly
understood something of the utmost importance had transpired, and asked
What's flashed up on you, Seth? Got a big job?
Indeed I have! I'm goin' into the Department!
I'm goin' into the Department. Mr. Davis an' the rest of
Ninety-four's men have got me a job up at headquarters where I'll have
a chance to learn all the business, an' then when I'm big enough, if my
record is all right, I'll slip in for a fireman as easy as winkin'.
Look here, Seth, what kind of a stiff are you tryin' to give me?
Dan asked sharply.
It's a straight tip, old man. Mr. Davis jest told me all about it,
an' says I mustn't black boots any more except for Ninety-four's men.
He didn't even want me to do that; but I hung on till Mr. Dunton backed
me up, an' he finally gave in. Say, do you know they've bought a
uniform for me jest like they wear, only there's no brass buttons on
Oh, go 'way, Seth. You've slipped your trolley.
No, it's all straight goods, Dan. What kept me up there so long
this mornin' was talkin' 'bout it. I'm to go to-night and get the
clothes. The only thing that worries me is I can't pay for them
Anybody'd think to hear you talk that was hard luck. Look here,
Seth, if what you've been givin' me is straight, you've struck a
terrible snap, an' a feller who'd kick 'cause somebody gives him a suit
of clothes, ought'er go bare-backed.
It would look a good deal better, Dan, if I had the money to buy
the things, rather than let them give 'em to me.
I ain't so certain 'bout that. The biggest part of it is gettin'
'em, an' if they're willin' to put up I'd say let 'em buy anythin' they
wanted. Look here, I can't quite get it through my head that things is
the way you tell, 'cause it don't seem likely a boy could get in at
Seth repeated to his partner all that 'Lish Davis had said, and when
the story was concluded Master Roberts commented on it in this fashion:
You'll be out er sight, Seth; that's all there is to it! Then,
realizing how his brother news-venders might be surprised, he added,
Come on quick, an' let's tell as many fellers as we can before we go
to see Bill Dean ship Sam Barney to Philadelphy!
Seth was by no means averse to making known his good fortune, and
very shortly afterward the two were surrounded by a throng of
incredulous news-venders and bootblacks, the majority of whom insisted
that they wouldn't be stuffed with any such yarns, 'cause of course a
feller as small as Seth Bartlett couldn't get a job in the Department,
even if it was only to sweep floors, wash windows, an' that sort of
thing. Besides, if he was taken on at headquarters, nobody would give
him a show of learnin' the drill.
Bill Dean called Dan aside, and after first persuading him to cross
his throat with his fingers in order that he should be put on oath, as
it were, asked regarding the truth of the statements made.
It's jest as I said, an' he's goin' to have a reg'lar uniform, all
but the buttons, to-night.
Did you hear any of Ninety-four's men say so?
I wasn't there, of course; but you know Seth Bartlett don't go
'round shootin' his mouth off the way some of the fellers do, an' you
can hang up to everythin' he says; so I'm certain it's true.
It must be, Bill replied in a tone of conviction, and then
approaching Seth gravely he extended his hand, saying as the amateur
fireman grasped it:
I'm mighty glad you've struck it so rich, old man, an' that's a
fact. All of us know you've been runnin' to fires pretty reg'lar; but
we never b'lieved you'd really get into the Department.
I ain't there yet, Seth replied modestly; but Mr. Davis says
it'll be my own fault if I don't get in, so you can make up your mind
I'll keep my eyes open mighty wide.
One by one Seth's business acquaintances followed Bill's example in
the matter of giving credence to the wonderful story, until it was a
generally accepted fact that no more than the truth had been told.
There were some doubters, however; but they were so few in number
that it seemed as if there was no longer any question regarding the
matter, and during the half-hour which followed Seth was kept busy
answering the questions of the curious and, perhaps, envious ones.
The astounding news brought by Seth and Dan had caused Sam Barney's
friends and acquaintances to forget for the time being that this
promising detective was about to depart from New York; but Bill Dean,
who had taken it upon himself to thus aid Jip Collins, soon bethought
himself of the business in hand, and reminded the others of their duty
Look here, fellers, we mustn't hang 'round here much longer, else
there won't be a chance of gettin' Sam away to-day. He's got to go on
the emigrant train, an' the railroad folks will look for him jest as I
said, 'cause I made a good deal of talk 'bout his bein' a detective.
You see I thought they'd be glad to have him go on their cars if we
could make 'em b'lieve half as much as Sam tells 'bout himself.
Thus reminded of their duty the young merchants set out in a body
for the Cortlandt Street Ferry, much to the annoyance of those
pedestrians against whom they jostled and tumbled in their eagerness to
make way through the crowded thoroughfare.
The amateur detective was found at the corner of West Street, where
he had promised to await Bill Dean's coming, and one glance at the
throng which had gathered to do him honor, as he believed, filled his
heart with pride.
They're beginnin' to find out that I'm no slouch of a detective
after all, hey? he said in a confidential whisper to Bill, and the
latter replied in a matter-of-fact tone:
I ain't certain you'd have seen so many of 'em, Sam, if it hadn't
been that they was all in a bunch listenin' to the news 'bout Seth
Bartlett, an' after hearin' it was in good trim for anythin'.
What's the news 'bout Seth? Sam asked with mild curiosity.
Why, he's goin' into the Department.
Who? Seth Bartlett?
Yep. That is, it's jest 'bout the same thing. Ninety-four's men
have found him a job up to headquarters where he'll have a chance to
learn the business, 'cause there's what you might call a school for
firemen up there.
Sam remained silent fully an instant gazing at his friend in
open-mouthed astonishment, and then he said emphatically if not a
I don't b'lieve a word of it; that's one of Seth Bartlett's yarns!
He ain't the kind of feller that goes 'round lyin', an' it would be
a chump trick for him to begin it now, 'cause if he don't flash up in
that uniform by to-morrow night we'll know he's been stuffin' us.
Well, maybe there's somethin' in it, Sam replied grudgingly,
after a brief hesitation; but it seems to me the Fire Department must
be pretty hard up when they'll take in a feller like Seth.
I don't know why he wouldn't make as good a fireman as you will a
detective. He's been runnin' with Ninety-four for more'n a year.
What does that 'mount to? He's never done anythin' same's I have,
to show that he had the stuff in him.
They say he come pretty nigh savin' 'Lish Davis's life the other
night when them storage warehouses burned.
Oh, that's all in your eye. Dan Roberts told the yarn so's to make
hisself solid with Seth.
There was no further opportunity for Sam to cast discredit upon
Seth's story, because the time was near at hand when he should take his
departure, and those who had contributed to this important event were
eager to hear in what way he proposed to distinguish himself.
I'll catch Jip Collins an' send him up the river for five or ten
years, he said in reply to the questions of his friends, an' then I
reckon people will find out whether I 'mount to anything as a
detective, or not.
Are you sure he's over in Philadelphy? one of the boys asked of
Course I am.
How did you find it out?
It wouldn't be any use for me to try to tell, 'cause you couldn't
understand it; but that's where the detective business comes in. I've
figgered it all out, an' in less than half an hour from the time the
train strikes the town I'll have him 'rested.
Some of those who were in the secret smiled; but Bill Dean and his
friends refrained from any display of mirth, lest Sam, grown suspicious
of his own wisdom, should at the last moment refuse to leave the city.
The would-be detective had desired to purchase his own ticket, but
to this proposition those who had the matter in charge would not
consent, and Bill Dean, in response to the suggestion made by several
of the party, proceeded, as he expressed it, to ship off Sam.
That he had spoken the truth when he told of having had a
conversation with the railroad officials regarding Master Barney's
departure, was proven when he approached the ticket-office, for the
clerk recognized him at once, and when the money was placed on the
ledge in front of him, immediately passed out that form of a ticket
which would give to Jip's pursuer a passage to Philadelphia.
Master Barney's companions were eager to see him on board the cars;
but after learning that such pleasure must be purchased by paying for a
passage across to Jersey City and back, the majority of them decided
the price was altogether too high.
It'll cost pretty nigh a dollar for this whole gang to go over,
Dan Roberts said after making a hurried calculation, an' Sam ain't
worth it. I'd like to see how he swings hisself in the cars; but don't
count on puttin' out my good money for it.
There were very many of Dan's opinion in the party, and after some
discussion it was decided that Bill Dean and Seth Bartlett should
accompany the detective during this first stage of the journey, and
these two were instructed to remember all Sam said, an' how he looked,
so's to tell it to the rest of the crowd when they got back.
The would-be detective gravely shook hands with his followers, and,
after cautioning those who were to accompany him to remain at a
respectable distance lest they interfere with his plans, stole on board
the ferry-boat in a manner well calculated to attract the attention and
excite the mirth of every one who saw him.
He thinks reg'lar detectives go snoopin' 'round in that style,
Bill said in a whisper to Seth, an' jest as long as he keeps up such a
fool idea he'll never 'mount to anythin'. I ain't sayin' but what he
might turn out to be quite a feller if he would only act decent.
Sam appeared to think it necessary that he remain by himself during
the short voyage, and when the boat arrived at the Jersey City slip
refused to go on shore until after having satisfied himself, in his own
grotesque fashion, that there were no enemies in the vicinity.
He entered the depot much in the same manner, and peered into the
car fully five minutes before venturing to take a seat, after which he
said in a tone of satisfaction to his companions:
I reckon I've done this thing pretty nigh right so far, an' if I
don't bring Jip Collins back with me it'll be 'cause some of them
Philadelphy people spoil my game.
Are you reckonin' on stayin' there till you catch him? Bill asked
with a wink at Seth, and Master Barney replied confidently:
I can put my hands on him within an hour; but it may be we'll stay
overnight so's I can bring him into town in the mornin'.
How are you countin' on gettin' your ticket to come back? Seth
Oh, I've got that figgered out. You see, jest as soon as I've
nabbed Jip I'll go to police headquarters an' tell 'em who he is, an'
of course they'll see that I get back.
Bill had considerable difficulty in keeping his face straight during
this portion of the conversation, and, fearing lest he might
inadvertently betray the secret, made short work of the leave-taking.
[Illustration: SAM GOING TO PHILADELPHIA. Page 146.]
Sam was in the car with the ticket in his hand, and it was hardly
probable he would do other than proceed to his destination as had been
agreed upon, therefore Bill said in an exceedingly friendly tone:
Well, we'd better be goin', old man. I'll see you when you get
Until this moment Seth had not realized that by supplying Master
Barney with the means of transportation to Philadelphia, they were
virtually exiling him from his home, and his heart misgave him as such
phase of the case suddenly presented itself.
Look here, Sam, s'posen it turns out that you don't find Jip,
how'll you get home? he asked, and there was in his mind the thought
that he would divide his scanty store of money with the alleged
detective; but the latter soon made it plain that he was, or believed
he was, able to take care of himself.
Don't bother your head 'bout me, 'cause even if you have got a show
of gettin' into the Fire Department, you ain't very well posted on the
detective business. I'll get back without any of your help, an' I'll
bring Jip with me.
All Seth's sympathy fled, and without further attempt at
leave-taking the two walked out of the car, glancing back from the door
an instant at the alleged detective, who was looking as important and
satisfied as a boy well could look.
It was decided between Bill and Seth during the voyage across the
river, that after having made a report to those who awaited their
coming they would visit Jip Collins in his retreat at the Erie Basin.
There's only a few of us knows where he is, an' of course we've got
to keep it a secret for a spell, so you, an' Dan, an' I must give the
other fellers the slip if we can.
Seth agreed to this after having been assured that there would be no
difficulty in getting back to the engine-house as Mr. Davis had
commanded, and once they were on the New York shore Bill fulfilled his
duty to his friends by giving a detailed account of all Sam had said
Some members of the partyand there were a few who considered
Master Barney one of the most promising young detectives in the
citywere fully satisfied with the manner in which he was reported to
have borne himself when he set out to bring to a successful close this
his first important case; but those who believed that Sam's ability
existed only in his own mind were inclined to ridicule his fantastic
behavior, and one of the company was applauded loudly as he said:
If Sam cavorts 'round Philadelphy the same way he went on board the
ferry-boat, they'll run him in for a lunatic, an' we'll never see him
again till he turns over a mighty big leaf.
Then the would-be detective's acquaintances separated, each intent
on his own business or pleasure, and there was nothing to prevent the
three who were bent upon aiding Jip Collins, from proceeding on their
errand of mercy.
Now that Sam Barney's departure was an accomplished fact, Seth began
to reproach himself with having aided in sending the boy so far from
home that it might be many weeks before he could return, and while
walking toward Hoboken Ferry gave words to these thoughts.
Bill Dean, however, was not troubled with any pangs of conscience
because he had in a certain degree deceived Master Barney.
It ain't us who sent him over there. He spouted up and told how Jip
was in Philadelphy, an' we hadn't any call to tell him it wasn't so.
But how'll he get back?
Well, if I was in that town, or any other where the railroad folks
only charge seventy-five cents to fetch me home, you can bet I wouldn't
hang 'round the streets very long cryin' baby; I'd hustle an' earn
money. That's the way Sam can get back, an' the more you feel bad 'bout
him the bigger fool you're makin' of yourself. I ain't stickin' up for
Jip Collins, 'cause when he set fire to Baxter's lumber-yard he knew he
was doin' what would send him to jail; but at the same time 'twixt him
an' Sam I ain't certain but I'd rather give Jip a boost.
Then Bill discussed the affair in its different phases, laying great
stress upon what was apparently to him a fact, that by giving Sam
Barney an opportunity of learning that he was not really a detective,
they were conferring a benefit upon him.
As Master Dean presented the case, there had been no deception
practised, because they could only have convinced Sam of his error by
betraying Jip, who had placed himself in the hands of his friends, and
Master Barney never once asked for information, but, instead, asserted
that he knew where the fugitive was concealed.
In this wise was the time spent during what was a reasonably long
journey, and Bill had hardly more than come to the end of his arguments
when they arrived at the Erie Basin.
There's where Jip is hidin', Master Dean said as he pointed to a
dilapidated boat lying at the opposite side of the Basin, and at that
moment Dan and Seth saw what at first sight appeared to be a
dark-colored ball placed in the combing of the companionway hatch.
When it suddenly disappeared, and a certain portion of it came again
into view, they understood it was the head of the young gentleman they
had journeyed thus far to visit, and Dan shouted loudly:
Hi! It's only us! Don't get scared!
Not until he had assured himself by actual survey that there were
none other than these three friends in the vicinity, did the
disconsolate-looking firebug venture to show himself, and then he came
out on the deck with a certain humility that was in marked contrast
with his former swagger.
Is Sam Barney still on my trail? he asked piteously, and that he
might not be kept in suspense, Bill gave a detailed account of the
afternoon's proceedings so far as the detective was concerned.
A long-drawn sigh of relief escaped from the fugitive's lips as he
I was terrible 'fraid he'd find me out up here, cause whether he's
a detective or not, Sam has a way of snoopin' 'round an' gettin' at
things that other fellers don't want him to know. Do you reckon I can
show myself down-town now?
Seth was forced to repeat what 'Lish Davis had told him, and again a
gloom gathered on the firebug's face, but it was lightened somewhat
when the amateur fireman added:
There's no reason, Jip, why you can't come out an' earn your livin'
so long's you walk straight, for I don't b'lieve anybody will try to
'rest you, now Sam is away from the city; but remember what Mr. Davis
said, that if you should do anythin' more crooked, this would all come
up against you.
Look here, Seth, I know I did a mighty mean thing when I set fire
to the shed in Baxter's yard, an' whether you believe it or not, I was
terrible sorry the minute the shavin's caught fire; but don't think I
ain't been served out. It's awful to stay all night on this boat; I
hear all kinds of noises an' it seems to me as if the place was
reg'larly ha'nted. I'd almost rather go to jail than stay here any
But you've got to live somehow, Jip.
It won't be here. I've been thinkin' if I could get rid of Sam
Barney I'd go over by the Thirty-fourth Street Ferry. Nobody knows me
there an' it ought to be a good place for sellin' papers.
Bill Dean thought this a wise plan, providing Jip could find
lodgings round about that locality, and then came the question as to
how it would be possible for him to start in business again, for he
confessed that all his money had been spent in the purchase of food.
What with helpin' Sam Barney off, layin' out for a spread last
night, an' gettin' money together to pay the room-rent, this is kind of
a tough week for me, Dan said thoughtfully; but I'll be willin' to
chip in a nickel toward helpin' you along, Jip.
Bill and Seth made the same generous proposition, and when the money
had been handed to the fugitive it was as if he found it difficult to
swallow a certain lump which had arisen in his throat.
You fellers have been terrible good to me after I come pretty near
killin' you, an' I want you to b'lieve I'm goin' to be straight. I'll
try to show that I can be decent.
Of course you can, Jip, Seth said soothingly, and there's no need
of your tellin' us 'bout it. Jest plug right ahead an' do the best you
know how; then things will come out all right, I'm certain. By the time
Sam gets back we'll take care he don't meddle with the case, an' I
reckon Mr. Davis will fix the balance. When you goin' to leave here?
Jest as soon as I can. I made up my mind this noon that I'd let Sam
Barney lug me off to jail rather than stay any longer.
Then come with us, an' there'll be time for you to get in some of
the evenin' trade if we hurry. Bill an' Dan will go over with you an'
see if there's any fellers 'round the Thirty-fourth Street Ferry that
might make trouble, an' most likely I'll see you again to-morrow.
At this point Dan would have told the firebug of Seth's good
fortune, but that the latter checked him, believing at such a time the
information had best be withheld, and the three Good Samaritans with
their penitent friend set out for New York.
CHAPTER IX. THE UNIFORM.
When Jip Collins and those who had befriended him arrived at the
point nearest Ninety-four's house, on their way to the Thirty-fourth
Street Ferry, Seth halted to take leave of his companions, and knowing
what he was about to do, Dan urged that he be allowed to accompany him.
You're goin' down to get your uniform on, an' I want to see it the
very first thing.
So you shall, Dan; but I'd rather you wouldn't come with me now,
'cause there was nothin' said about my bringin' anybody. Keep on with
Bill an' Jip, an' I'll go over to our room jest as soon as I get
through at the engine-house.
This did not please Master Roberts; but Bill Dean urged that Seth
was in the right, and was very emphatic in the assertion that it would
be 'way off color to shove in at such a time.
Therefore Dan ceased to insist, although it was with a very ill
grace that he accepted the situation.
As a matter of course, once such a conversation was started, it
became necessary to explain to Jip what important business called Seth
away, and he said with a sigh:
I'm glad you're playin' in such luck, Seth, for you're mighty
square. I s'posed after what I'd done nobody would let me come 'round
their houses, an' as for my gettin' into any Department, why there
never'll be a show of such a thing as that.
Now don't you get down in the dumps, Jip, 'cause you'll soon pull
up where you was before. All that's needed is to go on straight from
this out, an' show people you're sorry for meddlin' in such crooked
After this attempt at consolation Seth parted with his companions,
and ten minutes later was standing before 'Lish Davis on the lower
floor of Ninety-four's house.
Well, what have you done with your firebug? the driver asked, and
such of the men as were idle gathered around to hear the conversation.
We've shipped Sam Barney, an' Jip's gone down Thirty-fourth Street
way sellin' papers.
Do you allow he'll run straight after this?
I'm almost certain of it, Mr. Davis. He feels terrible bad, an' if
Sam gives him the chance he'll show that he can be a decent feller.
I hope so, because I hate to see a boy go wrong. Do you know,
Amateur, that what's done while you're young hangs on after you get to
be a man. Then, when you're getting along swimmingly, up comes somebody
and tells of the mean trick you played when you was a kid. It always
counts against a man. Now, I ain't saying that your firebug won't pull
out of this, but he's taking the chances that it'll be thrown up in his
face a hundred times 'twixt now and the next ten years, however
straight he walks. If a boy would only bear that in mind I allow he'd
be a heap more careful about what he did. Howsomever, you ain't here
for a lecture of that kind, and what's more you don't need one. I allow
you're counting on that suit of clothes?
I s'posed that was what you wanted me to come for, sir.
Well, it was, Amateur, it was; and if you'll go upstairs and look
on my bed you'll find the togs laid out there. Put 'em on, and come
down to show us how you look.
Are they new clothes, sir?
Of course they are. You don't allow that when this 'ere company
takes it into their heads to fit out a kid they're going to do it on
second-hand rigging, do you?
I only asked the question 'cause I thought perhaps if they was all
new I'd better wash my face an' hands first.
That's right, Amateur; fix yourself out the best you know how. We
want to see what kind of a looking kid we've taken on our hands.
Instead of immediately acting upon his own suggestion Seth
hesitated, and after a moment the driver asked:
What are you hanging in the wind now for? Got anything on your
I'd like to know, sir, if I'm to be allowed to pay for these
clothes when I get so I can earn money enough?
Bless your heart, Amateur, when you're regularly in the Department
you shall come up and square the bills with Ninety-four if it so be
you're inclined; if not, why, what we do comes free as air, and we're
glad to give you a boost. All the payment we want is that you'll do us
credit. I'd like to have the boys up at headquarters, when they look at
you, say to themselves, 'That kid belongs to Ninety-four,' and in the
saying of it I'd have 'em think you was way upsomething out of the
ordinary run of kids, don't you understand, Amateur?
If I can do anything to make you feel proud of me, Mr. Davis, I'll
be mighty glad; but I promise you shan't be ashamed of having sent me
I ain't counting on the possibility of that, Amateur, 'cause I
believe I know you better. Now, get along and put yourself into
condition, 'cause there's no knowing how soon we may get a call.
Before looking at the new clothing Seth washed his face and hands
with scrupulous care, used the comb and brush again and again until
positive each single hair was in its proper place, and then went to the
He expected to see garments which somewhat resembled those worn by
the firemen; but was unprepared for that which met his gaze.
'Lish Davis, if indeed it was he who ordered the uniform, had seen
to it that each article was a facsimile, both as to texture and style,
of what he himself wore, the one difference being that the buttons were
plain black instead of gilt with raised letters.
During several moments Seth stood as if spell-bound, gazing at this,
to him, first real evidence that he was in a certain degree, however
remote, connected with the Department, and perhaps never again will he
feel the same honest pride which was his at that moment, for he knew
without being told that he had gotten this far toward the goal he had
set himself by straightforward dealing and careful attention to all the
duties which might be expected of him.
He did not say in so many words that he had earned them; but there
was in his mind a sense of satisfaction in the knowledge that they
would not have been presented unless he had shown himself to be in some
After a long survey of the garments, he put them on, and never was
transformation more complete than when he was thus changed from a
ragged boy of the street, to what, in the mirror at least, looked
almost like a young gentleman.
They're mighty fine, he said to himself as he examined first one
coat-sleeve and then the other. They're mighty fine, an' it'll be a
terrible big tumble for me if I can't satisfy 'em up to headquarters.
Then came the fear that now, having reached the threshold of the
Department, as it were, he might fail in his purpose, and Seth
literally trembled with apprehension until 'Lish Davis's voice was
heard from below ordering him to hurry up.
I won't go back on Ninety-four's men, the boy said to himself
resolutely. It's jest as the driver says, all depends on me, an'
knowin' what's to be gained I'm a chump if I can't pull through.
Then, acting on an impulse, he slid down one of the poles, instead
of going by the way of the stairs, and suddenly stood before the entire
company, who were awaiting his appearance.
Well done, Amateur, well done, 'Lish Davis cried in a tone of
approbation. I declare I wouldn't have known who it was if I'd met you
sudden-like on the street. Why, you're a corker, Amateur, a regular
I do look pretty nice, an' that's a fact, Seth replied
complacently, whereat the men laughed heartily.
Then each member of the company in turn came forward and shook him
by the hand, congratulating him upon his first appearance as a member
of the Department, at the same time that they wished him success in the
effort to gain a permanent foothold among them.
You're a credit to us, Amateur, and that much I must say. The money
we spent on the toggery ain't been thrown away even if you do get fired
out of headquarters after a spell. From this time forth you're much the
same as a probationary fireman, and the bootblack part of it has
disappeared, except when you're 'round here where there's no one to
know what you're doing. Though, mark you, lad, I'm not saying anything
against a boy's shining boots for a living. If you hadn't done it well,
and taken some pride in your calling, Seth Bartlett wouldn't be
standing in that 'ere suit of blue this minute. Now that we've launched
you, as it were, Amateur, I, and I'm speaking for my mates as well,
want you to understand that it's a hard row ahead. You've got to work
early and late; put up with a good many disagreeable things and look
pleasant all the while; do considerable more'n your duty, and be always
on the jump. Keep up as we've known you, Amateur, my boy, and you'll
When this speechfor it could be called by no other namewas
concluded, the driver's comrades applauded loudly, and then 'Lish
stepped back a few paces as if expecting Seth to respond.
The probationary fireman understood the movement; but the words in
his mind would not come; instead of making what he considered a worthy
reply, he said, and to him it sounded lame and poor:
I'll do my best so's you won't be ashamed of me.
That's all we're asking for, Amateur, and to-morrow noon at twelve
o'clock I've got leave of absence to take you up to headquarters.
You're your own boss till then, and you'd better make the most of the
holiday, 'cause it'll be a long spell before you get another.
There's only one thing I'd like to say, sir, an' that I s'pose I
mustn't think of.
Do you mean you're hankering to run to a fire with them good
I'd like to shift 'em an' go, sir, for
At that instant the click caused by the opening of the electric
circuit in the alarm was heard, followed by the striking of the joker.
The weight fellthe lever flew upthe horses were released, and
before Seth could have spoken, even if he had had anything to say, the
animals were under the swinging harness, while every man stood at his
Get on, Amateur; get on alongside the engineer. This may be the
last time you'll run with Ninety-four for quite a spell, and I'm minded
to give you the advantage of it, the captain cried as 'Lish Davis
sprang to his seat, snapped into place the catch on his belt, and
released the harness.
Almost before the last word was spoken Seth had leaped to the side
of the engineer, and never a boy in New York City was more proud than
he, when the ponderous engine, drawn by the plunging horses, left the
building with a rattle and roar which could have been heard blocks
In a uniform hardly to be distinguished from the members of the
company the Amateur was riding to his first fire in what seemed to him
like an official capacity.
One portion of his dream was being realized, and he said to himself
as he clung to the rail, swung to and fro by the swaying of the
ponderous machine, that when the time came for him to be regularly
enrolled in the Department he would use every effort toward being
assigned to Ninety-four.
You are our mascot, Amateur, Jerry Walters, who stood next to
Seth, shouted at the full strength of his lungs in order that the words
might be heard above the clanging of the gong and rattle of wheels,
and if you're to bring us good luck we shall get first water
[Illustration: THE FIRE-ENGINE GOING OUT. Page 152.]
Seth's heart sank. For the moment he believed Walters was in
earnest, and knew full well, having the location of each signal station
in mind, that there were two engines whose houses were nearer the call
than was Ninety-four's.
To get first water under such circumstances seemed impossible, and
timidly Seth reminded Walters of the fact.
I know it, Amateur, and am not counting that we'll win; but if we
should, and if there be such things as mascots, then I'm free to admit
you'll be a lucky one for us.
Perhaps 'Lish Davis had in his mind some idea similar to that
expressed by Walters, for although Seth had seen him urge his horses to
their utmost speed time and again, never before had he known him to
press them so hard.
The mass of steel and iron was drawn over the pavement as if it had
been but a feather's weight, and 'Lish Davis guided the horses, without
checking their speed in the slightest, around a sharp corner so
suddenly that Seth was nearly overthrown, while the clanging of gongs
in the distance told of the approach of a second engine.
It's Fifty-three! Jerry Walters shouted in the boy's ear. It's
Fifty-three, and we've got thirty seconds the start of her. How about
getting first water now, Amateur?
Seth pointed straight ahead where could be seen a cloud of sparks
arising from the stack of a third engine which was coming directly
Yes, Amateur, it's her or Ninety-four; Fifty-three is distanced,
and I'll hold that you're bringing good luck to us if we do no more
than beat one of 'em out.
Every man of that company, however eager he had previously been to
be first at the scene of conflict, seemed now to outdo himself in
A cloud of black smoke issuing from the second floor of a dwelling
located the fire, and Ninety-four's tender was making a run for the
nearest hydrant, passing the engine just as 'Lish Davis slackened
Joe Black had gained the desired spot in advance of his rival, and
as Ninety-four's tender dashed by, fifteen or twenty feet of the hose
had been run off of the reel.
Then it was that Jerry Walters and 'Lish Davis gave vent to a loud
cry of triumph, for Joe Black had made the connection.
Ninety-four's tender was stretching in just as the other company
reached the hydrant, beaten by no more than ten seconds.
We've got first water, Amateur, we've got first water! Jerry
Walters shouted as if having taken leave of his senses. It ain't that
we've never done such a thing; but this time it didn't belong to us,
and we took it on your first run! If that ain't being a mascot for
Ninety-four I don't know what you will call it.
Then there was no time for congratulations or further discussion
regarding the matter, for the men had work to do which could not be
delayed, and Seth was about to follow Joe Black when 'Lish Davis
Come back here, Amateur! Come back! This is no time for you to be
gettin' points when you're wearing the first decent suit of clothes you
ever owned. Get alongside and behave yourself. I didn't allow you was
to do any work when the captain let you in on this trick.
Under other circumstances Seth would have been grievously
disappointed at being thus commanded to remain where he could see
little or nothing of what was being done; but now he was so elated at
the victory won that all else seemed but slight by comparison.
I s'pose you'd have gone in there if you was wearing the finest
coat ever made, eh? the driver asked gravely, and Seth replied with
Wouldn't you, sir?
What I'd do don't cut any figger, Amateur. It's my business to go
in there, but not yours yet a while. When the time comes that you're
bound to step up with the foremost, I'm expecting to see you there, and
wouldn't say a word that might hold you back. Now you're playing the
gentleman, and you'll stay with me; besides, it ain't going to turn out
anything after all. A curtain or some such flummery is blazing. It
can't be much more.
In this surmise 'Lish Davis was correct.
Within ten minutes after Ninety-four was ready for work word came to
shut off, and the men set about disconnecting the hose.
So slight had been the fire that only two members of the company
were detailed to do the overhaulingthat, is to thoroughly go through
the building from top to bottom to make certain no spark had been left
which might be fanned into a flameand the remainder of the men were
ordered back to the house.
It's what we may call a howling success, this first run of yours,
Amateur, 'Lish Davis said as he drove leisurely homeward. We've beat
'em all out, had little work to do, and it wasn't much more than good
practice, with a precious fine record at the bottom of it. But don't
you get puffed up thinking everything is going your way just 'cause
you've started in easy and slick.
There's no reason why I should be puffed up, Mr. Davis, except that
I've had a chance to do what I've been longin' forand that is to go
out with Ninety-four as if I belonged to her.
As if you belonged to her! That's what we allow you do,
Amateur. From this out, unless it so be you turn about wonderfully and
go crooked, you're one of usan honorary member, so to speak.
Put down on the roll as the official mascot, Jerry Walters cried,
whereat the remainder of the company laughed heartily, and in this
jovial mood was Ninety-four returned to her quarters; but Seth was not
allowed to take part in the washing-up lest he should soil his fine
I'm counting on your striking in at headquarters lookin' just as
fine as silk, which you couldn't do if we let you hang 'round here
helping with the dirty work, 'Lish Davis said when Seth would have
claimed it as his right to be allowed to assist in the labor. You're
to toddle straight home now, for you've hung 'round this house long
enough; stay there till morning, come over here for a bit about your
usual time, and then take a spell at swelling down-town until nigh on
to twelve o'clock, when I'll be ready to go with you. Well, why don't
I wanted to thank you for lettin' me run with Ninety-four the first
night I had my uniform on.
You needn't do anything of the kind. The captain happened to be
soft just as the alarm struck, else you wouldn't have got away with us.
Now clear out, and take care you don't get into mischief.
As Seth went toward his lodgings he wondered whether the people whom
he met in the street were not surprised at seeing him thus clad like a
fireman, and so intent was he on walking erect with his shoulders
thrown well back, that he might the better look the part he hoped one
day to play, that he failed to observe Dan Roberts until the latter,
suddenly recognizing his partner, shouted shrilly:
Hi! Seth! Do you mean that's really you?
Don't make such a row on the street, Dan, 'cause folks will wonder
what's the matter. But say, I do look pretty fine, eh?
Fine? Why, that's no name for it, old man. You're out of sight!
Where did you get 'em?
This is the uniform I was tellin' you 'bout. Mr. Davis gave it to
me when I was over to the engine-house, an' do you know I hadn't more'n
got into it when there was an alarm, an' I rode to the fire on
Ninety-four jest as if I belonged to her.
I did for a fact.
Well, if they let you do that there ain't much question 'bout your
gettin' into the Department.
Mr. Davis says it all depends on me now, an' you can bet I'll work
mighty hard, Dan Roberts.
If you don't you're a bloomin' idjut! Why, I wouldn't ever knowed
you if I'd been goin' fast! I was kind-er loafin' along wonderin' when
you'd be home, an' thinkin' of Jip, so had time to look 'round. First
off I couldn't make up my mind to holler, you looked so bloomin' swell.
Now, I don't see why I shouldn't go in for somethin' same's you did,
an' flash up in sich style; but no, I'll stick to sellin' papers,
that'll be the way with me, an' think I'm playin' in great luck if I
get to own a stand on some corner.
You talk as if I was already in the Department, instead of havin'
to work my way up to it.
I only wish I was as near there. By the time you're captain of a
company I'll jest about get so I can pay my own way, with never two
Now, don't begin to jump on yourself 'cause it seems as if I was
gettin' along pretty fast; but wait an' see how I pan out, an' as for
doin' nothin' but sellin' papers, why, that's 'cordin' to the way you
want it. There ain't any need of stickin' to sich business unless you
hanker for it.
Yes there is, except I'm willin' to starve, Dan replied
mournfully, and to raise him from the depths of despondency into which
he had been plunged by a sight of the uniform, Seth began to ask him
questions concerning Jip.
We left him down at the ferry. Bill Dean struck a feller there who
promised to give Jip a lift now an' then. I don't reckon he'll have any
trouble, 'cause them as are sellin' papers down that way don't seem to
have much sand to 'em. He's goin' to sleep with Bill's friend, an' take
it all in all I think he's gettin' along mighty well, considerin' it
ain't a week since he burned us out. Say, goin' into the house now, or
do you count on swellin' 'round a spell first?
We'll go home, Dan, an' in the mornin', after I've shined for
Ninety-four's men, I'll meet you down-town.
What? You goin' to do any more shinin'?
I am for them in that house, an' I'll keep it up till I get to be
reg'larly in the Department. They've done so much for me, Dan, that if
I should spend half my time as long as I live blackin' their boots, I
wouldn't square things.
If I counted on bein' a fireman I'd be one; I wouldn't black boots
Neither will I when I'm really in the Department; but I'm a long
ways from there yet a while. Come home, an' to-night I'll stand a
spread so's to celebrate wearin' the new uniform.
CHAPTER X. AT HEADQUARTERS.
When he first saw Seth in his new uniform a certain feeling of envy
came into Dan Roberts's heart; but he was not a fellow who could give
himself up to this kind of thoughts very long, and within a few moments
all that had passed away, leaving in its stead rejoicings that his
partner had taken such rapid strides toward the desired end.
Before they had gained the seclusion of their own room Dan was his
old self once more, and from that moment it is safe to say he was never
again envious of Seth's good fortune, but sufficiently wise to profit
by his partner's example.
When they entered the house, Mrs. Hanson, who must have been
informed by 'Lish Davis of the expected change in Seth's condition,
came to the door to see the boy in his uniform, and when she ceased her
words of praise his cheeks were glowing red.
You'll cut a terrible swath down-town to-morrow morning, Dan said
sagely when they were alone. Here's a woman that never saw either of
us till yesterday, an' she goes pretty nigh crazy over the way you
look. I reckon Sam Barney would have a reg'lar fit if he should run up
against you now.
To Seth's mind there was nothing wrong in admiring himself, or
listening to words of praise from others, and he enjoyed to the utmost
these speculations of his partner until Master Roberts, wearied of
gazing at the amateur fireman, hinted broadly that if there was to be a
spread set out in honor of the uniform, now was the time to start her
How much did that lay-out cost you last night?
That's pretty stiff to pay for one supper; but it ain't every day I
get a uniform, an' I guess I can stand it this once. We shan't spread
ourselves in the same way ag'in, though, Seth said thoughtfully,
speaking half to himself, and then taking some coins from his pocket,
he added, You go out and buy the stuff. I'll wait here.
Why don't you come with me?
I'm 'fraid if Ninety-four's men should see me they'd think I was
runnin' 'round swellin'.
Well, s'posen they should? Haven't you got the right? Wouldn't most
any feller who's got as near into the Department as you have?
Mr. Davis said I was to go down-town to-morrow mornin', an' perhaps
that's all he thought I ought'er do, so I'll hang on here instead of
goin' out ag'in.
Dan was not averse to making the purchases, and so deeply occupied
was Seth with pleasant thoughts that it seemed to him Master Roberts
had no more than left the room before he returned laden with packages.
As on the previous night he was accompanied by Bill Dean, who
exclaimed in a tone of satisfaction as he entered the room:
It seems like as if I'm allers 'round when you fellers are puttin'
up swell lay-outs, don't it? Then getting a full view of Seth for the
first time he cried in an accent of unquestionable admiration, Well,
I'll be jiggered! Dan said you was lookin' mighty fine; but I never
thought you could flash up like this! Why, you're a reg'lar fireman
You wouldn't think that if you could hear what Ninety-four's men
say, an', besides, there's no brass buttons on this uniform, you know.
I ain't certain but it looks better without 'em. Anyhow, you're way
up in G.
He ought'er know it by this time, Dan added with a laugh.
Everybody has been tellin' him so, an' he come mighty near paralyzin'
Miss Hanson. She jest threw up both hands when we opened the door.
Well, I don't wonder; but say, I didn't come round to sponge off
you fellers, 'cause I never thought of your havin' two such lay-outs
one right after the other. I didn't know but you'd like to hear how
we'd left Jip, an' then agin I wanted to talk 'bout bunkin' in here
with you fellers.
This is Seth's spread; but you'll hold on an' get your share of it
now you're here, and Dan began to arrange the food on the table in the
most tempting manner possible.
Of course you'll stop, Seth added, an' even if you'd known we was
goin' to kind of celebrate, what would be the harm in comin' 'round an'
Well, I don't want you to think I'm playin' it on you, that's all;
but it struck me a little while ago that if we could make a trade with
the woman what runs this house, it would come easier on all hands. Now,
that bed is plenty big enough for three, an' it ain't likely you'll be
here much of the time, except to sleep, so why wouldn't it be a good
idea to see how much extra she'll charge to let me in with you
Seth knew of no good reason why Bill should not be allowed to share
their palatial quarters, providing Mrs. Hanson did not object.
He knew Master Dean to be an industrious, well-intentioned boy,
whose company, now that he was to be absent from home so much, might be
desirable to Dan, and at once signified his willingness that the
landlady should be consulted.
I reckon Dan will be lonesome here when I'm gone so much, an'
perhaps it would be a good plan. S'pose you two fellers go down an' see
what she's got to say.
Why don't you tackle her? Master Roberts suggested. She'll be so
busy lookin' at your uniform that perhaps you could make a better
Seth hesitated only an instant, and then went down-stairs.
When he returned his companions knew from the expression on his
face, before he made a report, that the mission had been successful.
She says if we keep quiet an' don't have a crowd hangin' round, or
too many visitors, that we needn't pay any more for three than we do
for two. I didn't think that would be jest the square thing, an'
besides, we couldn't divide half a dollar up in three parts, so I told
her we'd call it sixty cents, an' that will make the lodgin' come
mighty cheap for all hands of us.
When are you willin' I should come? Bill Dean asked eagerly.
Whenever you want to.
Then I'll start right in to-night an' pay the same as you fellers
do, for you've only got one day ahead of me.
And thus the matter was settled to the manifest delight of the new
The feast was an unusually satisfactory one on this particular
Seth was as happy as a boy well could be because of the good fortune
which had come to him through Ninety-four's men; Bill believed himself
unusually lucky in having secured such desirable lodgings at an
exceedingly low price; and Master Roberts had suddenly conceived an
idea which seemed to him a remarkably happy one.
Not until his hunger had been appeased did Dan give words to his new
train of thoughts, and then he announced with the air of one who has
made a great discovery:
If Seth hadn't laid himself right out to get into the Department,
an' stuck to it whether the fellers were makin' fun of him or not, he
wouldn't be wearin' that uniform now, would he? Course not. If I keep
on sellin' papers an' don't try to do anything else, I'll never get
some other kind of a job, will I? Course not. Now, I've made up my mind
to own a store on Third Avenoo where I'll sell papers, an' books, an'
sich truck, an' keep a lot of kids to do the outside work.
An' you can do it, too, Dan, if you stick right at it, Seth
Well, she goes from this out! I shan't spend any more money buyin'
swell grub same's this is, an' if I don't get down-town every mornin'
by daylight it'll be 'cause I'm broke up so bad I can't move.
Then the feasters discussed this new idea of Dan's, approaching it
from every point of view, until the Third Avenue store was to Master
Roberts an accomplished fact; nothing stood between it and him save
hard work and a strict adherence to his purpose.
After this subject was exhausted a certain amount of their attention
was given to Jip Collins's affairs. They speculated briefly as to what
Sam Barney might be doing at that particular moment, or regarding
matters connected with his departure, and it was not yet nine o'clock
when all three were lying comfortably in bed, sleeping peacefully.
Dan awakened shortly after daybreak, and, strong in his purpose of
one day owning a Third Avenue store, lost no time in making ready for
He and Bill Dean started down-town before sunrise, and Seth made his
way to Ninety-four's house, where he busied himself in doing such work
as came to his hand.
Before seven o'clock he had blackened the boots of all the men,
swept the floors, and groomed one of the horses.
'Lish Davis came down just as this last task was performed, and
observing what had been done said gravely:
Look here, Amateur, we don't count on your doing up all the odd
jobs 'round this place, else the rest of us will rust out for lack of
I got 'round pretty early, sir, an' 'd rather be at work than
After this noon you won't complain of having too much spare time on
your hands. Been to breakfast?
Then clear out an' go down-town, 'cause this is likely to be your
last day off for quite a spell. I'll look after the other horses.
Seth would have been better pleased to remain in the engine-house
two or three hours longer, but 'Lish Davis's injunctions, although
given as a permission rather than a command, were not to be disobeyed,
and without protesting he left the building.
It is hardly necessary to attempt to describe the reception accorded
the amateur fireman, when he arrived at Printing House Square.
Every bootblack or newsboy in that section of the city had heard
from Bill or Dan the fullest possible particulars regarding the new
uniform, and all were expecting to see a great change in Seth's
appearance, but not prepared for such a decided transformation.
During at least two hours business was practically suspended, and
Seth was literally forced to remain on exhibition because of the throng
which surrounded him.
Many times did the policemen in the vicinity disperse the gathering;
but the admiring ones reassembled immediately afterward, regardless of
the threats of the officers, and thus the Society for the Admiration of
Seth Bartlett was virtually in continuous session.
Those who had laughed the loudest because of his ambition were now
the most extravagant in their praises, and there was not a boy on
Printing House Square who did not realize as never before how much
might be accomplished by persistent effort. Until eleven o'clock Seth
visited with his friends and acquaintances, and then made his way up
to keep the appointment with 'Lish Davis.
The driver, clad in his best uniform, was awaiting the boy's
arrival, and cried good-naturedly when the latter appeared:
Well, Amateur, you've spread yourself, eh? Been swelling all the
morning till your head is so big that you need to borrow a new cap?
There's no danger of that yet a while, Mr. Davis. I'll wait till I
see how I get along at headquarters before puffin' myself out very
That's a good idea, Amateur, though at the same time I believe
you'll pull through in great shape, providing you hang on as you've
done since I knew you. Now, if it so be you've tended to all your
business and are ready to duf into the work, we'll mosey along toward
The sooner I get to work the quicker we'll know whether the folks
up there are goin' to let me stay, Seth replied, and with words
expressive of kindly cheer and friendly wishes ringing in his ears, the
Amateur set out on this his first real step toward a position in the
I don't want them as you'll meet at headquarters to think you're a
dummy, Amateur, and it's in my mind to give you a little outline, so to
speak, of this 'ere school, after which there'll be no need of your
showing ignorance by asking questions. In the first place it ain't
counted on that this 'ere branch of the service is to educate anybody
and everybody that may come along. It's for such men as are admitted to
the Department on trial, 'probationary firemen' chiefly; but the old
hands have had a deal of good out of it.
This plan was started long about '83 for no other reason than to
show the men who were then in the service how to use the scaling ladder
which had just been introduced, and the idea seemed to work so well
that it gradually grew, kind of swelled out, so to speak, till it
became a reg'lar school. First off, before the new headquarters was
built, the city hired an old sugar warehouse on One Hundred and
Fifty-eighth Street and North River, where the men were shown how to
use scaling ladders and a life net, and I've been there when one class
counted up sixty scholars, all of us old hands at the business.
Remember this, Amateur, you'll never be too old to go to school,
leastways that's what I've found.
After the new headquarters building was opened in '87 the sugar
warehouse was given up, and we firemen had what you might almost call a
college. There's a yard at the back of the building nigh on to a
hundred feet square, which is put up in such shape that water can be
used the same as you would at a fire, and here drills go on like this,
for instance: An alarm is sent out for a certain company when they
least expect it, and the men find themselves called into headquarters
to show what they can do. All that you're going to see, lad, and
talking about getting points, why, you can learn more there in one
exhibition drill than you could at forty fires, 'cause you're
understanding just how the thing is going to be done.
You'll find when one of these unexpected drills comes off that the
engine is run into the yard, hose coupled on to the hydrant, dragged up
to the top of the building, water started and shut off, ladders used,
and in fact the whole business gone through the same as if a hundred
lives were in danger.
Do the men really work as hard there as they do at a fire? Seth
Do they, Amateur? Well, now, you can be mighty certain they do,
'cause it's owing to what they show at such times that gives them their
rating. Now, for instance, Ninety-four's company is in the first grade;
Eighty-six, that we bucked up against on that storage warehouse, is in
the second grade; and there ain't a great many third grade nowadays,
'cause the men are drilled too well. And here's a point I want you to
understand, Amateur: In case some man comes along and tries to tell you
that the Department in this city or that is better than what we've got
here, stick straight up for the fact that the New York Fire Department
heads the world, and you won't be a grain away from the truth. Taking
it all in all I'm free to say, open and above board, that you can't
find a Department anywhere that can beat this, and I'm reckoning pretty
strong that you wouldn't find one to equal us, taking all things into
Now, we'll suppose you was old enough, and stout enough, and plucky
enough, and knew enough to pass a civil-service and a physical
examination for admission to the Department. You wouldn't be put into
regular service, but sent up to headquarters, where we're going now,
and drilled in the yard, raising ladders, tossing 'em 'round, setting
'em up, and keeping at that kind of work till you could handle one the
same's you might a knife or fork. Now, considering the fact that the
lightest of 'em weighs twenty and the heaviest sixty-five pounds, with
a length of from fourteen to twenty feet, you can see that you've got
to be pretty nimble before getting through the first lesson, eh?
Then we'll allow you've satisfied them as are giving the lesson.
You'll be set at climbing up to the first window to start with; after
you can do that, to the second, and so on till you've got to the top of
the building by aid of the scaling ladders. It ain't such a mighty easy
thing when you come to do it yourself as it looks while you're watching
somebody else; about the time you're half-way up the hair on your head
will come pretty nigh to standing on end; but bless you, Amateur, a man
soon gets over that, till shinning outside of a building don't seem
more'n child's play.
Then there's the drill of building a chainmaking a line of
ladders from the roof to the streetand getting from the upper window
out over the cornice. Straddling sills is another lesson you'll have to
learn, till you can get astride of one, and by holding on with your
knees, work as handy as on the ground. Standing on sills; working the
life-line; climbing crosswise so's to step from one window and go to
the next story on a slant, instead of straight up; using the life net
by jumping down, or holding it for others to leap intoand if it so
chances that you are ever set to holding one, Amateur, my boy, you'll
find it ain't child's play. I've heard it said that when a man weighing
one hundred and fifty pounds jumps from the sixth floor of a building,
he strikes the net with a force of nigh on to eighteen hundred pounds,
and I tell you them as are holding it have to keep scratching.
Do you reckon I'll be allowed to practise with the men, Mr. Davis?
Seth asked as the driver paused an instant.
I'm counting on it, lad; but don't make up your mind it'll be right
away. We of Ninety-four's company believe we know what kind of a boy
you are, because we've tried you, so to speak; but up here where we're
going they've got only our word for it, and won't count very much on
that till they've found it out for themselves. It may take a long time,
and then again it mayn't; but every boy, whatever business he goes
into, is bound to prove himself before he's thought to be of much
account. It'll be the same at headquarters. Turn to, Amateur, the same
as you've done since we knew you, and before a year goes by I reckon on
seeing you in the drill.
Are the men always practising?
Not every minute of the time, you know, because it comes precious
nigh being hard work; but you can count on their doing all a man ought
to do in the twelve hours. When it's storming, or too cold to work in
the yard, you'll find them 'ere grown-up scholars in the gymnasium on
the fifth floor, at work coupling or uncoupling hose; learning how to
fight cellar fires, or practising with the tin-cutters for opening
roofs. They're told about battering-rams, axes, hooks, and, finally,
everything that we use, until the man who graduates up at headquarters
is fit to handle a company all by himself, save, of course, that he
lacks experience. Now, if it so happens that one don't learn quick
enough, or shows he hasn't got a good head for the business, he's
switched right off, and that ends his chance of getting into the
Department. Of course kids are never taken on, and it ain't held out to
you that you're going there on probation. We've got a job for you as a
boy in the building, that's all, but with what little influence
Ninety-four's men can use, and some thrown in from the other companies
that we're friendly with, the idea is to slip you through on the sly,
so to speak. If you please them at headquarters there'll be no voice
raised agin your practising now and again with the others, and then is
the time that everything depends on you.
You've run to fires for the sake of getting points; but never had a
chance to see whether you could carry them out or not. Now the
opportunity is coming; if it's in you to do the work, why, when you're
sizable we shan't have any trouble in getting you taken on probation,
providing, of course, you can pass both examinations, and about that
we've got to talk later. I don't want you to think a fireman is a
regular idiot when it comes to book-learning. The older hands of us may
be 'way off on such things; but them as goes through the civil-service
examination have got to be pretty well posted, an' I'm counting on your
working into some night-school.
Seth had listened attentively to the old driver's words; but there
was a cloud on his face when mention was made of the fact that a
fireman must have a certain amount of book-learning.
I don't know hardly anythin' at all, Mr. Davis, he said in a
You can read, can't you?
Yes, if the words ain't too long.
Well, I wouldn't like to say I really could, 'cause it's just
puttin' down letters same as they're printed.
Didn't you ever go to school, Amateur?
'Cause I've allers had to hustle for my livin,' an' it never seemed
as though I had the time; but now since you've begun to talk I know I
might have done it evenings, instead of hangin' 'round with the
fellers, or sleepin'. If I'd known folks had to go to school before
they could be firemen, I'd been studyin' these last two years.
I believe you, my boy, and if you had put into the work at books
anywhere near as hard as you have on what you call 'picking up points,'
you'd have been pretty well along by this time. Howsomever, we can
remedy that, though we can't call back lost time. Jerry Walters and
I'll figger up what's to be done, and explain further as soon as we've
settled matters, 'cause you see, Amateur, you belong to Ninety-four,
an' we ain't of the mind to have you fail in what you set out after.
Shall I have any chance to see you?
Bless you, lad, yes. You'll be through between six and seven
o'clock, and we'll be glad to have you drop in any evening till you set
about studying; then I allow we'll fix up some place so's you can be
away from your partner and his friends. We won't have any soft talk
after we get inside, so I'll say it all now. Keep your upper lip stiff,
Amateur; don't get down at the heel if them as are in charge seem to
bear on a little too hard; remember that all hands of Ninety-four's
company are counting on you to make good their words, and be a man.
Unless we get a call you'll see us to-night, so there ain't need of
saying very much more just now.
By this time they had arrived at headquarters, and 'Lish Davis
entered the building with the air of one who has no especial interest
in whoever may be following him.
CHAPTER XI. SAM'S RETURN.
It was nearly eight o'clock on the evening of the day Seth paid his
first visit to headquarters and he was greeted warmly by such of the
men as were on the lower floor.
Where's Mr. Davis? he asked.
He had twenty-four hours' leave an' ain't likely to flash up before
to-morrow noon, Jerry Walters replied. How did you get along at
That I ain't quite so certain of, Seth replied doubtfully.
Why not? Anything gone wrong?
No; but it don't seem as though the men up there had very much to
say to me.
Found you plenty of work, eh?
Oh, yes; there was enough of that.
A little too much, I reckon, if it kept you till this hour.
I was told that I should knock off at six o'clock, but then I
hadn't finished the job I was workin' on, an' so stayed till it was
How did 'Lish Davis swell 'round?
I didn't see anythin' of him after we got inside. He told a man
there who I was, an' two or three of 'em hunted 'round to find work for
Well, how do you like it so far's you've gone? Jerry Walters asked
with a smile, and the remainder of the company gathered around to hear
I'd like anythin' that was givin' me a show of gettin' into the
Department. Of course it ain't so pleasant in the house doin' all kinds
of work as it is out of doors layin' still when you want to, or talkin'
with the fellers.
Then you don't feel like backin' out yet?
No sir-ee! I'll never feel like that. Look here, I've got to be up
at seven o'clock to-morrow mornin', an' why couldn't I shine your boots
'Cause then is the time for you to rest, Amateur. Don't bother your
head about our boots being shined, for we'll tend to that part of it. I
reckon there'll be as much work at headquarters as you can comfortably
do, so there's no need to come 'round here except to make a friendly
call. Of course we're expectin' to see you pretty nigh every evenin'
so's to have a report of how things are goin'; but so far's your
blackin' our boots, that's all nonsense, and if 'Lish Davis was here
this minute he'd tell you the same.
But I want to do it, an' Mr. Davis promised me I should, 'cause
it'll make it seem as if I was tryin' to square up for what all of you
have done for me.
Jerry Walters tried to persuade Seth that he had better not attempt
to do so much, particularly at the outset; but it could readily be told
from the expression on the boy's face that he was not convinced, and
Mr. Walters refrained from making further efforts in that line.
After answering a few more questions and promising to visit the
engine-house on the following evening, Seth, feeling even more tired
than he looked, set out for home, and Mr. Walters said to his comrades:
That kid will work himself down to skin an' bones for the sake of
tryin' to show he's thankful for the lift we've given him, and as for
making his way into the Department, why, there ain't a ghost of a show
that he'll fail.
And every member of the company appeared to share Jerry's opinion
regarding the matter.
When Seth arrived at Mrs. Hanson's he found Bill Dean and Dan making
ready to retire, and the latter cried in a joyful tone:
I'm mighty glad you've come, Seth. Bill an' me was jest figgerin'
that they'd fixed it up to have you sleep there nights.
There wasn't anythin' said about that, and I reckon they don't want
boys 'round, the amateur fireman replied gloomily, and Bill asked in
Why, what's the matter, old man? Ain't gettin' discouraged so soon,
I reckon it'll be all right after a spell, an' I wouldn't want any
of Ninety-four's men to know that I wasn't jest as chipper as a
sparrer; but things are different up there from what they are down
here. They jest set you to work an' let you keep hummin' without sayin'
a word. I don't believe a single one of 'em has spoke to me since Mr.
Davis went away.
What you been doin'?
Cleanin' windows; an' I tell you they're so big that one of 'em
makes considerable work. I hung on to it till I'd finished all on that
floor, even though they told me to go home at six o'clock.
What are you goin' to do to-morrow?
I don't know. Anythin' that comes up, I s'pose.
Didn't they give you any lessons in the school?
I haven't even seen it yet. There might have been a hundred men
'round there practisin' for all I'd know, 'cause I was in the front of
Why, I thought you'd go right to work learnin' to be a fireman,
Dan said in surprise.
Mr. Davis never allowed anythin' like that. He said after a spell,
when I'd showed 'em I could 'tend to business, I might get a show; but
you see, it ain't anyways certain that they'll do what Ninety-four's
men have been countin' on. I've got to take the chances, you know, and
work my way in.
Both Dan and Bill were disappointed by this report. They had fancied
certain tasks might be required of Seth; but firmly believed he would
be given instructions at once.
In fact, Dan had told his roommate several times during the day that
he expected to see Seth an enrolled member of the Department within a
few months, adding in support of such belief:
When that feller tackles anythin' he goes right through with it,
an' if he ain't big enough now he's got the nerve in him to grow
terribly. It seems like he does everythin' he starts for.
Now that Seth appeared despondent his comrades believed it their
duty to cheer him, and during half an hour or more they set about such
task in earnest.
It seemed to them as if he was already growing more cheerful when
the shrill whistling of a peculiar note was heard several times
repeated, apparently on the sidewalk in front of the dwelling.
That's Teddy Bowser! Bill Dean exclaimed as he leaped to his feet.
He wanted to come up here to-night, but I told him he mustn't, 'cause
if the fellers hung 'round I'd lose my show for a tony lodgin'.
Go down and see what he wants, Dan suggested. I don't believe
we'd better let him come in, for there are three of us here now, an'
Miss Hanson might think she was havin' too many fellers 'round for
sixty cents a week.
Bill descended the stairs swiftly but noiselessly, returning in less
than five minutes with a look of consternation upon his face.
Say, Sam Barney's got back!
Got back! Seth cried in astonishment and dismay. Why, how'd he
raise the money?
That's what Teddy didn't know. He said Sam flashed up 'bout an hour
ago lookin' as chipper as you please, an' with cash in his pocket. He's
tumbled to our racket, an' is promenadin' 'round town sayin' he'll
catch Jip Collins before to-morrow night.
The three boys gazed at each other in perplexity, and fully a moment
elapsed before the almost painful silence was broken.
Then Seth said interrogatively:
Of course Teddy knew what he was talkin' 'bout?
Oh yes, he hasn't made any mistake, 'cause he saw Sam and heard him
blow 'bout what a swell time he had in Philadelphy.
He couldn't have been there very long.
I don't understand it, and Bill plunged his hands deep in his
pocket as he looked gloomily around. I thought when we shipped him off
that we'd settled the detective business, an' now it ain't any dead
certain thing he won't run right across Jip Collins, 'cause the poor
feller thinks Sam's so far away there's no danger of meetin' him.
Where's Teddy? Dan asked.
Down on the sidewalk.
What's he waitin' for?
I told him he'd better hold on a spell, 'cause we've got to do
somethin', fellers, an' perhaps he can help us.
But if Sam's here with money in his pocket, how shall we stop him
from workin' up the case? Dan asked helplessly.
First off we must tell Jip, Seth replied promptly. To-morrow
mornin' you an' Bill will have to see what can be done with Sam. It
won't do to let him keep on the way he was goin' before we sent him
I reckon you can't stop him if he's set on doin' it, an' he likely
will be now he finds you're in the Department, 'cause he said he was
goin' to be an out-an'-out detective long before you ever dreamed of
gettin' a fireman's job.
If he only knew how little of a fireman I am he wouldn't feel very
bad 'bout it, Seth said with a sigh, and then added more cheerily,
Come on, fellers, we must find Jip, an' not stay out too late either,
else Miss Hanson will raise a row.
The three went down the stairs softly, crept out on the sidewalk as
if their own lives might be in jeopardy if the slightest noise was
made, and there met Teddy Bowser.
Oh yes, I saw him, Teddy said in reply to Seth's question. He's
been swingin' himself 'round Grand Street big as life for more'n an
hour; says he had a great time in Philadelphy, an' ain't certain but
he'll go over there to live after he gets Jip in jail. Sam must have
struck some mighty soft snap, 'cause when he left this town he had only
sixteen cents to his name.
Do you s'pose he could find any one chump enough to lend him
money? Dan asked musingly, and Seth said almost sharply:
It won't pay for us to stand here tryin' to figger how he's fixed
things, 'cause we must be back mighty soon, and it may take quite a
spell to find Jip.
I reckon it will, Teddy added emphatically. I hunted all 'round
the ferry for him.
Why, how did you know where he was?
The fellers told me. I didn't think it was a secret.
It ought to have been, and Seth looked more distressed than
before. If all hands know, it won't take Sam Barney a great while to
He was talkin' 'bout it when I left; said there was no need of
goin' to the ferry till mornin', 'cause he could put his hands on him
when he wanted to. Some of Jip's chums must have gone back on him, an'
I wouldn't wonder if I knew who. You see, Denny Macey was tellin'
'round that if Jip didn't ante up the dime he borrowed two weeks ago,
he'd make trouble for him.
Don't let's stand here any longer, and Seth led the way at a rapid
pace toward the ferry.
Beyond speculating as to how the would-be detective had been enabled
to return from Philadelphia, those who were seeking to do Jip Collins
an additional favor indulged in little conversation during the hurried
journey across the city.
As they neared the ferry each kept a sharp watch in the hope of
meeting the boy whom he sought, but when they stood at the very
entrance of the slip no sign of Jip had been seen, and then the
difficulty of the search began to be apparent.
Master Collins was a stranger in this section of the city, and they
might question a dozen boys without finding one who had so much as
heard of him, therefore the quest was likely to be a long if not a vain
It'll soon be too late to do anything if we don't hustle, Seth
said when he realized all the possibilities against success. Let each
feller start out alone, and there'll be jest so many more chances of
runnin' across him. We'll meet here by the ferry slip in half an hour.
This plan was acted upon without delay, and each member of the
searching party did his best to bring the labor to a speedy and final
conclusion; but when at the expiration of the time set the four met
once more, nothing had been discovered.
He's turned in, Bill Dean said in a tone of conviction.
If it's with that chum of yourn it ought'er be easy to find him.
He wasn't a chum of mine, an' I don't so much as know his name.
It's a feller I've run across two or three times down-town, that's
Then I can't see but what we must call it a bad job, for there's no
kind of use in foolin' 'round here any longer.
But if we don't find him now all Sam Barney's got to do is to walk
over here in the mornin', Dan said mournfully, and Bill Dean cried
I'll get ahead of that bloomin' detective if I have to set up all
night! You can count on my bein' right here at daylight, an' that's the
best anybody can do. You ought to get to bed, Seth, 'cause you've got
to turn out pretty early in the mornin'.
That it was useless to remain in that vicinity any longer with the
hope of meeting Jip by chance, all understood, and mournfully they
turned their faces homeward, Teddy Bowser suggesting that he might be
able to do the repentant firebug a friendly turn by delaying Sam a
certain length of time next morning.
I'll ask him to tell me about his detective work, an' you can bet
he won't lose such a chance, 'cause there's nothin' in this world he
likes to talk about as well as himself.
All right, you do that, Teddy, an' I'll snoop over here, Bill
added. Of course Seth can't take a hand in this work, on account of
havin' to go to headquarters, but Dan will kind-er lay 'round anywhere,
either to head Sam off, or find Jip.
Then Teddy Bowser took his departure for the night, and Mrs.
Hanson's three lodgers returned to their room thoroughly distressed in
The greater portion of the night might have been spent by them in
discussing this new phase of affairs but for Seth, who said when his
comrades began to hold forth on the subject:
You fellers can't do any good talkin'. I've got to get some sleep
if I count on bein' up early enough in the mornin' to do the work over
to the engine-house an' get to my job at seven o'clock, so s'pose you
quiet down and give me a chance?
This was no more than a reasonable request, and soon Mrs. Hanson's
lodgers were enjoying their needed repose, despite the troubles which
had come upon them.
Seth, whose last thought had been that he must waken early, opened
his eyes just as the day was dawning, and aroused his comrades.
You fellers must turn out if you count on helpin' Jip this mornin',
an' I'm goin' to get right off. Seems to me it would be a good idea if
Bill was at the ferry right soon.
I'll start now, Master Dean replied, and, since their plans had
been fully arranged the night previous, there was nothing to prevent
Seth from going at once to Ninety-four's house.
The watchman on duty admitted him with a reproof for trying to crowd
too much work into one day; but made no further objection when the
amateur fireman declared that he should feel better if he did the
shinin' the same's ever.
Not a man was awake save the one on duty, when, his work finished,
Seth hurried toward headquarters.
When he arrived it lacked twenty minutes of the time set for him to
begin work, and the first person he met inside the building was a
gray-haired man wearing such a uniform as did Jerry Walters, the driver
of Ninety-four, and all Seth's particular friends.
What are you doing here? the official asked in a not very friendly
I began to work 'round this place yesterday noon, Seth replied in
an apologetic manner.
Oh, you did, eh? You must be the kid 'Lish Davis made so much talk
I am the boy he got the job for, sir.
Well, what are you doing here so early? Seven o'clock is the hour.
Yes, sir; but I don't s'pose it can make much difference if I'm
here a little before time, 'cause then I'll get more done, don't you
And you were figuring on that same thing when you stayed here until
eight o'clock last night, eh?
No, sir; I stayed 'cause I wasn't through washin' all the windows
on the second floor, an' didn't want to leave the job half done.
Well, in the future you'd better go home when the clock strikes
six, the same as others do. What task have they set for you this
Nothing as yet, sir.
That's because you did your work too well yesterday. I suppose they
allowed you had enough to last through the balance of this day.
It would be a pretty poor kind of a boy who couldn't do more'n wash
that many windows in a day an' a half, Seth replied laughingly,
fancying that this man's gruff manner was no indication of bad temper,
but rather the reverse.
They tell me you're counting on being a fireman one of these days?
Yes, sir, Seth replied promptly and decisively.
You seem to be pretty certain of it.
So I am, sir, 'cause I'll get there after a time if I work hard.
You will for a fact, my son, if you believe it as firmly as you
seem to. How much have you seen of the building so far?
I've only been in the room where I was workin' yesterday.
Come up into the gymnasium with me. I'm running things in that
quarter, an' it might be we can work you in with better profit there,
than at window-washing.
It was as if Seth's heart gave a great bound just then, for in the
gymnasium was begun the first of the fireman's lessons, and if he
should be so fortunate as to be set at work there it seemed that
advancement must necessarily be rapid.
Even though he had had less reason of wishing to be occupied in this
portion of the building, he could not but have been delighted when he
entered the well-appointed place, and he gazed around in what was very
like an ecstasy of joy until suddenly aroused by the voice of this new
Do you think you could keep things in proper shape here? There's
plenty of work to be done, and at present we are getting none of the
I'd like to have a chance to try, sir.
Very well; I'll see to the red tape of the business down-stairs and
in the meanwhile do you set about doing whatever you think is
necessary. If 'Lish Davis wasn't mistaken, I'll see to it you get all
the instruction in this portion of the building that you can stagger
under, and it may be we'll put a little more muscle into you 'twixt now
and the next few months.
Then, without having specified what it was he wished Seth to busy
himself with, the gray-haired man turned to leave the gymnasium, when
he suddenly stopped and asked sharply:
Have you been to breakfast?
No, sir; I was told that I'd get my grub here.
Then why didn't you 'tend to it when you first came in?
'Cause I met you, sir.
I suppose you hadn't thought you might be needing something to
It would have been no great matter, sir. I've got along until noon
a good many days without anythin', an' can do it again.
There's no need of that here, my son. Remember to get your meals on
time, for regularity of habits,although that will become a luxury if
you are ever made a fireman,regularity of habits is quite as
necessary for the strength and building up of your body as any exercise
you can take here. So far as possible eat at the same hour each day; go
to bed early, get up early, and at all times see to it that your body
is properly cared for. When did you have a bath last?
It's been quite a spell since I went in swimmin', sir.
Well, you can begin the day with that. Use plenty of cold water,
and I reckon the towels are coarse enough. Then get your breakfast,
come up here, and go to work.
At anything special, sir?
Whatever you see that's needed to be done.
Then this employer, who had given him such good advice, walked
quietly away, and Seth was left to find the bathroom as best he might.
During this day Master Bartlett worked as industriously as ever; but
with better heart than while employed about the first task set him at
headquarters, for he had reason to believe there was at least one in
the building who would lend him a helping hand, and the future seemed
much brighter than it had twenty-four hours previous.
This new friend, who was spoken of as Josh by those who seemed to
be best acquainted with him, and by others as Mr. Fernald, apparently
gave no heed to the boy, and Seth did whatever seemed to him most
necessary, although there were many times when he was tempted to stop
in order to watch the men at their exercises, until half-past five in
the afternoon, when the man whom he was beginning to look upon as a
friend said sharply:
Get your supper, now, Seth Bartlett, and to-morrow morning see to
it that you have breakfast before coming up here.
Seth wanted to say good-night to Mr. Fernald; but doubtful as to how
such familiarity might be received, he departed in silence, turning
around as soon as he was in the corridor where none could see him, to
wave his hand in adieu.
Supper had been eaten, and he was on the sidewalk outside of
headquarters just as the whistles were blowing for the hour of six.
I'll have a chance to stop a good while in Ninety-four's house
to-night, an' there may another alarm come so's I can go out with her
again, he said to himself, and at that instant Teddy Bowser appeared
from around the corner of the building and cried excitedly:
Dan Roberts an' Bill Dean sent me up here to tell you that Sam
Barney's had Jip Collins 'rested this afternoon 'bout three o'clock.
CHAPTER XII. THE PRISONER.
It was several moments before Seth could bring himself to believe
that Dan and Bill Dean had utterly failed in their efforts to save Jip
Collins from the would-be detective.
During the day he had given the matter comparatively little thought,
believing that, having set out on their mission of mercy at such an
early hour, his roommates would succeed in their efforts.
Sam Barney was known to all his acquaintances as a boy opposed to
rising very early, or working very hard, and it had been no more than
reasonable to suppose Jip would be warned in time.
Teddy Bowser could give very little information, and that which he
did impart only served to heighten the mystery.
He stated that he met Sam at about seven o'clock that morning, and
talked with him concerning his visit to Philadelphia with the purpose,
as previously agreed upon, of delaying him until nearly nine o'clock.
That then the alleged detective had gone toward Fulton Market with
the avowed intention of meeting a friend, and Teddy was positive Jip
had not been arrested until late in the afternoon.
Where was Dan an' Bill when they sent you to tell me?
Over by Jefferson Market; that's where Jip's been jugged.
Were they to wait there for me?
That's what they reckoned on, except you thought them firemen of
yourn could help out.
If Jip's really been 'rested I don't believe Ninety-four's men
could do anything, 'cordin' to the way Mr. Davis talks. We'll go right
down to the market.
During the long journey, for neither Seth nor Teddy could afford to
pay ten cents for car-fare, the latter told as nearly as he could
remember Sam Barney's version of his visit to Philadelphy.
He says the way he figgered it out at first, Jip Collins ought'er
been over there; but he'd found out his mistake soon enough if you
fellers hadn't hurried him off.
He didn't go for most a day after he acted 'bout crazy to get
That's one of his excuses, of course; I'm jest givin' you the fairy
story he flashed up to me. He says he wasn't any sooner in the train
than he began to work the plan over in his mind, same's all the
detectives do, an' it didn't take him a great while to figger how it
was. At the jump he thought it was mighty queer that Bill Dean should
go 'round raisin' money to send him away, an' after he was in the cars
he tumbled to himself, don't you see? To hear him tell it you'd believe
all he had to do was to set down an' think over things to find out jest
what was what.
It's a big pity he couldn't think who stole his money, Seth
interrupted. 'Cordin' to his story he's been after the thief ever
He says he would have caught him if this case of Jip's hadn't
turned up, an' seein's it was so much bigger he dropped everything
else. Well, after he made up his mind that the fellers what chipped in
the money was tryin' to run him out of town, the train started, so of
course he had to keep on; but he'd fixed it with himself that he was
bound to come straight back soon's he could. I reckon he swelled
himself 'round the depot over in Philadelphy, blew in the sixteen cents
he had, an' give some of the fellers a terrible stiff 'bout bein' a
detective, till he borrowed money of 'em to come back. The way he tells
it is that jest as soon as he got there people knew who he was, an'
give him a great reception. He makes out that there was a slat of folks
hangin' round the station tryin' to get a chance to see him; but that's
all in your eye, of course.
Sam Barney must be a fool if he thinks anybody is goin' to believe
He must think it, else he wouldn't tell 'em. Now, 'cordin' to his
story, some of them fellers was jest loaded with the stuff, and they
put up the price of a railroad ticket back. I don't know what he did
with himself while he was in the town, 'cause you can't make out
anything by what he says.
Why didn't he come back on the next train if everybody was ready to
lend him money?
He says he jest actually couldn't get away from the crowd that
wanted to see him an' talk to him, so he stayed a spell to give 'em a
good time by showin' himself. Then when he got ready he swings on
board, an' over he comes. But he's chafin' under the collar, Seth,
'cause the fellers sent him off when he ought'er have stayed, an'
that's why he's so down on Jip Collins.
He was jest as bad before Bill Dean ever begun to raise money to
get rid of him, else it would have been different. I tried to make him
promise to let Jip alone, an' he wouldn't listen to any talk at all. He
thinks it'll be a big thing for him in case he puts it through. If I
couldn't get on in the world except it was by sendin' some feller to
jail, I'd stick to sellin' papers or blackin' boots the rest of my
Sam is pretty near green thinkin' you've got ahead so fast; but
says that jest as soon as he has worked the case up against Jip he'll
smash your racket all to pieces.
Have you seen him since he did this terrible fine piece of
No; I hadn't heard anythin' 'bout it till Dan hailed me.
For some time after this Seth remained silent trying to devise a
plan by which he could aid the unfortunate firebug; but the more he
considered the matter the less probable did it seem that either he or
his comrades could in any way benefit the prisoner.
I'm 'fraid Jip will go up the river, he said at length, and Teddy
I guess he's a goner for a fact, an' all on account of Sam Barney's
wantin' to show hisself a detective.
When the two had come to their journey's end Dan and Bill Dean were
seen solemnly pacing to and fro on the sidewalk in front of the
entrance to the court-room, looking sadly disheartened.
Have you done anythin' yet? Seth asked in a low tone as he joined
There's nothin' we can do. Jip's locked up, an' Sam Barney's
struttin' 'round the streets showin' hisself off for a first-class
detective, Dan replied in a tone of irritation.
Do you know how he happened to nab him?
It must have been that Denny Macey give him away, Bill Dean
replied, for I saw Jip this mornin' early, an' he 'greed to keep out
Do you s'pose he stayed on the street after that?
Denny knew where he slept last night, and must have told Sam, jest
as some of the fellers say he threatened to do.
Well, Seth said after a brief reflection, if you can't help him,
what's the use of standin' here?
We was waitin' for you. I thought, an' so did Dan, that perhaps the
driver of Ninety-four might cook up some kind of a plan we could work
through. Anyhow, it don't seem as though it would do much harm for you
to talk with him.
Of course it won't; but if it wasn't that Jip's likely to be sent
to jail for a good many years I wouldn't bother him, 'cause it don't
seem the square shake for me to keep runnin' there whenever things turn
It would be pretty tough to let Jip be sent up for four or five
years jest 'cause you didn't want to bother Ninety-four's crew.
I know that, Bill, an' I'm goin' to talk to Mr. Davis now. I was
only sayin' I wouldn't do it if things wasn't the way they are. I'll go
ahead, an' you fellers meet me up to the room after I get through,
'cause it won't do for all hands to loaf 'round in front of the
To this proposition those who were ready to sacrifice their own
pleasure and interests in order to aid the penitent firebug made no
demur, and Seth set out at full speed, leaving the others to follow at
a more leisurely pace.
Hello, Amateur! It seems to me you've knocked off work kind-er late
to-night? 'Lish Davis cried as the boy entered the engine-house.
Mr. Fernald, the man who runs the gymnasium, told me I was to go
away every night at six o'clock
So Josh has taken you in hand as he promised, eh?
He's given me a chance up in the gymnasium, where I can't help
seein' a good deal of the drillin' even when I'm workin', an' it seems
as though it was a mighty soft snap.
Josh ain't a man who'll make it very soft for any boy. You've got
to toe the mark pretty straight with him, Amateur; but if it so be you
strike him just right things will move along in great shape. Why didn't
you leave headquarters as he told you?
I did, sir; but Teddy Bowser was waitin' outside to tell me that
Sam Barney has had Jip Collins 'rested for settin' fire to the
So, so! He has, eh? I thought you shipped that bloomin' detective
over to Philadelphia?
That's what we did, Mr. Davis; but he managed to get back, an'
tumbled to the trick we played on him, so the very first thing he does
is to get Jip pulled.
Well, whether it be boys or men who go wrong, sooner or later
they've got to pay the penalty in some fashion, and perhaps it's just
as well this Collins chap should square matters now as at any other
But it seems terrible, Mr. Davis, to have him sent to jail for
nobody knows how many years.
It'll be a good many if he's convicted on the charge of arson; that
I can give you as a straight tip.
I was in hopes you'd feel kind of bad about it, Mr. Davis, Seth
Meaning to say you counted on my trying to help pull him through
after he destroyed valuable property and come pretty nigh being the
death of you and your partner?
Well, you see, he's awful sorry
Yes, most of 'em are after the crime has been committed.
But I don't b'lieve Jip really meant to do anythin' like that. He'd
been blowin' 'bout how he'd serve us out, an' a good many of the
fellers told him he didn't dare to so much as raise his hand. That
kind-er started him, an' if he goes to jail now the shame of it will
allers stick to him.
Then you believe he'd work 'round and be a decently square kind of
a boy if he got out of this scrape?
I'm almost certain of it.
Well, look here, Amateur, it ain't for a fireman to go here and
there, trying to defend them as have started a blaze; but I wouldn't
wonder if we could find some lawyer to take charge of his case. Perhaps
we can get him off on the same plea you're using nowthat it would
serve to make a criminal of him, rather than work the proper kind of
reformation. There'll be plenty of time, lad, because you and your
partner are bound to be called on as witnesses even on the preliminary
examination, so until the officers find you two nothing can be done,
for I don't reckon your imitation detective has any knowledge of what
He's heard the rest of the fellers talk 'bout it.
That don't cut any figger; all he can testify to is what he's seen
himself, or something the prisoner may have told him. I'll turn this
thing over in my mind, and call on Jerry Walters and Ben Dunton for
their advice. When you come 'round to-morrow night we'll be able to say
what can be done. Now tell me everything you did to-day; that's of more
interest to us of Ninety-four's company than the arrest of the
Seth gave a detailed account of his movements from the time he
entered headquarters until the hour of leaving, and every man on the
floor listened eagerly to the narration of unimportant doings, which
was the best proof they could have given of the deep interest felt in
the amateur fireman.
I reckon you'll pull through all right, 'Lish Davis said
approvingly when Seth brought the story to an end, and now there's a
word to be said about your behavior here this morning. You'll have
plenty of work to do 'twixt 7 A.M. and 6 P.M. without hustling over
here before daylight and blacking our boots; consequently we're going
to hire another boy so's to remove the temptation from your path.
Don't do it, please don't do it, Mr. Davis, Seth cried
imploringly. It don't seem like work to me. So long as I can be here
every mornin' an' do somethin' of the kind, it 'pears as if I belong to
the company. S'posen you get another feller to do the shinin' an' I
come 'round evenin's to tell you what's been goin' on? Why, it would
only look as if I was a visitor. I don't want to give up all my hold
here, an' that's what will happen if somebody else does the shinin'.
There could be no question but that Seth was deeply in earnest, and
more than one of the men nodded to the driver as if to say that the boy
should be allowed to do as he pleased.
Jerry Walters took it upon himself to say very decidedly:
I think, 'Lish, Amateur is right, an' you've got no call to cut him
off from what he wants to do, 'specially after it's been once agreed
upon. It ain't that I'm figgering to have my boots shined for nothing;
but I'm feeling a good deal as he does. I'd like to have him come
'round regularly, an' we'll be certain of it if there's work to be
Very well, very well, the driver replied. He shall keep on for a
spell, though it ain't to my liking. If Amateur was a kid that spent
his time kiting 'round the streets it would be different; but he's got
to have some little amusement, and how is it to be had if he starts in
at daylight blacking boots, works until six o'clock at headquarters,
then spends his evening at the school? Why, it'll come nigh to using
He ain't on at headquarters Sunday, is he?
No; but that's only one day in seven, and so long as Amateur is in
our charge, so to speak, I ain't going to have him get an idea that he
can spend the Sabbath cavorting 'round as some of his chums do.
When I begin to take part in the drill at headquarters I shall have
all the sport that's needed, Seth interrupted, and besides, even if I
go to the night-school, I'll get an hour in here between six an'
And a heap of fun you'll have with a lot of old cronies like us,
'Lish added with a laugh.
I'd rather be here than anywhere else, sir, an' if you want to give
me a good time now and then, an' I happen to be 'round when there's an
alarm, let me go out with Ninety-four; that'll be fun enough.
'Lish winked at his comrades as if this remark pleased him
exceedingly, and put an end to the conversation by saying:
Look in here to-morrow night, lad, and we'll see whether it's
possible to help out your firebug or not. Now go home and turn in, for
you can't get too much sleep while you're young.
Seth obeyed without delay what was little less than a command, and,
hastening to Mrs. Hanson's dwelling, repeated to his roommates and
Teddy Bowser all the driver had said to him concerning the
possibilities of aiding Jip Collins.
The boys were sadly disappointed because there was no actual promise
They had come to believe, because they hoped it would be so, that
Mr. Davis could immediately devise some plan whereby Jip might be
released from prison, and since he did not appear to be sympathetic and
enthusiastic on the subject they feared he might fail to take any
I am certain he will get a lawyer for him anyhow, Seth said in
reply to their complaint, an' that's what we couldn't do ourselves. If
it wasn't for goin' to headquarters I'd try to see the poor fellow
to-morrow. Of course I wouldn't be able to do anythin' for him, but it
would make him feel kind of good to know we was willin' to help.
I'll go there to-morrow, Dan cried, pleased at the idea of doing
something, even though he could not hope to effect any change in Jip's
condition. I'll tell him what we've tried to do, an' there'll be some
satisfaction in that anyhow.
Then Seth proposed that Master Roberts should hang around outside
the Department headquarters at about six o'clock in the afternoon in
order to report the result of the interview, after which he would visit
Mr. Davis again.
With this programme for the coming day thus settled upon, the
amateur fireman suggested that Teddy Bowser go home in order that he
and his roommates might retire, and half an hour later Mrs. Hanson's
lodgers were sleeping soundly.
The sun had not shown his face above the eastern horizon next
morning when Seth was at work in Ninety-four's quarters, performing
such labor as came to hand, and, owing to the fact that the company had
been fighting fire nearly all night, no one save the house watchman was
stirring when the amateur set off for his regular duties.
At fifteen minutes before the hour of seven Ninety-four's kid, as
some of the clerks at headquarters had already designated Seth, entered
the gymnasium with a bustling air as if the hardest tasks would be no
more than a pleasure.
Had your breakfast? Mr. Fernald asked gruffly.
How long since you turned out?
It wasn't quite light when I left the house, sir.
Have you been here all that time?
Oh no, sir. You see, I go over to Ninety-four's quarters to shine
the company, an' it stands me in hand to be out of bed pretty early.
What do you do to the company? Mr. Fernald asked, as an expression
of bewilderment came over his face.
I shine for all handsblack their boots, you know.
Yes, I understand now. Isn't the work here enough to satisfy you,
but that you must needs look around for more?
But I belong to that company, sir, an' have to see my share of the
business is done right up to the mark, Seth replied proudly, and then
he explained to Mr. Fernald why he was eager to continue his connection
with those who had already done so much to assist him.
You seem precious eager to be a fireman.
So I am, sir, an' I'm hopin' to get along here so Ninety-four's men
won't think I'm a duffer for not pushin' ahead.
Fernald questioned him closely regarding his ambition to belong to
the Department, and without being really aware of the fact Seth had
soon told him all he knew concerning himself and his desires.
I don't say as you've got it in you to be a fireman, the old man
said, thoughtfully; but it strikes me you carry a good bit of sand,
an' I've a mind to do even more than I promised 'Lish Davis. See here,
my lad, supposing you could practise here two or three hours a day,
would it tire you out so that the regular duties might be slighted?
If you'll give me the chance, sir, I'll work enough later nights to
make up for it all, the boy replied eagerly.
I guess Davis didn't lay it on any too thick when he told me about
you. Now see here, you'll begin the day with a regular course of
training, working until nine o'clock, after which time you'll get down
to a boy's business, see?
Yes, sir, Seth replied, trembling so violently with pleasure that
only by the greatest exertion could he prevent his voice from
Had a bath this morning?
Then get one, and remember to tumble into cold water the first
thing after coming here.
Seth was off like a flash, and when he returned, glowing with the
healthful exercise, Josh Fernald gave him the first lesson in physical
Before it was concluded Ninety-four's kid came to understand that
'Lish Davis had only spoken the truth when he said the instructor was
not a man who would let up on boys to any extent, for Seth was forced
to exert himself as he never remembered to have done during any
previous two hours of his life.
Then the lesson was concluded, and the amateur set about his
ordinary duties, working unusually hard lest Mr. Fernald should decide
that he could not at the same time attend to gymnastics and perform the
services for which he was paid by the city.
He was thoroughly tired when the hour for supper came around; but so
happy at having made some slight advancement toward his goal in life
that all else was as nothing.
That evening he bade Mr. Fernald good-night, and received in reply
Don't think you'll find any snap here; it's precious hard work, an'
won't grow easier.
I'll stick at it, sir, if you don't get tired showin' me how, Seth
cried gleefully, and as he walked sturdily toward the staircase,
holding himself erect and with head thrown well back like some animal
glorying in his strength, the old instructor gazed after him in almost
a friendly manner.
Seth was so elated with the idea that he could tell Ninety-four's
men that he had actually begun his training, as to have nearly
forgotten the appointment made with Dan; but he soon remembered it when
Master Roberts darted out from a hiding-place near at hand.
Well, I've seen him, he cried before Seth had time to speak.
Jip Collins, of course.
How'd you get in?
I was hangin' 'round there lookin' for a chance when your 'Lish
Davis come along with a lawyer, an' I asked 'em to let me go in with
Mr. Davis took a lawyer there? Seth repeated in astonishment.
That's what he did, an' I tell you, Seth, that fireman is a jim
dandy, an' no mistake!
Don't you s'pose I know that after all this time?
Yes; but yet you didn't think he'd do so much, eh?
He's mighty good to everybody. How was Jip lookin'?
Terrible down. You'd think he was expectin' to be hanged by the way
he takes on. I felt awful sorry for him, even if he did burn us out.
What did he say?
Not much of anythin'; but kept cryin' 'bout all the time. Sam
Barney must be feelin' awful good after makin' so much trouble.
Have you seen him? Seth asked, sharply.
If I had he'd be lookin' for a doctor. I'm jest achin' to get my
hands on that duffer in some side street where the perlice won't come
See here, Dan, you mustn't fight if you ever want to get that Third
Avenoo store, for I tell you no feller gets ahead by bein' a tough.
What did the lawyer say?
I didn't hear him yip; but reckon you'll know all about it after
goin' over to Ninety-four's house.
That's where I'm bound for now. Wait outside for me, an' I'll come
to you as soon as I can.
I don't suppose I could sneak in?
I'd rather you didn't, Dan, 'cause it would look as if I was
gettin' mighty fresh to bring my chums along.
All right, old man; I'll wait outside.
There was so much in Seth's mind that he could not indulge in
conversation at that moment, and he walked so rapidly that Dan had but
little opportunity for speaking, however much he might have desired to
At the engine-house he found nearly all the company on the lower
floor much as if waiting for his report, and 'Lish Davis greeted him by
Well, Amateur, nothing but window-washing to-day?
No, sir-ee! Mr. Fernald has begun to give me lessons in the
gymnasium, an' I'm to practise there two hours every day from this
outthat is, so long as I do it an' keep my reg'lar work up in shape,
which, 'cordin' to my way of thinkin', will be every minute I have the
chance of stayin' there.
Did Josh really put you into physical training as quick as this?
Mr. Davis asked, almost incredulously.
That's what he did, an' though I didn't get many points 'bout
fires, it'll help me to grow in great shape.
Then Dan, waiting near the door on the outside, heard Ninety-four's
crew cheering loudly, and he was sadly at a loss to understand the
meaning of such merriment when he believed they were discussing poor
Jip's sad situation.
CHAPTER XIII. THE LETTER.
There could be no question but that Ninety-four's company were
highly delighted with the news brought by Seth regarding his progress.
It was as if each man felt personally complimented by Mr. Fernald
when he advanced the amateur so rapidly, and all united in declaring
that Josh was a right good fellow.
Seth was in the highest degree excited. He had expected that his
friends of Ninety-four would be pleased at learning of his good
fortune, but never fancied they could be so deeply interested, and now
he began to understand what a gloom might be cast over the company if
he should fail in this attempt to gain a foothold in the Department.
'Lish Davis would not be content until the boy gave an exhibition of
what he had learned in the way of gymnastic exercises during the
morning, and when this had been brought to a close amid the applause of
all present, the driver said in a tone of satisfaction:
You're getting on in great shape, Amateur, and if nothing happens
to give you a pull-back, ought'er be well up in the drill 'twixt now
and a year from to-day. Josh Fernald has the name of being precious
hard on them as comes under him for instruction; but I've always
allowed he'd boost along mighty fast any one who struck his fancy. He
must have seen that you were in earnest, young fellow, for when I
talked with him the best promise I could get was that he'd look you
over in the course of a month or two.
Do they keep you humpin' on the odd jobs, Amateur? Jerry Walters
There's plenty to be done; but not enough to kill anybody. After I
get used to the ways of the place I reckon it'll come pretty easy.
That's the kind of talk to make, young fellow! the driver cried
approvingly. Don't allow that your job's a hard one, however tough it
may be, for a kid never gets any credit when he's always whining 'bout
working to death.
Not until ten minutes or more had been spent in answering the
questions asked by each member of the company, including the captain
himself, was the curiosity of the men satisfied concerning the
advancement of their protégé, and then Seth had an opportunity
of inquiring as to the charge against the firebug.
Dan Roberts said you carried a lawyer down to see poor Jip, Mr.
Davis, the amateur began, and instantly the look of pleasurable
excitement faded from 'Lish Davis's face.
So I did, Amateur, so I did. Jerry and I allowed we might do that
much for the kid, even though he ain't deserving of any man's
Will he get out of the scrape?
Not before having a trial, Amateur, and then all must depend on the
judge. It seems he owned up to the whole business when they first
nabbed him, and the only thing he can do now is to plead guilty. The
evidence that can be given by the kids from Brooklyn will be enough to
convict him, even if he finds somebody to help him make a fight, which
wouldn't be good sense.
Then there's nothin' for the poor fellow but to go up the river?
and Seth's voice was tremulous with sorrow.
That ain't altogether certain, lad. The lawyer thinks, and Jerry
and I have the same idee, that if he owns up to the whole thing like a
little man, it may be possible to have sentence suspended during good
What do you mean by that, Mr. Davis? Seth asked in perplexity.
Why, it's jest like this. When he's put on trial let him tell the
truth. We of Ninety-four can testify that it was he who sent in the
alarm, showing he was sorry as soon as the deed had been done. Then
will come the time for the lawyer to get in his fine work. He'll do a
lot of chinning 'bout the boy's being young, and that it'll most likely
make a criminal of him to be sent up. In some such way as that the
judge may be brought to believe that it'll be the wisest course to
suspend sentencethat is to say, hold the conviction over him, but at
the same time letting him go free. If he behaves himself, well and
good; if not, he's brought before the court and sentenced on this same
charge at some future time.
Are you certain that can be done? Seth asked, growing more
No, Amateur, we ain't certain; but the chances are it can be fixed
that way, and we'll do our best at it, if for no other reason than to
show how good we're feeling because you're doing us so much credit up
Seth had hoped that the members of Ninety-four's company would be
able to effect the firebug's release, and it was a great disappointment
to thus learn that nothing could be done save through the clemency of
the judge; but, as he would have kept silent had it been himself who
was in danger, he refrained from giving words to his sorrow.
Understanding what was in his mind, 'Lish Davis added in a kindly
Don't take it to heart, Amateur, for we'll do all that is possible,
and I'm allowing it'll all come out straight in the end. It wouldn't be
well if he pulled through too easy.
If only he don't have to go to jail for two or three years! Seth
cried, and then fearing he might say that which would sound like a
complaint, he took his leave after promising to report next evening.
Well, I begun to think you was goin' to stop there all night,
Master Roberts cried irritably when his partner appeared. Seemed like
you was havin' a mighty good time along at the first of it.
That was when I was tellin' how I'd been gettin' on up at
headquarters. Say, Jip will have to be tried in court!
What? Can't Ninety-four's men stop it? Dan cried in surprise, for
he had believed the firemen could do whatsoever they would, and Seth
repeated all that 'Lish Davis had said, adding in conclusion:
You'd better try to see him again, an' tell the poor fellow how
He'll take it mighty hard.
I'm 'fraid so; but there's nothin' else that can be done. Is Bill
over to the room?
He allowed he'd have to stop down-town quite a spell to-night, an'
I agreed to see him there after I'd met you. Why not take a spin as far
as the post-office?
Seth was not opposed to a stroll through the city, even though
wearied by his labors of the day.
His heart was so sore because it would be impossible for him to do
anything in Jip's behalf that he had no inclination to spend the time
in his lodgings, where he could do nothing save dwell upon the painful
situation of the boy who had tried to injure him.
After a short time Dan succeeded in partially banishing his
partner's sorrowful thoughts by speaking of his own plans regarding the
prospective store on Third Avenue, and broached the subject by paying
to Seth his share of the room-rent.
Did you make all that to-day? the amateur asked in surprise.
Yes, an' thirty-two cents more.
You must have humped yourself.
That's jest what I did do. You see, if I count on ever ownin' that
store I've got to work, same's you did to get into the Department, an'
I never lost a minute this mornin'. I'd made a big pile if it hadn't
been for goin' to see Jip.
Then Dan pictured to his partner in words the establishment he
intended one day to own, giving all the details with such exactness as
to prove that he must have spent considerable time reflecting upon the
That's what I want, he said as he concluded his description of the
store; but when you come to think that I've only got thirty-two cents
towards it, there don't seem much chance I'll ever pull through.
You'll have twice as much to-morrow night, an' every day it'll keep
on growin' till in a little while you'll have a pile that'll make your
eyes stick out. A feller can do pretty near what he counts on, if he
sticks right at it.
You can bet I'll stick at the store part of it, though I ain't
certain as I'd ever believed it could be done if you hadn't got into
the Department. When you was runnin' to fires like as if there might be
big money in it, I counted it was foolishness; but now the thing looks
At this point the conversation was interrupted by Sam Barney, who
suddenly appeared from around a corner much as if he had popped out
with the purpose of frightening them.
Seth would have passed the would-be detective without a word, for
after what had been done he felt no desire to so much as speak with
him; but now was the hour of Master Barney's triumph, and he did not
intend to lose any opportunity of sounding his own praises.
Well, he cried, stepping directly in front of the boys, what do
you think now 'bout my bein' a detective?
If you are one, nobody knows it but yourself, Dan replied angrily.
Didn't I get Jip Collins arrested?
Yes, an' anybody might er done the same thing, without startin' in
by goin' to Philadelphy. It seems you wasn't much of a detective when
you figgered that he was over there.
If you fellers hadn't been so smart with your railroad ticket I'd
never gone, 'cause it didn't take me very long to see how I'd made a
mistake in figgerin', after I put my mind right down to it.
I notice you hung 'round here two days waitin' for us to raise the
money. Couldn't you find the mistake before then?
I didn't try; but when I started in without bein' mixed up with a
crowd of duffers like you, I soon put the thing through.
Yes, it was big detective work to walk over to Thirty-fourth Street
Ferry an' find him.
I snaked him right out er a house where he was hidin'.
Then Denny Macey was the one who gave Jip away, an' I'll have a
settlement with that chump some day! Dan cried angrily.
Now for the first time Seth took part in the conversation, by saying
curtly to Sam:
You've got Jip in jail, an' think it's goin' to be a big thing to
brag about; but I don't believe you'll make any great shakes out of it.
Come on, Dan, we don't want to hang 'round here any longer.
You're feelin' mighty fine, Seth Bartlett, jest 'cause you're given
the chance to loaf 'round the Fire Department headquarters an' sweep
the floors! Sam cried angrily. I s'pose you think you're pretty nigh
the only feller in this town?
Come ahead, Dan, and Seth would have passed on but that the
would-be detective barred his way.
I don't want any talk with you, Sam Barney, an' what's more I won't
Won't, eh? Suppose I slap your face, how'll it be then?
Instinctively Seth put himself in a posture of defence, and
instantly afterward realized that he must not be accused of making a
disturbance on the street lest it work to his harm in the Department.
Then once again he would have passed Master Barney.
The would-be detective was not brave save where he believed he had a
decided advantage, and the fact that Seth seemed eager to avoid an
encounter gave him great confidence in his own abilities.
He stepped up menacingly, brandishing his fists directly under
Seth's nose, and Dan cried sharply to his partner:
Why don't you knock his head off?
He don't dare to so much as raise his hands, except he's up 'round
Ninety-four's house, where he thinks some of the firemen will back
him! Sam cried derisively as he redoubled his efforts to provoke the
Seth's cheeks were flaming red, and he clenched his fists until the
knuckles were white, in the effort to restrain himself.
If he had been alone there is every probability he might have
forgotten his determination to avoid such encounters, for the would-be
detective was doing all he could to provoke a quarrel; but Dan Roberts,
understanding full well why his partner remained inactive when the
temptation to strike at least one blow was very great, took it upon
himself to put an end to the scene.
Sam was standing directly in front of Seth, brandishing his fists,
and indulging in such epithets as coward and sneak, when Dan sprang
forward suddenly, striking the bully a blow under the ear that sent him
headlong into the gutter.
Then, after looking quickly around to make certain there were no
policemen within ear-shot, he leaped upon the discomfited detective,
seizing him by the coat-collar in such a manner that it was impossible
for Sam to raise his head.
You're awful keen on havin' a row, an' I'm goin' to give you the
chance! You knew Seth wouldn't put up his hands, because he don't count
on havin' any black marks against him when he goes into the Department;
but I ain't figgerin' on anythin' of that kind, an' can stand a little
bit of a bad name for the sake of servin' you out.
Come on, Dan, come on! Don't make a row here, 'cause in the first
place Sam Barney ain't worth it, an' then again you mustn't get up a
name for fightin'.
I reckon that dressin' this chump down won't set me off very bad,
an' I'm willin' to take the risks. Now stand up and show what you can
do! he added as he released his hold of the detective's collar.
Sam made no effort to rise, nor did he so much as reply.
You was terrible sharp for a row with Seth, 'cause you counted on
his not mixing up with sich as you. I'm a good bit smaller than he is,
an' am ready to give you all the fightin' that's wanted. Come on, and
be funny same's you was a minute ago.
I ain't got any row with you, Dan Roberts, Sam muttered.
What's the reason you haven't got as much of a one with me as you
had with Seth? We're partners, an' he never said half the rough things
about you that I have.
Leave me alone, or I'll yell for the perlice!
I thought you wasn't achin' terrible bad for a fight, and Dan
flourished his fists precisely as Sam had done while trying to provoke
Seth. Yell for the perlice, will yer? I've a precious good mind to
give you a couple of black eyes, only that I hate to hit a feller who
don't dare to put up his hands.
Come on, Dan, don't spend your time with him! Seth cried. He
won't fight, an' never would. There wouldn't been any bluff made if he
hadn't known I'd promised myself not to get the name of bein' a
Dan did as his partner suggested, and the would-be detective
remained quietly in the gutter until the two were half a block away,
when he arose and cried vindictively:
I'll get square with you fellers yet! We'll see whether Seth
Bartlett swells 'round headquarters much longer!
Don't say a word, Seth whispered as Dan half turned to make some
reply. All he wants is to get me into a row, an' it'll please the
chump too well if we chin with him. I'm sorry you let yourself out.
I ain't. I reckon that much of a fight won't count very hard
against the Third Avenoo store, for I'll earn jest as big a pile of
money to-morrow as if I'd let him make his bluff; but it might er been
different with you.
Seth was by no means pleased with the outcome of this affair,
although he did not say as much to his partner.
It seemed as if he had acted a cowardly part in allowing Sam to
insult him, and then remain passive while Dan took up the quarrel.
He was positive he ought never to fight simply to please a bully,
but equally confident that he was not manly to stand still while a
fellow like Sam Barney imposed upon him.
It was a matter which he could not settle satisfactorily in his own
mind, for whatever course he might have pursued seemed to be wrong.
I'll see what Mr. Davis thinks about it, he said to himself, and
then added to Dan, It was mighty good of you, old man, to give Sam one
clip for me; but I can't make out whether I ought'er stood still or put
up my hands.
Don't bother your head about it, Master Roberts replied
carelessly. That chump detective won't fool 'round us any more, an'
we're well rid of him. Of course he'll do a pile of blowin' an' tellin'
how he'll get square with us; but his talk ain't anythin' more'n wind.
This assurance did not content Seth. Now his only desire was to go
home; but Dan had no idea of curtailing his enjoyment because of the
encounter, therefore the amateur felt in duty bound to do as he wished.
That night Jip's friends were informed of what 'Lish Davis had said,
and while the majority regretted the necessity which kept Master
Collins a prisoner, all agreed that perhaps it might not be well for
him to escape the consequences of his act too easily.
When Seth returned from headquarters on the following evening, with
the report that Mr. Fernald had continued his instruction in
gymnastics, he learned that Dan had, thanks to the lawyer employed by
Ninety-four's men, been allowed to hold a long and private conversation
with the prisoner.
Jip was still very penitent, and declared he deserved all the
punishment which the law might inflict upon him; but at the same time
it could readily be seen, according to Master Roberts's statement, that
he was wonderfully relieved by the hope 'Lish Davis held out.
From what the lawyer told me, Dan said when detailing to his
partner all that had occurred during the interview, it'll be quite a
spell before Jip comes up for trial an' so long as he stays in jail I
can't see but he's gettin' the best of it. Three square meals every
day, an' at night a bed better'n he's had since he could remember.
But he's locked in, an' that's what makes it hard to stand up
under, Seth suggested, whereupon Dan cried with no little warmth:
I'd be willin' to let 'em lock me up nights for the sake of havin'
it as easy as it is for Jip. Nothin' to do, an' livin' off the fat of
I reckon after one day you'd be willin' to take less, an' have a
chance to go where you pleased, Seth replied so emphatically that
Master Roberts did not consider it wise to continue the argument.
During the three days which followed the amateur fireman worked so
hard to win the approval of his teacher that Mr. Fernald finally told
him he was trying to do too much, and cut down his tasks nearly one
half, an act which won for him the unqualified approval of
It was on the morning of the fifth day after Jip Collins's arrest,
and just as Josh Fernald was bringing Seth's lesson to a conclusion,
that one of the employés entered the gymnasium with a letter, and cried
in a loud voice:
Does anybody here know a fellow by the name of Seth Bartlett?
That's me, the amateur replied after a moment's thought: but I
don't reckon I've got a letter, 'cause there's nobody who'd write to
Here's what the address says, and the young man held the envelope
in such a manner that both the boy and his instructor could see the
Seth Bartlett, fireman up at headquarters, New York.
Seth made no attempt to take the missive until Mr. Fernald asked
Why don't you take it? There's no other of that name here so far as
I never had a letter, an' it can't be for me.
You're the only Seth Bartlett in the building, and it must belong
to you, the messenger said impatiently, whereat he threw the missive
toward Seth and went his way.
Not until Mr. Fernald had peremptorily ordered the boy to open the
letter in order to see if it was intended for him, did the amateur as
much as touch the soiled envelope; but after having torn it open the
expression on his face told that the writer was not a stranger.
This is what Seth read in ill-formed letters, many of them occupying
the depth of two lines, some in written and others in printed
Seth Bartlett, fireman up at headquarters.
Sam Barney struck this town the other day, an' borrowed a dollar
off er me. You know my folks stopped here on the way to Baltimore, an'
I've been tryin' to earn a little money so's to see me threw. I'm in
Philadelphy, an' Sam cum over here with a big stiff 'bout how you an'
Bill Dean had cent him to hunt for Jip Collins. He was broke an' ced if
I'd let him have money enuf to git home you or Bill would pay it back.
It's been most a week sence he was here an' I ain't heard from you. Why
don't you send the good dollar I put up to help you along. I'm livin'
at 1451-1/2 Filbert Street an' want my stuff.
Yours till deth shal part us,
So the letter is for you, even though you never received one
before? Mr. Fernald quietly remarked as Seth, having read the lines
after considerable difficulty, refolded the paper and returned it to
Yes, sir, an' it's from a feller in Philadelphy. I don't reckon you
know who Jip Collins is; but this has got somethin' to do with his
As he spoke Seth unfolded the paper and handed it to his instructor,
who, after deciphering it, quite naturally asked for an explanation.
If you owe this boy money, send it to him at once, for people who
do not pay their bills are in bad odor up here.
I never borrowed a cent of him, Seth cried indignantly, and then
he told Mr. Fernald the whole story.
The old instructor appeared to be amused by the recital, and when it
was concluded asked if Seth wanted leave of absence to straighten the
I'll have plenty of time after leaving here to-night; but what
bothers me is that I may have a row with Sam Barney, 'cause I ain't
goin' to let him swell 'round borrowin' money on my account.
And in that you are perfectly right, my boy.
He knows I don't dare to fight on the street, 'cause it may give me
a black mark in the Department, an' that would never do, so I reckon
he'll be mighty lippy 'bout it.
Ask 'Lish Davis! I can't recommend you to create a disturbance, and
yet it seems hard you should be imposed upon because of the situation.
Whatever the driver of Ninety-four advises, you may do without fear of
the consequences, for there isn't a more level-headed man in the
Department, and it's only his lack of education that has prevented him
from rising in the service.
I'll see him to-night, Seth replied as he put the letter in his
pocket, and then without further delay he set about his regular duties.
CHAPTER XIV. THE SUBPOENA.
Impatient though Seth was to talk with 'Lish Davis and his roommates
concerning what had been done by Sam Barney in the matter of borrowing
money on the account of others, he made no attempt to leave
headquarters a single moment earlier than usual.
When the hours of labor had come to an end, however, he did not
linger, and with a cheery good-night to Mr. Fernald, for by this time
the teacher and his pupil were on excellent terms, he set off at full
speed for Ninety-four's house.
Unless they were out on duty, this particular company, since Seth
went to work at headquarters, could always be found on the lower floor
of the building at about six o'clock in the evening awaiting the
arrival of their kid, and here Master Bartlett found them.
From the expression on his face all hands understood that something
unpleasant had occurred, and 'Lish Davis asked in a tone of anxiety:
What's gone wrong, Amateur? Haven't been getting into trouble with
Josh, I hope?
Mr. Fernald is mighty kind to me; he says I shall go in the yard
next week for half an hour each day, an' then you know I'll have a
great chance to pick up points.
Once he starts you in there the road is pretty straight up to a job
in the Department. You look so kind-er peaked I was afraid something
had gone wrong.
Read that, an' then I reckon you'll think somethin' has gone
wrong! Seth exclaimed as he gave the driver Joe Carter's letter,
unfolding the sheet that there might be no needless time spent in
mastering its contents.
Read it aloud, 'Lish, Jerry Walters cried, and the driver glanced
toward Seth as if asking permission to do so.
Go ahead, Mr. Davis. Of course everybody belongin' to this company
has a right to know all about my business.
Davis did as he was requested, reading slowly as if enjoying the
matter hugely, and interrupted now and then by exclamations of surprise
or amusement from his comrades.
Well, what do you think of it? Seth asked angrily when the driver,
having come to the end, remained silent.
It begins to look as if your friend the detective could manage to
take care of himself by hook or by crook. I can't see that either you
or Bill Dean is bound by any such a transaction, unless you gave Sam
permission to borrow money on your account.
Of course we wasn't such fools as to do that! It's a reg'lar
swindle, that's what it is, an' if I'd known 'bout it when Dan and me
met him down-town, I'm 'fraid I'd punched his head, even if it would be
fightin' on the street!
What's that? Mr. Davis asked sharply. Something been going on
that we haven't heard?
I counted on tellin' you; but it seems as if there's always a
bother to talk 'bout, so I waited a spell.
Then Seth gave a detailed account of the encounter with the would-be
detective, and when he had concluded the recital 'Lish Davis looked
around at his companions as if waiting to hear their comments before he
expressed an opinion.
You ought'er lit right out on him, Jerry Walters cried warmly. He
thinks you won't fight, an' will keep on makin' trouble for you till he
learns that it ain't safe.
Don't listen to such advice, Seth, the captain added quickly. You
did perfectly right, and are to be praised for it, more particularly
since the temptation must have been very great.
Then the men began what finally grew into a heated discussion, as to
how the boy should have acted under such provoking circumstances, and
not until it was brought to a close did 'Lish Davis give his opinion.
I'm allowing that you can't afford to raise a brawl, Amateur, he
said, deliberately. If that imitation detective 'mounted to anything
the case might be different, and though I'm free to say that every man
or boy should defend himself when it's necessary, there's no wisdom in
raising a disturbance while it's possible to walk on. The trouble is
that too many of us are apt to think we can't get away from what
appears to be a bad scrape without coming to blows; but in nine cases
out of ten that isn't the truth.
But what am I to do 'bout this money he borrowed from Joe Carter?
Seth asked as the driver ceased speaking.
I can't see that you've got any call to disturb yourself. Write and
tell the boy in Philadelphia that the imitation detective had no
authority to borrow money in your name, and let that settle it.
This did not appear to Seth the proper course, for he felt that he
was in a certain sense bound to prevent Joe Carter from losing anything
by being thus confiding; but yet he would not have questioned the
It's mighty aggravating, Amateur, I'm free to confess, 'Lish Davis
added as he noted the expression on the boy's face; but you must
remember that the poorest way to settle a difficulty is by fighting.
When you're where it's got to be done in order to save yourself from
being hurt or robbed, then put up your hands like a man, first making
certain there's no other way out. If it's all the same to you, I'm
counting on toddling down to Tenth Street to-night.
Do you mean that I'm goin' to school now?
I reckon the time has come when you may as well begin. Jerry
Walters and me have made the trade, so after you've slicked up a bit,
drop in here and we'll start.
All right, sir, Seth cried as he hurried away to make ready for
what he knew must be a trying ordeal. He understood that he was
remarkably ignorant for one of his years, and had an idea that every
pupil in the school would make sport of him.
When the amateur fireman arrived at his lodgings he found his
roommates awaiting him, and in the fewest possible words made known Sam
Barney's misdemeanor, producing Joe Carter's letter in proof of his
It can well be imagined that both the boys were angry and surprised
by the information, and Bill insisted that all three set out at once in
search of the offender.
I've got to start in on school to-night, an' so I can't go, Seth
How long are you goin' to keep up sich a racket as that? Dan
asked, as if personally aggrieved because such a course was to be
'Cordin' to the way Mr. Davis talks I'll have to stick at it till
I'm a reg'lar fireman, an' perhaps a good bit after that.
Then I'd give up tryin' to get into the Department! Master Roberts
replied emphatically. I wouldn't do all that funny business if I never
'mounted to anythin' more'n a bootblack!
It's jest what you ought'er do, Dan, if you ever expect to own that
Third Avenoo store.
I'd like to know why?
Now, that's a foolish question. S'posen you got the shop this very
minute, an' wanted to write a letter, or figger up how much anythin'
cost? What kind of a fist would you make of it?
Dan did not reply, but changed the subject of conversation by asking
What er you goin' to do 'bout Sam Barney?
You an' me will hunt him up, an' by the time we're through with the
chump he won't borrow money in sich a way ag'in, I reckon. Who'll write
to Joe Carter 'bout it?
If Seth is goin' to school he ought'er do that much, 'cause it'll
come right in his line of business.
I'll do the best I can at it, the amateur fireman replied readily,
and added as his friends turned to leave the room. Now, don't have a
reg'lar row with that chump. It'll be enough if you show him up to all
the fellers as a reg'lar fraud, and then you won't stand any chance of
gettin' into trouble with the perlice.
We'll 'tend to the business in proper shape, Bill replied in a
meaning tone, and Seth was not sadly disturbed in mind as he
understood, or thought he did, that Sam Barney would spend a very
unpleasant evening if these two acquaintances chanced to meet him.
When he was alone Seth set about making preparations for beginning
his pursuit of knowledge, and the prospect before him was by no means
'Lish Davis was awaiting his arrival when he reentered the
engine-house, and immediately began laughing heartily at the expression
on the boy's face.
It ain't going to be half as bad as you're counting on, Amateur,
the driver cried as soon as he could control his mirth, and then the
two set out.
Mr. Davis had but one remark of importance to make during the
journey, and that impressed Seth more than anything which had been said
to him that day.
If I'd spent half or even a quarter of my spare time while I was a
boy, in study, instead of being only the driver of Ninety-four, I might
be her captain at the very least. You may have got it into your head
that firemen don't know anything except how to use an axe or handle
hose; but it's a big mistake. If you want to keep on rising in the
Department, you've got to have more book-learning than I was willing to
When they arrived at the school, 'Lish did not spend very much time
in introducing his protégé.
Here's the kid I was telling you about, he said, and then Seth was
left to fight his own battle.
That going to school was not as hard as he had fancied was known at
the engine-house when the amateur returned shortly after nine o'clock,
for then he said with an air of relief:
I ain't so certain but that I'll like it, after I kind-er get the
hang of things.
Course you will, Amateur, course you will; but it's bound to be
hard work, and there don't seem to be much chance for play in your life
the way we've mapped it out for you. All hands of us have been
figgering how we'd kind-er let up on you, and it's been decided that
you shall sleep here every Saturday night. What calls come in 'twixt
the ending of the school business and midnight, you're to answer as if
belonging reg'larly to the company.
Seth's eyes glistened with delight, and when he had gone to his room
the driver said in a tone of satisfaction to his comrades:
That kid is bound to make his mark in the Department some day, and
we'll be patting ourselves on the head for having given him a show.
Just think of a boy like him being tickled way up in G when you give
him a chance to work at a fire! He was reg'larly born for the
When Seth arrived at Mrs. Hanson's he found his roommates awaiting
Didn't you find Sam? he asked in surprise that they should have
returned so soon.
That's what we did; met him down by the post-office where there was
a whole crowd of the fellers, an' by this time I reckon he don't think
he's a terrible big man.
What did he say 'bout givin' Joe Carter sich a yarn?
First off he tried to say it wasn't so; but when we flashed up the
letter, it was all over, an' the chump couldn't so much as yip, 'cept
to promise to pay the bill with the very first money he could scrape
Then you didn't have any row?
Not a bit of it.
I was 'fraid you might thump him, an' the perlice would jump in.
We didn't reckon on bein' jugged jest 'cause of him, Bill replied,
quietly. Instead of fightin', Dan jest shoved him inside the
post-office quick-like an' I let him have a couple of mighty good clips
alongside the head. When he yelled, we lit out an' come up here. If it
hadn't been that you're tryin' so hard to get into the Department, we
might er had a row with the duffer; but seein's anythin' of the kind
would give you a black eye, we kept quiet.
Dan and Master Dean both appeared to think they deserved praise for
having been so cautious, and Seth did not believe it would be wise to
reproach them for what had been done.
After this affair there was nothing out of the ordinary in Seth's
life for ten days or more, except during the two Saturday nights he
slept at Ninety-four's house, where on each occasion it was his good
fortune to go out with the engine.
At headquarters Mr. Fernald pushed him along in the drill as rapidly
as possible, and he was allowed to devote considerably more than two
hours each day to the lessons.
At school he made as much advancement as could have been expected,
and really came to look forward with pleasure upon his tasks there, for
'Lish Davis's remark as to the value of an education had not been
Then came the day when he was summoned from the yard where he had
been taking part in a drill with ladders, to meet a stranger who handed
him a printed document, the meaning of which he failed to understand
until Mr. Fernald explained that it was a subpoena, or, in other words,
a command for him to appear in court on the following morning to give
evidence in the case of the State vs. Jipson Collins.
The officer who brought the summons stated that he had served a
similar document upon Dan Roberts a few hours previous, and cautioned
Seth against failing to obey.
I reckon they'll have to get along without me, 'cause I can't leave
here, he replied, as if believing such an excuse must be accepted by
any fair-minded judge.
Then it was Mr. Fernald explained the nature of a subpoena, and Seth
was decidedly surprised at learning that he could, and probably would,
be arrested if he refused to obey.
There is no need of your coming here at all to-morrow, the old man
said, no matter how early you may get out of court. You're needing a
holiday, lad, and I'm glad of an excuse for giving you one.
Not until he returned from school that evening did Seth see his
roommates, and then he found them in a high state of excitement because
of the approaching trial.
Mr. Davis says he shall be there, an' the lawyer is to 'tend right
out so's to say a good word for poor Jip when the time comes, Seth
hastened to state, and from that moment until it seemed absolutely
necessary they should retire, the boys discussed the probable fate of
Next morning when Seth went to the engine-house to perform his
customary task of blacking the men's boots, Dan set out with him,
saying as they left Mrs. Hanson's:
If it wasn't for that Third Avenoo store I wouldn't go down-town
to-day, till it was time for the trial to begin; but I can't lose a
whole mornin's work.
That's the way to stick at it! Seth cried approvingly. How much
money have you got laid up?
Three dollars an' five cents. Oh, I'm gettin' there, old man,
though 'cordin' to the way things are workin' it'll take quite a
You'll strike a rush some day, an' then it'll pile up in great
shape. Stick at it, Dan.
That's what I'm reckonin' on doin', an' say, Seth, if it don't cost
too much, I'm goin' to 'tend out on school, same's you do. Bill has
'greed to come into the snap, an' we'll make it lively all 'round.
It won't cost you a cent; Mr. Davis says so.
Then we'll begin to-night, but I don't want the fellers to know
about it, 'cause they'd set up sich a terrible howl.
Dan did not waste any more time in conversation, but hurried away to
take advantage of the early demand for papers, and 'Lish Davis said
sagely when Seth had repeated the conversation to him:
Now you can see the result of a good example, Amateur. If you had
kicked against going to school, your roommates never'd thought of
trying the same game, and so by helping yourself you've gone a long way
towards helping others. Contrariwise, if you'd been cutting 'round
town, raising rows and getting into all kinds of trouble, you'd find
them as would follow in your track, so it's a pretty sure thing that a
boy is bound to walk straight because of the effect it'll have on
others, even if for no other reason.
Seth made no reply to this brief lecture; he was learning very much
of life through his intercourse with Ninety-four's men, and it seemed
to him as if each day some new idea regarding a boy's work was to be
Your firebug has his chance this forenoon, eh? 'Lish asked after a
Yes, sir, an' I'm hopin' mighty hard that he'll get off this time.
I reckon a good deal depends on you and your partner.
How do you mean?
If the firebug pleads guilty as his lawyer has advised him to, the
judge will only call on you two witnesses to tell how it happened, so's
he can get an idea of about how hard Jip ought'er be punished.
Then if we talk smooth he stands a better chance, eh?
That's 'bout the size of it, Amateur.
During the remainder of the time he spent in Ninety-four's quarters
Seth was unusually thoughtful, and immediately his work was finished he
asked the driver if there was any objection to his going down-town.
Now see here, Amateur, there's no call for you to come 'round me
with a question like that. I'm only too glad you've got a chance to get
a holiday, and I advise you to spend all the time, till the hour for
school, among your old chums. I don't reckon you've got any big pile of
money left by this time, eh?
Well, I don't need a cent, 'cept for my rent, an' that ain't
costin' such a terrible pile.
Have you got enough to buy your breakfast with?
I'll get whatever I need.
See here, Amateur, how much money have you on hand? 'Lish asked so
sternly that Seth could no longer evade the question.
Well, I'm broke; but there's no need of my havin' a single cent. I
ain't doin' much swellin' lately.
Take this, and the driver thrust a dollar in Seth's hands. I
ain't giving it to you, so there's no call to kick. You've got to
borrow it, or go hungry, and that I'm not minded you shall do.
I haven't done anything of the kind yet a while, the Amateur
replied, with a hearty laugh, and then he began to speak of Jip once
more lest 'Lish Davis might take it into his head to ask how long he
had thus been penniless, for it was nearly a week since he had so much
as a nickel in his pocket.
I'll pay back the dollar as soon as I get my month's wages, he
said, as, his work finished, he made ready to go down-town, and the
driver replied cheerily:
I'm counting on it, Amateur, and I'm also reckoning that you'll
come to me again when that's gone, else you and me will have a settling
that won't be pleasant to one of us.
Then Seth started down-town with a smile on his face, as he repeated
again and again to himself:
Folks are mighty good to me, mighty good!
When he arrived in that locality where he formerly transacted
business, his old friends welcomed him heartily, and every one who
claimed the slightest acquaintance had a great many questions to ask
concerning his position at headquarters.
Not until nearly the hour set for the witnesses to be at court did
Seth find an opportunity of speaking privately with his partner, and
then he repeated what 'Lish Davis had said as to the possible effect
their evidence might have in the case.
We must be careful to tell the truth, Dan; but there's no need of
our rubbin' it in very bad.
That'll be all right, Master Roberts replied confidently. Jest
wait till the judge begins to pump me, an' you'll see how slick I'll
make it for Jip.
Don't put it on too thick.
See here, Seth, I reckon I know how to run this thing. Don't you
worry 'bout me; but be kind-er thinkin' up what you'll say.
I don't s'pose we'll have a chance for anything 'cept to answer
I'll bet I can sneak in a good word now an' then, never mind how
hard they try to stop me. Say, have you seen Sam Barney?
No; is he goin' to the court?
'Cordin' to the way he's been swellin' hisself out this mornin'
you'd think he was countin' on runnin' the whole thing. He told some of
the fellers that the trial wouldn't begin if he wasn't there, 'cause
he's the only one who can send Jip up the river. Bill wanted me to go
in with him for usin' the chump so rough he couldn't more'n crawl, an'
that would fix things for Jip; but I was 'fraid it might make talk in
the court so's you'd get the worst of it.
It's better to let him alone, though I'm awful sorry he's so set on
this detective business, 'cause if it hadn't been for that, Jip never'd
At this moment Bill Dean joined his friends with the information
that the would-be detective had already started for the court-room, and
proposed that they set out at once.
I'm goin' to get a seat close to that duffer, an' let him know
he'll get his face into trouble if he tells any more'n is called for. I
wonder why he couldn't be yanked up for lyin' to Joe Carter when he
borrowed that money? If he should have a dose of it in jail, I reckon
he wouldn't be so hot to see Jip sent up.
Dan was uncertain whether a charge might not have been brought
against the would-be detective because of what he had done in
Philadelphia, but dismissed the matter without very much study, on the
ground that it was now too late to render such a course of advantage to
Then the three, followed or accompanied by nearly all their
acquaintances, went toward the court-room.
CHAPTER XV. THE TRIAL.
The door-keeper of the court attempted to check the rush which began
with the entrance of Seth, Dan, and Bill; but it was impossible because
of his delay.
He had at first objected to admitting the amateur fireman and his
partner, but they speedily proved they were entitled to enter, by
producing the subpoenas, and as he stepped aside for them to go in, the
following came on with a rush as powerful as it was unexpected.
The official would have swept down upon the offenders and literally
dragged them out, but that 'Lish Davis, who was standing just inside
the door, said with a laugh:
I don't reckon you've got time to sort 'em, Mr. Officer. A kid is
to be tried for arson this morning, and more'n likely as not half the
crowd has been summoned as witnesses, for it's only through his
acquaintances that anything can be proven.
The door-keeper looked for an instant at the buzzing throng which
had settled down upon the front seats, and, understanding what a
difficult task he might be setting himself, evidently decided that Mr.
Davis was in the right.
Sam Barney already sat on the front row of seats allotted to
spectators when Mrs. Hanson's lodgers entered, and although Seth would
have been better pleased to remain at a greater distance from the
would-be detective, Bill Dean forced him along until they were directly
behind Jip's enemy.
Don't speak to him, Seth whispered. I'm sorry we're so near the
It's jest where I counted on gettin', Bill replied, in a tone of
satisfaction. I won't have any row with the chump, but only shake him
up a bit.
If we make any noise, all hands will be fired out.
Watch an' see how quiet I'll be, Master Dean replied, and then
before his companion could check him, he had leaned over and whispered
in Sam's ear: Be mighty careful you tell the truth in this court, or
I'll let out to the judge what you did in Philadelphy, an' then perhaps
Jip Collins won't be the only prisoner 'round here.
Master Barney turned quickly, and an expression of disquiet came
over his face as he saw who were directly behind him.
He did not venture to make any remark, nor did Bill think it wise to
repeat the threat; but he shook his fist warningly, which served the
Be quiet, Seth whispered imploringly. It would be terrible if we
got into a row here, for Mr. Davis is standing close by the door
I won't do a thing till we get outside, unless it happens that I
have to tell the judge 'bout Sam's borrowin' that money, Master Dean
replied in a tone sufficiently loud to be heard by the alleged
Then the attention of all the sidewalk merchants was attracted to
the opposite side of the room by Dan Roberts, who whispered loudly,
pointing with outstretched finger:
There he is! There's Jip!
The prisoner was being led in by a burly policeman, who kept a firm
hold on the boy's collar as if fearful he might make some desperate
attempt at escape, and there was not a person in the court-room, with
the probable exception of Sam Barney, who failed to feel a certain
sympathy for the frightened lad.
That's his lawyerthe little feller with the big nose, Dan
whispered so loudly that not only his friends in the immediate
vicinity, but all the attorneys within the enclosure, set apart for
their especial use, heard the words, and much merriment ensued, during
which the cause of it looked around in surprise, unable to discover the
meaning of it.
Seth and Dan, who had never before attended the trial of a prisoner,
expected there would be considerable ceremony, in which policemen would
play a prominent part; therefore the case was begun and gone on with to
some extent before they were aware of the fact.
It is true they saw Jip Collins standing up while the clerk read
from a paper a quantity of words which had no meaning to them, and
after a time, the prisoner was allowed to sit down again.
Then the little man with the big nose talked to the judge as if
confiding in him some secret, after which the clerk called loudly:
Daniel Roberts! Daniel Roberts!
Seth's partner gazed about him curiously, never once thinking the
clerk referred to him, until 'Lish Davis, coming swiftly down from his
station near the door, leaned over and pinched Dan's ear as he asked:
Why don't you answer to your name?
Is it me they mean? Dan asked, and at that instant the clerk
repeated the call.
Dan looked about him in perplexity, uncertain as to what he should
do, until 'Lish reached over to seize him by the collar, when he cried
in a shrill voice:
Here I be, Mister!
Come forward to the witness-stand, the official said sharply,
while the spectators laughed heartily.
It was several moments before Master Roberts could be made to
understand exactly where he should go, and then, assisted by 'Lish
Davis and the clerk, he finally gained the stand, where he stood gazing
around with the most friendly expression on his face.
For some reason no question was asked immediately, and after waiting
two or three moments, Dan, believing the judge was ready to hear his
story, began earnestly:
You see, it's jest this way: Jip, he didn't count on doin' anything
off color, an' if it hadn't been for Sam Barney
Silence in the court! the crier called, and Dan looked up in
surprise at being interrupted so soon.
He didn't reckon on bein'
Dan stopped again as the same voice called loudly for silence in the
court, and then the attorney employed to defend Jip explained matters
You must wait until you are questioned, Daniel. There will be ample
opportunity to give your evidence.
Dan ain't goin' to let any chance slip him, Bill Dean whispered
confidentially to Seth, and Sam Barney said in a tone sufficiently loud
to be heard by those immediately behind him:
He's a reg'lar chump, else he'd know enough to behave hisself on
He'll behave himself outside on the sidewalk in a way you won't
like if you shoot off your mouth too much, Bill whispered, and Seth
shook his friend's arm warningly lest he disturb the court by his
'Lish Davis evidently saw that there was bad blood between the
alleged detective and Seth's roommate, and at once forced the boys on
the front seat to move nearer together until he had room to sit where
he could keep all of them under his eye, a proceeding which caused the
amateur fireman great relief of mind.
After what seemed like a long time in waiting, Jip's attorney asked
What is your name?
Dan appeared surprised at such a question, and after some slight
Why, I'm the feller you told to come here. Didn't you hear the man
call my name? This is where they said I was to stand.
The judge rapped smartly on the desk in front of him, and Dan turned
quickly to see what had happened.
Answer properly the questions asked of you!
The attorney interrupted him by asking as before:
What is your name?
It's Dan Roberts, of course, an' I was
Are you acquainted with the prisoner?
Do you mean Jip? Why, of course I am; him an' me used to work
together when he lived with Seth Bartlett
Answer only the questions asked of you! the judge said sternly,
and for the instant Dan was abashed; but quickly recovered himself as
he remembered what Seth had said regarding the possibility of aiding
Jip by his evidence.
Where were you when he set fire to the shed in Baxter's
Now, see here, mister, Jip never 'd done that
Where were you? the attorney repeated, speaking so sharply that
for the moment Dan was startled.
Why, in the shed, of course, we
Had you heard the prisoner threaten to set fire to the shed?
He didn't mean a word of it; did you, Jip? He was
Unless you answer the questions which are asked, and in a proper
manner, we shall find some means of punishing you, the judge said
sternly, and Jip's attorney whispered a few words in the ear of the
witness, which had the effect of checking him for the time being.
He was questioned regarding what he had heard Jip say as to burning
the shed; how many times such threat had been repeated in his presence,
and what the prisoner had told concerning the crime after it had been
It was the last question which set loose the floodgates of his
speech, and, regardless of the judge's warnings or the attorney's
nervous gestures, he said, speaking rapidly in order that all might be
told before they should check him:
Jip, he was awful sorry 'cause he'd done it, an' said he'd square
things if we'd let him. He wouldn't even put up his hands when I was
goin' to thump him, an' if Sam Barney hadn't wanted to show hisself off
for a detective there wouldn't been any fuss like this. What does he
know 'bout bein' a detective? Why, I wouldn't
By this time the court officials managed to stop the flow of words;
but not before he had shaken his fist in the direction of Sam, and
caused even the judge to smile.
You may step down, the clerk said, after order had been restored,
and Dan asked innocently:
Ain't you goin' to give me a chance to
Step down! was the stern command and Master Roberts was forced to
obey, much to his displeasure.
I'll bet I'd fix things if they'd give me a chance, he whispered
to Seth as he took his seat; but that lawyer 'Lish Davis hired don't
'mount to a row of pins.
Then the amateur fireman's name was called, and he proved a more
satisfactory witness to all concerned than had Master Roberts.
He replied briefly to the questions, and when the examination was
ended the judge asked how Jip had behaved after the crime was
Then it was that Seth had an opportunity of telling how penitent the
firebug had appeared to be; how eager he was to do all in his power
toward repairing the wrong, and declared he did not believe the
prisoner would go crooked again.
'Lish Davis next went on the stand, and although he could not swear
to Jip's repentance, he testified that the prisoner himself had sent in
the alarm, and succeeded in saying many a good word for the boy.
That driver is a dandy! Dan whispered approvingly. I wish the
lawyer was half as good.
Master Roberts was better satisfied with the attorney a short time
later, when he made a plea that sentence be suspended on the prisoner,
who had promptly confessed his guilt, and even at the moment when the
crime had been committed did all in his power to repair the mischief.
Then two or three others had something to say; but they appeared to
be talking privately with the judge, rather than conducting the case,
and to the great surprise of all the small spectators Sam Barney was
not called to the witness-stand.
The fact that he had compassed the arrest of the prisoner was not
even mentioned, much to the delight of Dan and Bill Dean, each of whom
leaned forward from time to time to ask in a cautious whisper as to
when the big detective work was goin' to be showed up?
After a time it seemed to those in the front seats as if the
prisoner had been forgotten by the court, for nothing was said to or
about him, and Bill was on the point of asking Seth if the trial was
concluded, when the judge ordered Jip to stand up.
Then he lectured him severely on the crime of arson, explained how
many years of his life would be spent in prison if the provisions of
the law were carried out to their fullest extent, and finally announced
that sentence would be suspended during good behavior.
At this point 'Lish Davis left the court-room as if he no longer had
any interest in the proceedings, and after a certain time the attorney
led Jip out of the building, the latter's acquaintances following in a
Is it all over? Dan cried, seizing the attorney by the arm in
order to hold his attention, and before the gentleman could speak, Sam
Barney cried vindictively:
You can bet it ain't all over! I've been buncoed by a lot of cheap
firemen, an' don't count on holdin' my tongue. You'll see Jip Collins
in jail again before he's a day older.
Yes, it is all over, the attorney said in reply to Dan's question.
So long as Jip behaves himself, nothing more will be done; but if he
should go wrong, sentence for this crime will be pronounced, and most
likely he will be given the extreme penalty.
Can Sam Barney have him arrested? Dan asked.
No one can trouble him on this charge while he lives an honest
Then I'll see that that duffer holds his tongue! and Bill started
toward the would-be detective in a threatening manner; but the latter
was not minded to take any chances of an encounter.
He turned and fled instantly Bill made the advance, and did not halt
until he was half a block or more away, when he shouted:
Wait an' see what I'll do to all you chumps who think you're so
I'll give you a chance of seein' what I'll do, an' without much
waitin', if you make any more cheap talk!
With this threat Bill turned his back on the disappointed Sam, and
Seth begged of him to remain quiet.
It's all right now, he replied complacently. I've had my say, an'
if Sam knows what's good for him, he'll keep his tongue quiet. There
ain't any reason why I shouldn't fight, an' he'll soon find it out.
Then Seth turned to the attorney, who was yet talking with Jip, and
How's he goin' to pay you for lookin' after him?
I don't expect he can. The bill was settled by some firemen
belonging to Ninety-four engine.
With this the lawyer, after advising Jip to call upon him from time
to time, went his way, and Mrs. Hanson's lodgers stood looking at each
other as if expecting some important proposition was about to be made.
It won't do to take you up to our house, Jip, 'cause there are
three of us already, an' the boss of the place can't have all the boys
in the city runnin' in an' out there for sixty cents a week, Seth said
hesitatingly, wondering what could be done with the lad who had been
put on probation.
I ain' thinkin' you could take me there, Master Collins replied
promptly. Now I'm out, I'll begin to sell papers down by the ferry
again, 'cause I've got fourteen cents left, an' if Sam Barney leaves me
alone, I'll pull through all right.
If he so much as looks crossways at you, I'll give him something to
remember me by, Bill cried.
It's a good thing to get right at your work, Seth said
approvingly. Stick at it, an' us fellers will come to see you whenever
we get a chance.
You've been mighty good to me, all three of you, an' I only wish I
It was impossible for the penitent firebug to say anything more. The
tears he had been holding back since he first appeared in court now
came out in full force, and, seated on the curbstone, he gave full sway
to the sense of loneliness and shame in his heart.
Mrs. Hanson's lodgers soothed him as best they could, and not until
he was ready for business once more, with a bundle of evening papers
under his arm, did Seth think of leaving him.
Dan and Bill had both equipped themselves for work, and promised to
have an eye out for Jip during the remainder of that day at least;
therefore, Seth believed himself at liberty to follow his own
I want to go up to the engine-house for a spell; but I'll be in the
room in time to go with you to school, he said to Dan, and the latter
All right, we'll flash up there by dark, and you needn't be 'fraid
anybody will get the best of Jip while we're round.
Ten minutes later Seth was in Ninety-four's quarters, standing in
front of 'Lish Davis, as the latter asked sternly:
Why didn't you stay down-town an' enjoy yourself? That's what I
told you to do.
I can have more fun up here, an' I didn't think you'd care if I
loafed 'round till it was time to go to school.
Care? Of course we don't, Amateur; but you ought'er have some
change; there's no sense in hanging on here all the time.
I don't see very much of you, an' perhaps
You're reckoning that we may get a call, and you'll have the chance
to go out with us?
If there was one, I'd like
Mr. Davis interrupted him by saying with mock seriousness:
I'm afraid, Amateur, we shall have to hire a back-yard somewhere,
and keep a little blaze going so's to amuse you.
Seth laughed heartily at this conceit, and then bethinking himself
that there was no reason why he should not give the men's boots an
extra polish, brought his outfit from the chamber above, although Jerry
Walters insisted strongly that he should sit still and visit with
To do this work he had drawn on an old pair of overalls to protect
his blue trousers, taken off his coat, and was in full working costume,
when a click came from the Morse instrument, and the men were already
on their feet as the alarm began to sound.
Am I in it? Seth cried eagerly, as the horses dashed out of their
stall, and 'Lish Davis replied, while attending to his portion of the
I reckon we shall have to take you along, Amateur, seeing 's this
fire seems to have started jest when you got into trim for hard work.
Swing alongside the engineer, and we'll allow you're one of the
By the time the driver ceased speaking the engine was on its way out
of the building, and Seth, swaying to and fro, clung for dear life to
the guard-rail, as the mighty machine was drawn swiftly over the
There's no chance of our getting first water this time, even if we
are taking the mascot with us, Jerry Walters said with a laugh, and
Amateur knew there were no less than three engines stationed nearer the
signal-box, from which had come this alarm, than was Ninety-four.
A nasty place for a fire, the engineer said as the engine,
following another an hundred yards or more in advance, rolled on toward
a block of apartment houses, from the centre of which could be seen
dense clouds of black smoke ascending.
And it seems to have a good start, Walters added.
Then Ninety-four's hose was coupled on, and, without attracting the
attention of the driver, Seth followed Joe Black and Jerry as they
dragged the nozzle up the steps to the entrance of the threatened
Get back, Amateur! one of them shouted, and the boy cried
Please let me go as far as you do! It's my first chance, an' I've
got my old clothes on!
All right; but have an eye on yourself, and see to it the battalion
chief don't spot you, Joe Black replied carelessly, and Seth
congratulated himself that he had gone to Ninety-four's quarters
instead of spending his time down-town.
The fire appeared to have its strongest hold in the shaft of the
elevator, coming from the basement, and the two men whom Seth was
following, joined by Ben Dunton, dragged the long length of hose up one
flight of stairs to the landing where tongues of yellow flame were
apparently coming through the very floor.
Once they were in position for battle with the foe directly before
them, Jerry Walters ran into the adjoining apartment, and shouted
through the open window.
Even where he stood, shielding his face with his arm as best he
could from the intense heat and blinding smoke, Seth could hear the
Ninety-four! Start your water! Start your water!
If there was any response those on the landing did not hear it; but
a few seconds later the leathern hose began to stiffen and round out
into shape, and then with a mighty rush that threatened to wrest the
nozzle from the three strong men who were holding it, a jet of water
struck the burning floor with a force that would have shattered less
Hurrah for Ninety-four! and Seth sprang to the hose, intent on
doing a full share of the work even though his face was almost
blistered by the heat.
Get back, Amateur, get back! It's too hot for you here! and Ben
Dunton thrust Seth aside with his elbow at the very instant a wild
scream was heard on the stairway in the rear of the firemen.
Turning quickly Seth saw dimly through the volume of choking vapor
the form of a woman, and it seemed to him that Ben Dunton was trying to
force her down the stairs when she shrieked:
There's a child on the next floor!
Jerry Walters and Joe Black could not leave their places of duty;
but Ben Dunton sprang forward, and almost instinctively Seth followed,
the smoke being so dense at the top of the stairs as to screen his
movements from the view of those at the nozzle.
For an instant he fancied Jerry called his name, and then he was
groping his way upward, half-blinded, choking, but eager to do what he
might toward a rescue.
He gained the second landing.
Here everything was obscured by the black smoke, and he could no
longer see Dunton, although now and then a crashing noise as of wood
being splintered under heavy blows told, as he believed, that the brave
fireman was intent on the effort to save life even though his own might
pay the forfeit.
Then with a roar the flames burst from the elevator shaft directly
in front of him, and he staggered on along the hallway, hardly knowing
in which direction he was going until, from behind a door near at hand
came that which sounded like the crying of a child.
He had only to turn the knob in order to gain an entrance into the
apartment, which seemed entirely free from smoke, as compared with the
place he had just left.
On the floor near the window sat a child crying piteously, and Seth
caught the little thing in his arms, thinking it would be possible to
gain the foot of the stairs, where he had left Black and Walters,
before either he or his charge should receive serious injury.
Thus laden he ran toward the hallway, but only to retreat.
The flames were pouring up through the shaft, spreading out in every
direction, and forming such a barrier as he could not hope to pass.
He shouted for Dunton, but no reply came, and for the briefest
interval of time he despaired.
Then came into his mind as clearly as if the words were yet being
spoken, what he had heard said to one of the classes concerning just
such peril as he was in at that moment, and without delay he returned
to the room, closing the door behind him to shut out the noisome vapor
as nearly as might be.
Don't cry, baby, don't cry, he said soothingly to the screaming
child as he ran here and there looking for something with which to
carry into practice the lesson he had received.
CHAPTER XVI. WINNING A MEDAL.
The struggles and screams of the child he was trying to save served
to confuse Seth, and the smoke, which was growing more stifling each
moment, bewildered at the same time that it choked him.
But for the lectures the boy had heard at headquarters, neither he
nor the baby would have left the apartment alive.
He realized the vital necessity of keeping a grip on himself, as
Josh Fernald had expressed it, and, in order the better to do so,
repeated again and again the words of the instructor.
During the first dozen seconds he tried to soothe the child, and
then came the thought that the little one would suffocate more quickly
by inhaling the smoke-laden atmosphere as she gasped and sobbed
A garmentperhaps it was a table-cloth or a light blankethung
over the back of a chair near at hand, and this Seth wound around the
baby's face, regardless of its struggles.
A clear head is the next best thing to a ladder, he said again and
again, repeating the words of Mr. Fernald, and all the while searching
for a rope, or something which would serve him in its stead.
By this time the room was completely filled with smoke, and his eyes
were blinded, smarting, burning.
Near the window was a footstool, and seizing this with one hand he
hurled it through the glass.
Fresh air was a necessity now; he must have it, or speedily succumb
to the deadly vapor.
Holding the child, who was apparently in a paroxysm of fear, or a
spasm caused by pain, close against his breast, he thrust the upper
portion of his body through the aperture regardless of the sharp
fragments of glass which cut his flesh cruelly.
What a blessed relief was this first indrawing of comparatively
The clear head was coming to him rapidly, and he understood that
unless aid could be summoned from below he must make immediate battle
with the vapor again, for with every moment the flames on the landing
Ninety-four! he shouted at the full strength of his lungs. This
He could hear from below a tumult of shouts and commands; but none
of them appeared to be an answer to his cry.
The roaring of the fire as it came through the elevator-shaft could
be clearly distinguished even above all the noise, and he knew full
well the blaze must soon make its way through the door, which presented
but a frail barrier against the on-rush of flame.
Ninety-four! Here, Ninety-four! he cried once more without
receiving a reply, and feeling comparatively strong for another
struggle against the smoke, he drew the covering more closely around
the child's head, at the same time stepping back into the suffocating
He made his way by sense of touch rather than sight into the
It was the kitchen of the suite, and at one end, stretched across
from wall to wall above the range, was a cord on which hung several
articles of wearing apparel.
Placing the child, who had ceased to struggle, on the floor, he tore
at this apology for a rope with all his strength, dragging it from its
fastenings, and, taking up the baby once more, ran back to the window
from which he had just come.
It was but the work of a few seconds to tie one end of the cord
under the child's arms; but yet it seemed to him, half bewildered and
suffering as he was, that more than five minutes passed before it had
[Illustration: SETH RESCUES THE BABY. Page 272.]
Ninety-four! he shouted as he thrust the seemingly lifeless body
through the aperture, cutting his hands and arms again and again on the
sharp points of glass.
Quickly, but at the same time gently, he lowered the burden until
the cord was at its full length.
It did not seem possible this poor substitute for a life-line
extended much below the top of the first story, and he dared not let go
his hold lest the child should be dashed to death upon the pavement.
Once more he called for the men who he knew must be close at hand,
leaning far out of the window in the faint hope he might be seen.
His eyes were so blinded that he could distinguish nothing; he was
unable to say whether the smoke yet enveloped him or if he was in full
view of the men below.
The sense of suffocation was heavy upon him; he tried to repeat Josh
Fernald's words, but failed, and then came the knowledgedim and
unrealthat the cord was slipping, or being pulled, from his grasp.
He made a final effort to retain his hold, and at the instant there
was in his mind, as if he dreamed, a fancy that strong arms were around
After that all was a blank until he opened his eyes to see 'Lish
Davis bending over him as he had done on that night when Jip Collins
set fire to the shed in Baxter's lumber-yard.
Where's the baby? he asked, attempting to rise, but forced back by
the deathly faintness which assailed him.
His mother has got him by this time, Amateur, and you've made a man
of yourself in shorter order than the majority of us are able to do. It
was a close shave, lad, and we'll have no more like it till the time
comes when it's your duty to take such chances.
The driver's voice sounded oddly to the half-stupefied boy; usually
it was gruff, like that of a man in a bad temper, but now it quavered
as if the speaker was making an unsuccessful effort to control his
Seth allowed his head to fall back on a pile of rubber blankets, and
as his cheeks touched the smooth surface there came to him the thought
that once more he was in the patrol-wagon.
How long he remained apparently unable to speak he had no idea, and
then he heard the shout from afar off, but readily distinguishable
above the panting of the engines:
How is Ninety-four's kid?
'Lish Davis rose to his feet and cried in reply:
He's got his head again, and appears to be all right!
At that moment some one stepped to the side of the wagon and asked
Shall we send an ambulance?
I reckon he'll get along without it, Chief. It's only the reg'lar
dose, as nigh as I can make out.
How did he happen to be here instead of at headquarters?
It was his day off, owing to being a witness in an arson case, and
he'd come up to the house to visit us.
We shall have to put him in a straight-jacket until he is taken on
as a fireman, else something serious may happen. This would be a case
for a medal if he belonged to the Department.
That's what he does, Chief. He comes as nigh being one of
Ninety-four's men as I am, and if it so be a medal belongs to him,
we'll see he gets it.
Seth heard, but did not understand this conversation.
He knew it was one of the battalion chiefs who had been talking with
Mr. Davis, and it was enough for him that his name had been spoken in a
The driver leaned over him once more, and asked almost tenderly:
Will I send you up to the house, Amateur?
Can't I stay till Ninety-four pulls out?
Well, of all gluttons, you're the worst! 'Lish Davis cried as if
in delight. Dosed 'way up till you can hardly wink, and yet wanting to
hold on to the last! Ben Dunton is caring for the team, and I reckon
you and I had better pull out in this 'ere hurry-up.
What about the fire?
It's under control, though I'm allowing it'll be a full two hours
before Ninety-four gets the word to leave.
Then Davis left the boy a moment, and when he returned the
patrol-wagon was driven slowly out past the laboring engines, through
the throng of spectators, into the unobstructed streets, after which
the horses were urged to their full speed.
There's no need of takin' me back, Mr. Davis. I ain't much worse
than I was the time Dan an' me was burned out.
But then it needed a night's rest to put you into shape, and I'm
not minded to run any risks. Ninety-four's kid is getting to be so near
a man that we can't afford to take any chances with him.
Hello! Amateur in trouble again? the house watchman asked when
'Lish Davis helped Seth into the building, and the driver replied
I don't allow he's an amateur any longer, Bob, but fit to be one of
us in proper form. He saved a baby, and came mighty nigh knocking
How did he get a chance to do anything like that?
Slipped past me, and followed Jerry and Joe; I don't rightly know
the whole of it yet. The Chief allowed it was a medal job, though one
can't be given, except to members of the Department.
Then Seth is entitled to it, for he's on our rolls as if belongin'
We'll see that he gets all he's earned, Bob, 'Lish Davis replied,
and then he conducted the boy upstairs, insisting that he should go to
I'll be all right after a spell, Seth protested, and the driver
replied grimly, in his usual harsh tone:
That's what I'm going to make certain of, kid. Peel off your
clothes and turn in if you don't want to have trouble with me.
Seth obeyed with a laugh, and was equally tractable a few moments
later when 'Lish Davis brought a glass half full of a certain
disagreeable mixture for him to drink.
Then the boy's eyelids grew heavy; he said to himself he would
remain awake until Ninety-four returned, but the thought was hardly
more than formed in his mind before slumber overcame him.
It was late in the evening when he was awakened by the sound of
voices near at hand, and on looking around Seth saw, to his great
surprise, Mr. Fernald talking with 'Lish Davis.
Hello! got your eyes open again, eh? the old instructor cried, and
Seth would have arisen to his feet but that Mr. Fernald's hand was laid
heavily upon his shoulder.
I'm all right now, sir, an' I promised to go to school with Bill
It's a little late for anything of that kind now, my boy, seeing
that the clock has just struck ten. What's all this talk I hear of your
showing the members of the Department how to effect a rescue?
It wasn't me, sir. I only got the baby out of the window, an'
somebody else must have taken him from there.
It was Jerry Walters who came up the ladder, 'Lish Davis
The credit of saving the child belongs to you, Seth, Mr. Fernald
said, decidedly, and I hope there'll be no question about its being
given. Tell us how it was done.
There isn't much to tell, sir. I jest heard the baby yellin', an'
went in after it. Then the smoke made me feel silly, an' I had to keep
sayin' to myself what I heard you tellin' the class, about a clear head
bein' the next best thing to a ladder, else I'd gone under before I
found the rope.
Now there's the kind of a pupil to have! Mr. Fernald cried
proudly. There's some satisfaction in knowing that what a man says
will be remembered when the time comes that it may be of profit. You
shall go regularly into the class from this out, Seth Bartlett, whether
the commissioners approve or not, and we'll find some one else to do
the odd jobs.
Do you really think I stand a better chance of gettin' into the
Department because of tryin' to pull the kid through? Seth asked in
surprise, and Josh Fernald replied to the great delight of both the boy
and Mr. Davis:
If I can bring any influence to bear, you shall be there very soon,
my lad, and at all events, from this time out you will be kept at work
on the drill. Ninety-four's kid is of considerably more importance
to-night than he was this morning.
After such praise as this it seemed impossible for Seth to remain in
bed, and finally 'Lish Davis consented to his going down-stairs for a
The hour which Seth spent on the lower floor on this night was the
most pleasant he had ever known.
The men did not occupy the time in praising him, but discussed the
rescue again and again, and never once was the boy spoken to, or of, as
'Lish Davis insisted on his remaining in the engine-house all night,
but gave Seth distinctly to understand that however many alarms might
come in, he was not to so much as think of going out with the company.
You'll be on sick leave till to-morrow morning, when Josh Fernald
is expecting you at headquarters, and then it'll be for him to say when
we're to see you again.
But of course I'll sleep at Mrs. Hanson's same's I've been doin'?
I can't say how it'll be, lad; but whatever Josh allows must be
done will come nigh being right.
What between his happiness and the sleep he had indulged in during
the early part of the evening, Seth Bartlett was unusually wakeful, and
until past midnight he lay in a cot near 'Lish Davis's bed speculating
upon what Mr. Fernald might be able to do in regard to procuring his
admission to the school at headquarters.
Then slumber interfered with his waking dreams, and he knew no more
until daylight next morning, when he crept softly out of bed to perform
his customary task.
He did the work on the lower floor lest he should disturb those who
were yet asleep, and was getting well along with it when Joe Black came
How are you feelin' this mornin', kid? he asked, in an unusually
Fine as silk. That medicine Mr. Davis gave me fixed everything in
I see you're still blackin' boots.
Why shouldn't I be? It was the bargain that I could do it till I
got into the Department.
I'm allowing 'Lish will claim you're so near there now that you
must graduate from this kind of work.
But, of course, I'm not near gettin' into the Department, for they
don't make firemen of boys.
As a rule they don't; but I'm reckoning there'll be something in
the way of an exception with you. I'm not allowin' you'll be allowed to
swell around as full member of a company, but you are bound to be
recognized as belonging to us.
Seth failed to understand how any immediate change could be effected
in his standing, save that he might be admitted to the classes at
headquarters, and before he could ask Joe Black to make an explanation
a shrill voice was heard calling through the half-opened door:
Say, Mister, is Seth Bartlett here?
It was Dan, and Seth stepped forward to prevent him from coming in,
when Joe Black said:
There's no reason why you should go out on the sidewalk to talk
with your friends. You've got the same privileges here that all hands
By this time Dan had stepped inside, and catching a glimpse of Seth
Say, old man, you're goin' it mighty strong, but we're proud of
you. The fellers count on givin' you a reg'lar blow-out to-morrow, if
it's so you can come down-town.
Do you mean 'cause of what was done last night, Dan? Seth asked,
surprised that his roommate should have learned of the affair so soon,
and Joe Black gave way to his mirth, although why he thought there was
anything comical in what had been said, neither of the boys understood.
Course I'm talkin' 'bout your savin' the baby.
How did you hear of it so soon?
Hear of it! Why, it's in all the papers! Look at this! and Dan
unfolded the morning Herald as he pointed to an article nearly a
column in length, which was headed, A Brave Boy.
Seth made no attempt to read the account, and Dan cried impatiently
as he held the sheet in front of him:
Why, don't you see what it says? The fellers down-town are pretty
nigh wild 'cause you've showed the firemen that you ain't any slouch,
even if you did black boots for a livin'. I reckon Sam Barney will get
green when he sees it, an' Bill's hangin' 'round so's to make certain
that duffer hears 'bout it the first thing. Say, can't you come down by
the post-office now?
I've got to go up to headquarters same as ever, an' it's most time
But the fellers are just crazy to see you.
They'll have to wait till night, Seth replied with a laugh,
'cause I'm bound to be there right on the dot.
I'll walk up with you.
All right; I'm ready now as soon as I put on my coat.
Seth went to the floor above for the purpose of getting the garment,
and while he was absent Joe Black asked Dan:
What are you boys counting on doing with our kid?
We're goin' to give him one of the biggest blow-outs that's ever
been seen in this town. Do you s'pose we'd lay still after he's been
an' done what he did? We'll show that we believe he's a dandy.
What kind of a blow-out do you mean?
A reg'lar spread with plenty to eat, an' it won't cost Seth a cent.
Bill an' Teddy Bowser are rushin' 'round seein' to it now. Folks think
we fellers don't count for much, but some of 'em will sing a different
tune after readin' what he did! You can bet we're reckonin' on givin'
him a great send-off.
Look here, Dan, Joe Black whispered. I wouldn't mind seeing how
you lads get up a thing of that sort, and if you'll give me an invite
I'll chip in a dollar.
Will you wear your uniform? Dan asked eagerly.
I'll put on every button I've got; but you are not to tell Seth I'm
It's a go, Master Roberts replied gravely, and then the arrival of
Seth interrupted the conversation.
When they were outside the engine-house Dan insisted that his
partner give him the full story of the rescue, and he was not satisfied
with a general account, but demanded every particular from the time
Ninety-four left her quarters until Josh Fernald had taken his
Well, it's bound to be a big thing for you, he said, thoughtfully,
even if you don't get a medal.
See here, Dan, Mr. Davis has said considerable 'bout medals, an' I
don't understand it.
Are you claimin' to be posted in the fire business, an' don't know
things like that are given to men who save folks from bein' burned up?
Of course I know it; but I'm talkin' about myself. I can't have a
medal 'cause I ain't a fireman yet.
If you'd read the Herald as I wanted, you'd seen that the
printed piece said you earned one.
I don't think I did, not even if I belonged reg'larly to the
Department. It was Jerry Walters who did the most of the work, 'cause
if he hadn't come jest then it would have been all day with meI was
mighty near gone.
Don't you make such talk as that to anybody but me, Seth Bartlett,
Dan cried sharply. What's the use of givin' anything away when folks
are howlin' 'bout your bein' so brave? A feller is bound to blow his
own horn sometimes in this world, else he'd never get along, an' that's
what you must do now.
If I can't get into the Department without it, I'll go back to
shinin' boots. Look at Sam Barney! He's always doin' that, an' what
does he 'mount to?
Oh, a feller must have some sand to back him, else he won't pull
through, an' you know there's nothin' to Sam but wind. Here's where you
stop, an' I'll snoop back down-town. The fellers are countin' on givin'
you a racket to-morrow night, an' you must be on hand.
See here, Dan, don't you spend good money when you're needin' it
for the store, jest for the sake of puffin' me up.
I reckon what I'll put out won't bust me, even if we have 'greed to
whack up fifteen cents apiece. Bill, Teddy, an' me will chip in for
Jip, so's he can have a good time after all his hard luck, an' we'll
make your eyes stick out before it's over.
I'd a good deal rather you didn't do it.
There's no use to kick now, 'cause it's too late. I wouldn't wonder
if it was all fixed by this time. You see, Bill an' me was 'fraid you'd
been hurt, seein' 's you didn't come over to the room last night, an'
the fellers wanted me to find out 'bout it, so's if there was any
trouble we could hold off the blow-out till you'd come 'round ag'in. So
long; I'll see you to-night, and Dan was off like a flash.
Seth watched until his friend was lost to view in the distance, and
then entered the building.
The first man he met shook hands with him in the most friendly
manner, congratulating him upon the service he had done, and so did
every one he saw, until he was absolutely astounded at the warmth of
For a moment it seemed as if the officials at headquarters were
taking as deep an interest in him as did Ninety-four's company, and
there were so many who thus had a kindly word that it was nearly an
hour from the time he arrived before it was possible to present himself
at the gymnasium.
There Mr. Fernald showed him marked attention before those of the
class who were assembled, and, as Seth confidentially told 'Lish Davis
that evening, he was afraid he'd get a big head if folks didn't let up
on his saving the baby.
At noon Josh Fernald held a long conversation with Seth, the
substance of which was that permission had been received to put him
under instruction precisely as if he had been appointed a member of the
Department on probation, and he would be taught the entire drill from
that day forth.
Next spring, when the Bennett, Stephenson, and Pulitzer medals are
awarded, the Life-Saving Corps will give an exhibition drill at some
public place, and I've decided that you shall be among them. Work hard,
my lad, and on that day when the citizens of New York turn out to see
those of the force who have distinguished themselves in the way of
saving life, you can make your appearance in a manner that will give
great pleasure to your comrades of Ninety-four.
Mr. Fernald did not give Seth an opportunity of thanking him, but
suddenly walked away as if bent on important business at the other end
of the room, and the boy said to himself with pride and delight:
He called Ninety-four's men my comrades! That's a big
step-up for a bootblack to make, an' I wonder how 'Lish Davis will like
CHAPTER XVII. THE BLOW-OUT.
Much to Dan's disappointment, Seth could not go down-town on this
first evening after having distinguished himself in the Department.
When 'Lish Davis heard what Mr. Fernald had said he insisted on
having a long and confidential chat with the boy, and it was not
concluded until a very late hour in the evening.
The time has now come, kid, when you're the same as one of us, and
we of Ninety-four who counted on giving you such a boost have been
cheated out of it by what you did for yourself, the driver began
gravely, and in a tone sufficiently loud for the other members of the
company to hear. From this out you're in the Department, and we have
no fear but that in due course of time you'll be assigned to some
companythis one, if we can have our way. Now, there's a question of
money to come up precious soon, for we here have got the idee that the
city won't pay wages while you're under instruction.
Of course, we may be in the wrong as to that, but if we ain't,
how'll you live? That's what we've asked ourselves, and this is the way
we answer it: Every man in the Department looks on you as Ninety-four's
kid, and we can't allow anything that would go against our credit,
consequently you have got to turn to us for support till you're under
wages. We'll assess ourselves so much every month, and charge it up to
you in reg'lar fashion so it can be paid back some time. Now, you're to
make no kick, for we've settled it once and for all.
Why couldn't I black boots at odd times? Seth asked, pleadingly.
Because there won't be any 'odd times' in the first place, and
secondly we're not minded to have it said we couldn't see you through.
Can't you understand that we're looked on by them as are in the
Department as your father, or guardeen, or something of that kind, and
it's our own credit we're bound to uphold? How would it look for a
fireman to be around blackin' boots? And that's what you are this very
minute, even though you haven't had an appointment.
Then one member of the company after another gave his views on the
subject, until it would have been rank ingratitude had Seth refused the
It was agreed to by all that a strict account should be kept of the
amounts advanced, and he be allowed to repay the company at the
earliest opportunity after he was under salary.
When this matter had been settled by Seth's promise to take such
sums of money as he needed, and look pleasant about it, the men
discussed his future, and spoke of the time when he would be running
with Ninety-four, until it did not require a very great stretch of the
imagination for the boy to fancy himself already a member of the
On reaching Mrs. Hanson's he found his roommates awake, and
grumbling because he had not returned sooner.
I s'pose we shan't see very much of you now you're gettin' so high
up in the Department, eh? Dan said in a tone of ill-humor.
You'll see me all my spare time, providin' you an' Bill still agree
to go to school, 'cause I've got to duf into study in great shape now,
an' we'll be together every evening.
Got to do it now? What else has come up?
Mr. Fernald has put me right into the drill, an' I don't have to
tackle the odd jobs any more.
Are you a fireman already? and Dan sprang to his feet in
Of course not; but I'm to be drilled the same as if I was, an' in
case I show sand enough you'll see me in the exhibition drill that's to
be given on the street next spring.
Neither Dan nor Bill spoke for several seconds, and then the former
exclaimed with emphasis:
Say, but you're gettin' there with both feet, eh?
It was midnight before the roommates could afford to retire, and
then it was understood that on the following evening at seven o'clock
Seth was to be at the main entrance to the post-office, in readiness
for the blow-out to be given in his honor.
In vain he questioned his friends concerning the proposed feast.
They would give him no further information on the subject, declaring
that he would have his eye knocked out before the thing was over.
At daylight next morning Seth was at Ninety-four's house blacking
boots, despite the fact that 'Lish Davis had given orders another boy
should be engaged for such work, and before the members of the company
were astir he departed for headquarters.
During this day the new probationer, as he was called, was kept at
work learning how to handle, raise, and balance ladders, and it is safe
to say he never did more labor in a single twelve hours before.
He was exceedingly tired when supper-time arrived, but did his best
to prevent Mr. Fernald from suspecting the fact.
Feeling rather sore? the instructor asked as the boy came to say
I ain't played out, sir.
If such was the case, would you admit it?
I'd hate to, Seth replied with a smile, and Mr. Fernald said in a
friendly tone, as if speaking to a comrade instead of a pupil:
It is hard work, this learning the trade of a fireman, my boy, and
there may be times when you will feel discouraged; but keep a firm grip
on yourself at all times, live regularly, avoid bad habits, or, in
other words, keep in rigid training, and you will master it.
I'm not afraid of failin' so far as I'm concerned, sir, but it may
be I'll tire others out, an' so get me walkin' ticket.
You need have no such fear on my account, lad, so long as you do
your level best.
Seth understood that Mr. Fernald had brought the interview to an
end, and he set out for the rendezvous at the post-office, wondering
not a little what and whom he should find at the blow-out.
As he neared the business locations of his different friends he was
surprised because he failed to meet any whom he knew.
It was as if every news-vender and bootblack had suddenly
disappeared from the face of the earth, although it was not yet so late
but that considerable business might have been done.
Arriving at the post-office he met there Bill and Dan alone.
He had expected to see a great throng, and began to believe that for
some good reason the blow-out had been postponed.
Have you given it up? he asked in what he intended should be a
careless tone, for even though he had advised Dan not to start the
thing, it had given him no slight satisfaction because his
acquaintances and friends should desire thus to do him honor.
Give up nothin'! Bill exclaimed. Ain't we here on time?
I didn't know from what you said last night but that some of the
other fellers were comin'.
We've fixed everything jest as we want it, an' she's goin' along as
smooth as a die, Master Roberts replied in a tone of satisfaction.
Them as don't know their business gets left; but we haven't got in
with that crowd, eh, William?
We shan't mildew even if we ain't taken in for a considerable
spell, Bill said contentedly, and added an instant later: Now Seth's
come I don't see why we should stand 'round here any longer.
Let her go; I'm ready; and Master Roberts set out in advance,
leading the way toward Chat ham Street much as if believing every
person whom they met knew he was conducting the boy who ran with
Where are we goin'? Seth asked of Bill, believing now that the
spread concerning which so much had been said was to be confined
strictly to the lodgers in Mrs. Hanson's house.
You'll see when we strike there, an' if it ain't tony enough for a
swell from the Department, you can get out.
Seth gazed in surprise at his friend; but the latter's face was
expressionless, and the guest of the evening began to fear some
disaster had overtaken the plans of his roommates.
Seen Sam Barney to-day? the probationary fireman asked after a
brief time of silence.
I struck him mighty heavy yesterday, an' he's been layin' low ever
since. I made up my mind that he should see the printed stuff about you
in the papers, an' hung 'round till he flashed up. Then I acted as if
he an' me was the best friends in the world, an' asked if he knowed
what kind of a racket you'd been on. That was enough to make him read
the paper I had, an' you can bet he was sick when he got through. Teddy
Bowser hit him up ag'in 'bout an hour afterward, an from that time till
pretty nigh dark we kept him chafin' under the collar. Then he lit out,
an' we haven't seen him since.
How's Jip gettin' along?
First-class; tendin' right out on business, an' goin' to pull
through into a decent kind of a feller. Say, you know Dan made up his
mind to own a store on Third Avenoo?
Yes, an' I hope he won't back down.
Well, I guess not! He can't, 'cause I've gone into partners with
him, an' there won't be any funny business. We're goin' to take Jip for
But you haven't got the store yet.
It ain't such a dreadful long ways off. We've got most twelve
dollars towards it, an' I know of a man what'll sell out a bang-up good
place for a hundred an' fifty. I'm allowin' we'll get that much before
What makes him sell it so cheap?
The reason is that he's a duffer; wants to lay back smokin' an'
have the dollars come rollin' in without his raisin' a hair. Of course
he ain't gettin' along very smart, an' we'll soon be ready to take it.
With two fellers who are willin' to work there's a big thing in that
place. We're countin' on settin' up a boot-blackin' place with chairs
an' all such kind of swellin', you know. It's going to be 'Roberts &
Dean, Newsdealers an' Shiners.'
You'll make a go of it, Bill.
Course we shall, was the complacent reply. I knowed it was a good
thing jest as soon as Dan flashed her up, an' said I'd come in before
he got half through talkin'. This 'ere little blow-out is the only
thing we're goin' to spend any money on till we get the shop paid for.
It's too bad for you to put out good money on me.
What we're doin' to-night won't break us, I reckon. First off we
allowed it would cost fifteen cents apiece; but we had an offer of
three dollars for that many tickets, which comes pretty nigh payin' all
Three dollars for three tickets! Seth repeated in perplexity.
What is it you've been gettin' up, Bill?
Hold on 'bout four minutes longer, an' then the whole thing will be
flashed up. It's great!
Before the time specified by Bill had elapsed, Dan suddenly turned
into a German restaurant, walked the length of the lower floor, and led
the way upstairs.
Seth felt that already was his eye bein' knocked out.
He knew there were private supper-rooms in some of these Chatham
Street establishments, but had never been fortunate enough to see one,
and now he was to enter as a guest of honor.
Dan threw open the door at the head of the stairs.
Seth was conscious of a blaze of light, the hum of voices, and
before it was possible to distinguish anything clearly, Bill cried:
Three cheers for Ninety-four's kid!
Then rang out a shout which seemed actually to rock the building to
and fro, and by the time the tumult had subsided the guest of the
evening saw a long table, on either side of which were seated all his
friends and acquaintances among the sidewalk merchants, while at the
head 'Lish Davis, Jerry Walters, and Joe Black presided with as much
gravity as if it had been the swellest of swell functions.
Now Seth understood who had purchased supper tickets at one dollar a
The honored guest was shown to a seat near Ninety-four's driver.
Dan and Bill took places opposite, and the former called in a loud,
commanding voice for the benefit of Teddy Bowser, who was stationed at
Let 'em flash her up; we're all here!
Teddy cried to some one below, and during the next ten minutes two
waiters were kept busy bringing upstairs sandwiches, bologna in
generous, thick slices, sauerkraut without stint, potato salad, and a
variety of small cakes plentifully besprinkled with tiny seeds.
While this feast was being placed upon the table no one spoke, but
instantly Teddy gave a peculiar sign by crossing his throat and winking
one eye, Dan cried:
Now pitch in, fellers, an' fill right up! We're doin' this 'cause
Seth Bartlett has got into the Department, an' the one what don't eat
all he ought'er will have trouble with me.
If Master Roberts had been a veritable giant seeking whom he might
devour, the boys could not have shown more fear lest his command should
not be obeyed.
Every fellow present felt that it was his duty to eat a generous
portion of each dish before him, and he did it hurriedly lest Dan might
have cause for complaint.
Nor were the guests who had paid their cold dollars, as Dan
All three ate heartily to the evident satisfaction of the others,
and 'Lish Davis even entered so thoroughly into the spirit of the
affair as to suggest that they send for another dish of sauerkraut.
In ten minutes or less the hunger of the guests was in a measure
appeased, and as they dallied with the dainties Dan set in motion that
portion of the entertainment which, in his opinion, was to be the
[Illustration: THE BLOW-OUT Page 298.]
It ain't many times that duffers like us has a chance to rub up
against Ninety-four's men, an' we want to show 'em that we know what's
what, he had said privately to Bill the evening previous, and now was
come the moment when the exhibition should be made.
After making certain that all were giving him their attention, he
rose slowly to his feet, looked round as if to collect his thoughts,
and said in a loud tone, much as though repeating something he had
committed to memory:
Fellers, an' Ninety-four's men are in it, too: We spread ourselves
on this 'ere blow-out 'cause Seth Bartlett has got into the Department
owin' to havin' saved a kid, and now if all hands are 'way up full
we'll have a little speech from Mr. 'Lish Davis, driver of Ninety-four
engine, who's one of the three what gave up a big cold dollar for this
lot of stuff.
Then Dan sat down with a complacent smile upon his face, as if
believing he had said the right thing in the right place, and Mr. Davis
actually appeared embarrassed.
He had come to the feast expecting to enjoy himself by listening to
the sidewalk merchants, and found that it was himself who would provide
a goodly portion of the entertainment.
Never doubting but that this had been all arranged beforehand, Seth
gazed at the driver, wondering why he was so slow in making a response,
while Jerry and Joe laughed heartily, for they knew that 'Lish had been
taken wholly by surprise.
However, the driver of Ninety-four was not one who would be
discomfited by such as Dan Roberts, and he began his speech, with
considerable hesitation, but warming to his subject as he proceeded.
I didn't allow that I was to be part of the show when I come here,
and Dan Roberts has got one the best of me; but yet, I ain't quite
downed. The man who couldn't say a good word now never ought to set in
anywhere, because there's a deal more than something to eat, if you
boys will only look at it in the right light. In the first place you've
spread yourself because Ninety-four's kid has the same as got into the
Department, and perhaps some of you think he's lucky. I tell you, kids,
luck hadn't anything to do with it. Seth is being made a fireman
because whatever he struck he stuck at, and never let a living chance
go by him. When he first came up to Ninety-four's house we gave him the
cold shoulder, but he kept plugging away till we grew to like his
pluck; yet nobody held out a hand to him till he'd hung to his idea so
long that we jest couldn't help ourselves. He worked in where he wanted
to go, and so can every one of you. I ain't holding that all of us are
born to be firemen, but whatever we count on being we've got to work
for, and work hard. Do that, and you'll pull through in pretty nigh
everything you tackle.
When 'Lish Davis sat down, blushing rosy red, Dan sprang up like a
jumping-jack from a box, and proposed:
Three cheers for the driver of Ninety-four!
As may be imagined, these were given with a will, and then Master
Jerry Walters will now chip in with something.
It was now 'Lish Davis's turn to laugh, and he enjoyed his comrade's
confusion mightily, for it was several moments before Jerry could think
of the proper words.
Joe Black was called upon immediately afterward, and when he had
concluded and been given a round of cheers, as in the case of the other
speakers, the driver said gravely:
We who come here to look on have done what we could towards making
a success of this here 'blow-out,' and now, according to my way of
thinking, it's time we heard from Mr. Daniel Roberts.
The suggestion came in the way of a big surprise to Dan, who, while
making plans for this entertainment had entirely overlooked the
possible fact that he might be asked to do that which he the same as
demanded from others.
Dan's friends and acquaintances applauded 'Lish Davis's proposition
loudly, and were so emphatic in their calls for him that the owner of
the prospective Third-Avenue store was absolutely forced to rise.
It's what I call a mighty mean trick for you fellers to howl 'bout
my makin' a speech, 'cause you know we hadn't figgered that any but the
'dollar visitors' would do that. Of course 'Lish Davis an' the rest of
the firemen didn't know, but pretty nigh every other feller was posted
this afternoon. But don't think you've got me in a hole, though, for if
makin' speeches is only talkin' 'bout Seth, I can do that an' not half
try. If it hadn't been for him I wouldn't have my Third-Avenoo
store,and I've got it in my mind all right,nor Bill an' me wouldn't
be thinkin' of goin' to school, or we shouldn't be livin' in the
toniest lodgin's in this 'ere town. An' if it hadn't been for him you
fellers couldn't be settin' here so near filled up that some of you
can't do much more'n wink. Now 'bout this blow-out: I made a trade with
the Dutchman what runs the place that we should have all we could eat
for four dollars; but he held to it that we mustn't stay more'n two
hours, an' you can't blame him. A bang-up shop like this can't be kept
goin' all night without somebody's chippin' in a stack of good money.
Now seein' 's you fellers can't eat any more, an' the firemen have all
made their speeches, I allow we'd better skin out.
Save for this last portion, Dan's speech would undoubtedly have been
greeted with the same amount of applause as the others, but the guests
were not well pleased at being asked to depart at such an early hour.
During several moments there was every indication that disagreeable
remarks might be made, even if nothing more unpleasant occurred, and
thus the harmony of the meeting would be sadly marred.
Understanding all this, 'Lish Davis came to the rescue by saying in
a cheery tone:
Mr. Daniel Roberts has, without knowing it, done us of Ninety-four
a mighty good turn in bringing the meeting to a close. We'd feel
kind-er sore to go before it was all over, and yet we couldn't stay
many minutes longer because we only had leave of absence for three
hours, and that time is about up. So if you fellows will look pleasant
we'll do the same, and on the day Ninety-four's kid gets appointed to
the Department I'll set out another spread in this same place for every
one that's here to-night.
This generous proposition could not have failed of its purpose, and
Lish' Davis was cheered to the echo, he and his two comrades taking
their departure during the tumult which ensued.
The entire company escorted Mrs. Hanson's lodgers to their home, and
before parting gave three hearty cheers and a series of yells in Seth's
honor which aroused, if it did not alarm, the neighborhood, and brought
nearly every policeman in the vicinity to the scene of the parting.
Dan and his partners escaped to their room before the blue-coated
guardians of the city's peace arrived, and from their window watched
the small throng as it scattered in every direction to avoid possible
contact with the officers.
It's what I call a howlin' success, Master Roberts said in a tone
of satisfaction as he turned from the window after the last of his
friends had disappeared. It was a big mistake not to have had a lot of
newspaper fellers there so's the whole thing would be in the mornin'
We can fix that straight enough, Bill replied carelessly, as if
familiar with such methods. I know a feller what helps clean up the
Herald office where all the stuff is wrote out, and I'll get him to
print a slat about the blow-out.
This appeared to satisfy Master Roberts that his mistake could
readily be rectified, and he gave himself wholly up to a review of the
late proceedings until Seth suggested that they retire.
I had a hard day's work, an' it'll be jest as bad, if not worse,
to-morrow, so I've got to turn in.
It's too bad to wind up so soon, Dan suggested with a sigh; but
Bill finally settled the matter by saying:
If you an' I ever expect to have that Third-Avenoo store we've got
to hump ourselves all the time, an' settin' up nights ain't the way to
Two minutes later Dan was in bed, and as Seth extinguished the gas
the former raised himself on his elbow to say:
We'll have the store jest 'bout the time you get into the
Department, old man; but you can bet the shop will be shut up when
'Lish Davis has his blow-out.
CHAPTER XVIII. THE EXHIBITION DRILL.
Seth Bartlett ceased to be an amateur fireman when he was admitted
to the probationary class, even though he had not received an
appointment, and, therefore this narrative was concluded, or should
have been, with an account of the blow-out designed and arranged by
In case some of the readers care to know how Ninety-four's kid
prospered, however, a brief account of his doings up to the day when he
was honored even above any member of his own particular company, shall
First, however, let it be said that Dan Roberts and Bill Dean did
not abandon the idea of going to school.
On the night after the very pleasing entertainment on Chatham Street
they set out with Seth, and from that time until the Third-Avenue store
was a reality, they were in regular attendance.
Even after having engaged in what Dan called real business, the
partners continued their pursuit of knowledge by going to school on
Jip Collins gave good proof that he had reformed by attending
closely to his work, and on the day when Messrs. Roberts & Dean
purchased the establishment from the gentleman who did not believe in
working, he was hired as clerk at wages to be proportionate with the
Sam Barney disappeared on the day of the blow-out, and was not
seen by his former acquaintances for nearly eight months, when he
suddenly showed himself once more, and announced that he was partners
with a city detective.
At first this statement was set down as false, but in due course of
time it became understood that there was a glimmer of truth in it,
inasmuch as he was employed now and then by the detective in question
to carry messages, and it is possible that he may yet compass his
desires, providing he can bring himself down to hard work and yet
It can well be fancied that Seth did not neglect his duties after
having been admitted to the probationary class. As a matter of fact he
worked so hard that more than once was Mr. Fernald forced to insist on
his taking matters easier, and when this advice did not prevail 'Lish
Davis was called upon to interfere, which he did very effectually by
commanding the boy's attendance at the house of Ninety-four's company
at least two hours during every twenty-four.
Josh Fernald, for certain reasons which appeared to be a secret
between himself and several other members of the Department had decided
that Seth should take part in the exhibition drill to be given by the
Life-Saving Corps on that day when the medals were to be awarded, and
to such end all his efforts were directed.
After the boy had become so familiar with the handling of ladders
that they appeared to be little more than playthings to him, he was
taught, as 'Lish Davis had explained he would be, how to assist in
building a chain with a line of ladders from the street to the roof,
placed in position by a man at each window of the structure.
The driver had spoken of straddling sills, and this name for the
work puzzled Seth not a little until it came his turn to receive
instructions. Then he found that it consisted in sitting astride the
sill of a window, holding himself in place by the pressure of his knees
much as though he had been in a saddle, drawing up one of the climbing
ladders and passing the hook attached to the upper end into the window
This does not appear by the description thus given to be a very
difficult task, and yet others beside Seth have found that it was a
lesson extremely hard to learn, but once gained the pupil can readily
make his way from the street even to the roof of a building with no
other implements than the two ladders.
The lesson of standing on sill is always given to the pupils in
pairs, and before explaining what Seth learned in this line it is
necessary to describe the belt which is worn by members of the
It is broad, made of thick leather, with two stout buckles to hold
it in place. Directly in front is a leathern handle, to which a steel
snap-hook is attached by a stout ring, this hook being provided so
the fireman may fasten himself to a ladder or any projection while he
works, and is similar to that worn by the drivers. On one side of the
belt in a leathern sheet is a hatchet with a heavy square head to be
used either as a hammer or an axe, as occasion may require.
When a pupil is instructed in standing on sills he does exactly as
the term implies, but on the inside of the building is his mate, who
holds him in place by means of this belt-hook. In such position he
raises the ladder to the window above, as when he was astride the sill.
Another lesson, which Seth often took, is that of coming down a rope
alone, or bearing a burden. It was not difficult, and, with this
particular probationer, decidedly exhilarating.
A rope is made fast to the roof or window, of a building and two
turns of it taken round the hook on the fireman's belt, thus forming a
brake to prevent too rapid descent. By a pressure of the hand just
below the hook it is possible for the operator to control his speed. In
case of bringing down a burden, twice the number of turns are taken.
As a matter of course, Seth was taught to leap from the building
into a net, and later to aid in holding it, in which last exercise he
learned that 'Lish Davis had not spoken falsely when he declared it was
exceedingly hard work.
It might not be entertaining to repeat all the lessons which
Ninety-four's kid took part in; but suffice it to say that by the 1st
of May Mr. Fernald announced that he was as nearly perfect in the drill
as he could be until after having gained greater strength.
You will participate in the exhibition, my boy, and I am expecting
a good showing from you.
Will Ninety-four's men be there? Seth asked eagerly, trying hard
not to show how delighted he was by this praise.
Surely; they are to take part in the parade, and you can see 'Lish
Davis display his skill at driving. There are no lack of spectators at
such exhibitions, and you will show, not only to a vast throng of
citizens, but the mayor and heads of the Department, whether you are
worthy of receiving an appointment.
Will that settle matters for me? Seth asked in surprise.
I don't say you will not be able to get the appointment without it;
but it is an opportunity of making a leap directly into the Department,
and of finding yourself suddenly on equal footing with Davis, Walters,
or Black, for they are intending to make a strong effort to have you
assigned to their company.
Seth hardly needed this incentive to labor, for he was already doing
all a boy of his age could do; but it caused him to feel extremely
anxious regarding the final result, and, noting this, 'Lish Davis said
one evening in a fatherly tone:
You are working yourself all up into a snarl over the fear of not
pulling through, and the result will be, if you don't have a care, that
your head won't be of the clearest when the big day comes.
I'm not afraid but that I'll be able to go through with our part of
the show all right, but the trouble is that I'll show up for no more
than a boy, and that's what bothers me.
You can't pose for anything else, lad, seeing as how you are a kid;
but it won't work against you in face of the record. Go ahead as if
there wasn't a thought in your mind but to show the people how we swarm
over a building when the need arises, and that's all any man can do.
Where is the exhibition to be held?
On the Riverside Drive. Number 38 is the house that's been loaned
for the occasion, and you lads couldn't have a better building on which
Do you mean to say we're goin' to range a decent house? There'll be
considerable damage done if we have the reg'lar scalin' ladders; the
teeth can't fail to tear away a good bit of the woodwork.
You'll only use the middle row of windows, and over the sills of
these will be fastened timber shields, or casings, so that you can
swing your ladders without fear of so much as a pin's scratch.
Where are the medals to be presented?
A stand will be built on the Drive, and there all the swells will
sit. The mayor does the act, and after it's over we poor duffers who
haven't particularly distinguished ourselves will give a parade and
drill. You'll see us respond to a call in great shape. It's always a
high time of the Department, for it's the only day in the year when we
have a chance to show what we can do when need comes.
The more Seth heard regarding the proposed manoeuvres the greater
was his eagerness to receive further instruction, and had he been
allowed to do as he pleased, the class would have drilled not less than
eighteen hours out of every twenty-four.
Practise as much as you please, Seth, but you are out of my
jurisdiction now, for I can't suggest any improvement on your work,
Mr. Fernald said, but the praise did not prevent this particular
probationer from spending nearly every moment of his time at the
Then came the night before the eventful day, and Seth, who was to
sleep at headquarters, had come down for a chat with his roommates and
the members of Ninety-four's company.
You can bet we'll be there, Seth, Dan Roberts said emphatically.
If it hadn't been for the show you're goin' to give we'd bought the
Third-Avenoo store yesterday; but Bill an' me both allowed it couldn't
be done till to-morrow, 'cause we ain't to be cheated out of seein' how
much you know 'bout the fire business. We'll be right in the front row,
no matter how much the swells crowd for good places.
Are you goin' to act jest like as if you was a reg'lar fireman?
Bill asked, much as if believing that would be impossible.
I shall go through the same drill as the others.
Well, old man, I hope you'll get along all right, an' it seems as
if you ought'er after workin' so hard. Look for us when your crowd gets
there, an' you can be certain of havin' more cheers than anybody else,
for we'll yell ourselves blue in the face but that it shall go in good
Don't make too much noise, Seth said pleadingly. You know I'm
only a boy, an' there'll be lots of men who can work all 'round me, so
it wouldn't be jest the thing for me to be cheered when I'm the poorest
of the lot.
We know our business, Dan said decidedly, and you needn't worry
but that we'll do the thing up brown.
After giving his friends a general outline of the exhibition, as he
understood it, Seth went to Ninety-four's house, and was there received
with an unusually hearty welcome.
How are you feeling, kid? 'Lish Davis asked solicitously.
Little fidgety about to-morrow's work?
I'm hopin' I won't make a fool of myself, of course.
You needn't worry. Josh Fernald says you'll make as good a showing
as any one there, and he knows. The only chance of your failing will
come from borrowing too much trouble. Remember what you said to
yourself the night the baby was saved: 'A clear head is the next best
thing to a ladder,' and there mustn't be any cobwebs in yours. Don't
pay attention to the crowd, but keep in mind that you're only going
through the drill, so's the commissioners can see whether you're ripe
for an appointment.
What are you counting on wearing? Jerry Walters asked in a
What I've got on, of course, seem' 's it's all the decent clothes I
own, an' they belong to you of Ninety-four. I'm countin' on cleanin'
'em up in great shape, an' folks can't see where they've been mended.
Miss Hanson fixed the coat so you wouldn't know the sleeve ever had a
hole in it.
I'm allowing the others will shine terrible bright.
They've all got new uniforms, an' are bound to look mighty fine.
You don't seem to be sulking on account of having to wear old
togs, 'Lish Davis said with a peculiar twinkle in his eyes.
What would be the use? I can't have 'em, an' I'll go through my
part of the drill jest the same as if I was covered with brass
It's coming kind of tough on Ninety-four, eh, Jerry? the driver
asked. All hands of us swelling, and our kid rushing around at the
head with patched trousers? The boys in the Department will think we
haven't earned much money this year.
I don't think you ought'er feel bad 'bout it if I don't, Seth
said, trying hard to appear unconcerned. People will know you have
something else to do with your money than buy swell clothes for me.
I ain't so certain about that, my boy. At all events we don't count
on taking any chances, 'Lish said with a laugh. This ain't the first
time we've talked about a new uniform, and somehow or other the tailor
happened around this afternoon with one that looks as if it might fit
you. Bring it down, Jerry.
Now Seth understood why this conversation had been begun, and, while
he was rejoiced by the thought that he would be dressed as well as the
other members of the corps, there was in his mind a certain uneasiness
about accepting such a favor in addition to the many which had been
bestowed upon him.
I'm owin' Ninety-four so much, Mr. Davis, that it'll be terrible if
I don't get an appointment after all, an' it wouldn't
You can stop right where you are. This here uniform that Jerry is
fetching ain't charged up against you, nor it never will be. We reckon
on having the right to give a present the day you graduate, and if
it'll make you feel half as good to wear it as it will us to see you in
it, we'll be a mighty jolly crowd to-morrow.
By this time Jerry had returned with the garments over his arm, and
Seth exclaimed as he saw them:
Why there's a helmet, an' you've had brass buttons put on the coat,
Sure; the helmet belongs to the clothes, and on every button you'll
see the letters 'N. Y. F. D.'
But only one who was really in the Department could wear them.
I reckon you can tackle that kind of a job to-morrow, and if it so
be that you get thrown out because of not being up in the drill, it
won't take long to cut them off.
Oh, if I should fail! and the tears came into Seth's eyes despite
all his efforts to keep them back.
You will for a fact, if you get nervous over it. A clear head,
forgetfulness of everything but the drill, and Ninety-four's kid will
have an appointment, or the promise of one, before this time to-morrow
Then 'Lish Davis proposed to walk to headquarters with the boy in
order to make certain he went directly to bed; the new uniform was
wrapped carefully in paper, for it was not proposed that Seth should
put it on until the following morning, and then every member of the
company shook hands with their kid, each giving him some bit of good
During the walk the old driver cautioned Seth again and again not to
speculate upon possible failure; but to believe he would surely
succeed, and when the two parted, 'Lish Davis said feelingly:
You're a good boy, Seth, and while every one of Ninety-four's crew
is your friend, you're dearer to me than the whole boiling of them. I'm
proud of what you have done, and will do to-morrow. God love you, my
Then the driver turned away abruptly, as if there was some
particular reason why he wished to hide his face, and as Seth wiped the
moisture from his eyes lest perchance a tear should fall on the new
uniform, he whispered to himself:
God must love me, even if I am sich a terrible duffer, else
He'd never let me run up against Ninety-four's company.
During the forenoon of the next day Seth wandered around the
gymnasium trying to act upon the advice given by his friends in the
matter of keeping cool, and then came the time to put on the new
uniform, for he had been assured by Mr. Fernald that it was perfectly
proper for him to wear the helmet and the brass buttons, even though he
was not a regular member of the corps.
When all was ready for the march to Riverside Drive something
occurred which caused the boy considerable uneasiness, for, instead of
setting out with the members of the corps, he, with six others were
ordered to fall into line by themselves.
Fifty firemen, picked members of the Department, ranged themselves
on either side, in advance and behind as an escort, and no less a
person than Chief Bonner himself took a station at their head.
Why he was thus separated from the men with whom he had practised
Seth could not imagine, and there came into his mind as the order to
march was given, the thought that some serious mistake had been
madethat he was in the wrong place, and, therefore, would utterly
fail of acting his part properly.
His astonishment and uneasiness increased when the squad with their
escort, having arrived at the Drive, were stationed in line facing the
river, with their backs toward Seventy-Sixth Street, the Sixty-Ninth
Regiment Band a short distance behind them.
Why these men, two of whom he had never seen before, should with
himself be singled out and stationed apart from the others, was a
mystery which Seth failed to unravel, speculate as he might.
He saw the Life-Saving Corps, in whose ranks he should have been,
march up and take their station not far from the grand stand which was
thronged with spectators.
Then, in line with the other engines, he saw Ninety-four with 'Lish
Davis holding the reins, and he fancied the driver winked at him in a
most mysterious manner as he passed.
A moment later he heard a shrill cry:
Hi! Get on to Seth! What's he standin' out there all by his
He knew it was Dan who had made this remark; but could not see him
without changing his position, therefore he remained motionless.
The band was playing, gayly-dressed people were watching curiously,
and in many cases admiringly, the vast number of blue-coated men who
represented the finest Department in the world, and of all those to be
seen Seth was, perhaps, the only person troubled in mind.
Some order was given, the boy did not understand what, for he was
watching the Life-Saving Corps in the hope that some of them, seeing he
was out of position, would summon him to their ranks.
He saw that some one had arrived at the stand, and believed it to be
The little squad and their escort saluted the gentleman by slowly
raising their right hands to their helmets, and then as slowly lowering
Mechanically Seth copied the example of the men on either side of
him, and thus, fortunately, had not neglected his duty.
The music of the band was hushed, the mayor began to speak, and as
he went on Seth was plunged into even greater bewilderment than before.
It is the very pleasantest task of my experience, said the mayor,
to acknowledge the great debt which New York owes to the Fire
Department of the city. In our population of two million souls there is
no one branch of the municipal service which renders such valuable
services as the Fire Department. We are gathered here to-day to do
honor to a few of the firemen who have rendered themselves famous
during the year. These men have snatched persons from the jaws of
death, but this is the duty of every fireman. The army and navy are
called upon to destroy everything, but it is your duty to save
We are proud to-day to render you our homage for the magnificent
manner in which you have discharged your duty all along the line, from
the Chief down, in all perilous moments, and especially you who have
been selected by the Department to receive these medals. This is the
most pleasing duty I have ever performed.
The speech ended, Seth was more positive than before that he had
made a mistake in position, and to his yet further bewilderment, after
the mayor had handed to the Chief a medal, the latter pinned it to his
coatto the uniform which Ninety-four's company had presented,
probably knowing at the time how it would be decorated.
While this was being done the mayor described in detail that which
Seth had done when saving the baby's life, and as he concluded a great
shout went up from the assembled multitude, high above which could be
heard Dan's shrill notes.
Then another medal was given to the Chief, who pinned it to the coat
of the man standing next to the boy in line, the mayor meanwhile
explaining why it had thus been bestowed, and Seth began to understand
how greatly he was honored.
When each of the seven had been decorated, and while the throng were
cheering themselves hoarse, the Chief said in a low tone to Seth:
Mr. Fernald has the official notification of your appointment as
substitute fireman, and you can get it on your return to headquarters.
You are assigned to Company Ninety-four, and will report to their house
for duty to-morrow morning.
Seth could not speak, and in fact the Chief moved away so quickly
that there was no chance; but looking up toward where Ninety-four was
stationed he saw every member of the company waving his helmet as if
indulging in silent cheering.
Then he knew they were all in the secretthat it would be no news
when he told them he was at last really their comrade.
[Illustration: PRESENTING THE MEDALS. Page 322.]
As to what followed immediately after this, Seth had no very clear
He was not even conscious of how he left the squad of men who had
just been decorated for their bravery, and found himself in his proper
station among the Life-Saving Corps.
He hardly heard the order for the drill to be commenced, but
followed the movements of those nearest him until it was as if he
forgot everything else, and was once more back at headquarters fitting
himself for what had already been accomplished.
Over the building which had been loaned for this purpose Mr.
Fernald's pupils swarmed, as if clambering up a smooth surface of brick
was a task more simple than the ordinary methods of locomotion, and
each portion of the drill was gone through with mathematical exactness.
Concerning it, 'Lish Davis said to his comrades as Ninety-four was
hauled into her quarters that evening:
It was a great sight, boys, and what made it greater was that not a
man among them outdid our kid. Josh Fernald himself couldn't go through
a drill better, and we've reason to be mighty proud of what that little
chap has done.
After the Life-Saving Corps had concluded their portion of the
exhibition, two battalions were paraded by the Chief himself, ten
engines, two hook and ladder companies, the water-tower and the
fire-boat, New Yorker, taking part therein.
The men first marched past the reviewing stand to the music of the
band, after which, in response to an alarm sounded by the mayor, the
engines and their crews returned along the Drive at full tilt, with
fires lighted, whistles blowing, and bells ringing, as if running to a
* * * * *
During the early part of the evening after the exhibition on
Riverside Drive, a boy clad in the full uniform of a fireman, wearing
on the left breast of his coat a handsome gold medal suspended by a
knot of red ribbon, walked rapidly down the street toward the
headquarters of Ninety-four engine, and a crowd of lads, who might have
been bootblacks or newsboys, gathered on the sidewalk, cheered him
loudly as he came in view, after which the senior member of the firm of
Roberts & Dean shouted shrilly:
Now let's give three more rousers for the substitute fireman of
And the cheers were given with such a hearty will that citizens more
than a block away turned hastily to ask one of the other why the police
allowed such a disturbance to be made at that hour.