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- The Young Firemen of Lakeville - 29/29 -

his own mansion.

Then Muchmore began to make out deeds and other papers, compelling his uncle, by threats of violence, to sign such as were necessary for his purpose. Mr. Stockton tried several times to escape, but the rascally nephew and housekeeper were too much for him. Once Mr. Stockton managed to get as far as the office where Mort Decker, under the direction of Muchmore, was in the habit of copying deeds. The stenographer was out at the time, and the office was deserted, and, as he could not find a pen, the old man used the typewriter to prepare the mysterious note Herbert found. He was disturbed before he could finish it, but he carried it away with him, and, at the first opportunity, threw it from the window.

But now he had no more to fear, thanks to the rescue by Herbert.

"I can't thank you enough," he said to the young chief. "But for you I might still be a prisoner."

"You helped yourself as much as we helped you," said Bert "It was a good idea, to think of starting that fire."

"Yes, it was the only thing I could think of. This place is so lonesome that persons seldom pass by, or I might have called to some of them, when I was well enough. Often I had to stay in bed for days at a time. I made the fire of some old papers and rags, and I had a pail of water ready to throw on it in case it got going too fiercely. Then Muchmore came and caught me, and locked me up. Oh, how I prayed that they might send in an alarm, and that the fire department would come, for I heard from the old housekeeper that a company had been started in addition to the old hand-engine corps."

"Yes, we think we have quite a fine department," said Herbert proudly.

"Well, you'll soon have a better one," said Mr. Stockton. "I want to show my appreciation in some way, and I'm going to buy a regular steam-engine for the town."

"But we'll need a water system for that," objected Bert.

"That will come. I am going to sell a lot of property I have, and put a water system in Lakeville. I've held on to my land too long. We'll develop this village, until the old inhabitants, like myself, won't know the place. And, when we have the new department, I want you boys to have a hand in running it."

Mr. Stockton was as good as his word. It took some time to make the improvements he suggested, but finally a fine water system was installed in the town, and the best steam fire-engine money could buy was presented to Lakeville, with the compliments of the aged millionaire. In this work he was aided by Mort Decker, whom Mr. Stockton appointed his secretary.

It needed horses to draw the steamer, and of course required men to operate it. But the boys were not forgotten. They still kept the chemical engines--and the smaller lads the hand-engines--and they were often called on to put out trifling blazes, and help at the larger ones.

Mr. Stockton did not forget what Bert had done for him. He owned a comfortable house with two acres of ground and a barn, on one of the side streets of the town, and one day he surprised the young fireman by handing him a legal-looking document.

"What is this?" asked the youth in surprise.

"A deed to a house on Cherry Street," answered the rich man. "The place is now yours, free and clear. You and your mother can move into it at any time."

"Why, I didn't expect this," stammered Bert.

"I know you didn't, my lad, but it is yours, nevertheless. I want to do something for you--and for that good mother of yours."

Of course, Bert and Mrs. Dare were very grateful. They moved into the house a month later, and found it a far more comfortable home than they had ever before enjoyed.

Lakeville is now quite a city. It has two steam fire-engines, instead of one, the taxpayers purchasing the second. And if you were to go there tomorrow, or any other day, for that matter, and ask for the chief of one of the finest small departments in the United States, you would be introduced to Herbert Dare. For, after he finished his schooling, he was unanimously selected to act in his former capacity. And here, wishing him all success in the field which he has chosen for himself, and hoping that he may help save many lives and much property, we will say good-bye to our young fireman and his loyal comrades.


The Young Firemen of Lakeville - 29/29

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