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- The Young Firemen of Lakeville - 6/29 -
"I know it, but we might get a second-hand one cheap. We could raise the money somehow--get up a show, or have a ball game."
"Perhaps you might, Herbert. But I don't want you running into danger. I'm sure you are thoughtful to take so much interest in the affairs of the town. Your father used to be that way."
"Well, our house might catch fire some day, mother, and if I belonged to the boys' volunteer department, we could put it out for you in a hurry."
"Don't suggest such a thing, Herbert. I'm afraid we'll never have a department here."
"Stranger things have happened, mother. I'm going off now to see some of the boys."
Though this was the first time Bert had spoken to his mother about his plan of organizing a fire department in Lakeville, he had been thinking over the matter for some time. Even before the barn burned down he had had the 'notion in his head, and, when he saw the futile efforts of the bucket brigade, he determined to take some action.
As he strolled down the village street, on the lookout for some of his chums to whom he might broach the subject, he espied Cole Bishop.
"Hello, Bert!" called Cole. "How's your burn?"
"It's getting better. What you going to do?"
"Nothing special. What are you?"
"Same thing, I guess. I was looking for some of the boys."
"What for? Going swimming or fishing?"
It was the vacation season, school having closed about a week previously.
"Well, I wasn't exactly going swimming, but I want to talk about water."
"About water? Say, you ought to see my force-pump. I put some new washers in it, and it'll squirt fifty feet now. Come on over. I wish our house would catch fire."
"You do? What for?"
"Well, I'd show you how to put it out. I've got my pump on the cistern, and some hose ready to attach. It's got the bucket brigade beaten a mile."
"That's what I want to find some of the boys to talk about, Cole. I'm thinking of organizing a fire department."
"A fire department! Say, that's great! I'll belong, and I'll let 'em use my force-pump--no, I can't, either. It's fast to the cistern." "I guess we'd need something a little larger than that, if we have a department," replied Bert, "but you can join, and we'll let you fix the engine pumps when they get out of order."
"Will you, really? Say, that's immense!"
"There's Vincent, now," went on Herbert Dare, as he saw his chum who had aided him at the barn blaze.
"Yes, and John Boll is with him. Hey, John! Hi, Vincent! Here she comes!" and Cole threw a ball high in the air towards the other two boys. John caught and returned it.
"Come on over here," called Cole. "Bert has a great scheme."
The four boys were soon in earnest conversation. Bert told of his plan for getting as many of the village boys as possible to join a volunteer fire department to answer all alarms.
"Where are you going to get the engine?" asked John.
"And where's the money coming from?" inquired Vincent.
"That's all got to be thought out," replied Bert. "Maybe Cole can make us an engine. He makes almost anything."
"That's so," came from John.
"Guess I'll have to wait a few years before I can make a fire engine, though," responded Cole. "But say, I just happened to think of it! They've got a new chemical engine over to Jamesville."
"I don't see how that helps us," said Bert.
"Don't you? Well, listen. If they've got a new engine, they won't need their old hand-pumping one."
"Don't you see what I mean? They'll sell the old machine and we can buy it. It's a good one, and has a fine pump on. All it needs is a little fixing, and I can do that. What's the matter with buying the second-hand engine of Jamesville?"
"Nothing's the matter," returned Bert slowly, "except that we haven't got the money."
BUYING THE ENGINE
This announcement served like a dash of cold water to the boys. They had been quite enthusiastic over Cole's plan, but Bert's words made them realize that it was one thing to say what they would do, and another to accomplish it.
"I--I guess we'll have to give it up," said John Boll. "It would be lots of fun for us boys to have a department, but I'm afraid we can't."
"It wouldn't be altogether fun," said Bert, "as we'd have to work hard to put out fires. But I don't know that we'll have to give up the plan. I wanted to talk to you fellows, and see how you felt about it. Perhaps we can raise the money."
"How?" asked Vincent.
"Well, we could give some sort of an entertainment, get up a ball game, and charge admission, and we boys can make some cash doing odd jobs, and put that in the treasury."
"I believe the folks in this town are too mean to come to a show or a ball game, even if it was to help buy an engine, and a second-hand one at that," declared John.
"We'll give 'em the chance," replied Bert. "But, fellows, what do you think of the plan?"
"What plan is it?" asked a new voice, and the boys looked up to see Tom Donnell.
"We're going to have a fire department," declared Cole, and he proceeded to tell what they were discussing.
Tom was enthusiastic over it, as, indeed, were all the boys. Several other lads came along, until there was quite a crowd of them, and Bert was kept busy explaining his scheme.
From his butcher shop near by, Moses Sagger looked at the knot of earnestly talking lads. To him that meant but one thing.
"Them boys is hatching some mischief," he said to his helper. "They're going to play some trick, I'll bet an apple."
"And I guess it's a rotten apple at that," thought Sidney Balder, who worked for Mr. Sagger. "He's too mean to bet a good apple."
"Better keep your eyes open for them boys," went on the butcher. "They'll tip over one of my barrels of potatoes outside, or throw mud in on my floor, or something. Guess you'd better bring in all the stuff from outside, until they go away."
"I don't believe they'll touch anything, Mr. Sagger," declared Sidney, who did not fancy having to bring in all the boxes and barrels from in front of the shop, and take them out again.
"Yes, they will! I know boys! They're always playing tricks. Bring the things in."
So Sidney had to do it, laboring hard, and all to no purpose, for no sooner had he brought the produce in, than Bert and his chums passed on down the street, not bestowing so much as a glance at the butcher shop. They were too occupied thinking of the prospective fire department.
"There, I'm glad they're gone," said Mr. Sagger. "They made me nervous standing there. Put the things out again, Sid."
The boys, at Cole's suggestion, had adjourned to his barn. He had a double object in inviting them. He wanted to have a comfortable place to sit down, while they talked the matter over, and he wanted to demonstrate his improved force-pump.
This pump was the pride of Cole's heart. He had made it out of parts of several old pumps, and, to give him credit, it did throw quite a stream, when the handle was vigorously worked. The boys admired it to his entire satisfaction, and even admitted that it would be of good service if ever Cole's house caught fire.
"Now, let's talk business," Bert proposed. "Cole, do you know about how much the authorities at Jamesville would want for their old engine?"
"I haven't the least idea, but I should think they'd sell it cheap."
"Do you know whether they will sell it?" asked Tom.
"No, not for sure, but I should think they would."
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