“Surprise?” exclaimed Ham. “I should say it was! Did you light it before you started, Dabney?”
“Don’t joke, Hamilton,” remarked Mrs. Kinzer. “It may be a very serious affair for all of us. But I can’t understand how in all the world that barn should have caught fire.”
“Guess it was set a-going,” said Dab.
DAB KINZER AND HAM MORRIS TURN INTO A FIRE-DEPARTMENT.
The Morris farm, as has been said, was a pretty large one; and the same tendency on the part of its owners which led them to put up so extensive and barn-like a house, had stimulated them from time to time to make the most liberal provisions for the storage of their crops. Barns were a family weakness with them, as furniture had been with the Kinzers. The first barn they had put up, now the oldest and the farthest from the house, had been a large one. It was now in a somewhat dilapidated condition, to be sure, and was bowed a little northerly by the weight of years that rested on it; but it had still some hope of future usefulness if it had not been for that tramp and his box of matches.
“There isn’t a bit of use in trying to save it!” exclaimed Ham, as they were whirled in through the wide-open gate. “It’s gone!”
“But, Ham,” said Mrs. Kinzer, “we can save the other barns perhaps. Look at the cinders falling on the long stable. If we could keep them off somehow!”
“We can do it, Ham,” exclaimed Dab, very earnestly. “Mother, will you send me out a broom and a rope, while Ham and I set up the ladder?”
“You’re the boy for me,” said Ham. “I guess I know what you’re up to.”
The ladder was one the house-painters had been using, and was a pretty heavy one; but it was quickly set up against the largest and most valuable of the barns, and the one, too, which was nearest and most exposed to the burning building and its flying cinders. The rope was on hand, and the broom, by the time the ladder was in position.
“Ford,” said Dab, “you and Frank help the girls bring water, till the men from the village get here. There’s plenty of pails, but every one of our hands is away.—Now, Ham, I’m ready.”
Up they went, and were quickly astride of the ridge of the roof. It would have been perilous work for any man to have ventured farther unassisted; but Dab tied one end of the rope firmly around his waist, Ham tied himself to the other, and then Dab could slip down the steep roof, in any direction, without danger of slipping off to the ground below.
But the broom?
It was as useful as a small fire-engine. The flying cinders of burning hay or wood, as they alighted upon the sun-dried shingles of the roof, needed to be swept off as fast as they fell, before they had time to fulfil their errand of mischief. Here and there they had been at work for some minutes, and the fresh little blazes they had kindled had so good a start, that the broom alone would have been insufficient; and there the rapidly-arriving pails of water came into capital play.