“Listen! fellows! The fire alarm!” shouted Joe Clausin, just at that instant.
Every voice was hushed.
Clear upon the night air rang out the sound of a tocsin—the stroke of a hammer upon a steel rim from a locomotive wheel, and which was hung aloft in the only firehouse in Stanhope.
It was a thrilling sound at any time, and especially to a company of boys newly enlisted in the great cause of humanity—of lending a hand to neighbors who might be in trouble. So after several more clear, resounding strokes had pealed forth, calling the volunteer department out to fight the fire demon, one scout started wildly for the double doors of the smithy.
He was immediately followed by others, and in almost the twinkling of an eye the Carberry blacksmith shop was emptied of its late noisy crowd.
“Wow! look at that, will you?”
“It’s a barn most likely!”
“Don’t you believe it. I can see the roof of the house! Say, I believe it must be that old Bradley place! Come along, fellows!”
“There are the firemen on the run! They’ll have old Rescue No. 1 on the jump in a jiffy. Hey, fellers, let’s get busy, and pull the hose cart for ’em!”
“Bully idea. Lead the way, Paul! It’s up to you to show us how!”
With these and many more cries the Boy Scouts bore down on the building that sheltered the lone fire department of the town. This consisted of a cast-off engine in good repair which had been purchased from some big city, where they were installing an auto in place of horse power for propelling their machines; and a hose reel, the latter to be drawn by a line of men.
Of course the assembling firemen were only too glad of the offered aid. To have a score of husky boys appear so readily on the scene, ready for business, was in the line of a “snap.”
Accordingly, while some of the men got the horses hitched to the engine, and others started the fire going, the hose cart was rushed out, and its long rope eagerly seized by the waiting boys.
Paul was at the end of the line, for a scout leader must live up to his reputation as a general, no matter what the emergency.
“Pull!” went forth the cry, and immediately the hose reel started off in the direction where a flash of fiery red announced that the excitement was centred.
Nothing could please such an energetic lot of lads more than a chance to make themselves useful in this way. They pulled with a will, and passed along the road leading out of the town, on a wild run.
The one who had declared that it was the old Bradley house that was on fire must have had the situation well in mind. Perhaps he lived in that neighborhood, and was better able to judge than the balance of the boys. At any rate all of them had by now made sure of the fact.