Jack waited to hear no more. His blood seemed to be on fire, and his teeth came together with a click.
Another moment and he was in the group, eagerly plying the almost distracted mother with questions as to which room her baby had been in. Fortunately Jack had once known a boy living in the old Bradley mansion; so that the interior of the house was not strange to him.
“Our bedroom—it is the corner one where the tower stands. The one that has the alcove!” the lady managed to cry, as she caught his arm, and looked, oh, so pleadingly, in his boyish, determined face.
After that Jack would have risked anything in the attempt to save that innocent little one. He rushed off without saying a word. Several put out a hand to stop him, under the belief that it was useless, since that portion of the building seemed to be a mass of flames by now. But Jack dodged them just as he did when running with the ball on the football field.
When he dashed into the house, disappearing in the volume of smoke that poured from the open doorway, a groan went up from the great crowd; for they doubted as to whether he would ever be seen alive again.
THE HONOR BRAND
“Who was that boy?” called the foreman of the fire company, as he came running up, waving his speaking trumpet.
“Jack Stormways, the lumber man’s boy!” some one answered.
“Well, he’s a good one, all right; but I’m sorry for his mother!” said the experienced fire-fighter, as he looked anxiously at the flames pouring out from several windows directly under the room next the tower.
Paul had dropped out of the line. He could not pass another bucket after seeing the chum he loved so well plunge into the doomed building. From right and left he heard many things spoken, and presently understood what it was induced Jack to attempt what seemed so like a foolhardy thing.
So it would have been, had the object of Jack’s attempt been the securing of valuables, no matter what the amount. But a human life counts for more than earthly riches; and a brave soul never stops to consider the risk when a fellow being is in peril of a terrible fate.
Jack found himself in the midst of dense smoke as soon as he plunged across the doorsill. He had foreseen this, and with a wisdom beyond his years made simple preparations to combat the evil.
On the way to the door he passed close by one who carried a bucket of water, and some happy inspiration caused him to snatch out his handkerchief and dip it into the cool liquid, not wringing it out to any extent.
This he clapped over his nose, so that in breathing the wet cloth would keep much of the suffocating vapor from being drawn into his lungs.
His eyes began to smart furiously. By the time he was half way up the stairs he could not see a thing around him save murky clouds of smoke, lighted by the tongues of flame that darted like serpents out of many places.