When Adeline and her mother reached Mrs. Peter Jones’ gate they stopped, and they all stood there together looking. Then I saw Tommy Gregg racing along, and I felt positive that his mother had sent him to see what the matter was. She is a good woman, but the most curious person in our village. She never seems to have enough affairs of her own to thoroughly amuse her. I never saw a boy run as fast as Tommy did—as if his mother’s curiosity and his own were a sort of motor compelling him to his utmost speed. His legs seemed never to come out of their running crooks, and his shock of hair was fairly stiffened out behind with the wind.
Then I began to wonder if it were possible there was a fire anywhere. I ran to my front door and called:
“Tommy! Tommy!” said I, “where is the fire?”
Tommy did not hear me, but all of a sudden the fire-bell began to ring.
Then I ran across the street to Mrs. Peter Jones’ gate, and Amelia Powers came hurrying out of her yard.
“Where is it? Oh, where is it?” said she, and Candace put her head out of the window and called out, “Where is it? Is it near here?”
We all sniffed for smoke and strained our eyes for a red fire glare on the horizon, but we could neither smell nor see anything unusual.
Pretty soon we heard the fire-engine coming, and Amelia Powers cried out: “Oh, it’s going to Mrs. Liscom’s! It’s her house! It’s Mrs. Liscom’s house!”
Candace Powers put her head farther out of the window, and screamed in a queer voice that echoed like a parrot’s, “Oh, ’Melia! ’Melia! it’s Mrs. Liscom’s, it’s Mrs. Liscom’s, and the wind’s this way! Come, quick, and help me get out the best feather bed, and the counterpane that mother knit! Quick! Quick!”
Amelia had to run in and quiet Candace, who was very apt to have a bad spell when she was over-excited, and the rest of us started for the fire.
As we hurried down the street I asked Mrs. Jones how she had known there was a fire in the first place, for I supposed that was why she had run out to her front door and looked down the street. Then I learned about the city boarders. She and Amelia, from the way they faced at their sitting-room windows, had seen the Grover stage-coach stop at Mrs. Liscom’s, and had run out to see the boarders alight. Mrs. Jones said there were five of them—the mother, grandmother, two daughters, and a son.
I said that I did not know Mrs. Liscom was going to take boarders; I was very much surprised.
“I suppose she thought she would earn some money and have some extra things,” said Mrs. Jones.
“It must have been that,” said Mrs. Ketchum, panting—she was almost out of breath—“for, of course, the Liscoms don’t need the money.”
I laughed and said I thought not. I felt a little pride about it, because Mrs. Liscom was a second cousin of my husband, and he used to think a great deal of her.