The blood of the Clanworthys rose in his veins. The Pass lay before him—so did the Bridge. A full suit of dove-colored pajamas and a pair of turned-up Turkish slippers was not exactly the kind of uniform that either Leonidas or Horatius would have chosen to fight his way to glory, but there was no time to change them.
With a whoop to Bender, who had really begun to believe in him, and a commanding order to Jackson, the three stripped the costly Turkish rugs from the lounges, and blankets from the beds, and, following his lead, dashed through the woods to the relief of the endangered pile of lumber. On the way they passed a gang of Canucks, carrying buckets. It was but the work of a moment to arrange these into a posse of relays with Bender on the lake end of the line and Jackson next the pile, the gang passing the buckets from hand to hand.
This done Muggles snatched a ladder from an adjacent building, threw it against the threatened lumber, skipped up its rungs like a squirrel and stood in silhouette against the flaring blaze, his dove-gray flannels flapping about his thin legs, his attenuated arms gyrating orders to the relief party, who had spread the rugs and blankets on the fire-endangered side of the pile of lumber and who were now soaking them with water under Muggles’s direction. Now and then, as some part of the burning mass would collapse, a shower of sparks and smoke would obscure Muggles; then he could be seen brushing the live coals from his pajamas, darting here and there, shouting: “More water! More water! Here, on this end! All together now!” fighting his way with hand raised to keep the heat from blistering his face, a very Casabianca on the burning deck.
Soon the tongues of flame mounting skyward grew less in number; columns of black smoke took the place of the shower of sparks; the light flickering on the frightened tree-trunks began to pale; from the rugs and blankets the hot steam no longer rose in clouds. The crisis had passed! The pile was saved! Muggles had won!
During all this time neither Monteith nor the big lumber-boss had put in an appearance; nor had Podvine nor little Billy Salters lent a hand. Bender had stuck to his post and so had Jackson, oblivious of the whereabouts of any other member of the coterie except Muggles, whose clothespin of a figure came into relief now and then against the flare of the flames. Then Bender made his way back to the bungalow.
The last man to leave the deck was Muggles.
Backing slowly down the ladder one rung at a time, his face blistered, his pajamas burnt into holes, he examined the surrounding lumber; saw that all his orders had been carried out, gave some parting instructions to the men to watch out for sparks, especially those around the edge of the saved pile, and then slowly, and with great dignity, made his way to the bungalow—his destiny fulfilled, his honor maintained and his position assured among his fellows. He had now only to await the plaudits of his comrades!