“The hotel is on fire, Mrs. Dalley. Come, let me help you out.”
“On fire! Oh, I must save my canary!” And the old lady started back for her room.
“You haven’t got time, Mrs. Dalley. Come with me.”
“I cannot let my dear Dick perish!” answered the old lady, firmly.
Joe looked along the hall and saw that the flames were moving swiftly toward the room the old lady had occupied. To enter the apartment would be highly dangerous.
“You simply can’t go after the bird, madam,” he said. “Come with me!”
“My bird! my bird!” screamed Mrs. Dalley, and tried to run, or rather hobble, towards her room, despite the smoke that was now rolling over her head.
“You must come with me!” exclaimed Joe, and drew her back. She tried to struggle and then, without warning, fainted in his arms.
The burden was a heavy one, but our hero did not shirk the task before him. He half dragged and half carried the unconscious lady to the nearest staircase and almost fell to the bottom.
The smoke on the second floor was so thick he could scarcely see.
But he kept on and went down another flight and reached the office. He could hardly breathe and the tears were running down both cheeks.
“Hullo there, boy!” came the call of a fireman, as he appeared through the smoke. “Better get out of here!”
“Help me with this lady,” answered Joe.
“A lady! Oh, all right!” And in a moment more the fireman had Mrs. Dalley over his shoulder and was carrying her out. Joe came close behind. The lady was taken to a nearby drug store where she speedily revived.
By the prompt efforts of the fire department only a small portion of the hotel was burnt. But the whole building was water-soaked, and all of the boarders had to move out, and then the place was closed up.
“Out of a place once again,” thought our hero, rather dismally. “What’s to do next?”
This was not an easy question to answer. He looked around for another opening but, finding none, resolved to pay a visit to Riverside.
“I can call on the Gussings, and on Ned,” he thought. “I know all of them will be glad to see me. And maybe Mr. Mallison will be wanting to make some arrangements for next summer. I suppose he’ll run the boats as usual.”
“Going to leave Philadelphia, eh?” said Frank. “Do you intend to come back, Joe?”
“I don’t know yet, Frank.”
“Well, I wish you luck.”
“I wish you the same.”
“If you go to work for Mallison this summer, maybe you can get me a job too.”
“I’ll remember that,” answered our hero.
His preparations were soon made, and then he boarded a train for Riverside. He did not dream of the surprises in store for him.
THE BLUE BOX AT LAST.