+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

gives depththe portable cistern is quickly
filledthe suction-pipes of the engines, being
placed in it, both of them are got into position.
The flames have reached the back of the
house; their points are just seen rising above
the roof! A rush of people seize on the
long pump-levers, all mad to work the
engines. The foreman rapidly selects ten
for each sidesets them to workand then,
one at a time, takes down their names in a
book for the purpose, so that they may be
paid a shilling an hourthose who choose to
accept it. But a hundred volunteer to work
they don't want the shillingthey want to
pump. 'Let me pump!' 'I 'm the one to
pump! ' 'Do you want any more to pump? '
resound on all sides from men of all classes,
while the crowd press forward, and can
scarcely be got to leave room enough for the
engines to be workedand they would not,
but for the man with the director-pipe, who
soon makes a watery circle around him. The
fortunate volunteers at the levers now begin
to pump away with a fury that seems
perfectly frantic. The Superintendent, who has
had many a fine-engine disabled during the
first five minutes of this popular furor, insists
upon their ardour being restrained; and with
no little difficulty succeeds in getting his
pumping done a degree less madly. Who,
that did not know them, would believe that
these outrageous pumpers were the very
same people who stood with lack-lustre eyes
at some tedious operation in trade or
workshop, all day long; or, who sat stolidly
opposite each other in an omnibus, without
a word to say, and seeming too dull for either
thought or action? Look at them now!

The wind still blows strongly from the
blazing stablesthe flames are rapidly eating
their way through the house from the back!
The two upper stories are already on fire. A
figure appears at one of the windows, and
makes signs. All the inmates had NOT been got
out! An aged womana very old and faithful
servant of the familyhad lingered behind,
vainly endeavouring to pack up some of
her dear young mistress's clothes and trinkets.
A prolonged cry bursts from the crowd,
followed with innumerable pieces of advice
bawled, hoarsely shouted, or rapidly screamed
to the Superintendent, and the firemen
directing the nozzle of the hose.

'Point the nozzle up to the window!'
'Up to the roof of that room!'
'Smash the windows!'
'The Fire-escape, Mr. Braidwood! '
'Bring the ropes for her!—throw up the
ropes to her! '' Don't smash the windows; you'll cut her!'
'She's gone to jump out at the back!'
'She is lying on the floor! '
'She's suffocated, Mr. Braidwood!'
'Send up the water, to bring her to her
'She's burnt to ashes, Mr. BraidwoodI
see her lying all of a red tinder!'

Amidst these vociferations, the
Superintendent, having a well-practised deaf ear
for such pieces of advice, has despatched two
firemen to ascend the stairs (no fireman is
allowed to enter a burning house alone) while
two others enter below, and a lengthened
hose is handed up to them with a boat-hook
through the front drawing-room window, in
order to combat the fire at close quarters,
each one being accompanied by another fireman,
in case of one fainting from heat or
smoke, and meantime to assist in getting out
furniture from the rooms not yet touched by
the flames.

The two foremost firemen have now ascended
the stairs. One remains on the second-floor
landing, to watch, and give notice if their
retreat is likely to be cut off, while the other
ascends to the upper room where the poor
old servant had been last seen. The room is
quite full of smoke. He therefore drops
down directly with his face almost touching
the floor (because, as the smoke ascends, he
thus gets ten or twelve inches of clear space
and air), and in this way creeps and drags
himself along till he sees a bundle of something
struggling about, which he at once
recognises, seizes, and drags off as quickly as
possible. Almost exhausted, he meets his
comrade on the stairs, who instantly giving
aid, they bring down a little white, smutty,
huddled-up bundle, with a nightcap and arms
to it; and as they emerge from the door, are
greeted with shouts of applause, and roars
and screams of 'Bravo! Bravo! God bless
'em! Bravo!' from voices of men, and women,
and boys.

The old woman presently comes to herself.
She holds something in one hand, which she
had never loosed throughout, though she
really does not know what it is. 'At all
events,' says she, 'I 've saved this! '

It is a hearth-broom.

The two firemen, each bearing a hose, have
now got a position inside the houseone
standing on the landing-place of the second-floor
within ten or twelve feet of the flames,
the other planted in the back drawing-room.
The first directs his nozzle so that the water
strikes with the utmost force upon the fire,
almost in a straight line, dashing it out into
black spots, and flaws, and steam, as much by
the violence of the concussion as the
antagonistic element. The other fireman directs
his jet of water to oppose the advances of the
flames from the rafters of the stables behind,
and the wood-work of the back-premises.
Both the men are enveloped in a cloud of hot
steam, so hot as scarcely to be endurable, and
causing the perspiration to pour down their
faces as fast as the water runs down the walls
from the vigorous 'playing of their pipes.'

But next doorto the rightwhat a long
succession of drawing-room and dining-room
chairs issue forth, varied now and then with
a dripping hamper of choice wine, and the
sound of cracking bottles; now, with a